September 15, 2003

Daniel Davies Says That Idealistic Neoliberals Like Brad DeLong Are Naive Fools

Daniel Davies says that idealistic neoliberals like Brad DeLong are naive fools:

Crooked Timber: High Noon in Cancun : I say that this provides a useful yardstick to measure the character of the WTO by because it brought face to face the two views of what the WTO is actually for. On the neoliberal side, we've heard for years that WTO is all about bringing the benefits of free trade and free markets to the poor of the world and allowing them to gain the benefits of "globalisation". On the "anti" side, we've heard for years that the WTO is nothing more than a cynical exercise in attempting to subvert the democratic process of poor countries and forcing them to accept foreign ownership and control.

In other words, the neoliberals have said it was all about things like the agricultural subsidy proposals, while the antiglobos have said it was all about things like the Singapore issues. And when the two came head to head in Cancun, the Singapore agenda won. When push came to shove, the rich nations were not prepared to give an inch to the poor ones on agriculture unless they got their quid pro quo in the form of progress toward an agenda which has nothing to do with trade and everything to do with massively undermining the ability of democratically elected governments to set the terms on which the ownership of the means of production is decided.

On the basis that you can tell a lot about a person or an organisation from what it regards as negotiable and what it regards as a deal-breaker, it appears that those who suspected that the WTO was a ploy to force a political agenda down the throats of the third world would appear to have a point. It is going to take a heck of a lot for the WTO to win back the credibility it lost in Cancun...

He has a point. A definite point. More than a touch--a touche. It's definitely a wound. And it's possibly a fatal wound. We surely failed in the 1990s to imagine that our hopes were hostage to the fact that they would have to be implemented by the cretinous, malevolent, and incompetent servants (the Bob Zoellicks, the Karl Roves) of an unrepresentative minority government.

But given the magnitude of the potential for government failure we have just witnessed in action, one has to have second thoughts about Davies's position as well. He phrases it as the noble and high-minded "ability of democratically elected governments to set the terms on which the ownership of the means of production is decided." But, in India at least, aren't we really talking about the ability of a Muslim-hating National Hinduist Party government to use its power over the economy to reward its friends, punish its enemies, and enrich its servants? You can be for the Singapore investment agenda. You can be against the Singapore investment agenda. But you are not allowed to be against it on the grounds that it is blocking the realization of a free society of associated producers.

Posted by DeLong at September 15, 2003 10:12 AM | TrackBack

Comments

brad sez:

"But, in India at least, aren't we really talking about the ability of a Muslim-hating National Hinduist Party government to use its power over the economy to reward its friends, punish its enemies, and enrich its servants? "

At least the 'national Hinduist' party did not destroy a country to reward its friends.

Anybody who accuses the BJP of 'using power over the economy to reward friends' does not understand India at all. *Every government in India* without exception since around 1955 has used the power over the economy to reward friends and it has nothing to do with religion.

From the institutional corruption of the DMK (atheists) government in the south in 1972, to the singularly corrupt Lalloo Prasad Yadav ('untouchable / Harijan') in UP in the 90's, through the systematic corruption fo the secular Congress under Indira Gandhi, India has been the torchbearer for corruption.

brad misunderstands the Cancun WTO and the attitude of India: It is not that they are defending some high minded free market principles. India (software), China (trade) and Brazil (trade) have finally found the vice with which to squeeze the privates of the West. They want their long overdue pound of flesh and finally, finally they are in a position to demand it.

The sweet irony is that they are using the West's own avowed adherence to free markets to squeeze the west.

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on September 15, 2003 10:51 AM

Yes. I agree that every Indian government since 1955... 1947... hell, 1505 has used its power over the economy to reward its friends, punish its enemies, and enrich its servants. This is one thing governments do.

But it's something we should try to curb. And I'm much more nervous when it is undertaken by a National Hinduist government that came to power over the dead bodies of 5,000 Indian Muslims than when it is undertaken by my neoliberal friends or even by the Nehru Dynasty.

