PROJECT SYNDICATE: Xi's Historic Mistake: My June column, on the vital importance for China of a separate government controlling the island of Taiwan. China is not a country but rather a civilization, and so centralization is extremely... 1/
...…inappropriate for the long haul. Where would China be now if its armies had rolled into Hong Kong and Taiwan in 1949, and if those territories, too, had been subject to the tender mercies of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution? China today would then be... 2/
...desperately poor, and desperately weak:

J. Bradford DeLong: Xi’s Historic Mistake: If China historically had pursued the path that its current paramount leader, Xi Jinping, seems to want to take, it would not be a rising economic superpower. History shows that it is... 3/
...greatly and overwhelmingly in China’s own interest to allow for more regional autonomy and less centralization.

BERKELEY—Late last month, the American actor John Cena issued a groveling public apology after having referred to Taiwan as a “country” in an interview to... 4/
... promote his latest film. He was using the term to refer to a linguistic media market with a discrete distribution channel, not to the status of the island of Taiwan in international law. The Chinese government would make no allowance for such distinctions.

What are we... 5/
... to make of this episode? Clearly, globalization has gone terribly wrong. The speech restrictions dictated by China’s authoritarian government apply not just to China but also, and increasingly, to the outside world. Even in my own day-to-day experience, I have noticed... 6/
...that far too many people now speak elliptically, elusively, and euphemistically about contemporary China.

I could do that, too. I could subtly point out that no empire has ever had more than five good emperors in a row, and that it is important for a society to... 7/
... preserve a place for well-meaning critics like the sixteenth-century Chinese official Hai Rui, the early communist-era military leader Peng Dehuai, and the economic reformer Deng Xiaoping.

But I prefer to speak frankly and directly about the real issues that lie... 8/
...behind issues like terminological disputes over Taiwan.

In my view, it is in China’s own interest that the government in Taipei remains the sole authority on the island, so that it can continue to follow an institutional and governance path that is different from that... 9/
...that holds in the areas directly governed by the Beijing center of the People's Republic. Likewise, it is in China’s interest that Hong Kong remains a third system. The government in Beijing ought to recognize that substantial regional autonomy, especially for areas... 10/
...with non-Han-majority populations, will serve its own long-term ambitions.

The appalling and tragic history of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and forced assimilation in the twentieth century suggests that top-down, imperial Sinicization will sow resentments that will last... 11/
...generations and create conditions for serious trouble in the coming years and decades. Humanity has grown up enough to know that diversity, regional autonomy, and cosmopolitanism are better than the alternatives. A regime that aspires to lead the world toward a brighter... 12/
...future should be especially cognizant of this.

Nonetheless, China’s current paramount leader, Xi Jinping, very much wishes to centralize authority in Beijing. Rightly fearing careerism and corruption in the Communist Party of China, he seeks not a Cultural Revolution... 13/
...but a Cultural Renaissance to restore egalitarian values and utopian aspirations across the leadership ranks. Supremely confident in his ability to read the situation and issue the right commands, his main concern is that his orders won’t be implemented properly... 14/
...The solution to that problem, he seems to have concluded, is much greater concentration of power.

But even if Xi has made the right tactical calculation for the current moment, his own senescence, together with the logic of how authoritarian command organizations... 15/
...evolve, all but ensure that his strategy will end in tears.

It is a huge mistake to ignore the benefits that come with more regional autonomy. Consider an alternative history in which the People’s Liberation Army had overrun both Hong Kong and Taiwan in 1949; Sichuan... 16/
...had not been allowed to pursue pilot reform programs in 1975, when Zhao Ziyang was appointed provincial party secretary; and China’s centralization had proceeded to the point that the Guangzhou Military District could not offer Deng refuge from the wrath of the Gang of... 17/
...Four in 1976. What would China’s economy look like today?

It would be a basket case. Rather than enjoying a rapid ascent to economic superpower status, China would find itself being compared to the likes of Burma or Pakistan. When Mao Zedong died in 1976, China was... 18/
...impoverished and rudderless. But it learned to stand on its own two feet by drawing on Taiwan and Hong Kong’s entrepreneurial classes and financing systems, emulating Zhao’s policies in Sichuan, and opening up Special Economic Zones in places like Guangzhou and... 19/

At some point in the future, China will need to choose between governmental strategies and systems. It is safe to assume that relying on top-down decrees from an aging, mentally declining paramount leader who is vulnerable to careerist flattery will not... 20/
...produce good results. The more that China centralizes, the more it will suffer. But if decisions about policies and institutions are based on a rough consensus among keen-eyed observers who are open to emulating the practices and experiments of successful regions... 21/
...China will thrive.

A China with many distinct systems exploring possible paths to the future might really have a chance of becoming a global leader and proving worthy of the role. A centralized, authoritarian China that demands submission to a single emperor will never... 22/
... have that opportunity. 23/END
I would note that it is by no means certain that it was "regional military autonomy" and Xu Shiyou, Wei Guoqing, and Ye Jianying who protected Deng Xiaoping from being murdered by the Gang of Four in the last days of China's Maoist Ancient Régime. That is just one possibility. 1/
The other possibility, the one Deng Rong maintains, is that Deng Xiaoping was protected by the commander of Mao's Praetorian Guard, Wang Dongxing himself, acting under direct orders from Mao Zedong.

But a new régime desperate to present as much of the appearance of... 2/
...continuity as possible with the Maoist Ancient Régime, and to further confuse the puzzled by claiming that Deng Xiaoping was the real heir carrying out the real wishes of the late Mao Zedong even though Mao had purged him in Mao's last year would say that, wouldn't it? 3/END

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More from @delong

2 Jun…

Key Insights: Brad cannot, in fact, reliably and accurately multiply two-digit numbers in his head… When people comment on twitter that we are a nerdy podcast, we respond by going nerdier... If we get an relatively egalitarian income... 1/
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Jeet Heer has been writing about Wilmoore Kendall: That reminds me of this from 2005. Whatever else he thought, Harry Jaffa was an American at his core...

HOISTED FROM THE ARCHIVES: Harry Jaffa, Willmoore Kendall, the Crisis of the House Divided... 1/
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A decade or so ago I had a line about how there were three big potential storm clouds on the horizon–clouds that would probably dissipate, but that we should all fear. They were the (then distant, and now thankfully still distant) possibilities... 1/
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Let me highlight this. Why? Because Martin Wolf has also been... 3/
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26 May…

Noah Smith & Brad DeLong's 30:00 < [Length of Weekly Podcast] < 60:00. This is our most... discursive & rambling episode; be warned!

Key Insights:

* Hexapodia!

* To mix metaphors, when we go hunting for zombie economic ideas, there are lots of... 1/ in barrels for us to shoot. We do not have to try to shoot them all. Indeed, we should not.

* We should, instead, listen to Markus Brunnermeier at 12:30/09:30 EDT/PDT every Thursday at <>

* Josef Schumpeter’s “depressions are… forms of... 2/
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* Schumpeter’s... 3/
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