Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby fjafjan » Sat Dec 13, 2008 1:18 am UTC

Let's not brush it under the rug. In alot of countries we, and by we I most mean Americans, have installed totalitarian governments where there were democratic ones. Of course the main reason for this is that democracies are linked with education, which is linked with wealth. In other words, back when Brittain and the other old chaps ruled the world there weren't any other democracies to overthrow, though they certainly did their fair part of in preventing that too.

Also this very argument is very prone to a true scottsman fallacy. How do you define European values/culture? I mean you might want to claim that South America is Europeanized, but honestly I think that is dishonest. I really don't think the concept of democracy is very hard to understand, it might in societies with alot of racist or misogynist elements modify into "only [race] men may vote". But really, the idea that "everyone should be able to have a say in how society functions" is very agreeable.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Sat Dec 13, 2008 8:36 am UTC

fjafjan wrote:I mean you might want to claim that South America is Europeanized, but honestly I think that is dishonest


Well, Argentina was a state that emerged from the Spanish colony of Buenos Aires. It inhereted European imperialist values when it pacified (i.e. massacered) the native population of the Patagonia region (it's a big region, about half of modern Argentina). To be able to do something with all this new land, they took on a *lot* of Italian immigrants, who taught them the distinctly European political system known as fascism. This is what Peron used to get into power (the husband of Evita). Through most of the twentieth century Argentina enjoyed a military junta (still sounds very European to me) which culminated in lots of 'dissapeared' in the seventies (planes would drop bodies in the Atlantic). Of course, the Argentinian governments did more than just assassinate citizens with political ideas, they also helped to unite a country that had a disproportionately *huge* immigrant population into something like a workable nation. It wasn't until the country lost the Falklands War that they adopted a loosely democratic government structure (ranked 56 by aforementioned Democracy Index). But perhaps the delay needed to happen- sometimes you need internal stability before you give every asshole a vote and their rights.

Brazil, Peru, Chile, Paruguay and Uruguay all share a similar story. They *are* Europeanised, but democracy is by no means the penultimate European value. Especially not when we're talking any more than fifty years ago. Perhaps the OP's quesiton is flawed because it assumes to be Indo-European is to be inherently democratic.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Dec 13, 2008 6:13 pm UTC

fjafjan wrote:Let's not brush it under the rug.

Who's brushing anything under the rug?

If the US and Canada get to be counted as Indo-European, then I'm pretty sure we ought to be similarly counting Latin America, even if it's not "Europeanized" enough for your tastes. (What, out of curiosity, would count as Europeanized for you?)
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Lemminkainen » Sat Dec 13, 2008 10:00 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
fjafjan wrote:Let's not brush it under the rug.

Who's brushing anything under the rug?

If the US and Canada get to be counted as Indo-European, then I'm pretty sure we ought to be similarly counting Latin America, even if it's not "Europeanized" enough for your tastes. (What, out of curiosity, would count as Europeanized for you?)

Agreed. Most countries in Latin America have had their indigenous populations and governments replaced with transplants, most of whom were Europeans or forcibly brought there by Europeans.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Iv » Sun Dec 14, 2008 8:22 am UTC

Here is a map of colonized countries in 1900. While I think there are some inaccuracies, see that there are very few places where democracy could develop and serve as a counter-example for the OP theory. There are, however, numerous dictatorships that appeared in former colonies.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Diadem » Sun Dec 14, 2008 12:42 pm UTC

So why didn't those colonize become democratic after they gained independence? A few did, but most didn't. Why is this?

I think that's an interesting question.

Was it because the European nations just didn't care to make sure they left a good government behind, leaving opportunity for dictators to seize power, or is there some other reason?
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby SpiderMonkey » Sun Dec 14, 2008 2:00 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:So why didn't those colonize become democratic after they gained independence? A few did, but most didn't. Why is this?

I think that's an interesting question.

Was it because the European nations just didn't care to make sure they left a good government behind, leaving opportunity for dictators to seize power, or is there some other reason?


Two reasons:

1. In the cases where they did gain democracy, they tended to vote in people who were supported by their own people and not by international corporations, and thus generally get overthrown by force resulting in dictatorship

2. Many never got democracy after independence; presumably because with their own native democratic traditions crushed and with a history of colonial violence its going to take some time to restore civil society. Remember, western democracies didn't turn up overnight - they took centuries to develop.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby iop » Sun Dec 14, 2008 5:33 pm UTC

Iv wrote:It would be easy to change this methodology to extend the scale by adding positive parameters for a democracy to have but that would probably create a category where the Switzerland would be alone, which may look a bit weird for readers. Adding the following questions would have Switzerland happily lead the scores :
- Can citizens effectively block a measure decided by the government ?
- Can the constitution be changed without a direct vote of the population ?
- Are there regular consultations of the citizens to determine the policy of the government ?
- Can the state of war be decided without popular consent ?
- Can the foreign affairs policy be determined without popular consent ?


I do agree that these make a country more democratic. However, since Switzerland is one of the only countries where there are mandatory referendums(and probably the only one that holds them regularly), this additional column would have been very lop-sided.

gmalivuk wrote:Sure, it was made without a popular vote, because we have a representative system, rather than a direct democracy.

That would be no problem if the representatives always decided in the interest of their constituents, instead of, for example, the interests of their campaign contributors. In Europe, the most glaring disparity between popular sentiment and political action has been the last few treaties of the European Union. Sure, you can vote the politicians out of office afterward, but reverting the previous political decision is extremely difficult once the damage has been done.


