aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
China & Russia: lessons in economic v political reform
From Fareed Zakaria’s The Future of Freedom, page 91:
Russia and China are the two most important countries in the world that are not liberal democracies...China has moved to reform its economy and, very slowly, other aspects of its legal and administrative system, but it has taken few steps to introduce democracy. Russia, by contrast, moved first and most quickly on political reform. Even under Gorbachev, there was more glasnost (political openness) than perestroika (economic restructuring)...To oversimplify, China is reforming its economics before its politics, whereas Russia did the reverse.
Today Russia is a freer country than China. It has greater respect for individual rights and press freedoms, and even its economy is in theory more open to competition and foreign investment. China remains a closed society run by the Communist Party, but it is being steadily liberalized along several fronts, chiefly economic and legal. Which will ultimately prove to have taken a more stable route to liberal democracy? If economic development and a middle class are keys to sustaining democracy, China is moving in the right direction. Its economy has grown dramatically over the last 25 years. Russia’s gross national product by contrast, has shrunk almost 40% since 1991 and has begun to recover only in the last few years, largely because oil prices moved higher. If China continues on its current path and continues to grow, further develop its rule of law, build a bourgeoisie, and then liberalize its politics - and these are huge ifs - it will have achieved an extraordinary transformation toward genuine democracy.
If Russia continues down its path-and this, too, is a big if - of slipping toward an elected autocracy with more and more of its freedoms secure in theory but violated in practice, with corruption embedded into the very system of politics and economics, it could well remain democratic and illiberal.
How effective are our economic development plans for Iraq and Afghanistan? How will we sustain them?
SEE ALSO: Democracy and GDP.
There’s a Book Meme making the rounds, and phin has tagged me with it. phin got it from Oddybobo of Bobo Blogger who got it from Harvey of Bad Example who got it from Contagion of Miasmatic Review who got it from Boudicca of Boudicca’s Voice who got it from Eric of Straight White Guy who got it from Reilly of Uptown Girl who got it from Grumpy Bunny who got it from Kandice of Kandy’s Dish who got it from Amanda of Human Oddities (and Mishaps) who got it from Barrie from The Pink Bee who swallowed the spider to catch the fly and I don’t know why she ...
Er, I’m lost. I don’t know what a Book Meme is and though a Google search got some hits, Wikipedia failed miserably. Apparently there are some questions involved, so I might just as well go ahead and answer them…
Another step closer
I had dinner last night with a gay couple who will celebrate 30 years of living together, 32 years as a couple, come spring. They don’t much care about and are only marginally aware of the gay marriage movement. Even as they and couples like them have become the poster people for the cause, the majority of those I know have made their peace with the second class societal status they’ve lived in all their lives.
This is not about them. It’s about a better future for those who are young today so that they can be fully integrated and healthy members of our society with the same rights and responsibilities, benefits and obligations, trials and tribulations that everyone else has.
Last week I had lunch with a colleague here, a woman I’d call my friend. She voted in favor of Georgia’s anti-gay marriage amendment. As did my partner’s cousin in Mississippi. She too is close to us, a friend, even as she says, “I’m sure lots of folks voted ‘no’ but weren’t being judgmental.”
These friends and family all live in a moral blindspot. There is an emerging majority who know that. And decisions (PDF) like yesterday’s in California make that majority stronger and move them another step closer to persuading the rest.
Why? Because the ruling, by a Catholic judge appointed by a Republican governor, looked at virtually every argument against same sex marriage and concluded that “the denial of marriage to same-sex couples appears impermissibly arbitrary.” It dismissed tradition as the basis for denial of marriage rights noting that similar arguments had been made in favor of laws banning marriages between people of different races. On Civil Unions he wrote, “The idea that marriage-like rights without marriage is adequate smacks of a concept long rejected by the courts: separate but equal.”
The more these arguments get out to the general public, the more they sink in. The more they sink in, the better. Today the news is getting out there:
To cite just a random few.