Asia as Global Leader – Not So Fast

As the European economy teeters on the verge of a second recession and the US recovery wobbles, Asia is brimming with optimism. For Asian triumphalists attending recent conference in Thailand, “Reading Signposts of a Changing Landscape”, the signs are big, clear and point to happy future. I’m less sure. Wording on many signposts is confused, with many pointing towards dead-ends or quicksand. In the rush of exuberant expectations Asia’s time has come, continent could fall victim to what’s behind many failures in history of the world, simple hubris. Rise of Asia is not predetermined, just as dominance of Western civilization for the past few hundred years was not preordained. The rise of European imperialism and then American hegemony was not simply due to economic power backed by military might. It was underpinned by innovative, even revolutionary thinking, about primacy of the rule of law; separation of church and state; the commitment to an empirical, scientific worldview; and all the institutions that brought about the modern state built on liberal democracy and market capitalism. Much of the intellectual vigor propelling the West to supremacy is now spent. In its place is frustration that the old order is not working, with no vision as to what the new order should be. So could Asia rise to the occasion and, in intellectual vacuum, offer new solutions to bankrupt thinking? Is the continent capable of creative destruction of taboos and restrictive mindsets hobbling it during past centuries? Is Asia’s economic growth matched by equally vigorous intellectual innovation? Regional landscape offers clues. India, has managed, despite numerous challenges, to remain the world’s largest practicing democracy. But continuing clash and contradictions between tradition-modernity renders Indian political and social relations almost dysfunctional. While Indian pride in its scientific, artistic and business achievements is justified, continuing inability to lift millions of people out of abject poverty remains a sobering and hopefully not insurmountable challenge. China, the other great and ancient civilization of Asia, is today to become second most powerful economy in the world. Its government has, unlike India, lifted teeming masses from abject poverty. Private capitalism thrives alongside the more dominant state capitalism. But the absence of a dynamic civil society, unlike in India, its opaque political structure, as so glaringly revealed by Bo Xilai scandal, is possibly unsustainable. India suffers from a lack of political consensus; China has too much of it. India has a surfeit of democracy and a deficit of economic equality; China has eradicated poverty, but suppressed democracy. Indian thought leaders realize that democracy has not reduced inequality or improved lives for most Indians. Chinese intellectuals recognize that the current systemic problems of political governance, glossed over by rapid economic growth, are unsustainable and brittle. But neither knows how to move forward beyond recognition of the need for drastic reform. Intellectual innovation and political power are not integrated (…..)

Link: http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/asia-global-leader-not-so-fast

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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