Thursday, October 16, 2008

Confucian, Not Socialist

David Ignatius, the columnist (and writer of the novel behind the new DeCaprio/Crow movie, 'Body of Lies') writes in today's WaPo:

We are all Chinese now. That is, we have a nominally capitalist economy, but we don't trust the freewheeling private market when it comes to the crunch. So we turn to the government for protection and stability.

The new interventionism isn't so much socialist as it is Confucian -- a belief that a public-private partnership of the wise ones will get us out of the mess. And if it's any consolation, the Chinese are becoming more like us, even as we are becoming more like them.

The reality that has come home to all of us during the great panic of 2008 is that nobody likes living on the knife-edge of the market. We want the dynamism and flexibility that a capitalist economy uniquely provides. But we want protection, too -- a safety net for ourselves and our families when markets fail.

Lucky, prosperous people disdain this human need for protection when times are good and relief is going to the destitute and unlucky. But let's not hear any more thundering about self-reliance and the "school of hard knocks" from the bankers and trust-fund babies who are the beneficiaries of the bailout. We are all Chinese now, for better or worse, and we're all eating from the same bowl.

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