The S.C.O.’s refusal to okay Russian aggression adds weight to NED board member Francis Fukuyama’s contention that “today’s authoritarian governments have little in common, save their lack of democratic institutions.”
He stresses the need to distinguish between different types of autocrats. Russia and China present “a combination of authoritarianism and modernization that offers a clear challenge to liberal democracy“, he notes. But autocratic regimes lack “the combination of brawn, cohesion and ideas” required to offer a serious alternative to liberal democracy or the globalized economy.
In this new “age of authoritarianism,” it appears that autocratic regimes increasingly finance democratic governments – and vice versa. The United States, it has been said, is borrowing money from China to buy oil from Saudi Arabia.
But the rise of authoritarian capitalism is overstated, says political economist Daniel Drezner. The world’s democracies may no longer be its greatest financial powers, with authoritarian countries’ official reserves dwarfing those of democratic states, but the distribution of privately-held assets is another matter. Furthermore, he notes, authoritarian capitalism can thrive over the short to medium term, but it will not outperform more liberal varieties of capitalism in the long term. Centralized governments do pretty badly once they are done with technological catch-up, he notes.
Every “rising power” in the global economy is either a democracy or sitting on natural resources that will decline in value. Except for China. ”This is the $64 billion RMB question of the day – can China convert itself into a billion person version of Singapore?”