World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability
is a 2003 book by the controversial American law professor Amy Chua
. It is an academic study of ethnic
and sociological divisions in the economic and political systems of various societies. The book discusses the concept of market-dominant minorities
, defined as ethnic minority groups who, under given market conditions, tend to dominate economically, often significantly, over all other ethnic groups in the country.
The concept of market-dominant minority was introduced by the author in a 1998 paper Markets, Democracy, and Ethnicity
In the Philippines
, Chua explains, the Chinese
community comprise one percent of the population but control 60 percent of the private economy, with the result being resentment on the part of the Filipino majority against the Chinese minority creating an ethnic conflict
. Similarly, in Indonesia
the Chinese Indonesian
community make up three percent of the population
but control 75 percent of the economy with similar patterns occurring throughout other Southeast Asian
In her book, Chua discusses different reasons for the market dominance of different groups. Some groups inherited market dominance because of colonial legacies and apartheid
. In other cases, it may be due to the culture and family networks of these groups. For many groups there is no clear single explanation.
Americans and the United States can also be seen as a global market-dominant minority, in particular when combined with their use of cultural soft power, military strength, economic might, and flaunting political hegemony, thereby causing resentment throughout the world.
She believes that democratization
can increase ethnic conflicts when an ethnic minority is disproportionately wealthy. "When free market democracy is pursued in the presence of a market-dominant minority, the almost invariable result is backlash
. This backlash typically takes one of three forms. The first is a backlash against markets, targeting the market-dominant minority's wealth. The second is a backlash against democracy by forces favorable to the market-dominant minority. The third is violence, sometimes genocidal
, directed against the market-dominant minority itself."
Also, "overnight democracy will empower the poor, indigenous majority. What happens is that under those circumstances, democracy doesn't do what we expect it to do – that is, reinforce markets. [Instead,] democracy leads to the emergence of manipulative politicians and demagogues who find that the best way to get votes is by scapegoating the minorities." She writes, "Ballot boxes brought Hitler
to power in Germany, Mugabe
to power in Zimbabwe, Milosevic
to power in Serbia — and could well bring the likes of Osama bin Laden
to power in Saudi Arabia."
Chua states that she is a "big fan of trying to promote markets and democracy globally," but that it should be accompanied by attempts to "redistribute the wealth, whether it's property title and giving poor people property, land reform ... Redistributive mechanisms are tough to have if you have so much corruption."
's other thesis
and her conclusions have been disputed by George Leef
of the John Locke Foundation
, who proposes that many other factors may account for ethnic violence, including the most simple motivation of pure racism
Leef includes in his review:
Nothing does more to reduce violence
and many other social ills than the rising standards of living
alone makes possible. What a tragedy
it would be if nations
were to forego the tremendous long-run benefits of capitalism
out of fear that there might be violence
in the short-run against those who take advantage of business opportunities the earliest. All that World on Fire
proves in the end is that governments
cannot be depended upon to prevent violence
against people who have been, for whatever reason, demonized by others. That's nothing new.
By contrast, our analysis shows that what has been observed in recent decades may simply be more of the same old story. Although history
never repeats itself, the same process patterns may be operating at different times and in different historical contexts (cf. Collier and Mazzuca 2006). The dismemberment of empire and the formation of the nation-state
have led to wars since the time of Napoleon
. The patterns of warfare in the Caucasus and the Balkans in the 1990s resemble those on the Indian sub-continent in the 1940s, those of Eastern Europe
during and after World War I
, and so on. The return of the "Macedonian syndrome," as Myron Weiner
(1971) has called the intermingling of ethnic conflict and irredentist
wars, explains such recurrent patterns of war much better than any variant of globalization theory. To treat them as a fundamentally new phenomenon, brought about by the end of the Cold War
or increased globalization, represents yet another example of the widespread tendency among social scientists to perceive their own times as unique and exceptionally dynamic (on "chrono- centrism," see Fowles 1974).
They also note that several studies support a variant of the democratic peace theory
, which argues that more democracy
causes a general decrease in systematic violence
, at least for the most democratic nations. However, intermediately democratic nations do have a higher tendency for conflicts such as civil war than autocracies.
International law scholar Tom Ginsburg
states: "the wide appeal of Chua's argument does not mean that she is correct. When one looks at the trees rather than the forest, many of the phenomena tied together by her theory do not in fact belong there... The book lacks the methodological rigor that must ultimately support any compelling conclusion about the complex relationships between democracy, development and ethnicity."
- ^ p. 6
- ^ Amy L. Chua, "Markets, Democracy, and Ethnicity: Toward a New Paradigm for Law and Development", Faculty Scholarship Series. Paper 341, Yale Law Journal, vol. 108, issue 1, pp. 1–108 (1998).
- ^ a b Pat Sewell (February 10, 2003). "Mixing Free Market, Minority Domination and Democracy Results in World On Fire". Yale Global.
- ^ a b Harry Kreisler (2004). "Conversation with Amy Chua: Markets and Democracy". UC Berkeley: Institute of International Studies.
- ^ Chua, Amy (2002). World on Fire. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-50302-4.
- ^ Harry Kreisler (2004). "Conversation with Amy Chua: Policy Implications". UC Berkeley: Institute of International Studies.
- ^ "Print Columnist". Carolina Journal.
- ^ George Leef (August 26, 2004). "No. 152: World on Fire: Government Fails to Protect Society's Scapegoats". John Locke Foundation.
- ^ Andreas Wimmer; Brian Min (December 2006). "From Empire to Nation-State: Explaining Wars in the Modern World, 1816–2001" (PDF). American Sociological Review. 71: 867–897. doi:10.1177/000312240607100601.
- ^ Ginsburg, Tom (2004). "Democracy, Markets, and Doomsaying: Is Ethnic Conflict Inevitable? (reviewing Amy Chua, World on Fire : How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability (2003))". Berkeley Journal of International Law. 22: 310—.
Last edited on 24 April 2021, at 01:01
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