Actually, I’m the idiot for still reading the nonsensical “arguments” published in the Washington Post editorial page. Seriously, it was clear during the run-up to the Iraq War that the WaPo editorial board was populated by a combination of the mentally/morally challenged. Now they’re weighing in on the old “China Model” debate.
Here’s the lede, which tells you a lot at the outset:
In every generation, it seems, some Americans find a foreign alternative to this country’s brand of democratic capitalism. During economic downturns, the grass on the other side of the fence looks especially green. In the Great Depression, many in the United States thought that Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union had cured unemployment. Today, some say we must learn the lessons of China’s state-run capitalism.
Ha ha. Those guys at the WaPo sure are clever. See, they aren’t really, directly comparing China to Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union, right? After reading that paragraph, though, I think most readers get the hint. And obviously, anything done by a regime that can be compared to those baddies must be completely wrong-headed in all things they do. Conclusion: the China Model is wrong, the U.S. is right. See how easy that was?
They also, later on in the piece, bring up a great little anecdote from a union leader who had commented favorably on the economic health of the city of Chongqing. Ha ha, nice one WaPo. Obviously, given what’s going on at the moment politically with the Chongqing ex-leadership, any and all support for policies implemented in Chongqing must be misguided, and the individuals who made those comments can be made to look foolish – making fun of union leaders is a bonus for these guys. Whether Chongqing is actually doing well or not is beside the question.
Here’s the end of the editorial. Note that the conclusion is very different from the beginning:
China’s ability to reform what is now the second largest economy will affect not only its own people, but the entire world. The fact that a country of such global importance is governed according to the Leninist principles of a self-selected elite — insofar as the rules of the game can be discerned at all — is both a source of weakness in the Chinese model and a sobering concern for the United States and other countries with which China does business.
Though some visitors to China, dazzled by the high-rises and humming factories, may miss the point, the true sources of long-run stability and prosperity, for any nation, are the rule of law and transparent government. China still has neither.
You see the trickery here? China has some political problems, and therefore anyone who expresses any admiration for what is going on in the country is wrong. Probably unpatriotic too, but that’s a guess on my part.
Now, I’m the first to point out when foreign idiots come over here on their one-week junkets and return home with an impossibly rose-colored view of China, its economy and its politics. Those people should be scorned, if not ridiculed (as they are, routinely, by cynical expats). And even China’s government admits that it has a long way to go on issues like Rule of Law, corruption, and the role of the public sector in the economy – not to mention political reform itself. Not even Beijing is out there saying that the country is some sort of utopia.
But the WaPo editorial board wants to take that further, adopting a very black and white view of the China Model debate. Hmm. Black and white view – smells like neoconservatism. In their eyes, you either take the American model or the China model; either laissez faire capitalism (which doesn’t really exist in the U.S.) or Marxism (which hasn’t existed in China for a long time). There is no in-between, there is no possibility of finding some good aspects of the China system and applying that elsewhere.
The comparison to Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was all I needed to know. The WaPo folks see China as it was in the late 1960s, and reality is beside the point. Am I being hopelessly naive and childish to question why it is more folks can’t admit that neither the U.S. or China is perfect, that it doesn’t matter who is “better,” and that we can learn from each other (and other countries)?