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ralph124c
08-13-2011, 07:09 PM
I think so. The Chinese are pragmatists-they go to a sub-saharan African country, and say (in effect): "we will build a road/railroad, fix the electric grid, and build schools and hospitals. In return, we will export the raw materials to China, and pay you a fair price".
They don't get involved in lecturing the Africans about human rights, and don't poke their noses into the government.
This approach provides cash flow to the country, paid jobs, and infrastructure improvements.
It can be argued that the Chinese are exploiting these places, but are they? If no one else is wiling to invest in these places, at least the Chinese are.
Contrast that with the West-we give despotic regimes piles of cash ("foreign aid")-most of which winds up in Swiss banks. We then interfere in the internal politics, and attempt to influence these governments.
Are the Chinese right?

Bryan Ekers
08-13-2011, 08:10 PM
Sure, why not?

OscarGold
08-13-2011, 08:50 PM
Um, sure, why not?

OscarGold
08-13-2011, 08:51 PM
Just kidding. You make some very good points: fact is, we live in a US-centric "bubble" where, in mainstream conversation, only the US can do right and CHina is always wrong.

gonzomax
08-13-2011, 09:08 PM
http://www.economichitman.com/ Read the Confessions of an Economic Hitman" to see how we do it. The Chinese are much nicer than we are.

Wesley Clark
08-13-2011, 09:38 PM
Why are you assuming those are the only 2 options? India and Brazil do a lot of trading with China aside from the US.

Option 1: We build infrastructure and create jobs
Option 2: We uphold corrupt dictatorships

Where'd you get the idea those are the only 2 options?

ņaņi
08-13-2011, 10:19 PM
This article may be of interest to you:

Africans are asking whether China is making their lunch or eating it (http://www.economist.com/node/18586448)

Once feted as saviours in much of Africa, Chinese have come to be viewed with mixed feelings—especially in smaller countries where China’s weight is felt all the more.

I've seen first hand how Chinese companies will send their shoddier products to Africa and the Middle East, the corruption present in business there, and I've talked to Chinese who worked in Kenya about how things are changing. But it's not all bad, Chinese men are marrying African women more and more frequently.

China also upholds dictatorships, providing aid to Mugabe and al-Bashir among others.

I'm waiting for even sven to come in this thread, but until then, I'll just say that if China's way is really better than ours, that would be more of a reflection of how bad we are than how good China is.

YogSothoth
08-13-2011, 10:33 PM
Wouldn't it depend on what your priorities are?

For the US, the priority seems to be a friendly government

For the Chinese, the priority seems to be money

Decide which one you think is more important and base your economic model on that

gonzomax
08-13-2011, 10:35 PM
This article may be of interest to you:

Africans are asking whether China is making their lunch or eating it (http://www.economist.com/node/18586448)



I've seen first hand how Chinese companies will send their shoddier products to Africa and the Middle East, the corruption present in business there, and I've talked to Chinese who worked in Kenya about how things are changing. But it's not all bad, Chinese men are marrying African women more and more frequently.

China also upholds dictatorships, providing aid to Mugabe and al-Bashir among others.

I'm waiting for even sven to come in this thread, but until then, I'll just say that if China's way is really better than ours, that would be more of a reflection of how bad we are than how good China is.

The shoddier products are worse than poisoned pet food, kids toys with lead paint and the poisonous construction board they sent to America?

Der Trihs
08-13-2011, 10:36 PM
Wouldn't it depend on what your priorities are?

For the US, the priority seems to be a friendly government

For the Chinese, the priority seems to be money

Decide which one you think is more important and base your economic model on thatThe OP is asking which one is morally better.

ņaņi
08-14-2011, 02:40 AM
The shoddier products are worse than poisoned pet food, kids toys with lead paint and the poisonous construction board they sent to America?

Yes. Chinese companies have an understanding that the buyers in poor areas (including many parts of China itself) do not care as much about quality and so they downgrade their effort accordingly, and are more willing to take the kind of shortcuts that lead to those incidents in the US.

even sven
08-14-2011, 03:31 AM
Hi all!

I don't think that is the best summary of the Chinese development model.

China bases its development on the concept of creating "mutual benefit." In practical terms, this means investing in doing business in Africa. This occurs in a number of ways, including marketing Chinese products in Africa, moving industries that are no longer profitable in China due to increased labor costs to Africa, and investing in things like mining. China's infrastructure investment is mostly aimed towards creating the infrastructure needed to support these business ventures. You can't run a mine without electricity, after all.

The main reason China works with such disreputable people is that the more reasonable African leaders are already thoroughly in someone else's pockets. China was late to the game is working with what is leftover. Since China is willing to put up with pretty low profit margins and has stayed pretty true to the claim that they don't concern themselves with other people's political systems, this is kind of okay with them.

What does this mean for us? Personally, I think it is a good thing, but not for the obvious reasons. Chinese aid creates competition. For a long time, the West had a pretty strong monopoly on aid, which created any number of inefficiencies. We were able to use our aid in ways that did not necessarily benefit the other countries involved, and a lot of aid didn't end up really serving much of anyone. Chinese competition will force us to tighten our game, focus on providing African governments with what they really want, and limit our ability to use aid as a political tool. We will have to start providing people with what they are asking for (which is usually jobs) and not pushing worthless "gender empowerment workshops" or whatever the latest development trend is.

China is also doing the one thing we never did, and probably the biggest thing that needs to be done- business. Africa needs business. Africa needs jobs. Let's see it happen!

I think it's important not to see Africans as passive subjects in all this. African leaders can and do reign in what they allow China to do. African people are VERY aware and very opinionated about the subject. There is nobody in Africa who can't talk to you at length about what they feel about China.

Of course, the sticking point to this is that many African countries do not have meaningfully representative governments, and so it's possible for China to cut deals directly with them that do no benefit the people. Well, we've been doing that for hundreds of years. Nothing new.

Desert Nomad
08-14-2011, 07:15 AM
I was in Sudan not too long ago for a two-week holiday. All the good roads were Chinese-built and many had Chinese-language signs for direction and "construction project" placards. I think it's a good thing.

ralph124c
08-14-2011, 09:42 AM
Since most African states seem unable to raise capital themselves, it is hard to criticize the Chinese for doing so. In any event, at least the Chinese are providing jobs, and helping the local economy. As for manufacturing,Africa is going to need factories-mines and farms can only employ so many people.
As for the example of shoddily-built roads, people do not realize how hard it is to maintain roads, railways, etc. in a tropical climate-you often get torrential rains that wash even well-built roadbeds away.
After 50+ years of western "foreign aid" Africa is a mess-maybe the Chinese will do better.

MrDibble
08-14-2011, 09:50 AM
The Chinese model's as good as the American one (and that's not saying much) but neither of them is the best one. The best one would be something like the Fair Trade model and other programs that do more than just build roads (which only lead to resources, not necessarily to where actual people want to go) and power stations (which are often priced out of the reach of the locals).

And the "hands off politics" approach is not best. Yes, the US and other Western countries are hypocritical about the use of it, supporting their own dictators when it suits them, but a completely politics-agnostic approach would not have been a big help to ending Apartheid. We need more political and economic pressure on oppressive regimes, not less.

YogSothoth
08-14-2011, 09:59 AM
The OP is asking which one is morally better.

I didn't see him mention anything about morals in the OP. But if that's the case, then my answer would be probably not

MrDibble
08-14-2011, 10:02 AM
In any event, at least the Chinese are providing jobs, and helping the local economy.Shitty manual labour jobs. IME (Angola, Southern Sudan) a lot of the good jobs, the sort that might actually help to build a country up, are done by Chinese expatriates. Far better to train locals and employ them.