Posted by: Brad DeLong on September 15, 2003 10:58 AM

I don't understand why Daniel Davies says the WTO is at fault. Some of the members of the WTO, namely the Europeans and the US, are at fault.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on September 15, 2003 11:11 AM

As a "neoliberal" i'm obviously very disappointed by the failure to reach an agreement, wich wouldn't be a big deal anyway. The problem is by know means only the Roves or the Zoellicks. The foreign minister of my country, Louis Michel, wanted to incorporate all kinds of standards (labor, environment...) in a new trade-agreement. For him, reform of agricultural subsidies in Europe already had gone far enough. Daniel Davies is right: we put all kinds of things (such like intellectual property rights, labour standards...) on the agenda wich has nothing to do with trade.
But maybe their is more reason for optimism. I learned a few days ago that Andrew Rose had written two papers about the effect of the WTO on liberalising trade. His conclusion? None whatsoever. Members of the WTO doesn't liberalise more...Is he right? And if he is, why not do away with the WTO? I think i know why, because it's the most democratic international institution we have - one country, one vote. And because without the WTO the incompetent servants - the Zoellicks, the Roves, the Michels - would hurt the poor countries even more. Maybe that's what they really want: no longer to follow the rules of the WTO.

Posted by: ivan janssens, belgium on September 15, 2003 11:18 AM

I certainly don't think Prof. DeLong has anything to apologize for. He did the right thing and advocated for free trade. The cause has lost a round, but that's no reason to give up.

Posted by: Joe Willingham on September 15, 2003 11:20 AM

brad sez:

by a National Hinduist government that came to power over the dead bodies of 5,000 Indian Muslims

...

This is just factually wrong.

First: the 'national Hinduist' government has a name- BJP (and it does NOT mean 'national Hinduist')

second: BJP was in power (albeight tenuously) *before* godhra and the ensuing riots

I have no particular affinity to the BJP, VHP, Bajrang Dal. BUT, the 'Hinduist' BJP is democratically elected and hardly any worse than the secular Indira Gandhi and her congress party - the architects of the first and only nationwide suspension of fundamental rights in democratic India.

Saying that the BJP came to power on the dead bodies of 5000 muslims is like saying Saddam Hussien is responsible for 9/11.

Oh, wait...

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on September 15, 2003 11:21 AM

I agree with Brad on the odious way in which Indian polity has been increasingly corrupted by this right wing government. What I think though, is that even a secular, representative government would have behaved exactly as this government did in Cancun.

I cannot imagine any government in India, however secular and democratic behaving differently. Are you claiming that the right wing nature of this government caused it to be blind to India's interests?

Posted by: Dinesh Gaitonde on September 15, 2003 11:21 AM

DD could make another point:

>> an agenda which has nothing to do with trade


The Singapore agenda didn't have much to do with poverty reduction either. Many of the world's poor live in countries where the Singapore issues are essentially irrelevant.

Posted by: P O'Neill on September 15, 2003 11:37 AM

Great post and thread. Here we meet on a level playing field.

Posted by: John Isbell on September 15, 2003 11:38 AM

Surely Davies exaggerates.

Posted by: Max Sawicky on September 15, 2003 11:51 AM

Economic analysis is only one dimension of prevailing trade distortions and restrictions on international capital flows. In international negotiations of any kind there is a familiar ploy of getting the otherside to pull out by demanding an unacceptable quid pro quo when there was no intention of conceding on the substantive issue anyway.

In the early 1990s, largely because of EU intransigence at the time, America agreed to leave on the shelf unresolved issues on the liberalisation of trade in agriculture and services to salvage the Uruguay trade round from complete collapse. Even now, there isn't unrestricted multilateral freedom of cross border investment within the EU - French business interests have bought into electricity distribution in the UK but there are restrictions on the reverse process - and intra-EU trade in financial and professional services has not been liberalised.

However, none of that detracts from the economic case for trade liberalisation. Alan Blinder's exposition of Murphy's Law of Economic Policy appears appropriate here: "Economists have the least influence on policy where they know the most and are most agreed; they have the least influence on policy where they know the least and disagree most vehemently." [Hard Heads and Soft hearts (1987)]

John Stuart Mill recognised two valid economic arguments for trade restrictions: (1) the optimal tariff case where a country can move the terms of trade in its own favour through trade restrictions; (2) the infant industry case for protection. That still seems to me to be the interesting territory for debate.

Posted by: Bob on September 15, 2003 12:00 PM

Brad, I don't understand why self determination has gone out of fashion as a good idea. It will usually require the freedom to make mistakes.

Joe, I wish more people took your line about the WTO when they discuss the United Nations.

Suresh, the BJP, RSS etc are worse than the Congress party in a significant way in that they exclude and bait a sizeable minority of the company and do not offer them a way in. It is quite a feat to make Hinduism exclusive but they seem to have done it. I concur that in practice so far they have not been the disaster that earlier rhetoric might have brought one to believe and I have no wish to demonstrate Godwin's law but other Swastika toting nationalists have won democratic elections. I don't think that this excuses any of the behaviour at Cancun and it doesn't mean I know what would be good or possible for India, but the BJP is home to some pretty nasty ideas.

Posted by: Jack on September 15, 2003 12:06 PM

Since (at least according to the FT this morning) the Europeans and the Japanese who insisted on the "Singapore" agenda and thereby scuttled the talks, perhaps "Pascal Lamy" would be a better choice than "Bob Zoellick."

And one can want Bush out without resorting to "unrepresentative minority government." Sore loser.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on September 15, 2003 12:21 PM

Since (at least according to the FT this morning) the Europeans and the Japanese who insisted on the "Singapore" agenda and thereby scuttled the talks, perhaps "Pascal Lamy" would be a better choice than "Bob Zoellick."

And one can want Bush out without resorting to "unrepresentative minority government." Sore loser.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on September 15, 2003 12:26 PM

Since (at least according to the FT this morning) the Europeans and the Japanese who insisted on the "Singapore" agenda and thereby scuttled the talks, perhaps "Pascal Lamy" would be a better choice than "Bob Zoellick."

And one can want Bush out without resorting to "unrepresentative minority government." Sore loser.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on September 15, 2003 12:31 PM

There may have been an important gain towards freer. China, India, Brazil, Thailand, and South Africa have become increasingly tough in bargaining with the most developed states. Such toughness by Brazil opened the way to significant liberalization of trade rules for low cost life protecting drugs. The importance of such drugs in a time of AIDS can not be over estimated. I am sad the talks ended in failure, but delighted the poorer states are bargaining as never before.

Posted by: anne on September 15, 2003 12:34 PM

Since (at least according to the FT this morning) the Europeans and the Japanese who insisted on the "Singapore" agenda and thereby scuttled the talks, perhaps "Pascal Lamy" would be a better choice than "Bob Zoellick."

And one can want Bush out without resorting to "unrepresentative minority government." Sore loser.

Posted by: Andrew Boucher on September 15, 2003 12:36 PM

Jack: "I have no wish to demonstrate Godwin's law but other Swastika toting nationalists have won democratic elections."
You clearly know something about India. That makes this line about the Swastika all the cheaper. The symbol was a couple of thousand years old in India when Hitler saw it somewhere, thought it looked cool, and stole it.

Posted by: John Isbell on September 15, 2003 12:45 PM

There may have been an important gain towards freer trade. China, India, Brazil, Thailand, and South Africa have become increasingly tough in bargaining with the most developed states. Such toughness by Brazil opened the way to significant liberalization of trade rules for low cost life protecting drugs. The importance of such drugs in a time of AIDS can not be over estimated. I am sad the talks ended in failure, but delighted the poorer states are bargaining as never before. Time for Kenya to stand up to Europe on flowers, Vietnam to America on catfish.

