JULIA LA ROCHE 00:00
We have a question from Andrew Peak in Weston, Connecticut. Mr.Munger, as a student of Chinese history, my question concerns China. In 1860, GDP per capita in China was 600. In 1978, the year Deng Xiaoping took over, it was 300. Today, it hovers around 9500.
Never before in the history of mankind have we seen such a rapid eradication of poverty, pulling approximately 800 million people out of destitution. You are on record as a zealous fan of the Chinese work ethic and Confucian value system. As we can see from the deteriorating U.S. relationship with China, the Western world does not understand China. What can we do to increase knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of the Chinese civilization?
CHARLIE MUNGER 01:03
Well, it’s natural for people to think their own civilization and their own nation are better than everybody else. But everybody can’t be better than everybody else.
You’re right. China’s economic record among the big nations is the best that ever existed in the history of the world. And that’s very interesting.
A lot of people assume that since England led the Industrial Revolution and had free speech early that free speech is required to have a booming economy as prescribed by Adam Smith. But the Chinese have proved that you don’t need free speech to have a wonderful economy. They just copied Adam Smith and left out the free speech and it worked fine for them.
As a matter of fact, it’s not clear to me that China would have done better if they’d copied every aspect of English civilization. I think they would have come out worse because their position was so dire and the poverty was so extreme, they needed very extreme methods to get out of the fix they were in. So I think what China has done was probably right for China and that we shouldn’t be so pompous as to be telling the Chinese they ought to behave like us because we like ourselves and our system. It’s entirely possible that our system is right for us and their system is right for them.
Well, it’s natural for people to think their own civilization and their own nation are better than everybody else. But everybody can’t be better than everybody else. ~Charlie Munger