The liberal response
"Freedom doesn't make men happy, it simply makes them men."
Arte & Cultura Grupo Salinas, in collaboration with El Equilibrista, recently published the book "La respuesta liberal", a collection of essays by great thinkers such as Daniel Cosío Villegas, Octavio Paz, John K. Galbraith, Isaiah Berlin, Gabriel Zaid, and Daniel Bell.
As Sergio Vela put it, Arte & Cultura Grupo Salinas’ starting point is the famous premise of the Viennese Secession: "To every age its art and to every art its freedom". In the editor's note, the author emphasized that "this collection of essays is born of an emerging situation, namely, the rapid rise of authoritarianisms in different regions of the world", including, from my point of view, in very consolidated democracies such as that of our neighbors to the north. It is the answer to an uncertain global panorama, full of questions that will always find a guiding spirit in the liberal response to such issues.
Just as in the case with this anthology, liberal thought is very diverse, but in its pluralism it provides us with a clear answer to very complex questions: when in doubt, freedom is the answer.
A few years ago I had the honor of hearing Dr. Ulrich Wacker, director in Jerusalem of the liberal Friedrich Naumann Foundation, who very meticulously detailed seven concrete theses on freedom. Because of their enormous relevance to our current reality, I would like to summarize and share some of these ideas.
The first is: freedom is the fundamental right of humankind and has its limits in the freedom of others.
Freedom is the fundamental right of humankind.
The second thesis proclaims that freedom always respects people's belongings. A person must be free to decide what to do with what he or she has acquired through their own efforts.
The third is that freedom requires legality. Legality is the condition whereby no person can abuse their freedom in order to harm the freedom of others.
The fourth thesis emphasizes that freedom promotes the education and training of people. Individuals can only develop in freedom. Only in this way can they approach the ideal of the independent and self-conscious citizen.
Freedom makes a better society possible, the fifth thesis declares. It represents a moral commandment to respect our fellow man or woman as a unique person. At the same time, it lays the foundations for a prosperous and peaceful society.
The sixth thesis proclaims that freedom is the basis of a society's well-being. Only where people act among themselves freely and without abusing their position will they achieve a balance between their interests.
The final thesis raises the idea that freedom unites the world, allows for coexistence and fruitful cooperation between very different peoples. The greatest ideal of freedom is to make us all citizens of the world.
The greatest ideal of freedom is to make us all citizens of the world.
I would add that freedom makes us human. We have the gift of changing and deciding our actions. That is our nature and that is why violations of individual freedoms hurt us. Those who commit them destroy our essence.
It is very easy to determine when a government blatantly violates our freedom and enslaves us. But it is much more difficult to perceive the gradual theft of freedom. That's why, perhaps, there are governments around the world that have chosen to erode freedoms little by little. These governments hope that, like a frog in a pot of water that is gradually warming over a fire, we will fall asleep and do nothing to defend our freedom until it is too late.
In the pages of "La respuesta liberal" the reader will find valuable reflections on freedom. It is very important to support open and frank discussion about this value held dear by humankind. Liberties are our essence, and history tells us that we must understand them and strengthen them.