Gunnar Peterson interviews Thomas P.M. Barnett

Cybersecurity expert and blogfriend Gunnar Peterson of 1 Raindrop snagged a multi-part interview with grand strategist and blogfriend Dr. Thomas P.M. Barnett, author of Great Powers. Peterson is doing a superb job at elicitation with his questions:

Tom Barnett Interview

GP: ….It seems that the emerging middle class is the main factor that separates the developing countries’ past and future, they always had some very rich people and many very poor people, but now depending on how you measure it, India’s middle class is 200 million people. What trends should we watch as the global middle class emerges? What milestones will mark key events along the progression?

TB: The one of greatest interest is when per capita income gets in the range of $5,000 per year.  Somewhere between $5,000 and $10,000 is where you see previously authoritarian, single-party-dominated states move into the process of increasingly pluralism, typically started when a reformist faction breaks off from, and begins to challenge, the dominant party.Obviously, India is already blessed in that regard, so China is the one to watch there.  Until China reaches such a level of development, all talk about authoritarian capitalism being superior to democratic capitalism is historically premature.  Authoritarian regimes do well with extensive growth (simply adding in more resources) but then tap out when it comes to shifting into innovation-based, intensive growth….

Tom Barnett Interview Part 2 »

TB:….At initial glance, China’s route has higher risks concerning its political system (all those unruly and increasingly assertive urban laborers can go all Marxist on Beijing’s allegedly “communist” ruling party), but India has higher risks concerning its economic trajectory (you point about scaling out badly).  It’s just easier to imagine-for me at least-China having to change politically than India somehow avoiding industrialization and the social tumult/reformatting it will cause the country’s rural life.  China’s got a lot of that already under its belt (although its rural impoverished population remains vast, there are plenty of opportunities for village employment or migration to the cities), and its government seems willing to do whatever it takes to encourage and accommodate the migration from rural areas to cities.  But India moving far more tepidly in this direction, the result being that, what rural-to-urban migration does occur, often results in rather scary urbanization scenarios (more slumdog than millionaire).  

Tom Barnett Interview Part 3

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