Aug 8, 2008

Essayette: Capitalist autocracy is a corruption, not the future

The rise of China and Russia has prompted a new and widespread version of self-loathing in the west, writes Bernard Keane.

Self-loathing is usually a liberal trait, at least according to the Right. It is liberals that, in contemporary conservative political rhetoric, regard western society with contempt -- materialistic, imperialistic and deserving of whatever atrocities are inflicted upon it – even the worst terrorism is ultimately a consequence of greedy western (and, particularly, US) neocolonialism.

The rise of China and Russia, however, have prompted a new and rather more widespread version of such self-loathing, in the conviction that former ideas about the link between capitalism and democracy are false.

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3 thoughts on “Essayette: Capitalist autocracy is a corruption, not the future

  1. Bernard Keane

    Nice to see at least one person made it to the end of this piece…

  2. Lucy

    Yeah, Fukuyama’s thesis was always a bit airy-fairy: market capitalism leads to political liberalism because… well, because FREEDOM, that’s why! But even so, there are, as you point out, concrete reasons why authoritarianism does not make for more successful capitalism than political liberalism. Every good economist, left, right or centre, knows that information is vital to economic efficiency. And where is information freest and most reliable? In a liberal democracy, that’s where.

    I think a lot of the so-called success of the new model of authoritarian capitalism can be attributed to the simple fact that Russia/China/Tajikistan are coming off much lower bases than the US/Germany/Denmark. Of COURSE their growth rates are higher. (If you compare the Russia/China/central Asia axis to formerly poor liberal democracies, like the Spain or Ireland of the 1990s, you will soon see that the source of all that growth isn’t authoritarianism at all, but pent-up economic potential.)

  3. The Kid From Bond

    Bernard, please reiterate and keep repeating the forgotten aspect that the former totalitarian states’ economic miracles are based on corruption of the purest form. From Russia to Africa, the open acceptance of corruption, nepotism of the most venal order are accepted as part and parcel of modern life. As a businessman with forty years of local and international first hand experience, that includes trading with China and the former Iron Curtain countries since the 70’s, I am well aware of how these so called economic miracles in former totalitarian countries have evolved. We in the West are far from blameless as we have been willing and eager supporters of these economic miracles (of corruption). Was it ever any different in times past? Ofcourse not ,but then again, unlike now, universal equality and freedoms were not espoused as a birth right for all who are born and those rights and expectations have now been extended to flora, fauna and the environment. Our collective hypocrisy knows no bounds. My solution? There is none – as humans we carry within us the seeds of our own destruction (I don’t remember who said this) and we will continue to stumble along our destined path regardless of our rediscovery or discarding of morality and common sense. Shakespeare’s call to “kill all the lawyers” left a lot of vested interest groups out.

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