Bold Protests in Asia Prove Anti-Government Suspicions Correct

Ellie McFarland | @El_FarAwayLand

At this point, it’s an open secret that China is putting its Muslim citizens in persecutory camps. The Chinese government, through ideology related to the state’s communist party, is forcing East-Asian Turkish Muslims to abandon their religion. If they maintain their faith, they face the threat of the Chinese state throwing them into these camps. While China has admitted that these camps exist, they insist they’re in a place to combat “Islamic extremism”. Yet, Islamic extremism seems to be present only to the extent that Chinese-Turkish Muslims are problems to the communist regime.

Also in China, the Hong Kong protests are showing no signs of cooling down. Asia as a continent is experiencing one of the highest concentrations of political protest and violence in history.

The State Restricts Individual and Minority Rights

In Indonesia, protests are breaking out over the government’s new laws restricting extramarital sex and anti-corruption agencies. Asia, like any other continent or region, experiences regional trends. The Middle East is experiencing religious terrorism. Europe is experiencing the distress of restrictive, bureaucratic, and pseudo-socialist governments. Asia’s role in this trend is now an example of what happens when citizens rise up against their oppressive regimes. It also shows how effective everyday people can be at destabilizing a government.

Not only that, as a vague globally historic rule, the politics of economic capitals such as China and other producers, influence foreign political systems. This is not only a simple exchange of ideas. It is also a result of political appeasement and economic “monkey-see-monkey-do”.

The tragedy of Asiatic state authoritarianism is something that has the world aware of oppressive regimes. However, it is prompting more whining and inaction from people in the West than it is prompting activism and real change or awareness. This is because, in the West, we have the privilege of living in relative comfort. We live in a democracy, which although it is oppressive, is stable and not obviously violent in the eyes of most people.

The situation in much of Asia is, for lack of a better word, theatrical. It isn’t difficult to notice the violence of a state when there are riots in the streets, or cops attacking citizens. The violence of the state is evident to everyone. When protesters kill themselves because they know if they’re arrested for combating the regime, their fate is worse than death, people take notice. 

Rule by Majority is Just as Tyrannical as Rule by a King

So the question is; Why can’t people connect the dots between the existence of a state and oppressive regimes? In Indonesia, the political system is a representative democracy. It mirrors the political system of America. In the West and almost everywhere else people see democracy as the best political system. Any alternative, including anarchy, people see as a dictatorial system.

But the truth is, any political system that involves a state in any way, is a dictatorship of someone or something. In a traditional dictatorship, it’s a dictatorship of a military official. In a democracy, the dictatorship boils down to that of a majority. The people of Indonesia elected the legislature who is banning extramarital sex in a democratic way. But notice, the rights of people, presumably the minority, who do not agree, are being trampled by the whims of the majority.

It doesn’t occur to people often enough that democracies can and do strip individuals of their rights to appease the wishes of any majority. The rest of the world is quick to blame the people within the countries for oppression done against them when people see democracy as voluntary and the end-all and be-all of politics and society.

What occurs to people even less is that democracies, although stable, are not always permanent. Democracy, with or even without a revolution, can become something closer to a proper dictatorship within a person’s lifetime. Further, people overlook obvious and violent injustices that can only occur within states. Western citizens will often see violence as a product of anything other than the state.

Misconceptions of American and Western Democracy

This is why it is so worrying when people raise the issue of governmental oppression in the context of the second amendment and people meet their concerns scoffs. “The government is the least of our worries” and “An AR-15 couldn’t combat the government anyway” or “We live in a democracy. You can always vote the bad politicians out of office”.

But that is not how politics works. There is an assumption in the West not that good politics can be non-violent, but that all good politics is non-violent. Yet that is a fallacious notion. It’s appropriated from a veneer of the Greek philosophical and governmental tradition. In actuality though, politics and the state does not only allow and promote violence, it necessitates violence.

We as citizens in a democracy are not immune to the oppression those in many Asian nations are suffering right now. Our political system is not a shield from tyranny and autocracy. Rather, it promotes those things. It is not ridiculous, conspiratorial, or unjustly high-minded to worry and plan for the existence of our own oppressive government. These instances– these horrors– are not foreign. The United States, our own government, is holding children in desert camps at the southern border. If concentration camps full of Muslims are a reason for the Chinese to arm themselves, concentration camps full of migrants must also be a reason for Americans to arm themselves.

Learn from Asia

The violence of states in Asia is not just a reason for people to take up arms. It is also a reason for people everywhere to be suspicious of all governance full stop. If a nation like France were to have the same troubles as Hong Kong, Americans, Brits, Germans, and the like would gain a crack in their state-faith rather fast. But China, and Indonesia especially, are like France in important ways. They have states which masquerade themselves as justified, safe and needed. What separates them is economic and cultural proximity– things which violence always overcomes. 

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