“Benevolent” dictators don’t grow the economy

How often we hear the argument “If only there were a strong leader to take charge and make the tough decisions to get the economy growing”. Well it turns out that that is a folk tale that happens – when it does happen – by chance.

My RMIT colleague Ahmed Skali has co-authored a paper that looks at whether dictators have  a positive influence on economic growth.

Supposedly well-intentioned dictators are often cited as drivers of economic growth. We examine this claim in a panel of 133 countries from 1858 to 2010. Using annual data on economic growth, political regimes, and political leaders, we document a robust asymmetric pattern: growth-positive autocrats (autocrats whose countries experience larger-than-average growth) are found only as frequently as would be predicted by chance. In contrast, growth-negative autocrats are found significantly more frequently. Implementing regression discontinuity designs (RDD), we also examine local trends in the neighbourhood of the entry into power of growth-positive autocrats. We find that growth under supposedly growth-positive autocrats does not significantly differ from previous realizations of growth, suggesting that even the infrequent growth-positive autocrats largely “ride the wave” of previous success. On the other hand, our estimates reject the null hypothesis that growth-negative rulers have no effects. Taken together, our results cast serious doubt on the benevolent autocrat hypothesis.

I have to say that I’m not surprised by the results – but it is good that somebody has actually tested the benevolent dictator story (and found it wanting).

 

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82 Responses to “Benevolent” dictators don’t grow the economy

  1. sfw

    It seems they limited the study to ‘Good’ Dictators v ‘Bad’ Dictators, shouldn’t they have also compared them to all the different forms of government and the countries and different cultures? Perhaps the economic results of different democracies and autocratic governments and different cultures would have similar results (or not).

  2. bob sykes

    I notice the start date is well after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which occurred under monarchs. So who were the benevolent dictators? Were there any dictators in late 19th Century Europe. Napoleon is long gone. There were kings and emperors everywhere.

  3. Ubique

    Lee Kuan Yew is the only benevolent dictator the world has ever seen. In our own back yard, Whitlam, Rudd and Turnbull all wanted to be dictators, but none of them were benevolent by any stretch of the imagination.

  4. Lilliana

    Someone beat me to it. Lee Kuan Yew. How I wish we had someone like him, and not the oxygen thieves, in Canberra.

  5. Frank Walker from National Tiles

    One out of a few thousand tyrants is objectively a piss poor record.

    Even the “good” dictators and medieval autocrats were in modern eyes and an objective sense, brutal monsters.

    Those who seek to control social mores eventually control the economy, and vice versa.

  6. As well as I can remember Lee Kuan Yew was democratically elected and then reelected many times (8 elections I think) because the the country was performing well. Most dictators either seize power or maybe elected once then do not allow elections. H*tler was I think in 1933 elected as Chancellor, the 1938 election was rigged with only the N*ZI party standing a getting a rigged vote of 99%. Putin rigged the last election although most in Russia thought he might make a good leader to carry the country forward. The chap in Turkey Erdogan rigged the last election. Maduro in Venezuela rigged the election to stay in power.
    I suggest that Lee Kuan Yew was not a dictator but a very intelligent person leading a party that was fulfilling the wishes of the electors. Recall in Australia Menzies and Howard were reelected several times but either were of the stature or the financial skill of Lee Kuan Yew.

  7. Ubique

    Mr Lee was an expert in jailing his opponents or driving them into bankruptcy through libel suits. The media didn’t dare criticise him or his government. He performed economic and social miracles all the same for Singapore.

  8. Old School Conservative

    Ubique, that is exactly the same story told to me a a few different taxi drivers in my last couple of visits to Singapore.
    Theory confirmed!

  9. Nob

    We now have the Dictatorship of the Bureaucracy.

  10. John Brumble

    Hang on. How can growth positive dictators happen only as often as chance would allow, but growth negative dictators happen more often than by chance? That doesn’t add to one.

