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Typical rubbish espoused by someone who has been captured by the ruling class, while the elite continue on raping the country. The Chinese just like their brethren elsewhere in Asia like to determine their life themselves, thank you very much.

Well I tend to sympathize, but I've heard the same thing said about Russia and it may be true: the Russians have no tradition of democracy and prefer a ruler with an iron fist. Before you get mad, consider the heavy hand of history as Braudel called it ("Fernand Braudel (24 August 1902 – 27 November 1985) was a French historian and a leader of the Annales School"). True, it may be anachronistic to think people want to be different in this age of globalization, but some people do (e.g., the Middle East). Also the Iron Chancellor comes to mind, as well as the Man of Steel, Stalin, but including Superman in the public's imagination.

I think the revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Syria put the lie to your statement re: people in the Middle East. They want democracy just as much as we do. They just want it on their own terms and not imposed from the outside.

I found the piece to be quite valuable, actually. Not for the explicit content; that was fairly standard Chinese propaganda about how the Chinese "have no tradition of democracy" and "better to have a thousand years of tyranny than one day of chaos" combined with the obligatory digs at India and the West. No, to me, the piece was valuable because it showed me how the Chinese leadership thinks of itself in relation to the people it leads. It looks like China has gone from a revolutionary leadership style (where the leaders at least pretend to be equal with the people) to something that looks more like the enlightened monarchies of 18th century Europe. Like Frederick the Great of Prussia or Maria Theresa of Austria-Hungary, the Chinese leaders now explicitly acknowledge that they think they are better in some ways than the populace, and, therefore, are more deserving of leadership.

Of course, none of the enlightened monarchies in Europe lasted for more than a few generations. Eventually, by misfortune or corruption, someone incompetent rises to power, and then then whole edifices comes crashing down in revolution.

Agreed. Would only change the examples--rather than the enlightened monarchies of 18th century Europe, the Chinese have their own tradition/memory/imagination of enlightened monarchs and an enlightened Confucian elite to draw upon.

Each time I run into a liberal ranting about a libertarian I wonder if the liberal lost an argument with a young acquaintance. Not so long ago a college age person would be reliably leftish, but it seems that isn't the case any longer.

"2. Why China prefers its own political model." Can an abstraction such as "China" have a preference?

"China wants democracy but is suffering under the iron fist of its Communist rulers"

No, it can't. Neither can a collective (as Arrow proved.)

2. I predict Acemoglu will be vindicated within 20 years.

"I cannot recall a single case of successful modernisation through liberal democracy," Ummm... the United States? Western Europe?

Botswana is also notable, as is South Korea (which was somewhat autocratic at times but generally liberal).

Botswana. It's crazy that the country is still being singled out as a success story. It's done some good things, like ending mother to infant transmission of HIV and lowering infant mortality. But it's halfway decent GDP per capita, like in other resource rich African countries, disguises the fact that over half the country is poor as dirt and lives on less than $2 a day.

South Korea was not even close to a liberal democracy. Why not describe China today as such, while you're at it? Nor were most Western European nations prior to 1945, and Spain and Portugal until the 70's.

The best we can say is that the end of the transition towards wealthy status is fully compatible with liberal democracy. Of course, that only begs the question of why we ever consider a country developed to begin with and why wealthy liberal democracies seem to suffer from lousy GDP growth. There are very few non-liberal democracies that are at the vanguard of technology - Singapore is one, however, and they now enjoy faster growth than democratic Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea.

The West modernized when it did not have universal suffrage. You can't compare modern societies with those of 200 years ago because the cultural revolution wasn't underway. In Europe, Hitler and Mussolini pushed for universal suffrage. Communism is the most extreme form of democracy. Really what China is saying is that it doesn't want democracy and it doesn't want what democracy brings: false equality, breakdown of the family, etc. They got to the edge during the Cultural Revolution and they do not want to go back. Meanwhile, in America the revolution continues as feminism and other equalitarian agendas dominate. Americans have surpassed Chinese and moved to the left of the CCP, and in Russia there's a full scale reactionary movement underway that is tapping Christianity (Orhtodox for now) in an effort to dominate Europe.