Sitnam
08-14-2011, 10:49 AM
Shitty manual labour jobs. IME (Angola, Southern Sudan) a lot of the good jobs, the sort that might actually help to build a country up, are done by Chinese expatriates. Far better to train locals and employ them.
Shitty manual labor is what mostly illiterate economically backwards nations have to offer. That they're willing to do it for little money is their competitive edge. So they do these jobs, and they suck, but they have a steady income and are able to afford to raise and educate their children so the next generations will have more to offer and will be better off for it. The government will increase it's tax base to invest in infrastructure and development, but the revenue will be tied to and answerable to it's people.

That's how it works.

ralph124c
08-14-2011, 01:58 PM
I have noticed that Mongolia isn't fond of Chinese businesses-for some reason they have chosen Canadian and other european firms to develop their mineral deposits.
Maybe a bad experience in the past?

Martin Hyde
08-14-2011, 10:34 PM
South Africa it was appropriate to use economic sanctions, but that isn't a one size fits all approach.

Some of the more entrenched African dictators will just steadily reduce quality of life in their country the more you sanction them, as they have to steal greater and greater portion's of everyone's stuff as the country's economy shrinks.

Giving the Africans the good jobs is nice on paper but you don't train an engineer in a few weeks of on the job training. Engineers, factory managers, people like that come from life of learning up through childhood into early adulthood. China has the educational infrastructure to produce lots of those people, not every African country with desirable natural resources has that. No amount of training can fix that in the short term. So I think it's best to just get business there and get the creation of wealth going, that's what will eventually lead to better schools and education systems.

With a good economy history has shown even dictators will provide for their people.

gonzomax
08-14-2011, 10:41 PM
Lots of countries have long and adversarial relationships. it would be hard for China and Japan to work together as an example.
Funny, when I was a kid we talked about the yellow menace of China and Japan. We were unaware of their histories and animosity.

Martin Hyde
08-14-2011, 11:21 PM
Lots of countries have long and adversarial relationships. it would be hard for China and Japan to work together as an example.
Funny, when I was a kid we talked about the yellow menace of China and Japan. We were unaware of their histories and animosity.

When I was a kid we knew WWII had happened...

gonzomax
08-14-2011, 11:48 PM
When I was a kid we knew WWII had happened...

Then you were around when they warned of the yellow menace. The Japanese atrocities were not well known until long after the war was over.

dropzone
08-14-2011, 11:50 PM
When I was a kid we knew WWII had happened...I think that kids these days run out of school year before finding out what happens.

MrDibble
08-15-2011, 01:32 AM
No amount of training can fix that in the short term.That's kind of my point - China or whoever needs to implement long-term education and training programmes (i.e. universities & technikons) before coming in and looting the riches. So I think it's best to just get business there and get the creation of wealth going, that's what will eventually lead to better schools and education systems.That's not my experience of how things work. In general, some people get manual labour jobs, but they don't really get paid enough to drag themselves out of poverty, certainly don't get to send their kids to university, and when the (mine closes/all the trees are logged/another country offers cheaper labour) even the manual labour goes away anyway.With a good economy history has shown even dictators will provide for their people.Some of their people. I can't think of a dictator of a "wealthy" country offhand, who didn't remain that way without demonizing some of the population.
Shitty manual labor is what mostly illiterate economically backwards nations have to offer. Is there something inherent in those illiterate people that prevents them being trained to do more technical jobs?
they have a steady income and are able to afford to raise and educate their children so the next generations will have more to offer and will be better off for it.Again, that's not really my experience. Shitty manual jobs don't pay well enough to raise your kids out of poverty. All they do is create slums where the poverty becomes intergenerational.

cckerberos
08-15-2011, 01:58 AM
At least on the face of it, it sounds a lot like the Japanese approach towards the rest of Asia during the 70s-80s.

Der Trihs
08-15-2011, 02:13 AM
When I was a kid we knew WWII had happened...
Hah, when I was a kid they never even got to the 20th century.

Measure for Measure
08-15-2011, 02:45 AM
This week's Economist has an expose of the China International Fund (http://www.economist.com/node/21525847) a Hong Kong syndicate cutting cozy inside deals with African elites of dubious legality, offering billions in infrastructure investment, then renegging on their promises with no sanction. It's a complicated operation which doesn't release its accounts and refused repeated requests for comment. They are big backers of Mugabe's thugs (pretty directly).

Then again, this operation has grown to be a monster over which the Chinese state has little control. The China International Fund even outmanouvered two state-owned oil firms in Angola. All this means that the syndicate taints China’s “going out” policy, a cornerstone of the country’s rise in recent years. When the policy works, African resources are swapped for aid, commercial financing and payments in kind such as public infrastructure. But with the syndicate, billions of dollars meant for schools, roads and hospitals have apparently ended up in private accounts. Rather than fixing Africa’s lack of infrastructure, Chinese entrepreneurs and Africa’s governing elites look as if they are conspiring to use the development model as a pretext for plunder.

Martin Hyde
08-15-2011, 08:06 AM
That's not my experience of how things work. In general, some people get manual labour jobs, but they don't really get paid enough to drag themselves out of poverty, certainly don't get to send their kids to university, and when the (mine closes/all the trees are logged/another country offers cheaper labour) even the manual labour goes away anyway.

Well, the thing is either way you need a school system. School systems cost money. If rich and powerful countries have a need for your natural resources, you are more likely to get money, and more likely to have a school system.

The "training first" mentality is problematic because without some form of massive outside investment an extremely poor country is highly unlikely to be able to develop the educational infrastructure to train engineers, project managers, business leaders and etc.

If you have a powerful government that recognize education as important, then it can start to come into play regardless of the economy. China has been heavily training and educating its populace for generations. However many of the most impoverished African countries aren't in a similar place to where China was a few generations ago, some of them are worse off than China was in 1840.

Mijin
08-15-2011, 08:47 AM
The Chinese model's as good as the American one (and that's not saying much) but neither of them is the best one. The best one would be something like the Fair Trade model and other programs that do more than just build roads (which only lead to resources, not necessarily to where actual people want to go) and power stations (which are often priced out of the reach of the locals).

Building a single road that can carry heavy freight to the coast is a huge deal for many african countries where the cost of just doing that can be several times the cost of manufacturing / mining. And the benefits spread to other countries: it can be a lifeline for a landlocked country, of which africa has many.

And being able to set up a factory knowing their won't be frequent blackouts is a big deal, even if only the wealthy few can take advantage of this.

Basically it's nice to imagine we can help africa by helping small farms and communities. But economies don't grow that way. China itself is a good example of that.
Africa needs to grow to survive. It's too unstable while it's this poor.

even sven
08-15-2011, 09:30 AM
At least on the face of it, it sounds a lot like the Japanese approach towards the rest of Asia during the 70s-80s.

This is not by coindidence. China has designed their aid programs around their experiences as an aid recipient and the lessons they have learned from being on the other side.