/aside: A change in the Swiss constitution needs to win an overall majority of the popular vote, and a win in the majority of the cantons (~states), not a 2/3 majority.
Also, the fact that it took the Swiss a while to allow women to vote is much more a flaw of Swiss culture than of the Swiss political system.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Lemminkainen » Sun Dec 14, 2008 9:05 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:So why didn't those colonize become democratic after they gained independence? A few did, but most didn't. Why is this?

I think that's an interesting question.

Was it because the European nations just didn't care to make sure they left a good government behind, leaving opportunity for dictators to seize power, or is there some other reason?

I think that this has to do with the way that while they were governing these places, most European rulers were not very concerned with creating a native class of administrators (look at the Belgian Congo-- in an enormous country, the number of college graduates at decolonization was in double-digits) or any kind of infrastructure that would allow for easy travel, trade, and information transit (all of which aid democracy). This made it easy for whichever warlord could gather together the biggest and most vicious army to seize control of the country. It also didn't help that during this time period, the United States and the USSR acted to protect any dictator in alliance with them in order to prevent the spread of capitalism or socialism, especially in the Middle East, where the US felt that it needed to keep oil supplies out of Soviet hands.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Iv » Sun Dec 14, 2008 10:32 pm UTC

I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that after independence, countries' borders often did not match any cultural entities. Linguistic and ethnic zones were split between countries, enemy peoples were put in the same. This could only lead to wars and civil unrest. In these cases, dictatorship is the most easy system to put in place.

In a lot of countries, decolonization happened recently. For most of them it happened in WWII aftermath. Some leaders, like Mugabe, remember the colonial rule and use it as a scarecrow to create support for a strong state.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Lemminkainen » Mon Dec 15, 2008 12:24 am UTC

Iv wrote:I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that after independence, countries' borders often did not match any cultural entities. Linguistic and ethnic zones were split between countries, enemy peoples were put in the same. This could only lead to wars and civil unrest. In these cases, dictatorship is the most easy system to put in place.

In a lot of countries, decolonization happened recently. For most of them it happened in WWII aftermath. Some leaders, like Mugabe, remember the colonial rule and use it as a scarecrow to create support for a strong state.


I agree with both of these hypotheses. Countries emcompassing groups of people with historical enmities face another democracy-stifling problem as well-- ethnicity-based or religious political parties (ie: the Kikuyu-dominated ruling party of Kenya, the myriad Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish parties in Iraq, even Flemish and Walloon parties in Belgium), which prevent legitimate debate over issues and turn national politics into a patronage-fest for the groups that the ruling parties represent.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Mon Dec 15, 2008 2:53 pm UTC

So why didn't those colonize become democratic after they gained independence? A few did, but most didn't. Why is this?

I think that's an interesting question.

Was it because the European nations just didn't care to make sure they left a good government behind, leaving opportunity for dictators to seize power, or is there some other reason?


There isn't one answer. India did (relatively) well because before colonisation it was a fairly robust early modern state. It's bureacracy and social structure were solid and stable. The British really only placed themselves on top of it, and kept it much the same. When they left, it was a going concern (bear in mind India was not, at all, geared to be democratic. The class system ran counter to the concept of equality, to start with. Alot of the problems modern India faces are because the country simply isn't geared to be democratic). Similarly, China also has a long history of centralised governments. It is, of course, not a democracy, but managed to continue successfully after colonisation because it already existed as a state prior to it.

It is also worth noting the contradiction of colonial administration. The crimes they commited against their subjected populations were horrendous. However, they often beleived in all sincerity that what they were doing was for the good of populations they colonised. In fact, the French were so assured that they were responsibly developing their colonies that they were deeply affronted when, after giving all their African colonies the option of independence in 1958, Guinea took it. They acted vindictevly then, but afterwards continued to assist their former colonies when they eventually choose independence too. The British were less ideological in their colonial conquests, but also sought to assist the development of their colonies even after independence.

One problem was that although all these countries desired independence, few were ready for it. THey didn't have enough local bureacrats or academics to successfully work as states. They often became infested with corruption and violence. This is because most of Africa had not developed into early modern states before colonisation, and they hadn't yet acheived the internal cohesion necessary to function. This wasn't helped by the cultural/tribal divisions amongst the population. In fact, it was the colonists themselves who reinforced or even invented tribal groupings: the story of Rwanda is fairly well known. In that case, the tribal divisions were deliberately exaserbated which resulted in massive fighting and bloodshed.

The thing is though, that when African states acheived independence, they voted for their leaders democratically. It was these leaders who often dissolved the constitution or embezzled the country's resources, staying in power by granting favours or high-paying government jobs to their supporters in a massive patron/client setup.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:11 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:China also has a long history of centralised governments. It is, of course, not a democracy, but managed to continue successfully after colonisation because it already existed as a state prior to it.

Which colonization of China would that be, then?
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Iv » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:19 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:It is also worth noting the contradiction of colonial administration. The crimes they commited against their subjected populations were horrendous. However, they often beleived in all sincerity that what they were doing was for the good of populations they colonised. In fact, the French were so assured that they were responsibly developing their colonies that they were deeply affronted when, after giving all their African colonies the option of independence in 1958, Guinea took it.

While I am happy that we have this image of human rights lovers, I would like to object. The main goal of colonization was not to better the way of the people that lived in colonies but to take the resources of these countries. It was openly admitted. The "benefits of civilization" was a side argument that became more and more obviously hypocritical. I don't know how the England colonies were administrated, but in French ones, colonized people had fewer rights than colonizer. We had the chance, after 1958, to have a fairly good leader, De Gaulle. He managed to make most decolonizations smooth. Countries were usually proposed either to gain independence or to be recognized as a "territoire d'outre mer" (oversea territory), making them legally a part of France and making all of their inhabitants official, 100% French citizens. When independence was chosen, he was smart enough to see that helping them make a transition was saving a lot of trouble in the future. And he had Algeria to prove him right (the mess there started before he came back to the government).