Posted by: anne on September 15, 2003 12:47 PM

Forgive Double Post - no idea how

Posted by: anne on September 15, 2003 01:07 PM

I worry that Davies' wording, about it taking a lot "for the WTO to win back the credibility it lost in Cancun..." is exactly right and misses the heart of the problem at the same time. The WTO, as an institution, is only as good as its members allow it to be. The fact that the US can ignore rulings, because a very large internal market means that no WTO ruling has devastating economic impact, means the WTO is not always very good. All well and good when the EU wins a round but the US refuses to change its ways (and vice versa), but what about Canada? Even worse, what about a really small economy with really poor inhabitants? All the trade compensation in the world won't help.

Now, the big countries have gone a step further, undermining the WTO on a big issue, allowing a whole trade round to go down because of farm subsidies. Huge trouble there.

It is even sadder because, as Bob Briant points out, the US position on farm subsidies has not always been wrong. Sometimes it has tended toward being right, but has been on the wrong side for tactical reasons. Compound sadness with sadness, timing didn't allow for regrouping. As the WSJ reports today (Monday), the US side was not prepared for a determined opposition. Trade talks require lots of domestic political preparation, at the outset and along the way. If the US was not prepared for determined opposition, it could not very well adjust its negotiating position on farm trade. No domestic political preparation. We had also already made common cause with the Europeans. To swing away from the Europeans, while objectively the right thing to do, would probably have been awfully difficult. We had just gotten them around to something like our position on all those "non-trade" issues, hadn't we? And then there is the fact that US farm policy had shifted rather dramatically away from subsidies, only to swing right back when falling farm income threatened the Bush administration with the loss of electoral votes next time around. Having just bought a bunch of votes with farm subsidies, you can't very well give them away at the WTO without time to make some domestic accomodations. Oh, and Bush would never have been granted fast-track again if he had crossed farmers without warning.

Does all this make the decision the right one? No. Was it inevitable? Pretty nearly. The only hope was to have read the Brazilians and Chinese better early in the process and adapted. We didn't.

Posted by: K Harris on September 15, 2003 01:40 PM

"I don't understand why Daniel Davies says the WTO is at fault."

Well, doesn't the WTO have rules against taking on crazy non-WTO related things? If it doesn't, shouldn't it?

Posted by: Jason McCullough on September 15, 2003 01:56 PM

Come on now Brad, if you're gonna sling the "unrepresentative minority government" crap at Bush, let's just remind everyone how in '92 Mr. Clinton got a far lower percentage of the popular vote than Bush in 2000, due to a 19% vote for a third party candidate. And 2002 validated it; very sore loser indeed.

Posted by: David Mercer on September 15, 2003 02:48 PM

"Such toughness by Brazil opened the way to significant liberalization of trade rules for low cost life protecting drugs."

Let me guess...you've never spent any portion of your life developing a life-protecting drug.

"The importance of such drugs in a time of AIDS can not be over estimated."

The importance of such drugs can be **vastly** overstated. AIDS is not a contagious disease (easily transmitted by indirect contact). It is transmitted by only by known, specific, and easily-preventable actions.

In fact, I read somewhere (I think The Economist...or maybe Discover or Popular Science?) that a recent study of AIDS in Africa showed that a really large fraction of AIDS spread in Africa comes from the reuse of AIDS-infected needles.

If so, a substantial amount of the spread of AIDS in Africa could be averted through the VERY simple and inexpensive actions of either carefully sterilizing needles, or using needles only once. (Why not *ask* drug manufacturers to *charitably* provide either one-use needles or sterilization materials for needles, rather than taking their multi-hundred-million dollar investments in life-saving drugs without compensation?)

"Time for Kenya to stand up to Europe on flowers, Vietnam to America on catfish."

