The Ideas of Freedom: The Debate Continues

The Guatemalan Gloria Alvarez during a speech about populism that went viral on networks. (Screenshot)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Carlos Alberto Montaner, 23 June 2019 — Gloria Álvarez has returned to the charge. She has written How to Talk to a Conservative. This volume is the logical derivation of another very successful and very controversial text of hers: How to Talk to a Progressive. Her new work carries two claims in its subtitles: Why instead of encouraging it conservatism obstructs freedom in our societies  and Why liberalism is much more effective than conservatism to annihilate cultural Marxism. Obviously, Gloria gives the word liberalism the meaning that it is given in Europe and Latin America. In the United States, “liberalism” is something akin to social democracy, at least as far as public spending is concerned.

Meanwhile, the progressives, the socialists and (especially) the communists, felt justly alluded to and berated Gloria: “Is it only the left that makes mistakes?”

Gloria responded intelligently, “How is it possible to come from a nation like Guatemala, with 65% of the people living in poverty, and preach the virtues of the market and minimum government?”

But, on the other side, the conservative right also attacked her. Gloria is militantly atheist and believers are often intolerant of those who do not worship “the true god,” which is, of course, theirs. Gloria is feminist in the liberal way, that is, without disguises of false morality. She is an ecologist, to the extreme of launching an organization dedicated to reforestation in her country in 2012.

Gloria is, above all, a free spirit. She believes in the decriminalization of prostitution and drug use. People can do with their bodies what they want, because that is the most urgent terrain of freedom. They even have the right to make mistakes like smoking marijuana, snorting cocaine up their nose, injecting heroin or rubbing substances on their genitals that increase sexual pleasure. It is not up to the whole of society, and much less to the State, to dictate people’s behavior in bed. What two adults, or more, what they do in the privacy of a bedroom is their business alone.

Gloria attended a gay pride party Gloria with a T-shirt with a “heterosexual” legend to support the protesters. You do not have to be gay to feel solidarity with the cause of gays.

Gloria does not propose them, much less recommend them, but she knows that freedom includes varied behaviors and attitudes. Freedom even includes the right to die with dignity. As a Spanish suicide wrote: “To live is a right, not a duty.”

As well-known commentators say, Gloria’s ideas often provoke two contradictory attitudes. The bad is that all this usually opposes the most conservative conservatism. The good is that liberalism has been gradually defeating the ideologies that have opposed it since it was born in the atmosphere of the Enlightenment in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The conservatives, the Marxists, the collectivists of all stripes, even the believers, although they do not recognize it, have had to incorporate liberal ideas and beliefs before undeniable rational evidence.

Why, then, resistance to the ideas of freedom? In my opinion, because these ideas arise from the particular psychological nature of certain people. Gloria is a free spirit because she has confidence in herself. Her ideology arises from her psychological structure and not vice versa. Gloria is not afraid of life.

However, there are countless people who are filled with panic and prefer to feel protected by a higher entity. These are the people devoted to strong governments, single parties, or the caudillos. That is why the liberals, the libertarians, the anarcho-capitalists are a minority. A formidable minority that has impregnated the rest of the ideological structures, but it is still the behavior of the entrepreneurs and the free spirits and those without fear.

This makes me think that it is very likely that How to Talk to a Conservative will successful in penetration and sales, as was How to Talk to a Conservative. This volume is the logical derivation of another very successful and very controversial text of hers: How to Talk to a Progressive, but it will hardly convince those who support a conservative view of human beings.

It is possible for people’s ideas to change, as shown by a thousand valid examples ranging from Octavio Paz to Mario Vargas Llosa, but it is much more difficult to renounce one’s psychological structure and self-perception.

In any case, the debate continues and it is very positive that Gloria Álvarez is the standard-bearer of the virtues of the ideas of freedom. It is excellent.


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