If your personal economic situation is improving you’re more tolerant of infractions on your social or political freedoms.
That’s a basic but central lesson I take away from my travel the past year to China and Russia. Both economies are growing, growing, growing, but at a cost to free press and political opposition, to name two.
When I’ve talked to 30 year-old or younger Russian or Chinese people, they say that they prefer stability and a fatter wallet than all the "freedoms" that America and Europe celebrates. After all, they say, history shows that the freedoms will come in time — but first people need to live above the poverty line.
Here’s a good article in Dissent magazine titled The Russian Conundrum: Growing Economy, Failing Society. Here’s my post on lessons learned from China. Below is a picture of me from two days ago in front of Saint Basil’s Cathedral outside the Kremlin in Moscow. Stunning structures there.