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2009 July 04 Saturday
Honduran President's Removal Seen As Lawful

Octavio Sánchez (whose name sounds pretty Spanish), a former presidential advisor in Honduras, argues that the removal of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya from office was lawful and in accordance with the Honduran constitution.

Under our Constitution, what happened in Honduras this past Sunday? Soldiers arrested and sent out of the country a Honduran citizen who, the day before, through his own actions had stripped himself of the presidency.

These are the facts: On June 26, President Zelaya issued a decree ordering all government employees to take part in the "Public Opinion Poll to convene a National Constitutional Assembly." In doing so, Zelaya triggered a constitutional provision that automatically removed him from office.

Constitutional assemblies are convened to write new constitutions. When Zelaya published that decree to initiate an "opinion poll" about the possibility of convening a national assembly, he contravened the unchangeable articles of the Constitution that deal with the prohibition of reelecting a president and of extending his term. His actions showed intent.

Our Constitution takes such intent seriously. According to Article 239: "No citizen who has already served as head of the Executive Branch can be President or Vice-President. Whoever violates this law or proposes its reform [emphasis added], as well as those that support such violation directly or indirectly, will immediately cease in their functions and will be unable to hold any public office for a period of 10 years."

Article 239 does seem pretty clear, doesn't it?

Other parts of the Honduran government opposed Zelaya's attempt to make himself President for life.

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya vowed on June 25 to ignore a Supreme Court ruling ordering him to reinstate the head of the armed forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Romeo Vasquez. Zelaya had fired the general for refusing to support a non-binding referendum the president had called to change the Constitution and allow his reelection.

The Supreme Court, Congress and the country's attorney general have said that Zelaya's referendum is illegal. Hours after Zelaya's vow not to heed the Supreme Court's decision, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez complained that ''there is a coup d'etat under way in Honduras,'' led by the ``retrograde bourgeoisie.''

I'm all for the retrograde bourgeoisie.

But Barack Obama supports the Leftist.

"We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the President of Honduras - the democratically elected president there," said President Obama.

Obama is joined in this by Fidel Castro and the communist revolutionary Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua. But Zelaya really did try to violate the process of constitutional change in Honduras in order to give himself more power.

While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chávez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Can the Hondurans stand against the combined pressures of the Leftist governments of Cuba, the United States, Venezuela, and Bolivia?

By Randall Parker    2009 July 04 12:30 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2008 August 10 Sunday
Sudan Exports Food While Darfur Refugees Starve

The Sudanese government is engaged in a multi-billion dollar program to grow food for export while the people in Darfur starve.

ED DAMER, Sudan — Even as it receives a billion pounds of free food from international donors, Sudan is growing and selling vast quantities of its own crops to other countries, capitalizing on high global food prices at a time when millions of people in its war-riddled region of Darfur barely have enough to eat.

Why should we effectively subsidize a country that has decided to starve a portion of its population? I can think of other ways to deal with the situation. For example, Western diplomats could propose to spin off Darfur into a separate country with the argument that the Sudanese government has decided that it does not want the Darfur populace anyway.

This question is part of a bigger issue illustrated by Bosnia and Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia and South Ossetia in Georgia: should ethnic conflicts compel redrawing lines of sovereignty? The US government seems to oppose this when it sees advantage in opposing redrawn lines but at the same time it favors the redrawing when policy makers see some sort of advantage for perceived US interests. Though the policy makers are often not good at calculating US interests.

We send Sudan sorghum at considerable expense and they export a similar quanity of sorghum. Why not just buy the sorghum in Sudan and ship that sorghum into Darfur?

Take sorghum, a staple of the Sudanese diet, typically eaten in flat, spongy bread. Last year, the United States government, as part of its response to the emergency in Darfur, shipped in 283,000 tons of sorghum, at high cost, from as far away as Houston. Oddly enough, that is about the same amount that Sudan exported, according to United Nations officials. This year, Sudanese companies, including many that are linked to the government in Khartoum, are on track to ship out twice that amount, even as the United Nations is being forced to cut rations to Darfur.

