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Jeffrey Sachs -- Imperialist Shill August 26, 2005 by RedStar2000


Do you believe in magic?

How about a "humanitarian" shill for "enlightened imperialism"?

Yeah...magic does sound a lot more reasonable, doesn't it?


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quote:

Well, this particular economist's first priority is the poverty of the third world.


Awww...isn't that sweet.

quote:

His first experiment in combating poverty was during the hyperinflationary period in Bolivia, when over the course of just two years the peso rose from 5000 per dollar to 2 million per dollar. He helped to successfully stop inflation there, the result of a huge budget deficit financed by loans from the central bank (AKA printing money).


And now Bolivia is a workers' paradise and the streets of La Paz are paved with gold.

Um...not exactly, right?

In fact, Bolivia is a complete shithole of human misery, right?

quote:

With Deng Xioping's reforms in 1978...the economy picked up pace substantially, and by 2000 had quadrupled GDP per capita.


Does that mean the average Chinese worker or peasant has four times the income that they had in 1978?

No, it doesn't, right?

quote:

However, by 1995, GDP per capita was higher than it had been in 1989, and what's more, it continued to grow steadily, until by 2000, GDP per capita was 40% higher than it had been in 1989. As well, the number of people living in extreme (0-$1 a day) and moderate ($1-$2 a day) poverty declined by about 25%


Yes, I actually remember reading about Poland during that glorious transition...when crowds of people were sleeping in the subways and train stations.

Even if that claim of a 25% reduction in extreme poverty were true, what about the other 75%?

Poland, like Bolivia, is a shithole of human misery.

But some folks did make out like...um, bandits -- including the fucking Catholic Church!

And as you might expect, women didn't do so good.

quote:

Price controls were stopped, commercial law now allowed the opening of private businesses, and the unprofitable state enterprises were closed or sold off.


Mostly just closed. But now that Poland is part of the EU, Polish workers are free to emigrate to western European countries and work on the black market there.

Or they can join the Polish Army and do occupation duty in Iraq...there's a real career path, right?

quote:

During the days of price controls, the price was artificially set low and so you had to arrive early in the morning or you wouldn't get any sausage at all. Eventually, you could get sausages later and later (both as a result of increased supply, and lowered demand) until finally about a year after the reforms, (started Jan.1,1990), on most days, you could get them all the time.


If you could afford them...just what do you think "lower demand" means? It means that poor people stopped eating sausages!

quote:

In short, we as human beings have in our hands the tools to break years of extreme poverty which exist as a result of ignorance, both in policy and economy.

If you have any interest at all in helping the society in which you live or any other (particularly other societies) then pick up the book The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities For Our Time by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Phd


Must be fashionable; there are five people who have the book on hold at my public library.

But poverty is not a consequence of "ignorance"...it is the result of an economic system that naturally produces "winners" and "losers".

And like a casino, most of the people are losers.
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First posted at RevLeft on August 23, 2005
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quote:

Your problem is that you define poverty as the losers. They are only "losers" in a relative sense compared to others, usually in the same nation.


How else can one define poverty except in comparison to what is actually possible?

Saying that poor people in America are wealthier than the middle classes in Shitholia is meaningless -- even if wealth were evenly distributed in Shitholia, they'd all still be poorer than poor Americans.

What we know is based on where we live -- we look around us and see that a few have so much wealth as to almost be incomprehensible -- while others don't have much and many have next to nothing.

Winners and losers.

quote:

Should we not engage in sports? Now that is clearly a system that produces winners and losers.


To make this "parallel" valid, the consequence of defeat in a sporting contest would have to be made much more drastic...the losing team gets to work at McDonald's or Wal-Mart for the rest of the season and has to live in their cars because they don't have the money for rent.

I don't think sports would be a real popular career path in such an environment.
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First posted at RevLeft on August 23, 2005
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quote:

Do you honestly think I'm stupid?


Not yet...but you do seem to be trying to make a case for that unhappy proposition.

quote:

A year ago I was your fucking disciple.


Naturally, I regret losing a "fan"...I don't have very many, after all.

But during the period of your "discipleship", didn't you even notice the number of times that I made reference to the need for critical examination of everything?

Did you ever see me flopping on my belly before some fashionable revelation of capitalist "truth"?

If you were ever a "disciple" of mine, you certainly were an extremely inattentive one.

quote:

But you know what, since then, I've seen real revolutions. Cedar Revolution, Lebanon 2005, Orange Revolution, Ukraine 2004, Rose Revolution, Georgia 2002(?).


Lovely...all of which, of course, were "revolutions" that changed nothing of consequence.

