sexta-feira, setembro 05, 2003
Slavery and Globalization
In her recent article for the British press, Madge Dresser, a lecturer at the University of West England, linked 19th century globalization and slavery. Dresser was described as arguing that the "slave trade initiated globalization." In fact, Dresser never made that causal link explicit. Instead, she opted to insinuate it by pouring vitriol over Adam Smith and the free markets he promoted.
As she wrote, "[Slavery] ... epitomizes a most exploitative form of globalization, which has since resurfaced in new forms. Will the Bush regime help redress its legacy through fair trade practices and constructive engagement? Or will Adam Smith's 'invisible hand' still hold the whip?"
The link that Dresser drew between slavery and Smith's free trade is fictitious. The slave trade may have been a type of trade, but it was not free trade. Free trade, as Smith would have it, is based on voluntary exchange and mutual benefit. Moreover, goods and services that are traded must have a rightful owner and men, needless to say, cannot be owned. By definition, therefore, slave trade could never be free trade.
Adam Smith himself opposed slavery on both economic and moral grounds. As he wrote in the Wealth of Nations: "From the experience of all ages and nations, I believe, that the work done by free men comes cheaper in the end than the work performed by slaves. Whatever work he does, beyond what is sufficient to purchase his own maintenance, can be squeezed out of him by violence only, and not by any interest of his own."
Her description of pre-colonial Africa as a place of a "peaceful peasant and communally-run village" is deceptive or, at best, ignorant. There are no written records of what Africa was like before its contact with the Europeans. The early records made by the European settlers, on the other hand, present posterity with an image of uncommon cruelty. One only has to think of the bone-chilling exploits of Shaka, King of the Zulus, or the gastronomical tastes of Lobengula of Matabeleland.
Moreover, singling out the British, the French, and the Americans is a cheap shot. From what we know, slavery is as ancient as humanity itself. Until its effective elimination by the European colonial powers, slavery was both eternal and universal. The very word "slave" comes from Medieval Latin word sclavus [not Greek, as Dresser, a supposed authority on the subject, asserts]. The term seems to have been coined in reference to the widespread enslavement of Central European Slavs in the 9th century AD.
The fact that slavery was devoid of a specific ethnic component until very recently is well documented by the Athenian enslavement of the unfortunate inhabitants of the Island of Melos in the 5th century BC. In that particular case, one Greek people enslaved another Greek people -- a common phenomenon.
Dresser glosses over the Arab slave trade along the east coast of Africa, which predated the European contact with sub-Saharan Africa. The offensive term kaffir, which racists used to call a black person in South Africa, is identical with the Arabic word to denote an infidel and indicates the pre-colonial nature of slavery in Africa.
In fact, as Dinesh D'Souza, the author of the best-selling book "The End of Racism," points out, slavery became such an integral part of African life that "tribal leaders in Gambia, Congo, Dahomey, and other African nations that had prospered under the slave trade sent delegations to London and Paris to vigorously protest the abolition of slavery."
Of course, insistence on western guilt is understandable in view of the remedies that have repeatedly been proposed to cure Africa's ills. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University and James Wolfensohn of the World Bank, for example, advocate huge increases in foreign aid for Africa. But foreign aid does not work.
Between the end of the Second World War and 1997, the United States alone provided approximately $1 trillion in aid to poor countries around the world. It did not help. Nearly all of the world's poorest countries have been long-term aid recipients. Many of them have seen their per capita incomes fall to 1980 and even 1970 levels. Ghana, for example, had inflation-adjusted per capita income of $800 in 1967. By 1997 that figure fell to $370.
Unfortunately, the abysmal record of the international redistribution of resources in combating poverty is continuously ignored. But the refusal to face the facts has nothing to do with the poor Africans. Instead, Africa's poverty is a tool in the socialist struggle to repair some of the damage that Marxism suffered as a result of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
No matter how untrue, the persistent attempts to link slavery [exploitation] and globalization [capitalism] helps Dresser and her fellow-travelers to discredit free markets. It also helps the unscrupulous African leaders to externalize blame for Africa's poverty, as the Ghanaian-born professor at the American University, George Ayittey, put it.
African leaders are good at playing the victimization game. By furthering the image of Africans as mere spectators, who are powerless to change the "objective reality" of the international economic system, the African politicians use and abuse western sensibilities to extract more money to sustain their corrupt regimes and lavish lifestyles.
African leaders continue to appeal to the theories of exploitation championed by our tenured left-wingers, because they provide a convenient way of explaining away decades of socialist mismanagement, war and tyranny. By using them as persuasive apologists, the African politicians continue to outsmart many of our ivory tower academics.
On the other hand, a wealth of evidence points to domestic arrangements, such as the rule of law, private property, and free markets as the best way to prosperity. According to the Canadian Fraser Institute's 2003 Economic Freedom of the World Report, to cite just one example, the richest countries in the world also have the freest economies. It is unfortunate, therefore, that Dresser, in her opposition to Adam Smith and free markets, effectively opposes the only way that Africa can take to escape the scourge of poverty
posted by Miguel Noronha 5:01 da tarde
Um artigo de Johan Norberg contra a Política Agricola Comum da UE e o crescente proteccionismo dos EUA na TechCentralStation.