The higher Sudanese sorghum output suggests they have plenty to sell to aid agencies. But the aid agencies say the Sudanese can make more money selling to Arab countries. The Arabs provide the money for agricultural investments to put more land under plow. The Nile provides the water. Does the US subsidize its sales of sorghum to aid agencies? I do not understand why US sorghum should be cheaper. Maybe the Sudanese quote a higher price to the aid agencies than what they sell for to Arab Muslim countries?

Getting aid through to the refugees is becoming more difficult.

That leaves the United Nations and Western aid groups feeding more than three million Darfurians. But the lifeline is fraying. Security is deteriorating. Aid trucks are getting hijacked nearly every day and deliveries are being made less and less frequently. The result: less food and soaring malnutrition rates, particularly among children.

Sudan's 40 million population is growing at over 2% per year. While 70% are Sunni Muslim the CIA World Factbook puts Sudan at only 39% Arab. So a substantial fraction of the blacks are Muslim as well. If we supplied and promoted birth control device usage in Sudan then we could reduce the hunger problem. Though that would probably not make the Sudanese government any more accepting of Christian and animist black Africans within the sovereign borders of Sudan.

By Randall Parker    2008 August 10 01:27 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2008 June 23 Monday
Religious And Tribal Factions Battle In Yemen

Rebel forces of Hashemite Shiites (and I thought Hashemites were Sunni royals like in Jordan) are fighting government forces of Zaidi Shiites and Sunnis in Yemen. Who knew?

SANAA, Yemen -- The boom of explosions swept across the high-walled compounds and minarets of this ancient Arab capital before dawn one day last week, as Shiite rebels battled for control of a mountain overlooking the city and its airport.

Government warplanes backed by artillery rebuffed the rebels, the latest skirmish in a largely hidden sectarian conflict that has drawn increasing attention from Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, Shiite Iran and Sunni extremists eager for a fight.

Keep in mind that the people who belong to a particular sect are far more likely to marry other members of their sect than to marry other sects. The cousin marriage practice in the Middle East makes sects into extended families with complex tight tribal loyalties.

"I believe this war is a proxy war," Yemeni lawmaker Ahmed Saif Hashed said in Sanaa, where civilians of the same Shiite sect as the rebels say they are facing increasing detentions, beatings and surveillance.

The rebellion is being mounted by Yemen's Hashemite Shiites, who ruled the country for more than a 1,000 years until an alliance of Shiite and Sunni military officers deposed them in 1962. Yemen's president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, belongs to the country's larger Shiite community, known as the Zaidis.

But a different analysis of the war (see further down) argues the rebellion in Yemen is by Zaidis.

Lebanon is considered a pretty cool place and it is nearer Europe and Israel. So Lebanon gets lots of coverage. But Yemen is the pits. The major international rights groups do not find it either groovy enough or accessible enough to bother.

Major international rights groups largely bypass Yemen, leaving unexamined and unamplified allegations that government tanks, warplanes and artillery routinely bombard northern Shiite villages. Smuggled videos show that some villages around Saada have been gutted and largely emptied of all but Shiite fighters.

"If a cat dies in Lebanon, the world knows about it," said Muhatwari, who said his school and mosque in the capital have been shuttered by the government. "Here in Yemen, we are forgotten."

Yemen shows.

The fighting in Yemen can go on because the women are busy making lots of replacements for any men lost in fighting.

At any given moment, nearly 16 percent of women in Yemen are pregnant, according to the latest survey of health matters by the Ministry of Health. This is a very high number of pregnant women, particularly as the government has been trying to encourage people to carefully plan their families and space out births, so as not to risk the health of mothers and children. The strain of continuous pregnancy and birth can have a ruinous effect on women’s health, particularly if they begin having children at a young age. According to Yemen’s most recent Demographic, Maternal and Child Health Survey, 48 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 24 were married before the age of 18. Fourteen percent, meanwhile, were married before the age of 15.

