June 22, 2005

Just Because We're a Duck

Lee Harris opines that the US is a duck of a society, unique in fact. He's not too happy with the idea that we're trying to promote liberty and free markets around the world.

Paradoxically, America can only help the world if it remembers how profoundly different we are from the rest of the world. By assuming that other nations can copy us, we are forgetting that we are, in every sense of the word, inimitable -- the product of an exceptional set of circumstances that occurred in one spot of the globe at one particular moment in the history of mankind. That is why any foreign policy that refuses to recognize our own uniqueness is inevitably doomed to failure.

This is straw man punditry as nobody is actually saying that the world can copy us blindly. The Bush administration does think that a yearning for a free society is universal but that yearning will express itself in various ways, filtered through the powerful forces of local culture, local history.

There's nothing else there in the piece. There's no examination whether there might be certain lessons that can be drawn from the US system without blind imitation. Certainly imitation of the US educational system of the 40s served Japan quite well in its quest to move ahead post WW II. I'm sure there are plenty of other examples that are out there.

Inimitability may well be a factor of the overall US system. That says nothing about the imitability of system components, nor whether following the same direction (free markets, free governments) requires more detailed imitation at all.

Posted by TMLutas at June 22, 2005 03:50 PM