June 29, 2016 Print

It’s essential to understand the ideas of individual freedom in order to promote them successfully. Millions of people around the world, however, have never been exposed to the fundamental works of classical liberal thought. The Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), an Atlas Network partner organization based in Kochi, India, has recently translated Frédéric Bastiat’s The Law and Eamonn Butler’s Foundations of a Free Society into Malayalam in order to promote an increased awareness of the prerequisites necessary for greater individual and economic freedom. These translations can make the ideas of liberty newly available to around 35 million Malayalam speakers.

“Malayalam is the native language for the state of Kerala, the southernmost federal state of India,” said Dr. D Dhanuraj, CPPR chairman. “Kerala is known for established left rule and socialist welfare models practiced by the state. Even though many of the social indicators are of higher standards, the economy is badly managed. The other issue is the rule of law. Both the translations are important in this context.”

By providing previously inaccessible knowledge to the large Malayalam-speaking population of India, the translation of these two texts help CPPR achieve some of the goals in its organizational mission within Kerala. These include working to “strengthen democratic institutions to enable coherent, reasoned, and consistent policy formulation, leading to better quality of life of every citizen,” and to “popularize liberal values, promote civil liberties, and protect human rights.”

The Law has provided an effective examination of the proper role of government and the rule of law since its publication in 1850. In it, Bastiat offered an objection to the “legalized plunder” of governments that appropriate the property of some in order to give to others — an idea that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels had advocated two years earlier with The Communist Manifesto.

Foundations of a Free Society had already been translated into Amharic, Swahili, Slovenian, Spanish, Armenian, French, Icelandic, Korean, Polish, and Turkish since its publication in 2013, and CPPR’s new Malayalam translation adds to this growing list of worldwide languages.

“This book aims to give people in less-free societies the confidence that they can take public affairs out of the hands of a strong government and trust the people instead,” said author Eamonn Butler, who is also director of Atlas Network partner the Adam Smith Institute.

“In the present scenario, as there is general understanding about the freedom of choice and liberal policies for the sound economic model, the translations play a major role in educating and creating awareness among the regional population,” Dhanuraj wrote. “We are planning to print a few hard copies to distribute among college students. We are also planning to organize discussion forums in colleges to present the cases of the two books. We have also been approached to do book reviews of the translated works so that we can get into newspapers and magazines.”