Marrying this early is very dangerous to the health of a woman, because she risks early pregnancy, which can siphon away the nutrients her own body needs to develop properly. These very early marriages raise the number of pregnant women in Yemen at any given time, and expand the number of births they will go through during their life span, which could have a dramatic impact on their health. In a study conducted by Marie Stopes International in cooperation with the World Health Organization, fertility in Yemen, at 6.5 children per woman, is amongst the highest in the world.

I found an analysis of the Yemen conflict that makes it sound like Zaidi Shiites are driving the rebellion in Yemen.

Zaidi Shi'ism is one of three main branches of the Shi'a movement, together with "Twelver Shi'ism" and the Isma'ili branch. Unlike the other branches, the Zaidis are restricted almost solely to the Yemen area. Their form of Shari'a law follows the Sunni Hanafi school, which has aided in their integration with the Yemeni Sunnis. The Zaidi Imams ruled Yemen from the ninth century until 1962, with interruptions. The Shi'a represents roughly 40% of Yemen's 20 million people.

The Zaidi rebellion first erupted in 2004 after rebels began attacking army positions across the north of the state. The rebels—who called for the restoration the Zaidi imamate, which ruled the capital, Sana'a, until a 1962 coup by republican force regard the Saleh regime as illegitimate. The group took up positions in the mountains and has been able to inflict significant damage on the Yemeni army and undermine its control in the north. The conflict also assumed a regional dynamic as Saleh accused Iran of sponsoring the rebellion as part of its expanding effort to project its power across the region.

Since fighting began in 2004, the totality of Zaidism has been under attack. The Yemeni regime has prohibited some mainstream Zaidi religious literature, replaced Zaidi preachers with Salafis at gunpoint and even banned some Zaidi religious festivals. This caused considerable outrage among the believers.

My advice: Keep the tribal Middle Eastern Muslims out of the United States and then we can just read about these people in newspaper articles.

By Randall Parker    2008 June 23 10:39 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (8)
2008 June 11 Wednesday
Venezuela Caught Supporting Colombian Rebels

The Amerind leader of Venezuela engages in acts of war against the Spaniards who control Colombia.

On the same day Colombia said it had captured a Venezuelan national guard officer carrying 40,000 AK-47 assault rifle cartridges believed to be intended for leftist guerrillas, President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela said Saturday he would withdraw a decree overhauling intelligence policies that he had made earlier that week.

The rare reversal by Mr. Chávez came amid intensifying criticism in Venezuela from human rights groups.

The capture of the Venezuelan officer in eastern Colombia could reignite tensions between the neighboring countries over Venezuela’s support for the rebel group FARC.

The party will end for Mr. Chávez when Venezuelan oil production declines so far that even $250 per barrel of oil isn't enough to fund the Venezuelan government. In 10 years time living standards will plummet in Venezuela. Venezuelan oil exports are in decline. But the effect is being masked for now by the huge rise in oil prices.

Recently, there has been increasing attention paid to the declining net oil exports worldwide, and last week the Wall Street Journal published a very important article, “Net Oil Exporters Unable to Keep Up With Demand.” Neil King, the lead writer for this article, recently obtained updated 2007 net oil export numbers from the EIA. I was particularly struck by the net oil export decline rates for Venezuela (-7.6%/year) and for Mexico (-16%/year).

By Randall Parker    2008 June 11 11:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2008 February 18 Monday
Kenya: All We Are Saying Is Give War A Chance

Kenya is populated by the anti-John Lennon. All we are saying is give war a chance.

