Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Authoritarian Countries

Government professor at Cornell Tom Pepinsky has an interesting take on authoritarian governments, Everyday Authoritariansism is Boring and Tolerable. Speaking about his experience in Malaysia,
The reality is that everyday life under the kinds of authoritarianism that exist today is very familiar to most Americans. You go to work, you eat your lunch, you go home to your family.* There are schools and businesses, and some people “make it” through hard work and luck. Most people worry about making sure their kids get into good schools. The military is in the barracks, and the police mostly investigate crimes and solve cases. There is political dissent, if rarely open protest, but in general people are free to complain to one another. There are even elections. This is Malaysia, and many countries like it.
I mentioned to the person who sent me the link that the Scandinavian countries have had the same parties in power for decades, and they are well-known for making people sit up straight and stop frightening the neighbors. Very strict and authoritarian in their own way, but we don't think of them as unpleasant places to live.


Texan99 said...

I wonder how he'd characterize American government from 1789 to today. People here have always wanted order and been willing to restrict their freedom to get it. When was it unambiguously true that they could effect political change through an election? It's always possible to deny that change is real change, as long as there's any continuity, and voters generally want a good bit of continuity. Much of the freaking out we're seeing this week is a reaction against a break in continuity. I'm hearing the word "unprecedented" thrown around a lot.

Over our lifetimes, has there really been a trend toward statism or toward individual freedom? I'd say both, but in different areas of life.

Grim said...

A friend of mine tells of living in Switzerland, and one day having his door knocked upon by an irate neighbor. Couldn't he move his car? "But I thought I put it quite out of the way," he objected.

"Oh, it's out of the way," the neighbor replied. "It's just facing the opposite direction of everyone else's."