The Virtues of Chinese Censorship


In a recent TCS Daily piece, Reason Contributing Editor James DeLong quickly moves from defending Google's cooperation with the Chinese government's Web censorship (which you might think would be a challenging enough task in a 1,300-word essay) to defending the Chinese government, which he suggests is wise to put "perestroika before glasnost." I am honestly not sure if he's kidding. Assuming he isn't, I have a few questions:

1. Isn't the need to maintain order the excuse of every tyrant?

2. Can Russia's return to authoritarianism (including state control of the news media), which DeLong cites as a cautionary tale about the dangers of moving too quickly toward an open society, reasonably be attributed to excessive freedom of speech?

3. Doesn't the Chinese government's ham-handed censorship foster popular discontent by giving credence to wild rumors and blocking the safety valve of open dissent?

4. Aren't the dangers of democracy that DeLong cites the result of insufficient respect for individual rights? How does punishing people for the things they say foster respect for liberty?

5. How can China have economic freedom if it doesn't respect property rights, including the right to set up a Web site with your own computer, using an Internet connection and hosting services that you purchase from voluntary sellers with the fruits of your labor?

6. What the hell does blocking access to Web sites featuring "jokes and alcohol" have to do with preventing chaos?