Notes on “Developmentalist States”

While searching for a number of nations that historically adopted Developmentalism, I came up with a small list of them, the vast majority of which were situated outside the Western world. From what I could gather, the ones with the highest levels of economic growth in terms of Kapital Accumulation are in Asia. The “Four Tigers,” which are Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore. I have covered South Korea already in another Economic History Case Studies entry, so I think it is only appropriate for me to focus on the other three Tigers.

The Four Tigers on a map of Asia

If I had to use the economic governance model from The Work-Standard as my guide, I would make the following conclusions about the other three Tigers:

  • Taiwan was originally a State Capitalist regime under the Kuomintang throughout much of the Cold War. This changed during and shortly after the Death of Bretton Woods, the 1970s and 1980s, when its economy exhibited Developmentalist characteristics. It was around that same timeframe when the Kuomintang shifted away from Statism to Parliamentary Democracy, resulting in Taiwan to become a genuine Liberal Capitalist regime. Today, its Parliamentary Democracy is predominantly run by the pro-Jeffersonian Liberal Capitalist tendencies of the Party, its current model of economic governance being a Market Economy.
  • Hong Kong is a textbook example of a Developmentalist State, given its former status as a British Colony and policy decisions geared toward the development of a Parliamentary Democracy and Market Economy. Macao, the former Portuguese colony situated across from Hong Kong, exhibited a similar Developmentalist trend. These developments did not go unnoticed by Mainland China, which sought to maintain its Council Democracy and low-tier Planned Economy in spite of the Dengist-era economic reforms. It is because of this that while Hong Kong (and by extension, Macao) may have greater Economic Liberalization, the extent of Political Liberalization and perhaps even Social Liberalization is limited by the “One Country, Two Systems” approach.
  • Singapore, unlike the previous two Tigers, has consistently been governed by a single party that is aligned with Liberal Capitalism. Its approach to Developmentalism sought to balance Economic Liberalization with State Capitalism and Political Liberalization with a one-party Parliament. The result is a city-state that continues to exhibit the most characteristics routinely associated with Developmentalism.

For the sake of Economic History Case Studies, I will be devoting three entries to the other Tiger Economies. There are plenty of historical lessons to be learned from them, especially as part of formulating a genuine set of arguments against Developmentalism.

Categories: Economic History

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