Liberty for all?

Celebrating un-civility
My story. Finally.

Liberty for all?

I decided to take this post down. I wrote it just after my first trip to India. I’ve been back there since and I think that although there is a libertarian lesson to be learnt there, it is a little more complex than the way I described it after my first impression.

I have to thank my friend for setting me straight.

I will definitely revisit the subject


2 replies on “Liberty for all?”

  1. rosi levman says:
    I never replied to your last blog as I didn’t think I had anything worthwhile to say. The only thing I can say is that I don’t believe in banning anything.
    Clearly India has huge problems – corruption, the caste system, treatment of women – just to name a few. I have no argument there.
    I don’t agree with your statement that the lack of respect for each other and even for themselves shows everywhere. In my experience with people I know personally such as Tsultim, his wife Maneesha and his family, Devanaten in Southern India and his extended family, Thakur and his family, all show respect toward one another. Of course these are personal relationships but overall I never had the feeling that Indians respected each other less than anyone else I’ve known in my life.
    Another point is that when I visited Hindu and Buddhist temples, I always felt that there was a sense of community. The people worshiped together and are very religious to be sure, but these very many small temples that appear everywhere had to have a group of individuals working together to build them. However, I admit I don’t know the facts.
    I agree that there is a basic religious difference between eastern and western thought, however I do believe that they understand North American values and this is the reason they have the fastest growing middle class in the world. Since the existence of a middle class is a major factor in the creating of an egalitarian society, they are not doing so badly in spite of their major problems. Having spent a lot of time in Guatemala, I believe that India is far ahead of countries like Guatemala where about 6 families own 80% of the land and there is no middle class to speak of. Another plus point that I observed in India is freedom of speech, especially in relation to my experiences in China. Indians have no problems criticizing the government, police, etc openly and publicly.
    So I do agree that India would have more difficulty embracing a libertarian society as you describe it, but I believe it is not that far away.
    • zorkthehun says:
      The problem I have with comments like this is that they give me too many ideas. This one gave me enough for three full-fledged posts. I am still quite new to this blogging business and trying to figure out what’s best. I loved the comments but I will try to keep my reply short.
      You are way ahead of me with your travels. I cannot claim to know enough about India and China and my little exposure to other South-East Asian countries are not enough to claim knowledge. I have lightly informed opinions. I can picture Guatemala, and we talked about it enough for me to understand your point. I am sure you are right. The Christian tradition is apparently not enough.
      I wrote this short article about India after our first trip (which was before yours) and it was based on that first impression.
      Still, the fact that I posted it means that I stand by its observations and the point that I was trying to make – that the only thing that we can do is showing a good example.
      I agree with you that India has probably the best chance to develop into a pluralistic society. I would not use the word egalitarian despite the fact that it is still the direction of its mostly socialist governments.
      While I understand your point about respect I do not agree with the definition it implies.
      I would define respect as a public behaviour. As we behave with strangers. The three points you made: corruption, the caste system, treatment of women. That is the kind of respect I was talking about.
      The way Thakur was screwed by the guy he recommended to our friends in Lucknow. The way we were pushed around in public.
      Still, you may be right that I was overly harsh with my reaction based on a first impression.

      The questions your thoughts made me contemplate are the following:
      • Even in this wonderful world of the Anglo-Saxon Judeo-Christian traditions, the chances for a truly free, “libertarian” state and society as I imagine it are next to nil. How can these chances be improved is the big question to me and to any practical Libertarian. When I say ”Let’s make it a reality” I am still dreaming. What is possible and how is the question even here, in Canada. Once I have the answer, we can start talking about India again.
      • I would guess that Punjab will do better on the long run than (let’s say) Bengal. I have more faith in the Sikhs than in the Hindus. I would find it fascinating to explore the differences of the Eastern religions, their effects on society and social interactions – in light of the possibility of them discovering the value of personal freedom.
      • Even though I do not agree with the politics of Fareed Zakariah, I appreciate his book, “The Post-American World, greatly.” The two chapters in it comparing China and India describe the differences quite well. He is betting in China. Despite the fact that he is Indian. The fact that you and I like India more still does not mean that he is wrong. I should take the time to think about how these views could be reconciled.
      I promise I will try to do all this.
      If ONLY I didn’t have to deal with all my workplace problems…….

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