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The Banality of Putin and Xi

Yaron Brook and Elan Journo have written an insightful analysis on why tyrants like China’s Xi and Russia’s Putin appear “charismatic” & “successful”: the intellectual’s hatred of freedom and western appeasement.
They make four important points:

Freedom fuels human progress and prosperity.

For individuals to live, think, produce, and thrive, the role of a proper government is to protect their freedom. It is freedom that fuels human progress and prosperity. No one who values human flourishing can look at Putin, Xi or any other dictator as anything but a lethal aberration….They dominate, brutalize and exploit those who think, teach, invent, produce, run businesses, create value at whatever scale. By violating the rights of their citizens, Putin, Xi and other dictatorial leaders defy the objective conditions necessary for individuals to live and prosper. They are destroyers. “To deal with men by force,” observed philosopher Ayn Rand, “is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion.”

Putin & Xi’s regimes are geared toward parasitism and exploitation.

Putin-aligned oligarchs have ransacked the country. China’s caste of party-aligned operatives have raked in billions, amid the country’s impressive economic rise. That rise, now seemingly slowing, occurred despite not because of China’s dictatorial leadership. It was a consequence of the slight degree of economic freedom the Party condescended to permit — and which it is now undoing….Such dictators and their hangers-on are thugs, gangsters and murderers who operate under the state’s (ostensible) moral authority. Human parasitism is an expression of not of efficacy, but of impotence.

Western intellectuals & policymakers have a prejudice against freedom, especially markets.

You can see it in the bias against markets, deemed messily inefficient, and in favor of central planning….many in the West are afflicted by what you might call Central-Planner Envy, and this leads them into warped thinking. It picks out supposed accomplishments  — “Behold the highspeed trains in Xi’s China!” — while evading the full reality of the uncountable individuals whose rights are trashed in the course of maintaining the regimes system’s pervasive repression.

Western appeasement, investment, and whitewashing embolden Russia and China.

…Russia and China are afforded the undeserved moral status of civilized countries. By agreeing to sit down with them at summits and multilateral meetings, our heads of state perpetuate the fiction that Putin and Xi as efficacious and benevolent leaders that belong in the company of rights-respecting nations.

The United Nations is a major culprit in whitewashing these regimes. Both have permanent seats on the UN’s powerful Security Council(!), despite violating the organization’s stated principles — flagrantly, repeatedly, and on a vast scale. What about the massacring of pro-democracy student protesters at Tiananmen Square in 1989? Dousing the last embers of intellectual freedom? Interning thousands of Uighurs in concentration camps? Wiping out the last vestiges of freedom in Hong Kong? Ongoing piracy of foreign-owned intellectual property? The dishonest handling of the COVID pandemic? No, China has learned that it is effectively untouchable.

This official whitewashing encourages, and is reinforced by, the willingness of American and European companies to invest in China and Russia as if they were basically free, civilized, moral regimes….Putin’s regime, for example, has benefited handsomely from the inflow of foreign capital and joint-ventures with BP, Shell and Exxon. But, since the war in Ukraine, all three of these companies are frantically departing the Russian market, suffering losses in the tens of billions of dollars.

When you reflect on how the U.S. and European nations dealt with Putin’s past aggression, his initiation of war against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, is exposed as foreseeable, rather than strategically shrewd let alone “genius.” Passive appeasement by the U.S. and Europe emboldened Putin…

Required reading.

 

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