March 01, 2004

Wealth Creationism

Social Darwinism is right up there with Intelligent Design far as stupid "scientific" theories go. So I found it a little distressing that China's nouveau riche are resorting to that old saw in justifying the exponential disparites between rich and poor in the country.

"If we want to proceed to a full market economy, some people have to make sacrifices," my relative said solemnly. "To get to where we want to get, we must go through the 'sheep eating people' stage too."

In other words, while most Chinese have privately dumped the economic prescriptions of Marx, two pillars of the way he saw the world have remained.

First is the inexorable procession of history to a goal. The goal used to be the Communist utopia; now the destination is a market economy of material abundance.

Second, just as before, the welfare of some people must be sacrificed so the community can march toward its destiny. Many well-to-do Chinese readily endorse those views, so long as neither they nor their relatives are placed on the altar of history. In the end, Marx is used to justify ignoring the pain of the poor.

Cute how the writer ties laissez faire capitalism to Marxist tenets. Ironic how China is the Libertarian wet-dream, at least economically, with taxes at only 17% of GDP (compared to almost 1/3 in the U.S.).

"A lot of people simply don't believe that things like truth, selflessness and altruism exist," said a government researcher in Beijing. "We have a very cynical population.

A dictatorial government plus a meatgrinding economic machine will do that to ya, if you're on the bottom of the pyramid. And if you're at the top, you probably got there by cheating, backstabbing, and stepping over other people to get there, so why change?

Posted by mikewang on 11:52 PM