Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mario Vargas Llosa, Classical Liberal

The American Conservative's Kelly Jane Torrance offers her appreciation — Freedom’s Laureate. "The 74-year-old Vargas Llosa made the journey so many intellectuals did over the course of the 20th century, from Left to Right," the author reminds us, then reminding us parenthetically, "(It rarely seemed to go the other way.)" An excerpt:
    The politically aware know that one can be in favor of freedom in both the economic and the social realms. Vargas Llosa proudly proclaims himself a liberal, in the meaning of the term that has been lost in much of the English-speaking world. Some in the Swedish press tried to tar him as an authoritarian in a conservative mold, but the novelist has emphatically condemned dictatorships of all ideologies. He and Hugo Chavez challenged each other to televised debates in Venezuela last year, but the dictator finally backed down. Pinochet doesn’t get a pass because he brought economic success to his country, Vargas Llosa insisted in a 2005 speech in which he declared the Chilean “a murderer and a thief.” “No free economy functions without an independent, efficient justice system and no reforms are successful if they are implemented without control and the criticism that only democracy permits.”
That "he appeared in Washington five and a half years ago, looking as elegantly handsome as ever, to accept the Irving Kristol Award from the American Enterprise Institute," we will ignore and forgive. Ms. Torrance counts the novel in which I am currently subsumed, en castellano, among his "deep historical novels like The War of the End of the World, about a real 19th-century messianic cult in the wilderness that holds off the army for months."

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Omnes Sancti et Sanctæ Coreæ, orate pro nobis.