Monday, February 22, 2010

Socialism is Kind of Anti-Social

By the time Mariana and I touched down in Chiang Mai, Thailand last Monday, we had already spent well over a month in socialist republics. To be honest with you, aside from the occasional hammer and sickle waving along the roadsides, there is no real noticeable difference for tourists within a communistic country. This is simply because their spending dollars mean too much to the governments that they ultimately support. People in the cities of Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, and Luang Prabang were all seemingly very capitalistic, with one major exception. Nobody had direct, uncensored access to facebook or google (i.e. information). Notice I said they did not have "direct" access, because most citizens knew how to bypass the blatently obvious, yet publicly denied, censorship. Fortunately, Mariana and I were able to stay connected thanks to a few unnamed technological benefactors. Fights over web access between political giants like China and information giants like Google all of a sudden became crystal clear. Information that is readily available to "Googlers" in one region of the world is not available to similar users in another area. Censorship is real and it is unfortunate. I have discovered that true power teeter-totters on a delicate balance between those who are informed and those who are uninformed. Basic human rights like free access to knowledge are not always viewed as inherent. Sadly, whether you talk about communistic countries or capitalistic giants, access to information will forever be considered an invaluable asset. Those who have it will always hold sway over those who do not. Period.

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