9th December 2010
Months, maybe a year ago, I bought Ben Wilson's 2009 book: What Price Liberty? How Freedom Was Won and Is Being Lost but never found time to read it. Recently I was able to flick through it (haven't finished it yet: there are about 10 half-finished books lying on my bedside), and have found it to be quite a remarkable piece of work – a valuable addition to my library.
Wilson is very young (less than 30 years of age, perhaps) and provides a Whig (classical liberal) perspective on issues, using Isaiah Berlin's negative liberty concept.
This book is essentially a history of the growth of freedom in UK and its current decline. He believes that "the liberal phase in our history seems to be coming to an end". I'm particularly impressed with his analysis of the destruction of freedom of speech in UK over the past decade, with the rise of multiculturalism and political correct speech and laws (Racial and Religious Hatred Act) against "public offence", following the publication of cartoons about Mohammed.
I wish I had time to extract some excellent sections I found in this book, but at this stage all I can do is do is to strongly recommend that you buy/borrow and read this book.
I found many reviews of the book on the internet. I don't agree with these reviews entirely, but here are short extracts from two of them:
a) The Independent "Ben Wilson chronicles the always-disputed rise and fall of individual freedoms in Britain from the civil wars, military and ideological, of the 17th century to today's intrusive age of "dataveillance", statutory bans on "religious hatred" and catch-all anti-terror laws."
b) Politics.co.uk: "He doesn't view the glorious march of progress towards the modern world. Instead liberty is something which has to be fought for afresh by successive generations."
I look forward to finishing this book and reading more works on liberty by Ben Wilson as soon as he finds time to write them.
I'd also like to get in touch with Ben – anyone know where he works?