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:30 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Pez Dispens3r wrote:China also has a long history of centralised governments. It is, of course, not a democracy, but managed to continue successfully after colonisation because it already existed as a state prior to it.

Which colonization of China would that be, then?


Heard of the Opium Wars? Britain was making China import opium from India they didn't want. They fought to be able to *not* import it, because Britain was in charge. Not in the same way as India, but colonialism was different everywhere and it was colonialism.

Iv wrote:The main goal of colonization was not to better the way of the people that lived in colonies but to take the resources of these countries. It was openly admitted. The "benefits of civilization" was a side argument that became more and more obviously hypocritical.


First of all, colonial powers often sunk a *lot* of money into their colonies before they saw any profit...if that even hapened. But more importantly, if you think the colonialist *never* had intentions to improve the lot of the peoples they colonized, then you will never fully understand colonialism. There was sincerity. The French wanted to turn their colonists into Frenchmen well before De Gualle. Leopold Senghor and Felix Houphouet-Boigny were natives of Sengal and Cote d'Ivoire respectively, and came to become leaders of their countries when they acheived independence. They were both extremely loyal to France, and genuinely believed in French Africa.

Likewise, the French and British understood that they had imposed a contract on the people they colonised, that in return for soveriegnty they had to deliver responsible governance and development. It wasn't entirely out of the good of their hearts... they just knew, from practice, that being tyrannical led to difficulties.

*edited so this wasnt in two posts one after the other*
Last edited by Pez Dispens3r on Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:58 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Ixtellor » Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:34 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:So why didn't those colonize become democratic after they gained independence? A few did, but most didn't. Why is this?

I think that's an interesting question.

Was it because the European nations just didn't care to make sure they left a good government behind, leaving opportunity for dictators to seize power, or is there some other reason?


You are discussing two events.

1) The colonial powers removing their armies from their old colonies. Instead of a power vaccum, they left behind their own puppet governments, who were Pro-former colonial power, in exchange for arms, wealth, etc.
This is often referred to as Neo-Colonialism.

2) When the Neo-Colonial powers finally fell, it was always to an uprising. And basically to a nation, the leaders of these uprisings appointed/elected themself the new rulers of those nations. Power corrupts... blah blah. You get a long string of dictators.

Now there are several factors that help to explain the different outcomes in America and the rest of Latin America.

In America, the populace were all basically european. So were shown far greater respect and freedom. They basically lived like english subjects who did have rights.
Versus the Latin American nations, where the populace was mostly indigenous people who were shown very little respect and/or rights.

So when it came time to topple their old colonial power, the Americans were used to and accustemed to individual rights as well as access to education. Where in latin American nations, the populace had never known freedom or individual rights. In addition to no access to education, where they could even learn of an alternative way.
So when the 'rebel leaders', if they did, overthew the colonial puppet governments(neo-colonial leaders) they had no pressure from their uneducated populaces to give them rights/freedom. In many cases it was just about land reform. Give them a few acres, and they were mostly content.


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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Dec 16, 2008 3:44 am UTC

Ixtellor wrote:You are discussing two events.

1) The colonial powers removing their armies from their old colonies. Instead of a power vaccum, they left behind their own puppet governments, who were Pro-former colonial power, in exchange for arms, wealth, etc.
This is often referred to as Neo-Colonialism.

2) When the Neo-Colonial powers finally fell, it was always to an uprising. And basically to a nation, the leaders of these uprisings appointed/elected themself the new rulers of those nations. Power corrupts... blah blah. You get a long string of dictators.


Can you provide some examples, please? For example, the British left Mugabe in power. Not exactly a puppet. He's not exactly pro-Britain either.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Dec 16, 2008 4:29 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:Can you provide some examples, please? For example, the British left Mugabe in power. Not exactly a puppet. He's not exactly pro-Britain either.


1) Let me first say that 'puppet' was a poor choice of words because it isn't always applicable. Some neocolonial leaders were not puppets, were ultimatly participants or beholden to the colonial powers.

2) Britian eventually became the #1 neocolonial power because of Napolean interferring with Spain and Portugal. So some former colonies of those nations, later became dependant on Britian.

3) My senior year I did my thesis paper Latin America and neocolonism, but I know of one great African example to illustrate my point.
Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana. He was an 'independent' leader after the colonial era, who would later write a book about the British stranglehold on his nation.

4) The basic outline is this:
The former colony rebels or is given up.
The new leaders want to advance their nation, their economy, or just industrialize.
This requires capital which they do not have. So they go to Britian for either technical expertise, money (loans), or capital goods. (Tractors, metal works, high tech irrigation machines, etc).
So from day one they are basically indebt to Britian. One old practice was to have exclusive trade agreements with the former colonies. This gives Britian, or other powers, the abilty to underpay for colonial goods. Which almost always consist of raw materials.
So Ghana sells its goods to Britian, then finds that it did not earn enough to pay off the loans of money or capital. So now they have to ask Britian for allowances. These allowances could include:
Selling your assets to Britian.
Privitizing your businesses.
Exclusivity agreements.
Remove trade barriers.
So in the end, you will find many nations whose national assets are actually controlled or owned outright by colonial powers. Aluminum in Chile, farms in Brazil, diamond mines around Africa, lots of African banks and plantations, etc.

So if you look at the colonial to neocolonial dynamic it is unchanged.

