The Upside of Saddam's (and Stalin's) Tyranny


Over at the Guardian's "Comment Is Free" sub-site, David Cox ferrets out reasons to mourn the passing of tyranny and the removal of Saddam Hussein:

Living under tyranny may not be ideal, but it is not impossible. In the Soviet Union, life took on a character of its own, in which the human spirit managed to flourish in spite of the political constraints. The literature generated in those conditions can still inspire us. Today, many former Soviet citizens feel no more free under the yoke of global capitalism than they did before, and some would like to see the return of Stalinism. The people of China seem in no rush to jettison a regime that holds out the prospect of prosperity at the expense only of liberty….

Saddam offered his people a harsh deal. Yet, their lives were at risk only if they chose to challenge his authority.

Is there any saw more tired, dubious, and morally grotesque than the old "repression makes the best art" chestnut? As if, what, Cry, the Beloved Country, in any wage balances against apartheid? Or Night takes the edge off the Holocaust? I ask this as someone who studied literature for years: Exactly what book is worth a single person's life?

I'm guessing Cox is not going to get a lot of Christmas cards from Kurds and Shia this year (the picture up top is of some of the Kurds gassed by Saddam because they "chose to challenge his authority"). Cox's defensible point--that the invasion of Iraq has not led to a paradise either in Iraq or elsewhere--gets lost in his inane analysis. "Comment Is Free." Sure, and you get what you pay for.

More here.

Hat tip: Michael Moynihan of Timbro (not the death metal Moynihan).