Monday, March 06, 2006

Smith Into Arabic?

In free countries, reading classical works on economics and political freedom is taken for granted. In Iraq, the notion of translating these classics into Arabic can provoke a death-sentence from groups of armed murderers if they can identify the translators, in between their killing people randomly without the benefit of anything like ‘due process’ for no other reason than to destabilise society.

Among the classics being translated is Adam Smith’s ‘Wealth of Nations’. A new website is online publicising what is being done by a few brave people in an atmosphere intimidated by terrorism.

Read about it at:

Lamp of Liberty

The Lamp of Liberty is a non-profit and non-partisan educational advocacy project that promotes ideas of liberty and freedom in the Middle East society, to its policy makers, observers, businessmen, students, and the media. It makes available in the Arabic language important articles, books, essays, and detailed policy studies.
The Lamp of Liberty hopes to create a dialogue between individuals in the Middle East and the rest of the world on the ideas that underpin a free society and the universal aspiration for freedom. It will publish opinion articles in Arabic newspapers, present policy reports, and translate important works by Frederick Bastiat, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, F. A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, Leonard E. Read, Hernando de Soto, Fareed Zakaria, Julio H. Cole, Mario Vargas Llosa, David Hume, Voltaire, and Ibn Khaldun, among others. Topics include classical liberalism, the rule of law, property rights, economic freedom, free trade and globalization, the division of labor, limited government, challenges of democratization, and the role of institutions in economic development.
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Read the piece:

A longer account is on From (Free Minds in Free Markets):

In Arabic, "Internet" Means "Freedom" 'How to bring books to people who don't read Jonathan Rauch

Odd though it may sound, somewhere in Baghdad a man is working in secrecy to edit new Arabic versions of Liberalism, by the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, and In Defense of Global Capitalism, by the Swedish economist Johan Norberg. He is doing this at some risk of kidnap, beating, and death, because he hopes that a new Arabic-language Web site, called can change the world by publishing liberal classics.
Odder still, he may be right.

Interviewed by email, he asks to be known by a pseudonym, H. Ali Kamil. A Shiite from Iraq's south, he is an accomplished scholar, but he asks that no other personal details be revealed. Two of his friends have been killed in the postwar insurgency and chaos, one shot and the other "slaughtered." Others of his acquaintance are in hiding, visiting their families in secret. He has been threatened for working with an international agency.

Now he is collaborating not with foreign agencies but with foreign ideas. He has made Arabic translations of all or parts of more than two dozen articles and nine books and booklets. "None," he says, "were previously translated, to my knowledge, for the simple reason that they are all on liberalism and democracy, which unfortunately have little audience and advocators in the Middle East, where almost all publishing houses and press outlets are governmental—i.e., anti-liberal."

Kamil's work is anonymous out of fear, not modesty. Translating Frederic Bastiat's The Law, he says, took 20 days of intense labor. "I am proud of that, especially when I knew that the book has never been translated before. This is one of the works my heart is aching for not having my name in its front page."

Asked how he began this work, he recounts meeting an American who was lecturing in Baghdad on principles of constitutional government. The message struck home. "Yes, you could say I am libertarian," Kamil says. "I believe in liberty for all, equality and human rights, freedom and democracy, free-market ethics, and I hate extremism in everything. I believe in life more than death as being the way to happiness."

Read the whole article at:

Whatever your views on the war in Iraq and its aftermath (I broadly supported it), I doubt if anyone can be neutral in the battle for life and liberty now going on between those who want to turn the clock back towards versions of dictatorship, whether secular or religious, and those who want themselves, their families and their neighbours, to enjoy the fruits of living in a free society.


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