|To love is to receive a glimpse of heaven. |
-- Karen Sunde
I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion.
-- Henry David Thoreau
Love includes freedom. Indeed, denying someone their freedom is the opposite of loving them; murder, slavery, and kidnapping are extreme examples, but any use of coercion harms love.
Love and freedom may also be seen as two sides of a human duality, much like yin and yang. Emphasizing one over the other is a mistake, because any imbalance means at least one side is below the healthy, optimal level. High levels of both love and freedom are required for a healthy society.
We require love because we are all one. We are all connected. We are all brothers and sisters, and love is what we were born for. Yet we also require freedom because each of us is a separate and unique individual. We each have our own thoughts and talents, our own preferences and desires. This natural diversity among individuals brings strength to the group.
As an individual, your uniqueness makes you who you are. When that uniqueness is denied, you feel disrespected; being part of the whole is not the same as being a cog in a machine. Love includes both a sense of oneness with others and respect for each person as a unique, free, and self-controlling individual.
When levels of love and freedom are low, disaster is certain. It often happens that a nation or society emphasizes one quality over the other. Love and freedom must be in reasonable balance, and at high levels, for a healthy society. This page will discuss that truth in more detail, which means that you may find it uncomfortable. I encourage you to read through the material despite that, because while defenses are necessary in life, they can also prevent us from understanding the importance of real change. For my part, I promise to keep things brief -- at least, relative to what the topic deserves.
In his famous essay on Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau asserted: "That government is best which governs not at all."
Why would Thoreau say such a thing? Simple: Government is nothing but systematic, widespread coercion, and reducing coercion (force, violence, and threats of force and violence) to the minimum is the only approach compatible with a healthy society. It is the only approach compatible with love, compassion, freedom, and prosperity. Herbert Spencer understood this as well, and pointed out that government coercion is "violence in a latent state."
How could using violence, in a latent state or otherwise, be a good way to bring more love and compassion into the world?
Indeed, government's society-wide use of initiated coercion destroys love; in particular, coercive government enables the worst symptoms of emotional damage. For example, at the extreme, hatred and bullying become genocide or war, thanks to an army and secret police force populated by emotionally damaged soldiers and agents. In turn, a surprising amount of this emotional damage is caused by government action: war, pogroms, gulags, genocides, famine from either mismanagement or on purpose (e.g., the famine in the Ukraine inflicted by Stalin, which killed more than six million people), harmful social policies, needless poverty, and other government crime or interference. Yes: emotionally damaged parents cause emotional damage in their children, but coercive government causes far more damage than most people care to believe.
For detail on how emotional damage in childhood (and in infancy or even in the womb) causes later neurosis, misery, and harmful behavior, see elsewhere on this site, including Scientific and General References.
Less coercion and early pain =
Less neurosis and violence =
A more loving, healthy, and compassionate world.---------------------
Escape hatch: if you aren't ready for a short but unflinching look at this topic, click here to return to the Paradise Paradigm home page. The material below is occasionally graphic and goes well beyond the detail in chapters of The Paradise Paradigm.
Difficult realities are discussed below.
|"The discovery of 20 sets of bones in a forest outside St. Petersburg, Russia may be part of a vast burial ground containing as many as 30,000 victims of Josef Stalin's Great Terror during the 1930s. All the skulls unearthed reportedly had similar holes, which coincides with the preferred NKVD method of killing: a bullet in the back of the head. Even if it turns out to be a mass grave, the site near Toksovo is just the tip of the iceberg. Stalin dealt in millions, not thousands."|
-- Wired.com's "Ephemera" item for September 20, 2002. Click here or here for news reports on the story.
|The grisly story above is incredibly commonplace, the result of widespread emotional damage given expression and power by the tool of coercive government.|
A hint of how common such things really are may be gleaned from Death by Government, by R. J. Rummel, prof. at University of Hawaii. (Transaction Publishers, 1994, ISBN for the paperback is 1-56000-927-6). Consider this brief summation from the book:
|In total, during the first eighty-eight years of this century, almost 170 million men, women, and children have been shot, beaten, tortured, knifed, burned, starved, frozen, crushed, or worked to death; buried alive, drowned, hung, bombed, or killed in any other of the myriad ways governments have inflicted death on unarmed, helpless citizens and foreigners. The dead could conceivably be nearly 360 million people. It is as though our species has been devastated by a modern Black Plague. And indeed it has, but a plague of Power, not germs. (Page 9) [emphasis added]|
|That does not count soldiers killed in wartime. Counting war dead, Rummel estimates 203 million deaths total from government action in the same time period (which, again, is only for the first eighty-eight years of the 20th century). (February 2006: Rummel has recently updated his estimate for government murder -- not counting war -- to 262 million during the twentieth century. See his website at http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/welcome.html for details).|
Of course, individuals and non-government groups have also murdered, raped, beaten and otherwise committed crimes against the innocent, although on a far smaller scale. This is for an obvious reason: a sociopath with an army, a secret police force, and a national court system at his disposal can inflict far more damage than can an individual sociopath alone.
