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Mario Vargas Llosa: Thatcher’s revolution

Wednesday, 7 March, 2018

“Mario Vargas Llosa is in good form.” That’s a good sentence. And it’s used to introduce readers of EL PAÍS SEMANAL to the Peruvian Nobel Laureate, whose latest book, La llamada de la tribu (The Call of the Tribe), has just been published. It’s an argument in favour of liberal thought and the writer makes his case by quoting seven authors: Adam Smith, José Ortega y Gasset, Friedrich von Hayek, Karl Popper, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin and Jean-François Revel.

This being the eve of International Women’s Day, the sisterhood will be quick to point out the absence of women in that list but it should be noted that the interviewer here is Maite Rico and a woman, Margaret Thatcher, had a major influence on the political evolution of Mario Vargas Llosa. Snippet:

Q. The picture you paint of Margaret Thatcher as a brave, cultured woman of deep liberal convictions, contrasts starkly with the image we have of her.

A. That’s an absolutely unjust caricature. When I arrived in England, it was a decadent country — a country with freedom but whose mettle was being snuffed out gradually by the Labour Party’s economic nationalism. Margaret Thatcher’s revolution woke Britain up. They were tough times; finishing with the sinecure of the trade unions, creating a competent free-market society, and defending democracy with conviction while facing up to socialism, China, the USSR — the cruelest dictatorships in history. They were decisive years for me because I started to read Hayek and Popper, both authors quoted by Thatcher. She said that The Open Society and Its Enemies would be a crucial book for the 20th Century. The contribution of Thatcher and Ronald Reagan to the culture of freedom, finishing with the Soviet Union —the biggest challenge democratic culture had ever had — is a reality that is unfortunately portrayed in a media influenced by a campaign from the left whose achievements are few.

When he’s right, he’s right. And he’s right.

Mario Vargas Llosa


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