Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Chinese Method

It is no secret that China owes a lot to Alvin Toffler. The official newspaper of the Chinese Communist Party, People's Daily, classed him among the 50 foreigners who shaped modern China. But how did the Chinese follow Toffler's advice exactly?

Here is what they did: they took The Third Wave, and did everything Toffler said to not do.

My thesis is, Chinese learned industrialization from Toffler, he was describing the ills of modernity but Chinese were learning what modernity was all about from him. Among the pages of TW, the Chinese saw the industrialization process for what it is; a centralized, standardized, concentrated style of living, working, and most importantly governing. It was a match made in heaven -- Communist Party could still maintain its control while industrializing a nation.

But all of this had to take place in 19oos. Chinese were late to the party; they had to do all of this "late development" in a world of computers, the Internet, and cellular networks -- increasingly so after 1990s.

That is the main reason why Chinese politics and economy is the hybrid beast that it is today. Capitalism with no law, local democracy no national elections, and a slogan "pieceful rise" that is tantamount to oxymoron in international affairs. The reason for this mixed bag is you can only be Second Wave if you block certain parts of the economy to investment, to competition, to outside and internal "free forces". You produce, but dont consume, you get free enterprise only in parts of the economy geared for export. You have cheap labor, you export like crazy while insulating yourself from stuff that you dont want.

Looking at this picture, one can conclude China is nowhere near its final destination. It knows this very well because they understood those parts of TW as well.

The Chinese experiment has only just begun.