Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Berlin Wall Season: Stability vs freedom

David Aaronovitch in the Times writes about those who comfortably live in the West and celebrate the "stability" of tyrannies.

I've seen this view before, "who are we to judge Iran", or "Cuba has the best health outcomes in Latin America" (because you can believe statistics from dictatorships), or "maybe they aren't ready for freedom yet" being one of my favourite "patronise the people who aren't free" phrases.

He damns both a book, and a forthcoming documentary series, both sourced from the BBC, for taking the view that maybe it's "for the best", for example making the absurd conclusion that because Cuba seems better off that Haiti, economically, then obviously Cuba has the better system. Ignoring, of course, that Haiti spent not far short of two generations under murderous dictatorships (which Mother Teresa happily provided succour) and has not recovered.

His conclusion of this moral relativism is damning:

if we shape the imagined world to the necessities of this “realism” by deploying the relativist declension: it isn’t so bad, we aren’t so much better, it may be what they want, their politics are intractable, fools rush in where angels fear to tread.

And behind the new curtains of iron or velvet, the oppressed come to curse us for our complacency, damn us for our hypocrisy and lose hope in the possibilities of liberty.


For indeed, so many thought we would all have to live with the USSR and its satellite autocracies forever, when all it took was persistence, patience, hope, connections between the oppressed and friends in the West, to gradually pull more and more at what was binding together the corrupt edifices of totalitarianism, and they all came crumbling down.

Nothing terrifies the power holders in Beijing, Havana, Tehran, Minsk, Moscow, Pyongyang, Damascus, Malabo, Rangoon, etc. more than the knowledge that what keeps this from happening is the triumph of the fear they spread and the apathy it induces. At a certain point, the fear subsides, the apathy is overwhelmed, and the time comes for people to stare the cold dark machines of murder, called governments, in the eye and say, no more.

The only certainty is it is a matter of when, not if, and whether the response is a gun or surrender.

1 comment:

real estate in BC said...

"It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it." Suu Kyi

I think that Fall of the Berlin wall is symbol, symbol of hope and freedom for millions that fight against totalitarian regimes they live in. Even if we have freedom we should not forget that there are still people who don't have it and that's why we should support them by commemorating days like the fall of Berlin wall.

Best regards,
Jay