Dan Wang on Fri, 16 Aug 2002 09:45:34 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Damascus via the newsroom of the FT ?

> Russian empire and to membership of the EU.  Objectively, the centres of
> successful capitalism remain today what they were 100 years ago: western
> Europe, its overseas white colonies and its immediate European periphery;
> and Japan. Since 1945, to this group have been added two former Japanese
> colonies already developed under Japanese rule - South Korea and Taiwan -
> and a handful of international entrepots such as Singapore.
>           Some of the south-east Asian states and parts of China may be
> heading in the same direction, but they are very far indeed from arriving
> at stable market prosperity, let alone stable democracy.  And thanks to
> the cold war, at key moments parts of east Asia benefited from a uniquely
> favourable attitude on the part of the US:  not just in terms of massive
> flows of aid and military spending, but more importantly the openness of
> America's markets to their exports.  This is not to suggest that the

Also important to note here is that the East Asian nations were the very
last to be integrated into the global, European-dominated colonial system,
as a region. By the late nineteenth century the European powers were
already feeling the stresses to their global system, and it wasn't until
the second half of that century that they really made any kind of impact
on the East Asian region. Because of that and the comparative physical
distance of the East Asian theater, countries like China and Japan never
became the completely subordinate colonies that so many African and South
American areas did, whatever the other humiliations they might have
suffered. (Like the Opium Wars.)

So in broadly historical terms the East Asian region has always related to
the Western powers in a slightly more equitable way. It cannot be
surprising, then, that some of these nations have been among the first of
the non-Western to exercise some economic and industrial strength.

This is an important perspective because the so-called Asian Tigers and
Japan are typically held up by the voices of neoliberalism as the examples
that prove the universalism of 'transition' or 'development' theory. At
the same time, economic achievements are exploited quite effectively by
domestic political establishments within each of these nations--often
dovetailing in popular political discourse with nationalistic notions of
racial and cultural singularity and superiority. Singaporean leadership
has been the most aggressive in touting its superiority of heritage, as
evidenced by their economic status, and just so happens to be the most
authoritarian of the Tigers, as well. But this tendency towards
self-conceived singularity (ie that Confucianism produces skilled but
obedient capitalists, etc) is present in all the East Asian political
cultures, and needs to be discredited for the good of human rights
campaigns every bit as much as it does from development angle.

Dan w

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