Yeah, some local crooks got the boot and some new crooks took over.

Oh wow, man! That's like so cool.

quote:

And what those have proven to me is the folly of a Bolivarian revolution...


Well, I'm still waiting for those working class organs of power to emerge in Venezuela myself...not to mention the expropriation of the capitalist class.

You know, revolution without the quotation marks.

But Venezuela at the present time is head and shoulders and kneecaps above your models.

quote:

...with a bunch a folks sitting in computer chairs talking about how they can make a revolution.


This is a message board -- it's where talk about revolution takes place.

quote:

It's sad that you would belittle someone who wants to help the world as much as you do, and unlike you, has actually been a force for positive change.


I don't think his changes are "positive" in the least -- he's a shill for imperialism, that's all.

So yes, I belittle him and his "desire" to "help the world".

quote:

I wouldn't say [Bolivia] was as bad as all that.


I guess you wouldn't...but there seem to be a hell of a lot of Bolivians who disagree with you.

quote:

Have you ever been [there]?


First hand knowledge of any given country is very useful...no question about it. But one must be careful to question what kind of first-hand knowledge is being offered us?

A guy like this Sachs fellow goes to La Paz (or Warsaw or wherever), stays in the best available hotel, eats and drinks the best available stuff, spends his working hours in plush government offices, perhaps makes a quick tour of a few locations, and then writes in his book, "When I was in Bolivia, I saw blah, blah, blah...".

Did he ever live like a Bolivian or a Pole or like the ordinary person lives in any of his destinations?

Even for just a day? Even for just a few hours?

*laughs*

quote:

So, without any real experience other than what you read, you're going to criticize the driving force of the world economy?


Aren't you overlooking something? I live in this "world economy"...I can look around me and see some portion of its effects.

It's pretty bad and looks like it's getting worse.

quote:

Sorry, how many phds do you have again?


Same as Engels...none.

quote:

One thing that I didn't make clear about Sachs is that he believes...that the developed nations must underwrite the costs of the transition so as to alleviate the suffering of the population.


And we all just know how "eager" the ruling classes in the "developed nations" are to do that, don't we?

The more you talk about this book, the less eager I am to read it. The guy sounds like a moron!

quote:

Again, though, another country you've never been to and he has.


Yes, I'd pay careful attention to his evaluation of the quality of the room service at the Warsaw Intercontinental Hotel.

quote:

And they started eating more fruits and vegetables leading to a 13% decline in heart disease since the end of CP rule in that country.


*laughs*

Poverty is good for us!

The arguments that the defenders of capitalism will "reach for" are sometimes quite surprising.

quote:

It has a foreword by Bono.


One rich hustler fronts for another. No surprise there.

quote:

You know what, don't confuse relative losers (American service workers who make 7 bucks an hour) with the real losers of this world, the billion people who live on a dollar or less a day, and the 1.5 billion who live on between 1 and 2 bucks a day.


They don't "live"...they just die slowly. And neither Mr. Sachs nor Mr. Bono will do anything to stop that.
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First posted at RevLeft on August 23, 2005
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quote:

I have to critically examine your propositions: that the world is getting worse for most people as a result of the capitalist economic system. But the thing is, that just isn't true. The number of people living in extreme and moderate poverty is declining, and you know what, people living in relative poverty are really not that bad off.


In my father's day, a young working man (telephone lineman) could buy a house, support a wife and two kids, own a late-model car...and even visit the racetrack on the weekends.

In my lifetime, I have seen that cease to be true.

When I was growing up, the working class ideal was to get a good job (preferably unionized) with a solid corporation and never have to worry about job security again.

That, of course, is now unattainable.

When I was in high school, we were instructed to budget 25% of our take-home pay for rent and utilities; now it's 50-60%!

I could continue...but the point is obvious. However you manipulate the numbers, things are clearly getting worse for working people in the U.S. and, I think, in all the advanced capitalist countries.

Only an enormous mountain of credit-card and mortgage debt stands between our "middle-class" standard-of-living and the standards of the 1940s. (!)

Real wages for ordinary workers have not risen (in the U.S.) since 1964...and the average work-week has now climbed to figures not seen since the late 1920s. (!)

quote:

I'm sorry that they couldn't make one giant leap from being poor unindustrialized nations to awesome and 100 percent successful communist ones.


I'm sorry too...but you are the one who claimed that they were "real revolutions".

When they were not and are not any such thing.

quote:

You should check out some info on the Slum Dwellers Associations of India.


Very well, how about this...

