It turns out that that oh so reasonable, oh so wise, ever so slightly left of center (riiiiight), New York Times journalist, Tom Friedman, is an ardent admirer of the Chinese Communists. Yes, that highly respected pundit, the one who inspires reverent awe in liberals who gravely nod in assent when he speaks or writes his sagacious musings on the state of the world, is a big fan of Hu Jintao and his merry gang of fellow oppressors. (Newsweek correspondent, Fareed Zakaria elicits similar respect among leftists. This is the same guy who recently advised Yale University Press to cave in to Islamists, ignore the first amendment and refuse to publish the accompanying cartoons to Jytte Klausen's new book, "The Cartoons That Shook The World.").
Friedman doesn't just favor the ChiComs relative to other repressive regimes. No. He believes that their system is better than ours.
Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.
One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century. It is not an accident that China is committed to overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power. China’s leaders understand that in a world of exploding populations and rising emerging-market middle classes, demand for clean power and energy efficiency is going to soar. Beijing wants to make sure that it owns that industry and is ordering the policies to do that, including boosting gasoline prices, from the top down.
Our one-party democracy is worse....
Since Friedman's cherished viewpoints on climate change and health care are opposed by a majority of Americans, we need to emulate the Chinese and "impose" these "critically important policies" on the dumb masses who don't know any better.
Advocates of American style freedom and democracy (aka - conservatives) were quick and unsparing with their criticism of Friedman.
Here's Jonah Goldberg (NRO) (In a better world, Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" would be required reading in every high school government class in the country) :
So there you have it. If only America could drop its inefficient and antiquated system, designed in the age before globalization and modernity and, most damning of all, before the lantern of Thomas Friedman's intellect illuminated the land. If only enlightened experts could do the hard and necessary things that the new age requires, if only we could rely on these planners to set the ship of state right. Now, of course, there are "drawbacks" to such a system: crushing of dissidents with tanks, state control of reproduction, government control of the press and the internet. Omelets and broken eggs, as they say. More to the point, Friedman insists, these "drawbacks" pale in comparison to the system we have today here in America.
I cannot begin to tell you how this is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s. It is exactly the argument that was made in defense of Stalin and Lenin before him (it's the argument that idiotic, dictator-envying leftists make in defense of Castro and Chavez today). It was the argument made by George Bernard Shaw who yearned for a strong progressive autocracy under a Mussolini, a Hitler or a Stalin (he wasn't picky in this regard). This is the argument for an "economic dictatorship" pushed by Stuart Chase and the New Dealers. It's the dream of Herbert Croly and a great many of the Progressives.
I have no idea why I still have the capacity to be shocked by such things. A few years ago, during the worst part of the Iraq war, I wrote a column saying that Iraq needed a Pinochet type to bring order to Iraq and help develop democratic and liberal institutions. To this day, I get vicious hate mail from liberal and leftist readers for my "pro-dictator" stance. Meanwhile, Thomas Friedman, golden boy of the NYT op-ed page, is writing love-letters to dictatorships because they have the foresight to invest in electric batteries and waterless toilets or something. It looks like there's reason to hope I was wrong about Iraq (I certainly hope I was). But at least I favored a dictatorship of sorts — for another country! — because I thought it would lead to a liberal democracy. Here, Friedman lives in a liberal democracy but has his nose pressed up against the candy store window of a cruel, undemocratic, regime and all he can do is drool over the prospect of having the same power here.
A side note - Goldberg's disdain of G.B. Shaw apparently was shared by Aldous Huxley who hurled a barb towards his contemporary in "Brave New World". (A book I'm presently re-reading - it's appropriate to revisit these days, I think.)
...Little Reuben woke up repeating word for word a long lecture by that curious old writer ("one of the very few whose words have been permitted to come down to us"), George Bernard Shaw, who was speaking, according to a well-authenticated tradition, about his own genius.
Anyway, back to comments about Friedman's column
Kenneth Anderson :
Let me just say for the record that this is a monstrous column. When faced with American public defection from elite-preferred outcomes on certain policy issues that involve many difficult tradeoffs of the kind that democracies, with much jostling and argument, are supposed to work out among many different groups, Friedman extols the example of ... China's political system, because it's both enlightened and autocratic? Who among us knew?
And Blogger John :
In addition to being monstrous, the column is dumb. Friedman says we have "one-party democracy" in America. What is that supposed to mean? His explanation makes no sense: "The fact is, on both the energy/climate legislation and health care legislation, only the Democrats are really playing." No, what is happening is that Republicans and Democrats disagree. Republicans are opposing the Democrats' health care and carbon tax legislation because they believe--correctly--that both represent terrible public policy. When Republicans proposed Social Security reform and Democrats opposed it, were we a "one-party democracy" because "only the Republicans were playing"? I don't remember Friedman yearning for fascist solutions during the Bush administration.
Actually, as should be obvious, the fact that the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats may need some Republican support to enact sweeping changes in the health care system or a destructive cap-and-tax system is proof that we are a two-party democracy.
If Tom Friedman isn't the most overrated man in America, he's a strong contender.
And of course there's Mark Steyn (NRO) with a demography angle :
...what does Thomas Friedman have to say about what's surely the most obvious example of the enlightened autocracy's "Bam! Just like that" one-size-fits-all far-sighted centralized planning? I refer to the Politburo's one-child policy as a result of which (as I've said for years):
(a) China will get old before it gets rich;
and (b) it already has the most gender-distorted population cohort in history — and, as a rule, tens of millions of surplus young men with no gals to hand is not a recipe for social stability unless you're planning on becoming the first gay superpower since Sparta.
And Steyn again :
...the technocratic argument — that there are no legitimate philosophical or policy differences, merely correct solutions that all experts agree on and that democratic politics merely obstructs — has been used to justify totalitarian regimes from Germany and Italy to the rinky-dinkiest post-colonial African basket-case backwater.
But what's even weirder about Friedman's valentine to the Politburo is that on his big bugbear — "climate change" — the Chinese have explicitly rejected the cap-&-trade/emissions reduction regime he urges upon us. Having no public opinion or Friedmanite media to worry about at home, the ChiComs told the "international community" to go take a hike.
I could go on and on but you (should) get the point. What I haven't seen mentioned is that Friedman has provided opponents of the Democrats' socialist agenda with a great gift. Here is a highly respected, oft-cited spokesman of the left admitting that he's enamored of a Communist - Fascist (same difference) form of government. Why not use the technique utilized by the Democrats when they proclaimed that (the unaffiliated, independent, John McCain disparaging) Rush Limbaugh was the voice of the Republican Party? And unlike Limbaugh and Republicans, Tom Friedman really does speak for Democrats. More than that, he is a near perfect manifestation of the progressive mindset - believing that all or most of the world's social problems can be engineered away by adopting the proper public policies - government enforced, of course.
In a recent column, Jonah Goldberg recalled a line from an old Star Trek episode, "Behold, a god that bleeds!!" In that spirit,
Behold! Tom Friedman, mouthpiece of the Obama, Pelosi, Reid agenda...a Fascist sympathizer!!!
(The RNC approved this message).