Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Between The Throes Of Light And Dark

I was reading about Wu Jinglian, arguably China's most famous (and possibly notorious) economist, in the International Herald Tribune today. He was an aggressive liberal (some would assert that he's a social liberal, but his views were definitely very liberal back in the 70s and 80s for China) and a straight-talking idealist, who helped steer China into economic openness which led to the explosion of her economic growth. He's so famous, in fact, that the locals have named current Chinese economics as "Market Wu".

(Sometimes, aggression knows no end, and it's no longer about the ideas but pride. Wu, at 79 years of age, is now targeted for political incarceration for not being able to keep his mouth shut.)

And then I thought, there really isn't anything wrong with being an idealist as long as one is grounded in the reality of how the world really works. There's always room for a liberal thought to linger in the hopes of achieving what it always wishes it could - cooperation, absolute gains for all, open trade, overall maximisation of utility, the growth of wealth of nations, and the subordination of the power of tyranny to the right of man and the individual.

But that dream usually turns into the nightmare of some big organisation trying or claiming to do the job demanded of these imaginary rational men, and then a movie like Battle in Seattle comes along to slap the fucking beejezus out of the daydreamer. It is a seriously good movie and wake up call for anyone who needs to know the collateral damage of global and trade openness.

This movie also provides a good perspective of what it is to stand up for something to believe in, something we will never get on our little Sunny Island.

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