Slum dwellers seek better facilities

quote:

MYSORE, NOV. 20. The Federation of Slum Dwellers' Associations today urged the Government to extend basic amenities and free education to help slum dwellers ameliorate their living condition.


Did the capitalist government respond to this respectful request?

Is the pope a Hindu?

quote:

It's where useless talk about revolution takes place...You can talk all you want, but the next revolution that comes won't be yours, and most of the people who make it won't have read this site, and you'll probably find them hostile to a number of your ideas.


Thanks for the vote of confidence. *laughs*

Judging by what you mean when you (mis)use the word "revolution", you're probably right.

But right or wrong, I will hold out for "the real thing".

quote:

How so? [Sachs] was against the war in Iraq, he's pro-debt cancellation, he's anti-IMF and World Bank, pro-UN. God damn! He's starting to sound like Wolfowitz or Cheney, ain't he?


His pro-forma verbal opposition to some of the excesses of modern capital hardly qualify him as "the next Che".

All he wants is a more "enlightened" version of imperialism -- which is fundamentally defined as an imperialism which puts people like him "in charge".

Fat chance! *laughs*

quote:

But I bet that there parents will tell them of a land [Bolivia] that was a hell of a lot worse.


Maybe, maybe not. At least in the days of their parents, people could make a living growing coca.

quote:

He talks about in China where he saw what 8% growth really means: buildings going up everywhere the eye can see, and not with cranes but with bare hands and bamboo scaffolding. They are being built 24 hours a day.


The Chinese "building boom" has been noticed by others besides Mr. Sachs. In fact, there was an article about the "boom" in Shanghai in a recent issue of Harper's Magazine. Unlike your Mr. Sachs, the article mentions the massive (and often brutal) evictions connected with this "boom".

But hey, as Stalin used to say, you can't make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

quote:

Again, unlike you, he has sat down and talked to these people.


Yes...fluent as he is in all the languages of Africa.

quote:

And, a word to the wise, Poland certainly didn't have 'plush' government offices, especially the newly legalized solidarity.


I'm sure they did the best they could for Mr. Sachs...at least he didn't have to sleep in the train station.

quote:

Have you? Do you know what it's like to live in real poverty?


Well, I've seen a few pretty grim times. But, you see, unlike the overpaid Mr. Sachs, I don't present myself as a "world-class expert" on "ending poverty".

quote:

If you're willing to take a lot of shit, and sometimes you gotta, there are places out there.


A diet of shit, eh? Yum!

At least you're honest enough to admit what's on the menu.

quote:

Well, it is in their economic interests, and occasionally they can be convinced of that.


As I noted above, "if only" they'd put Mr. Sachs in charge, everything would be "just wonderful". *laughs*

quote:

In fact, whatever you say about the transitional economy, Poland today is the best Eastern European country to live in, bar none.


That's not what I've heard -- both Hungary and the Czech Republic have somewhat higher standards.

But it's not a big deal either way; the lucky winners in the transition probably live pretty close to western European standards -- the losers are in the shit.

quote:

Bono might be a fool, but I think he's genuine.


A sincere fool is still a fool.

quote:

Do you think that by sitting around talking about revolution, that you will?


I won't...but the ideas that I talk about will.

The ideas that Mr. Sachs, Bono, et.al., won't!
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First posted at RevLeft on August 24, 2005
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quote:

You don't even know what a revolution is...They don't have to burn the place to the ground, they don't have to kill a bunch of people, but they do have to make a significant difference, and that is exactly what happened in all those situations.


They have made no significant difference at all...thus far.

Of course, if, for example, the Ukraine joins the EU, that would make some differences...for the lucky winners.

What the Ukrainians are going to get, in all likelihood, is some direct foreign investment from Germany...perhaps an auto plant or two.

But it's not going to be a "big deal" -- South Carolina has a German auto plant and it's still a pretty wretched place to live.

quote:

They have in the past and they will in the future.


The reformist poem...

Jam yesterday
and jam tomorrow;
but never jam today.


quote:

Someone who believes enough in their ideas to kill for them but who, ultimately, didn't know what the fuck he was talking about.


Unlike the humane and knowledgeable Mr. Sachs...who wouldn't hurt a fly but believes in "enlightened imperialism".

quote:

For which Sachs also criticized the US government.


Yes, the fangs of his "criticism" bite deeply into the neck of U.S. imperialism.

But accomplish no more than my own "utopian ramblings" on a small message board.

quote:

The brutality of the Chinese government has nothing to do with their economic growth, nor does it disprove the success of their market reforms.


Oh? The historical connection between capitalist development and government brutality has escaped your notice? And that of Mr. Sachs as well?

