ON-Lion Letter
"The global financial crisis and ensuing recession have generated a widespread view that the essence of the so-called Washington Consensus, and with it the model of democratic capitalism, stands discredited before the court of world opinion," begin Peter Berger and Ann Bernstein in an article in the March-April 2011 American Interest magazine.  "At the same time, interest has risen sharply in what may be called the Beijing Consensus:  an increasingly robust market economy coupled with authoritarian government."

Berger is the senior research fellow at the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs at Boston University.  He writes regularly at his American Interest blog, Religion and Other Curiosities.  Bernstein is executive director of the Centre for Development and Enterprise (CDE) in Johannesburg.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee substantially supports both the Institute on Culture, Religion and World Affairs and the Centre for Development and Enterprise.

"The decline of faith in democratic capitalism is more pronounced among chattering classes in the West than among economic elites in much of the non-West, who are generally pleased with how the macroeconomic orthodoxy of the Washington Consensus has performed for their countries over the past few decades," Berger and Bernstein continue in "The Freedom Consensus."

And as for the Beijing Consensus, they conclude, "The Chinese government has recently taken up the venerable Confucian ideal of the 'harmonious society.'  The ideal implies stability, order and material well-being.  We have no quarrel with these goals.  But the ideal did not originally imply freedom, and it certainly does not imply it in the manner in which the current Chinese regime uses the phrase. 

"We believe one can have a 'harmonious society' with freedom, and that freedom will enhance stability, order and material well-being.  We believe that ultimately a 'Freedom Consensus' will triumph over the Beijing Consensus.  Maybe someday it will even do so in Beijing."
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