To my hundreds [titter, sic] of loyal readers I must apologize for the long gap. It’s just two-months-today since I started this blog, and I haven’t yet learned to combine blogging with absences away from my personal library and mainframe. Nevertheless, with trusty iPad in shoulder bag on trip to Spain I maintained internet presence in some discussion forums. Today I cannot settle down to thinking about a new post on Spain, capitalism, ideology, or indeed anything else until I’ve first written my *comments diary*:
The trip started well. In the lobby of a hotel somewhere near Heathrow airport I became tremendously excited and spilt my tea as I read a new op-ed on China by Francis Fukuyama. I had quarreled at length with Fukuyama in my book ‘Capitalism, Institutions, and Economic Development’. Despite being a great admirer of his scholarship, I argued strongly against his long-standing opinion that culture and informal norms matter more than formal institutions. Gradually he has adjusted his opinion, moving closer to mine. No one ever called me modest.
Then on the evening before my flight I read the words I’ve been waiting for:
“The [purged Bo Xilai] incident has revealed a deep problem in China – the lack of formal institutions and of a real rule of law. The rules the Chinese leadership follows are neither embedded in the constitution, clearly articulated, nor enforced by a judicial system… [China needs] a genuine rule of law with all of the transparency and formal institutionalisation that entails… So in the end, informal rules observed by a small clique of insiders cannot really substitute for a formal rule of law… [China needs] formal procedures constraining power through law and elections put big roadblocks in the path of a really bad emperor”.