Time to make another omelette?

quote:

You see, English is what they speak in Kenya, where he did the main research for his solutions for ending rural poverty there.


English might be widely spoken in the cities...but I think it implausible that it would be spoken in the countryside.

quote:

Exactly. In fact, your only solution is that they should overthrow the government. Realistically though, without any kind of popular support, that will only result in an insurgency or a civil war which will destroy a lot of lives and livelihoods, but ultimately be defeated.


No, I think a "1789" in "third world" countries will be ultimately successful...though it may take several tries.

The schemes of Mr. Sachs, on the other hand, will not be successful ever...because they depend on imperialist "good will" -- something that is as imaginary as the "Holy Ghost".

quote:

What I'm getting at here is that it is easy to criticize when you have no viable alternative to present.


I do not need a "viable alternative" to criticize an "alternative" that is itself non-viable.

No matter how many audiences Mr. Sachs or Mr. Bono or their disciples have with Bush, Blair, and Company and no matter how eloquently they plead the case of the poor, exactly nothing will be achieved.

quote:

Shit will be on humanity's menu for a few generations to come at least, and that's if we do things right.


The path that you and Mr. Sachs propose is one of indefinite servitude to capital...in other words, shit forever!

No thanks!

quote:

The point is, what would have happened if they continued to live like they were?


Everyone would get a chance to eat some sausage?

Horrors!

Most people on this board know that I am not a "big fan" of the state capitalist despotisms in the USSR, China, eastern Europe, etc. They were corrupt, incompetent, and occasionally brutal.

But it seems to me that what has replaced them has generally been worse and, in some respects, much worse.

Many people in those countries thought that when "communism" was dismantled, that they'd get modern capitalism like that of western Europe or North America.

Instead, what they've received is gangster capitalism...like the U.S. in the period 1865-1915.

Or, indeed, like Africa right now.

You and Mr. Sachs may think that gangster capitalism and more imperialist intervention is the "engine of world development"...I will reserve judgment on that one.

But when you cloak this formula in the costume of "really caring about the poor", I'm afraid you've exceeded all bounds of decency...or credibility.

quote:

Well, that's interesting, because the main point you make is that we have to wait for the revolution to come. You say that we have to do what we can while we can, but according to you, what we can do for the third world right now is nothing.


There is one thing we can do "for the third world" and only one thing -- build an anti-imperialist movement at home that is so strong and so intransigent that it is virtually impossible for the imperialist countries to militarily intervene in the "third world" without risking enormous domestic upheavals.

That's a tough task...and progress thus far has been very disappointing (at least to me). I have to constantly remind myself that we live, after all, in a period of reaction -- when people like you and others who showed some promise end up defecting to the class enemy.

It's just something that's going to inevitably happen.

It's a damn shame...but those are the breaks.

But some have kept and will continue to keep the revolutionary fires burning...and, who knows, in time they may rise again.

If Marx was right, they will rise again...and the wisdom of Mr. Sachs will be relegated to the basement stacks where the mice will make nests of it.

quote:

Which would you do if you were me?


I could never "be you".
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First posted at RevLeft on August 24, 2005
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quote:

Most people around here seem to think that when a nation is underdeveloped, it is owing to something called 'capitalist underdevelopment'.


Yes. The historical experience of direct foreign investment seems to be one of "hyper-development" of one or two "industries" that imperialists find particularly profitable...and complete neglect of the rest of the economy -- which remains primitive or nonexistent.

The "normal" path of capitalist development is one that develops a well-rounded economy...but this is not possible (or at least exceptionally difficult) in countries that are dominated by foreign investors.

quote:

But no one ever says anything about geographic underdevelopment, which is a large part of Sachs' 'clinical economics' theory.


And which he doubtless plagiarized from Jared Diamond.

Mr. Diamond, of course, had the honorable motive of trying to discover the underlying role of geographic factors in economic development.

He wasn't looking for excuses to justify imperialism.

quote:

Islands tend to be very easy to develop and grow much faster than other environments.


Someday New Zealand will own the world! *laughs*

Oh...and is western Europe an "island"?

quote:

I can't even remember what I read anymore.


It shows.

quote:

An autoplant would increase technical knowledge in the area quite widely, and would begin to bring some wealth into a few more peoples hands.


No, it would generate 500 or so jobs (auto plants are a lot smaller these days than they once were). The most highly skilled people at the plant would probably come from Germany...as would most of the parts and supplies.

It would inject a degree of prosperity in its immediate vicinity...until the German firm decided to move it to Mongolia.

quote:

If South Carolina is wretched, then the Ukraine and 70% of all other countries are the living incarnations of hell on earth.


