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  • The western model is broken

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/201...-pankaj-mishra
    Longish article by Pankaj Mishra that points out how elites in non-western countries have been caught between finding their own way and imitating the west. Good critique of western assumptions (as promoted in the media) that prosperity depends on a democratic government, as well as some other narrowmindedness.

  • #2
    The first half of the article is fan-fookin'tastic. The second half became a tiresome exercise of "blame whitey." I did particularly like this snippet.

    "[COLOR=#333333][FONT=Guardian Text Egyptian Web]The enabling conditions of Europe’s 19th-century success – small, relatively homogenous populations, or the ability to send surplus populations abroad as soldiers, merchants and missionaries – were missing in the large and populous countries of Asia and Africa. Furthermore, imperialism had deprived them, as[/FONT][/COLOR]Basil Davidson[COLOR=#333333][FONT=Guardian Text Egyptian Web] argued in The Black Man’s Burden: Africa and the Curse of the Nation-State, of the resources to pursue western-style economic development; it had also imposed ruinous ideologies and institutions upon societies that had developed, over centuries, their own viable political units and social structures."

    I think this is mostly on the mark. As you well know, I am a major critic of the nation-state and the attending ideologies of nations. It's not a right fit for everyone, and I believe it only works if you can inculcate a very strong, unified identity. This is clearly ruinous for societies that are multi-ethnic, as I argue occurs in Indonesia. Success in employing the nation-state as a model seems largely dependent on having such an identity. We can look at the states that have been most successful and we can see two paths for success. The first is homogeneity, which has worked not just for Europe but also South Korea and Japan. The other is being a settler society, as in Canada, Australia and the United States. This is why I argue that diversity is usually disastrous. [/FONT][/COLOR]
    Last edited by DanInAceh; 17-10-14, 17:14.

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    • #3
      It is an interesting view but I think a bit disingenuous.

      It seems that Mishra is perverting the argument by Mickelthwait and Woolridge. They seem to argue that the issue is not too much democracy but not enough- that modern government is killing the animal spirits of entrepreneurs and that over regulation and a lack of thought about what the state is for is hobbling progress in democratic societies. They are not arguing for a return to some other form of society, but for more considered applications of government and more discussion about what the limits of government should be.

      Mishra makes points about the intractable nature of conflict between "the west" and other societies which others disagree with. Goldstein in "Winning the War on war' analyses conflict over the last two decades. His conclusion is that war has become less frequent, less lethal in its intensity, and even the 20th century was not necessarily more war-ridden when compared to earlier times.

      He also refutes the view that war is due to racial or religious hatred, categorizing recent conflict mainly as due to the destruction of civil societies by gangster elements. This is not a perfect model but it does make sense of the kleptocrats who keep their population under control with violence, and groups like ISIS.

      You don't have to agree with this analysis but the point is that there are alternate models to "the west is burning" hypothesis.

      Statistically one can examine the growth in hard figures such as HIV infection rates, infant mortality rates and life expectancy. An economist would also look at GDP. These are statistically improving across the world, and the most rapid growth has been largely been in economic circumstances driven by growth: Africa and Asia being the best examples. Regardless of how you want to categorise the political systems under which growth occurs, these economies are fueled by technology, the application of markets to supply capital for production, and the application of largely democratic systems in the highest growth areas.

      Mishra makes some points about wealth distribution, which most people accept is a growing problem. However he ignores the rise of how many billion Chinese from an equal poverty and focuses instead on the unequal distribution of wealth in that society now. So its ok to have millions of starving peasants as along as they are all equal? I guess it is OK as long as you aren't a starving peasant. And of course debilitating poverty still exists, but managed economies have been far less successful at reducing it than relatively open economic and political systems. Even the Chinese example of poverty reduction could only occur because the state lessened its grip on the economy, allowed a level of entrepreneurship, and allowed people relative freedom to move internally and make their own choices.

      So sorry, I don't buy the argument that the west is bad and someone else- never specified- has it right.

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      • #4
        The guy is certainly articulate and blessed with a quality education, but that does not negate that his analysis and derivative arguments are instructed by an ax grinding agenda...meaning the conclusions came first.

        Best (and with best is included the broadest application) quality of life seem to stem from people with the freedom to decide what is good for themselves individually and collectively. That the "West" is grounded in such a notion is not really material.

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        • #5
          http://oxfamblogs.org/fp2p/a-wage-re...cts-for-africa

          It doesn't matter what social or political system you want to name it: build roads, educate people, let them trade, stop bad people from hurting others and allow people to do their own thing: and they will lift themselves from poverty.

