Beijing's "Cruel Choice"

By Lingle, Christopher | Ideas on Liberty, August 2001 | Go to article overview

Beijing's "Cruel Choice"


Lingle, Christopher, Ideas on Liberty


China, like other countries undergoing radical transition, must resolve the political and economic issues that determine its pattern of future development. The search for a workable model has often led to the conclusion that authoritarian rule may be a "necessary evil" as a means for speedy economic development. In this sense, the tradeoff between political freedom and economic prosperity is portrayed as a cruel choice.

Beijing continues to pursue a "dictatorship of the proletariat," obsessed with power that threatens its own economic vitality. Several outcomes of this tradeoff involve collateral damage that is felt in Hong Kong and contributes to instability in Taiwan.

The implied tradeoff between rapid economic growth and political freedom suggests that democracies are at a disadvantage relative to authoritarian or even totalitarian regimes during the transition process. While economic freedom may be required for development of political freedom, the reverse may not be true.

In fact, not only may political freedom not be necessary for economic development; indeed, it may perhaps be an obstruction to economic progress. Reasons cited include the formation of powerful interest groups that demand redistributive policies which reduce long-term economic growth.

Thus it is widely believed that a continuation of its authoritarian regime can more readily ensure rapid economic progress for China. Presumably, that would be accomplished through the extraction and disposition of savings from a relatively pliant population.

However, there are compelling counterexamples that exist in the real world. Numerous authoritarian regimes exhibit little or no economic success, such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Thus neither the imposition of authoritarian rule nor repression constitutes a necessary or sufficient condition for economic growth.

In sum, the visible hand of the interventionist state does not guarantee successful economic development. Policymakers are as fallible as the private decision-makers they seek to replace. This fallibility is to be expected regardless of whether the guiding principles are based on ideology, like communism, or paternalism influenced by Confucianism.

Competitive capitalism joined by a limited democracy can be seen to provide better incentives than authoritarianism through the wider disbursement of a direct personal stake in economic development. Access to personal rewards from involvement in the making of wealth is the source of a strong motivation for individual effort. Increased productivity arising from the incentive structures of liberal capitalism would offset the presumed advantages of coerced accumulation under China's perverse system of "market socialism."

Of particular interest are the evolving characteristics and role of real entrepreneurs in China. Their growth-promoting innovations go beyond the seizing of opportunities to "buy low, sell high" and to rely on political contacts. True entrepreneurs are by their nature iconoclastic and contrarian; they tend to challenge the status quo, whether the competitive structure of a market or entrenched authority. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Beijing's "Cruel Choice"
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.