China versus the Communists; American civil liberties

I don’t know about you but I’ve come across my fair share of anti-Asian bigotry over the past few weeks. This is not a good trend.

Here is my public service announcement for the week: China is not the Communist Party. Billions of Chinese citizens are lorded over by a Communist Party. Singapore, Hawaii, California, Taiwan (see this great article), Sydney, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Jakarta have all managed to avoid repressing data and silencing scientists.

You’re welcome.

Jacques has been subtly prodding me to write an essay complaining about the loss of civil liberties in the United States due to coronavirus (“every true libertarian is doing it”), but I just can’t muster up the willpower. I realize that civil liberties will be attacked by governments. Covid-19 is a crisis, after all, but I don’t think the attempts so far are unjustified. Hear me out:

There is a global pandemic and the virus causing all of the mayhem is one we know little about. It’s a deadly virus. It’s highly contagious. Governments have attempted to protect lives. They’ve done a terrible job, and factions are trying to use the crisis to push their agendas.

Predictable, but what about the pandemic? I don’t want to get the plague. I don’t want my small children or my wife to get the plague. And I certainly don’t want to be responsible for passing the plague on to family members who are most susceptible to the virus (my children’s grandparents).

The backlash against government stabs in the dark have already begun. Small businesses and many, many workers have been screwed. If the trade-off, though, is between small businesses/lower wage workers going broke or my family members dying unnecessarily, bye Felicia.

In politics, sometimes it’s good to play offense and sometimes it’s better to play defense. Libertarians can play offense here and there, such as when the economy is roaring, or when wars are unjustified. In a crisis like this, though, it’s best to wait and see what happens. It’s best to play defense and wait for a good place to counterattack. It’s bad enough that crackpots and racist frat boys claim the mantle of Libertarian (we wouldn’t want to be intolerant, after all), but when our leading lights start downplaying this plague before anybody really knows what’s going on, it just gives liberty a bad name.

9 thoughts on “China versus the Communists; American civil liberties

  1. “… knowing what is going on” does seem paramount. So why, in this hyperconnected world, are we bombarded with propaganda numbers in place of meaningful statistics? Or is there a reliable published source somewhere?

    • I don’t think there’s a single reliable source. There is too little information and not enough standardization in data gathering. All I know is that it’s too early to mount a defense of our civil liberties, and that if the world were more federated this would be less of a problem.

  2. It’s never “too early to mount a defense of our civil liberties.”

    We’d probably be a lot better off if the near-universal response to lockdown/shutdown orders had been “yeah, that’s not gonna happen — and if you press the matter, you’re going to find out what a governor’s head looks like on a pike.”

    • I share your sentiment, TLK, but I think your heart is in the wrong place. We don’t know enough about this virus.

      My real worry is how this crisis will take root in the minds of Americans who have been financially devastated by it: unskilled workers and small business owners. Nothing could be better for fascism in America than the combined dissatisfaction of these two groups with the American federal system.

    • “We don’t know enough about this virus.”

      Which is PRECISELY why we shouldn’t have jumped directly to “let the politicians do anything they damn well please.”

      Making an enormous, unprecedented change like locking down a substantial population and shutting down a substantial portion of a large economy is what you do when you DO know enough, not just whenever you happen to panic.

    • But I don’t think we’ve let the politicians do anything they please. There’s been pushback from get-go (including by other politicians). And the anecdotal evidence from Europe and Asia pointed to social distancing and less crowds as a first step to avoiding the fates of Italy and Iran. Have some politicians taken things too far? Of course. But as we argue they’re being held accountable.

    • I generally eschew using NoL comments to plug my own stuff, but I think it’s reasonable to make an exception given this discussion, so here.

Please keep it civil

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