Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Commentary from Singapore

Tom Friedman, commenting on Katrina from Singapore in tomorrow's New York Times, quotes Straits Times columnist Janadas Devan:

Today's conservatives differ in one crucial aspect from yesterday's conservatives: the latter believed in small government, but believed, too, that a country ought to pay for all the government that it needed.

The former believe in no government, and therefore conclude that there is no need for a country to pay for even the government that it does have....[But] it is not only government that doesn't show up when government is starved of resources and leached of all its meaning. Community doesn't show up either, sacrifice doesn't show up, pulling together doesn't show up, "we're all in this together" doesn't show up.

Governments can impose order in society from the top down or they can foster community. It is undoubtedly more difficult to foster community than it is to impose order, but the difference between the two modes is what separates freedom from tyranny.