In just 96 pages, Dr Nigel Ashford’s Principles for a Free Society, commissioned by the Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation, explains 12 of the founding ideas of free societies. These are civil society, democracy, equality, free enterprise, freedom, human rights, justice, peace, private property, the rule of law, spontaneous order and toleration.
The excellent Syed Kamall MEP introduced me to the book when we took a large case of copies to Cairo in the run up to their presidential election. Young activists soaked up these principles and I believe the Arabic version derives from Syed’s initiative.
Ashford’s style draws brilliantly on the literature of liberty to encapsulate the essence of each principle, clearing up many misconceptions. Consider for example the opening three sentences on toleration:
Toleration is the belief that one should not interfere with behaviour or actions of which one disapproves. It has two essential characteristics: disapproval of particular behaviour and a refusal to impose one’s views on others. Someone cannot be described as tolerant of something of which he approves.
I thoroughly recommend the book, which is available online free of charge here.