Mijin
08-15-2011, 10:26 AM
And being able to set up a factory knowing their won't be frequent blackouts

:facepalm:

MrDibble
08-15-2011, 11:32 AM
Well, the thing is either way you need a school system. School systems cost money. If rich and powerful countries have a need for your natural resources, you are more likely to get money, and more likely to have a school system.Oh, I understand what's in it for the rich countries.The "training first" mentality is problematic because without some form of massive outside investment an extremely poor country is highly unlikely to be able to develop the educational infrastructure to train engineers, project managers, business leaders and etc. I get this. I just think that massive outside investment should be made.If you have a powerful government that recognize education as important, then it can start to come into play regardless of the economy.I bolded the problem. They don't think education is important - why should they, as things stand, they make the money while their people do the work. An educated, better-off populace, though - that's a lot more dangerous to oppressive regimes.(which is most of them) China has been heavily training and educating its populace for generations. However many of the most impoverished African countries aren't in a similar place to where China was a few generations ago, some of them are worse off than China was in 1840.
China started from a better situation before colonialism, too, historically. So it's no surprise they're more advanced. Plus Confucianism and the old imperial exam system kind of laid the foundations there. The closest equivalent in Africa would be colonial-era mission schooling, but a lot of that was training for clerical work, not technical (similar to India)
Building a single road that can carry heavy freight to the coast is a huge deal for many african countries where the cost of just doing that can be several times the cost of manufacturing / mining. And the benefits spread to other countries: it can be a lifeline for a landlocked country, of which africa has many.I'm not saying the roads don't have value, I'm saying they're completely selfish in origin.And being able to set up a factory knowing their won't be frequent blackouts is a big deal, even if only the wealthy few can take advantage of this. I've bolded the problem.Basically it's nice to imagine we can help africa by helping small farms and communities. But economies don't grow that way.Of course they can. You only have to look at the SE-Asian self-help groups, which allow poor people (mostly women) to access microcredit for small-scale enterprise or infrastructure improvements. That money is often development aid money. Africa needs to grow to survive. It's too unstable while it's this poor.Oh, I agree completely. But Africa isn't going to grow while it's treated as a coffer for the rest of the world, and its people as nothing but cheap labour.

Mijin
08-15-2011, 12:32 PM
Of course they can. You only have to look at the SE-Asian self-help groups, which allow poor people (mostly women) to access microcredit for small-scale enterprise or infrastructure improvements. That money is often development aid money.

I'm not saying we shouldn't give that kind of aid; it works fantastically well for raising individuals out of poverty and helping the country to feed itself and import less.
But it isn't very effective for growing a country's economy. And I firmly believe that it's growth in African economies, and market expectation of such, that will make the biggest difference long term.


But Africa isn't going to grow while it's treated as a coffer for the rest of the world, and its people as nothing but cheap labour.

You mean like China was? I'm old enough to remember a time when everyone felt sorry for the hard-working chinese factory worker. And scoffed at the idea that china would ever become a wealthy country...

If Africa has a problem it's that china was lucky enough to be exploited first. The labour market won't swing hugely in africa's favour until china is significantly wealthier per capita.

Tom Tildrum
08-15-2011, 01:00 PM
Chinese aid creates competition.

Let a hundred flowers bloom!

guizot
08-15-2011, 01:10 PM
Of course, the sticking point to this is that many African countries do not have meaningfully representative governments, and so it's possible for China to cut deals directly with them that do no benefit the people. Well, we've been doing that for hundreds of years. Nothing new.Don't you think that the real question is: "What will China do 50 years from now, when the chickens come home to roost with regard to its financial relationship with the U.S.?" Right now, it's all about practicality for China in Africa, but isn't it very possible that China could evolve into something very similar to what the U.S has been in relation to neo-liberalism in Africa?

ralph124c
08-15-2011, 01:14 PM
I think China's role is necessary-most of sb-saharan Africa cannot generate developemnt capital.
Even Nigeria (blessed with oil exports) finds most of its capitat flowing abroad.
So, even if you are an African nation with $30 billion per year coming in, you are going to need foreign investment.

hogarth
08-15-2011, 01:31 PM
I have noticed that Mongolia isn't fond of Chinese businesses-for some reason they have chosen Canadian and other european firms to develop their mineral deposits.
Maybe a bad experience in the past?
Or perhaps Mongolia is a more stable country (compared to Sudan, e.g.) and thus is more attractive to investors from North America and Europe.

Odesio
08-15-2011, 02:07 PM
Unless African nations reach the point where they are able to maintain a stable government as well as a modern infrastructure without a great deal of foreign involvement, nothing will have changed for the better.

MrDibble
08-15-2011, 04:15 PM
I'm not saying we shouldn't give that kind of aid; it works fantastically well for raising individuals out of poverty and helping the country to feed itself and import less.
But it isn't very effective for growing a country's economy.You won't have a sustainable version of the second bolded statement without the first bolded statement. All you'll have is a ever-widening gap between the rich beneficiaries of foreign largess and the poor rest. The "economy" may improve, the lot of the people, not much. I don't favour a "growth above all else" economic model. Growth has to be viable in the long term.You mean like China was?People aren't coming to Africa for the sweatshops, they're coming for the natural resources.
And was China lifted out of poverty by people coming in and taking its riches for just manual labour jobs? No. It lifted itself out of poverty when it stopped itself being exploited. I think it's fallacious to say the Chinese were exploited, and now they're wealthy, so one lead to the other. Correlation is being confused with causation. I'm old enough to remember a time when everyone felt sorry for the hard-working chinese factory worker.I still do. And scoffed at the idea that china would ever become a wealthy country..."China" may be a wealthy country. "China's" GDP may have tripled or whatever. Millions upon Millions of Chinese are still dirt-poor peasants. China is not a model I would want Africa to follow.

Mijin
08-15-2011, 04:21 PM
Unless African nations reach the point where they are able to maintain a stable government as well as a modern infrastructure without a great deal of foreign involvement, nothing will have changed for the better.

Well, it's difficult to do either of things without a growing economy.

Building, or even maintaining infrastructure costs money. And while you're exporting nothing, maintaining infrastructure looks like an indulgence.

Less obviously, poor countries are much more likely to break out in civil war, rebellion or have appalling levels of corruption. This relationship is true everywhere, but outside africa many countries have grown their way out of the trap through trade.
OTOH africa is one huge poverty trap where it's tough for one or two to escape poverty while the continent stays in it.

Some countries are governed pretty well but still struggle (e.g. Malawi), while others are beginning to reap the benefits of stability (e.g. Mozambique). But all recoveries are fragile until GDP gets over, say, 6k.

Mijin
08-15-2011, 05:25 PM
"China" may be a wealthy country. "China's" GDP may have tripled or whatever. Millions upon Millions of Chinese are still dirt-poor peasants. China is not a model I would want Africa to follow.

Many millions are much better off than they used to be.

It's just the nature of capitalism that as the poor get a tiny bit better off the rich get *much* richer. Governments try to share the wealth but there's always inequality -- especially in the early stages of growth.

If africa could get wealthier from the bottom up then great. But given that this hasn't really happened anywhere, we shouldn't count on it.
Plan A should be for africa to develop the same way the current developed world did: through manufacturing (utilizing cheap labour) and selling natural resources (as long as the money is re-invested).

Once growth is underway, and capital is beginng to flow in, there are opportunities in industries that the west has neglected like price-competitive medical devices. A country doesn't have to be rich to get into areas like this.

MrDibble
08-15-2011, 06:00 PM
It's just the nature of capitalism that as the poor get a tiny bit better off the rich get *much* richer."Why I am not a capitalist" part #345... Governments try to share the wealth but there's always inequality -- especially in the early stages of growth....and "Why I am an anarchist" part 100000.If africa could get wealthier from the bottom up then great. But given that this hasn't really happened anywhere, we shouldn't count on it.
Plan A should be for africa to develop the same way the current developed world did: through manufacturing (utilizing cheap labour) and selling natural resources (as long as the money is re-invested). That's a distorted picture of how the developed world got where it is today. You left out a whole lot of looting & pillaging & enslaving & colonizing from the process.

Mijin
08-15-2011, 06:27 PM
"Why I am not a capitalist" part #345......and "Why I am an anarchist" part 100000.


