Monday, October 11, 2010

On The Nobel Prize

I see that the Nobel Prize for not being George Bush has been given to a Chinese dissident, currently in prison for trying to gain greater freedom for himself and his countrymen.

While it’s quite possible to carp (it is hard to see quite how this squares with the promotion of peace congresses and the reduction of standing armies, it might well be possible to find more deserving people around the world, and the choice is clearly a political statement) the award is undoubtedly in the spirit that Nobel intended, the statement is the right sort of politics, and Liu Xiaobo has genuinely worked to make life better for his fellow man, risking, and ultimately forfeiting, his own comfort and liberty to do so. So, well done, that man.

China is a little freer because of what he has done, and a little more so today, because of the Nobel committee, who seem to have got one right for once*. Freedom, prosperity and peace tend to go hand in hand, and one day, in 30 or 40 years time, the Chinese press will have given up politics and will be full of articles moaning about those bloody Europeans with their round eyes, strange religious practices and smelling of milk, coming over here, taking our jobs.

*I also notice that the Literature prize has gone to Mario Vargas Llosa, a great writer, not tediously leftwing in his work, and not, as far as I know, in his life, either. Something of a novelty. If it weren’t for his pathological obsession with getting some form of detailed and slightly peculiar sex act into almost every paragraph he would probably be even better. But he’s worth reading which, in a writer, is the best thing there is, and the only thing worth rewarding.

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