Wednesday, 10 October 2007

China's birthday: "Freedom" is not enough

Today is the birthday of the Republic of China. Don't go baking any cakes.

The RoC was established in 1912 after the Qing Dynasty was overthrown in the Xinhai Revolution, ending over two thousand years of imperial rule in China, and moved to Taiwan in 1949 when Mao's goons took over on the mainland. Celebrations for that takeover happened earlier in the month.

So that's a ninety-fifth birthday then, but there's really nothing to celebrate, just as there was nothing to celebrate for all those decades after that 1912 revolution. What happened since the emperor was deposed demonstrates the importance of political philosophy in your political revolution. Instead of peace, prosperity and freedom, the overthrow of the emperor instead brought to China thirty-seven years of chaos, destruction and gangsterism before finally falling to Stalin's puppet, the murderous Mao, who set in place the most murderous, destructive regime in human history.

Something for all republicans and political philosophers to think about, huh? It's not enough simply to eject monarchies and remove regimes -- China's decades of chaos since they threw out the last emperor makes that clear. The most important thing to consider when removing monarchies and displacing regimes is not regime removal, but what you replace these regimes with. Replacing them with ignorance and superstition just won't do; China's twentieth-century history is just another lesson that if freedom is to be secured, then it takes more than slogans and wishful thinking

As Ayn Rand argued, "In the absence of political principles, the issue of government is an issue of seizing power and ruling by brute force." However well meaning one's politician might be,the absence of political principles leaves the door open for power to be grabbed by whichever brutal power luster can cobble together a big enough gang.

It is not true that political systems are simply a matter of subjective preference; it's not true that tyranny, gang rule and slaughter are as desirable as freedom and prosperity; it's not true that freedom is simply "the desire of every human heart" and that all it needs is the removal of dictators to achieve it. If it were that simple, the removal of Middle East dictators would lead to more freedom instead of more tyranny, gang rule and slaughter. As Ayn Rand explains*, "Wishing won't make it so -- neither for an individual nor for a nation. Political freedom requires much more than the people's wish [or desire]. It requires an enormously complex knowledge of political theory and of how to implement it in practice."
It took centuries of intellectual, philosophical development to achieve political freedom. It was a long struggle, stretching from Aristotle to John Locke to the Founding Fathers. The system they established was not based on majority rule [a lesson lost on today's "nation builders"] but on its opposite: on individual rights, which were not to be alienated by majority vote or minority plotting. The individual was not left at the mercy of his neighbours or his leaders: the Constitutional system of checks and balances was scientifically designed to protect him from both.

This was the great American achievement [in their revolution] -- and if concern for the actual welfare of other nations were our present leaders' motive, this is what [America] should have been teaching the world.

Instead, we are deluding the ignorant and the semi-savage by telling them that no political knowledge is necessary -- that our system is only a matter of subjective preference -- that any [mystic] prehistorical form of tribal tyranny, gang rule and slaughter will do just as well, with out sanction and support.
In 1912, the Chinese were demanding "peace, freedom and equality," without the knowledge required to achieve it. What they got instead was Sun Yat Sen, warlords, murder and Mao. Continues Ayn Rand:
...In the same way, in 1917, the Russian peasants were demanding: "Land and Freedom!" But Lenin and Stalin was what they got.
...In 1933, the Germans were demanding: "Room to live!" But what they got was Hitler.
...In 1793, the French were shouting: "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity!" What they got was Napoleon.
...In 1776, the Americans were proclaiming "The Rights of Man" -- and, led by political philosophers, they achieved it.
This, I'm afraid, is the real lesson from the history of revolution:
No revolution, no matter how justified, and no movement, no matter how popular, has ever succeeded without a political philosophy to guide it, to set its direction and goal.
Here endeth the lesson.
_ _ _ _ _
* Ayn Rand's comments come from her Los Angeles Times column of September 23, 1962: "Blind Chaos," collected in the book The Ayn Rand Column.


  1. Yes just shocking at how these murderous gangsters are viewed.

    It is equally astounding we want a free trade agreement with them, and to send a team to the Olympic Games!

  2. I disagree, Elijah. Surely it's freer trade and association that has changed China for the better (relative to its recent history) and that continuation can only improve circumstances further.

    Why should athletes and business people here be stymied?

  3. I think so, yes.

    It is a bit like Singapore...another one of these Gangster Nations...where you 'blow' on the surface (scratching it is unnecessary) and see a Totalitarian regime firmly in control of everything and everyone.

    We should have nothing to do with these people until they abandon their murderous, evil behaviour.

  4. In 1776, the Americans were proclaiming "The Rights of Man" -- and, led by political philosophers, they achieved it.

    -This didn't happen in America until a mere 50 years ago.(The Rights of "All Men", not just the White men."

    China is what it is TODAY, because of Mao. That is why they are celebrating what he accomplished.I am not defending him for the bad things he did, just stating the facts.

    Sorry if I offended anyone just stating the TRUTH.



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