TED Conversations

Casey Kitchel


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When fighting for rights, which is tougher: a battle against an oppressive government, or a battle against an oppressive society?

Manal al-Sharif opens her TED talk by asking the audience a question.

“You know that people all over the world fight for their freedom, fight for their rights. Some battle oppressive governments. Others battle oppressive societies.” And then she asks, “which battle do you think is harder?”

Fellow TEDers, which do you think is a tougher battle? And why?


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    Jun 24 2013: Awesome question. Clearly, the battle against an oppressive society is harder - because it's a battle against ourselves.

    “If you hate a person, you hate something in him that is part of yourself. What isn't part of ourselves doesn't disturb us.”

    ― Hermann Hesse
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      Jun 24 2013: My personal theory is that Oppressive Governments only exist in societies that accept oppression as a matter of course. In other words, an aspiring Dictator would have a tough time getting into the Presidency. People have differing opinions about Richard Nixon. In my lifetime, probably he is as close to a dictator as we have ever had. He exceeded nearly every legal limitation on Presidential power. Yet in the end, he was deposed. He was forced to resign to avoid impeachment.

      Nixon had to resign. First because there was enough physical & other evidence available to guarantee his impeachment. Second because there was enough physical & other evidence available to guarantee his conviction in a subsequent trial before the Senate. Finally, there probably was enough evidence to to convict & imprison him after removing him from office. I can only speculate as to what that evidence might refer to. I've heard felony crimes to include murder & money laundering. I've heard outright bribery. I've heard every other rumor floated about Watergate.

      After everyone now living -- or alive during Nixon's presidency has died; the truth will be revealed and the historians will have a field day. Too bad I won't be around to enjoy that!
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        Jun 24 2013: Oppression and corruption go hand in hand. I think, corruption in the government is merely a symptom of corruption in society. People who give bribes to government officials or yield to coercion to give bribes, spread corruption as much as the officials who take bribes. Very soon, corruption becomes modus operandi in society. But overturning the government does not change this mentality.

        "Capitalism is exploitation of man by man, and Communism is the opposite."
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          Jun 24 2013: Power to the People! Long live the Revolution!

          (& I'm sure that I'll have much more to say on this subject later on.)

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