The birthplace of democracy and the symbol of freedom are words that are synonymous with Europe and the United States. But what exactly does a democracy look like and how does freedom feel? Does the false hyper sensationalization of freedom and democracy in reality inhibit what we consider our civil liberties? The idea of freedom and democracy, mixed with hyper-patriotism is actually the downfall of the United States as well as European countries. At the moment we are seeing exactly just that due to COVID 19. It is arguable that based on cultural differences it was easier for East and Southeast Asian countries to beat COVID while the US and Europe not only continue to struggle with spikes in cases, but also their populations believe lockdowns, vaccines and masks are authoritarian by nature or just do not trust modern medicine all together. A large number of people think that rules associated with COVID are impeding on the civil liberties of them and fellow their “sovereign citizens”. It seems as if the idea of freedom and democracy has actually backfired in most western societies and is in fact not only putting its own populations at risk but also the rest of the world.
Ironically while millions of Americans are refusing to get a covid vaccine as well as many not showing up for their second shots, millions are needing and wanting vaccines around the world. For example in India Covid cases have been ravaging the country, in which many describe it as hell like conditions. Make shift crematories have been reported to be in virtually every neighborhood in India to combat record breaking surges, like that of a known one million covid cases in several days. Just this morning while writing this India recorded 350,000 new cases in a single day.
For many the idea that COVID was created to only keep people in control or that it is only as harmful as a flu need to just take a stroll down memory lane, and notice that 10 years ago and prior, the general conspiracy consensus was that many global elite billionaires were Malthusian in ideology (which is true in many instances). Malthusianism theory believes overpopulation is seen as the reason why poverty and starvation exists. Modern mega rich Malthusians such as Bill Gates and Ted Turner just to name a few, literally believe in the depopulation of the planet. Other than Malthusians, questions still linger as to why on earth would millionaires let alone the US government want to let its economy crumble? The unraveling of the U.S. economy would ultimately accelerate the losing of its hegemonic position as the worlds largest economy by its biggest advisory china. With none of this adding up, it is time to look at and understand why East and Southeast Asian countries were able to beat COVID.
Individual vs Collective Societal Mentality
In reality Ancient customary traditions define societies and the mentalities that are manifested within them. Since western societies are deeply rooted in Abrahamic religious philosophy, it makes the US and European countries the creators and continuous contributors of anthropocentric ways of life as well as thought throughout the planet. In other words the individual and their ability to better and/or advance their lives through “intrinsic freedoms” is celebrated and a human right. In East and Southeast Asia the thought is the opposite; in order to release all pain and suffering on the planet people must come together or do their part to help rid the world of it. This is a philosophy of thought deep rooted in Confucianism, in which East and Southeast Asian countries have ingrained within their societies.
The idea of democracy is an ideology birthed in ancient Greece, in which the words literal meaning during the epoch, was rule of(by) people (Demos = people. Kratos = Rule) and is the foundation to the western ideology of “intrinsic freedoms” such as freedom of choice. But realistically choice comes as a group (collective) and that group must be a majority, in which ideally it would seem that politics persuade people to change their ideas and beliefs in order for a unanimous decision to come to fruition. What if these ideas at the time would be considered immoral in todays Christian influenced, Western civilization? Would that mean that not only was there some form of political influence for people to change ideas, but also that it cannot conceptionally exist, when its foundation was birthed out of a society, in an era that saw massive inequalities of all sorts? If a democracy in Ancient Greece looked different from today, when was the definition of democracy codified? And in each period of time for who is it codified for? And if there has never been a full democracy, when will it come? What I am trying to get at here, is that the idea of a democracy can exist theoretically but due to Western societies having its theoretic foundation in Abrahamic ideology, it would seem as if democracy is a contradiction. In some small scale instances, democratic ideas work well, but when it comes to this idea being conceptually a basis to a government, it just does not add up.
Dao and Confucian thought, are ideas rooted in ancient East Asia (China specifically) around the same time in the 5th or 6th century BCE. Confucianism believes in setting good examples for others to follow, primarily in 5 key relationships: ruler and subject, wife and husband, older and younger sibling, friend and friend, and father and son. Daoism focuses on living harmoniously and together with Confucianism the concept of yin and yang originates. When a society’s ideology is grounded in collectivity, people want to protect you from themselves if they have some sort of contagious virus. For example in Thailand, as in many East and Southeast Asian countries, wearing masks has been common practice long before COVID. The most common reason for wearing masks is to protect others from getting whatever contagious virus you may have, which is something very considerate. How many times have you said to yourself “I think so and so got me sick”? For people of East and Southeast Asian nations, there is more of a duty to society than there is to individual. Collective orientation of thought, makes it so that, even if a certain government is despised, they will still listen to instructions especially if they are reasonable. It also makes people that might be skeptical about COVID, still feel as if they have a duty to help get rid of it because essentially it is not about them. In some instances people in some East and Southeast Asian countries most people felt the government lifted the lockdown too early.
People anxious for businesses to open in order to make money, because they need it so badly, is ultimately a reflection of how frail and merciless American society as well as its socioeconomic system can be. For a society to not be able to provide assistance to its citizens via subsidized rent, nationalized hospitals, and a monthly stimulus, like we saw in most European countries (arguably why those economies are not as damaged as the U.S.’s), shows that most people want to go back to work out of necessity and usually not out of spite nor skepticism towards COVID or the rules associated with it. A failed system with its false ideas of freedom has warped people so much in the U.S., that it is virtually impossible for people to be on the same page, let alone trust the government.
