02 Sep 2009

Scott Sumner: The Gulag Is Half Full

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(We also would have accepted, “Actually, the Guantanamo is half full.”)

Just to make sure we understand what it would mean to start from a crazy premise and then run with it using exquisite logical consistency, Scott Sumner leaves his well-developed monetary theories to write:

Before answering this question, let’s first examine what has happened over the past 20 years.

1. The world has gotten much more peaceful. I recall reading that the last couple years were the most peaceful in all of human history (and pre-history for that matter.) Perhaps someone can find the article.

2. The world has gotten much more democratic. The number of democratic countries has soared at the fastest rate in history, by far.

3. The world has gotten much more market-oriented. There has been a huge wave of privatization and deregulation of prices and market access. And this trend extends far beyond the formerly communist countries.

So the obvious choice for most successful prediction is Francis Fukuyama’s 1989 claim that “history was ending,” that the great ideological battle between democratic capitalism and other isms was essentially over, and that henceforth the world would become gradually more democratic, peaceful, and market-oriented.

So you would think that intellectuals would treat Fukuyama as a hero, that he would be figuratively hoisted on our shoulders and paraded around as the prophet of the new age. Just the reverse. I must have seen his name mentioned dozens of times in intellectual outlets like the New York Review of Books. And every single time, without exception, the reference has been derisive, mocking, a sort of rolling of the eyes in wonder than anyone could have believed anything so foolish. So what gives?

When all curious intellectuals are rounded up into camps, I hope Scott and Matt “what serfdom?” Yglesias share a toilet. If there were toilets.

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