@#1 "Haiti. Workers this month began painting the concrete facades of buildings in Jalousie slum a rainbow of colors, inspired by the dazzling “cities-in-the-skies” of well-known Haitian painter Prefete Duffaut, who died last year. " -Duffaut may have been the inspiration but exactly this same thing--painting slum buildings bright colors--was practiced about 10 years ago by the major of Tirana, Albania.


I think that it is interesting that the author repeatedly refers to the model of Confucian meritocracy. My impression is that one of Mao's principle goals was to rid China of Confucianism precisely because it is a value system (much like Communism) that sounds good in the abstract but in practice just leads to massive corruption and self-dealing. Although I would have to say that any ideology that condones and encourages an authoritarian, hierarchical society leads to massive corruption and self-dealing.

"Indeed, the Chinese system of meritocracy makes it inconceivable that anyone as incompetent as America’s George W. Bush or Japan’s Yoshihiko Noda could ever get to the top."

Hmm...I guess Mao was a meritocratic choice? And here I was naively thinking the famines and purges were "inconceivable"...

I think this is more along the lines of "a benevolent dictatorship is the most efficient form of government".

This may indeed be correct, but without a mechanism for ensuring benevolence, it's simply a matter of how long does one's luck run before you have a leader that is horrible enough to undo all the progress made earlier.

Democracy has one strength - it can throw the bad leaders out. That strength comes at great cost, but it's essentially the only insurance meaningful insurance policy a nation has. Without that, governance is simply gamble after gamble until you get your Stalin or Mao, and then everything's lost.

(I suppose the counter-argument is that China is so close to the brink of disaster that it cannot afford the insurance that Democracy provides. This will destroy it eventually, but at least not today.)

I don't think a Chinese dictator could run wild today, because he would be restrained by Chinese institutions. Mao was a revolutionary leader, so he could do what he wanted.

Now, whether or not the Chinese system will be able to avert revolution by keeping the people happy as the massive gap between the poor and rich grows remains to be seen.

A bit of historical amnesia. The same could be said of Germany at the end of the 19th century. Economic collapse and nationalistic fervour can overrun institutions. What I pay attention to are the levels of anti japanese sentiment from China as an indication of the internal stresses. There aren't democratic elections where the populace can express their displeasure.

Regarding the piece on Rand Paul - how did you know that was written by Will Wilkinson? Is he actively blogging somewhere? Did he link to it?

His initials are up top.

Thanks Yetanothertom - I missed that when I read the article, and I thought Economist articles were always written without attribution. Did that change?

"mediscare is socialism"
I don't know why this is so hard. If medicare was a defined contribution account that entitled the beneficiary to the money they contributed into the fund it would be a lot less socialism than it is. If it were a direct cash transfer from contributors to the needy it would be MORE socialistic. The left is making fun of conservative VOTERS (not people who understand what medicare actually is) because they believed the bill of goods that medicare was more the former when it is fraudulently more the latter.

"From China’s point of view, the nature of the state, including its legitimacy, has to be defined by its substance, i.e. good governance, competent leadership and success in satisfying the citizenry."

How can China measure the satisfaction of its citizenry without free speech, transparent opinion polling, or elections? It can't. Similarly, the "good" of good governance and the "competence" of competent leadership cannot be measured without the presence of at least one of free speech, polling or elections.

This is the China apologist's constant epistemological problem.

“This movement is doing more than threaten the core of our traditional public school system,” said Timothy Ogle, executive director of the Arizona School Boards Association. “It’s pushing a national policy agenda embraced by conservatives across states that are receptive to conservative ideas.”

Oh no! You don't say? You mean people in states are choosing how best to govern for themselves and are making decisions through the political process as to how best provide educations for the children of said states? BLASPHEMY I TELL YOU!

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