Yes, that pretty much sums it up.

quote:

Do you think it was possible for the French to actually come out of their revolution victorious?


I do not know...nor does anyone else. We can always ask "what if" questions and try to develop plausible answers.

But what we have to "work with" is what actually happened. The French bourgeoisie failed in 1794, failed again in 1848, but after the defeat of the Paris Commune in 1871, the French bourgeoisie came to power once more...and this time held onto it!

quote:

What you have to understand is, your ideas aren't even popular enough to be talked about in the salons yet.


ROFLMAO!

And I hope very much they never will be!!!

The "ideas" that are "talked about in the salons" are, in my view, as significant as the static on a busted radio.

quote:

So what we have to do, what humanity will always have to do if they are not strong enough to overthrow the powers that be, is to work with them.


The traditional "wisdom" passed from the old to the young.

How ironic in this case: the old guy (me) says resist and the young guy (you) says surrender.

quote:

What you are suggesting is that we rise up and smash a near-invincible giant, or if we can't do that, we hurt the giant any way we can, even if through our ignorance of their plight, or even from our direct actions, we will bring harm to billions of people. I just think it's unfeasible. Excuse me if I think it's unrealistic.


Think whatever you wish; just don't kid yourself that "working with the powers that be" is going to accomplish anything useful.

My perspective may well be "unfeasible" or "unrealistic" or even "utopian".

Yours is flatly impossible.

quote:

Except that [Sachs] is known by statesman all across the world, and some of them I'm sure even respect him (maybe).


Woo hoo! He "hangs out" with war criminals and plutocrats...now that's a real "character reference".

It sounds as if Sachs is becoming a real "role model" for you. You sound like you can't wait for the chance to get your own nose in the crack of some rich bastard's ass.

Say hello to Bono for me. *laughs*

quote:

In Africa in 1820, GDP per capita was one-third of that in North America...


I regret to inform you that no one knows what the GDP of either North America nor Africa "was" in 1820. Economic statistics were few and unreliable in the U.S. prior to 1840...and I doubt very much if the numbers from most of Africa are reliable now -- much less back in 1820.

What should be included in the "GDP" and how it should be valued are contentious issues in and of themselves.

Bourgeois economists have erected an enormous mountain of statistical conjecture that non-economists are too often awed by...but remember the actual track-record of those same economists in explaining/predicting real world events.

The Tarot or the I Ching are cheaper and easier to use...and work just as well.

quote:

What about the third world countries that are already as democratic as France in the age of the National Directory?


It's not a matter of "democracy" -- it's a matter of achieving the national autonomy to make development possible.

What Africa needs to do is kick out the imperialists first! That means confiscate their property without compensation and totally repudiate all their debts to them.

It means close their countries to foreign direct investment for at least 50 to 100 years. It means produce almost nothing for the "world market" and purchase almost nothing from it -- perhaps subscriptions to technical journals for the local libraries.

Then Africa can produce or learn to produce to meet its own needs first...gradually developing a rounded modern capitalist economy.

In time, Africa can re-enter the world market...on its own terms. But even then, it should do so only to purchase modern technology and should accept no loans from the developed countries.

If there were Maoists in Africa, they might be able to do something like this -- but there don't appear to be any there at this time. The existing political forces there do not seem to be capable of anything but semi-organized looting and plundering.

So the Africans do seem to be "trapped".

But no "developmental aid" from the "west" will help them...they must learn to help themselves first.

Your new guru, Mr. Sachs, would, if successful, just pile on more chains for Africa and bury them even deeper in the shit.

quote:

Then explain to me Blair's championing of the debt cancellation in Africa and Bush's tacit support of it. What sinister plan is it a mere footnote to?


To figure out and implement even more profitable ways to rob the Africans, of course. I don't know what exactly they have in mind...but I do know how imperialists look at things.

"Humanitarianism" is not in their vocabulary.

quote:

How indefinite is your period of resistance to capital?


As long as it takes to overthrow and destroy it.

quote:

Or do we help who needs help now, and make revolution when the time is right.


You are not going to help anybody (except perhaps yourself to a lucrative position with some pro-imperialist institution)...and if revolution comes in your lifetime, you will oppose it as much as you can.

quote:

Economic systems that don't take into account how much it costs to make something won't ever be able to make enough to satisfy everybody.


Unlike capitalism, which always makes "enough" to "satisfy everybody" with money.

quote:

What I advocate is village capitalism, and imperialist intervention in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA).


The first already exists and the second is pure fantasy.

quote:

How did you know that I'm a massive fraud?


