Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Market-dominant Minorities

Amy Chua, a prof at Yale Law School, writes this long article in The Wilson Quarterly on "the relationship—increasingly, the explosive collision—among the three most powerful forces operating in the world today: markets, democracy, and ethnic hatred. There exists today a phenomenon—pervasive outside the West yet rarely acknowledged, indeed often viewed as taboo—that turns free-market democracy into an engine of ethnic conflagration. I’m speaking of the phenomenon of market-dominant minorities: ethnic minorities who, for widely varying reasons, tend under market conditions to dominate economically, often to a startling extent, the ’indigenous’ majorities around them."

The essay is adapted from her book, World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability. I pass this long article along not because I agree with its thesis (I don’t know whether I do or not), but because I think it is worth thinking about. Certainly, the fact ethnic minorities control the private wealth of many third world countries (e.g., that in Indonesia only three percent of the population is Chinese and they control circa 70% of Indonesia’s private economy, etc.) seem to be in her favor. She also is smart enough to see that this is not so in the U.S. and sees something of why this is the case. Anyway, if you have some time to kill, have a look at it. Also note the comments at the end of the article; some are worth your attention.

Discussions - 1 Comment

This is a very interesting piece, which in my mind points to the real weaknesses and mess of value-free economics, and institutions like the WTO. Add to this the myth of liberal democracy as something that is also value-free(right to vote is supreme), and you get a huge mess.

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