Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Brief Criticsm...

From a comment by Bloggers4Labour on this post.

In Venezuela, Cuba, and so many other countries, the top priority for their governments is to open their economies, cede political power, tackle corruption, and stop blaming the country's problems on internal and external enemies. Only then will their social programmes be tenable, and only then should the international Left offer their support. As usual, the 'Decent Left' reference is a smokescreen used to conceal the accusor's abandonment of their commitment to liberal principles.

I'm picking this comment out, because it interest me far more than the actual post itself. I agree with a good deal of what's being said, but I have to seriously disagree with a couple of his prescriptions.

Open their Economies

Opening up economies is a prescription favoured by a large majority of economists, but this consensus is not without it's critics. There are also clear examples of countries that have followed this prescription and ended up economically worse off as a result (Argentina, for example).

Free markets and open economies are not necessarily the best way to encourage economic growth, in a recent Prospect article, Ha Joon Chang makes the point that Toyota would not be the gigantic corporation it is today without the Japanese government protectionism. The first Toyotas were not very successful and many thought that Japan should have just let in Ford and GM and left Toyota to making looms. Many economies have become successful pursuing policies other than those currently prescribed on the pages of the Economist.

Stop blaming the country's problems on Internal and External enemies

I suspect that B4L's actual opinion on this is a little more nuanced than the obvious literal interpretation. It's a fact that countries have enemies and their actions can have a clear effect. It would be foolish to deny that economic sanctions on Cuba have caused problems for Cuba's economy or that RCTV played a part in the 2002 coup in Venezuela. While we shouldn't let such problems blind us to creeping authoritarianism, we should be careful not to indulge in a one sided blame game.

1 comment:

Dan Hardie said...

Hi Andreas. Can I just ask you to email me at
It's just that I need to give bloggers like yourself an invitation to the event at Parliament on 9th October, so I'll need an email address. Also it will speed things up if I can email you rather than have to leave comments.