So it appears that the Mustache of Understanding has gotten in a bit of hot water over his latest op-ed . Having grown up in Hong Kong (pre and post-handover) and knowing plenty of people who fled Friedman’s “reasonably enlightened group of people” quite recently, I’m not inclined to be as charitable as Wilkinson is. Certainly, however, American intellectuals proclaiming the glories of autocratic regimes is nothing new. I’ll let Irving Kristol take it away:
The explanation, I fear, is almost embarrassingly vulgar in its substance. A crucial clue was provided several years ago by Professor Lewis Feuer, who made a survey of those American members of this “new class” of the college-educated — engineers, scientists, teachers, social scientists, psychologists, etc. — who had visited the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s, and had written admiringly of what they saw. In practically all cases, what they saw was power and status in the possession of their own kinds of people. The educators were enthusiastic about the “freedom” of educators in the USSR to run things as they saw fit. Ditto the engineers, the psychologists, and the rest. Their perceptions were illusory, of course, but this is less significant than the wishful thinking that so evidently lay behind the illusions. The same illusions, and the same wishful thinking, are now to be noticed among our academic tourists to Mao’s China.