Well I don't consider myself a "capitalist" either.
But I don't consider capitalism as some kind of artificial system imposed on civilization: it's the natural way of things. If there's a world war and we go all mad max...we'd trade stuff. By the time we're setting up forts / settlements we'd already be talking about exchanging tokens of common value and borrowing to afford to get people to build a house for you.

Unfortunately, like many things in this life, there is nothing inherently fair about capitalism. The more wealth one acquires, the more investment opportunities become available and, generally, the wealthier one becomes.


That's a distorted picture of how the developed world got where it is today. You left out a whole lot of looting & pillaging & enslaving & colonizing from the process.

I think it's a distorted picture to emphasize the looting and pillaging.
An economic history of Europe could be summarized like this: we kept warring each other back to the stone age until the industrial revolution when GDP went up by ten times.

MrDibble
08-16-2011, 12:31 AM
Well I don't consider myself a "capitalist" either.
But I don't consider capitalism as some kind of artificial system imposed on civilization: it's the natural way of things.I disagree. If there's a world war and we go all mad max...we'd trade stuff.Trade =/= capitalism By the time we're setting up forts / settlements we'd already be talking about exchanging tokens of common value and borrowing to afford to get people to build a house for you....or the community builds the house based on mutual exchange - like the Amish, or various communes. Or the way people live in various developing nations now. Capital (in the "capital is that amount of wealth which is used in making profits" sense ) doesn't have to enter into it.
Unfortunately, like many things in this life, there is nothing inherently fair about capitalism. There's nothing fair about it, either, and never has been.I think it's a distorted picture to emphasize the looting and pillaging.
An economic history of Europe could be summarized like this: we kept warring each other back to the stone age until the industrial revolution when GDP went up by ten times.The Industrial Revolution is founded on a bedrock of stolen capital from the colonization efforts of the preceding 2-3 centuries, British superiority at sea as a result of war, and the theft of land (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Agricultural_Revolution#Effects_on_history) from the common weal back home.

Mijin
08-16-2011, 06:22 AM
or the community builds the house based on mutual exchange - like the Amish, or various communes. Or the way people live in various developing nations now. Capital (in the "capital is that amount of wealth which is used in making profits" sense ) doesn't have to enter into it.

No, it doesn't have to. If you have a small community, with strong family ties, which individuals rarely leave, you can have simple trust-based arrangements.
Larger communities can't work like this. And large projects can't work like this.

The Industrial Revolution is founded on a bedrock of stolen capital from the colonization efforts of the preceding 2-3 centuries, British superiority at sea as a result of war, and the theft of land (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Agricultural_Revolution#Effects_on_history) from the common weal back home.

The point is this: like most civilizations up to that point, we'd been ass-raping the world since day one. And we weren't significantly richer for it.
Look at the spanish too, and all the territory they (brutally) took. They weren't much better off either.
It was new technology and know-how, coupled with the harnessing of new energy sources that really led to wealth in the West.

Similarly for your link. I'm not about to defend the way land-ownership happened in countries like Britain (basically the Normans appropriated all of it when they tore us a new one in 1066, which later got doled out to the aristocracy). But it was centuries before the agricultural revolution happened, and could hardly be called the cause of it.

Evil Captor
08-16-2011, 09:38 AM
Building a single road that can carry heavy freight to the coast is a huge deal for many african countries where the cost of just doing that can be several times the cost of manufacturing / mining. And the benefits spread to other countries: it can be a lifeline for a landlocked country, of which africa has many.

And being able to set up a factory knowing their won't be frequent blackouts is a big deal, even if only the wealthy few can take advantage of this.

Basically it's nice to imagine we can help africa by helping small farms and communities. But economies don't grow that way. China itself is a good example of that.
Africa needs to grow to survive. It's too unstable while it's this poor.

Read that quote from "The Economist" again and meditate on the meaning of this single word:

"kleptocracy"

Until we can get rid of the kleptocrats, any funds flowing into a kleptocracy will inevitably be convered to funds flowing into private bank accounts of the country's "leaders" or "thieves in chief" as they should also be known. We need to solve the kleptocracy problem BEFORE we invest. It is as simple as that.

Mijin
08-16-2011, 10:39 AM
Read that quote from "The Economist" again

Thanks for the insinuation, but I wasn't quoting the Economist or any other source. And I'd prefer if we weighed arguments on their merits rather than poisoning the well.


Until we can get rid of the kleptocrats, any funds flowing into a kleptocracy will inevitably be convered to funds flowing into private bank accounts of the country's "leaders" or "thieves in chief" as they should also be known. We need to solve the kleptocracy problem BEFORE we invest. It is as simple as that.

I agree that corruption is a huge problem and much aid (probably the vast majority) has ended up in the pockets of the corrupt.

But what should we do about it? How do we get rid of the awful leaders and ensure they are replaced by better ones?
All we've tried so far are agreements of "If you do ABC, we'll give you XYZ". It doesn't work -- governments either do nothing, or lie, and then do nothing.
And what else can we do?

That's why I think the Chinese way of doing things is working out quite well. A terrible leader could put lots of tolls on a new road and cripple its usefulness. But it's harder to do that than just discretely siphoning off money.

even sven
08-16-2011, 11:00 AM
It is futile to talk about modern Africa without adressing its role in Cold War politics. We are only recently beginning to see leadership that is not deeply tied to the Cold War legacy.

I am writing this from beautiful Cape Town. This country has only been free since 1994. Africa is young. The first round of deconization was only 50 years ago. The second round- the end of Cold War era regimes- is happening as we speak. The story here is not yet written. Don't think of "Africa" as some kind of timeless homogenous mass. African countries are just places, like any other places on earth- and like any other collection of a billion humans, hundreds of ethnicities and 60+ nations- there is A LOT going on here. Way too much to talk in generalities.

That said. Africa is not Europe and not Asia. You cannot just transplant European and Asian development strategies here wholesale. History, ethnic and religious factors, the specifics of any given labor market, even family structure and local ideas of governance need to not just taken into account, but actually leveraged, for development. African countries will develop their own path- like Asian countries did- and it may be a path that we have not seen or even thought of before.

Ají de Gallina
08-16-2011, 11:26 AM
like the Amish, or various communes. Or the way people live in various developing nations now.

But that's the good thing about free markets and a free society, you can decide to artifically handicap your life to live in th 17th century (Amish) o just a couple of week after the neolithic revolution (developing nations). Living in a developing country a seeing how those communities live I can tell you that most run away from them as quickly as they can. Tiny, self-sustaining communities only look good in NAtional Geographic pictures.

A world of closed Amish-like communites is not only impossible but incredibly undesirable.

MrDibble
08-16-2011, 12:19 PM
No, it doesn't have to. If you have a small community, with strong family ties, which individuals rarely leave, you can have simple trust-based arrangements.
Larger communities can't work like this. And large projects can't work like this.
You've clearly never worked with a large non-profit. The point is this: like most civilizations up to that point, we'd been ass-raping the world since day one."Everyone is doing it" was never a valid reason for anything. And we weren't significantly richer for it. I disagree.
Look at the spanish too, and all the territory they (brutally) took. They weren't much better off either.They were for quite a while, until the bottom fell out of silver.
It was new technology and know-how, coupled with the harnessing of new energy sources that really led to wealth in the West.
You're arguing by assertion. I'm asserting that the necessary groundwork had to be laid first - by violence and theft.
But it was centuries before the agricultural revolution happened, and could hardly be called the cause of it.No, the agricultural revolution was strongly linked to Enclosures. Enclosures were still happening as the AR began.