AS THE road approaches Kisumu, Kenya's third-biggest city and capital of the Luos, the country's third-biggest but angriest ethnic group, it becomes littered with rubble and burnt vehicles. A man beats at a smouldering ambulance's number-plate with his machete. “See,” he explains, “this belongs to the government of Kenya.” Mobs cry out for their fellow Luo, Raila Odinga, to be made president of Kenya. They plead for guns. An earnest man pushes to the front of one mob. “What we are saying is give violence a second chance.”

These guys are determined to rehabilitate the reputation of violence as a respectable way to fix what ails a society.

In Kenya getting stoned on reefer gets you riled up and ready to literally stone members of the opposing tribe.

The youths from his Luo ethnic group who burned buildings in Kisumu in the wake of the election say they will accept little in the way of compromise. The stones in the road – marking the spot where one their friends was shot by riot police – could quickly become missiles.

"We voted for a president, not a prime minister," says one. "The least we can accept is an interim government with a revote in six months."

The young men, who spend their days drinking or smoking bhang, the local name for marijuana, are typical of the dispossessed from whom Odinga draws much of his support.

What do these guys see when they take LSD? Satan?

I figure the Luo see no need to compromise because a member of their tribe is front runner to win the Presidency of the United States. They probably figure Barack Obama will pull US troops out of Iraq in order to send them to Kenya to fight against the Kikuyu tribe.

Obama's Kenyan family hail from the Luo tribe of opposition leader Raila Odinga, who accuses Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki of stealing re-election in a poll that has triggered ethnic bloodshed, especially between the Luo and Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe.

The mostly West African blacks in the US who are voting about 80% in favor of a fellow African probably don't realize they are voting for a member of an East African ethnic group that is currently in rebellion against the government of Kenya. The Luo know. But African Americans are voting with loyalty that extends over a larger scaled definition of an ethnic group. They are still very much voting on blood though.

By Randall Parker    2008 February 18 08:36 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
2008 February 17 Sunday
Kenya Ethnic Separation Continues Apace

The Luo-Kikuyu divorce is well underway. At least most of them are getting away from each other without huge numbers of deaths.

Kenya used to be considered one of the most promising countries in Africa. Now it is in the throes of ethnically segregating itself. Ever since a deeply flawed election in December kicked off a wave of ethnic and political violence, hundreds of thousands of people have been violently driven from their homes and many are now resettling in ethnically homogenous zones.

Luos have gone back to Luo land, Kikuyus to Kikuyu land, Kambas to Kamba land and Kisiis to Kisii land. Even some of the packed slums in the capital, Nairobi, have split along ethnic lines.

The bloodletting across the country that has killed more than 1,000 people since the election seems to have subsided in the past week. But the trucks piled high with mattresses, furniture, blankets and children keep chugging across the countryside, an endless convoy of frightened people who in their desperation are redrawing the map of Kenya.

Western countries will refuse to let Kenya officially break up. Countries that break up create precedents. Other countries could follow. A redivision along ethnic lines cuts against faith in liberal universalism.

The Kenyan army is escorting convoys of people who are fleeing back to their ethnic heartlands.

The convoy joins its army escort on the road out of Nairobi as it starts its 150-mile journey in the verdant highlands where sheep and goats graze next to vegetable plots. Soon, the bus descends to the dusty savannah of the Rift Valley, passing occasional herds of zebra.

Along the way, it overtakes run-down cargo trucks crammed with other fleeing Luos and their furniture, clothes, goats, chickens. The passengers stare in silence when driving by burned out homes, which they assume belonged to Luos.

Hours later, as the bus barrels past tea plantations, safely out of Kikuyu territory and now in hills dominated by ethnic groups aligned with the opposition, they pass more burned-out homes. This time they presume the charred wrecks belonged to Kikuyus, and they start chattering.

"We are glad," says Christina Odhiambo, a 39-year-old who used to clean houses in Nairobi. "It is what they deserve."

Is Kenya finished? It looks like Humpty Dumpty to me.

