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Posts Tagged ‘Human Rights

Fickle Politics Aside (Part 2)

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Another example of setting aside differences in the favor of championing liberty comes from Washington Post sports columnist Thomas Boswell. He points out the difference between western democracy-based governments and the very nasty authoritarian-capitalism running China. At times people here may claim the moguls of industry are in bed with politicians through heavily funded lobbyists, special interests, etc.

This Olympics will be remembered as a worldwide multi-week debate on the historic experiment that evolved by accident here over the past 25 years.

[…]

The largest nation on earth has unexpectedly evolved to the point where it is capitalist in every practical sense, including an entrenched elite every bit as ruthless as America’s robber barons. Yet China has kept its strict, one-party, often-thuggish Communist rule.

Used under a Creative Commons License. "Guarding" by tinou bao (via Flickr).

Used under a Creative Commons License. "Guarding" by tinou bao (via Flickr).

This form of capitalism is, as Boswell alludes, reminiscent of times in our country’s history where capitalism has shown its ugly, social-Darwinist side. He continues:

“The West has assumed that capitalism must lead to democracy, that free markets inevitably result in free societies,” Philip P. Pan wrote in “Out of Mao’s Shadow.” “But by embracing market reforms while continuing to restrict political freedom, China’s Communist leaders have presided over an economic revolution without surrendering power.”

Boswell continues to discuss two contrasting ideas in his article–between the authoritarian human rights abuses and the showcase of economic progress. Both make for a very interesting read.

My recent “Crooks!” category showcases how bad it can be here with politicians. As Americans, we should have extremely high standards for ourselves and our representatives. We are Reagan’s shining city on the hill. But we should also focus our free media on countries like China at times when they invite the lens of the world upon them.

In the same vein, we should balance comparisons like those Boswell draws equating times from our history with what others are going through today. It is an easy argument to make, but not very intelligent. Countries will find plenty of knowledge, technology and science that can allow their growing pains (politically, economically, environmentally, etc.) to be measurably less than what the Anglo-Saxon west (read Charles Dickens and Upton Sinclair for great examples) endured. Through that lense, it is unconscionable for modernizing countries such as China to have the same (or worse) situations compared to what we did one hundred years ago.

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Written by walonline

August 7, 2008 at 10:29 pm

Fickle Politics Aside

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One very interesting development paralleling the events unfolding in China has been the outcry from both sides of the aisle in the United States. It’s great to see that, although we have differences on many things, we are quite united in our thoughts on human rights.

'1984'" by surfstyle.

Used under a Creative Commons License. "George Orwell: '1984'" by surfstyle.

One great example of this is the outcry from Marty Kaplan, writing at the Huffington Post. He calls these the “Orwell Olympics.” First, quick update to the status quo:

Now that every dissident within a hundred miles of Beijing has been intimidated, jailed or internally exiled; now that the Chinese communist party has shut down formerly legal means of citizen redress, like petitioning the government; now that free assembly has been banned, unsightly small businesses have been bulldozed, hotel computers have been bugged, and the foreign press has been bamboozled […].

Now, policies appear to be changing.

[…] the president is finally saying in public, in Thailand, what he says he has been saying in private: “America stands in firm opposition to China’s detention of political dissidents, human rights advocates and religious activists. We speak out for a free press, freedom of assembly and labor rights — not to antagonize China’s leaders, but because trusting its people with greater freedom is the only way for China to develop its full potential.”

It’s about time, cowboy.

[…]

Our president never let the bully of Baghdad crimp his freedom-agenda rhetoric. Why did it take him so long to send some public pro-democracy love to the Big Brothers of Beijing?

I agree with Kaplan. Prior to his ending line, he speculates that our ties to China as a trade partner have made it difficult for Bush, but now with its visibility, it is more difficult to maintain “quiet diplomacy.”

Too bad that following the Olympics this will not focus us, as a country, anew towards maintaining (and increasing) liberty in our homeland. We have it really good, but there’s always room to improve systems and continue to be on the cutting edge

Written by walonline

August 6, 2008 at 9:18 pm