Mark S. Weiner

Archive for the ‘Sweden’ Category

John Stuart Mill and the Rule of the Clan in Sweden

In Freedom of speech, Individualism, Race, Rule of the Clan, Sweden on March 26, 2016 at 11:41 am

Two items were published this week that brought me away from thinking about documentary film and back to The Rule of the Clan.

The first was a blog post titled “Why Libertarians Should Champion Social Liberty,” by Jerry Taylor of the Niskanen Center. Taylor advances a position that at first glance seems to run counter to core libertarian principles: he argues that “freedom is advanced by [government] preventing private racial discrimination.” This view is anathema to many libertarians, Taylors notes, who believe that government action to prevent private discrimination is “flatly immoral no matter how well-intentioned or worthwhile the consequences might be.”

But Taylor suggests that this is a misunderstanding of the libertarian tradition—one of whose patron saints, John Stuart Mill, had this to say in the first chapter of On Liberty:

Like other tyrannies, the tyranny of the majority was at first, and is still vulgarly, held in dread, chiefly as operating through the acts of the public authorities. But reflecting persons perceived that when society is itself the tyrant—society collectively, over the separate individuals who compose it—its means of tyrannizing are not restricted to the acts which it may do by the hands of its political functionaries. Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.

Protection, therefore, against the tyranny of the magistrate is not enough: there needs protection also against the tyranny of the prevailing opinion and feeling; against the tendency of society to impose, by other means than civil penalties, its own ideas and practices as rules of conduct on those who dissent from them; to fetter the development, and, if possible, prevent the formation, of any individuality not in harmony with its ways, and compel all characters to fashion themselves upon the model of its own. There is a limit to the legitimate interference of collective opinion with individual independence: and to find that limit, and maintain it against encroachment, is as indispensable to a good condition of human affairs, as protection against political despotism.

Taylor then goes on to suggest—here’s the kicker—that “Mill’s heir on this matter might well be Mark Weiner.”

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Improbable Things in Foreign Languages

In Europe, Law and film, Rule of the Clan, Sweden on August 12, 2015 at 6:35 am

Here are three improbable things collected into one audio file: me talking 1) on Austrian radio, 2) in German, and 3) about my latest video project (“Wood, Water, Stone, Sky, Milk”). The program was broadcast recently on “Salzburg Aktuell” on radio ORF.

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And while I’m on foreign languages, three nice discussions of The Rule of the Clan appeared recently in Sweden, in Dagens Nyheter, here, and in Svenska Dagbladet: a full review here and a mention here. I’ve been extraordinarily pleased with the attention given to the book there.

Finally, my friend Ulrich Haltern and I recently published an article in the EUtopia Magazine about liberal identity in Europe after the terror attacks in Paris and Copenhagen. We wrote most of the piece back in mid-January, so we’re glad to finally see it available. It was originally written in German, and it reads better in that language, but an English translation is also available.

ROC discussed i svenska i na hrvatskom jeziku

In Rule of the Clan, Sweden on November 22, 2014 at 4:08 pm

I’m very pleased that The Rule of the Clan was the subject of two reviews in languages other than English this week. One review, in the Swedish magazine Axess, is by the writer, journalist, and filmmaker Bengt G. Nilsson, who calls the book “a powerful plea for the strong state governed by liberal principles.”

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The second review is by Zvonimir Šikić, professor of mathematics at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, and appears in Banka.hr. Šikić writes that “libertarians, who regularly assert that the opposition between individual autonomy and the state is insurmountable, especially should consider the modern paradox of individualism, which Weiner excellently explains and documents.”

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And thus the world grows smaller …

 

Regeln om klanen

In Individualism, Rule of the Clan, Sweden on February 11, 2014 at 8:10 am

PippiTVOr should that be Lag av klanen? However you say it, The Rule of the Clan has received some attention recently from scholars in Sweden, and I’m really happy about it. Last week Peter Santesson published an article titled “More Independent People” in Axess Magasin, a very thoughtful Swedish journal devoted to public discussion of the liberal arts and social sciences. For the article in Swedish (“Mer självständiga människor”—which just looks so much more exciting), see here. I’m assuming that even in Swedish Santesson’s title refers to the novel Independent People by the Icelandic author Halldór Laxness. That’s marvelous, because I began writing the book in Akureyri, Iceland.

Santesson discusses my book in the course of meditating on the tension he sees in public discourse today between individualism as “personal expression” (the “desire to be unique and achieve self-realization”) and individualism as “autonomy” (the ability to be “independent and able to stand on one’s own feet”). In Santesson’s view: “Autonomy’s value is not often talked about. Individuality as personal expression is, however, highly topical. One wants to be Pippi Longstocking, but is no longer talking about gold money.”

Santesson’s lively and stimulating article seems to have inspired a post on the blog of Swedish writer Dick Erixon. And I’m told by the Swedish journalist Per Brinkemo that the book was helpful to him in thinking about his forthcoming work Between Clan And State: Somalis in Sweden, which will be published in April—and which promises to be excellent.