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Happy Birthday Liberty

February 23, 2009

Today is the 75th birthday of Liberty, what used to be the National Council for Civil Liberties in the UK. It’s good to remind ourselves why they were founded (in 1934) since we now live an society where the authorities have unprecedented powers of and infrastructure for surveillance. It looks like we gave too much away in response to the terrorism crisis, at least according to the professionals like the International Commission of Jurists and a previous head of MI5.

We should remember how quickly a major recession triggered the collapse of the democracies and how much it cost to recover, since it’s also the centenary of the pre-Fascist Futurist Manifesto.

For all the obvious failings of liberal democracy, I do like that books no longer have to be licensed by the Crown or the Church, and (however weakly implemented) the notion of due process of law, and limits on executive power, and so on. Perhaps I’m just too bourgeois.

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