According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, EU protectionism deprives developing countries of nearly $700 billion in export income a year. That's almost 14 times more than poor countries receive in foreign aid. EU protectionism is a continuing tragedy, causing unnecessary hunger and disease. The Cold War "iron curtain" between East and West has been replaced with a customs curtain between North and South.
posted by Miguel Noronha 2:22 da tarde
A propósito do debate sobre o intervencionismo estatal que decorreu (ou decorre...) entre alguns blogues o Catalaxia publica um excelente artigo sobre o que distingue a "direita liberal" da "direita estatizante e tradicional".
É por causa de artigos como este que me congratulo por o Rui não ter abandonado a blogosfera como chegou a anunciar...
posted by Miguel Noronha 11:06 da manhã
O 11 de Setembro e os Filhos Pródigos
Graças ao Pedro Mexia ("Mais Estatizados") e ao Glenn Reynolds descobri dois artigos (do João Miguel Tavares e do Nelson Ascher) que falam da mudança de mentalidades operada devido aos atentados do 11/09 e (particularmente) do nojo que inumeras pessoas sentiram com as reacções da intelectualidade de esquerda.
Podem incluir-me nos "inumeros"...
Quando dois aviões destruíram as Torres Gémeas, houve quem entendesse essa tragédia como um ataque directo ao seu modo de vida, e houve quem a considerasse apenas um ataque violento aos Estados Unidos da América. De forma simples, a grande divisão política dos nossos dias é entre uns e outros; entre os que sentiram a dor na pele e os que ficaram a ver à distância. Eu estava longe, mas doeu-me.
posted by Miguel Noronha 9:17 da manhã
quinta-feira, setembro 04, 2003
A propósito do artigo Socialism Kills, aqui citado, o Desesperada Esperança escreve o seguinte:
"socialism teaches you to avoid taking care of other people. The state will -- why should you?..."
Os recentes acontecimentos em França (abundantemente comentados na blogosfera) são um bom exemplo disso. O número de mortos, e principalmente, o número de corpos que não foram reclamados, a que ninguém das famílias dos falecidos ligou alguma coisa, demonstra os efeitos preversos da intromissão do "pai Estado" nos assuntos privados. É extraordinário que o governo francês seja forçado a tratar dos funerais destas pessoas, na ausência de qualquer solidariedade e preocupação de familares ou outras pessoas próximas.
E tudo enunciado naquela pequena frase...
A propósito disto lembrei-me de um comentário do País Relativo [blogue das jovens esperanças do partido da rosa] acerca das campanhas de solidariedade privadas que surgiram durante e após a vaga de incêndios que nos assolou recentemente:
Já demos para esse peditório: Depois da Operação Coração, da Operação Triunfo e da Operação das Gémeas Siamesas, a RTP vem agora com a Operação Renascer das Cinzas. O Governo desinvestiu na prevenção e no combate aos incêndios. A reorganização da protecção civil e do serviço nacional de bombeiros só serviu para descoordenar acções. Se a isto juntarmos o calor, temos a receita para a tragédia. Agora lá vem a mítica «sociedade providência» tentar remediar, com muita solidariedade, erros que são responsabilidade do governo, funções que são competência do Estado. Contribuir para este peditório é contribuir para a desresponsabilização do Estado e para a reprodução de uma lógica doentia que confunde cidadania com caridade, direitos com esmola. Não somos obviamente contra que se ajude quem agora precisa de ajuda. Consideramos é que campanhas de solidariedade pontuais apenas actuam sobre as consequências, mas não sobre as causas. Se a ideia é um Portugal solidário, então que o seja o ano inteiro, logo desde Janeiro quando faz frio e ainda não há fogos. O Estado tem funções sociais e de soberania que se financiam através dos impostos que todos pagamos. Se se considera que o Estado não tem meios para assegurar estas funções, então que nos aumente os impostos! Para o peditório da caridadezinha, já demos.
Quod Erat Demonstradum...
posted by Miguel Noronha 4:46 da tarde
A New Road to Serfdom?
"Recently, I was invited by the Ludwig von Mises Institute Europe to address an audience on what Friedrich von Hayek would have thought about the enlargement of Europe. I decided to reread his classic, The Road to Serfdom. Old hat, of course, because since Francis Fukuyama's The End of History and the Last Man, we know that after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, capitalist liberal democracies are the end-state of the historical process. So there is nothing to worry about. Yet, even before finishing the introduction (by Milton Friedman) and the (three) prefaces of Hayek's magnum opus, I realised that I was completely wrong. The Road to Serfdom still contains insights that today are as visionary and relevant as when they were published for the first time in 1944
Our freedom and economic well-being are still exposed to hazards, which could be grouped as follows:
The ideology of stasis
Man-made global warming and Kyoto.
