TED Conversations

Casey Kitchel

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

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?

Share:

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Jun 26 2013: Juan, "exploitation of man by man" was a buzz-phrase used to characterize capitalism in text books on Marxism-Leninism in the Soviet Union. This saying appeared as a tongue-in-cheek mocking the original buzz-phrase. The meaning is that "the opposite" of "man by man" makes no difference. If you switch places between the oppressor and the oppressed, it's still oppression.
      • Comment deleted

        • thumb
          Jun 26 2013: Juan, interesting account. "Underground communist movement" sounds funny to me. When I was a student, anything other than communist had to be underground. "The opposite" (yet the same) experience. There were many stereotypes and buzz-phrases about capitalism in the Soviet Union: "rotten West", "shackles of imperialism". Then, after the Soviet system collapsed, the whole hypocrisy and power abuse behind this facade of "social justice", "friendship between nations", "solidarity of proletariat" became obvious to everyone. Monuments torn down, ideologies changed. Do common people live better in post-Soviet countries? No. Reason - corruption. The new governments in Russia and Ukraine are more corrupt than ever, and this is a sequence of a culture of corruption in society. I think, in the U.S., there is an ugly reality behind the facade of freedom and democracy as well, but the roots are not as deep.

          I don't believe in political "isms". They come and go. I believe, there are values that transcend historic ages and nations. Life is a process, not a state. Show must go on. Let the wheels of history spin.
      • thumb
        Jun 26 2013: How cool is that . . . Arkady! The concept of an "Underground Capitalist Movement" or something similar in a Communist society amazes me. In my life I never though of that! Ronald Reagan would be so proud. Most people don't realize that Ronald Reagan was 1) a Union man, & 2) was a former Communist. 'Er . . . 'Uh . . . I guess it's more complex than that.

        Reagan is known to have been a leader of the Screen Actors Guild (a Union). So he WAS a union guy. The part about Communism came from (what I believe) is an authoritative source; but I can't find it on the internet. That part of Reagan's history is vague at best. He's better known as a staunch anti-communist; & FBI informant. He's credited with "Winning the Cold War" here in the USA. The Republicans idolize him; and conveniently forget the facts. Reagan & Tip O'Neil; Republican Leader & Democratic Leader - were very good friends. Not like today when they all seem to want to pass on Obama. [Wait! 'pass' needs an 'i' in place of the 'a'.]

        Political Corruption is a tough thing to overcome. Especially in places where bribery has been the way of life for centuries. 3rd world, former Colonies are rife w/corruption. Communism itself was notoriously corrupt. Everything was bribes/favors & nothing seemed to be fair or just for anyone.

        Defeat corruption? It almost takes a religious movement to turn things around. Everyone has to think differently. Everyone does. Prosperity helps. If there's plenty of money, no one needs to bribe anyone. But if everyone thinks they have to cheat to get ahead, what can you do?

        "Life is a process, not a state. Show must go on. Let the wheels of history spin." I agree.
        • thumb
          Jun 26 2013: Re: "Political Corruption is a tough thing to overcome. Especially in places where bribery has been the way of life for centuries. 3rd world, former Colonies are rife w/corruption. Communism itself was notoriously corrupt. Everything was bribes/favors & nothing seemed to be fair or just for anyone.

          Defeat corruption? It almost takes a religious movement to turn things around. Everyone has to think differently. Everyone does. Prosperity helps. If there's plenty of money, no one needs to bribe anyone. But if everyone thinks they have to cheat to get ahead, what can you do?"

          This is exactly my point. There was another buzz-slogan in the Soviet Union: "Everything is for the good of the people!" In late 80-s, one comic added "You need to specify which people."

          Re: "It almost takes a religious movement to turn things around. Everyone has to think differently." Well, yes, it seems to take some brainwashing. I guess, this was the original idea behind both Christianity and Communism. The problem is that mind-control is power and power corrupts. Everyone thinks, corruption is the problem with someone else. I think, it starts in ourselves.

          We can't view others as cheaters and expect them to trust us. We can't expect others not to cheat while thinking that we can or have to. We can't expect officials to stop taking bribes while believing that "wheels won't spin without grease".

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.