Michael Barone

The dwindling number of readers of The New York Times were treated Wednesday to a column by Thomas Friedman extolling China's "one-party autocracy," which, he told us, "is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people."

China's leaders, he reported, are "boosting gasoline prices" and "overtaking us in electric cars, solar power, energy efficiency, batteries, nuclear power and wind power." All, of course, in the cause of reducing carbon emissions, which so many luminaries assure us are bound to produce global warming and environmental catastrophe.

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As Jonah Goldberg, author of the scholarly bestseller "Liberal Fascism," notes, "This is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s." Mussolini, we were told then, made the trains run on time. He drained the Pontine marshes. He got things done while Americans, with their chaotic democratic politics, dithered.

Most of the Mussolini fans of the 1920s didn't really want a dictatorship in America, and any fair reader of Thomas Friedman's oeuvre knows that he doesn't want an authoritarian government here, either. The word limit of his column apparently left him no space to regret the Chinese one-party autocracy's Internet censorship, forced sterilizations, imprisonment of political dissenters and the like.

Even so, Friedman declares that "our one-party democracy is worse" than the Chinese model. He is upset that the minority party, the Republicans, won't go along with Democrats' plans to raise the price of carbon emissions and pass a government health care plan -- though, perhaps wisely, he refrains from praising the Chinese health delivery system. But he does get an essential bit wrong: It's our two-party system he's complaining about, and the fact that the current minority party won't act like it's just one wing of the majority.

China's one-party autocracy has acted decisively two issues, which can be summed up in the phrases the population explosion and global warming. The media, university and corporate elites of not just America but most of the world have been of one mind about these two issues, and in my opinion are being proven wrong on both. Each of them is used by the elites as an excuse to prevent ordinary people from behaving as they would like to.  

Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM