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.

Some Musings on China: Why We Need Not Fear Beijing

The recent ouster of Bo Xilai from the Communist Party can provide an interesting glimpse into the political mechanisms of the Chinese state. The fact that Mr. Bo was dismissed for “corruption” charges means that he was probably doing something right, or that he was too sloppy with his privileges and embarrassed the wrong people. We all know that socialism, in all its forms, leads to benefits for the few at the expense of the many (remember the bailouts of Western financial institutions?), but Mr. Bo’s ouster deserves a closer look, because he was a fairly prominent politician, and was actually slated as a possible successor to Hu Jintao, the Communist party’s current boss.

What I want to focus on is the fact that Mr. Bo was ousted at all. This move means that Beijing is becoming increasingly responsive to the demands of its citizens. Indeed, as China continues to liberalize its markets, democratic initiatives, whether real or appeasing, will continue to bubble up throughout the fascist state. This is because democracy is the natural political order that arises out of market-based institutions (private property, international trade, etc.). The world will have to be careful with China’s democratic transition though. Democracy is not a good thing in itself, especially democracy that is based upon an allegiance to a state. I am thinking of France in the 19th century and Germany in the 20th, although the democracies that sprung up during the post-colonial revolutions can also be good examples.

The main ideas behind the post-colonial revolutions were state sovereignty and democracy – not liberty – and the results, I think, speak for themselves. Continue reading

Some Chinese Links

I apologize again for my lack of blogging activity lately.  I will be done with Finals on Thursday!

I regularly read Shanghaiist, a webzine of culture in Shanghai specifically and China generally, and I just came across this great bit of reporting on the ouster of one of the Communist Party’s most outspoken reformers, Bo Xilai.

In the piece, a list of outrages and speculation of Mr. Bo’s ouster are reprinted from Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.  Here are a few of them: Continue reading