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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Two dates for your diary…

Perry’s posting on the Libertarian Alliance conference reminds me to tell you about two events, one indoors and one outdoors, that may appeal to those of a libertarian temperament or tendency.

First up: less an event, more of an individualist free-speech happening. Monthly mass lone demonstrations. You can not just go along though; you have to fill in a form first. Mark Thomas explains. [Overseas readers: do follow the link, you may be astonished to discover how speech is regulated in New Britain.]

The next occasion is next Wednesday.

Second: a plug for The Battle of Ideas run by the Institute of Ideas in Kensington on the weekend of the 28th/29th October, under the slogan “Free speech is allowed”. I shall be taking part in what they are calling a Salon Debate [‘salon’ = ‘small’?] on The Surveillance Society, but there are many other attacks on state control and the tyranny of received wisdom to be enjoyed.

After we conceived the festival, Prime Minister Tony Blair was calling for a ‘battle of ideas’ in response to the London bombings on 7/7. He knows a good slogan when he sees it, but unfortunately, many of the government’s policy proposals since then seem more about closing down debate than opening it up. Laws curtailing free expression, and a general climate of inoffensive conformism, are anathema to the IoI’s aim of creating a space in which issues can be openly argued over. The recent cartoons controversy shows what a live issue free speech is: free speech is not an abstract principle but is crucial for tackling the problems society faces. It is free speech that enables different interpretations of the world to be debated on their merits.

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1 comment to Two dates for your diary…

  • Chris Harper

    When I am next in London may I suggest that 21 mass lone demonstration be organised? Everyone could start out in different places and move on all at the same time.

    That way I could show two friends the sights of London and at the same time help with the cause.