Tom Plate’s Conversations with Lee Kuan Yew: Some Wise Words for Dysfunctional Western Democracies
When the history of the 21st century is written, Afghanistan will matter little. But the rise of China modeled on the pragmatic, soft-authoritarian template of Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore will be seen as the game changer of our time. Plate has had the uncommon vision, for a Western journalist, to see this. And his book could not be more relevant at a moment when recession, debt and dysfunction are plaguing the West while Asia strides boldly into the future.
At a time when it appears that democracies are becoming ungovernable, a discourse on the ways and means of good governance by the neo-Confucian master thinker of modern Asia could not be more useful. …
Though putting it into terms of the Western mind, Plate gets it right in the end: Lee Kuan Yew is a mix of Plato and Machiavelli. Lee, he points out, not only believes in the reasoned rule of a learned elite. Over the years, he has employed the practical political genius of a city-state Prince to make it a reality.
Here is how Plate sums up Lee’s worldview: “Sustained and sustainable progress is possible only when a gifted, empowered elite is in more or less in complete control of policy. The complete corollary to that is his belief that politics that includes significant decision-making by the unqualified — or by well-organized narrow interests, the lobbies — is the enemy of superior public policy. This leads to the third forbidden thought: that democracy, at its one-man, one-vote purest, is almost always the enemy of a practical, here-and-now, best-we-can-get utopia.”
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Tags: conversations with lee kuan yew, huffington post, lee kuan yew, nathan gardels, tom plate