The powers are getting all the raw goods and natural resources from the colonies, and the powers are selling their manufactured and high tech goods back to the colonies. (The whole point of colonies is to get raw materials to feed your industry, and resell those industrial goods to ever expanding markets) Hence nothing has really changed.

I would wager, but am not certain, that if you look at Ghana's major exports, many will be owned by British interests.


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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Dec 16, 2008 5:22 pm UTC

I think you might be using too many simplifications. I'd be interested to hear about neocolonialism in Latin America, but what you're describing sounds more like globalisaiton.

My Nkrumah is a little rusty, but the book you described does sound like something he'd write. At a time when Britain was planning 'semi-responsible government' for the Gold Coast (Ghana), where essentially internal affairs would be given to a general assembly with an African majority and to African ministers, Nkrumah emerged with his own party demanding independence immediately. He was arrested as a political prisoner but when his party won he was released from jail and pushed the country towards independence.

When Ghana became independent, it was one of the richest countries in the world. It had huge foreign currency reserves from the cocoa boom in the 50s. It had a solid education system, a compentent civil service and none of the internal disputes that plagued other African countries.

Nkrumah squandered those resources, spending lavishly and irresponsibly. He wrote a new constitution in 1960 that allowed him to rule by decree and ignore the parliament. He constructed a cult of personality around himself. He wrecked Ghana. He didn't need any loans from anyone... he was sitting on extensive financial rexources and a strong famring economy (the biggest producer of cocoa for forty years).

If anything, Nkrumah demonstrated that Ghana was better off under colonial rule than being independent. The colonial record is not one to be proud of, but you will find that by the twentieth century the colonial powers weren't about exploitation so much as having access to resources.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Dec 16, 2008 6:29 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:I think you might be using too many simplifications. I'd be interested to hear about neocolonialism in Latin America, but what you're describing sounds more like globalisaiton.


I am oversimplifying for space and time. But if you look at global patterns of the decolonization process, there is a pattern.
I don't know how you want to define 'globalisaiton' but...

There was a mindful and purposeful process where former colonies were virtually forced to maintain the status quo where they would only supply raw goods in exchange for high tech goods. The most basic way to ensure this relanship is through debt and the inablity of colonies to repay it. So that they ultimatly end up beholden to the real world powers.

If it was just a situation of some countries sell raw goods and others sell manufactured goods in a symbiotic relationship, then it would just be 'globilsaiton'
But in reality is that there is a willful attempt to prevent the old colonies from developing their nations and becoming less or unreliant on the old powers. The classic tool is using the IMF and the world bank.
Step 1: Make a loan to the colony so they can industrialize or modernize.
Step 2: They default - its a rigged game, and sometimes its bad luck (mexico and oil prices)
Step 3: Forgive or extend debt in exchange for open markets and no tariffs.
Step 4: Buy all their corporations or flood their markets with better cheaper goods that cause their own markets to go bankrupt.

Here is an example:
In America and Europe, farmers are HEAVILY subsidized. Thus they can sell their products below the cost of production. African nations are 1) not allowed to subsidize because of agreements made inexchange for debt forgiveness or 2) don't have the money to subsidize farmers.
So when American and European farm goods reach africa, they are cheaper than local produce. Thus the local farmers have huge losses, thus lower taxes, thus more inability to repay IMF and foreign debts, thus MORE concessions in their ability to control their markets.

Back to Nkrumah:
1) You clearly know more about him than me.
2) What I do know is that he tried to modernize his country. Inorder to get the ball rolling he borrowed money. Then fell into the classic debt trap.
Here is an example I saw on wiki just now:

Nkrumah's advocacy of industrial development at any cost, with help of longtime friend and Minister of Finance, Komla Agbeli Gbedema, led to the construction of a hydroelectric power plant, the Akosombo Dam on the Volta River in eastern Ghana. American companies agreed to build the dam for Nkrumah, but restricted what could be produced using the power generated. Nkrumah borrowed money to build the dam, and placed Ghana in debt. To finance the debt, he raised taxes on the cocoa farmers in the south.


He didn't need any loans from anyone... he was sitting on extensive financial rexources and a strong famring economy (the biggest producer of cocoa for forty years).


There is a vast difference between having capital to spend and having assets. The cost of major industrial products is staggering, and in the vast majority of cases countries or companies borrow to build the new manufacturing asset.
Ford and Microsoft don't use cash to finance new factories, they borrow the money or issue bonds, etc.

So Nkrumah's choice was save up for 10+ years(guess) to buy the new industrial assets (assuming the 1st world would sell them) or take out a loan to get the ball rolling.


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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Diadem » Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:39 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:There was a mindful and purposeful process where former colonies were virtually forced to maintain the status quo where they would only supply raw goods in exchange for high tech goods.


If this is so, then why do we only see this in Africa? Why not in, for example, India? Or the rest of Asia? Besides, what else do you expect as a relationship? You want poor countries to export high-tech goods? That don't work!

The most basic way to ensure this relanship is through debt and the inablity of colonies to repay it. So that they ultimatly end up beholden to the real world powers.


First of all, those former colonies weren't forced to borrow from us. That was their own decision. And a very bad one, I agree, but you can't blame the Western nations for that. Secondly, lending out money to someone who can't repay it is not exactly profitable for the lender either. Lending money to countries that can't repay it should be seen as a particularly stupid form of developmental aid. It's stupid, but there's malignancy behind it.

Step 2: They default - its a rigged game, and sometimes its bad luck (mexico and oil prices)


Why is it a rigged game? Who rigged it, and what for? Proof please!

