Tuesday, March 07, 2006

"Wide-angle liberalism" - Alternative Libérale

A new party is born in France. Alternative Libérale. Its spirit is liberalism, liberalizing liberalism, and its color is violet, underlining that it's ni gauche, ni droite, neither left, nor right, neither socialist, nor conservative, neither red, nor blue.

Edouard Fillias sent me an email today with the news. This is news, big news. I love France, and I hope the French escape from the dirigistes that plague them from both the right and the left. I might even decide to work there if they do. Half the battle is understanding what liberalism is. Here in America, too.

Sabine Hérold, photographed above, explains their opposition to the French Minister of the Interior, Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy is liberal on the economic plane, but not on the societal one. With us, it's wide-angle liberalism Edouard Fillias says, We do not have a cult of authority like Sarkozy. We do not believe in a savior. Liberals don't like it when someone bosses them around.

By the way, in the last sentence I translated the French verb diriger, which I really think should become an English verb of opprobrium, to dirige. The noun dirigisme already exists in English. Diriger literally translates to the English verb to direct, but it carries connotations of arbitrary, centralized, top-down control.

I first found out about Hérold and Fillias last June from the blog of a friend Tom Palmer.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Danish cartoons and a dozen writers

12 writers have come to the defense of the 12 cartoonists. In their call to pen-and-ink battle against religious totalitarianism, in their call to defend the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas, they deploy the means that are their very ends.

After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism ....

Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man's domination of woman, the Islamists' domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people ....

We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of Islamophobia, an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers ....

We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.

The signatories include Irshad Manji, Salman Rushdie, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

Hirsi Ali is the Mogadishu-born writer of the movie Submission. What's particularly poignant is that Hirsi Ali once thought that Khomeini was right when he called for her fellow signatory, Rushdie, to be killed for insulting Muhammad. Hirsi Ali now defends the the right to offend. I suspect from this piece that she had a lot to do with framing their statement in the context of other totalitarianisms. Hirsi Ali currently holds office in the Dutch parliament, the Tweede Kamer.