… is from page 215 of my GMU Econ colleague Mark Koyama’s, and his co-author Jared Rubin’s, excellent 2022 book, How the World Became Rich (citation omitted; link added):
The lack of competition or a forum that encouraged innovation ultimately impeded anything like the Scientific Revolution or Enlightenment from occurring in China. As [Joel] Mokyr puts it, despite being highly centralized and sharing a single written language and literary culture, “China paradoxically lacked a single unifying coordinating mechanism such as a competitive market in which new ideas were tested.”
DBx: Any move toward industrial policy in the United States would make America more closely resemble ancient China. One reason is that any move toward industrial policy stifles some innovation. And as for innovations that do occur, industrial policy also obstructs and distorts the testing of these in markets in which consumers voluntarily spend their (and only their) incomes. The puny knowledge and inescapable biases of mandarins displace the immeasurably greater knowledge and paid-for preferences of the masses producing, investing, and consuming in markets.