Yes. At least on those matters, drugs laboriously and expensively invented and developed by others aren't being taken without compensation.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on September 15, 2003 03:16 PM

David,

Yes, Brad has been wearing his heart on his sleeve lately. However, Clinton won the way that one wins the presidency. You may not like the system, but it's the one we have, and Clinton won by the rules, unambiguously. In the Bush case, there was no precedent for the manner in which he was made the winner. Looking outside the rules of the system for a moment, there was no candidate who had a greater share of the popular vote in 1992 than Clinton. Gore had a greater share of the popular vote that Bush, and (to get back inside the rules again) the results in the electoral college were handed to Bush by a friendly court. We have had presidents come to office as Clinton did in past elections. There was no question of their claim to office, just the strength of their mandate. There is a question of Bush's claim to office. Do you want elections settled by the courts? Or by the candidate's brother, for that matter?

Posted by: K Harris on September 15, 2003 03:22 PM

John I'm sure they had brown shirts in India a couple of thousand years ago too but BJP members marching around in them isn't any nicer to look at.
The BJP has certainly not sunk to the deeds of the Nazis. In government it may well end up working to tame an uncomfortable strand of feeling in India. It is certainly more moderate in power than it was before. Nevertheless the rhetoric and trappings of the RSS and BJP are conciously, deliberately even, strkingly similar to those of the Nazis. Not all modern use of the swastika in India ignores its more recent history, from the Birlas to the BJP.
I think that Suresh's defence of the BJP is actually intended as a defence of the Indian electorate and state. If that's right I feel the same, they are grown-ups and can make up their own minds. Similarly many reaonable Italians can be made to defend Silvio Berlusconi -- they too would like to be able to choose Anna Lindh but that is not what is on offer -- True but not a defence of the behaviour of the potentate in question and what's wrong will not necessarily be fixed by democracy. Any American should know Democracy can be scary for a minority.
In short I don't think it's a cheap shot.

Posted by: Jack on September 15, 2003 03:35 PM

could one of you neo-liberal free trade types, who due to superior theoretical insight, think that free trade in the main benefits the poor of this world and therefor is synonymous with justice and compassion, please explain to me one simple matter? since the advent of neo-liberal globalization/free trade about 20 years ago, "developing" nations, a.k.a. the former third world, have become net exporters of capital to the rich developed nations. why is this so and how does it help the development of "developing" nations and the allieviation of the misery of their legions of poor? in fact, china and india, one third of the world's population, have recently been the main success story of globalization-led growth, but they both maintain strict capital controls, do they not?

Posted by: john c. halasz on September 15, 2003 03:43 PM

Neoliberal? Wasn't it neo-classical? Not that I know the differences they may have.

dsw

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on September 15, 2003 03:51 PM

John from the Birlas to the BJP some Indians have made use of the swastika conciously and possibly even because of its more recent history and the Nazi use of Indo Eropean symbols was hardly coincidental. Marching around in brown shirts, running youth movements, speaking of racial purity and thousand year empires as the BJP and RSS do doesn't make it look any better.
If Suresh is trying to defend Indian democracy and its electorate then I am with him. They are grown ups and can make up their own minds. Indeed, so far the BJP's bark has been far worse than its bite. Nevertheless I think he shares the situation of many otherwise reasonable Italians who find themselves defending Berlusconi when they feel their country slighted. There is much that is extremely and genuinely unpleasant about the BJP and its baleful influence on Indian tolerance. As any American should know democracy isn't always good at protecting minorities.

Posted by: Jack on September 15, 2003 03:54 PM

Professor DeLong says, "We surely failed in the 1990s to imagine that our hopes were hostage to the fact that they would have to be implemented by the cretinous, malevolent, and incompetent servants (the Bob Zoellicks, the Karl Roves) of an unrepresentative minority government. "

Please.

