Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A tyrant, a dissident and a writer

Three larger-than-life men passed away in the past few days, and each, in his own way, will leave a mark on history

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, who for more than 17 years led an autocratic economic system that could only be described as the very antithesis of capitalism, would have taken delight at the irony that stock markets across Asia had dropped following the announcement of his death.

Equally ironic, albeit for different reasons, is that his death occurred within 24 hours of that of another man at the other end of the political spectrum, former Czech president Vaclav Havel, and within 48 hours of that of a staunch opponent of totalitarianism, Christopher Hitchens.

More than the era in which they lived unites the trio, as each played a role in defining our times, and each was an actor on the stage where totalitarianism collided with liberty.

My unsigned editorial, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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