“A stunning idea has entered respectable American discourse of late: that China is not just an economic rival but also a political competitor, with a political system that, despite its own flaws, reveals grave flaws in American democracy and might be inspiring to wavering nations. […]
The question the reappraisers seem to be asking is whether their belief in bottom-up, spontaneously ordering, self-regulating societies blinded them to other truths (as their enthusiasm for China risks blinding them to the cruelty and violence of autocracy). They are asking: Can openness go too far? Can public opinion be measured too frequently? Can free speech sow disorder? Is the crowd really smarter than the experts? Can transparency hamper governance?
Or, to put it in the terms of an influential 1997 essay, is the bazaar always better than the cathedral?”
Anand Giridharadas is one of my favourite writers at the New York Times and this time his reflection on the merits of open societies is particularly thought provoking.