Mijin
08-16-2011, 05:25 PM
You're arguing by assertion. I'm asserting that the necessary groundwork had to be laid first

:dubious:

Anyway, to drag this back on topic, it is clearly the case that countries can become wealthy via normal market forces without directly exploiting anyone because plenty of countries have done so. So let's put the colonialism thing to one side.

The same market forces can work for africa. You've talked about exploiting a country for its natural resources, but if you look at examples like botswana, they've reinvested the money, and have one of the world's fastest growing economies.

MrDibble
08-16-2011, 07:18 PM
:dubious:That should have been "I'm asserting", to show you two can play that game.

Anyway, to drag this back on topic, it is clearly the case that countries can become wealthy via normal market forces without directly exploiting anyone because plenty of countries have done so.Name "plenty" of countries who've done it. I dunno the history of Liechtenstein, maybe them. But other countries I can think of did at least one of three things - get wealthy off oil, get wealthy off colonialism or get wealthy off theft. Even the Swiss, as neutral and uncolonial as they were, have a history of being the bankers to the scum of the earth. So let's put the colonialism thing to one side. In a thread about SinoColonialism?
The same market forces can work for africa. You've talked about exploiting a country for its natural resources, but if you look at examples like botswana, they've reinvested the money, and have one of the world's fastest growing economies.There's no "like Botswana", there's just Botswana. And they aren't such a great country if you happen to be K!ung...

Martin Hyde
08-16-2011, 11:03 PM
That's kind of my point - China or whoever needs to implement long-term education and training programmes (i.e. universities & technikons) before coming in and looting the riches.

Why would China do that? You're making an emotional, not a logical, argument. Philanthropy is one thing, and aid is another thing. There is plenty of both available to African countries, but still not enough to fix all of Africas problems. If you live in a world in which you essentially expect all dollars flowing into places like third world African countries to be philanthropic/aid dollars and no direct investment until the country magically becomes reasonably prosperous, it just won't happen, ever, period.

All the money coming in through direct investment isn't available as general aid or philanthropic dollars.

Again, that's not really my experience. Shitty manual jobs don't pay well enough to raise your kids out of poverty. All they do is create slums where the poverty becomes intergenerational.

I'd actually argue the story of America from 1840-1950 was essentially most people working shitty, terrible manual labor jobs in horrible conditions but eventually over time we have a large middle class and a high quality of life with universal education and a good life expectancy rate.

Martin Hyde
08-16-2011, 11:12 PM
That should have been "I'm asserting", to show you two can play that game.Name "plenty" of countries who've done it. I dunno the history of Liechtenstein, maybe them. But other countries I can think of did at least one of three things - get wealthy off oil, get wealthy off colonialism or get wealthy off theft.

But your definition of theft is essentially "all productive economic activity that isn't based in utopian socialist ideals" so I don't really know that anyone working in the real world can have a discussion along those lines.

By and large the United States did not go from being a poor agrarian country in 1790 to being a wealthy industrial country in 1915 through theft, but through industrial and agricultural innovation. There was no one to really steal from because America's wealth was the result of a lot of innovation and good geography that gave us a lot of natural resources (Standard Oil was big news in the 19th and early 20th century but coal was vastly more important than oil from 1790-1915.)

America certainly didn't become rich through colonialism, we were a colony that had won independence. We pushed some natives around who got in the way, but in reality they didn't have any proper right to any of their land. If they did they would have been able to defend it and they would have been using it efficiently, evidence has suggested they did neither of those things.

The Mongols conquered more land than Americans ever did, how much wealth did they create? Virtually none. Because just taking land doesn't make you wealthier, developing it does. Even the Spanish just taking silver didn't make them wealthier, because inherently silver and gold aren't what create wealth, they are popular stores of wealth. The Spanish learned the hard way that massive influxes of precious metals from the New World didn't make Spain wealthier, it made gold and silver less valuable than before and left Spain with a massive overseas Empire to run that probably overextended Spain more than any benefits it brought to the Spanish.

even sven
08-17-2011, 02:19 AM
Uhhhh, I think you are missing kind of a key thing in US history around that period.

MrDibble
08-17-2011, 03:56 AM
But your definition of theft is essentially "all productive economic activity that isn't based in utopian socialist ideals" so I don't really know that anyone working in the real world can have a discussion along those lines.
That's not the kind of theft I'm talking about. I'm talking about everything from Cherokee lands to Jewish gold to the Swiss-held golden parachutes of 3rd world dictators who stole from their people. Pure outright theft by any reasonable measure all around.We pushed some natives around who got in the way, but in reality they didn't have any proper right to any of their land. If they did they would have been able to defend it and they would have been using it efficiently, evidence has suggested they did neither of those things.:eek: Are you serious? Manifest Destiny is kind of dated, dude.

Mijin
08-17-2011, 07:00 AM
But other countries I can think of did at least one of three things - get wealthy off oil, get wealthy off colonialism or get wealthy off theft.

For this to be anywhere near on-topic you'd have to be claiming that the only way for african countries to become wealthy is by doing one of these things.

Is that what you're actually saying? And just where does wealth come from if everyone must steal it?

In a thread about SinoColonialism?

No, this thread is not about SinoColonialism. :rolleyes:

And I think this sums up your worldview very well. Giving africa hand-outs is fine. But trading with african states is Colonialism!


There's no "like Botswana", there's just Botswana.

So what's your point?
That it's impossible for other african countries to be well-governed? That trading can only work if you're botswana?

Martin Hyde
08-17-2011, 07:33 AM
Uhhhh, I think you are missing kind of a key thing in US history around that period.

Slavery? Virtually irrelevant to our becoming an economically prosperous country with a large middle class. I know that violates various well accepted liberal narratives, but it doesn't violate history.

Slavery produced a very, very small concentration of property and wealth in an entrenched upper class. Because that upper class practiced feudal-style inheritance and everything was based on who your daddy was, a lot of times even the ultra-wealthy plantations would eventually be ran into bankruptcy based on the fiscal irresponsibility of the varying generations.

If you want to see where America's wealth came from you need to look at the northern factories, the coal mines, lumber yards, and oil wells, or even the large scale agriculture in the plains.

Further, the vast majority of the South's wealth was destroyed during the ACW, and the South was vastly behind the rest of the country in various economic measures until the 1970s. More people and businesses have been moving there for about 40 years, but the South still lags in many indicators. The idea that a practice only widely utilized in the poorest, most economically backwards and least productive region can be attributed as a reason for America's explosive growth in wealth and standard of living is just ludicrous. Not least of all because most of the big changes came after the ACW and had already started in the North. If anything ending slavery at least set the South up to have a chance at being economically prosperous, although it would take many generations to be realized.

Martin Hyde
08-17-2011, 07:44 AM
I don't think anyone would disagree any major industrial country (essentially any G8 country) probably did some horrible shit getting where they are. Stuff we shouldn't do again.

Where I think the disagreement comes in is some people think that horrible shit is what made these countries rich and powerful. I understand where this comes from, it fits in with a worldview that views capitalism as evil, the collection of personal wealth to be morally reprehensible and et cetera. When you can associate the wealthy with things you find morally objectionable, when you can in fact say they are wealthy because of those things it definitely makes your argument more powerful.

Unfortunately though, that's just not what happened in the real history of the world. The difference from 1790-1915 was not that horrible shit was being done, that stuff had been done for the 125 years before that, and the 125 years before that, and the 125 years before that all the way back to tribal massacres over hunting grounds 14,000 years ago. No one is going to say that our blatant exploitation of immigrants, paying them near slave wages, our taking of half of Mexico and various other things were totally benign. However that stuff had been going on for thousands of years.

