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Thursday, October 23, 2003

Free vs. Unfree

One of those simplistic dividing lines that can often provide illumination in a complex world is the difference between a free and unfree society. Communism/socialism, facism and the current Islamofacism are more similar than dissimilar as various faces of totalitarianism. There have been apologists for Communists around the world but they couldn't be more wrong. In yet another example of where this all leads to, I highly recommend this Claudia Rosett column.
Here is an excerpt:

The report presents the grim individual stories of 30 defectors interviewed by Mr. Hawk in-depth, and culled from these, to further clarify the customs of the camps, is a long list of the tortures described. "Worst of all," as the report puts it, is a roster of stories detailing the routine murder of babies born to prisoners, as told by eight separate eyewitnesses. One common denominator is that when pregnant women are forcibly repatriated after fleeing to China, it is policy to murder their newborns, because they might have been fathered by Chinese men. One account describes babies tossed on the ground to die, with their mothers forced to watch. In another interview, a former prisoner, a 66-year-old grandmother, identified as "Detainee #24" to protect relatives still perhaps alive in North Korea, describes being assigned to help in the delivery of babies who were thrown immediately into a plastic-lined box to die in bulk lots. The report notes: "The interviewer had difficulty finding words to describe the sadness in this grandmother's eyes and the anguish on her face as she recounted her experience as a midwife at the detention center in South Sinuiju"--one of the sites shown in detail in the accompanying satellite photos.
This is why all forms of totalitarianism are essentially a crime against humanity.

Holding forth on the importance of freedom, here is a pretty good little piece I received in an email:

FLOTSAM & JETSAM: An Army Of Principles - From John Pugsley, Chairman, Sovereign Society
"An army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. Neither the channel nor the Rhine will arrest its progress. It will march on the horizon of the world and it will conquer." -Thomas Paine (engraved on the headstone of Rose Wilder Lane)
"...Paine was correct in his belief that an army of principles will penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot. History shows us the power of adhering to principles; the stunning advances in science and technology are based on exactly this concept. Yet, the principles of freedom have failed to attract many followers. This is a tragic puzzle considering the consistent failure of governments. In our lifetimes we have witnessed the failure of communism and fascism and the stagnation of socialism. Leaving decisions and responsibilities in the hands of individuals produces progress and peace, while transferring them to the state leads to stagnation and conflict. Why then don't all thinking people join Paine's army of principles? The failure lies in the erroneous premises on which liberty's intellectual pioneers built the case for freedom. The philosophy of liberty was built on transcendental arguments, not on science. Harvard professor Edward O. Wilson, the great synthesizer of sociology and biology, identified the problem. "If we explore the biological roots of moral behavior and explain their material origins and biases, we should be able to fashion an enduring ethical consensus. We can't start out from a transcendental, a-priori starting point."... As biology, anthropology, and genetics advance, we are discovering the truth about human nature. From this is emerging the realization that nature endows no species with rights, but, through evolution, endows them only with a specific "nature." By understanding our own nature we have the opportunity to discover principles on which a new, more rational and scientific social contract can emerge. ...the most fundamental principle is that any workable system must leave individuals sovereign over their lives and property. For whenever an individual passes his or her sovereignty on to another person or group, those given power are bound by their natures to first weigh their own self-interest, before considering the interest of the person who has entrusted them with power. Power will tend to corrupt, as it always has..."
"It's tragic that this river of logic has not swept away mankind's dependence on the state," Pugsley continues. "In spite of prose from the likes of Thomas Paine, Adam Smith, John Locke, Frederic Bastiat, and 20th century giants like von Mises, Hayek, Rothbard, Lefevre and Rand, we seem further away from a world where individuals are sovereign. Wars rage, tyrants rule, and in the large democracies, the masses vote themselves into bondage."

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