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Yeah, that was my initial, immature reaction too, but it would have been too flippant to ask it of a man who recently recovered his beaten brother from a government prison for dissidents.  

His point is still valid regardless: How can a rich person ever claim to be wise enough to suggest that a poor person is actually better off without the rich person's wealth and not come off as being absurdly self-serving. I challenge anyone to find more than a handful of people who live on less than a dollar a day anywhere in Africa who wouldn't sympathize with pop rapper Travie McCoy.

by santiago on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 06:25:36 PM EST
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How can a rich person ever claim that a poor person would be better off with their wealth and not come across as absurdly patronising?

You're giving the standard capitalist party of line, of course - growth is good, etc.

I'm sure there are people in China and Taiwan who'd agree with you.

But they may not be the ones in the factories doing the work.

Your mendacious implication is that 'riches' are a one dimensional good that Africans either have or don't have.

In practice what usually seems to happen when Westerners turn up promising riches, is that the riches are perhaps not made as widely available as they might be.

Anyone who questions this too aggressively will indeed be killed or tortured.

And perhaps you're not aware of the new anticapitalist movements which aren't interested in G20 confrontations or grandstanding, but are interested in promoting sufficiency rather than greed as a core social value, and which see the capitalist West as an inherently dysfunctional and insane place no matter how rich the people appear to be.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 06:50:06 PM EST
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And perhaps you're not aware of the new anticapitalist movements which aren't interested in G20 confrontations or grandstanding, but are interested in promoting sufficiency rather than greed as a core social value, and which see the capitalist West as an inherently dysfunctional and insane place no matter how rich the people appear to be.

Actually, I'm not. I'm not aware of anything that can honestly be called a "new anti-capitalist movement" today and that has the kind of force for change in society in any way comparable to the failed, confrontational approaches of the 1970's and 1980's.  I see bloggers/dreamers and a few NGO's, and some good people doing their own thing in different parts of the world as counter-culture people have always done, but as a movement, it looks to be a depressingly declining thing, not a rising one as the force of globalization increasingly overtakes the power to control local matters. What are you referring to?

by santiago on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 07:51:12 PM EST
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Well, I can't say I'm surprised you're not.

The dreamers are the capitalists. Physically and socially impossible development demands remain the perfect definition of late capitalist insanity.

I'd suggest the anti-growth movements might well be reviving under the radar. Just because they're not punching policemen doesn't mean they're not active.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 08:05:41 PM EST
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So who are they?  Examples?
by santiago on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 08:07:35 PM EST
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One mental trap that it is important not to fall into, however, is to assume that there can be only two options available to African people: To carbon-copy European industrial society or remain in mud huts using hand-made tools.

How to make a modern society based on the parts of their society that Africans value the most is a question that is way above my pay grade, though.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 07:10:21 PM EST
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I agree, but it is a trap that seems amazingly irresistible, especially if you're poor. Has simplicity in living ever been anything more than a minority reaction to a dominant culture of growth and power in the history of civilization?  It also means that it matters a lot who speaks of it. It's just never going to be a very compelling argument for someone from Europe or North America to tell someone in Africa they can live without a cell phone and all the trade-offs in life they need to make to have one. It might be more compelling though when an African leader from an urban or rural slum can make that argument, but the track record on that sort of revolutionary action by indigenous leaders instead of by western interlopers has been pretty bleak so far -- Pol Pot, Sendero Luminoso, Cultural Revolution, etc. Is there a compelling alternative for people to growth and power a la capitalism?
by santiago on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 08:05:23 PM EST
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All you have to do is tell them that they won't have to deal with enforced dictatorships, won't have to deal with colonial expropriation, and won't find themselves in wars.

That's usually pretty convincing to people who have just had their homes blown up.

Have Africa's resource wars been any less damaging than Pol Pot's legacy? Or do you only count socialist sociopaths in your calculations?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 08:15:16 PM EST
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If they want to adopt a European industrial model, then I certainly won't gainsay that decision - after all, I quite like living in a European industrial state. All I'm arguing is that if and when first-world countries help with industrial development in third-world countries, it should be done on the basis of informed consent and a good-faith effort to present a range of realistic options, rather than "our way or the highway." It's a little more work, but I suspect that the results will be much better and more durable.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Aug 26th, 2010 at 08:27:20 PM EST
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Ugh. Break out the hologram generator if you are wanting for choices.

And why aren't the great killers of the Capitalist Revolution, Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Bush up there with Pol Pot. It wasn't for want of trying

And the poor workers who have to spend all day herding the people on the ExpressWaysTM during their multi-hours of Daily AMRadioHateTM. Does anyone think about them? They can't take their herd out to the drive in for a soda and a movie, or a long walk on the beach, they can't even take their work home with them. They don't even get any of the curds and whey that the drivers or cars make.

I wanted some of that Domestic Tranquility stuff, but it turned into a sub-heading for Common Defense. General Welfare and Posterity are just gonna have to wait.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Sun Aug 29th, 2010 at 07:34:02 AM EST
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Gandhi had some strong arguments as to why indians should avoid the trappings of the western lifestyle (while importing and improving some western ideas). Lived the part to. Out of style in India now, but it did inspire much of the western green movement.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 04:27:40 AM EST
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