The SanityPrompt

This blog represents some small and occasional efforts to add a note of sanity to discussions of politics and policy. This blog best viewed with Internet Explorer @ 1024x768

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Economics Ain't The Whole Ballgame

If only economists understood that. But at heart, they are so infatuated with their world view that they miss the implicit materialism -- all history is driven by economics. Marx felt the same way.

From Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: It would be simpler for American engineers if they didn't have to worry about all those bright, ambitious folks in China and India. But as Brad DeLong, an economist and blogger at the University of California at Berkeley, puts it: "A world 60 years from now in which Chinese schoolchildren are taught that the U.S. did what it could to speed their economic growth is a much safer world for my great-grandchildren than a world in which Chinese schoolchildren are taught that the U.S. did all it could to keep China poor."

I will wager DeLong good money that 60 years from now what Chinese school children will be taught is unlikely to have anything to do with the policies we adopt today. Let's consider that in this month's Columbia alumni magazine Rachel DeWoskin comments about her experiences as a soap opera star in China and remarks that the soap opera was the Chinese view of the Western view of China. Translated, this means that Rachel, playing an American in love with a Chinese man, has parents who complain about her lover as a lazy and uncultured China-man. Never mind that such a stereotype of Chinese men is unlikely to be found anywhere in this culture. But to 600 million Chinese, they think that this is how they are perceived by Americans. Or consider the rioting that took place in China after the accidental bombing of the embassy in Serbia. Or the rioting after the capture of the American Navy observation plane. Americans like to have this cozy little view that the world loves us and everyone wants to be just like us. It's only foreign leaders who manipulate and present the appearance of hostility or anti-Americanism. How China and the Chinese view us will have as much to do with demography and world politics as it will economic developments in China. I've previously written about the book Bare Branches and its prediction of dire geo-political consequences as a result of gender imbalances in the demography of China and India. I doubt that in 60 years the Chinese people, whether the books predictions come to pass or not, will have such a sanguine view of American policy, even if we rush pell mell towards full globalization.

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