Well...it shows. No matter how much humanitarian rhetoric you pollute the board with, it's pretty plain what your real intentions are.

You're like those little fish that feed by cleaning the teeth of sharks.

Well, it's a living.

quote:

What do we do when we've built an anti-war movement that ensures a lack of military intervention?


Good question...even though you are not entitled to use the word "we" in this context.

I think that the radical critique of imperialism and the resistance developed to it will spontaneously spread into the workplace (it started to do that -- a little bit -- in the 60s)...and the next step could well be a very radicalized labor movement that would be ready to attack capitalism itself.

Perhaps by 2030 or 2040, we'd see some really interesting things start to happen.

quote:

Wouldn't it be plausible to build a movement for increased foreign aid, responsible foreign aid to Africa and the rest of the stagnating world?


The people who have money are not "responsible" to anyone save themselves. Whatever aid they "give" in front of the cameras is taken back when the cameras are turned off.

quote:

Of course, that armchair is a little too comfortable to ever accept the possibility that you could be wrong about some things.


I'm always aware that I "could be wrong about some things".

But about this, I am not wrong.
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First posted at RevLeft on August 25, 2005
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quote:

What I was referring to was a revolution created by people sitting around drinking cognac and planning a revolution.


I've never done that myself and I don't know that anyone here ever has.

On quite a few occasions, in fact, I've criticized the Leninist conceit that revolutions can be "planned" at all.

Cognac is quite tasty if a bit expensive for my budget; I've probably not had any more than half-a-dozen times in my life.

Say what Mr. Sachs, Mr. Bono, etc. consume in a week. *laughs*

quote:

But yes, to answer your question, Sachs not only advocates the cancellation of debt, he succeeded in getting half of Poland's debt canceled, and I believe all of Bolivia's as well.


On the Polish debt "relief"...

Capital Goes East

Poland: Even with external aid, stabilization measures hit harder and deeper than expected

On Bolivia's debt relief (not cancellation)...

Bolivia: World Bank And IMF Support US$1.2 Billion In Additional Debt Service Relief For Bolivia Under Enhanced HIPC Initiative

In terms of the real world consequences of these events, it's clear that Poland was a disaster for ordinary people and nothing much changed in Bolivia.

Thanks, Mr. Sachs.

quote:

And the money coming from those industries finances the domestic capitalists, who expand into other markets that they find particularly profitable. Just like happened in all of the 'Asian Tiger' countries.


No...when foreign capitalists invest in your country, the profits go back to the foreign country.

Obviously.

Only the wages paid to the locals stay in your country...and some of that may be spent on imported consumer goods, sending more money back to where it came from.

If the foreign owned firm buys from local suppliers...that will keep some of the money in your country and, in principle, could create a network of local suppliers that might begin a small "industrial boomlet".

quote:

I mean, you agree obviously with Diamond's theory, and yet, you won't apply it to the modern world. The less people that have to grow food (Western Europe being one of the most fertile regions on the earth), the more people there are to innovate, to build, in short a better future.


Diamond was investigating the rise of early class societies -- agricultural despotisms -- in which fertility and climate played essential roles.

With modern technology, these elements are much less important...wheat has actually been grown in the Arabian desert (I don't know if it still is or not).

The role of urbanization in economic development is a platitude -- but despite the enormous growth of "third world" cities, growth is highly uneven.

quote:

In places like Africa, where almost every person, with few exceptions gets an anemic bout of malaria every single year, there are an overwhelming number of factors of geography that inhibit economic development.


So malaria "causes" underdevelopment? Any excuse to get the imperialists off the hook, eh?

quote:

Yeah, they are probably going to put the factory on the back of a truck and just send it out there.


No, they will remove anything of value from the factory and "just send it out there". The buildings, with or without some scraps of obsolete machinery, will be left behind.

You can take a ride on Amtrak from Buffalo to Chicago and see what's left behind...a sprawling industrial wasteland.

Like a dinosaur graveyard.

quote:

I'd take ineffectual influence over futile resistance anyday.


Well, your choice does pay better. *laughs*

quote:

Apparently, Japan, SK, Taiwan et alia were puppets of the US, and we know (or presume) that puppets lack the ' national autonomy to make development possible', and yet, their economies seem to have expanded. Go on, what magic bullet of causality do you have for me now?


No "magic". To begin with, the Japanese already had a well-established history of reverse engineering, making things from scratch, etc. In addition, they looted and plundered extensively during World War II...and successfully hid what they stole until the Americans backed off enough for the Japanese capitalists to use it. But what really made the difference in Japan, in my view, was its use as a permanent "aircraft carrier" and "resupply base" for U.S. wars in Korea and Vietnam. The American money poured in and the Japanese were quick to respond.