Step 3: Forgive or extend debt in exchange for open markets and no tariffs.


Well that sounds like a very reasonable thing to do. You're providing incentive for adopting sound economic policies. Since when is that a bad thing?

Step 4: Buy all their corporations or flood their markets with better cheaper goods that cause their own markets to go bankrupt.


Wait, what? You're claiming that providing better cheaper goods is a bad thing? That's like saying we should've shot Edison for inventing the lightbulb. He's doing major damage to the candlemaking industry!

Here is an example:
In America and Europe, farmers are HEAVILY subsidized. Thus they can sell their products below the cost of production. African nations are 1) not allowed to subsidize because of agreements made inexchange for debt forgiveness or 2) don't have the money to subsidize farmers.
So when American and European farm goods reach africa, they are cheaper than local produce. Thus the local farmers have huge losses, thus lower taxes, thus more inability to repay IMF and foreign debts, thus MORE concessions in their ability to control their markets.


Yes, the local farmers will have losses. But everybody else will profit hugely from having cheaper food. They can use that money to spend on other things. Net economic effect will be advantageous. I know 'we destroy their markets by exporting cheap goods with which they can't compete' is a popular theory. But it's just wrong.

So Nkrumah's choice was save up for 10+ years(guess) to buy the new industrial assets (assuming the 1st world would sell them) or take out a loan to get the ball rolling.


Why did he need those industrial assets in the first place? Are they a goal in themselves? Wikipedia talks about 'industrial development at any cost", and indeed that's exactly what he did. And the costs were huge indeed. But is the west to blame for Nkrumah's stupidity? First of all Nkrumah shouldn't hve been making business decisions in the first place - that's the business of business, his job was the rule the country - and secondly he shouldn't have been making very bad ones.


The reason for Africa's lack of development is not Western exploitation. It's their own corruption and political chaos and horrible economic policies.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby mspickle » Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:00 pm UTC

I would propose non-Indo-European peoples and Indo-European peoples have the same chance of being Democratic (whatever definition you use), all else being equal.

Check out the 5 Nations Confederacy (now 6 Nations) history- they have had (and still have to a great extent) a very good confederacy/democratic system in which women and men all had a voice, for quite a long time, some thousand years. I think it is loosely called the Longhouse system, established or at least started by a man named Peacemaker. Men were representatives called sachems but were elected by the women of the community. Each sachem would go to the capital to meet with the other sachems and vote/make decisions for the good of all communities.
Someone may correct me on more details but as I recall that is basically how it works.

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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:19 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:f this is so, then why do we only see this in Africa? Why not in, for example, India? Or the rest of Asia? Besides, what else do you expect as a relationship? You want poor countries to export high-tech goods? That don't work!


It isn't limited to Africa. It includes virtually every country in Latin America and parts of indo-china. (I think thats the term... thailand, phillipines, Indonisia, etc)

No poor countries can't make high-tech goods. But they could produce say...
Shovels, clothing, simple manufactures.

(Guess which countries have massive protectionist policies on clothing...) (Anti-dumping, quotas, humanitarin worker requirements...)
((I will say that the clothing sector is being opened up, as the major powers shift farther away from low tech manufactures, but even in the 1980's the low tech protectionist practices were rampant))

Diadem wrote:First of all, those former colonies weren't forced to borrow from us. That was their own decision. And a very bad one, I agree, but you can't blame the Western nations for that.


True. But... there was pressure from the banking industry to make these kinds of loans. After the major banks had saturated their own markets, and needed new markets, the newly independent colonies were a great place to expand too. (I will look for an online citation)

Diadem wrote:Secondly, lending out money to someone who can't repay it is not exactly profitable for the lender either. Lending money to countries that can't repay it should be seen as a particularly stupid form of developmental aid. It's stupid, but there's malignancy behind it.


The loans are guaranteed with tax payer dollars. (pounds) Banks have no reason not to make the loan. Worst case scenario is that the American and British tax payers foot the bill.

There is a lot of political pressure to make the loans.
1) From banks, cause its a sure thing for them.
2) From humanitarians who believe the countries "Can do it!!" if only given the opportunity.
3) From the countries themselves. They lobby the American and British governments for funds. Many times the countries are controlled by dictators who may or may not have any attention of paying it back and only using the money to enrich themselves.

Diadem wrote:Why is it a rigged game? Who rigged it, and what for? Proof please!


Lets take Chile.
Ruled by Pinochet, the IMF was urged to make loans by:
Pinochet himself. I can't speak to his motivations, but would you be surprised if he had no intention of paying back the loans?
The American and British banks, don't care about the counties ability to repay due to the US government guarentee of the loan.

Diadem wrote:Well that sounds like a very reasonable thing to do. You're providing incentive for adopting sound economic policies. Since when is that a bad thing?


I am a pretty hardcore free market person.
But what the IMF does to countries that default (or don't default in many cases) is force open-market regulations that NO first world country would ever allow.

I disagree with the notion that America and Britian are soo protectionist, but I think it is immoral to force free market policies on developing nations while the powerhouses engage in RAMPANT protectionism. If it was an even playingfield, I would probably not object as much.

Example:
African nations can NOT subsidize their farmers, 1st world nations DO.
African nations can NOT implement quotas or tariffs, 1st world nations DO.
African nations can NOT buy 1st world companies (Think Boeing, Port Security, communication techs, etc) 1st World nations can buy African corporations.
African nations have to have 100% transparency in economic spending and law, 1st world nations do NOT.

This is nothing to say about 1st world nations controlling interest rates, and currency values.


