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Today marks the dolorous 25th anniversary of the bloody crackdown and heartless massacre of Tiananmen Square by the loathsome, evil, Chinese dictators. It was a truly black day for world freedom. The idealistic, noble, and very brave, student-led protest was basically advocating overall reform, less corruption, democracy, and liberty. But it was called a pro-"democracy" demonstration from the start, and now it's almost exclusively remembered as being part of a pro-"democracy" movement. Well, democracy has advanced only slightly in the past quarter-century. Only to a scattered, inconsistent, and minor extent do the Chinese people actually get to elect their leaders, and decide who will rule them based on a majority vote. But freedom has advanced substantially. So too justice, and even impartial, objective rule of law. It's rather sad and odd that neither the Chinese nor the world publicly note it much. This problem -- and grave philosophical error -- began a long time ago. Indeed, in 1989 the Peking protesters occupying the central Square built a statue explicitly called "The Goddess of Democracy" to symbolize their protest. They did not build a "Goddess of Individual Liberty." The difference is telling -- and overwhelming. The sloppy language and poor thinking of the demonstrators and everyone else -- then and now -- is a true disaster for all. This business of government reformers incoherently stammering: "I want democracy -- you know: majority rule plus individual liberty," is very confusing to everybody. It renders the all-important battle royal for freedom and individual rights exceedingly difficult. Indeed, it mainly serves to advance the trivial notion and minor goal of a nation getting to choose its political leaders. As for the chance the newly-empowered people of China in 1989 might have used their new "democracy" to advance welfare-statist bureaucracy and tyranny far more than the economic capitalism and personal libertarianism recently advanced by the communist Chinese dictators -- well, no-one cares to consider that. Best to close our eyes to reality, and pretend that embarrassing issue doesn't exist. In the end, post-Tiananmen China has advanced fairly far down the only road that matters: not towards slimy, worthless democracy, but towards all-important freedom. When it comes to government, politics, and the law, the only things which matter are liberty, justice, and individual rights. Put more simply, the only thing which counts is individual liberty. And the Chinese people -- altho' still grossly and unconscionably deprived -- have a lot more of this today than they did 25 years ago.
In JTS's discussion of the Fantasies of Concealed Carry, Selene and I accused each other of confirmation bias. We both offered facts. As Ludwig von Mises noted about capitalists and socialists, they tend to agree on the facts: at a certain time and place, a given good or service had some known price. They disagree on what the facts mean. I grant that Selene is pretty good with a gun. He says that he never misses. I offered several cases where highly trained users (police officers) did miss, egregiously. To me, that raises a deeper question. Should we punish drunk driving? Simply being inebriated while operating a motor vehicle does not necessarily cause automobile accidents. Also, we seem to have few if any facts or anecdotes similar to Selene's from people who claim to have a million safe miles while drunk behind the wheel. If we did, would that change the argument for criminalizing DUI and DWI? Many communities have laws against discharging a firearm. Here in Austin, Texas, I am confident that not all of the New Year's Eve fireworks came from Black Cat. That is an example of wanton misuse of a firearm. I doubt that anyone lost their right to keep and bear arms. But we demand more of drivers than we do of gun owners. Not paying your speeding tickets (whether or not damage ensued) will cost you your license. How does someone lose their concealed carry permit? When I worked for Carl Zeiss, one of the other sales engineers was also working on his private pilot's license. Waiting for a meeting, we talked about the requirements; and our manager said that it was easier to get a pilot's license in America than a driver's license in Germnay. And, as has been pointed out, Germany's gun laws did not prevent a school massacre, a two-hour rampage that took 16 lives in 2002. The deepest question, then, might be: why have laws at all? "When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns" applies to every law. When libel is outlawed, only slanderers will enjoy freedom of speech. I believe that laws are common statements of social contract stating the general expectations of the community for the definition of individual rights and responsibilities. You can claim that the laws are wrong, unjust, non-objective, or whatever, and you can claim that natural law, God's law, or the theories of Plato, Aristotle, Locke, Hobbes, Marx, or Rand better inform you. You cannot deny knowledge of the laws. (Granted that today, with Homeland Security, we may well have secret laws. That is a different problem.) In our society, we are all pretty clear that driving a car while under the influence of alcohol is so inherently dangerous that no one can do it well enough. Here on MSK's OL, however, we are not bound by what is. We are free to consider what could and should be.
I think about my OL compatriots (and almost-compatriots, separated as we are by Homeland Security and old glories) even when trawling and reviewing my obsessions in the Middle East. In a couple of posts I made reference to the business/capitalism/entrepreneur class that produced many of the Freedom and Justice Party candidates and honchos in Egypt, and wondered at the story I fished up about US-FJP discussions slopping over into "we are capitalists, too!" wonderlands.** Still, as careful readers will have noted, libertarian ideas in one sector -- free economies (or a least a freeing of economic actors from state control and bureaucratic oversight) -- can come from the least-probable sector. Lots of the reform side of the FJP are of this stripe. But, and most horrible but, the guy who will either be the next President of Egypt or a close contender is a 'free-market' capitalist of high achievement as well as the husband of an apparent ninja woman ... If anyone can name him and picture his wife in the next ten minutes or so, I will donate several copies of Nietzsche translations for our Election Party. Besides that rather startling news about crazed capitalist sharia-guy as Prez ... I came across a Syrian Randian. I kid you not. Only the brave will venture into this site as it is dense with opinion (like OL) and argument (like, um, not SOLO) and a single obsessive topic. But get a load of this quote from a man called Khalid on Walls حيطان as a tease for new readers: “Crony capitalism” is an oxymoron. To advocate for a fettered market system is to advocate for a mixed economy and more of today’s problems. What we instead should be demanding is pure unfettered capitalism with the sole role of government being the protection of individual rights. Link to full-size version of this photograph of Farjella, one the many sites in Syria's haunting 'Dead Cities' region. ____________ ** The GOP Brotherhood of Egypt (Salon) Demonized in the U.S. as radical terrorists, Egypt's Islamists are actually led by free-market businessmen BY AVI ASHER-SCHAPIRO