I venture the thought that, taken together, these tendencies may carry the risk of a new "Road to Serfdom."
posted by Miguel Noronha 2:39 da tarde
quarta-feira, setembro 03, 2003
"Europe has given the world Marxism, communism, fascism, Nazism, racism and socialism, all rotten ideas that have caused immeasurable human suffering. But for Europeans and their ideological twins on the American left and at universities, ideas are not judged by their ability to ameliorate human suffering or reduce evil, but by their complexity and apparent profundity. An idea is not good because it produces good -- that's unromantic American pragmatism -- it is good because it sounds good...
As ironic as it may seem, but the fact is that socialism -- i.e., cradle-to-grave state welfare -- makes people worse.
First, the socialist mind loathes work. In France, the legal length of the work week is 35 hours. Working hard to make more money is an American value that is held in contempt by the Left...And as we all know from watching our children, people with a lot of time on their hands have character problems.
Second, socialism values equality more than liberty...Because the Left holds liberty (except sexual liberty) in lower esteem, Europe has raised a generation that does not value liberty nearly as much Americans do...
Third, socialism teaches you to avoid taking care of other people. The state will -- why should you?...
Fourth, as a result of this socialist mindset, people in socialist countries give little charity, while Americans give vast amounts...
Fifth, the larger the state, the more callous it becomes. Twentieth century evil was made possible in large measure by the bureaucratic mentality -- the type of person who is merely a cog in huge governmental machine, collectively all-powerful but individually powerless to do anything except take and execute orders. The bigger the state, the colder its heart..."
posted by Joao 9:42 da manhã
terça-feira, setembro 02, 2003
Mapping the Debate Over Technology
No seu livro "The Future And Its Enemies" Virginia Postrel dividia as pessoas entre "Dynamists" ou "Stasists" para qualificar a sua postura quanto ao progresso tecnológico.
No supracitado artigo da TechCentralStation Eugene Miller, desenvolve esta ideia e tenta "mapear" estas atitudes.
posted by Miguel Noronha 3:23 da tarde
"A USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll showed that 63 percent of Americans said the Iraq war was worth waging. Nearly 60 percent said they approved of Mr. Bush's overall job performance and 57 percent said they approved of his handling of Iraq."É um novo Vietnam...
posted by Joao 3:22 da tarde
Primeiro Governo do Pós-guerra Nomeado no Iraque
"O Conselho de Governo iraquiano nomeou ontem os 25 ministros do Executivo interino que deverá coordenar os destinos do país até à realização de eleições, previstas para 2004. Apesar de, na prática, continuar a caber ao administrador americano, Paul Bremer, a última palavra em todas as áreas, a entrada em funções do primeiro Governo depois da queda de Saddam Hussein deverá apressar a transferência de poderes para as autoridades locais."Esta é, claro, uma notícia falsa...o Louçã já disse que os americanos são imperialistas ! Se a realidade é diferente das profecias de um dos imans do bloco de extrema esquerda, altere-se a realidade.
P.S. O Louçã também dizia que os americanos estavam no Iraque por causa do Petróleo...
posted by Joao 3:10 da tarde
Como já devem ter reparado, nos ultimos dias, a actividade deste blogue tem verdadeiramente intermitente (para não dizer nula).
Para que não pensem que decidi abandonar os meus dedicados leitores aproveito para esclarecer que tal se deve somente a uma invulgar carga de trabalho e ao "usual" cansaço do pós-férias.
Prevejo nos tempos mais próximos um panorama semelhante mas conto arranjar algum tempo (resta saber onde...) para dedicar a este nobre projecto.
ACTUALIZAÇÃO: É claro que podem sempre contar com alguns contributos do meu co-blogger...
posted by Miguel Noronha 3:06 da tarde
"When terrorists exploded a bomb outside a shrine in Najaf last week, they killed scores of Muslims who had gathered for prayers--including one of Iraq's foremost Shiite leaders, who had been playing a key role in stabilizing post-Saddam Iraq...
But those victims weren't the only targets. Terrorists were aiming a blow at something they hate even more--the prospect of a country freed from their control and moving to become an Iraq of, by, and for the Iraqi people. Terrorists recognize that Iraq is on a course towards self-government that is irreversible and, once achieved, will be an example to all in the Muslim world who desire freedom, pointing a way out of the hopelessness that the extremists feed on. And so, they test our will, the will of the Iraqi people, and the will of the civilized world.
...Foreign terrorists who go to Iraq to kill Americans understand this: If killing Americans leads to our defeat and the restoration of the old regime, they would score an enormous strategic victory for terrorism--and for the forces of oppression and intolerance, rage and despair, hatred and revenge...
Just as in the Cold War, holding the line in Berlin and Korea was not just about those places alone. It was about the resolve of the free world. Once that resolve was made clear to the Soviets, communism eventually collapsed. The same thing will happen to terrorism--and to all those who have attempted to hijack Islam and threaten America and the rest of the free world, which now includes Iraq. They will see our resolve and the resolve of the free world. Then they, too, will take their place on the ash heap of history.
America's troops and our coalition partners are determined to win--and they will win, if we continue to give them the moral and material support they need to do the job."
posted by Joao 3:02 da tarde