Diadem wrote:Wait, what? You're claiming that providing better cheaper goods is a bad thing? That's like saying we should've shot Edison for inventing the lightbulb. He's doing major damage to the candlemaking industry!


No im talking about anti-trust legislation.
Are you aware that we have laws regarding selling goods below cost?

A good analogy would be China selling top notch computers in America for $20.
Once Dell, HP, and everyone else went bankrupt, then guess what China would do???

Here is a question for you:

Would you be OK with every company in your nation being owned by Saudi Arabians?

I personally don't have a problem with this, hence I am a fairly hardcore free marketeer.

However, many people strongly object to foreigners owning your countries industries.

Diadem wrote:Yes, the local farmers will have losses. But everybody else will profit hugely from having cheaper food. They can use that money to spend on other things. Net economic effect will be advantageous. I know 'we destroy their markets by exporting cheap goods with which they can't compete' is a popular theory. But it's just wrong.


Your basically arguing for competitive advantage.

But you are forgetting that government subsidies industries don't a competitive advantage make.

Africans in reality do have a competitive advantage in many agricultural sectors. But because the 1st world nations heavily subsidize these sectors they are able to sell at costs below the equilibrium price, for which Africans would be able to out do them.

You are also assuming that countries that are barely removed from a feudalistic economies would be able to instantly adapt to free market economic stimuli.

In America if Toyota wipes out GM and Ford, those workers and owners can move into other sectors. In many African nations, there are no other sectors. So having your one or two industries destroyed by 1st world subsidies is devestating.

The reason for Africa's lack of development is not Western exploitation. It's their own corruption and political chaos and horrible economic policies.
Ixtellor wrote:There was a mindful and purposeful process where former colonies were virtually forced to maintain the status quo where they would only supply raw goods in exchange for high tech goods.


If this is so, then why do we only see this in Africa? Why not in, for example, India? Or the rest of Asia? Besides, what else do you expect as a relationship? You want poor countries to export high-tech goods? That don't work!

The most basic way to ensure this relanship is through debt and the inablity of colonies to repay it. So that they ultimatly end up beholden to the real world powers.


First of all, those former colonies weren't forced to borrow from us. That was their own decision. And a very bad one, I agree, but you can't blame the Western nations for that. Secondly, lending out money to someone who can't repay it is not exactly profitable for the lender either. Lending money to countries that can't repay it should be seen as a particularly stupid form of developmental aid. It's stupid, but there's malignancy behind it.

Step 2: They default - its a rigged game, and sometimes its bad luck (mexico and oil prices)


Why is it a rigged game? Who rigged it, and what for? Proof please!

Step 3: Forgive or extend debt in exchange for open markets and no tariffs.


Well that sounds like a very reasonable thing to do. You're providing incentive for adopting sound economic policies. Since when is that a bad thing?

Step 4: Buy all their corporations or flood their markets with better cheaper goods that cause their own markets to go bankrupt.


Wait, what? You're claiming that providing better cheaper goods is a bad thing? That's like saying we should've shot Edison for inventing the lightbulb. He's doing major damage to the candlemaking industry!

Here is an example:
In America and Europe, farmers are HEAVILY subsidized. Thus they can sell their products below the cost of production. African nations are 1) not allowed to subsidize because of agreements made inexchange for debt forgiveness or 2) don't have the money to subsidize farmers.
So when American and European farm goods reach africa, they are cheaper than local produce. Thus the local farmers have huge losses, thus lower taxes, thus more inability to repay IMF and foreign debts, thus MORE concessions in their ability to control their markets.


Yes, the local farmers will have losses. But everybody else will profit hugely from having cheaper food. They can use that money to spend on other things. Net economic effect will be advantageous. I know 'we destroy their markets by exporting cheap goods with which they can't compete' is a popular theory. But it's just wrong.

So Nkrumah's choice was save up for 10+ years(guess) to buy the new industrial assets (assuming the 1st world would sell them) or take out a loan to get the ball rolling.


Why did he need those industrial assets in the first place? Are they a goal in themselves? Wikipedia talks about 'industrial development at any cost", and indeed that's exactly what he did. And the costs were huge indeed. But is the west to blame for Nkrumah's stupidity? First of all Nkrumah shouldn't hve been making business decisions in the first place - that's the business of business, his job was the rule the country - and secondly he shouldn't have been making very bad ones.


The reason for Africa's lack of development is not Western exploitation. It's their own corruption and political chaos and horrible economic policies.


Yes their own corruption is a major factor. But can you not see how the protectionist policies of 1st world nations PLUS the mandatory removal of those very same policies in African nations, can lead to an insurmountable obstacle to economic expansion?


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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Wed Dec 17, 2008 4:18 am UTC

Wow... there is alot being discussed here. First of all I should come clean about Nkrumah... some of it was from memory, but I was also skim reading a book I didn't bother to reference at 3am yesterday morning, which is: Martin Meredith, The State of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence, (London and New York: Free Press, 2005). Namely, I was looking at the chapters 'The Gold Coast Experiment' and 'Feet of Clay.' I highly recommend it, I know from where I've checked parts of it against other secondary sources that it is well written and factually accurate. It details many of the atrocities committed by colonial powers but also details how politicians often acted responsibly to try to develop the colonies. THis is something I feel people fail to appreciate... you can go around saying colonialism was nothing but evil exploitation, but you will find so many examples that will contradict your thinking. Hong Kong was a colony of Britain until 1997... the Chinese have not attempted to dismantle its capitalist system because it functions. It is rich and competitive.

