Why are some countries free and others not?

by on August 8, 2008 at 5:53 am in History | Permalink

I am to speak on this topic in Buenos Aires (details here) and I was considering the following threads:

1. The Catholic capitalism of the Italian Renaissance and to what extent does it refute Max Weber?

2. Facundo and Martin Fierro, or where Domingo Sarmiento and Steve Sailer go wrong.

3. Why didn’t either the gauchos or the conquest of Siberia lead to the Turner thesis?

4. Why the old buildings in Oamaru, New Zealand remind me of Chile and what that means for the current Latin economic pecking order.

5. What does the pre-war Japanese growth miracle tell us about the postwar Japanese growth miracle?

6. "Betting on refrigerated transport" as a theme in Argentine history.

Or maybe I’ll do something else altogether.

They tell me that dress for the event is "elegant casual."  Yikes!  This, of course, leads to classic cycling in the sense outlined by William Riker.  Since I cannot be elegant (certainly not by B.A. standards), I cannot be casual either.

The talk should eventually show up in print, although possibly only in Spanish in Argentina.  I’ll get you a link if there ever is one.

Sebastian Flyte August 8, 2008 at 7:30 am

This post is like a TS Eliot poem. Every utterance needs a footnote.

liberalarts August 8, 2008 at 7:45 am

I hope that you are not a teetotaling vegetarian.

Tyler Cowen August 8, 2008 at 8:32 am

I added the talk information in a link in the main post…

LemmusLemmus August 8, 2008 at 9:17 am

As a regular reader of both of your blogs who usually disagrees with Mr. Sailer on political questions, I’d be really interested to learn where, in you opinion, he went wrong. Never heard of Fecundo or Fierro.

matt August 8, 2008 at 9:23 am

“As a regular reader of both of your blogs who usually disagrees with Mr. Sailer on political questions, I’d be really interested to learn where, in you opinion, he went wrong.”

Other than in being a white supremacist, you mean?

k August 8, 2008 at 11:00 am

Facundo is the first novel of what you can call a genre in Latinamerica: the fight between civilization( Europe excluded Spain, culture, centralism in facundo) and barabarians( latinamerican and spaniards, tradition, and federalism).Its the story of a argentian Ned Kelly written by who will be president of Argentina.
Martin Fierro is an idealization of gauchos life, a criying for teh gold times gone .More or less ,with apologies to Hernadez author of Martin Fierro, is like that extremely bad movie ” cryning of wolf”

k August 8, 2008 at 11:08 am

And what the fact that the pci of Japan of 1986 was same of the USA and today is 25% lower said to us . Apart than Marcur Olson was wrong

Mike August 8, 2008 at 12:57 pm

Tyler, if you have not had a chance to see the Argentinean film “La Antena” (The Aerial), dig up a copy while you’re there. It’s excellent. Appeared here at some film festivals last year, but hasn’t gotten a broader release or a US DVD release. The DVD has English subtitles. I ordered one from an Argentinean store, but it would have been more fun to pick one up in BA! See IMDB (or click on my URL) for more info.

jorod August 8, 2008 at 1:49 pm

Blame it on Plato. The idea that wisdom flows from some classs or cultural elite has cursed us for 2,400 years. True wisdom flows from the interaction of many free people in a democratic society. The Christian ethic raised reason and progress and the dignity of the individual to the level of the divine and served the Western world well.

kc August 8, 2008 at 2:40 pm

What is the Turner thesis and what can prewar J miracle tell us about post-war J miracle? Tell us more Tyler please.

Steve Sailer August 8, 2008 at 3:17 pm

I’d say that Domingo Sarmiento had about 100 times more energy than I do.

Jon Kay August 8, 2008 at 5:38 pm

> The rights of individuals arose only after the rise Christendom.

…er, that is not quite the case. Look it up. The Greeks invented human rights before 0 AD. I don’t think we know who invented the idea, but one early important implentor is one Solon of Athens. Look it up. Classical Athens’ democracy had alot of freedom of speech (at about the level the UK has it), egalitarianism, religious tolerance except to atheists, freedom of avocation, voting, and to run for most offices of all citizens (non-slave, non-immigrant, white males).

Roman ethics were similar in Christ’s time for Roman citizens. Early Christian morals appear to me to be largely Roman, MINUS religious tolerance, of course.

Aren’t medieval and later Catholic ethics exactly what you were decrying – rule of the elites?

TGGP August 9, 2008 at 12:02 am

Blame it on Plato
That’s silly. According to Douglas North and a host of others, unfreedom (like poverty) is the natural state of things.

NPTO August 9, 2008 at 1:45 pm

My pet theory about differences in freedom in Latin America: it varies according to how sophisticated is the party system. Chile has, by far, the best party system in LA. Brazil is an intermediate case, Argentina has horrendous political parties, extraordinarily inferior to the country’s level of cultural sophistication. You make Ba’ath rule Norway for a couple of years and see what happens to HDI.

Of course, in the northern part of the continent party systems are even worse. Hence Chávez.

By the way, from what I hear, half the people you will meet in the streets of BA are Brazilians; exchange rate differences, good place to go shopping, etc.

And yes, do come to Brazil someday. You’ll bribe you with a fine meal.

Jeff Brown August 14, 2008 at 11:29 pm

> This post is like a TS
> Eliot poem. Every
> utterance needs a footnote.

I don’t like this kind of post. I come here to learn stuff, not to see a list of all the things Tyler knows that I don’t.

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