The book's table of contents is, by itself, a sobering document. Listed are individual chapters on four "dekamegamurderers" of the 20th century (most people will be surprised to see the Nazis in third place, after the Soviet Union and Red China) and for seven "lesser megamurderers" -- who have nonetheless each murdered over one million people. Chapters on three 20th century "suspected megamurderers" are also included, as is one about mass murder in previous centuries. How important is it to finally put an end to such carnage? Consider that the twentieth century saw more government murder of innocents than all previous centuries combined, according to Rummel's figures.h
Modern technology continues to make it easier and more likely for mass-murder to occur. Rummel's prescription is to restrict and decentralize power. If you ever doubted Thomas Jefferson's famous dictum -- "That government is best, which governs least" -- or Henry David Thoreau's extension of it -- "That government is best which governs not at all" [in the opening paragraph to Civil Disobedience] -- Rummel's book should change your mind.
One last note about Dr. Rummel: he maintains a web site that also documents the point that centralized power frequently leads to mass murder and to war. The site contains charts, graphs, photos, and over 5,000 pages of searchable data. A short note from Rummel's home page:
|It is true that democratic freedom is an engine of economic development and welfare. Hardly known, however, is that freedom also saves millions of lives from war, collective violence, and democide (genocide and mass murder). That is, the more freedom, the less violence. Conversely, the more power at the center, the more violence. In short: power kills.|
The purpose of this web site, then, is to make as widely available as possible my theory, work, results, and data that empirically and historically, quantitatively and qualitatively, support this conclusion about freedom. This is to invite their use, replication, and critical evaluation, and thereby to advance our knowledge of and confidence in freedom--in liberal democracy.
Rummel's home page contains [or did, at one time] a 3-D chart showing the extent to which small, highly restrained government prevents mass murder:
Genocide Watch (genocidewatch.org), run by The International Campaign to End Genocide (ICEG) and founded in 1999 at the Hague Appeal for Peace Conference in the Netherlands, is another good resource on this topic. See their Table of Genocide for details.
On Marxist regimes specifically, The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, terror, repression (by Stephane Courtois, et. al, English translation by Jonathan Murphy and Mark Kramer, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1999, ISBN 0-674-07608-7) is worth reading. The Forward to this horrifying work of non-fiction is titled "The Uses of Atrocity." The text spans nearly 800 pages, plus Notes and the Index, and every page is painful to read. The central message is well summarized on the book jacket:
|Already famous throughout Europe, this international bestseller plumbs recently opened archives in the former Soviet bloc to reveal the actual, practical accomplishments of Communism around the world: terror, torture, famine, mass deportations, and massacres. |
|The Black Book, like Rummel's Death by Government, is meticulously researched -- in this case, by a group of scholars who are also "former Communists or close fellow-travelers." They are not right-wing or "conservative," in other words, but rather Marxists who began combing through newly-opened archives in the former Soviet Union and elsewhere and were stunned at what they found.|
Both books also make the point that the evils of Communism have far exceeded the evils of Hitler's Nazi Germany, and that in every case where Marxist governments have come to power, people have suffered and died as a result -- in most cases, by means as calculated and deliberate as was the Nazi "final solution."
While Marxist governments have by far the worst human rights record of the 20th century, plenty of other governments are guilty of atrocity as well. The Khmer Rouge in Cambodia were Communists, for example, but the United States and Great Britain played a major role in bringing them to power, and killed hundreds of thousands of Cambodians directly in the process, while Pol Pot was still a guerilla fighter. After the Khmer Rouge took control, of course, the killing accelerated, as documented in the film The Killing Fields. Typical estimates are that about 1.7 million Cambodians -- a fifth of the entire Cambodian population -- were murdered by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge.
From How Thatcher gave Pol Pot a hand by John Pilger, April 17th, 2000 in The New Statesman:
|Declassified United States government documents leave little doubt that the secret and illegal bombing of then neutral Cambodia by President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger between 1969 and 1973 caused such widespread death and devastation that it was critical in Pol Pot's drive for power. "They are using damage caused by B52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda," the CIA director of operations reported on 2 May 1973. "This approach has resulted in the successful recruitment of young men. Residents say the propaganda campaign has been effective with refugees in areas that have been subject to B52 strikes." In dropping the equivalent of five Hiroshimas on a peasant society, Nixon and Kissinger killed an estimated half a million people. Year Zero began, in effect, with them; the bombing was a catalyst for the rise of a small sectarian group, the Khmer Rouge, whose combination of Maoism and medievalism had no popular base. (Emphasis added) ("Year Zero" is the year of the Khmer Rouge takeover) |
|The U.S. has often come to the aid of other nations -- as was happening when we were killing the half million Cambodians -- but our aid has not always worked out as hoped. Cynics (realists?) assume that American military might is used to "help" regimes that are benefiting American interests, including (perhaps) illegal, hidden, and sometimes even personal interests. |
Of the many examples one might cite, the Clinton administration's refusal to help the Rwandan Tutsi minority as it was being slaughtered by the Hutu government and its allies lends particular credence to assumptions of callous motivations among those at the upper levels of American policymaking. Where oil or other corporate or personal interests are not in play, the U.S. government is more than willing to let thousands or millions be murdered. Typically, the U.S. federal government will financially support the perpetrators, as long as they support "our" interests.
And of course, the Rwandan genocide is yet another example of what governments are really good at: killing huge numbers of people.
