A tale of two systems: Eric X. Li at TEDGlobal 2013

by Levi Crews

Originally posted on TED Blog:

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Photo: James Duncan Davidson

Born in Shanghai in 1968, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, Eric X. Li grew up hearing a story: All human societies develop in linear progression, beginning with primitive society, moving through capitalism to socialism and, finally, Communism. Sooner or later, all of humanity, regardless of creed or culture, will reach that final stage of political and social development. The world’s peoples will be unified in this paradise on Earth and live happily ever after. Meanwhile, we are engaged in a struggle between the good of socialism and the evil of capitalism. One third of the world’s population lived under this meta-narrative, distilled from the theories of Karl Marx. The story was a best-seller. “We were taught that story day in day out,” says Li. “It was part of us, and we believed it.”

But then, he says, showing a slide of Gorbachev and Yeltsin…

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