Sunday 19 May 2024

Trajectories of Oppression

It does seem that there are some quite unpleasant leaders in the world (Putin, Xi, Modi, Orban, Khamenei, etc) who seem to be gathering and organising in opposition to leaders in other parts of the world who present themselves as being less unpleasant (but may in fact be almost as bad! - Netanyahu, Trump, the CIA...). A balanced perspective on this is difficult, but there are certainly countries where speaking out against injustice will get you killed, or imprisoned. But "Being free" ought to mean something rather more than "they won't kill me if I speak out". 

Within all oppressive regimes there are restrictions on the range of things that can be said, and who they can be said to. This applies to countries as much as it does to family relationships, and indeed the most common form of oppression occurs in the home. It's always the same pattern though - there is coercion of communication, monitoring and control. Transgressing any boundaries may lead to a "visit" in one's work or home from some unsavoury character who, if not directly violent, will attempt intimidate through threats. 

Domestic oppression looks very much like this (from Jim Cartwright's brilliant play "Two"):

Free societies need to counter the tendency towards restricting communication. Openness and dialogue backed up by legal protection is always the best policy for dealing with threats. However, as the world teeters between liberty and oppression, there is a risk that this kind of behaviour spills over into normal life in free societies. So what should we do? 

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