Friday, October 8, 2010

Llosa Awarded Literature Nobel

If Mario Vargas Llosa is everything that's being said about him, it's a complete mystery how he won the Noble Prize for Literature. In the past 76 years, that has invariably gone to writers who are, when they aren't explicitly left wing, at least postmodern Anti(s).

On principle, I'm opposed to giving that prize in the first place, since the Academy employs nothing close to objective criteria for choosing the winner. But, at least it was one of the five listed in Nobel's will, unlike the bogus Economics Prize. (It's also not to his credit that he left out specifying a mathematics prize, but the Fields Medal more than makes up for that.)

Still, if the following quote is any indication, Llosa certainly deserves some kind of a prize:
The liberal I aspire to be considers freedom a core value. Thanks to this freedom, humanity has been able to journey from the primitive cave to the stars and the information revolution, to progress from forms of collectivist and despotic association to representative democracy.

The foundations of liberty are private property and the rule of law; this system guarantees the fewest possible forms of injustice, produces the greatest material and cultural progress, most effectively stems violence and provides the greatest respect for human rights.

According to this concept of liberalism, freedom is a single, unified concept. Political and economic liberties are as inseparable as the two sides of a medal. Because freedom has not been understood as such in Latin America, the region has had many failed attempts at democratic rule.

Either because the democracies that began emerging after the dictatorships respected political freedom but rejected economic liberty, which inevitably produced more poverty, inefficiency and corruption, or because they installed authoritarian governments convinced that only a firm hand and a repressive regime could guarantee the functioning of the free market.
Whether or not that has anything to do with writing great literature is, of course, a different matter. Nevertheless, I'd much rather see it go to Llosa than any previous winner I can think of (except Kipling).

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