If you assume people are like cattle and cannot be trusted, then information is your enemy. But control only holds up for so long: Even real cattle can break out into stampedes.
■ But people are not cattle, and that’s the ultimate Achilles heel for authoritarian regimes. Even if you try to keep people in an information black hole, they still know what they can see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears. That’s what makes the “mass breakout” at a Foxconn manufacturing plant in China
rather unsurprising. The Communist government has adhered to a nonsense policy on Covid that has kept people in the dark and bred panic.
■ Putting aside the dystopian qualities that lead objective news reporters to describe it as a “breakout” (who in the free world has ever contemplated, even remotely, the idea of being locked down involuntarily at a place of work?), the event illustrates the impossibility of keeping the Communist Party’s charade forever. A long time? Maybe. Long enough to cause grave and pointless human suffering? Definitely. But not forever.
■ Evolution has conveniently given humans the power of imagination
, which can piece together partial evidence to conjure up hypotheses. Just like we can “see” shapes in the clouds of the sky, we can see lots of other explanations in the world. Those explanations may or may not be correct, but we inevitably try to fill in the gaps. Doing so is expressly in our nature.
■ If you’re running an authoritarian regime, you can tell yourself that you can hold people in the dark long enough to maintain control. And it can go that way for a while. But ultimately, the system is doomed to crack. Something goes so wrong that no amount of lying, denial, or obfuscation can keep people from recognizing it for themselves.
■ In free societies, governments sometimes try to hide the truth or even lie outright. It never ends well, but at least the consequences are generally contained. Someone usually suffers the fallout and ends up either getting booted from office or going to jail. The truth has come out on everything from the FBI’s abusive tactics against Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
to what the Federal government knows about UFOs
■ But when an entire government (like a Communist one) rests on a fundamental assumption of lies generated and truths hidden, it’s inevitable that a day of reckoning will someday arrive – with catastrophic consequences. The catastrophe can be expected first for the people, then for the regime.
■ Reality is the best friend of liberty, because people ultimately demand an honest reconciliation with the facts they can independently observe and verify to be true. That’s when systems built on lies ultimately crumble. Sadly, the process is rarely painless.