Thursday, May 22, 2008


... and some hopeful developments in China, from Nicholas Kristof:

"In the aftermath of the great Sichuan earthquake, we’ve seen a hopeful glimpse of China’s future: a more open and self-confident nation, and maybe — just maybe — the birth of grass-roots politics here.

In traveling around China in the days after the quake, I was struck by how the public and the news media initially seized the initiative from the government. Ordinary Chinese are traveling to the quake zone to help move rubble, and tycoons, peasants and even children are reaching into their pockets to donate to the victims.

“I gave 500 yuan,” or about $72, a man told me in the western city of Urumqi. “Eighty percent of the people in my work unit made donations. Everybody wants to help.”

Private Chinese donations have already raised more than $500 million. That kind of bottom-up public spirit is a mark of citizens, not subjects."

Read from this Washington Post selection about a signal event in the progress of Iraqi security:

"Iraqi soldiers moved unhindered through Baghdad's vast Sadr City district on Wednesday as Shiite militiamen who have long controlled the area faded from view and schools and businesses began to reopen after weeks of strife.

The Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is pursuing an increasingly successful effort to contain the militias of his Shiite rivals and to exercise authority over areas where Iraqi forces were once unwelcome. The strategy has won Maliki admiration from Sunni politicians and from U.S. and British officials, who credit him with exerting some of the political will necessary to achieve reconciliation."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


Tom Friedman suggests today that

There are two important recessions going on in the world today. One has gotten enormous attention. It’s the economic recession in America. But it will eventually pass, and the world will not be much worse for the wear. The other has gotten no attention. It’s called “the democratic recession,” and if it isn’t reversed, it will change the world for a long time.

It is interesting to consider that Friedman's focus on globalization may, in fact, obscure the importance of observing trends in the growth of democracy. David Brooks' recent column (discussed here) suggests that technological change is more essential than globalization as a factor driving our economic evolution. Today's Friedman column, with its focus on the importance of oil in driving corruption, makes clear the importance of the economic structure of a society in influencing its political organization.

Friedman has, in the past, suggested that globalization is one of the principal meta-narratives of our time. I think that today's column gets much closer to specifying the actual issues that influence our lives and our future.

In short, technological change and democracy are much more significant factors in global development than is globalization. It is to our intellectual detriment that we misconstrue the relative primacy of these factors.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008


On the new generation of Chinese nationalists:

Hardly uneducated know-nothings, young nationalists tend to be middle-class urbanites. Far more than rural Chinese, who remain mired in poverty, these urbanites have benefited enormously from the country's three decades of economic growth. They also have begun traveling and working abroad. They can see that Shanghai and Beijing are catching up to Western cities, that Chinese multinationals can compete with the West, and they've lost their awe of Western power.

Many middle-aged Chinese intellectuals are astounded by the differences between them and their younger peers. Academics I know, members of the Tiananmen generation, are shocked by some students' disdain for foreigners and, often, disinterest in liberal concepts such as democratization. University students now tend to prefer business-oriented majors to liberal arts-oriented subjects such as political science. The young Chinese interviewed for a story last fall in Time magazine on the country's "Me Generation" barely discussed democracy or political change in their daily lives.

Read more.

Monday, May 05, 2008


From an op-ed in the Washington Post:

Frequently the past few months, I have been asked about the wisdom of using the Olympics as an opportunity to push China to improve its human rights record. Underlying these questions is a sense that international pressure may have played into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party by triggering nationalist emotions and rallying indignant Chinese people behind the regime.

This concern is understandable. It is critical, however, that people distinguish among the four types of nationalism in China today to determine how best to pressure the regime to make improvements.

Saturday, May 03, 2008


An excerpt:

It is especially not trivial now, because millions of Americans are dying to be enlisted — enlisted to fix education, enlisted to research renewable energy, enlisted to repair our infrastructure, enlisted to help others. Look at the kids lining up to join Teach for America. They want our country to matter again. They want it to be about building wealth and dignity — big profits and big purposes. When we just do one, we are less than the sum of our parts. When we do both, said Shriver, “no one can touch us.”

Read more.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Brilliant, yet again. Read David Brooks' explanation of why technological change should be seen as the major driving force behind changes in our economy.

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I think that I'm for a boycott.

Read what Jewish leaders have written on the subject.