Too little colonialism?

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Will

Will writes from Washington, D.C. (well, Arlington, Virginia). You can reach him at willblogcorrespondence at gmail dot com.

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7 Responses

  1. Avatar Art Deco says:

    In the Caribbean, Cuba was one of the oldest continually-occupied colonial territories in the Western hemisphere, but that history means precious little to the island’s impoverished citizens.

    A phenomenon such as development and modernization has undoubtedly many vectors incorporated within it, so any example offered for a given proposition has a counter-example.

    If I am not mistaken, Cuba was in 1958 one of the more affluent Latin American countries, trailing only the southern cone republics. Its political history from 1903 to 1959 was one of caudillo rule operating through a variety of means, competitive electoral politics among them. It has very little history of institutional military rule, and the quantum of political pluralism and popular participation was not grossly different from the Latin American median. What makes Cuba unusual is a historical accident that post-dated the colonial period by more than fifty years.Report

    • Avatar Travis in reply to Art Deco says:

      Uh huh, Fulgencio Batista was a nice guy whose citizens threw flowers at him when he walked on the streets.

      Oh wait, no, he was a brutal and repressive dictator who seized power by US-backed military coup, executed thousands of innocent and fled the country rather than be strung up by his own people.

      Nobody’s going to call Fidel Castro a saint, but to pretend that Cuba was a land of milk and honey before he came is an act of willful delusion.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Travis says:

        What’s amusing about this exchange is what I did say and your nonsense about what I said are side by side.

        Batista was one of a crew that overthrew Pres. Gerardo Machado in 1933; Machado’s regime was constitutional at its inception but authoritarian in practice. It was a liberalizing coup. The Central Intelligence Agency and its clandestine services did not yet exist; Batista himself had a somewhat mixed relationship with the U.S. Government during the years running from 1933 to 1937. (See http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,757689-1,00.html)

        I do not think the ‘thousands of executions’ exists outside your imagination; Fidel Castro’s initial efforts at insurrection in 1953 led not to his execution but to a prison sentence of two years.Report

  2. Avatar Sam M says:

    I generally disagree with Krikorian about everything. But I think this snippet from Easterly is important:

    “I compare the non-colonies to European colonies that were not settled by Europeans…”

    This seems like apples to oranges. Krikorian is not discussing colonized places versus non-colonized places. He seems to be saying that once a place IS colonized, it needs to go through the whole process. Which might have merit and might not. But the point appears to be that once you devastate a local culture and economy through slavery and colonialization, it takes a good time to replace that destroyed culture and economy with something viable.

    I think of it in terms of modern prisoners. I think it’s fair to say that taking an 18-year-old kid and throwing him into jail for a decade does some damage, and that he needs some training on the back end to prepare him for life in the real world. To test this hypothesis, you don’t compare ex-cons to people who never went to jail. You compare ex-cons who got job training with ex-cons who did not get job training.Report

  3. Avatar Art Deco says:

    You do need to look at Easterly’s methods of comparison. I have done this sort of work in the past in my student days (not at any time recently), and the sort of preliminary literature reviews you consult can have quite divergent results. I could not do a proper panel study (technical difficulties intervened), but I was able to do a cross-sectional study. It did not occur to me to use any political variables in my study. The thing was, nearly all of the variation in growth rates I discovered could be accounted for by the economic indicators I did make use of, so me personally would tend to be skeptical of his account unless he has a sociological model whereby particular elements of political history make more likely particular policy choices in the economic realm. Your milage may vary.Report

  4. Avatar Will says:

    Art Deco –

    Good points, but my excerpt probably doesn’t do justice to the thoroughness of Easterly’s methodology. I highly recommend checking out the book.

    Sam M –

    Yes, importing foreign colonists will probably increase a territory’s economic prospects. That doesn’t really do anything for the welfare of Haiti’s current population, however (which is what Krikorian is talking about). That, I think, is the point of comparing non-settled colonies to non-colonies.Report

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