Nobody knows how many people are moving across Kenya to seek the safety of ethnic numbers in this country of 38 million. But it's not just the rural poor; there are many reports of Nairobi landlords renting only to the right ethnicity, and businesses taking care about which staff are sent to which jobs.

For many ordinary Kenyans, the new reality is sobering.

"Sure, we all made jokes about each other, the Luos and Kikuyu, the other people," said Victor Gitonga, a 24-year-old Kikuyu Red Cross worker who was helping at the Luo camp.

"But that was joking. If people cannot live, work, stay in any place in this country, than is this a country? We are finished," he said.

By Randall Parker    2008 February 17 10:50 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2007 December 30 Sunday
Election Brings Tribal Violence To Kenya

In Kenya Mwai Kibaki of the Kikuyu tribe won reelection amid claims of unfairness. So supporters of Raila Odinga of the Luo tribe are rampaging and killing in anger.

NAIROBI, Kenya — It took all of about 15 minutes for the slums to explode on Sunday after Kenya’s president was declared the winner of a deeply flawed election.

Thousands of young men came streaming out of Kibera, a shantytown of one million people, waving sticks, smashing shacks, burning tires and hurling stones. Soldiers poured into the streets to meet them. In other areas across the country, gangs went house to house, dragging people of certain tribes out of their homes and clubbing them to death.

"It's war," said Hudson Chate, a mechanic in Nairobi. "Tribal war."

...

Mr. Odinga is Luo, an ethnic group that has long felt marginalized by the country’s Kikuyu elite that has dominated business and politics since independence in 1963.

Candidates make it clear to voters that they will deliver the goods to their own tribe if they win power.

Tribal allegiances have always been a factor in elections in Kenya, where there are more than 40 tribes. On the campaign trail, candidates usually use a mix of direct and indirect appeals to tribe. They use phrases like, "It is our time to eat," knowing voters understand that whoever controls the presidency has power to allocate money for projects and simple things like patrol cars for police countrywide.

Ethnically divided societies become zero sum games. So the United States should keep out members of ethnic groups that will see the aim of politics as delivering benefits to their group by taxing other groups.

The Luo are taking to the streets.

A close legal adviser to Odinga said the opposition leader would not challenge the results in court, which could take years, but would "take our case to the court of public opinion," the streets.

As the sun set, thousands of ardent Odinga supporters raged through the muddy, foot-worn paths of Nairobi's biggest slum, Kibera, wielding nail-studded sticks, heavy rocks, hammers, machetes and flasks of alcohol, setting ablaze a market run mainly by Kibaki's tribe, the Kikuyu, and continuing on.

"The president is Raila!" the rioters shouted, banging the machetes on tin roofs before tearing them down. "No Raila! No peace! They have rigged the election!"

Amy Chua, author of World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, sees a world where in many countries the biggest political rifts are between ethnic groups (tribal groups are ethnic groups) and she believes democracy deepens these rifts.

There exists today a phenomenon - pervasive outside the west yet rarely acknowledged, indeed often viewed as taboo - that turns free market democracy into an engine of ethnic conflagration. I am speaking of the phenomenon of market-dominant minorities: ethnic minorities who, for varying reasons, tend under market conditions to dominate economically, often to a startling extent, the indigenous majorities.

...

For globalisation's enthusiasts, the cure for group hatred and ethnic violence around the world is more markets and more democracy. Together, markets and democracy will gradually transform states into a war-shunning, prosperous community, and individuals into liberal, civic-minded citizens and consumers. Ethnic hatred and religious zealotry will fade away.

I believe, rather, that in the numerous societies around the world that have a market-dominant minority, markets and democracy are not mutually reinforcing.

Democracy does not deliver greater happiness when elections are seen as a battleground in a zero sum game waged between tribes. We see this in Iraq as well. The Sunnis see elections as a tool by which Shias gain control of the government and use that government for Shia benefit at the expense of Sunnis. Well, the Sunnis actually are right about that. Though if the Sunnis were in power they'd do the same but with the identities of the winners and losers reversed.

