27 July 2011

Don't Fall on Me

Max Weber argued in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that adherence to this rebellious doctrine was largely the cause of Northern Europe's roaring economic success from the 17th century on.

Perhaps.  But where did this rebel belief come from?  Who thought it up?  Why did it gain such large favor in some places, just a bit in others, and still elsewhere none at all?  And why did it take on so many different faces?

Furthermore, what of the Catholicism that birthed it?  Who thought of that?  And the religion it sprang from?  And the one before that?

One theory is that our religions just fall on us out of the sky, like so many droppings from extraterrestrial spaceships.  We take no part in creating them, or shaping them, or rejecting or accepting them.  They arrive by conquest at sword-point, or else they just drift in like pollen on the breeze, floating into our ears and infecting our souls.  No choice at all, conscious or not.

Were someone to take up the contrary position--that we humans have a very great deal to do with what sky-friends we ascribe to--he might want to start his evidence hunting by looking at some maps.

Let's help him out.

21 July 2011

Colonialism, Today II

A small country, a relatively happy country, a country who's been producing wealth at more or less the same level for years... 

...Who one day decides to abandon control over its own monetary policy.  To take that sovereign control, stuff it in an envelope, stick on a stamp, and mail it to a country far, far away.

A boxing club made up of only heavy-weights and middle-weights has the magnanimity to invite in a few feather-weights.  How kind.  How inclusive. How optimistic.

What could possibly go wrong.

This, apparently:

16 July 2011

Colonialism, Today

For those unable to take care of themselves, life will always be a a vale of tears.

Unless someone else steps in.

Peoples, like water, should be allowed to find their natural level.  An adult can guide the hand of a four-year-old to create the Mona Lisa.  It's lovely, but when you let go of his hand, he may go back to drawing simple forms.  It's no use getting distressed that he can't do what you did for him.  Pretending otherwise is a recipe for frustration. 

Let him draw what he is capable of drawing.  He may want to reproduce your Mona Lisa.  When he can't, he may cry and ask that you give him better crayons, or more paper, or a better table or chair.  Give him all these things if you'd like; nothing you can give him will allow him to do what you did.  Nothing but picking up his hand and drawing it for him again.

Much as it pains you, let him draw his simple forms. Perhaps one day he'll advance to a point where he, too, can draw a Mona Lisa.  But if he can't--not ever--you must accept it. You and he both must steel yourselves and be content with whatever he can produce.  This can be frustrating.

But it is the price of true freedom.

05 July 2011

Comparing Peoples--References

      International policy-makers, particularly economic ones, often consider the Earth's inhabitants as peas in a pod.  All the same, interchangeable units, that one can plug into an equation any old how--the average Kurd, as well as the average Japanese, can be represented as variable "x."

This blog disagrees.

Policy equations reckoned in such a way tend to come out cock-eyed, yet no one ever seems to try fiddling with variable "x."  By our calculations, says Important Washington Think Tank, Anglo-style liberal democracy should be flourishing in Russia, and Ethiopians should be exporting luxury cars as fast as their factories can spit them out.

And twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred years after all the 'right conditions' have been put into place, when the people in question is still as authoritarian or as poverty-stricken as ever, Think Tank-ers refuse to change the one variable that counts more than any other.

Variable "x."

So let's take one of their very favorite tools, statistics, to find out why Think Tank-ers just might want to have another think coming.