Also, as was pointed out by others, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan erected stiff tariff barriers against imports -- both protecting weak Japanese industries and encouraging Japanese capitalists to fill those needs themselves.

In theory, imperialists would normally force countries to lower their tariffs -- but Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan were all "strategic" places in the eyes of U.S. imperialism...granted more autonomy than is normally the case.

Finally, those countries, like many in Asia, had a "pro-savings" culture...even now, people save money at a far higher rate than people in the "west". This generates an important source of domestic capital that imperialists have no control over.

quote:

There is the possibility, however slight, that they could acquire the capital through aid. In fact, I would say that that is more likely than anyone rising up and overthrowing any country's government.


Well, my estimate is different than yours. African-wide revolution may seem "unlikely". The possibility that Mr. Sachs and Mr. Bono will convince imperialists to provide the capital to develop Africa ranks equal to the possibility of groundhogs growing wings and learning to fly.

quote:

How do you expect them to combat AIDS or malaria without medicine? Oh, they'll make it themselves? With what?


Africa has "no" scientists? "No" doctors? They are "too stupid" to figure out how to make the drugs they need?

quote:

If there is one thing that has been proved a hundred times over in our lifetimes, let alone the last century, it is that notions of autarky are rewarded with poverty, isolation, both economic and political, the results of which are devastating to a nation's citizens.


Bah! Absolute autarky is probably not the best idea. But a lengthy period of "practical autarky" would probably benefit Africa more than anything else -- especially if implemented on a continental basis.

What has been proven "a hundred times over" is that if you don't know how to make it yourself, you're fucked!

quote:

You're not an expert on poverty, nor on Africa and you don't even know what Sachs' strategy is, and yet, you know, you are so confident in your ignorance that no matter what he says, it won't work.


I am, if you will, an "expert" on imperialism...and I'm assuming that you are accurately representing the views of Mr. Sachs.

From this, I conclude that (1) His proposals will never be implemented (except in a cosmetic sense); and (2) Even if they were implemented, they would not work.

quote:

And during this period, Africans and Asians should suffer unimaginable evils while you tell everyone to focus on strikes and other first world bullshit?


The "first world" is where we live...in case you've forgotten.

Would you rather go off to Shitholia and "teach the natives" how to "do capitalism"?

Have a nice trip! *laughs*

quote:

That you would even dare call into question my morals just shows how little you know me.


I don't give a rat's ass about your "morals"...I'm just going by what you have written in this thread.

Your ideas and your intentions really suck!

Otherwise, you might be a nice guy...who cares?

quote:

People who steal are hemmed in by notions of just how much they can steal without getting caught.


True, there are some practical limits.

Did you hear the funny story about the time when Russia was re-establishing capitalism? The IMF/World Bank made a $5 billion loan to Yeltsin's regime. Within hours, a billion dollars of it had completely vanished...I don't think it was ever located.

The limits are pretty high. *laughs*
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First posted at RevLeft on August 25, 2005
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quote:

Have you ever tried to predict anybody's behaviour with class?


Class as a determinant of behavior is only really useful when it involves large numbers of people.

It's not very reliable for predicting the behavior of a single individual.

quote:

You can't predict someone's politics, or their attitudes, or anything else about them based on useless notions of economic class.


No, I'd say you'd do somewhat better than chance in making such predictions, even on an individual basis.

But you'd still need a good-sized sample before the relationship would really start to "bite".

I imagine that you're raising this objection to lay the foundation for an argument about "good imperialists" who will "make nice" with the "third world".

You are building on sand; the really "big dogs" in the imperialist countries are universally ruthless in practice...regardless of humanitarian rhetoric.

quote:

Why will Tibet almost always be poor?


I don't see why it should be. Railroads and airports and even highways could be and probably are being built by the Chinese to "open the place up". Yes, they will be costly to construct and operate...but China can afford it.

The climate there is quite harsh...and I don't expect it will ever be as densely populated as the more agreeable parts of China.

But look at Alberta. Now there's a place that's pretty damn harsh...but it still has a couple of modern cities worthy of the name. I don't see why the same won't eventually be true of Tibet.

quote:

Let me guess, you're an expert on anemia now too? Yes, [malaria] causes underdevelopment!


Well, here's a source...

http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/impact/index.htm

quote:

It has been estimated in a retrospective analysis that economic growth per year of countries with intensive malaria was 1.3% lower than that of countries without malaria.


