Mike Vickers' Blog

December 19, 2014

Michael Ignatieff – Liberal Democracy and Authoritarian Capitalism

Filed under: economics, Politics, World Class — derryvickers @ 4:30 pm

Liberal Democracy and Authoritarian Capitalism at the Royal Society of Edinburgh

Ignatieff is now a Harvard Professor but has been the leader of the Canadian Liberal party and very briefly the Canadian Prime Minister and his grandparents came out of Russia.

Primarily he talked about the Authoritarian Capitalism in both China and Russia.

His thesis is that both now provide Capital Freedom but not Political Freedom; but both allow a degree of Private Freedom ie the people have, for instance, freedom of movement to other countries – this is new; neither have any longer the brutal mass gulags.

Because there is no political freedom both potentially suffer from corruption; the Chinese in particular recognise this – the current President, Xi Jinping, on coming to power made the eradication of corruption his first priority.

Both retain their ruling position by the stability of their Capital success – the Chinese Government in particular needs to be successful in the global capital markets to keep its burgeoning middle class politically content. In this respect both China and Russia have no desire for the Global Capitalist system to falter. Putin despite threats to do so cannot cut off gas to Europe. A new Cold War is unlikely. BTW Russia is a signatory to the European Court of Human Rights.

Both countries feel they are being encircled and losing their sphere of influence. Both are failing back on their religious history – China to Confucianism and Russia to the Greek Orthodox Church.

So what about the Liberal Democracies – they are still popular destinations for immigrants – no one immigrates to either Russia or China. Open societies are more innovative. We have the Rule of Law – private property is honoured.

To the Questions

China is a meritocracy, its leaders are very intelligent – is fast at doing things – such high speed rail yet are not innovative (neither is Russia). Power is transferred very 10 years with little revolution – transition is the key to legitimacy.

Neither Russia nor China exercise the Rule of Law – it will be interesting to see whether China moves to instigate the Rule of Law during this century.

Africa could be a breeding ground for Chinese Capitalism

Putin has not got over the loss of the Russian empire in 1989 – hence his incursion into the Ukraine.

The fall in the Rubble is not good either for Russia or the West.

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