The thing about Nkrumah's borrowing is he was trying to make an industrial country by buying all the machinery. It wasn't sensible development. South East Asia didn't get any breaks Africa didn't, but it managed to develop itself better. It's not a cut and dry case of third world countries are victims, and first world countries are predators. Often, they know how to leech money off the World Bank and IMF by putting a humanitarian spin on a project, and then putting the money towards funding the patronage system. Not that they are the bad ones either... the point is that colonialism and 'neocolonialism' work both ways. The colonisers often come out of colonialism as changed as the colonised. The French were mesmerized by L'Afrique Noire in the twentieth century, which is why black jazz performers had so much success in Paris who couldn't get a gig in America. They granted full citizenship to Africans who would abandon their own culture to become Frenchmen. They believed in their civilising mission. They considered Algeria to be as much a part of France as the British consider Ireland a part of their country. They were deeply embittered by Algeria's efforts towards independence which is how, in 2002, Le Pen became one of the two candidates for the presidency on an anti-immigrat (i.e. anti-North African) stance.

This brings me to another point. Ixtellor wrote that part of decolonisation was the colonial powers withdrew their armies... the British and French used armies from their colonies in the World Wars. It wasn't like how Sparta needed to keep a standing army watching over the serfs... the colonials recruited from the colonies. Indians did alot of the footwork for the British, for example. It's not about gunpoint subjugation... there were degrees of acquiesence and collaboration.

The list of crimes perpetrated by colonial powers is long, but it isn't necessary to imagine there is a purposeful sinister agency behind it all to exploit and dominate. The French were sincere in their civilising mission, even if they often made mistakes because they assumed it was self-evident that to be French was to be superior, and how is it even possible to consider that you would rather be independent when you could be part of Greater France? The British were far less ideological, and were well aware that they were imposing themselves on foreigners. However, they also understood that they had to provide responsible government and bend to the will of the colonised if they wished for things to go smoothly. And hell, last time they tried to mess with one of their old colonies they were resoundly beaten and humiliated on the world stage (Suez Crisis, 1956). I have to admit the Dutch I know less about, apart from their determinism that worked to the detriment of anyone with black skin, and that the Belgians provide the best example for the 'colonialism is the devil' perspective. Nevertheless, this is why I find the neocolonialism argument dubious. Yes, protectionism is bad, but it is used to keep voting farmers on side. It is not done to rape the third world. This is the self-interest that makes democracy a fantastic political system.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Turambar » Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:34 am UTC

Regarding the title question: of course they freaking well can, and to generalize western European thought and Buddhist thought into "Indo-European" is beyond preposterous. Pali and English may both be Indo-European languages, but that does not imply anything about the (dis)similarities of culture.

That said, I think there are certainly reasons why democracy seems to have an easier time in more Western, Europeanized countries. Western thought has a very long history of being strongly individualistic, more so than many other cultures throughout the world. Some of our oldest philosophers, Socrates and Plato and the lot, came from ancient Athens and were fiercely democratic in their ideals, though still less individualistic than modern law has become. But China, for example, is heavily influenced by Confucianism, which puts emphasis on a person's duty to family and society and their fulfillment of that duty as the means to a stable society.

Democracy is also simply an idea that we've had longer to get used to than have a lot of other cultures around the world.

Do you think white people can ever come up with any math without Jews? There has been progress in the west but many of the Mathematicians were Jewish. Without the Jewish contribution white people would have been unable to come up with any new Mathematics.

We could always just outsource our mathematical innovations to India.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Ixtellor » Wed Dec 17, 2008 2:47 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:THis is something I feel people fail to appreciate... you can go around saying colonialism was nothing but evil exploitation, but you will find so many examples that will contradict your thinking.


I was not trying to imply that colonization was all about evil exploitation. There was a lot of missionary work and attempts to 'civilize'.
But I think you agree that the overarching point of having colonies was to acquire raw materials, and/or gold, to expand their markets, and feed their industrial machine.

Pez Dispens3r wrote: It's not a cut and dry case of third world countries are victims, and first world countries are predators.


Know countries X and countries Y are not victims and predators. (Although you might make a case some countries really were victims in Latin America)

The imbalance and predatory relationship was usually between willing dictators and their corrupt motives and the business community.

For a modern day analogy, DeBeers does not care about Africa it cares about diamonds.

America cares about Chile. Alcoa does not.
Alcoa has a lot of political clout and gobs of cash, to help American politicians come to a pro-Alcoa decision.

I am sorry but am not familiar at all with major french industries, but I am confident that they were heavily involved in french colonial decisions and actions.

Pez Dispens3r wrote:The colonisers often come out of colonialism as changed as the colonised. The French were mesmerized by L'Afrique Noire in the twentieth century...


Yes they are both changed, but I don't think you would argue it was equitable.

French gets african jazz players, and the colony gets 10 generations of poverty and war.

There is a reason that most of the worlds Diamonds come from Africa, but are controlled by foreigners. (I may be wrong, but I seem to recall that Britian still controls massive portions of Irans oil industry)

Pez Dispens3r wrote:This brings me to another point. Ixtellor wrote that part of decolonisation was the colonial powers withdrew their armies... the British and French used armies from their colonies in the World Wars. It wasn't like how Sparta needed to keep a standing army watching over the serfs... the colonials recruited from the colonies. Indians did alot of the footwork for the British, for example. It's not about gunpoint subjugation... there were degrees of acquiesence and collaboration.


There is a fascinating phenom that took place in Africa during the colonial period.
The classic and best example is Nigeria.
Nigeria is composed of Many ethnic groups, that prior to British dominance had a pecking order based on population. With the largest group (whose name I forget) was basically in control of the region.

