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Posts Tagged ‘literature’

Nobel committee makes great choice

Posted by Richard on October 7, 2010

Congratulations and thanks to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for awarding the Nobel Prize in literature to Mario Vargas Llosa, a most worthy recipient. Vargas Llosa has been a principled and inspiring advocate of liberty for many years (and that alone makes him an unusual and surprising choice for the Nobel committee): 

Mr. Vargas Llosa is an unusual figure in Latin America where writers and intellectuals are often deeply influenced by leftist revolutionary rhetoric through their careers. He has become a staunch advocate of free markets and representative democracy, as well as a fierce critic of authoritarianism in all of its guises. He has been particularly skeptical of the new strain of leftist populism embodied by Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, who last year challenged a group of intellectuals including Mr. Vargas Llosa to debate on his television program. He declined when the group said Mr. Chávez should debate Mr. Vargas Llosa one to one.

I can recall the high hopes many of us libertarians had for Vargas Llosa's Peruvian presidential campaign in 1990. At a time when the left in that country was thoroughly discredited, he appeared poised for a victory that might transform that nation into a very libertarian, pro-freedom place.

Unfortunately, Alberto Fujimoro triangulated himself into office by running as the slightly more moderate, "practical" free-market advocate (sort of a "compassionate conservative"), and therefore the somewhat safer choice for Peruvians ready to reject socialism, but a bit nervous about the Democratic Front's "extreme" (i.e., principled) positions.

Fujimoro was eventually exposed as a crook and now resides in prison. 

The Wall Street Journal has reposted a 2007 interview with Vargas Llosa that's well worth your time. Well, well worth it.

Vargas Llosa's son Alvaro is a Senior Fellow at the libertarian Independent Institute and the author of The Che Guevara Myth and numerous other books and articles. His writings are a great way to keep up with events in Latin America from a pro-freedom perspective. 

On a related note, the awarding of the Nobel Prize for physics to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov strikes me as an excellent — and somewhat daring — choice. It's only been six years since the pair discovered/created graphene, a remarkable one-atom-thick sheet of carbon. And they did it using a pencil and a piece of Scotch tape. 

My friend David clued me in to the fact that Geim is the first person to win both an Ig Nobel Prize and a Nobel Prize. This year's Ig Nobels were announced last week.

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