The September 2001 issue of The Atlantic Monthly includes Bystanders to Genocide by Samantha Power. This lengthy article begins with a shocking summary:
|In the course of a hundred days in 1994 the Hutu government of Rwanda and its extremist allies very nearly succeeded in exterminating the country's Tutsi minority. Using firearms, machetes, and a variety of garden implements, Hutu militiamen, soldiers, and ordinary citizens murdered some 800,000 Tutsi and politically moderate Hutu. It was the fastest, most efficient killing spree of the twentieth century.|
A few years later, in a series in The New Yorker, Philip Gourevitch recounted in horrific detail the story of the genocide and the world's failure to stop it. President Bill Clinton, a famously avid reader, expressed shock. He sent copies of Gourevitch's articles to his second-term national-security adviser, Sandy Berger. The articles bore confused, angry, searching queries in the margins. "Is what he's saying true?" Clinton wrote with a thick black felt-tip pen beside heavily underlined paragraphs. "How did this happen?" he asked, adding, "I want to get to the bottom of this." The President's urgency and outrage were oddly timed. As the terror in Rwanda had unfolded, Clinton had shown virtually no interest in stopping the genocide, and his Administration had stood by as the death toll rose into the hundreds of thousands.
|Whether U.S. action could or should have been used to stop the genocide, or whether action by non-government groups could or should have been encouraged, is a matter of debate -- especially given the frequency with which such attempts backfire (e.g., Vietnam). |
In any case, the Rwandan genocide is -- horrifyingly -- "just another genocide." As we have already seen, genocide (and government murder of all stripes) is chillingly commonplace.
Recall that governments are the tools with which genocides are carried out. A government provides the power, the force of arms, and all the other tools necessary -- and, partly as a result, governments attract sociopaths.
Another famous African democide was carried out under Idi Amin in Uganda, during the 1970s. A typical news report of his death on August 16, 2003 included this, from Idi Amin, a Brutal Dictator of Uganda, Dies at 80 by Michael T. Kaufman, New York Times as posted at TheLedger.com:
|Idi Amin, whose eight year reign of terror in Uganda encompassed widescale killing, torture and dispossession of multitudes and left the country pauperized, died today . . . .|
If the exact numbers of those killed at his behest and instigation remained elusive, the toll . . . is usually cited in encyclopedias as close to 300,000 victims [500,000 is another common estimate] out of a total population of 12 million. Those murdered were mostly anonymous people, farmers, students, clerks, and shopkeepers who were shot or forced to bludgeon each other to death . . . [Amin's officials and police] often targetted their victims because they wanted their money, cars, houses or women - or because the tribal groups they belonged to were designated for humiliation. There were also many hundreds among the dead, whose names were very well known, prominent men and women whose killings were public affairs carried out in ways that were meant to attract attention, to cow and terrorize the living and to convey the message that it was, in fact, Mr. Amin who wanted them killed. They included former and serving cabinet ministers, supreme court judges, diplomats, university rectors, educators, prominent Roman Catholic and Anglican clergy, hospital directors, surgeons, bankers, tribal leaders and business executives.
|Sociopaths, including mass murderers, can often appear normal and pleasant in the right setting. They are not always easy to spot. Just because someone is charming at a dinner party (or on television) does not mean they should be allowed a position of power over others. For instance: |
My Idi Was No Monster - He Was Jolly and Kind
Mirror.co.uk [The Daily Mirror], Aug 18 2003
EXCLUSIVE: By widow of the tyrant who murdered 300,000 of his own people
By Nick Webster
|HE was a brutal dictator who murdered more than 300,000 of his own people. Idi Amin will go down in history alongside Hitler, Stalin and Pol Pot.|
But, in an extraordinary interview on the weekend of his death at the age of 80, his fifth wife Sarah said the Butcher of Uganda was much misunderstood.
Sarah Amin, mother of four of the 43 children he claimed to have fathered, called him a "true African hero" and a "wonderful father".
She said: "He was just a normal person, not a monster. He was a jolly person, very entertaining and kind. I think he was very kind to everybody."
|Another example, this time from a different part of the world: modern-day Japan has been particularly vocal about gun control (actually, about gun prohibition), and so it is instructive to learn how Japanese soldiers treated disarmed Chinese citizens in occupied Nanking and in surrounding areas early in World War II. Guns were not only forbidden to Chinese citizens: the penalty for being found with a gun was summary execution. This, of course, did not make for a safe society. Instead, it made for a sustained massacre of unarmed Chinese civilians by Japanese soldiers. For details, see The Rape of Nanking: The forgotten holocaust of World War II by Iris Chang, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1997, ISBN 0-14-027744-7. The staff review by Amazon.com includes this sentence: |
"Nanking, she writes, served as a kind of laboratory in which Japanese soldiers were taught to slaughter unarmed, unresisting civilians, as they would later do throughout Asia."
Chang's book itself is so consistently horrifying that I despaired of finding a short quotation mild enough for this page, yet representative. Perhaps this, from the Introduction, will do:
"The Rape of Nanking should be remembered not only for the number of people slaughtered but for the cruel manner in which many met their deaths. Chinese men were used for bayonet practice and in decapitation contests. An estimated 20,000 - 80,000 Chinese women were raped." (Page 6)
That paragraph continues at some length, and in horrendously graphic detail. The carnage was compressed into the space of only a few months:
"Years later experts at the International Military Tribunal of the Far East (IMTFE) estimated that more than 260,000 noncombatants died at the hands of Japanese soldiers at Nanking in late 1937 and early 1938, though some experts have placed the figure at well over 350,000." (ibid, Page 4)
Iris Chang is not the only author to have written about the Nanking slaughter. A search at Amazon.com for "nanking" will bring you several other books to choose from on the topic.
