What’s Yours Is Mine And Other Truths Hugo And Mahmoud Don’t Want You To Think About
September 21, 2006
One of the big differences between free and not so free worlds, is the sanctity of property rights. Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmandinejad and virtually every other member nation of the Non Aligned Nations (NAM) would do just about anything not to have property rights discussed. Why? Because in discussing property rights, the true nature of the kind of regimes Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmandinejad represent becomes crystal clear.
As we consider the war on terror and those regimes and cultures that have declared us their enemies, understanding the importance and meaning of property rights becomes essential.
One of the ways our adversaries maintain their grip on their citizens is to deny them absolute property rights and the absolute ownership over anything. What you own, or what you think you own, is in reality a mirage. In fact, in every tyrannical or oppressive regimes, owning property of any kind is allowed only by the grace of the leader. Deny the the leader or the leader’s regime, and you may end up with what you thought was yours, taken away. The threat of having what is yours taken away, is an ever present and powerful threat to human dignity. The implied threat of living under a form of government that can seize your property at anytime, is a kind of terror visited upon a cowed citizenry, by a kind of evil.
In fact, that kind of terror is a threat to human dignity and a threat to plurality- the idea that people can have different ideas and beliefs and still be secure in their personal and property rights and live in safety, free from fear of retribution. That kind of freedom is only found in free and democratic nations. American and western democracies defend individual and property rights and always allow for disparate views. Irrespective of our beliefs, we remain free from the threat that of being stripped of our rights and property, simply because our views weren’t in line with the powers that be. In other words, we live in a tolerant and inclusive society, very unlike the societies of our adversaries. The citizens of those regimes are under the boot of tyranny, in one way or another.
The mindset of the leadership in Iran or Venezuela, for example, have constructed exclusivist societies that demand loyalty and tolerate no dissent or difference of opinion. In the case of Iran and much of the Arab world, decades of indoctrination and the tidal wave of hate taught in school and preached from the pulpit, have resulted in the marginalization and slow decay of those societies.
In the case of these repressive societies, democracy is a threat because in a democracy, there is no real ‘us versus them’ mentality. Citizens in a democracy understand that they can agree to disagree and not worry about our personal or property rights being violated or abrogated. No matter how contentious, our society is inclusive. We respect each other’s rights and we respect the freedom to dissent.
One does not need to believe in God to understand that tolerance is the lifeblood of civilized societies. If that were not so, none of us would be here. In order to accommodate efficient trade between nations, we accept and tolerate differences. In fact, trade, respect of property rights and the free exchange of ideas have done more to expand understanding and acceptance than any other kind of exchange.
We have also learned the hard way that when tolerance and property rights were not respected, we all suffer. Centuries of war, empires, persecution, death and destruction have reinforced that truth.
American and western societies enjoy lively political debate and a very independent media. Real democracies have judiciary systems, that while not always perfect, are always free and independent.
There is a great distinction between events and experiences. An event has a finite beginnings and a finite end. An experience is very different. We are impacted and influenced. We are molded by our experiences and we learn and grow from them. Because of experiences, we can see the future through eyes of what can be, rather that the dead eyes of what was and will always be.
Living in an open and free society is living an experience. We are not defined by particular events or bogged down by a gray history. Free societies are always moving forward and in fact, our best days are yet to come, shaped and built on what we have learned and always looking forward to the possibilities of tomorrow.
In contrast, regimes that reject democratic values, principles and beliefs, are usually bogged down by basking in former glories or dreams of a world where they and their beliefs are imposed and dissent is not tolerated.
More than one pundit has made clear that in regimes led by tyrants and tin pot dictators, citizens have overwhelming feelings of humiliation and failure. Through no fault of their own, economies fail, education levels are sub par and the awareness that they cannot even control their own destinies. In desperation, they look for someone- anyone- to blame. Of course, they cannot blame their leaders- to do so is to risk loss of liberty and property, so they willingly look to blame others, anyone, anywhere. As is often the case, they look to their ‘rich and free’ cousins- America and the free world. As in all families, the meanest and most vicious ‘conspiracies’ are all in the family.
In addition, blaming the ‘enemies of the state’ serves yet another purpose. In what is a kind of perverse ‘win-win’ situation, frustrated and oppressed people get to vent at America and the free nations and venting at the ‘right’ target kind of also allows people to be perceived in a favorable light by the regime security services, bureaucrats and leaders, as long as they vent at the ‘right’ target.
How is it that some free people support such tyrannies and their leaders? In The Spectrum Of Stupidity, Dr Sanity minces no words:
The stupidity… comes in all shapes and sizes, a veritable spectrum that extends from the willful blindness on the part of Western leadership and media; to the passive, uncritical and morally bankrupt minions who nod sagely at any idiocy as they desperately try to maintain a world view that ignores reality as its founding principle.
Both ends of this spectrum of stupidity are incapable of responding in any appropriate manner to the deeply despicable and nauseatingly hypocritical speech the lying President of Iran delivered at the UN last night…
Only in a world that values nothing would there not be instantaneous outrage at the lies, deceptions and self-serving tripe offered for world consumption by a man who clearly has no conscience and enjoys lying and distorting for the fun of it. How could such a man be given the world stage to spew forth his lies, let alone be feted and honored for them? How could most–if not all–of the rest of the world swallow whole the protestations of sincerity and victimhood? How could it be conveniently forgotten what his real intentions and attitudes are even for a moment as he coyly presents himself as a simple man of peace and brotherhood?
It bears remembering a certain truth: In nations and regimes where the state first claimed property at will, it was only a matter of time before the state determined what freedoms were applicable and to whom. Shortly thereafter, the state claims the right to take your life at will, for any reason they see fit.
Dr Sanity rightly notes the hypocrisy and ignorance of those who are so easily swayed by deceit and false logic. Her outrage is understandable. This isn’t a political debate, with only ideas and beliefs at stake. Support of these tyrannical and dysfunctional leaders means more untold misery, fear, failure and death.
Of course, the likes of Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmandinejad can easily criticize America and free nations because they are never held accountable or responsible for they say or do. Their mistakes and oppression are never pointed out because there is very little, if any, free press at home. There is no criticism because criticism comes at great risk and at great cost. Whoever takes it upon himself to dissent put their liberty and even their lives at risk.
It is ironic that dissidents who really care about the welfare of their fellow citizens in those countries under the boot of tyranny, risk all and courageously demand the same freedoms and rights we enjoy here, including property rights. In many free nations, the regimes of those oppress dissidents and those who would deny freedom, are happily supported by those who happily share in the bloody hands of oppression- and that is exactly what Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmandinejad count on.