By Randall Parker    2007 December 30 11:29 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
2007 December 17 Monday
On The Market Dominant Minority Revolt In Bolivia

In Bolivia the more successful ethnic group wants to escape from the predations of the less successful ethnic group. In this case that means the lighter colored people want to escape from the tyranny of the darker colored people.

Four Bolivian departments are on collision course with the leftwing government of President Evo Morales after declaring radical autonomy statutes at the weekend.

The legislation, declared illegal by Mr Morales, would insulate the wealthier and mainly mixed-race eastern part of the country from parts of a controversial new constitution that grants greater powers to the country's majority indigenous groups.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people took part in rallies in Santa Cruz and departmental capitals to celebrate the autonomy measures, while similarly large numbers of pro-government supporters demonstrated in favour of the new constitution in La Paz.

Rather, the market dominant (i.e. smarter and more economically successful) minority get treated as unfair and deserving of fleecing by the less intelligent and less successful majority.

The dispute in Bolivia has strong racial undertones.

Morales purports to represent the indigenous "majority," although others say most of Bolivia's population actually is mixed-race, not fully indigenous. Many immigrants from Europe, the Middle East and even Japan settled in and around subtropical Santa Cruz during the 20th century.

Morales, an Aymara Indian who grow up in poverty, has viewed his election as an opportunity to reverse centuries of domination by what he calls a European-descended, light-skinned elite.

The highlanders are Amerinds who are much poorer than the partially and fully Spanish low landers.

Morales' core support comes from the poor, indigenous majority that lives primarily in arid Andean highlands.

The country's first indigenous president, Morales considered his December 2005 election victory a mandate to reverse what he considers centuries of discrimination by a European-descended elite.

Vice President Alvaro Garcia, addressing leaders of the revolting states on national television Thursday, called on the scores of opposition members engaged in hunger strikes to cease them. He said he feared "a catastrophic standoff" had been reached in a power struggle of unforeseeable consequences.

The events in Bolivia fit a much larger and tragic pattern which Amy Chua, author of World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability, has described. Chua sees a world where in many countries the biggest political rift is between between ethnic majorities and market dominant minorities and this rift is made deeper by a combination of democracy and free markets.

There exists today a phenomenon - pervasive outside the west yet rarely acknowledged, indeed often viewed as taboo - that turns free market democracy into an engine of ethnic conflagration. I am speaking of the phenomenon of market-dominant minorities: ethnic minorities who, for varying reasons, tend under market conditions to dominate economically, often to a startling extent, the indigenous majorities.

Market-dominant minorities can be found in every part of the world. The Chinese are a market-dominant minority throughout southeast Asia. Whites are a market-dominant minority in South Africa - and, in a more complex sense, in Brazil, Ecuador, Guatemala and much of Latin America. Indians have historically been a market-dominant minority in east Africa, the Lebanese in west Africa and the Ibo in Nigeria. Croats were a market-dominant minority in Yugoslavia, as Jews are in post-communist Russia (six of the seven biggest "oligarchs" are of Jewish origin). India has no market-dominant minority at the national level but plenty at the state level.

Market-dominant minorities are the Achilles heel of free market democracy. In societies with such a minority, markets and democracy favour not just different people or different classes but different ethnic groups. Markets concentrate wealth, often spectacular wealth, in the hands of the market-dominant minority, while democracy increases the political power of the impoverished majority. In these circumstances, the pursuit of free market democracy becomes an engine of potentially catastrophic ethnonationalism, pitting a frustrated indigenous majority, easily aroused by opportunistic politicians, against a resented, wealthy ethnic minority. This conflict is playing out in country after country today, from Bolivia to Sierra Leone, from Indonesia to Zimbabwe, from Russia to the middle east.

Since 11th September, the conflict has been brought home to the US. Americans are not an ethnic minority. But Americans are perceived as the world's market-dominant minority, wielding disproportionate economic power. As a result, they have become the object of the same kind of popular resentment that afflicts the Chinese of southeast Asia, the whites of Zimbabwe, and the Jews of Russia.

