Recently, China passed a law that appears to claim some sort of extraterritoriality in enforcing its laws against anyone who is viewed as a critic. It has not been enough for China, apparently, to oppress its own people, especially its minority populations, or to try to kill the goose that lays the golden egg in Hong Kong by demonstrating its complete inability to handle the sort of freedom that small area provided its people. What China has set itself to do is provide a “legal” means of being able to arrest and imprison and attempt to silence those who are not Chinese and who owe no duties or responsibilities to China but who take it upon themselves to critique the country. I know that I have been critical and will continue to be critical about various tyrannical aspects of their government and find it troubling that China is taking such a step because it is one that I see many nations feeling more confident in taking given the problems of our particular times.
Right now, what we see around us in Western society is a rise of leftist anarchism in a variety of ways that, while not avoiding the violent and oppressive bullying of others and destruction of their property, seeks to avoid any restraint from government. In some ways, the incompetence and tyranny of many governments of the contemporary world on the national, state, and local levels tends to encourage even those who have a general commitment to law and order to understand and occasionally endorse acts of civil disobedience and pushback against these aspects of tyranny. Yet despite the fact that nearly everyone is being pulled in some sort of chaotic direction by our times, there are a great many people whose pull towards anarchy is far greater. It is often the case, though, that high degrees of anarchy within a society provoke a higher degree of tolerance for tyranny in the support of law and order. Anarchy, in its hostility against legitimate law and order, ends up leading to the support of more extreme efforts of coercive violence on the part of the state to get rid of the resulting chaotic violence, and is thus self-defeating. It would be best, of course, for a just and mild order with a maximum amount of people in a state of self-restrained liberty to exist, but the demonstration that a critical mass of people is no longer self-restrained and ruled by a just conscience is usually enough to increase support for harsher standards of order to be leveled at those who have corrupted liberty for licentiousness.
This is a bad development. For people to be free requires a delicate set of circumstances. It requires, for example, that people live restrained lives that do not require the imposition of harsh legal orders. A people who avoids high degrees of promiscuity, adultery, and general immorality as well as moderate partaking of alcohol and avoidance of drug abuse, which respects the property of others and is diligent in its labors and generally responsive to the needs and concerns of those around them is very fit for liberty because they already do themselves what a just social order would be inclined to push them to do. We call people like this “well-socialized” because they have been properly brought up to care about others and to be free within limitations that avoid taking advantage of others and behaving self-destructively. Where this sort of behavior is less common, it becomes more difficult for a society to be free, because certain segments of the population that do not live under self-restraint will be put under restraint by others. What is called the school-to-prison pipeline is merely a recognition of the reality that those who cannot live under restraint and learn how to behave in ways that maximize their own success and well-being will be restrained and coerced by others and they will not benefit from it except that they change their ways of thinking and behavior. Many people, alas, never learn this lesson, and form what is the professional class of criminals whose behavior increases the coercive power of the state.
What is it that makes our planet at the present time so rich to becoming a laogai planet? Really, what we have is a perfect storm of bad effects. We may begin with the native bias that humanity has for order rather than chaos. We want freedom, but a freedom that is ordered and sedate and which features a lot of patterns of habit. That which disrupts our habits is not welcome, and the intrusive demands of state as well as of leftist anarchist revolutionaries is continually intruding upon our beloved habits, all of which tends to make people increasingly hostile to this bothering and inclined to preserve its own peace through hostility to both tyrannical nanny states as well as anarchist revolutionaries. It is unclear what the endpoint of all of this is, but it does not look good overall. After all, the presence of random acts of violence directed at ordinary people who are minding their own business and people who own property–cars, houses, and so on–tends to lead to a high degree of support for defending oneself and supporting those who care about the defense of the life and property of those who are opposed by the woke mob. Things will likely end in tears and in less liberty, but more order, for all.