A World on the Edge
Is the current formula for universal free markets and democracy spurring ethnic violence around the world?
One beautiful blue morning in September 1994, I received a call from my mother in California. In a hushed voice, she told me that my Aunt Leona, my father’s twin sister, had been murdered in her home in the Philippines, her throat slit by her chauffeur. My mother broke the news to me in our native Hokkien Chinese dialect. But “murder” she said in English, as if to wall off the act from the family through language.
The murder of a relative is horrible for anyone, anywhere. My father’s grief was impenetrable; to this day, he has not broken his silence on the subject. For the rest of the family, though, there was an added element of disgrace. For the Chinese, luck is a moral attribute, and a lucky person would never be murdered. Like having a birth defect, or marrying a Filipino, being murdered is shameful.
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Amy Chua is a professor at Yale Law School. This essay is adapted from World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, published in 2003 by Doubleday.more from this author >>