'This Week' Panel: Next Critical Global Threat -- Chinese-Style Authoritarian Capitalism
Throughout the history of this country playing the role of a global power, the United States has faced down threats of fascism and communism. The country is now in the throes of a war against terrorism.
However, on ABC's Nov. 22 "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," a panel consisting of Washington Post columnist George Will, Liz Cheney of Keep America Safe, University of California, Berkeley professor Robert Reich and Walter Isaacson is the President and CEO of The Aspen Institute, warned the next ideological battle facing the country is that which China practices - an authoritarian market society or authoritarian capitalism.
"For 37 years, every administration has bet, since Nixon went to China, on a theory, and the theory was that capitalism, market economy, which requires a judicial system to enforce promises, which are called contracts, needs a vast dissemination of information and decision-making that capitalism by its mores and working would subvert the regime, that you could not have an authoritarian market society," Will said. "It's the Starbucks fallacy. It turns out to be a fallacy, that if the Chinese have a choice of coffees, they'll want a -- they'll demand a choice of political candidates. We may be wrong. It could be you can have an authoritarian system."
Isaacson was skeptical if this Chinese system would last in the era of easy-to-access information. He argues once people have choices, they will demand more information, which China lacks.
"Yes, but we may be right," Isaacson said. "That is, actually, you know, there's some great truth to that. And in the long run, you're not going to be able to sustain an economy where you allow people all sorts of choice when they're trying to do their business, but don't allow them the free flow of information. It won't work in the information age."
Coming off of President Barack Obama's recent trip to Asia, Cheney insisted that Obama would have to project a stronger, more vocal presence if he wanted to reinforce the idea of "freedom and democracy."
"As an American president ... you can demand, when you go into China and you're going to have a press conference, you can say, ‘We're taking questions,'" Cheney said. "I mean, there are very clear things, steps you can take to send the message that we actually believe in freedom and democracy."
And Reich, who tends to be an apologist for Obama's policy decisions and falls on the left-of-center end of the political spectrum, agreed with Cheney. He alluded to Obama's failed effort in Copenhagen in October.
"I agree with Liz. I think that -- that in preparation for this trip, as in many others, even the trip to Europe to try to sell Chicago as the Olympics, there needs to be more thought about the appearance of weakness or strength that may come out of the trip," Reich said.
But Reich emphasized the threat of an authoritarian market society and admired the efficiency of the Chinese model.
"But I want to go back to, George [Will], your point, because I think the big issue over the next 10 years and the big contest is going to be between authoritarian capitalism, a la China, and democratic capitalism, a la the United States. And it's not clear to me that authoritarian capitalism is not going to win. That is, it -- there is so much efficiency. The Chinese say, ‘We're going to build 10 new universities. We're going to build this. We're going to build this.' And, boom, it happens."
"I am betting on Democratic capitalism," Reich added. "But I think that the -- authoritarian capitalism, we cannot understate the threat to the way we go about our -- our business, the way we think about the world."