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          • #6
            Think of this, I have been here in Indonesia for a week, I have been to Panjack Bogor, I live in Jakarta and am now visiting Lampung Sumatra, These people pay no income tax federal or state, they have only a few traffic laws, pay no mandatory car insurance, police presence is minimal from what I see, these are freedoms American's wished they had, America is way over regulated, the government that exists in America is not the government my forefathers created.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Jeremy Fabiano View Post
              Think of this, I have been here in Indonesia for a week, I have been to Panjack Bogor, I live in Jakarta and am now visiting Lampung Sumatra, These people pay no income tax federal or state, they have only a few traffic laws, pay no mandatory car insurance, police presence is minimal from what I see, these are freedoms American's wished they had, America is way over regulated, the government that exists in America is not the government my forefathers created.
              Is this dude serious?

              Laws in Indonesia are selectively enforced, but they do exist. The fact that it is poorly run doesn't make it a Libertarian paradise; it makes it a poorly run developing country.

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              • #8
                To further expand on this topic, because I've encountered this mentality before, I have a cousin who married a prepper. This guy is all gungho about getting some land out in the wilderness where they can truly live off the land, out of the eyes of Big Government. Man, when I told him about the situation in Aceh and how relatively few laws were enforced, he perked right up. He wanted to know all about how he could live "off the grid" there. There was a part of him that seriously wanted to believe that a developing country had it right in every way. Pure delusion.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Jeremy Fabiano View Post
                  Think of this, I have been here in Indonesia for a week, I have been to Panjack Bogor, I live in Jakarta and am now visiting Lampung Sumatra, These people pay no income tax federal or state, they have only a few traffic laws, pay no mandatory car insurance, police presence is minimal from what I see, these are freedoms American's wished they had, America is way over regulated, the government that exists in America is not the government my forefathers created.
                  A week? That eye infection or the drugs you weaseled out of the doctor seems to have put some sort of haze over your brain. Give it a little time and it will for sure clear up.
                  [COLOR=#333333][FONT=Verdana]Some love to milk Apostate.[/FONT][/COLOR]

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                  • #10
                    I've been coming to Indonesia for more than a decade, and have been living here for 4 years. I'm lucky if I know 1% about the country or the people. I learn new things all the time.
                    Sasa Bule is having a bayi!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Jeremy Fabiano View Post
                      Think of this, I have been here in Indonesia for a week, I have been to Panjack Bogor, I live in Jakarta and am now visiting Lampung Sumatra, These people pay no income tax federal or state, they have only a few traffic laws, pay no mandatory car insurance, police presence is minimal from what I see, these are freedoms American's wished they had, America is way over regulated, the government that exists in America is not the government my forefathers created.
                      Do you object to the concept of taxation itself, or to the level of taxation to which people in the States are subjected? There is no such thing as a free lunch... did you go to Puncak by car? Somebody paid for the roads. Indirect taxation is still taxation. You can pick your brand, but there will be no successful government of anything other than a city-state or isolated agrarian community without taxes. And, such a community could hardly provide services for it's citizens.

                      I would submit that mandatory automobile insurance, police presence and regulation of trade etc. are not problems in and of themselves, it is the bureaucratic institutions accompanying them that contain the problem. It's good for me, if medicine is checked and regulated so as to ensure safety, as I certainly cannot independently assess the value of every snake oil someone wishes to sell. The problem is when this regulation becomes an unnecessary impediment to my actions (e.g. I cannot get my meds because someone has to sign off, and that person is waiting for uang rokok from the manufacturer).
                      That "bureaucrat as God" crap happens here, too. Upside for some people is that they just pay him his uang rokok and the problem is solved, but if they don't pay him, the problem can be huge. Look at the JIS scandal (specifically the deportation of teachers for working without the "proper documentation", or the school's inability to get the certification/registration required by law), it's an obvious miscarriage of justice, but is there anything anyone can do? No, seems not.
                      You got any recommendations for a system of publicly assessing police/industry regulators/other "servants of the public interest", other than voting for the legislator of your choice?

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                      • #12
                        I like Indonesia too. I pay all my tax and I have no objections, apart from that a lot of it is wasted. If Indonesia could channel its fuel subsidies into a paid work scheme like Indian that might be a real boost for the mass population. I don't see why Jakarta Kijangs or smugglers should get cheap fuel. But I don't vote here.

                        I argue that a democratic system allows people to make these decisions as opposed to a government by the "elite" or an "enlightened dictator".