Sounds pretty grim...but a lower growth rate is not really the same as "underdevelopment", is it?

And why are those "humanitarians" at the World Health Organization interfering with the Africans using DDT...it's the cheapest and most effective form of malaria control in existence. The WHO won't even let people spray it on the walls of their houses!

quote:

You're telling me that the Japanese successfully plundered and hid from the Americans billions of dollars of Chinese wealth?


Not the soldiers (who may have done much of the grunt work). Japanese corporations looted gold in China and buried it in Japan; they also looted and buried gold in the Philippines, Indonesia, etc. -- especially in the last year or so of their occupations. In the fifties they started digging it up.

No one knows how much gold was involved...probably no more than a few billions of dollars worth. But it was there at a key time -- when Japanese corporations needed capital but didn't want to open up to the "first world". (Corporations in the Third Reich also hid hard currency reserves in neutral country banks...the German "economic miracle" was not quite as miraculous as some folks like to think.)

quote:

And there you have the cusp of the argument for limited liberalization. No matter how much influence or control the foreigners have, you will be enriching a people, and they will save that money and then they will start their own businesses, or find other ways of expanding that capital to their own benefit, and indirectly to the benefit of others around them.


Um...no.

In Africa, as I understand it, the cultural norms demand that if a family member prospers, he (or she) must "share the wealth" with all the members of his/her extended family...which can number dozens of people. I've read that in some countries, it's so bad that people with regular employment have bank accounts in fake names to avoid the demands of their insatiable relatives.

I imagine that Africans save very little...perhaps even less than "westerners". The needs of daily consumption suck up every unit of currency earned.

quote:

Not only did you admit the possibility of growth from FDI (foreign direct investment) given the right circumstances, you also admitted that people will be enriched in the country, no matter what the imperialists try to do. That is all I could ever ask of you. Because while these things seem to pale in comparison with our standard of living, they are the beginnings of a real domestic economy, well-rounded, and serving the citizens, not the foreigners(though no doubt they too will derive some benefit).


I think you are reading way too much into what I have said in this thread.

If the only source of capital is FDI (and/or development loans from the IMF/World Bank), then a well-rounded economy will not result from that process.

The country will end up producing one or two commodities for the world market, the local income generated from that will be used to pay for imported consumer goods and to pay the interest on the loans...and the recipient country as a whole will remain poor and underdeveloped.

quote:

Did no one on this site read about the Gleneagles G8 Summit that decided on a policy of debt cancellation for Africa?


I didn't bother to...and even if I had, why should I believe them? As I said earlier, if they choose to "forgive debt", it can only be because they have a fresh scheme to plunder Africa in a more thorough and effective way.

quote:

As long as we proceed with exactly the right amount of cynicism about the motivation of politicians, they can be goaded into doing what we want.


*laughs* They can at best be "goaded" into giving the appearance of doing what you want.

Given the number, complexity, and utter deviousness of modern "financial instruments", it is probably impossible for the non-expert to locate the "worm in the apple".

But you can bet the rent money that it's there.

quote:

Isolating yourself from the world won't exactly cause an intellectual revolution. The best way to learn how to make something is to have someone come over and invest the money in these technologies, which the workers then become proficient in.


Knowing how to operate a machine is not the same as knowing how to design and build one yourself. That is what Africa needs to do.

As to an "intellectual revolution", I think they should freely appropriate every scrap of technical knowledge that's in the public domain...including, of course, that which they acquire when they seize the property of the imperialists.

quote:

If you read it though, and come up with specific points about it, then that will mean something to me. But basically, you can't refute what you don't understand.


Well, I noted that there was a waiting list...the earliest it will become available to me is probably around the end of November.

But really, isn't observing Mr. Sachs' role in Poland sufficient? How many lives did he utterly wreck there? How many suicides? How many deaths from malnutrition and exposure? How many women and children forced into prostitution?

I think I understand Mr. Sachs quite well...as I said much earlier in this thread, he is a shill for imperialism.

quote:

I mean, I know people who spend $2000 a year on fuckin cigarettes, or weed or booze or whatever else and then complain that they don't have enough money.


Outrageous, isn't it! The common rabble actually think they are entitled to some pleasure in life!

Don't they realize that they are supposed to work, sleep, and watch the dummyvision???

And, if they have any extra money, buy stocks!

Just wait until Mr. Sachs or one of his clones (maybe even you!) gets to be in charge of Canada!

Those lazy fuckers will hear the crack of the whip then, dammit! They'll eat shit and like it!

Just like Poland.
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First posted at RevLeft on August 26, 2005
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