Beginning in 1994, you had Newt Gingrich to suggest to you what the future might bring. The failure to press for NAFTA side agreements with teeth on labor standards and the environment was one of the signal failures of the Clinton Administration. The failure to include strong standards was a failure emblematic of a certain hubris on the part of the Clinton Administration, an attitude of "we'll fix it later."

By many measures, the Clinton Administration performed brilliantly. It is also indisputable that those of bad faith can misconstrue into injustice even the best-written law. But the labor/environment standards was an issue that the the liberal wing of the Democratic party pushed strongly... and was triangulated out by the Clinton Administration.

The fissures it opened in the party were exacerbated by the capitulation on eliminating aid to dependent children as an entitlement and then of course by the failure of the party leadership to speak out against the wrongs of Florida. Each of those are examples of the "We know this isn't the right solution, but we'll fix it later" attitude.

Humility on trade is appropriate.

Besides which, NAFTA (and then GATT and then the WTO) was always based on bad economics. Comparative advantage only works if a series of assumptions are admitted. NONE of those assumptions are met in the real world.

Posted by: Charles on September 15, 2003 04:54 PM

one has to have second thoughts about the noble and high-minded "ability of democratically elected governments to set the terms on which the ownership of the means of production is decided." But, in India at least, aren't we really talking about the Muslim-hating National Hinduist Party ...?

So Brad, what you are saying is that the interests of the majority of Indians are better represented by the US and European governments than by an (imperfectly) elected Indian government?

More than that: are you saying that this is so likely to be the case of poor countries in general, that we should structure the governance of international trade on that basis?

And, if the (imperfectly) elected government of India does not deserve sovereignty on economic issues, does it deserve sovereignty at all?

I am not saying you are wrong. But your position seems to have ... far-reaching implications.

Posted by: jw mason on September 15, 2003 05:41 PM

"*Every government in India* without exception since around 1955 has used the power over the economy to reward friends ..."

Every government in the world since long before then.

Posted by: Jim Glass on September 15, 2003 07:17 PM

A few comments:

"But, in India at least, aren't we really talking about the ability of a Muslim-hating National Hinduist Party government to use its power over the economy to reward its friends, punish its enemies, and enrich its servants?"

Yeah, well, all governments do that and the fact is that these b******s are democratically elected.

"the 'national Hinduist' government has a name- BJP (and it does NOT mean 'national Hinduist')"

BJP doesn't *mean* 'national Hinduist' [and Brad never said it did, btw] but it is a fair description even according to BJP's own manifesto.

"second: BJP was in power (albeight tenuously) *before* godhra and the ensuing riots"

I am sure Brad is aware that BJP was in power before the Gujarat pogroms started [god knows I have ranted about it enough]. I am not sure where he got the 5,000 figure but I'd reckon it comes from the number of Muslims dead in riots caused by the demolition of the Babri Masjid. That *was* how BJP came to power after all....

"BUT, the 'Hinduist' BJP is democratically elected and hardly any worse than the secular Indira Gandhi and her congress party - the architects of the first and only nationwide suspension of fundamental rights in democratic India."

I disagree. Very strongly. I am no fan of the Nehru Dynasty but they never ripped apart the secular fabric of my polity and democracy the way the Hindutva goons have. IF you think I am overestimating the effect of the divisive policies of the Hindutva Brigade, just notice the fact that there have been more communal riots in the years of BJP than in the decades since Independance.

"the Birlas to the BJP some Indians have made use of the swastika conciously and possibly even because of its more recent history"

*All* Indians who use the Swastika do so consciously. The RSS definitely because of the Nazi connection but for most people its meaning is the ancient meaning: "All that is good and auspicious". You will find the Swastika in almost every house in India and 80% of these people wouldn't even know that the Nazis stole and perverted one of our most ancient symbols.

