The theory, which is more than wishful thinking, is that capitalism ineluctably brings about an ever-broader dispersal of information and decision-making, and requires an ethic of trust and a legal regime of promise-keeping (contracts). Those who subscribe to this theory can take some comfort from China’s recent strengthening of protections of private property, which gives a sphere of sovereignty to individuals whose appetite for sovereignty, once whetted, might become a demand for a politics of popular sovereignty.
But suppose James Mann is right to dismiss all this as the Soothing Scenario. In his new book “The China Fantasy: How Our Leaders Explain Away Chinese Repression,” Mann considers the Soothing Scenario’s implication — that American investment bankers doing business in China are necessarily freedom fighters — too convenient. [Full text]
– Read also CDT’s interview with James Mann about the book.