Ideas for a Free and Responsible Society

01 January 2007

Ideas have consequences. They influence the political, economic and social systems that govern our actions and thereby affect the way we live our lives. Ideas have inspired many of the political and economic arrangements that have existed at different times in different places.

Some of these arrangements have promoted creativity, innovation, peace and prosperity, leading to improvements in quality of life and enabling people to fulfill their myriad needs and goals. Other political and economic arrangements have undermined creativity, inhibited innovation and lead to civil unrest, oppression, starvation, poverty and misery.

For most of history, in most places the latter type of arrangements prevailed and as a consequence the large part of humanity was poor, oppressed and miserable. Beginning around 1500, the political and economic arrangements in some Western European countries began to shift - and improvements in living standards began to be felt throughout those societies.

Over the course of the past two hundred years, the number of countries with such beneficial political and economic arrangements has gradually increased. As a result, this period has seen rapid improvements in technology and economic conditions. Meanwhile, the number of people living in abject poverty has been declining in absolute terms for fifty years in spite of a dramatic rise in the world population. Nevertheless, over a billion people continue to live in miserable circumstances.

"Ideas for a Free and Responsible Society" is a collection of writings published on a CD. The CD contains a selection of contributions by some of the most important scholars and thinkers, both historical and contemporary, which explain the general intellectual concepts, some of the challenges, and some applications to public policy issues. This CD is designed for those who are interested in what these beneficial economic and political arrangements are that lead to economic growth and have the capacity to eliminate poverty. It does not pretend to provide a definitive answer but rather to point people in the right direction. The title of the CD, "Ideas for a Free and Responsible Society," was inspired by the observation that the political and economic arrangements that seem to be most conducive to peace and prosperity are those that exist in free and responsible societies.

In such societies, there exist certain institutions that guarantee political, economic and social freedom, and those institutions are in turn underpinned by ideas. Such ideas have been explored by individuals from many different perspectives, starting with ancient Chinese, Roman and Greek philosophers and continuing to the present day. The reader will find that a rich intellectual debate about the nature of these ideas exists even among the authors of texts on this CD.

The contents are not intended to be a comprehensive review of the literature of the subject, which is enormous. Instead, the CD contains a selection of contributions by some of the primary scholars and thinkers who have developed ideas which relate to a free and responsible society. Their contributions explain some of the general intellectual concepts and challenges, and the application of these ideas to public policy. It is hoped that the selections included on the CD will inspire readers to consider the advantages of a free and responsible society, to further investigate the wide array of literature on these topics, and even to put these ideas into practice.

If you live in Pakistan and want to own the CD: Ideas for a Free and Responsible Society, please download and fill out the following pro forma, and send it to the following address via mail only. This pro forma will enable us i) to remain in contact with you and ii) to have feedback as to the influence this CD would be having on your ideas and thinking.

Released and distributed in Pakistan by
Alternate Solutions Institute
Address: P. O. Box No: 933, GPO,
Lahore-54000 Pakistan

CD Request Form

Photo Gallery