Global anti-Americanism has many causes. One of them is the US-promoted global spread of free markets and democracy. Throughout the world markets are perceived as reinforcing US wealth and dominance. At the same time, global populist and democratic movements give strength and voice to the impoverished masses. The result is that Americans have directed at themselves what the Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk calls "the anger of the damned."

For globalisation's enthusiasts, the cure for group hatred and ethnic violence around the world is more markets and more democracy. Together, markets and democracy will gradually transform states into a war-shunning, prosperous community, and individuals into liberal, civic-minded citizens and consumers. Ethnic hatred and religious zealotry will fade away.

I believe, rather, that in the numerous societies around the world that have a market-dominant minority, markets and democracy are not mutually reinforcing. Because markets and democracy benefit different ethnic groups in such societies, the pursuit of free market democracy produces highly combustible conditions. In absolute terms, the majority may or may not be better off - a dispute that much of the globalisation debate revolves around - but any sense of improvement is overwhelmed by its continuing poverty relative to the hated minority's economic success. More humiliating still, market-dominant minorities, along with their foreign investor partners, invariably come to control the crown jewels of the economy, which are often symbolic of the nation's patrimony and identity - oil in Russia and Venezuela, diamonds in South Africa, silver and tin in Bolivia, jade, teak and rubies in Myanmar.

America's promotion of democracy and free market capitalism around the world has unleashed conflicts between ethnic groups. The more of a market a country has the greater will be the differences in levels of success of different ethnic groups. This is a very strong argument against letting in immigrant groups who will do worse than the existing market dominant majority. But it is also an argument against letting in immigrant groups that will do better than the existing majority. Homogeneity (or at least heterogeneity with small differences in ability between groups) is the formula for peaceful democracy and capitalism that does not breed deep resentments.

By Randall Parker    2007 December 17 09:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2007 December 16 Sunday
Bolivia Breaks Into White And Indian Pieces

I saw this story and since it seemed totally unsurprising to me I didn't think to post on it. It is like watching the Sun come up in the East. Sometimes I need to remind myself that my view of the world is outside of the mainstream's conventional wisdom about how the world works and that writing about obvious truths is therefore necessary. But Tyler Cowen mentioned the Bolivian secession and I realized then that, hey, gotta state some obvious things. Says Tyler: "What does Bolivia have to do to make the front page?" (says me: "have a big rainbow coalition parade?")

As far as I can tell, there has been a partial secession in Bolivia.  (This story makes it sound more like "autonomy" than secession, but that line is a fine one, try this story too.)  The wealthier, more business-oriented, lighter-skinned, and natural gas-rich provinces near Santa Cruz wish to control their own fate.  But as of 8 a.m., there is nada on the front page of The New York Times.  So far it doesn't make the front page of news.google.com either.  Nor The Washington Post.  Here is a Spanish-language account from Bolivia, it does make the front page there.  Here's a blog report as well.

Multiculturalism. Diversity. Rainbows. Did I mention the power of diversity? The greatness of multiculturalism?

I'm glad Tyler did a post on it because the split between the smarter Spanish and dumber Amerinds in Bolivia fits with a larger pattern going on in Latin America that ought to serve as a cautionary tale for Americans debating immigration. No, the Latins are not all one happy family of diversity. We weaken our own country by importing their divisions and their low trust and low social capital societies into our own.

If you aren't familiar with Harvard political scientist Robert Putnam's research on diversity and trust in America now is the time to start. See Pat Buchanan's Robert Putnam: Diversity Is Our Destruction and Steve Sailer's Diversity Is Strength! It’s Also…Oh, Wait, Make That “Weakness” and Boston Globe and Steven Durlauf on Putnam's diversity research for starters.

By Randall Parker    2007 December 16 11:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
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