Back in 2000 I predicted that India might well be "The second world superpower of the 21st Century". In some respects, India already surpasses China, and I anticipate that the gap between the two is expanding exponentially. This is a reflection of India's labour surplus and (increasingly) it's political freedom.
I wrongly predicted that "Chinese leaders" ...
"policy of industrial expansion by absorption
will probably fail, as will be clearly omened by the decline of Hong
Kong." China has prospered by applying the lesson of water to
their currency. The purchase of US government bonds has kept
their exchange rate favourable (much like Japan following WWII) which
allows their industry to develop. As I recall, the Japanese
suffered from (what many analysts thought was) excessive government
management of their economy.
Indonesia has lost it's way after the exhuberance
following Suharto's overthrow. One particularly painful event was
the loss of the West Timorese colony. Other colonies are also in
revolt. (Sumatra and the Moloccas and West Irian and Kalimantan, i.e.
everywhere except Java). This reversal is producing a retreat
into religion, which in this case is Islam.
Political and economic growth in this country of 50
million is atrophied
while the military rule. Neighbouring democratic Thailand has
fewer natural resources, similar population, and a PPP of around $8,300
p/a, compared to around $1,700 p/a in Burma. Before the Junta
took over, these two countries were comparable.
Thailand was omitted from my last review. It
has become a top tourist destination in the intervening years.
This is no doubt partly due to the fact that Muslims are a vanishingly
small (< 5%)
minority. It is also becoming an industrial center of note.
Malaysia is a true multicultural country, with about 51% Malays, around 25% Chinese and a mixture of other races making the balance. To rertain political power, the governing Malays give preference to majority Malays in government and education, (much like we in Australia give preference to Women and Aboriginals in government and education.) Malaysia is rich in natural resources (rubber and oil).
Singapore continues to prosper despite having a less
than complete democratic process and next to no natural resources (they
don't even collect enough water to meet their own needs). Their
growth rate is slightly less than that of sister city Hong Kong (which
has even less than Singapore democratic process), however HK financial
success can be in large part be attributed to the fact that it is the
major port and international business node for a good part of China.
Singapore seems to be an example of the "benign
dictator" state that Greek philosophers considered to be the best form
of government. Lee Kwan Yew was of the opinion (as I interpret
it) that "pure (representative?) democracy" would not work, because the
majority (the wage slaves) would vote for equal distribution of wealth
by greater wages etc, so destroying business.
I consider that anyone who promotes anything less
than pure (direct) democracy is an elitist, but must admit that the
example of Middle Eastern & African states (especially Iraq) in the
last few years has shaken my faith. As I grow older my admiration
for the US Democratic experiment grows. Unlike Australia, UK and
most of the other Liberal Democracies, the US seems to be keeping a
reasonably tight rein on it's politicians. I suspect their secret
is the rigid division of power (executive, legislative, judicial) and
the three layers of government (local, state, federal).
Switzerland seems to have a workable and successful
democracy. Chavez in Venezuela is conducting an interesting
democratic experiment on the Federal level similar to that used by
California to replace Governor Grey with Governor
Schwartzenegger. As with the governorship of California,
Venezuelans can recall their President at any time during his term in
This update July 2000. Previous versions August & January 2000
of "barvennon.com" page.