Open Future

Open Future

  • Open Future

    The Chinese Communist Party’s fear of its people spells trouble


    This is a guest contribution to our debate: Should the West worry about the threat to liberal values posed by China's rise?

    KISHORE MAHBUBANI urges “Western minds” to seek the key to why once-robust Western societies now under-perform, not in China but at home (read our online debate and Mr Mahbubani’s piece here). But liberal democracy’s current ills have opened an unprecedented opportunity to an increasingly confident and authoritarian China, which has seized its chance. As the liberal order staggers, China is building an extensive network of influence that will inhibit its recovery.

    Globalisation helped China go from poverty to the world’s second-largest economy.

  • Open Society

    What is affirmative action?

    by R.G.

    HARVARD UNIVERSITY is being sued for allegedly discriminating unlawfully against Asian applicants. America’s best-known university takes race into account when deciding whom to admit. It says this is one of many factors, and justified by the need to ensure a diverse student body. Plaintiffs contend that it has an unwritten quota to stop Asians from taking as many places as their stellar test scores would predict.

    Racial discrimination is illegal in America, except when it isn’t. “Affirmative action” policies, which discriminate in favour of members of disadvantaged groups, are widespread in America and many other countries.

  • Open Future

    Can the West’s democracy survive China’s rise to dominance?


    This is a guest contribution to our debate: Should the West worry about the threat to liberal values posed by China's rise?

    For long the West has thought that history is on its side, that the global future would and should be in its own image. With the end of the cold war and the implosion of the Soviet Union, this conviction became stronger than ever. The future was Western; nothing else was imaginable.

  • Open Borders

    In Germany it’s hard to occupy the middle ground on immigration

    by BERLIN | J.C.

    THERE are three basic political stances on immigration. The first two are the easiest to hold as a politician: to be overwhelmingly for or against permeable borders. Sit in either of these camps and you can easily exude what one might call the three Cs: confidence, crispness and clarity.

    German politics is a case in point. At a recent demonstration in Berlin supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany party marched under banners with slogans like “No passport, no entry” and “Islam doesn’t belong in Europe” while counter-demonstrators from the city’s club scene partied and protested to techno music under the mantra “Refugees are welcome here”.

  • Open Future: The China model

    Is China’s growth model a threat to free-market economics?

    by By Zhu Ning

    This is a guest contribution to our debate: Should the West worry about the threat to liberal values posed by China's rise?

    China has delivered some of the most outstanding economic growth the world has seen in the past half-century. Not only has it successfully increased its GDP per person more than 20-fold and lifted hundreds of millions of its citizens out of poverty since it launched its reform-and-opening policy some four decades ago, China has also managed to become a global leader in new technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence and mobile internet applications.

  • Open Future

    China’s exceptionalism rewrites the Western political playbook


    This is a guest contribution to our debate: Should the West worry about the threat to liberal values posed by China's rise?

    MINXIN PEI and Kishore Mahbubani’s separate statements are elegant summaries of opposing attitudes. Taken together, however, along with the fact they are appearing as part of a debate organised by one of the great proponents of liberal values, The Economist, there is one incontrovertible conclusion to be drawn from them: China has rattled the outside world in ways which were never expected before. 

  • Open Future

    China’s political meritocracy versus Western democracy


    This is a guest contribution to our debate: Should the West worry about the threat to liberal values posed by China's rise?

    AT THE Munich Security Conference in February, the outgoing German foreign minister argued that “China is developing a comprehensive system alternative to the Western one, which, unlike, our model, is not based on freedom, democracy and individual human rights.” Should liberals in the West who stand for “freedom, democracy and individual human rights” be worried?

    There are good reasons to worry if (1) China opposes liberal ideology, (2) China seeks to export its illiberal model abroad, and (3) China can successfully do so.

  • Open Future

    Justin Trudeau on standing up to America, and the threats to liberal values

    World leaders emerged dazed and confused from the G7 summit in Quebec this past weekend. The outcome of the summit was confusing to say the least. President Donald Trump renounced the official communiqué minutes after its release, attacked Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau for making “false statements”, and renewed his threat to impose tariffs on automobiles supposedly “flooding the U.S. Market!”. Read our analysis here.

