The Bottom Billion
Interesting to think of bottom billion coexisting with 21st century while their reality is 14th century.
Key thought: the growing disparity of wealth between bottom and top 5 billion is not just their problem “it matters to us.” We’re all connected.
Deny problem – by development biz and development buzz. D. biz=aid agencies, etc., who avoid the bottom. D. Buzz is celebrities and NGOs – focuses on bottom but simplifies solutions to get message heard. Problem requires complex, multilevel solutions.
“All societies used to be poor. Most are now lifting out of it; why are others stuck? The answer is traps?” Nice analogy with chutes and ladders – ladders raise societies up, chutes send them sliding back down.
Address the four traps: 1) the conflict trap 2) the natural resources trap 3) the trap of being landlocked with bad neighbors 4) the trap of bad governance in a small country.
Bottom billion is Africa+.
As countries have been improving, bottom billion has been declining since 1970s. “The growth of the bottom billion remains much slower at its peak than even the slowest growth in the rest of the developing world and brings them about back to where they were in 1970.”
>>It’s a picture of divergence – not development.
China and India broke free, entered global markets and are accelerating.
Poverty reduction vs. growth rates. Our author is stressing the importance of GROWTH. Places that are trapped have not had any growth.
- Cuba as failure? Why: “to my mind, development is about giving hope to ordinary people that their children will live in a society that has caught up with the rest of the world. Take that hope away and the smart people will use their energies not to develop their society but to escape from it….
>> Seems like a limited view about development, also what about within our own borders – places that aren’t developing?
Calls problem serious but fixable – says we’ve beaten bigger things – disease, fascism, and communism.
>>I’d argue on all three counts. And not sure that communism per se is an evil. Disease is still rampant, and fascists hang out in our midst – and put on the face of democracy….
Krugman and Tony Venables – concerning wage gap – wide enough for people to take advantage of. Explanation of shift in manufacturing. “Admittedly jobs are far from wonderful, but they are an improvement on the drudgery and boredom of a small farm, or of hanging around on a street corner trying to sell cigarettes. As jobs become plentiful they provide a degree of economic security not just for the people who get them but for the families behind the workers….”
>>Problematic in a few ways – “improvement over drudgery” – says who? This doesn’t seem like a perspective of understanding the people they’re talking about. Understand how it points to Asia and why some places grow and others are trapped.
Asks, when will the boat come around again? When will the bottom be able to compete in global markets? Back to wage gap idea – have to wait a long time until development in Asia creates a wage gap with the bottom billion similar to the massive gap the prevailed between Asia and the rich world around 1980. --- Cycle of who’s at the bottom.
Talking about flow of capital – says it’s not zero sum – it’s not your gain is my loss. Source of suspicion of globalization.
How to convince potential sources of capital you’re the real deal – difficult, hard to tell bogus reformer from serious one. Have to take drastic, serious steps as a government.
Emigration robs bottom of “best and brightest” – have most to gain by moving… true to some extent, but seems an overgeneralization.
-- to achieve turnaround – country needs critical mass of educated people. Bottom billion is desperately short and getting worse. >> Seems true in Detroit (my former home) as well. Those who can leave – do after a while.
Traps are difficult to escape – presents blueprint. Closes with: “we cannot rescue them” “only can be rescued from within.”
Jeffrey Sachs lecture on sustainable development:
Talks about economics and ecology and “rarely do the two meet.” His talk combines the two, and advises to keep both in sight when working on problems – we can fight poverty and save the planet at the same time.
- Asia’s economic growth today, really only reflects its historically large population – that only in relatively recent times was “behind” in development.
>>Brief talk about ecosystem stresses. (functioning of oceans, rivers, atmospheres.) Invasive species wreaking havoc in new environments – have seen this since ships could carry rats and disease…
Asks: “Can world get together” referencing Nicholas Stern Report.
**** The most important aspect is “empathy.” Need to learn to care, to see through others eyes, stand in their shoes, see another perspective. Helps break down us versus them. The threats we face are common to us all.
Solving these problems will take management and leadership skills – cooperation and coordination are vital….
Fear of Small Numbers – the geography of Anger
Looking at culturally motivated violence. See now that liberal-democratic societies are susceptible to capture by majoritarian forces and large-scale ethnocidal violence. Where does this violence in the form of ethnic cleansing and terrorism come from in the face of expansion of human rights, opening of markets, new ideas about governing?
1st: fundamental, dangerous idea behind idea of modern nation-state – “national ethos.” This singular view of a nation’s people even when embracing the idea of togetherness – creates majority and minority.
Arendt and others: the idea of a national people-hood is the Achilles’ heel of modern liberal society.
Suggests direct path from national genius to a totalized cosmology of sacred nation eventually to ethnic purity than cleansing….
“Social uncertainty in social life” can lead to ethnic cleansing. Separating “We” from “they.”
More theys are created across boundaries (cuz of technology, etc.) – not less in counter to Weberian philosophy – suggesting political systems bring us together.
