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August 13, 2008


James Schneider


Bob B

" . . whilst collectivist, Asian cultures deny them"

To lump together Hong Kong and, say, Japan as both possessing "collectivist cultures" is a nonsense.

"Friedman once said 'if you want to see capitalism in action, go to Hong Kong'. He believed the Hong Kong economy was the best example of a laissez-faire capitalism economy."

Several researchers into Japan's economy, some Japanese, have suggested that Baumol's constrained revenue maximization hypothesis is a generally better working assumption about corporate objectives among Japan's large companies than the familiar mainstream long- or short-run profit mazimization assumptions:

Could be. It used to be suggested that the collectivist culture instilled in cultivating rice infused - and stultified - economic motivation in Asia but it was difficult to reconcile that with the relatively fast recovery after WW2 of Japan's economy - thereby confounding the forecasts of the MacArthur administration installed by the Americans - or the economic performance of the so-called Asian tigers.

Perhaps a more illuminating comparison requiring explanation is between the successful transformation of the east asian economies and, with a few exceptions, the economies of Africa or South America.

Matthew Sinclair

My case isn't really that you *can't* dislike egoism and illiberalism but that, if egoist people tend to be more liberal, could egoism be a good trade? I.e. could it be worth putting up with other people's egoism if it makes them more likely to support liberalism? Or, if you attack people for being egoist do you also undermine what makes them appreciative of individual rights (even if you have another way of gaining that appreciation, you might not be able to replicate that in others).

Bob B

Lee Kwan Yew later recanted but in a famous interview in 1994 for the Foreign Affairs magazine, the (in)famous recently retired PM of Singapore, ventured an explanation for the success of the so-called Asian tiger economies - Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea - where Christianity had had little influence compared with Africa or South America.

This economic achievement, he suggested, was due to the pervasive influence of the Confucian ethic: Don't do unto others what you would not have them do unto you, by claiming the superiority of this precept over the familiar Christian ethic: Do unto to others as you would have others do unto you.

George Bernard Shaw had anticipated him: Do not do unto others as you would that they should do unto you. Their tastes may not be the same.

Lew Kwan Yew had become internationally renown for the soft-authoritarianism of the Singapore government under his premiership. The Asian financial crises of 1997-8 led to a recantation over his claim for the universal superiority of Confucian values although I'm not clear that he regreted the authoritarianism:


Singapore's authoritarianism can hardly be regarded as "soft". Measured and effective perhaps, in that at least their justice system is quite well functioning but hardly soft.

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