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Who Would Rule? Essay

1531 words - 6 pages

Who Would Rule?

In the book, The Spiral Road, author, Huang Shu-min makes an observation during his stay in Lin Village. The comment ignites a counter-response from his counterpart, Party Secretary Ye. Little do they know, this comment ignites a debate between the writings of many authors accredited with thorough political knowledge. Alexis de Tocqueville of the 19th century had the most accurate insight on the relationship between human economic and/or and human liberty. The writings of the remaining authors also fuse together to form a generalized theory about the freedom of less-developed societies in China.
Huang Shu-min made observations in the eighth chapter of his book entitled "Prosperous Years." He had mixed feelings as such: "I was impressed by the progress being made in rural China in comparison with other developing nations. It seemed that villagers, as far as I could see, were provided with basic necessities, such as food rations, health care, and elementary education. The other side of the coin, however, was the ever-presented political control, ideological regimentation, and coerced conformity to whatever Party lines were in command. It seemed to be a stiff price to pay for the material improvements the villagers enjoyed" (Huang 132). His observations were purely subjective and bias in terms of the values and beliefs of the villagers he was discussing. The key comment that he made that ignites this whole debate followed these observations. He approached P.S. Ye with these observations thus the argument begins: "The fundamental contradiction then is between economic development and human liberty. In order to achieve quick development, sometimes citizens of less-developed countries, such as China, may have to forgo some of their individual freedom. The problem I weigh is how to draw the delicate balance between collective interests and individual freedom." The argument cannot continue without clarifying precarious words like "freedom", "development", and "liberty"; all words that could make or break the discussion on developing nations.
Freedom can be defined as the absence of necessity, coercion or constraint in choice or action. In close relation this definition, Tocqueville applauds the following definition of freedom: "There is a civil, a moral, a federal liberty, which is the proper end and object of authority: it is a liberty for that only which is just and good; for this liberty you are to stand with the hazard of your very lives. . .This liberty is maintained in a way of subjection to authority; and the authority set over you will in all administrations for your good be quietly submitted unto, by all but such as have a disposition to shake off the yoke, and lose their true liberty, by their murmuring at the honor and power of authority." This definition emphasizes positive liberty, which is maintained through subjection to the authorities, which have liberty as their goal. Implicit in this...

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