One kind of uncertainty – how many “theys” are there? How do we define they? Is some appear to be a we but is really a they?
These uncertainties can lead to violence – to ensure certainty.
“where the lines between us and them may have always, in human history, been blurred at the boundaries and unclear across large spaces and big numbers, globalization exacerbates these uncertainties and produces new incentives for cultural purification as more nations lose the illusion of national economic sovereignty or well-being.”
-- illusion of fixed and charged identities produced allays uncertainties…
Philip Gourevitch re: Rwanda: “Genocide, after all, is an exercise in community-building.”
2 Europes: one enlightened, inclusive, other anxious and xenophobic.
“Anxiety of incompleteness” – trouble with majority and minority… not a complete majority with those “Small numbers” as they remind majorities of small gap between an unsullied national whole, pure national ethos.
Globalization exacerbates conditions of large scale violence because it produces a potential collision course between logics of uncertainty and incompleteness….
>>Curiously contrary to Maxine Greene’s ideas of uncertainty and incompleteness. Where she embraces them, societies sees them as a lack.
This argument based on interconnectedness of these ideas of globalization, uncertainty, and incompleteness.
1990s violence based on “surplus of rage, excess of hatred” produces degradation and violation both to body and being of victim – torture, rape, etc…
“Narcissism of minor differences” dangerous than before as how easy it is to become other – creates more fear of loss of identity, power of majority….
No longer true: nation-state is sole owner of large-scale decisions to conduct war and make enduring arrangements for peace; that social order in everyday life is default state; and there is a deep and natural distinction between the social disorder within societies and war across societies.
Shattered after 9/11. Warfare no longer property of nation-state. 9/11 a war against America but also against idea that states are only game in town. Massive act of social punishment.
Calls this civilization of clashes rather than clash of civilizations….
Calls war in Afghanistan “diagnostic” to discover who Al-Qaeda is, etc… War between two systems.
Vertebrate vs. Cellular systems.
Vertebrate – nation-state, central order, set of norms, flags, stamps, airlines
Cellular – connected yet not vertically managed, coordinated yet remarkably independent, capable of replication without central messaging structures, hazy in central organizational features yet crystal clear in their cellular strategies and effects – aided by Internet, very much like capitalist world…
In companies moving from multi-national to transnational to global – hard to assess within a nation. Cellular like. Seeds for Cellular organizations in globalization.
Globalization – driven by speculative capital, new financial instruments, and high-speed information technologies – creates new tensions that it can roam anywhere in face of fantasy of nation-state.
Terrorism – keeping people in constant fear, the new norm.
Achilles Mbembe: new landscape not of war and peace but of order organized around terror.
>>Epistemological assault on us all – destabilizes idea that peace is natural state of order and nation-state is guarantor of such order.
Need to look at minorities in nation-state and marginalization of nation-state by globalization….
Globalization in small countries – fear of inclusion and fear of exclusion…
Prison industry in US – tied to dynamics of regional economies pushed out of other more humane forms of employment and wealth creation…
Violence against women in Taliban – in US, still domestic violence. Youth armies in Africa – violence in gangs…
“Maps of states and the maps of warfare no longer fit an older, realist geography.”
Not clash of civilizations – as they are intracivilizational…
>>Minorities are a recent social and demographic category and today they activate new worries about rights, citizenship, belonging, entitlement, etc. Become scapegoats, an in globalization era: “Minorities are the major site for displacing anxieties of many states about their own minority or marginality (real or imagined) in a world of a few megastates, of unruly economic flows and compromised sovereignties.
Minorities are metaphors, reminders of betrayal of classical national project – nation-states failure to preserve its promise – needs scapegoats – need to eliminate minorities….
Paradox: violence, especially at the national level, requires minorities…
So: why kill the weak? An argument of we/they. “Predatory” – those identities who require extinction of other to maintain their identity and survival. Fear they’ll be turned into minority unless existing minority disappears first. (Anxiety of incompleteness.) Nazis and Jews – used political propaganda to incite this fear. Could then extend it to other minorities. To construct a German identity had to eliminate otherness – Jews…. Arendt: “banality of evil.” Reduce minorities to “others” – make it easier to hate…
What conditions are right for liberal societies to make this shift?
“One” is the smallest important number for liberalism – one nation, undivided…
Minorities break up this “oneness…”
We allow for procedural dissent (temporary), but substantive dissent – permanent
India example (Slumdog millionaire – genocide of Christians…) World’s largest democracy can become Hinduized polity…
>>The point here is that small numbers can unsettle big issues, especially in countries like India, where the rights of minorities are directly connected to larger arguments about the role of the state, etc.
Suicide bomber is darkest possible version of liberal value place on individual – on number “one.” Introduces uncertainty – appears to be normal…
>>“As abstractions produced by census techniques and liberal proceduralism, majorities can always be mobilized to think that they are in danger of becoming minor (culturally or numerically) and to fear that minorities, conversely, can easily become major (through brute accelerated reproduction or subtler legal or political means).”