Posted by: Ritu on September 15, 2003 08:14 PM

This WTO thing has been really interesting - Brazil led a coalition of over 21 countries against the EU/U.S. This seems like a relatively new development - I think it's not a concidence that U.S. strategic planners are now rejecting the primacy of international law and institutions and I think the next step is probably a huge step away from WTO and similar organizations to focus one-off trade agreements. The 3rd world is trying to play the game so the rules will change...

Posted by: Chad Williams on September 15, 2003 09:34 PM

Sorry for the lack of response, but I feel an irresistible and quite unusual urge to learn something about Kerala before spouting off about it, so I think I'm going to go and read a book.

Posted by: dsquared on September 15, 2003 11:38 PM

I have had a very ugly spat with Suresh before on this website. I fear I am going to have another one.

Suresh writes:
"Lalloo Prasad Yadav ('untouchable / Harijan') in UP in the 90's, through the systematic corruption fo the secular Congress under Indira Gandhi, India has been the torchbearer for corruption"

Suresh, Lalloo Prasad Yadav is *not* a untouchable/harijan. He is a ,well, Yadav.
There is a huge difference economically, socially, politically between the two.

And for heavens sake Lalloo is *not* the chief minister of UP. He was the Chief Minister of Bihar. How can you get this wrong?

It's like saying George Bush is black and the was the Governer of California.

Posted by: Vivek on September 16, 2003 01:45 AM

I have had a very ugly spat with Suresh on this website before. I fear I am going to have another one.

Suresh writes:
"Lalloo Prasad Yadav ('untouchable / Harijan') in UP in the 90's, through the systematic corruption fo the secular Congress under Indira Gandhi, India has been the torchbearer for corruption"

Lalloo Prasad Yadav is *not* a untouchable/harijan. He is a ,well, Yadav.
There is a huge difference economically, socially, politically between the two.

And for heavens sake he is *not* the chief minister of UP. He was the Chief Minister of Bihar. How can you get this wrong?

It's like saying George Bush is black and was the Governer of California.

Posted by: Vivek on September 16, 2003 02:37 AM

"India (software), China (trade) and Brazil (trade) have finally found the vice with which to squeeze the privates of the West. They want their long overdue pound of flesh and finally, finally they are in a position to demand it."

Hear hear. I couldn't agree more.

"I'm much more nervous when it is undertaken by a National Hinduist government that came to power over the dead bodies of 5,000 Indian Muslims"

I think your exaggerating here Brad. I think this is a dangerous road to go down. You need to listen to India.

"I agree with Brad on the odious way in which Indian polity has been increasingly corrupted by this right wing government."

My god, let's read what we're all saying about the 'saintly' US of A shall we. First it was China, now it's India. Let's get some perspective. I mean saying that the Renminbi shouldn't be revalued doesn't mean that the Chinese Communist Party isn't a very bad lot. By the same token defending the opening up of GATS doesn't mean you have to wear a swastika and sing hymns to the BJP.

This is begining to sound like some of the worst anti-Bustamante MEChA stuff. Todo por la raza, and that's all there is to say. Of course Bustamante needs to explain himself, and of course the BJP needs to be held to account. But what ever happend to the 'fair and balanced' bit.

"to use its power over the economy to reward its friends, punish its enemies, and enrich its servants?"

Couldn't we introduce the Singapore agenda by stages, starting with the US first. Or can we believe nothing Krugman says?

The issue here should be: why are the EU, the US and Japan trying to sink the negotiations when there is the possibility of some of the gravy flowing the other way. Coz that's what they just did, sabotage the talks. Torpedo, wham, gone.

This is now the big danger, not too much globalisation, but that the rich countries begin to turn their backs on it. And just when it was getting interesting.

"I feel an irresistible and quite unusual urge to learn something about Kerala before spouting off about it"

Well said. This is the point. And Karnataka, and Andra Pradesh.

Posted by: Edward Hugh on September 16, 2003 06:09 AM

"It's like saying George Bush is black and the was the Governer of California."

