Freedom for Sale

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

John Kampfner describes how emerging middle classes around the world have often been willing to sacrifice certain democratic rights – such as free speech, an open media, and free elections – in exchange for prosperity and security. In Freedom for Sale: Why the World Is Trading Democracy for Security he shows how capitalism and democracy are not as inextricably linked as we once thought.

John Kampfner will be speaking
Wednesday, March 17, at 7:00 pm
Book Culture
536 West 112th Street

John Kampfner will be taking part in a panel discussion with Joel Simon (Committee to Protect Journalists) and Corey Robin (Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York)
Thursday, March 18, at 6:00–8:00 pm
Open Society Institute
400 West 59th Street
Additional information here.


John Kampfner

Comments [15]

Vic from !

"A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose..."

"Protect what you have, and don't get involved in other issues.
It will only cause you trouble."

Mar. 18 2010 03:30 AM
Vic from !

Thanks Leonard.
Thanks John Kampfner.
There's so much to consider in this interview
and in Mr. Kampfner's work > "Freedom For Sale"
And Where Are We Now ?
Theatrics & Fear ~ an Unbalanced Society & Security
And the freedom not to get caught.

Past Tense or Present Tense ?


Mar. 17 2010 10:57 PM
Uos from Queens

so interesting, thanks for the great segment!

Mar. 17 2010 12:50 PM
NJMom from maplewood

One thing about why their system works in China and Sigapore has to do with the nature of Chinese culture. Chinese people have come from a long history of patriarch society.
They are used to follow, obey and not to question as long as their needs were met.

To ask people there to demand the democracy westerners ask here, it may take more than several generations.

Mar. 17 2010 12:43 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Singapore aside. Capitalism without democracy is Capitalism without the rule of (contract) law. There is no coincidence that the likes of Google and Apple are in the States whilst in China you get lead toys and tainted milk, and in Russia, the state arbitrarily jails out of favor captains of industry and seizes private property as they see fit.

Mar. 17 2010 12:39 PM
Parlan from UWS

A small-scale parallel to this, it seems to me, is the phenomenon of gated communities we have, with private security and restricted access, keeping out people and aspects of society that are deemed unwanted.

Mar. 17 2010 12:38 PM

Interesting, but you are ignoring the central role the US plays at the center of your construct.

Millions of Chinese, Russians, and others who you say are accepting of some freedoms in exchange for wealth, own US (and Canadian) homes, US bank accounts, and increasingly US passports.

Therefore even the world's despots have more of a stake than ever in preserving the ideals of democracy and capitalism, if only in America -- they are literally banking on these. We are the world's safety valve.

Mar. 17 2010 12:38 PM
Phil from Park Slope

Who was the Republican senator that said within the past week or two that a government similar to that of Singapore would be preferable to the Obama administration?

Mar. 17 2010 12:30 PM
Eric from B'klyn

This seems similar to what Aldous huxley described in Brave New World, rather than Orwell's Big Brother. Neil Postman, of NYU, observed this dichotomy in the 1990s

Mar. 17 2010 12:29 PM
rhess from New York

Having spent a great deal of time in Russia, I disagree with the guest's last comment - that Russians might tsk tsk when when journalists are murdered, but then they forget all about it and are busy going out to restaurants. The people I know care deeply, but don't see any mechanism in society or any way that they can protest without endangering themselves.

Mar. 17 2010 12:27 PM

Took Singaporeans 20 yrs to stop spitting. Today's college aged Singaporeans are the first generation with any cojones, starting to stand up for themselves and their neighbors. After 50 years or more of simply shuffling toward the next dollar.


Mar. 17 2010 12:21 PM
David from New York

The freedom of photographers in Britain is under real threat from an hysteria afflicting law enforcement astonishingly widely that assimilates photography with terrorism.

More info:

Fortunately this hasn't taken off in the US in the same way.


David Brabyn
Photojournalist - New York

Mar. 17 2010 12:18 PM
Jackie from Waterloo, Canada

I just finished reading The Shock Doctrine, by Naomi Klein... it illustrated the points Mr. Kampfner is making, more to the corporate side of things... I am very interested in reading Mr. Kampfner's book
This is such an important issue to our society, thank you for shining light on it

Mar. 17 2010 12:17 PM

Another interesting guest you could have on this topic would be Bruce Schneier, a well-respected expert on security issues.

You can find his site at

His biggest pet peeve is "Security theater," actions which have the appearance of making people safer, but do not actually provide any real benefit from a security standpoint.

Mar. 17 2010 12:16 PM

Are you saying that the great experiment of pushing American Capitalism onto Communist countries, championed by Clinton, has failed? Is this a 10 year experiment? 20 year? How about Democracy? and when would one know?

Believers of both Democracy and Capitalism believe that ultimately they will succeed -- because they are natural and correct and the only ideology Americans think about and largely revere.

Mar. 17 2010 12:10 PM

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