|Torture has historically been commonplace throughout much of the world -- and still is. If you have the chance, consider visiting the traveling exhibit of torture devices from the Criminal Medieval Museum of San Gimignano in Italy. You can read about the exhibit here or at several places on the web; do a search for "torture+exhibit" for example. Also consider visiting Real Torture: Torture History and Political Torture for many links to articles about past and current-day torture. Amnesty International is another resource worth visiting.|
The Taliban of Afghanistan, much in the news because of the 9-11-2001 attacks in New York and Washington, DC, is a classic example of a small group that took over a nation in chaos, apparently with good intentions, and became ever-more cruel with time. A recent article in the London Telegraph -- I was one of the Taliban's torturers: I crucified people -- (Sept. 30, 2001) provides a glimpse into this regime. An excerpt:
|In an astonishing interview with Christina Lamb, the Afghan leader's former bodyguard reveals the full brutality of the fundamentalist regime sheltering Osama bin Laden.|
"You must become so notorious for bad things that when you come into an area people will tremble in their sandals. Anyone can do beatings and starve people. I want your unit to find new ways of torture so terrible that the screams will frighten even crows from their nests and if the person survives he will never again have a night's sleep."
These were the instructions of the commandant of the Afghan secret police to his new recruits.
|The reason for even thinking about such a topic, of course, is that it vividly highlights the importance of bringing more emotional health into the world, which ONLY happens (in any volume) by treating pregnant mothers, babies, infants, and children with more love and compassion. In turn, that requires that human rights be respected: police states do not foster love or compassion.|
In the long run, love and freedom require each other.
That sentence is among the most important on this site. If you let it slide by without reflection, please read it again.
Alice Miller's essay Adolf Hitler: How Could a Monster Succeed in Blinding a Nation? makes very clear the link between early experience and later character and behavior -- and how, in turn, this literally creates the character of the human world. The world can be healed, and better treatment of the young is how that can happen -- the only way, in fact.
But for now, atrocity continues. It continues widely and with huge numbers of victims. Russia's treatment of Chechens is in the news as this is written, but many other examples could be used.
Russia's filtration camp policy is 'to cripple Chechens for life' by By Patrick Cockburn in the London Independent, February 17, 2000. Excerpts:
|Captured male and female civilians tortured and raped by masked soldiers|
Horrifying new evidence is emerging of systematic beatings and rape by Russian soldiers of Chechen civilians and suspected guerrillas who are being held prisoner in what Russia calls "filtration camps" in northern Chechnya.
Ruslan, a 21-year old man from Grozny, the Chechen capital, who does not want to give his family name, is one of the few prisoners to be freed. He has described how girls as young as 13 were raped by masked Russian soldiers.
. . .
Ruslan's story confirms the account given in a letter from a Russian soldier serving at Chernokozovo, published by The Independent last week, of merciless beatings and systematic rape of both men and women. Both Ruslan and the soldier say that almost none of the prisoners in the filtration camp have any connection with Chechen guerrillas.
. . .
There is growing evidence that the treatment inflicted on the Chechen prisoners by Russian soldiers is equal in brutality to that suffered by Bosnian Muslims in the early Nineties for which some of the perpetrators are now on trial for war crimes.
|Many sources have reported similar stories; for a BBC story confirming Russian atrocities against Chechens, click here (Friday, 25 February, 2000, 04:34 GMT Chechen 'mass grave' exposed). |
A more recent (and equally distressing) story from the Washington Post -- Chechnya's Bloodiest Massacre, By Sharon LaFraniere and Daniel Williams, Washington Post Foreign Service, Friday, June 2, 2000; Page A01.
Another article by Sharon LaFraniere and Daniel Williams, titled Chechens Describe a House of Horrors in the Washington Post, Sunday, July 9, 2000, Page A01. Here again, Russians are raping, torturing, and murdering Chechen civilians.
From the LA Times, September 17, 2000, here's a short excerpt from War Has No Rules for Russian Forces Battling Chechen Rebels:
|Andrei says he knows that officially, Russian troops are supposed to turn all suspected rebels over to military procurators. But in practice, his unit literally took no prisoners.|
"Once they have a bruise, they're already as good as dead," Andrei says. "They know they won't make it to the procurator's office. You can see it in their eyes. They never tell us anything, but then again, we never ask. We do it out of spite, because if they can torture our soldiers, why shouldn't we torture them?
"The easiest way is to heat your bayonet over charcoal, and when it's red-hot, to put it on their bodies, or stab them slowly. You need to make sure they feel as much pain as possible. The main thing is to have them die slowly. You don't want them to die fast, because a fast death is an easy death. They should get the full treatment. They should get what they deserve. On one hand it looks like an atrocity, but on the other hand, it's easy to get used to.
"I killed about nine people this way. I remember all of them."
|The article above is lengthy and shocking; like the other articles listed here, it confirms executions and atrocities against civilians as well as rebels. While damning the Russians with their own words, it also points out that Chechens are just as brutal as the Russian soldiers.|
The horror continues. An excerpt from Cries from Putin's torture pit, October 15, 2000:
|Russian security forces have mounted a series of cover-ups to hide evidence of abuses from the Red Cross and the Council of Europe. In the small Chechen village of Katyr Yurt, a torture victim blinded in one eye spoke of the screams he heard each night while inside Chernokozovo. The screams were so bad local people were forced to move away because they found them unbearable.|
'At night,' he said, 'the things you heard were just terrible. Every night they would take people out of the cells. They screamed. They had their teeth bashed in, their kidneys smashed in. You could hear them being beaten from the cell. So then they would turn the music up loud, so you couldn't hear the screams.'
