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Obama, West, reread Fukuyama to the end, and look East

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There is no doubt that the West has contributed to the return of Asia. As I document in my book, several Asian societies have succeeded because they finally understood, absorbed, and implemented the seven pillars of Western wisdom: namely free-market economics, science and technology, meritocracy, pragmatism, culture of peace, rule of law, and education.

Notice what is missing from the list? Western political liberalism – despite Fukuyama's claim that "The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism."

The general assumption in Western minds after reading Fukuyama's essay was that the world would in one way or another become more Westernized. Instead, the exact opposite has happened. Modernization has spread across the world.

But modernization has been accompanied by de-Westernization, not Westernization. Fukuyama acknowledges this today. As he said in a recent interview, "The old version of the idea of modernization was Eurocentric, reflecting Europe's own development. That did contain attributes which sought to define modernization in a quite narrow way."

In the same interview, Fukuyama was right in emphasizing that the three components of political modernization were the creation of an effective state that could enforce rules, the rule of law that binds the sovereign, and accountability.

Indeed, these are the very traits of political modernization that many Asian states are aspiring to achieve. Asians surely agree that no state can function or develop without an effective government. We feel particularly vindicated in this point of view after the recent financial crisis. One reason why the US came to grief was the deeply held ideological assumption in the mind of key American policymakers, like Alan Greenspan, that Ronald Reagan was correct in saying that "Government is not a solution to our problem; government is the problem." Fortunately, Asians did not fall prey to this ideology.

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