The British realizing they didn't have the manpower to control the nation, recruited a small ethnic group to serve as their representatives. They gave the small group arms, training, British logistical, tactical, monetary, and army support in exchange for allegiance to Britian and its interests.
So this smaller group (whose name I forget) was able to basically take over total control of Nigeria mostly because of the weapons.
The catch is that without British support this minorty is doomed to be crushed by the far superior numbers of the majority ethnic groups.
So, they are de facto puppets of Britian, while Britian is able to control the country with a pitance of a military force and let the small ethnic group do all the leg work and military work for them.

This is relevant in that it can help explain why many colonial powers were able to tame much larger populations with little military presence.

Nevertheless, this is why I find the neocolonialism argument dubious. Yes, protectionism is bad, but it is used to keep voting farmers on side. It is not done to rape the third world. This is the self-interest that makes democracy a fantastic political system.


The 'evil' if you want to use that word is really done on the part of the nations any more. It is usually more for the benefit of a vocal, powerful, business interest.

The reason farmers in France and America want protectionism, is because they can't compete with African and Latin American farmers on price.

But because of 1) protectionsm and 2) Forced free markets on Latin America and Africa, the first world farmers are able to demolish their competitors in a very UN-free market way.

There is no evil boogy man who wants to keep Africa poor. The nations themselves would probably like to see Africa thrive because it increases global demand for their products.
Its a 'perfect storm' of factors mostly led by businesses desire to increase profits that leads to this horrible and inequitable situation.

Its very analgolous to American versus Japanese Car companies.
Japan has massive protectionist policies on American cars.. thus they don't have to compete with America in Japan, hence they can spend MORE money and resources (see lower prices) in beating American companies in America. (Univerisal health care in Japan is no kick in the pants either)

Free Market = good
Unfair trade practices = monopoly = BAD = Africa


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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:26 pm UTC

I can agree that economic motivations were the largest drivers behind most colonialism. However, it wasn't always 'grab as much as you can hold and flee.' It was also trade, usually unilateral... the colonies didn't actually purchase many of the industrial goods probuced by the imperial powers.

Now, consider Naru. It's an island in the Pacific, far from anywhere. It was strip-mined for its phosphate, a powerful fertiliser. Now, it made lots of foreigners rich, but the entire population of Naru also became fabulously rich. I think it created one of those weird things where it was the richest country in the world per capita. Everyone had a car on an island you could walk across without hassels. But the wealth was squandered and they had to find other avenues of income... I think they had an interesting banking sector for a while. Anyhow, they're missing half their island but they weren't left in poverty over the thing.

This is like Ghana... it got to keep the profits from cocoa, hence its massive foreign currency reserves when it went independent. I am just stressing here that colonialism, or imperialism, is not synonymous with exploitation.

There is also the political motivation behind imperialism. The Falkland Islands were colonised by the British because they wanted a base near the Strait of Magellan... which was an important natural canal between the Atlantic and Pacific before the artificial one was constructed in Panama (the Panama canal and the Suez Canal are both examples of considerable assets left behind by imperialism. The Suez Crisis was not so much over Britain wanting the profits from the Suez Canal, but from wanting to assure that their ships could get through). It was about facilitating trade, not gaining raw resources. Hong Kong, Singapore, Cape Town... Gibraltar... there were strategic reasons to control these places. The imperial interest was in having a safe port, or overseeing trade. They benefitted the locals with these actions.

Aside from that I can't really argue against free markets, accept that it is politically unrealistic. Still, China, India and Brazil are on the rise so perhaps America and the West won't be able to dictate terms so much in the future.
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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Ixtellor » Thu Dec 18, 2008 4:53 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:It was also trade, usually unilateral... the colonies didn't actually purchase many of the industrial goods probuced by the imperial powers.


Well this starts a whole other discussion.
Spain and Portugal had exclusivity laws with their colonies. Their colonies HAD to purchase only Spanish and portogese goods. It was usually simple goods like shovels and simple metal manufactured goods (buckets, pullies, etc)
This spawned the whole piracy thing. Most piracy took the form of British buying and selling goods from Spanish colonies. (not a group of wooden legged swashbucklers, just merchants trying to buy and sell under the radar)

Aside from that I can't really argue against free markets, accept that it is politically unrealistic. Still, China, India and Brazil are on the rise so perhaps America and the West won't be able to dictate terms so much in the future.


China has massive protectionist policies. Brazil still has a variety of protectionist tools, and I can't speak intelligently about India. But 1) India is a very exceptional colony with unique componants and 2) I would wager they do have protectionist measures.

Where African nations are forbidden by IMF and World Bank agreements from enacting protectionist policies that allow them to develop their own sectors.

Hence I don't think using those countries as examples of "free trade" is applicable.


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Re: Can non-Indo-European peoples ever be democratic?

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Thu Dec 18, 2008 5:26 pm UTC

Ixtellor wrote:
Hence I don't think using those countries as examples of "free trade" is applicable.


Yeh no I wasn't using them as examples of free trade... I just meant what I said... that the US etc. will be in a weaker position to call the shots.

Ixtellor wrote:Spain and Portugal had exclusivity laws with their colonies. Their colonies HAD to purchase only Spanish and portogese goods. It was usually simple goods like shovels and simple metal manufactured goods (buckets, pullies, etc)


I;m assuming you're talking pre-1810 here... like before Napoleon upset Spanish and Portugese interests in South America. I was more talking in the context of post-1830 Imperialism. Again, though, we could probably find contradictory examples all over the place. Which is possibly the point I've been trying to make... colonialism was a giant, complicated and complex process. Hence where it hindered nationalism, modernisation and democracy in some places, it fostered and encouraged it in others.
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