OK point taken, but this is not the central issue. India has been corrupt since time immemorial, so why is this becoming an issue now?

Posted by: Edward Hugh on September 16, 2003 06:48 AM

Vivek is right of course - LPY was CM of Bihar - however, he is certainly in the 'scheduled class / scheduled tribe' category in India - a term that Brad's readers may not be familiar with. Harijan appears to be a useful proxy for SC / ST, at least here.

'nuff said about swastika and if I remember the years of Indian history, there was no reference to any 'brownshirts' in the Gupta or Maurya dynasties or even during Mughal rule.

The debate over secular / religious has never really moved me. I happen to think that good economic policy (privatization) can come out of 'religious' governments and bad policy can come from 'secular' ones (five year plan).

but as dinesh pointed out, would a secular government in India really have acted any different under the circumstances of Cancun? I think not.

Remember that India is still constitutionally secular. Remember that 150 million muslims live in India and many of them actually vote for the BJP. Remember that communal tensions are usually started from poverty.

Intranecine violence amongst hindus in India (wholescale slaughter in villages among people of different castes) is a far more serious problem in India than any sporadic communal violence.

Posted by: Suresh Krishnamoorthy on September 16, 2003 07:19 AM

About Kerala, I remember reading in the Economist that at the time of the article, some years ago, that state was prospering under a communist party rule. I thought it strange coming from such a source.

DSW

Posted by: Antoni Jaume on September 16, 2003 12:37 PM

The secular/religious debate is one of hose things that isn't moving until it goes wrong and I think the BJP is playing with fire. That said just like the islamists in Turkey they have less baggage in some areas than their predecessors. The point should be that it shouldn't matter if you don't like the BJP, if your Indian its not much of your business.

The point about the brown shirts is that the RSS wear them and use them and other ancient symbols the modern way.

Posted by: Jack on September 16, 2003 03:57 PM


"Vivek is right of course - LPY was CM of Bihar - however, he is certainly in the 'scheduled class / scheduled tribe' category in India - a term that Brad's readers may not be familiar with. Harijan appears to be a useful proxy for SC / ST, at least here."

No, Yadavs are certainly not in SC/ST. Yadavs are Backward Caste, which is a legally distinct category. As Vivek said, there is a huge difference between the two in political and economic power, and Dalit politicians like Mayawati have made it an electoral issue.

Are you even Indian? I'm astonished that anyone from India could make such a basic error.

Posted by: drapetomaniac on September 16, 2003 06:40 PM

and to think that here in the u.s.a. conservatives/elitists liberals think that "identity politics" runs rampant!

Posted by: john c. halasz on September 16, 2003 08:43 PM

>>and to think that here in the u.s.a. conservatives/elitists liberals think that "identity politics" runs rampant!<<

4000 years of you and your ancestors being told that you have to be poor and eat dirt because you were very bad in a previous life will do that to you...

Posted by: Brad DeLong on September 16, 2003 09:05 PM

Edward Hugh writes:

"OK point taken, but this is not the central issue."

You are right it is not the central issue.
But I thought such a glaring error should be pointed out.
The political rise of Yadavs ( more broadly OBCs)and dalits is the most visible political phenomenon in India over the last decade.

How can anyone, claiming any expertise, on India
not know the difference between the two.


Posted by: Vivek on September 16, 2003 09:20 PM

300 years and coal dust and cotton won't do? oh! i forgot the furute life.

Posted by: john c. halasz on September 16, 2003 09:26 PM

Antoni: yeh, Kerala regularly elects a provincial government which is broadly Marxist, although to be honest their actual actions aren't obviously Communist in any recognisable ideological sense. The interesting thing about Kerala is that measured by GDP it's incredibly poor, but it has some of the best life expectancy, infant mortality, etc, outcomes in India. Apparently (as I say, I don't really know all that much about it).

Posted by: dsquared on September 16, 2003 11:33 PM
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