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charles de menezes...,
the market liberalization road to democracy was paved with bad metaphors, many of them about tigers:
One of the conjectures of market fundamentalists - the sorts of blokes who think property relations everywhere ought to be defined as they have been in the West, only without our massive levels of state intervention in the economy - is that adoption of their policies help spur the creation and growth of 'vibrant middle classes' who then have the resources to induce democratic reform. In it's more disgusting manifestations I would offhand point back to the Kirkpatrick Doctrine, used to justify numerous varieties of gross insanity. Clinton's rhetoric, or liberal rhetoric in general, on the idea hardly differed, and likewise washed over varieties of gross insanity serving rather more narrow interests (scroll down all the way, or in cartoon form). Ever with us, it now creeps into the Bush administration's mission statements.
When they're not producing amusing indices about economic freedom they make political freedom into a sort of non-essential derivative of their policies, tacked onto economic discussions like democracy was tacked onto the Iraq war, just to stick the opposition in the eye and misdirect discussion away from, well, their actual policies, or any but non-anecdotal evidence (c.f. anybody who's ever read a Thomas Friedman column; anecdotes should illustrate evidence, without any they're just superstition).
Since this crowd started influencing policy shortly after Bretton Woods collapsed, creating the "Washington Consensus" in its place, by their own inadequate measure growth collapsed too, and by others perhaps more adequate to the task it looks worse. In public the fundies either ignored or hysterically denied that minor point: the "neo-cons" and "supply siders" still refer to the Reagan era as the "age of prosperity" and their neo-liberal counterparts refer to the Clinton era with similar glowing nonsense . Their policies haven't lead to the increased growth, here or abroad, they themselves rely on to create said vibrant middle classes.
On matters of "globalization" you can point out that the investment theory that describes our modern "free trade" agreements predict that the benefits of the growth accrue to narrow stratas of the population in large industrialized economies such as our own, so rather than a broad middle class it helps promote a wealthy aristrocratic class, which is further able to promote itself domestically with its new wealth, creating spiralling wealth inequality and super-wealthy aristocracy. Furthermore the theory appears to be correct, and if so graphically dramatic even by historical standards. The trade isn't square: the prospect of a more stratified, less democratic industrialized world while encouraging the trade-promotion of middle class democratic movements (debatable itself) in the developing world, for the first world to then periodically wipe out, is setting the world up for a very sad repetition of history.
But why piddle with economics when you can just point out the very obvious with a broad, detailed, studied survey ? Probably just to stick Thomas Friedman in the eye. An authoritarian government can survive a state-capitalist economy like our own? Surely not another tiger in Africa!