On Fri, May 05, 2000 at 09:15:43PM -0700, Zero Powers wrote:
> Suggestion: go live for a few years in Afghanistan, then a couple more years
> in Iran, then Iraq. Then come back and tell me all about how "tyrannical"
> the US is. No matter how "tyrannical" the US is, they never force you to
> stay if you don't like it. So if its so bad, pick up stakes and go
> somewhere else. Or is every single nation on the planet a tyranny in your
Or go live for a few years in Holland. Or Scotland. On paper they're not
*that* much better than the USA, but in practice ...
Tyranny seems to me to be measurable on some kind of non-linear scale.
People are never satisfied with the liberties they have, and are bad at
gauging the differences between places they've never visited on the basis
of available resources. (Hence the oddly widespread idea that America is
the freest/richest/best place on the planet.) Right now, we in the west
are in an uneasy position; we're mostly free-er than we have ever been
before, but there are internal dynamics within our culture attempting
to impose restraints (or monitoring) on us for a variety of reasons which,
although specious, don't strike the general bulk of the population (who
Don't Get It) as being irrelevent.
But, historically, freedoms come and go. It's a long, generational
trend ... what one generation takes for granted may be squandered;
and the next buys it back with blood.
Personally, I think Zero picked a bad example; Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq
are _not_ comparable. Given a choice between those three, I'd go for Iran
any day. Iraq is essentially a Nazi dictatorship, except that you can
substitute "New Arab Man" for "Aryan" as necessary in their ideology
and politics. Want to be tortured to death by the secret police? Spit
on a portrait of the boss man. Iran, in contrast, has a predominantly
young population, democratic institutions, a power struggle in progress
between the old stick-in-the-mud clergy and the rest of the population,
and an underground dance music scene. The Gulf War on 1982-88 did for
the Ayatollah's revolution pretty much what World War One did for the
19th century imperial dynasties of Europe: Iran is very definitely in a
post-revolutionary phase and liberalising about as fast as is possible
without hatching another revolution. The end result is likely to be, in
another decade, the first home-grown liberal free-market democracy in
the Islamic world.
Afghanistan, of course, is another matter entirely. But then, Afghanistan
has _always_ been the ass-end of the universe. (If you think the Russians
had it bad there in the 1980's, you may find it illuminating to read an
account of General Elphinstone's expedition and the British relationship
with Afghanistan in the mid-nineteenth century.)
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