Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Man bites Dog

Yale prof. Amy Chua has a piece on how "Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability". I could summarize it more, but the title pretty much says it all.

I think this is just one more in a long line of articles claiming that "wet pavements cause rain". A much better title would be "people are filled with ethnic hatred, free markets make people much less poor, and democracy makes people slightly less poorly governed, sometimes".

The places most ethnically intolerant tend to be those least connected to the rest of the world. This makes sense because if you are isolated, the cost of prejudice is lower. Lawrence Keeley actually went through the trouble to catalogue war among indigenous people and came to the remarkable conclusion that, in terms of % of male population killed, the wars these folks got into were 10-100 times more destructive than World War I and World War II put together.

The truth of the matter is that ethnic hatred comes easily to people, they just need an excuse, and the only thing you can really do to reduce this is increase the cost of ethnic hatred and the benefit of not having ethnic hatred. This means you punish bigotry, especially violent bigotry, and give people as much opportunity to benefit from trade and cooperation with folks not like them as possible (this is also known as Globalization). Chua argues that appeasing bigotry makes it go away, and isolation soothes the nerves. I'm glad she's in academia.

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