Posts Tagged ‘Zhu Min’

Wanted: leadership in the western world

03/02/2011, 12:00:57 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Francis Fukuyama is best known for confusing the period between the falls of the Berlin Wall and Lehman Brothers with the end of history. This was to be defined by the global triumph of liberal democracy and market economies. He recently conceded:

“The most important strength of the Chinese political system is its ability to make large, complex decisions quickly, and to make them relatively well, at least in economic policy”.

China is neither liberal nor democratic, but its state-directed model of capitalism is reshaping markets across the globe. Nonetheless, everyone from George W. Bush to Will Hutton is confident of the model’s limitations. It is thought that history hasn’t ended yet, but that it will, and on the lines that Fukuyama proclaimed.

“Trade freely with China and time is on our side”, said Bush. These economic freedoms will, ultimately, it is argued, require political freedoms. This is because per capita western incomes depend upon what Hutton calls the “enlightenment infrastructure” – pluralism (multiple centres of political and economic power), capabilities (rights, education, private ownership) and justification (accountability, scrutiny, free expression).

Hutton made this argument in a debate with Meghnad Desai in Prospect just before the credit crunch. Desai scoffed: “For you, there is only one road to capitalism – the Western one – and only one political system – ours”. The crunch must place at least a question mark next to Hutton’s Whiggish confidence. (more…)

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