Wednesday, July 02, 2003

Conservative Communists?-That's what Mr. Preston is wondering, as the NYT casts pro-democracy forces in China as "left-leaning." This puts us in the awkward spot of classifing anti-reform Communists as "conservatives." The reformers are liberal in the 18th century sense. Classic liberalism was taking power away from the aristocracy and giving it to the people, and that's what the reformers in China (and 1990s Russia) were doing. The thing that makes this confusing is that the modern aristocracy is a leftist one. In both China and Russia, things largely went from a monarchy to a communist dictatorship, although China had a nominal democracy in the early 20th century. That puts them two centuries behind the western curve; the reforms are classic liberal, not modern liberal.

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