Asia, Europe, and the US: Frightening parallels in government development

By | December 6, 2011
Asia, Europe, and the US: Frightening parallels in government development

I'd like to draw the parallel between how Asia has developed and the development of the US police state and European attempts to preserve civil liberties, because the situation looks awfully similar – and a bit more frightening.

I'm not saying that a hard crackdown policy doesn't work: Singapore is a prime example that demonstrates how crackdown by supressing civil liberties for citizens at the whim of the government (during the Lee Kuan Yew regime) can work and bring stability and economic prosperity to a seemingly hopeless situation.

The problem is coming out of a heavily-restrictive regime and re-introducing civil liberties: As Singapore and China experience today, it is incredibly difficult to convince people who are in power to give up their power – even when the people don't want it. This results in censorship issues, political opression, business terms that aren't as friendly to certain market players as a open market would demand, and numerous other issues.

Now let's look at the non-Asian world. It's nice to see that the European Parliament is not so keen on allowing accusations to become sufficient reason to 'punish' citizens [1]. No evidence, no isolating end users from communications media. No leeway towards a police state. Compare that with the US National Defense Authorization Act – free interpretation on the slightest non-government-conformist issue could lead to loss of civil liberties [2].

So why is the US position so much scarier than China's position? Partly because of the economic position of the two countries, and partly because of the cultural background of the two countries. Devdutt Pattanaik [3] explains the cultural difference rather well: The West grew up with stories of conquest and power struggle at the center of their existance. The East grew up with stories of family values and enlightenment at the center of their existance. Ergo, we can expect these general themes to be prominent in a regime imposed by the respective cultures – including a police state operated by China versus a police state operated by the US. And given the economic prominance of the two countries, how these two nations are currently developing their policy is a daunting and frightening thought.

References:
[1] http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20111204/08342016968/self-regulation-should-online-companies-police-internet.shtml
[2] http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-12-02/politics/30466471_1_guantanamo-bay-google-news-military-prisons
[3] http://www.ted.com/talks/devdutt_pattanaik.html

Devdutt Pattanaik: East vs. West — the myths that mystify | Video on TED.com
TED Talks Devdutt Pattanaik takes an eye-opening look at the myths of India and of the West — and shows how these two fundamentally different sets of beliefs about God, death and heaven help us consi…

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