Monday, February 24, 2014

On Liberty: Edward Snowden and top writers on what freedom means to them

As the campaining group turns 80, Shami Chakrabarti, Ian McEwan, Tom Stoppard, Julian Barnes and others reflect on liberty

Composite of Snowden, Chakrabarti, Barnes
Edward Snowden, Shami Chakrabarti and Julian Barnes. Below: Esther Freud, Ian McEwan and Tom Stoppard. Photograph: Murdo Macleod/Rex/Felix Clay/Getty

Julian Barnes

Idealists like to claim that freedom is indivisible. Pragmatists know that it is not: on the contrary, it is easily divisible into thousands of parts, each of which has to be fought for, defended, and fought for again.
Those who wish to deprive us of freedoms rarely do so at one go, and are skilled at assuring us that loss of freedom is really something else, something necessary and advantageous, like greater safety. As soon as a politician tells you that decent, law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear from a particular measure, you can be certain that someone, somewhere, is losing a small or larger part of his or her freedom. So we need a constant, committed, cogent defence of our freedoms: in other words, liberty needs Liberty.

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