Sunday, July 12, 2009

China and Iran

Do the upheaval and fighting of Uighurs in the Chinese province of Xinjiang have something to do with the contested polls in Iran? The answer is definitely yes. It is the same deep decentralizing momentum which is at work in both popular demands: Regional and maybe ethnic autonomy against internal colonization rule in one case, and democratic control of the theocratic and military power in the other case.

China’s leaders have brilliantly succeeded in opening their economy to market rules and decentralized initiatives, keeping for themselves the whole of political power control. However, when information is more openly diffused (despite all the attempts at internet rationing),there is no reason why the demand for civil and political rights should not develop at the same time. For an analysis of this demand for rights – both economic and political -- and its link with the abundance of information, see my Second XXth Century (Hoover Press) and the paper co-authored with Xavier de Vanssay, “The Global Freedom Boom”, available both on my homepage and on SSRN (

The increasing per capita income just makes things “worse” in the sense that rights – or “freedom” in general – are more likely “superior” goods, and their demand will thus increase with economic growth. That’s why, as Mancur Olson once observed, growth in general is socially and politically destabilizing.

It follows that one should expect more difficult times to come both in Iran and in China and more destabilization of their centralized power governments.

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