Freedom for Sale

Freedom for Sale by John Kampfner

Freedom for Sale by John Kampfner

Usually I look forward to the Guildford Book Festival, but this year I found it to be a grave disappointment.

Amnesty International usually have an event worth going to and this year it was former editor of the New Statesman John Kampfner talking about his book Freedom for Sale.

Before though talking on his book, John Kampfner talked of his current work at Index on Censorship and our barbaric libel laws, laws that are in urgent need of reform as they are stifling free speech, and to their credit the coalition government are pledged to reform. He urged everyone to sign the on-line petition calling for libel reform.

It was unfortunate that John Kampfner read from a script as he clearly knew his stuff.

Freedom for Sale looks at eight countries as case studies. Why are people so willing to sell their freedom in return for wealth and a consumer lifestyle?

On a general principle of beggar thy neighbour a critical mass of people in each of the countries examined enter into an unofficial pact with their government. So long as they are ok then a blind eye can be turned.

The most interesting part of the evening was the question and answer session that followed his overview of the book.

At the end of the evening I walked with John Kampfner to the station. We agreed the cuts announced earlier in the week were going to hit the poor and the vulnerable the hardest, the people who could least afford them as they had no slack. I said I was quite impressed with Russia Today and John agreed (for those who have not seen it is a must watch TV station). John also recommended Al Jazeera (I have not seen but have heard good reports). We both agreed that French-style protests in response to the cuts were unlikely. The only area where we are seeing any form of direct action is on climate change by informal grass roots groups like Climate Camp and Climate Rush.

Now I have to read the book!

Earlier in the day I found Peace Oil, an Israeli extra virgin, cold-pressed, single estate olive oil, on sale in St Mary’s Church in Guildford. But all may not be as it seems.

Up coming event

Israeli Apartheid: Hosted by West Surrey Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Ben White, author of Israeli Apartheid and campaign co-ordinator of A Just Peace for Palestine, will talk of the plight of Palestinians under Israeli occupation. 7-30pm Thursday 18 November 2010, St Nicolas Parish Centre, Guildford.

Also see

Chinese Dissident Liu Xiaobo Awarded Nobel Peace Prize

Eyewitness account of Tiananmen Square

The persecution of Hoder

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