    The Economist met Mr Trudeau before the G7 summit (and days before Mr Trump announced his intention to slap hefty tariffs on steel and aluminium from several countries, including Canada).

  • Open Future

    How Chinese students exercise free speech abroad


    This is a guest contribution to our debate: Should the West worry about the threat to liberal values posed by China's rise?

    SINCE early 2017 media, government, academic and intelligence spokespeople in Australia have worked up a rising tide of conjecture about China’s clandestine political influence, coinciding with an increasingly adversarial stance toward Beijing by the Australian government. In these debates on the “China threat,” ordinary Chinese students in Australian universities have become unfortunate scapegoats for national political anxieties.

  • The Economist asks

    Has the West lost its touch?

    KISHORE MAHBUBANI, the Singaporean former president of the UN Security Council and author of “Has the West lost it?”, tells Robert Guest, our foreign editor, about the rise of a new world order. He also talks about individual freedom in China, and why he thinks Donald Trump is the least of America’s worries. Music (“Divider”) by Chris Zabriskie (CC by 4.0 UK)

  • Open Society

    How homosexuality became a crime in the Middle East

    by A.L.

    IN THE 13th and 14th centuries two celebrated male poets wrote about men in affectionate, even amorous, terms. They were Rumi and Hafiz, and both lived in what is now Iran. Their musings were neither new nor unusual. Centuries earlier Abu Nuwas, a bawdy poet from Baghdad, wrote lewd verses about same-sex desire. Such relative openness towards homosexual love used to be widespread in the Middle East. Khaled El-Rouayheb, an academic at Harvard University, explains that though sodomy was deemed a major sin by Muslim courts of law, other homosexual acts such as passionate kissing, fondling or lesbian sex were not.

  • Open Borders

    How much you earn depends largely on where you live

    THERE are several reasons why some people make more money than others. They could be brighter, or harder-working, or have rare talents. They could do jobs that pay better because they are unpleasant or dangerous. All these factors are important, but the strongest predictor of how much you earn is where you were born. 

    The chart above shows how the global income distribution has evolved over time. It suggests two things. First, that people in developing economies, especially in China, have become much richer in the past four decades. Second, that even middle-class people in the rich world are fabulously rich by global standards.

  • Open Future

    How data-driven policing threatens human freedom

    by WASHINGTON, D.C.|J.F.

    “Minority Report”, a 2002 film directed by Steven Spielberg, features a squad of police officers who arrest people for murders they are predicted to commit. The film was science fiction; yet police departments around the world increasingly use predictive analytics to identify people who might become perpetrators or victims of crime. In “The Rise of Big Data Policing”, Andrew Ferguson, a former public defender and now professor at the University of the District of Columbia, discusses the promise and perils of data-driven policing.

    The Economist  asked him about how data and predictive analytics are changing modern policing.

  • Open Future

    On free speech, liberal dinosaurs, universal basic income and a video contest

    The Economist’s Open Future initiative aims to remake the case for the classical liberal values of individual freedom and free markets in the 21st century. Highlights from this week’s activities include:

    • An “Open Essay” by Philippe Legrain on the benefits of immigration 
    The biggest determinant of someone’s life chances is not their talent or hard work but where they were born. Over the course of a week, Philippe Legrain will lay out the moral, economic and cultural arguments in favour of immigration. But not everyone agrees that openness is a good thing, so we want to hear from you. How can liberals convince immigration sceptics that open societies benefit everyone?

  • Open Essay

    How to convince sceptics of the value of immigration?


    Welcome to our first Open Essay, a new format in which a writer develops an argument in three instalments over the course of a full week, in conversation with our readers.

    Part One (June 1st)

    Part Two (June 4th)

    Part Three (June 7th)

    Part One

    Openness to immigration is a good thing, as I hope you agree. But how can we persuade moderate sceptics? Presenting rational arguments and evidence is important but often insufficient.

    The liberal case for immigration is simply put. Openness to newcomers is morally right, economically beneficial and culturally enriching.

    The freedom to move is fundamentally important.

About Open Future



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