Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Dialogus de Beijing Consensus, part 3: The 'East Asian Model'

Yet another developmental model that has been drawn from China's experience is what Randall Peerenboom termed the "East Asian Model".  The East Asian Model is characterized by a gradualist approach to development, in contrast to the 'big bang' approach that was used to facilitate economic transition in the states of the former Soviet Unions and Eastern Bloc, and by a developmental sequencing that focuses first on economic reforms and only later on political liberalization. 


The East Asian Model does not actually provide much guidance for promoting development in today's world.  China's gradualist approach is an approach to economic transition, not to economic development.  Gradualism makes very little sense in the context of development per se:  what does gradualism significant in the context of today's India or today's Brazil?  What exactly should these countries be 'gradual' about in pursuing economic development?

Perhaps the idea is that they should be gradualist about pursuing political reforms.  One of the arguments underlying the East Asian Monday is that particularly for the more lesser developed countries, 'development' invariably involves significant social disruption, and its is easier for more authoritarian regimes to weather such disruption than for more liberal, democratic regimes.   Whether or not this is actually the case (Pessimo is skeptical) is an open question, but even if it is, it is simply outside the reach of developmental projects.  Regime liberalization and democratization are themselves rarely the product of developmental projects, they occur spontaneously, out of political and social forces that operate outside the reach of strategic developmental planning.  It is as hard to imaging an international developmental agent strategically halting political liberalization once demand for such liberalization has taken off as it is imagining an international developmental agent promoting effective political liberalization as part of her develomental agenda.  Political evolution is something that a developmental agent simply has to live with, it is not something she can effect (and it is probably something she should not try to effect even if she could).

I will revisit and expand on these arguments in my concluding comments.  For that reason, my response to this variant of the Beijing Consensus is somewhat brief.  In addition, some drunk seems to be traipsing around on my roof -- sounds like he somehow even got some horses up there.  Luckily, Pessimo is still quite good with a baseball bat . . . .

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