                        If you are a visitor with money then life is easy as long as you stay out of trouble. If you are running a business then life is a real SOB- protectionism and corruption are bad enough, mix them and things get interesting. If you are an unprivileged Indonesian then one day you can wake up find yourself a target of someone up the chain.

                        Because there are no checks and balances on government power politicians and bureaucrats can do nearly whatever they want- and they do. The reason the Jakarta boys hate decentralisation is because it has massively reduced their power base. You can argue about the effectiveness of what they have now, but if that's what they people want then they should have it.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by akubrahat View Post
                          I pay all my tax and I have no objections, apart from that a lot of it is wasted.

                          If you are running a business then life is a real SOB- protectionism and corruption are bad enough, mix them and things get interesting. If you are an unprivileged Indonesian then one day you can wake up find yourself a target of someone up the chain.

                          Because there are no checks and balances on government power politicians and bureaucrats can do nearly whatever they want- and they do. The reason the Jakarta boys hate decentralisation is because it has massively reduced their power base. You can argue about the effectiveness of what they have now, but if that's what they people want then they should have it.
                          I highlighted the bit about taxation to let that sit in; they do exist in Indonesia. One of Indonesia's greatest challenges is failure to effectively tax the population in order to pay for amenities and public works necessary to develop the country.

                          But the other part about natives suffering if they step out of line for those connected is quite real. Let me offer a grisly example. One of my relatives was married to a man who was a successful merchant in his village. He was very good at his job, and he was getting too big in the local chili market for the village of Lampahan. Some of the established merchants did not like his success, and they used their connections in the military and police to intimidate and harrass him. He didn't take the hint, and ended up decapitated outside the village.

                          This is a gruesome example, and such things aren't unique to Indonesia. However, in America, your competition is unlikely to sabotage you and later kill you for failing to comply with their demands. These people weren't gangsters, mind you, just merchants with connections in the police and military. And that should clue Mr. Fabs in; the local authorities are corrupt and possibly willing to rub you out. No country is perfect, there's corruption everywhere, but the system in Indonesia is set up in such a way that you need connections to make it in business. Not everyone is going to kill you, but they can make life (and business) impossible. That's pretty damn far from economic and personal freedom.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
                            However, in America, your competition is unlikely to sabotage you and later kill you for failing to comply with their demands. These people weren't gangsters, mind you, just merchants with connections in the police and military. And that should clue Mr. Fabs in; the local authorities are corrupt and possibly willing to rub you out. No country is perfect, there's corruption everywhere, but the system in Indonesia is set up in such a way that you need connections to make it in business. Not everyone is going to kill you, but they can make life (and business) impossible. That's pretty damn far from economic and personal freedom.
                            I agree, and would stress that the difference here seems to be the threshold for said corruption and acts of violence. I have seen someone in the States bribe a cop, but for like $1,000 (driving out of state without a license while on probation). I doubt said police officer would have suggested a bribe for a speeding ticket, though I may be wrong. The roads in South Carolina and Louisiana. are good examples too, but those guys weren't just putting their hands in the cookie jar, they took the whole frigging jar.
                            Seems like the scale is just different, you can bribe someone for as little as 20,000rp here (not suggesting it). That's 1/3 of one day of minimum wage, with the consequence for prosecution of the corrupt official being years in prison. Maybe it's because the chance of prosecution is so low? Or, because we spend so much time talking about "the prevalence of corruption" that it seems perfectly normal and acceptable to be corrupt, and the law-abiding become the odd ones out. Her's a link to a story about this flaw in herd mentality: http://freakonomics.com/2012/06/21/r...radio-podcast/
                            Last edited by Happyman; 18-10-14, 15:16.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by DanInAceh View Post
                              [COLOR=#333333][FONT=Guardian Text Egyptian Web]. As you well know, I am a major critic of the nation-state and the attending ideologies of nations. It's not a right fit for everyone, and I believe it only works if you can inculcate a very strong, unified identity. This is clearly ruinous for societies that are multi-ethnic, as I argue occurs in Indonesia. Success in employing the nation-state as a model seems largely dependent on having such an identity. We can look at the states that have been most successful and we can see two paths for success. The first is homogeneity, which has worked not just for Europe but also South Korea and Japan. The other is being a settler society, as in Canada, Australia and the United States. This is why I argue that diversity is usually disastrous. [/FONT][/COLOR]
                              Fair comment but I have a question. In a system where there is rule of law, the population as a whole gets a fair share of the wealth, and you get the opportunity to pick your representatives, does it matter if you are in a culturally in-homogeneous society?

                              http://www.economist.com/news/united...yet-integrated

                              I am not American so can't judge the accuracy of this article.

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