Trust in Government
Statistically trust in government varies throughout the world, and usually actions of coercion on governments from outside entities that have private motives, makes the number of people that trust the government relatively low. USA has a private club like government (jostles between families and connections via politics outside the sphere of most americans), in which U.S. citizens see it as only a governing entity made for those in the “club”. Whereas in the East and Southeast Asian countries the government is seen more like a family. In the United States roughly 20% (1 in 5 americans) of its citizens do not trust the government; compared to in China, in which 80% of the citizens trust the government. When looking at European countries that heavily trust their governments, it is common to see countries with socialist type social systems, and that normally have fewer geopolitical conflicts, with citizens that trust in government more. For example countries such as Switzerland, Norway, Finland, and none EU India, do not have conflicts and also have a better social safety net than the United States (other than India). Foreign conflicts usually serve personal interests and are rarely ever justified, and due to this, there are less reasons for governments to be nefarious in terms of having to manufacture consent in order to get the public to sign off on unjust wars.
I have always argued that other than hyper-sensationlized-patriotism (American’s freedom, democracy, and hegemony in the world stage), a constant attack on peoples minds when it comes to information, has manifested into people having zero trust in the government. To add to that, the idea that we are inherently free in America, goes hand and hand with the hyper-sensationalized propaganda, that the USA is the beacon of freedom. The “beacon of freedom” idea has ultimately warped peoples brains so much that they think by wearing a mask they are having their rights (intrinsic freedoms) infringed as well as taken away. Zero trust in government, also makes people look at any mistake by the government as nefarious, while disinformation factories such as 8chan and 4chan scare people out of getting vaccinated. It is almost as if the “free minds” of the United States have become so “free” that they have created their own ideas of what COVID really is. That’s dangerous. Although religion does not play a key role in government it plays a key role in not trusting government. In the minds of Christian Evangelicals, the bible and “the lord” is usually all they need to beat Covid.
The idea of freedom in America is far from true. In fact the United States ranks on the freedom index as the 38th freest country in the world, and I would even argue that it should much lower. And the numbers suggest it should be lower. The U.S. is home to the largest prison population on the planet and if you were to combine the following ten countrie, the U.S. would still have a much larger prison population. The police brutality is also out of hand in America, in which per capita no country on the planet has more police violence towards its citizens. In fact not only is the USA not unsafe, in terms of crime rate index, USA and Nicaragua are virtually the same. The list of things that make USA not the beacon of freedom continues on, and things such as the most mass shootings of any country, and so many laws, that at times the American judicial system is seen by scholars as an overcriminalization institution, in which even the most innocent person can be turned into a criminal. In a Providence Journal from 2010 entitled Too Many Laws Turns Innocents into Criminals, former U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese III states that “Criminal law has changed in the last 50 years. Once criminal law was about criminal acts that everyone knew were inherently unlawful (like murder, rape and robbery). Limiting criminal punishment to conduct that is inherently wrongful restricted governmental power in several important ways.” Meese III also further states that “Today, the criminal law has grown as broad as the regulatory state in its sheer size and scope. In 1998, an American Bar Association task force estimated that there were more than 3,000 federal criminal offenses scattered throughout the 50 titles of the U.S. Code.”
“Just six years later, a leading expert on overcriminalization, John S. Baker Jr., published a study estimating that the number exceeded 4,000. As the ABA task force reported, the body of federal criminal law is “so large . . . that there is no conveniently accessible, complete list of federal crimes.””. Many would agree that since 2010 that has only increased.
After all these problems in the USA, we must then add brutalization of minorities, massive inequalities, the second largest debt in the world (2nd to Japan), a rising homeless population, food/housing prices going up (but no changes in wages for 50 years mixed with a shrinking PPP. (Purchase Power Parity)) and more big tech companies working with government to invade our privacy(along with censorship), it is hard to say that America is a free country let alone the “beacon of freedom”. What little freedoms people do actually have in the United States, are being taken away by the citizens that have a hard time adhering to rules in order to slow down COVID. If only the USA and Europe (which also has many flaws when it comes to democracy and freedom such as CCTV, no warrants to search you, your home or listen to your phone conversations, and crowd control would seem “orwellian” in USA standards), were to have some aspects of East and Southeast Asian cultures, then those societies would have had no problem with stopping COVID.
Numbeo Crime Index by Country 2021. 04/01/21 https://www.numbeo.com/crime/rankings_by_country.jsp (Web Journal)
“Too Many Laws Turn Innocents into Criminals” by Edwin Meese III for The Heritage Foundation. 06/26/10. https://www.heritage.org/crime-and-justice/commentary/too-many-laws-turn-innocents-criminals (Web Journal).
“Trust in Government by Country Stats” 01/01/21 Organism for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). https://data.oecd.org/gga/trust-in-government.htm
“How Cultural Differences Help Asian Countries Beat COVID-19, While US Struggles” by Ralph Jennings for Voice of America (VOA). 07/22/21. https://www.voanews.com/covid-19-pandemic/how-cultural-differences-help-asian-countries-beat-covid-19-while-us-struggles
“Scholar: Eastern Asian Countries More Competent at Handling COVID-19” by Zhu Feng for CGTN. 04/22/21. https://news.cgtn.com/news/2021-04-22/Scholar-Eastern-Asian-countries-more-competent-at-handling-COVID-19-ZFRcNAFFx6/index.html