The British Empire was unique in its dispersion, but that's about it, the Brits weren't doing anything other great Empires hadn't already done. In fact the British Empire was a lot more benign than any great Empire that had come before it. However the reason the United Kingdom, United States, and the other great countries became wealthy has almost nothing to do with that exploitative behavior. It has to do with innovations in industry and agriculture that cause exponential growth unlike anything seen before.

orcenio
08-17-2011, 08:39 AM
By and large the United States did not go from being a poor agrarian country in 1790 to being a wealthy industrial country in 1915 through theft, but through industrial and agricultural innovation. There was no one to really steal from because America's wealth was the result of a lot of innovation and good geography that gave us a lot of natural resources (Standard Oil was big news in the 19th and early 20th century but coal was vastly more important than oil from 1790-1915.)

America certainly didn't become rich through colonialism, we were a colony that had won independence. We pushed some natives around who got in the way, but in reality they didn't have any proper right to any of their land. If they did they would have been able to defend it and they would have been using it efficiently, evidence has suggested they did neither of those things.The Amerindians were nowhere near the level of political complexity, economic development, nor military advancement as the British Empire/US government, thus... they had no right to the land they were living on? Shenanigans.

A more accurate US model for getting rich is 1) Ethnically cleanse a massive amount of land using vastly superior firepower. 2) Settle on newly acquired land with a massive influx of colonists. 3) Use newly acquired land for it's untapped natural resources. 4) Innovate.

Mijin
08-17-2011, 08:52 AM
A more accurate US model for getting rich is 1) Ethnically cleanse a massive amount of land using vastly superior firepower. 2) Settle on newly acquired land with a massive influx of colonists. 3) Use newly acquired land for it's untapped natural resources. 4) Innovate.

Great, so since Africa has lots of land already they can skip straight to steps 3 and 4.

orcenio
08-17-2011, 09:05 AM
Great, so since Africa has lots of land already they can skip straight to steps 3 and 4.Only if one assumes that "Africa" is the political equivalence to 18th century colonial America.

One was a collection of 13 (English founded) colonies of roughly similar: demographics, size, wealth, culture, history, age, religion, language, climate. The other is the world's second biggest content, a collection of 54 states, +2000 languages, varying climate, etc...

Results may will vary.

Mijin
08-17-2011, 09:55 AM
Results will vary.

Of course they will, and I agreed with what you said earlier about Africa likely charting a unique course for itself.

In the meantime, Africa contains a number of stagnant economies. Many of us would like to help such countries. I give money to various charities (mainly oxfam), but I don't think such aid will turn countries around.
What is really needed is to convert stagnant economies into growing ones, and as we've seen countless times in south america, asia and the "exceptions" in africa, is that this is mostly about scaling up and getting exports going.

Genuinely I'm confused as to what the point of the opposing side is now. There have been a number of tangents as to how we're all teh evilz, but not much relating it back to africa and what we/they should do going forwards.

MrDibble
08-17-2011, 11:24 AM
For this to be anywhere near on-topic you'd have to be claiming that the only way for african countries to become wealthy is by doing one of these things. That's not a logical inference from what I said. Just because some countries got their wealth from stealing doesn't mean every country has to. You're confusing what my observation with me saying it's some sort of imperative. Far from it.And just where does wealth come from if everyone must steal it?Wealth can come from the sweat of your brow. That's just not generally the case with capitalism.
No, this thread is not about SinoColonialism. :rolleyes:It's as good a word as any. Let me guess - you're also one of those pedants who say American hegemony doesn't qualify as an Empire.And I think this sums up your worldview very well. Giving africa hand-outs is fine. But trading with african states is Colonialism!Trading with Africans on equal terms and for truly distributed mutual benefit would not be.

And I don't want a hand-out. I want back some of what was stolen from us.So what's your point?
That it's impossible for other african countries to be well-governed? That trading can only work if you're botswana?No. That trade only "works" if you define "works" in strictly capitalist ways like GDP and Balance of Trade, and ignore the fact that Botswana, too, is an oppressive regime more than willing to stamp out its own minorities for some of that lovely green. The only difference between Botswana and some other states is that the Botswanans don't outright machine-gun their minorities. They just remove them from their own land and call it "progress". Botswana is only "well-governed" if you're not living where they want to mine, or where the view attracts tourists.

Mijin
08-17-2011, 12:36 PM
That's not a logical inference from what I said. Just because some countries got their wealth from stealing doesn't mean every country has to.

I inferred nothing; I said for your observation to be relevant you'd have to be saying Africa must follow the same course as us.
Since you aren't, we can close this tangent; there's really no relevance in going into history.


Let me guess - you're also one of those pedants who say American hegemony doesn't qualify as an Empire.

It's hardly pedantry to say China trading with Africa is not "SinoColonialism".
This kind of hyperbole is hardly advancing the discussion.


Trading with Africans on equal terms and for truly distributed mutual benefit would not be.

No-one is being forced into doing deals with China.
And if the Chinese are getting good deals, it's because other countries have avoided dealing with africa, for fear of being labelled as exploiters / colonialists.


And I don't want a hand-out. I want back some of what was stolen from us.


Whatever was stolen was peanuts compared to the requirements, and opportunities, of the future.
History's full of fucked up things. Forget about it and move on.

That trade only "works" if you define "works" in strictly capitalist ways like GDP and Balance of Trade

The point is this: Raising GDP does not solve all of a country's problems. But having a very low GDP exacerbates just about all of them.

While a country is dirt-poor the long-term focus must be on firing up the economy.
I don't believe that this means sacrificing human rights, but even if it did, I think you could make a case for saying it's worth it.

Peremensoe
08-17-2011, 02:23 PM
Slavery? Virtually irrelevant...

I'll just point out that the wealth generated on the backs of slaves wasn't accrued only by the owners of plantations in the South, but also by Northerners and even Europeans who participated in or facilitated the trade in slaves, or the trade in slave-produced commodities, or the processing of same. Many fortunes were made by shipbuilders and merchants and early industrialists in an economic context that was partly based on slavery, even when much of that economic activity actually took place outside slave territories. For example, Francis Cabot Lowell is a key figure in starting the Industrial Revolution in the United States. His Boston Manufacturing Company made textiles of plantation cotton; the town of Lowell, Massachusetts by 1860 was spinning more than the entirety of the Southern states.

Slavery is inextricable from American, not just Southern history.

even sven
08-17-2011, 04:28 PM
Exactly. The slave trade alone- aside from the productivity of slave labor- was a huge industry booming at a key point in both American economic development and American history on the whole.

Regarding Botswana- Botswana is not magic. It's current situation (which we should not get too comfortable with; Africa always has a darling, but we all remember when Abidjan was the Paris of Africa.) stems from a mix of history, culture, available resources, locally available talent, and a million factors that are going to be completely different in CAR or Guinea or Angola. It's not as simple as "decide to give up corruption and thrive!" There are pre-conditions to "giving up corruption." Most of the corruption in place serves some purpose. In more than a few cases, it directly serves our purposes. It's not as simple as people just suddenly deciding not to be corrupt anymore. Botswanans are not just somehow better people than their neighbors. It's a question of systems and incentives, not morals.

even sven
08-17-2011, 04:43 PM
History's full of fucked up things. Forget about it and move on.

I'm in Cape Town right now.

In the 1950s, they began segregating the towns. In the 1970s, they bulldozed a huge chunk of the city where people of different races lived together and relocated non-white people to outlying zones physically separated from the city by canals, highways, and other physical barriers. Men were housed in crowded bare-bones dormitories, and their families were forced back to villages. In the 1980s, this was still going on.

It's not until 1994 that this bullshit stopped. 1994.