The youngest victim we met was 17. He was living in a refugee city in Ingushetia, next door to Chechnya. We shall call him Peter. He sat in front of us, head bowed, terrified of eye contact: 'They handcuffed your arms behind your back and hooked the cuffs to a chain so you were suspended from the ceiling, with all your weight bearing down on your hands and shoulders. And then they would use you like a punchbag. They called this "the swallow". They'd hold you for half a day like that.'
But this wasn't the worst torture for the teenager: 'They put me in a cell. There was something chemical in there. They cuffed my hands behind my back and said, "Go on, swim". I practically lost my sight when they shoved my head in there. There was also something else, a barrel full of water with a cage on top. You couldn't get out of there.'
|In 2002, the Russian war against the Chechens is still going strong. From U.S. less critical of Russia's Chechen war: Moscow winning favor through support of anti-terror effort: |
What has changed, however, is the West's attitude toward the alleged Russian atrocities that seem to go hand in hand with its military actions. Since Russia began proving itself invaluable to the U.S. anti-terror campaign, American pressure regarding the Chechnya issue has all but disappeared. This political trade-off will legitimize Russia's actions and raise its international standing.
The most recent Russian military sweeps began Dec. 30 in the area of the village of Tsotsin-Yurt. Human rights organizations assert that Russia is again engaging in abuses throughout the region, such as murder, torture and arbitrary executions.
Yet another story about Russian atrocity in Chechnia: Russian troops 'using rape as weapon' in The Scotsman, April 10, 2002. I'll not print an excerpt here; you've probably seen enough by this point.
Do you think Russia is a friendly bear to everyone but the Chechens? Consider reading Torture, murder and lies by J.R. Nyquist of WorldNetDaily.com. Russia is as much a police state as it ever was. An excerpt:
|Michael Slackman, the Moscow correspondent for Newsday, recently wrote a story about the police in Yeltsin's Russia. According to Slackman's Oct. 27 Newsday article, "Each year, about one of every six Russians are detained in a system where police rely on torture as their primary investigative tool."|
In other words, during the last 12 months 25 million Russians have been detained by a police state that tortures innocent people. Slackman's article quotes a Moscow federal judge who says that torture is commonplace in Russia. Slackman also quotes detective Igor Ogorodnikov, who says, "I don't think there is a single (Russian) detective who hasn't used torture."
|Russia's infamous Gulag system of vast slave camps continues, as well -- despite the perception, fostered by deliberate lies, that it was dismantled after the fall of the Soviet Union. See Russia's gulags still in business by Chris Stephen, August 7th, 2001, in The Scotsman for confirmation.|
If the Russian government is totalitarian and barbaric, the Chinese government is no better. From the same article:
|I asked the highest-ranking defector from the Russian General Staff, Col. Stanislav Lunev, if there were any decent people at the top of Russia's surviving Communist structures. He answered, "These are not human beings. These are crazy persons." I got a similar answer from the Chinese dissident, Harry Wu, when I asked about the Chinese Communists. Harry Wu said, "They are butchers." |
|Proof of Wu's assessment is in the news, daily. Here is an Associated Press story, dated April 20, 2000 -- Report: 3 Falun Gong Die in Jail -- about the on-going assault by Chinese authorities against the Falun Gong. Excerpts: |
|BEIJING (AP) - Three more members of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement have died of beatings or hunger strikes while in custody, including one who may still have been breathing when police cremated him, a human rights group said Thursday.|
At least 15 Falun Gong practitioners have died in custody since the group was banned nine months ago, the Hong Hong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy said.
. . . Falun Gong member Li Yanhua died April 14 in a labor camp after a hunger strike, the Information Center said.
Li, an employee at an aircraft manufacturer in Nanchang, a city in the southern province of Jiangxi, was sentenced in January to two years in prison after she came to Beijing to protest, the group said.
It said 60 other Falun Gong members imprisoned in the labor camp are on a hunger strike that began April 4. (Emphasis added)
|Another AP story, (in the Washington Post 6-18-2000), tells of a Falun Gong member who died after being "injected with nerve-destroying drugs" while forcibly incarcerated in a Chinese psychiatric hospital. The article quotes The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy as saying that 22 sect members have died so far at the hands of the Red Chinese, since the Falun Gong was banned last July.|
Yet another story about Chinese abuse and murder of Falun Gong, this time a Reuters story carried at Excite News on September 6, 2000 ("Falun followers die in China detention -- Hong Kong group"). Keep an open eye, and you'll probably be seeing such stories for years, because the Chinese "leadership" -- like any group of adult neurotics -- isn't likely to become emotionally healthy. As long as China has a centralized power structure and superior force of arms to impose itself on the citizens, it will continue imposing.
More: see Police beat, arrest Falun Gong members in Tiananmen Square, October 1, 2000, from CNN's Lisa Weaver for yet another outrage, although not one as horrifying as the 1989 "battle" in which peaceful protesters at the square were machine-gunned and run over by tanks of the Red Army. The Chinese Red Cross estimated 3,600 deaths among the protesters. Despite video tape and photographs of the slaughter, the Chinese government had the gall to claim no one was killed, and that the unarmed protesters were "criminals" who were assaulting the brave Red Army.
