Francis Fukuyama challenges the assumption that freedom and a strong central state are opposing values:
… In contemporary China, many of the worst abuses of peasant rights, violations of environmental and safety laws, and cases of gross corruption are the work not of the central government in Beijing but of local party officials or of the private employers who work hand in hand with them. It is the responsibility of the central government to enforce its own laws against the oligarchy; freedom is lost not when the state is too strong but when it is too weak. In the United States, the ending of Jim Crow laws and racial segregation in the two decades following World War II was brought about only when the federal government used its power to enforce the Constitution against the states in the South. Political freedom is not won, it would seem, only when the power of the state is constrained but when a strong state comes up against an equally strong society that seeks to restrict its power.
I Normally loathe Mr Fukuyama but I can’t help but agree with this.