Interesting essay by Thomas Meaney on the writings of Francis Fukuyama and John Dunn. The bit that caught my eye (given that I’ve been going on for ages about Chinese astuteness in managing the Internet) is:
If the Chinese example poses a challenge to Western politicians and political theorists, the reason is not because it offers states around the world an attractive authoritarian alternative to liberal democracy—at least not yet—nor because it has, more impressively, done more for its people in the past thirty years, in relative terms, than any Western government has done for its own. More simply, it is because China shows that in the twenty-first century a functioning state can rule over and claim the allegiance of more than a billion people without any pretense of liberal-democratic governance. Among some Anglo-American observers today, one detects the sort of admiration for China that in the nineteenth century was directed toward the bureaucratic efficiency of the Prussian state. It seems at least possible that in the near future the world will have something concrete to learn about the possibilities of the modern state from the Chinese experience. Already, China presents us with the unsettling fact that democratic rule does not automatically entail favorable economic or political outcomes—a lesson we apparently still haven’t learned from the last century. The point is not that China has become a model for governance, but that the pretense of any model, including a Western one, being stable and exportable is getting harder to uphold. Under democracy, we may be fortunate enough to experience good government, but good government is far from something that democracy guarantees—in theory, much less in practice.