You cannot separate the city from the past. The vast slums are not surprisingly right where people were relocated. Families have moved in to the already overcrowded dorm/barracks, leading to extreme overcrowding and the creation of informal shacks. The physical barriers that were put up in the 1970s and 1980s are still right there. The cleared chunks of the city are still weedy unused lots in what would probably be among the most developed parts of Cape Town. People still have little or no compensation for the land that they often owned before they were forcible removed. How would your family be doing if you lost all your real estate in the 1970s?

The educations system in South Africa was purposefully dumbed down. They specifically engineered it so that black people got a poor quality education, even when they had enough resources to provide a real education. They kept them from learning on purpose. This generation would have been my mother's. How do you expect several recent generations of purposefully undereducated people not to still be a factor?

I worked in one of the former "homelands." The local government is unsurprisingly formed out of structures and power players from the "homeland" era. How can they just move on.

South Africa is an extreme example, but really it's not that different in other countries. Sure there are not fireworks and obvious morality plays of apartheid, but there were plenty of practices that were equally heinous that continue to resonate today.

Mijin
08-17-2011, 05:58 PM
Yes there are significant social problems still.
But what does that have to do with the topic of this thread?

even sven
08-17-2011, 06:43 PM
Whatever was stolen was peanuts compared to the requirements, and opportunities, of the future.
History's full of fucked up things. Forget about it and move on.

Can't.

Maeglin
08-17-2011, 06:46 PM
I'll just point out that the wealth generated on the backs of slaves wasn't accrued only by the owners of plantations in the South, but also by Northerners and even Europeans who participated in or facilitated the trade in slaves, or the trade in slave-produced commodities, or the processing of same. Many fortunes were made by shipbuilders and merchants and early industrialists in an economic context that was partly based on slavery, even when much of that economic activity actually took place outside slave territories. For example, Francis Cabot Lowell is a key figure in starting the Industrial Revolution in the United States. His Boston Manufacturing Company made textiles of plantation cotton; the town of Lowell, Massachusetts by 1860 was spinning more than the entirety of the Southern states.

Slavery is inextricable from American, not just Southern history.

This is certainly true. For reference, see Joseph Inikori's Africans and the Industrial Revolution in England. It's kind of a tedious book but is chock full of data that support these claims.

MrDibble
08-18-2011, 03:00 AM
I inferred nothing; I said for your observation to be relevant you'd have to be saying Africa must follow the same course as us. No, it's relevant as an example of what not to do...again.
Since you aren't, we can close this tangent; there's really no relevance in going into history.I disagree. You want to skip history because history clearly shows that just letting external powers exploit your resources without due recompense leads to just enriching the exploiters. And that's what China is doing - enriching itself and doing nothing for AfricaIt's hardly pedantry to say China trading with Africa is not "SinoColonialism". Treating foreign countries as a place to get cheap resources and dump your excess population is colonialism, even if you don't annex the countries you exploit
This kind of hyperbole is hardly advancing the discussion.Your pedantic insistence on calling a spade a "stick with a blade on the end" is what is not advancing the discussion. What China is doing in Africa is a form of colonialism, not just "trade" - once you see that, you'll see why some Africans are a bit skeptical that the Chinese model is any better for us than the continuing efforts of our former colonizers to squeeze some profit from us.No-one is being forced into doing deals with China. Actually, sometimes they are. That they're being forced by their own corrupt governments and officials is no excuse.And if the Chinese are getting good deals, it's because other countries have avoided dealing with africa, for fear of being labelled as exploiters / colonialists.And that's a bad thing? Whatever was stolen was peanuts compared to the requirements, and opportunities, of the future.Bullshit. What was stolen was our future.
History's full of fucked up things. Forget about it and move on.Colonialism's history is partly written in sjambok scars on my leg and my scalp, and the writing on the tombstone of my grandfather. Not about to forget about it. Not about to move on.The point is this: Raising GDP does not solve all of a country's problems. But having a very low GDP exacerbates just about all of them.I never said different. But only focusing on GDP is silly - look at the example of any country where a small percent is rich off oil. GDP doesn't reflect the experience of the poorest sectors of society. You can raise GDP while only making the rich richer.While a country is dirt-poor the long-term focus must be on firing up the economy.I am talking long-term. That's why the emphasis must be in building sustainable industry in Africa, not just stripping its resources. I don't believe that this means sacrificing human rights, but even if it did, I think you could make a case for saying it's worth it.So make the case. I'd love to see what case you can make for sacrificing human rights for profit. :dubious:
ETA: and it's never the rich who have to sacrifice their rights. It's always the poor.

MrDibble
08-19-2011, 04:15 AM
I don't believe that this means sacrificing human rights, but even if it did, I think you could make a case for saying it's worth it.

So make the case. I'd love to see what case you can make for sacrificing human rights for profit. :dubious:

No response?

Mijin
08-19-2011, 08:24 AM
No response?

Nope.
First of all, it's a straw man as I wasn't talking about "for profit", and you know that.

Secondly, I was happy to leave things with your previous post (#73). None of your counter-arguments actually address the points I'm making and I'm confident anyone reading that post would think the same.

MrDibble
08-19-2011, 11:11 AM
Nope.
First of all, it's a straw man as I wasn't talking about "for profit", and you know that.No, I don't know that - how are you going to raise GDP and "fire up" the economy without someone profiting (the Chinese, in this case). Are you claiming the Chinese aren't going to profit? There's no strawman.Secondly, I was happy to leave things with your previous post (#73).You mean the one that offered you a challenge to defend your statement? I can see why you'd be happy to leave it there - or "slink away from the argument", as i'd call it. None of your counter-arguments actually address the points I'm making and I'm confident anyone reading that post would think the same.Appeals to the peanut gallery are irrelevant. I addresses your points, you just don't like the response.

And you said "a case could be made", but it appears you were talking out of your dogma.

Mijin
08-19-2011, 11:39 AM
how are you going to raise GDP and "fire up" the economy without someone profiting (the Chinese, in this case). Are you claiming the Chinese aren't going to profit? There's no strawman.


I'll remind you that my statement was even if raising an african country's GDP meant sacrificing some human rights, one could make a case that it would be worth it.

I'm quite happy to defend that statement (it's not really asserting very much), but I'm going to wait until you're done with your straw men.

I did not say "sacrifice human rights for profit". Nor did I say "china is not going to profit".


You mean the one that offered you a challenge to defend your statement? I can see why you'd be happy to leave it there - or "slink away from the argument", as i'd call it.Appeals to the peanut gallery are irrelevant. I addresses your points, you just don't like the response.

And you said "a case could be made", but it appears you were talking out of your dogma.

Can we cut the crap? I'm hoping this thread can return to actually debating the topic. I'm not interested in a slagging match.

MrDibble
08-19-2011, 02:06 PM
even if raising an african country's GDP meant sacrificing some human rights, one could make a case that it would be worth it.

Let's stick with that, then - make your case.

Mijin
08-21-2011, 06:33 PM
Let's stick with that, then - make your case.

Sure.

So again, my statement was:

Raising GDP does not solve all of a country's problems. But having a very low GDP exacerbates just about all of them.
...
I don't believe that [raising GDP] means sacrificing human rights, but even if it did, I think you could make a case for saying it's worth it.

So, the logic is very simple. Some parts of africa are in extreme poverty. This poverty can directly cause severe problems: famine, disease and (less obviously) war. Things that threaten human survival. And affect other basic human needs like shelter.
And this appalling situation tends to be self-perpetuating.

What we consider "human rights" however tends to encompass more high-level human needs such as the right to a fair trial and free speech.

