A challenge to my political activism

To a friend of mine I wrote that I’m passionate and active about political issues because “I don’t want to live in (more) tyranny, and as I said, I think this [or that] is one step closer.”

She asks me:

What tyranny do you live in? What have you wanted to do that you have been unable to do? What restrictions is the government placing that have directly impacted your life? I want concrete, specific examples. Not hypotheticals, not theories, not what-ifs, but something specific that you wanted to do and could not. What is it that makes this all personal to you?

1. Thugs and tyrants are using my money to destroy people’s lives through war, regulation, and crippling social programs.

2. Even if it were not, it still makes the world worse off for people, and the affects my well being.

3. Even if it does not greatly affect my well being, which is hard to imaging considering the amount of trade among people, it’s still a matter of personal responsibility. Would I want people to come to my assistance if I were threatened by criminals?

4. Why are we able to communicate via e-mail? It’s the year 2002. Why did this technology arise now? People have been around for about 100,000 years. (History of the Universe) The first cities began around 6,000 years ago. Consider the life style of the people in these cities. That is, their life span, general level of comfort, availability of food, medical technology, ability to travel, make choices, choose their mates, determine their own path in life, etc. And consider differences in life style. Compare now with 100 years ago in America, and the difference is huge. Now with colonial times, the difference is larger, but not much. In short, life was pretty much the same from 6,000 years ago to the Industrial Revolution. There was no “First World” or “Third World” Life was hard, brutish, and short, as Hobbes put it. Now compare life in a 3rd World country with life in 1st World countries today, and those globally hundreds of years ago. Third World Countries are like a time machine. The quality of life stinks.

Briefly: What caused this vast improvement in civilization? The Enlightenment. Or as P.J. says, “Why do some places prosper and thrive, while others just suck?”

Ask someone in the 3rd World your question, above. Are they being oppressed? Why else do they flock to the allegedly evil Nike Factories that, while not up to standards of our country, are often better than the alternatives? Consider what happened in Poland during the collapse of Communism in 1990. Instantly people were out in the streets selling stuff. Why else to they risk their lives to come to the United States and other First World countries? Because they see an alternative.

But what if you asked people your question 500 years ago, people would have no answer. Some crazy visionary might say “What if there was technology that would eradicate starvation, malnutrition, and many diseases? And other technology that would allow people to travel the globe, communicate with each other, listen to recorded music, see art from all around the world? Maybe civilization would advance to this point if we did not have to live like bees in a hive, subservient to the Queen, where people governments were instituted to protect people’s rights to pursue their notion of the good life?”

Sure, he would be dismissed as a crazy wacko, and probably killed.

But the same question could be asked today. There is still room for civilization to advance, if only the thugs in power would respect people’s rights. I don’t know what the future will or can bring, or people are free, that is. Space travel? A solution to aging? What will the world be like 100 years from now? Will we muddle along with the type of life we have now, with progress hampered by regulations as it was before the Enlightenment? Or can we preserve the freedom required to make the world a better place for people to live.


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Filed under achievement, ethics, politics

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