Thomas Friedman Extols the Virtues of Communism
Thomas Friedman‘s latest column, in which he argues Communist China’s system is preferable to ours because it “can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century,” has quite naturally generated a heated response in the blogosphere, with everyone from Reason editor Matt Welch to National Review‘s Jonah Goldberg to American University lawprof Kenneth Anderson to Nick Denton‘s Gawker ridiculing Friedman’s thinking and/or questioning his patriotism.
In my New Atlanticist post, “Chinese Autocracy vs. American Democracy,” I cut the old boy a bit of slack.
To be sure, Friedman elides some of the minor advantages America’s system has over China’s, such as freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, access to the Internet and others too numerous to mention. But Friedman, who’s been to China and talked with its cab drivers to gain fascinating insights about how the world works, knows this.
Frustrations and pique aside, Friedman doesn’t really prefer China’s system to America’s at all. Rather, he prefers to a particular set of policy outcomes that China’s “enlightened” government can impose on its people without consequence, that our own more-or-less accountable representatives can not. But that’s rather like preferring Fascism for the timeliness of its trains.
Especially if you make your living as an opinion writer.