So, if it were the case that there was an either/or between raising prosperity and human rights (and remember, I've explicitly said that I think this is *not* the case), it may well be worth it, on Utilitarian grounds.
This is even allowing for the fact that some transgressions of human rights may involve murder (depending on how we're defining it and which country we're looking at); probably there is still more suffering on the "staying dirt poor" side of the equation.

Hopefully we can close this tangent.

MrDibble
08-22-2011, 02:00 AM
What we consider "human rights" however tends to encompass more high-level human needs such as the right to a fair trial and free speech. Let's stop there - I wasn't restricting it like that. Are you?
The human rights that get trampled on in the case of Africa are usually much more basic than that i.e. the right to life and liberty. Freedom from forced removal from your land is not, IMO, a "high level" right, either. It's a form of genocide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_genocide). Would you still say "a case could be made" for sacrificing these for some for overall prosperity? (and I get that this is not your view, but you're the one saying it could be justified.)Hopefully we can close this tangent.It's not a tangent. The whole thread is about whether the Chinese Model is best, and the Chinese Model explicitly includes not worrying about human rights concerns ("politics") in potential trading partners e.g. Sudanese Govt. So if you say "a case can be made," you're saying it about the Chinese too.

Mijin
08-22-2011, 01:09 PM
Let's stop there - I wasn't restricting it like that. Are you?


It's pretty obvious that human rights as usually defined are not mostly about life or death threats.

Looking down the UN declaration of human rights (http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/), I see only 2 out of 27 articles that unambiguously mention threats to life (article 3, the right to life, and article 25, the right to a decent standard of living / healthcare).
I'll allow a third, even though it's not inherently life or death; article 4: no-one shall be held in slavery.
(Simply because historically slaves were sometimes murdered or kept in conditions that greatly reduced their lives.)

But still, that's 1/9 articles.


Freedom from forced removal from your land is not, IMO, a "high level" right, either. It's a form of genocide (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_genocide).


There's a sleight of hand here.
You're saying that forced removal is a life or death issue because some people consider it a form of genocide, and genocide has connotations of being about murder.

Having said that, of course making people homeless can threaten their survival.
I've already conceded that some human rights transgressions threaten survival. That wasn't the point.

The point was that if there were a choice between typical human rights violations and remaining dirt poor, it may be the case that there is less suffering on the human rights violation side.


It's not a tangent. The whole thread is about whether the Chinese Model is best, and the Chinese Model explicitly includes not worrying about human rights concerns ("politics") in potential trading partners e.g. Sudanese Govt. So if you say "a case can be made," you're saying it about the Chinese too.

There's another sleight of hand here.

To my knowledge, the Chinese are not imposing human rights violations on anybody. So it's not the same thing as choosing human rights or investment.
Nor is it the case that the chinese model is inherently about human rights abuse -- it's simply that the chinese don't care about such things.

Which is not a million miles different from the west. If we really need to trade with a country, we don't let our morals get in the way (e.g. saudi arabia).

The question is, what is best for africa; boycotting all countries with dodgy human rights or trading with them? In my opinion, in most cases, it's the latter.
Not to imply we shouldn't keep trying to improve the situation; but complete shut-outs don't seem to help matters much.

MrDibble
08-22-2011, 02:32 PM
It's pretty obvious that human rights as usually defined are not mostly about life or death threats. I didn't restrict it to "life or death threats" either.
There's a sleight of hand here.
You're saying that forced removal is a life or death issue because some people consider it a form of genocide, and genocide has connotations of being about murder.No. I said it's a "higher level" threat. I said nothing about "life or death", that's your strawman. Genocide is about the destruction of a people as a coherent entity. That this can be accomplished without actually killing anyone is a side issue.To my knowledge, the Chinese are not imposing human rights violations on anybody.No, just funding them. Or do you think the bullets in Darfur grow on trees? So it's not the same thing as choosing human rights or investment.It is for the Chinese.
Nor is it the case that the chinese model is inherently about human rights abuse -- it's simply that the chinese don't care about such things."don't care" is one way of putting it. Profiteering from them is another.Which is not a million miles different from the west. If we really need to trade with a country, we don't let our morals get in the way (e.g. saudi arabia)....and when have I ever had anything good to say about the West's support of murder and oppression in the Third World? So what that attempted "Everyone does it!" argument was for, I don't know.The question is, what is best for africa; boycotting all countries with dodgy human rights or trading with them? In my opinion, in most cases, it's the latter.And in mine, it's the former. Especially if you don't at least try and ensure that the trade spreads downwards.

Let me restate: If your trade is enriching the current oppressors, you are doing more harm than good, and are complicit in the oppression.
Not to imply we shouldn't keep trying to improve the situation; but complete shut-outs don't seem to help matters much.Helped in South Africa. Would help in Zimbabwe if it were enforced. Ditto many other countries. Doesn't profit being a tinpot dictator if you can't travel anywhere and have no foreign teat to suck off of.

Mijin
08-22-2011, 03:57 PM
I said nothing about "life or death", that's your strawman. Genocide is about the destruction of a people as a coherent entity. That this can be accomplished without actually killing anyone is a side issue.


We've gone round in an absurd circle over this.

I said that a particular claim was supportable using the logic that extreme poverty leads to life or death threats whereas human rights abuses are usually not quite that severe.

If you're now saying the example you gave isn't a life or death threat, then you're conceding the point.

Which is fair enough, that should happen in a discussion. But you seem confused about something now.


No, just funding them. Or do you think the bullets in Darfur grow on trees?


The thread began with descriptions of the chinese building roads and power stations. This kind of investment is great for Africa IMO, because for one thing it's not so easy to convert to bullets.

Handing over just cold hard cash to the bad guys though...yes that's different. The chinese should pause in the case of countries like Sudan.

And for various economic reasons, discovering oil can be almost the worst thing that can happen to a very poor country. So all countries should hesitate to trade cash for oil with such countries.

....and when have I ever had anything good to say about the West's support of murder and oppression in the Third World? So what that attempted "Everyone does it!" argument was for, I don't know.

That wasn't my point.
I was simply wondering why we were referring to trading with such countries as part of "the chinese model". It's the everyone model; the difference is just the chinese are trading with African bad guys, which most of the west hypocritically finds unpalatable.

Helped in South Africa. Would help in Zimbabwe if it were enforced. Ditto many other countries. Doesn't profit being a tinpot dictator if you can't travel anywhere and have no foreign teat to suck off of.

I was just talking about economic sanctions. I think we should apply political pressure no matter what.

But economic sanctions? Zimbabwe's GDP dropped by about 40% in 7 years under Mugabe, and the fucker's still "head of state". So I have no illusions about economic pressure making changes to societies.

MrDibble
08-23-2011, 02:20 AM
Handing over just cold hard cash to the bad guys though...yes that's different. The chinese should pause in the case of countries like Sudan.Then...we don't really differ that much. That was hard to get to, but you're right, that's how debate goes.
I was just talking about economic sanctions. I think we should apply political pressure no matter what.I was talking about sanctions too. That's what ultimately stopped Apartheid.But economic sanctions? Zimbabwe's GDP dropped by about 40% in 7 years under Mugabe, and the fucker's still "head of state". So I have no illusions about economic pressure making changes to societies.It's not the overall societal effects that matter, it's the direct effects on the people in power - no longer able to holiday in the Caribbean and shop in Paris, no longer able to afford that 5th Rolls...that's the level of ostracism the Apartheid leaders got, it's (generally) the kind that outright terrorists get - but Mugabe can still go shopping in Hong Kong and some European countries. But it really, really pisses him off that he can't go to London. Now imagine he couldn't go anywhere? Not really worth the constant fighting and living in fear of assassination etc, if you can't even placate the trophy wife with some Jimmy Chus, is it?