Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Burning World of Free Markets and Democracy

Free Markets and Democracy have been presented to the Global South/Developing World as the cure to all their problems. Ironically, this is where the problems begin as outlined in Amy Chua’s book World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability.

The argument of the book is that free market economic policies championed by the West concentrated wealth in the hands of a tiny hated ethnic minority at the expense of majority populations. These market dominant minorities like Jews in Russia, Croats in the Former Yugoslavia, Chinese in Southeast Asia become the targets of extreme hatred and are often exploited by adept politicians exploiting ethnic nationalism for their own political gain.

I believe strongly in Chua’s argument. Free Markets and Democracy are no more a cure all than Islamic Extremism, Communism, or Nazism were before that. Ideas of free market democracy sounds fantastic on paper, but paper burns pretty damn easy.

In the West, we have a bad tendency to sometimes project our reality onto the rest of the world with brutal results like Chua outlines. We have in many cases imposed the free market democracy idea on the rest of the world without regard or care for what the repercussions may be. Well for the blind proponents of free market democracy here they are:

Small class of wealthy ethnic minorities + large impoverished ethnic majority + democratic elections that bring to power a president who played the nationalist card = brutality in the streets.

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