See also: Torture Is Breaking Falun Gong: China Systematically Eradicating Group by John Pomfret and Philip P. Pan, Washington Post, Sunday, August 5, 2001
Still more: China is harvesting organs from Falun Gong practitioners held in concentration camps. Many of the victims are said to be alive as their organs are surgically removed. Google "Falun Gong" + organ harvesting" for more info, but here are two stories on the topic: Chinese Embassy Denies Organ Harvesting Report from the Canadian television network CTV (Jul. 6 2006), and Falun Gong organ claim supported from Australian newspaper The Age, July 8, 2006.
Of course, it isn't only Falun Gong who suffer under the Chinese dictatorship. Click here for a glimpse of how Tibetans have been treated for the past half-century, since the invasion and occupation of their country by Red China. (Nuns are driven to suicide by Chinese torture by David Rennie in the London Telegraph, October 6, 2000; now archived at World Tibet Network News).
China was recently admitted to the World Trade Organization, and many people thought this would encourage the Chinese government to behave with less cruelty. Others have pointed to rapidly increasing Internet access in that country as a civilizing force. In fact, neither trade nor wider access to information has improved the treatment of the Chinese people by their government. See Life with Beijing's bruisers by Anthony LoBaido at WorldNetDaily (1/24/2001) for a lengthy article about the tone and character of today's Chinese leadership. Exerpts:
|"Since China gained entrance into the World Trade Organization," said a congressional staffer on a top House committee, "China has really let her hair down in terms of cracking down on any and all domestic dissent. Remember the carrot and the stick approach? Now that China is holding the carrot firmly in her mouth, she has taken the stick into her own hands to bloody those who would provoke the ruling elite."|
. . .
Between November and mid December of last year, Communist officials in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang shut down, and in some cases blew up, 450 Catholic and Protestant churches as well as Taoist and Buddhist temples.
The campaign was aimed at wiping out "illegal" religious groups not registered with the State Administration for Religious Affairs. At least 239 unregistered religious facilities that were shut down were in Wenzhou.
"The churches, temples and religious halls were shut down to protect the public," said a Chinese government spokesman. "In order to maintain social stability, the local government demolished underground churches and temples and other illegal places. These organizations were operating under the cloak of religion. They hoodwinked people, interfered in normal religious activities."
|And the beat goes on:|
MONDAY AUGUST 20 2001
Chinese troops seize Tibetan monastery BY OLIVER AUGUST in the London Times; now hosted at Tibet Environmental Watch. An excerpt:
|CHINESE troops have occupied the largest Tibetan monastery and forced thousands of monks and nuns to denounce the Dalai Lama, Tibetan groups said. |
The troops destroyed hundreds of buildings at the Serthar Monastery and its surrounding settlement last week in an effort to gain control of the most important centre of Tibetan Buddhism in China.
Kate Saunders, of the Tibet Information Network, said: "The crackdown indicates that Beijing sees the flourishing religious activity at Serthar as a threat to the State."
There are no confirmed reports of troop violence, but several nuns are said to have died owing to the "trauma" of the occupation.
The destruction of buildings at Serthar will continue this week and is expected to be completed by October, days before President Bush arrives in China for a state visit. Beijing began a campaign of intimidation at the monastery several months ago and may have stepped it up to minimise the negative impact on Sino-American relations.
|This vile and murderous behavior continues in 2002. For example, see China court indicts Hong Kong trader for imported Bibles (Reuters, 1/5/02) -- in which we learn that "A court in China's Fujian province" has indicted someone for the heinous crime of selling Christian Bibles, and may have him executed for it.|
For a change of venue, consider this story about Bosnian Serbs recently convicted of systematic rape and torture against civilians. The article is Serb commanders begin jail sentences. Excerpts:
|The tribunal convicted Dragoljub Kunarac of sexually assaulting and torturing Muslim women at rape camps during the Bosnian war, sentencing him to 28 years in prison.|
. . . The second defendant, Radomir Kovac, was also found guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity by rape, and sentenced to 20 years.
The third defendant, Zoran Vukovic, was convicted of raping and torturing a 15-year-old girl - who was about the same age as his own daughter.
|Returning to the topic of China, China Sentences Democracy Activists By John Leicester, Associated Press, May 31, 2002 tells of two "democracy activists" who were recently sentenced to ten and eleven years in Chinese prisons for the crime of, basically, talking about freedom, and supporting a strike by more than 1,000 Chinese steelworkers who had not been paid in more than a year.|
Moving to 2003: In the House of Tyranny
By Shaomin Li
National Review, October 10, 2003, 8:47 a.m. An excerpt:
|On April 18, 2002, Yang Jianli, a U.S.-based Chinese activist who openly calls for democracy in China, went to China for a short visit after 13 years in exile. A week later, after visiting some cities rocked by protests of unemployed workers, he disappeared. He was secretly arrested by the Chinese government and has been jailed incommunicado for more than a year. Recently the Chinese government announced that it is charging Yang with illegally entering China and espionage, charges which carry sentences ranging from ten years' imprisonment up to the death penalty. |
Yang's ordeal is, sadly, not an anomaly. In June 2002, Wang Bingzhang, a longtime democracy advocate exiled from China, was kidnapped in Vietnam and illegally brought to China. The Chinese government first denied it had kidnapped Wang, and then claimed it "rescued" him. Wang, like Yang, was illegally arrested and detained incommunicado. In February 2003, the Chinese government charged Wang with terrorism and espionage, and sentenced him to life in prison.
