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Pankaj Mishra

What the Rest Really Should Learn From the West

In “Free to Choose,” Milton and Rose Friedman first posed the binary of private markets versus state intervention, which would come to underpin World Bank and International Monetary Fund reports, policies and prescriptions for the next two decades. According to the Friedmans, places such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore had succeeded due to their reliance on “private markets.” India, China and Indonesia had stagnated after “relying heavily on central planning.”

Indeed, the rise of East Asia by the late 1980s appeared to vindicate free traders everywhere. In “The End of History and the Last Man,” Francis Fukuyama claimed that East Asia’s economies, by “repeating the experience of Germany and Japan in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, have proven that economic liberalism allows late modernizers to catch up with and even overtake” the West.