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It’s a free country - isn’t it?

I was chatting to someone recently who was bemoaning the fact that although we are told we live in a free country in the UK, that’s just nonsense. I responded by saying that you can do what you like in this country provided you have two or more options to choose from, that there is no physical coercion and that it’s possible to do whatever it is - unlike flying without some external aid or running a mile in under two minutes.

She disagreed and proffered some examples:

“You can’t build a home extension without planning permission.” - “Some people do”, I said.

“You have to pay your taxes.”- “Some people don’t,” I replied.

“You can’t murder people!” - “Some people do,” was my answer.

“You have to look after your children.” - “Some people don’t,” was again my reply.

“You have to drive on the left in the UK.” - “Unfortunately, not everybody...

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You think there’s no freedom right now? Why you’ve got it all wrong.

You can listen to the audio version of this blog via Spotify.

Your ‘why’

Sidney Rittenberg was an American journalist and scholar. He was sent to China during the Second World War as a Chinese linguist and when the war ended, he chose to stay in the country. As a committed Socialist, he was sympathetic to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) cause. He knew Chairman Mao personally, as well as many of the other high-ranking leaders but just as Mao was a friend, he was also Rittenberg’s jailor. At various points, over the coming years, as suspicions grew about foreigners, Sidney fell afoul of the CCP and was imprisoned in solitary confinement not just once but twice, for a total period of 16 years.

During Rittenberg’s first imprisonment, for the initial 12 months, he was kept in a completely dark room. His incarceration continued for a further five years before he was finally released. Through his understanding of human nature and empathy with the prison...

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