Kidnapping people and secretly locking them up is more like an act of terrorism than a government's legitimate enforcement of the law. What the Chinese government did to Yang and Wang is in total violation of recognized human rights, and is unlawful according to internationally accepted standards. The U.N., which has been extremely restrained in criticizing the Chinese government, issued a report saying that "[Yang's] arrest and detention is arbitrary" and "cannot be justified on any legal basis." Such acts even violate the laws of the Chinese government itself.
|Another change of venue; no reason to pick on just the larger and better known police states. Nat Hentoff's column for October 4, 2002 is titled Land of Fear, Rape, and Hunger: The City Council Welcomes a Dictator. He writes: |
|On September 12, Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe-once its liberator and now its brutal dictator-was welcomed to New York's City Hall. Invited by voluble city council member Charles Barron of Brooklyn, Mugabe spoke to a dozen or so councilmembers, most of them members of the black and hispanic caucus. |
|Yes, Mugabe's a true statesman! Or is he? Before that paragraph, Hentoff offers the following two quotes: |
|People have been detained and tortured. In the country now, literally, no one's safety and security is guaranteed if there is even the slightest doubt of support for President Mugabe.|
-Adotei Akwei, Africa advocacy director of Amnesty International USA, The New York Times, September 16
|In the rape camps of Zimbabwe, young girls are horrifically abused-often to punish Mugabe's political opponents. . . . Mugabe has stationed two officers from his feared Central Intelligence Organisation in every village; merely talking to a murungu, or white man, can lead to interrogation or beatings.|
-Christina Lamb, Sunday Telegraph, London, August 25
|Torture and rape systematically used to suppress opposition to a corrupt regime. Did even Enron do this? Does Microsoft? Does ANY free-market, non-government entity do anything even remotely as evil? |
None of this is anything new.
Every nation has its moments of shame in history, and many nations have far more than "moments." For example, over the years, many spiritual and religious groups, from Buddhists and Confucians to Christians, have been persecuted in a similar manner by the Red Chinese. Almost anyone in China could find themselves a target. Rummel quotes Mao as bragging (see p. 46 in Death by Government) that he had killed 46,000 scholars by having them buried alive. Rummel also quotes the Chinese Minister of Public Security, Hsieh Fu-chih, as reporting that "production brigade leaders in one rural county" had murdered, in a single day, everyone with "bad" personal or family backgrounds including "landlords, rich peasants, counterrevolutionaries, bad elements, and rightists and their children, including babies." (p. 98)
Both Death by Government and the Black Book of Communism give extensive detail on the actions and attitudes of the Chinese leadership since the Communist takeover in 1949. Rummel's estimate (and not the highest one available) is that "from October 1949 to 1987, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) probably killed more than 35,200,000 of its own subjects." Yes, that was "thirty-five million, two hundred thousand" murders.
These numbers can only be estimates, of course; criminals - even the ones "running" a nation - do try to cover their tracks. The authors of The Black Book put the number murdered by the Red Chinese (including deaths after 1987) at a staggering sixty-five million (page 4).
If you feel we are too harsh in our assessment of centralized government power, please consider reading these books. Concentrated power, especially without a counter-balance of power in the hands of the citizens themselves, almost inevitably becomes a tool for evil. Slaughter, torture, unjust imprisonment, slave labor, and other horrors are the common result of closely-held, centralized government power.
The danger of coercive government has always been visible to anyone willing to see clearly. The most famous warning against government coercion may be Lord Acton's dictum on the corrupting influence of power. His second sentence is often left out, but deserves a hearing:
|"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." |
|There are good reasons for that. Coercive power -- be it state power or power wielded by the Mafia -- is different in kind from non-coercive power, just as coercive government is different in kind from self government. Oprah Winfrey has power because people tune in to her television show, voluntarily. Politicians, even in "free" nations, have power because they control, directly or indirectly, the police, the armed forces, the court systems, the bureaucracies, and other levers of the coercive, "do what we say or else" kind of power that defines "government." |
That kind of power draws sociopaths like a magnet.
Should coercion, in every little corner of life, be our goal?
The Abolitionist Movement
One conclusion from the above data on government seems unavoidable, even if nearly everyone does avoid it: that the State itself is evil -- that it is a tool of carnage, of theft, of mass-murder and vast misery, imposed by the elite upon the rest of society.
In short: That the State is not a necessary evil, but merely an ancient one.
This is the abolitionist viewpoint on government -- and, of course, it is not something one hears in civics class or from the major media. Still, the data remain, and even the major media often report on them -- on genocide in Chechnya, on the Nazi "final solution," on the Red Chinese occupation of Tibet, on U. S. and allied sanctions against Iraq, which have killed over half a million children since the Gulf war, according to the World Health Organization, without removing or improving the behavior of the Iraqi regime.
