Census Statism in Turkey

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So
I get my daily update from Free-Market.net last week and see the
following headline: "Turkey puts entire nation under house
arrest in order to conduct census." I go to the Washington
Post URL given and find this in a story entitled "Turkey,
Serious About Census, Orders Citizens To Stay Home":

"Virtually
all of Turkey was under a dawn-to-dusk curfew today as 950,000 government
workers fanned out across the country to take the official 2000
door-to-door head count. No one was allowed to leave home from 5
a.m. until about 7 p.m., so the streets of this usually jampacked
city of 10 million people were eerily deserted.

Threatened
with three-month jail sentences if caught off their property without
permission, fishermen hung up their nets, traders at Istanbul's
famed bazaars shuttered their stores and barely a car could be found
moving on the usually traffic-choked streets."

Confinement
or confinement-got to love those options. (Tyrannies beget self-serving
policies.)

Ok,
this is small stuff relative to dekulakization or the Great Leap
Backward. For those who cherish liberty, though, that's beside the
point. As a college professor of mine would often say, "It's
a difference of degree, not kind."

The
kind in this instance is the State asserting sovereignty over the
citizen, which inverts the appropriate hierarchy of citizen-supremacy.
Specifically, the Turkish government strikes at the most basic autonomy
of those within its borders: freedom of movement. The census that
prompted this imprisonment highlights the draconian methodology
of this state-aggrandizing practice. (It also brings to mind Murray
Rothbard's observation in "The Anatomy of the State":
"While other individuals or institutions obtain their income
by production of goods and services and by the peaceful and voluntary
sale of these goods and services to others, the State obtains its
revenue by the use of compulsion; that is, by the use and the threat
of the jailhouse and the bayonet." The revenue in this instance
is personal data.)

It's
philosophically extraneous that Turkey didn't execute census-objectors
or perpetrate some other enormity. When the State abridges physical
self-determination, it entails the potential to abridge every freedom
subsidiary to that fundamental right. The power to circumscribe
motion makes the State a proprietor. Put bluntly, bondage has begun.
Dictate to people when they can and cannot move and you have established
the basis for an omnipotent regime.

The
short duration of Turkey's imprisonment also fails to mitigate matters.
The totalistic conduct is there whether its duration is one day
or one decade. The tendency to rationalize such egregiousness –
"Aw, c'mon, it's just one day"-cultivates the capitulation
so conducive to its entrenchment. Specifically, since the State
is very much a predatory entity, it intensifies encroachment in
accordance with the timidity or fatigue of a populace.

Edmund
Burke, appreciating the human condition, observed that slavery is
a weed that grows in every soil. Our consideration of Turkey should
be informed by this wisdom.

November
4, 2000

Myles
Kantor lives in Boynton Beach, Florida.

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