I haven't read Amy Chua's book,
World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, but I did see her interview with
Brian Lamb on Booknotes and think that she is both articulate and informed.
She talks about how in many countries around the world a
"market-dominant minority" is
both a great source of growth and the cause of terrible instability. She also makes the
very interesting point that the United States is kind of like a "market-dominant minority" in the world, which I thought was a great analogy.
In the interview Chua explains:
"Market-dominant minorities are often the principal engines of economic growth in a country. This is certainly true of the
Chinese in Southeast Asia. So, their economic impact in some ways has been tremendous. They've generated tremendous economic
growth over the years.
On the other hand, their presence is a source of enormous instability, especially when you combine it with rapid democratization
because the situation of having a small - a situation of where the rich people are not just rich but they are viewed as ethnic
outsiders fueling the nation's wealth.
It's just incredibly destabilizing, so I actually think that market-dominant minorities are, I say that they're the Achilles
heel of free market democracy in the non-Western world.
Now, to go back to your question about the United States, that's by analogy whereas in most of the book I write about
individual countries. I suggest by analogy that at the global level you see a very similar phenomenon.
Basically, the United States has become the world market-dominant minority and the analogy has its limits. I mean obviously
Americans are not an ethnic group. We're a melting pot and nor is there democracy at the global level.
On the other hand, you see very - you see just the same kinds of dynamics. I mean the Americans are four percent of the
world's total population and yet we wield, just like the Chinese in Indonesia or the Lebanese in West Africa, we wield just
astonishingly disproportionate economic power relative to our numbers.
And from China to the Middle East to France, we are perceived, I think correctly, as the principal engines and principal
beneficiaries of global capitalism. You know we dominate global markets in every respect, technological, financial, cultural.
And I think for this, for our extraordinary market dominance and our seeming global invincibility, we have earned the envy
and fear and deep resentment of much of the rest of the world."
It's food for thought and I encourage you to watch the entire interview.
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