Tag: Jean-François Revel

Mario Vargas Llosa: Thatcher’s revolution

Wednesday, 7 March, 2018 0 Comments

“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

The French neurosis becomes the German neurosis

Monday, 12 August, 2013 0 Comments

In his book Anti-Americanism, the late French philosopher, Jean-François Revel, wrote:

“…at the very time when Europeans were benefitting from the Marshall Plan, leftist parties were opposed to it, putting it down as an American plot to put Western Europe under her thumb — yet another neocolonialist Stern and imperialistic manoeuvre, as could easily be deduced from Marxist theory. Yet the socialist or Christian-Democratic parties of the centre-right that were then in power in most European countries also eschewed any feelings of gratitude, reasoning that by acting generously, America was acting purely in her own interests — as if she really ought to have opposed them! For Americans to have understood that that it was to their own advantage to aid Europe’s economic recovery was not credited to their political intelligence. In keeping with the habitually contradictory rules of anti-Americanism reasoning, we accused and keep accusing Americans of being opposed to a strong Europe; hence, the United States strengthens Europe because she wants to weaken Europe. In this regard, European thinking is a model of coherence.”

Like the Dreyfus espionage affair that gripped France at the end of the 19th century, and which was driven by anti-Semitism and hatred of Germany, the Snowden espionage affair that’s now gripping Germany is driven by anti-capitalism and a corrosive hatred of the United States that Jean-François Revel identified in Anti-Americanism. In many ways, this hatred echoes the anti-Semitism that once was central to German culture and which led to a cataclysm for all involved.

By the way, all those Europeans who opposed The Marshall Plan ignored the fact that it replaced The Morgenthau Plan, which advocated that the Allies should destroy Germany’s industrial capacity and reduce it to a mainly agricultural state. That didn’t happen, of course. And today we find Dimitri B. Papadimitriou writing in ekathimerini.com that “Greece needs a 21st Century Marshall Plan“. Good luck with that, Dimitri.