October 24, 2009

Nanny State'll Getcha

Here's a story that creeped me out--how far surveillance by local bureaucrats has gone in Merrie Olde England.

Totalitarianism creeps in under the guise of benevolence. Beware your local gummint, the local enviro police, the school board, the zoners. It's not the hobnailed boots that'll getcha, it's the helping professions. They'll brainwash you in your childhood, therap you into conformity in your adulthood, and euthanize you when you're old.

October 3, 2009

African Conundrum

A Bolshevik whose blog I read regularly is Louis Proyect. Louis writes good review of foreign films from places such as Turkey, films we don't get to see very often. He writes interesting personal reminiscences (he grew up in what used to be called the Borscht Belt) and on anthropological topics, such as the controversies about the studies of the Yanomami and the pecadillioes of the ethnographers who studied them.

He also descends periodically into the depths of "unrepentant" Marxism, as in this piece, where he rakes Columbia B-school types over the coals for their doctrinaire free-market views about Africa.

The critique's easy enough. You can't understand modern Africa without an honest assessment of the ravages of slavery and colonialism. The colonialists built some infrastructure and to some extent, educated the predecessors of the current class of leeches who run the place. Current extractive industries, such as oil and diamonds, don't help the locals very much, and sometimes ruin things for them.

A socialist critic, though, needs to answer a few questions.

1. Since independence, many countries have been officially "socialist," without much to show for it. Why not?

2. Why have the small states of East Asia, also colonized, also ravaged by war, oppression and corruption, fared so much better than Africa?

3. Can any political and economic system develop African countries whose average IQs are in the 60s and 70s?