Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Poll: 'Communist' China is leading backer of free market

This story caught my eye:

A new poll conducted in 20 countries around the world made a striking finding: The country with the highest level of support for free-market capitalism is communist China, while the part of the world most critical of it is Latin America.

Furthermore, contrary to daily claims by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez and Cuba's dictator Fidel Castro that world capitalism is on its death throes, the opposite seems to be taking place. While the poll found that most of the world wants more regulation of large corporations, global support for the free market is rising.

The poll of nearly 21,000 conducted by GlobeScan, a firm that does much of its work for the BBC, and by the Program of International Policy Attitudes of the University of Maryland, asked respondents around the world whether they agree with the statement that ``the free market economy is the best system.''

A record 74 percent of those polled in China said yes, followed by 73 percent in the
Philippines, 71 percent in the United States, 70 percent in India and South Korea, 66 percent in Great Britain and Nigeria, 65 percent in Germany and 63 percent in Poland.

By comparison, only 42 percent of Argentines, 57 percent of Brazilians and 61 percent of Mexicans agreed with that statement. The only other country that showed similar skepticism about the free market was Russia. [Andres Oppenheimer, Miami Hearld]
Very interesting, especially the part about China. Notice though that the question did not ask respondents what they thought of capitalism--it asked what they thought of the "free market."

The difference: In China, plenty. China lacks the rule of law, the governing party still tries to control thought, but according to the poll, the Chinese people nevertheless support economic freedom. Might we be witnessing the genesis of a new form of government: free-market authoritarianism?

I’m serious, and I don't think that's as big a contradiction as it sounds. From what I see, China has a lot of economic freedom--and as long as you don't fall within the sights of the ruling (we really can't call them communist anymore) party. Yet China obviously still lives under tyranny.

But I don't think China is fascist--the fascists nominally left business free, while controlling output. Is this the case in China? I'm not sure. After all, how does one then explain that the mass of Chinease support the free market?

Comment away . . .

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