Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Authoritarianism 2.0

Ajay Shah has an interesting post on Authoritarian Capitalism :
... a series of countries have now embarked on what I term `Authoritarianism 2.0' : a blend of free markets with authoritarian politics. This aims to produce good resource allocation and high growth rates through sound economic policy, while retaining one-party (or one-person) rule, denying the rule of law, and supressing the rights of individuals. Rowan Callick has written an article titled The China Model which reviews this style of design of the State, where individuals are seen as consumers but not citizens; where individuals have some economic flexibility but weak political rights. This model is being attempted in Russia, China, Vietnam, UAE, etc. In some ways, Singapore also exhibits some of these features. These countries do not see their political systems as illegitimate way stations on the road to democracy. The effort is to make Authoritarianism 2.0 work; liberal democracy is not even the long-term goal.

The question we really face is about the soundness of the `Capitalism and Freedom' hypothesis. Does the growth of a free market economy inevitably generate pressures to modernise the political system? Or is it possible to combine 21st century economic policy with pre-enlightenment politics? [link : Authoritarianism 2.0]
From recently i have been inquiring into the inadequacies of democracy, but i think i still hold economic freedom would yield greater political freedom, now that political freedom might not necessarily produce a functioning democracy, but it would certainly make authority less coercive thus delivering more political freedom.

In the case of china, they've not brought in market reforms in where its politically disadvantages to the Communist Party i.e. media, telecom, the internet - all avenues which market decentralization would have made censorship difficult and contributed to greater political freedom.

The question is of course whether it is sustainable ? I can only speculate. The reason for its partial success is, to my mind, that people attach a greater value to economic freedom than political freedom because they are more affected by it. You may support Gay/Lesbian Rights, but if you're not gay, it doesn't really affect you. But if you have to queue in the morning to get bread, which you might or might not get, you're bound to be more pissed.

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