|[Update 9/4/2005: Of course, the Hussein regime was removed in 2003 by the American-led invasion of Iraq. As this note is written, over 2,000 American troops have been killed and reports suggest anywhere from 25,000 to over 100,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the U.S. invasion. Hundreds of tons of poisonous and radioactive depleted uranium weapons (yes, DU is both chemically poisonous and radioactive, with a half-life of billions of years) have been exploded and the DU particles have contaminated a huge area, in what may be the worst environmental crime ever committed. |
Furthermore, it now appears that the New Orleans disaster - the city has been essentially destroyed and perhaps 10,000 or more people have died from hurricane Katrina - could and would have been avoided if federal budgets hadn't shifted funds from levee maintenance and other flood-control projects into war preparations and on-going military expenditures, and if so many Louisiana National Guard troops and their equipment hadn't been sent to Iraq. See "How New Orleans Was Lost" http://www.antiwar.com/roberts/?articleid=7131 and "Impeach Bush Now" http://www.lewrockwell.com/roberts/roberts120.html , both by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. Roberts has been an associate editor of the Wall Street Journal, a contributing editor for National Review, and an assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury, according to his short bio at the LewRockwell site.]
|Clearly, any new product as dangerous as government would be immediately banned.|
Many people (Henry David Thoreau, Thomas Paine, Voltaire, Mark Twain, etc. etc.) have written about the "Emperor's New Clothes" quality of government. For a recent essay on the topic, see "A World Without You" http://www.lewrockwell.com/callahan/callahan28.html by Gene Callahan. An excerpt:
|History and theory agree that any state, whatever the intentions of its founders and however its "initial contract" is drawn up, ultimately will escape these straightjackets and strive toward realization of the total state. |
|Investor Doug Casey also takes the abolitionist position on government. His brief, eloquent "Imagine a World Without Government" http://www.wnd.com/news/printer-friendly.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24367 makes it clear that coercive government is not only unneccesary: it is inefficient and in other ways positively harmful. Casey points out that people get used to thinking of government as "necessary" to those things they see it doing -- even if those same things are being done better elsewhere without government. For example, |
|Who, they ask, would build the roads and run the schools? Who would keep order in society and protect it from predators? |
Some of these questions reflect beliefs as quaint and silly as those of inner-city children who believe that milk naturally comes from cartons. But since much of all news concerns the doings of government, and since various levels of government control close to half the economy, it's understandable how Americans have become almost as myopic as the Soviets were in that regard. Some believe that if the government didn't build the roads, we would still have no industrialization or infrastructure. Similarly, some Soviets had a hard time figuring out who would build cars, if not their government.
Actually, an inability to understand how the world would work without government shows an inability to understand how it works right now. What holds society together isn't the coercive power of the state - it's peer pressure, social opprobrium, moral approbation, and, especially, self interest. Few people would argue that the reason diners pay their restaurant checks is fear of the police, just as few would argue that the only reason diners do not stand on table tops, disrobe and create a scene is because of some ordinance prohibiting it. The coercive power of the state has almost no part in forming the glue holding society together.
|For one last example of this viewpoint, see "Government is Evil" by Bob Murphy http://www.lewrockwell.com/murphy/murphy25.html . |
Again, an excerpt:
|Let's look at the record of governments. The more powerful they've grown, the more terrible are their crimes. The worst depression to ever hit the United States occurred shortly after the creation of the Federal Reserve - an institution the purpose of which is to micromanage the economy and thus dampen the vicissitudes of the wild-cat free banking system. People are starving and executed in socialist countries, while they are fat and lazy in capitalist ones.|
Who exactly is espousing the ridiculous argument here? I am saying that if we create an institution of systematic violence, and hand it over to professional liars, bad things are going to happen. Where am I being na´ve again?
Just as recovery can only come when the abused woman stops denying her own responsibility for her horrible life, so too will we stop wars and famines only when we admit that humans have been living a tremendous lie for thousands of years.
The truth is scary. It is simply awful that all of this suffering around us is largely preventable. I understand that. But we must have the courage to accept this truth, to stop the cycle.
We must admit that Government Is Evil.
|At the risk of alienating many who visit here, I must agree. There is no sense in pretending that the horrors which government has systematically inflicted on hundreds of millions of victims, century after century, will ever stop -- as long as coercive governments exist. (Or, at least, as long as they are not severely limited and powerfully held in check -- as was tried in the United States. That lasted for about a hundred and fifty years; the US government is now the world's most powerful and expensive, meddling in other nations' affairs around the globe and extracting nearly half the national GNP for state, local, and federal functions. My faith in "limited government" is thus tempered by the actual results). |
See the Bill of Rights page on this site [opens in a new window] for a reminder of how American citizens tried to protect human rights, and some detail of how that attempt has largely failed.
Even police and other security services, the main excuse for giving political governments a monopoly on intitiated coercion, can be provided without coercive, political government. Private firms, individuals, and cooperative groups can and already often do provide such services. As with every other service or product, non-government providers offer competition, effiency, and the powerful market forces which move businesses (when not sheltered from competition by government-granted monopoly or other protection) to treat customers with respect -- instead of as governments have historically treated their "subjects."
Torturing or murdering large numbers of customers does not make sense for any business -- but it makes perfect sense, evidently, to many coercive governments, as we have seen.
Consumers don't spend their money on nuclear weapons or on "aid" to repressive dicators -- but large, coercive, political governments often do.
Business "wars" are typically price wars that benefit the consumer without getting anyone killed; government wars kill millions of men, women, and children.
Please review the numbers of the murdered (and other relevant information on this page) before dismissing the notion of limiting, and eventually of abolishing, coercive, political government.
See Scientific & General References for confirmation that early abuse and distress cause emotional damage -- the foundation of government coercion, and one of coercion's primary effects -- while early love, compassion, and respect (freedom) create healthy, responsible adults who respect others.
Love and freedom require each other.
First posted February 2000; Last update May 25, 2006
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