  11. egg_

    growth-negative autocrats are found significantly more frequently.

    Strike me pink!

  12. 1735099

    We find that growth under supposedly growth-positive autocrats does not significantly differ from previous realizations of growth, suggesting that even the infrequent growth-positive autocrats largely “ride the wave” of previous success

    Best example is Trump riding Obama’s success.

  13. It’s interesting that only the Left seem to dream of dictators, whether benevolent or not.

  14. Iampeter

    How often we hear the argument “If only there were a strong leader to take charge and make the tough decisions to get the economy growing”.

    Quite a lot actually. Especially at the cat. Especially from Trump supporters.

  15. Entropy

    Trump might be many things, with manifest deficiencies, but he not a dictator, idiots.

  16. Boambee John

    Best example is Trump riding Obama’s success.

    The seagull sh1t is more noxious than usual.

  17. Rafe

    The Cat is governed by a benevolent dictator.
    Congrats to Jason Soon who started it and to Sinc who took it to a new level.

  18. stackja

    Those who want to live in a benevolent dictatorship are quite at liberty to find one somewhere and go there. And, yes Rafe! Thank you Sinc.

  19. John Constantine

    Their turnbull was a growth negative autocrat for those he despised, like the irrigators of the Murray darling basin and dissenters and pensioners.

    While being a growth positive autocrat for ABC presenters and windmill rorters and vegynsys and immigration agencies and property Ponzi concierges.

    There are multiple societies and economies within the shorelines of Australia, only some of them matter.

    Growth positive autocrats simply declare the State will pay $600,000,000 as the price to patch up their Ponxi property dogbox apartment growth to bail out their donor economy.

    Comrade Maaaaates.

  20. Nob

    You don’t even have to like Trump to realise he’s better than any of the alternatives.

  21. Dr Faustus

    I have to say that I’m not surprised by the results…

    Indeed.
    The starting point is that free markets discover the best aggregate economic outcome because solutions are tailored to individual needs. No surprise then that a dictatorship reaching into a market economy – whether ‘benevolent’, or ‘malevolent’ – would do a less efficient job.

  22. egg_

    free markets discover the best aggregate economic outcome because solutions are tailored to individual needs. No surprise then that a dictatorship reaching into a market economy – whether ‘benevolent’, or ‘malevolent’ – would do a less efficient job.

    Precisely.

  23. Iampeter

    The Cat is governed by a benevolent dictator.
    Congrats to Jason Soon who started it and to Sinc who took it to a new level.

    Actually the Cat is private property and it’s owner exercising his rights is in no way analogous to any government action, let alone dictatorship.

    You know, as someone who has spent as many years as you pretending to learn politics, you should pretend to at least learn the basics, like what the difference between government and private is.

    Just a thought.

  24. Petros

    So the Wirtschaftswunder would have happened without Adolf , WWII and the Marshall plan? A natural consequence of the Weimar republic? How can they lump all of these regimes together for analysis? Was Gaddafi included?

  25. Chris M

    “If only there were a strong leader to take charge and make the tough decisions”

    As created beings there is an inherent longing in the human heart for the return of Christ. And soon that is exactly what will happen! Meanwhile as men are sinful we know from His prophecy that the turmoil we see now will increase on many fronts. Finally if you are interested in economics all global trade will cease and wealth will be made desolate in one hour – see Revelation 18.

  26. max

    I remember a Hong Kong governor (benevolent dictatorship) under the British who defined his policy as ‘creative non-interventionism.’

    Of course, in Hong Kong that had to be abandoned when there was an attack on the currency in the late nineties.

  27. Oh come on

    Just a thought.

    Limpy’s popped his cherry at last! Maybe he’ll have another thought in the future.

    By the way, your NPC Orange Man Bad chorus doesn’t count, Limpy.

  28. Adam D

    Put me in charge – I guarantee massive economic growth by doing practically nothing

  29. max

    All societies of men must be governed in some way or other. The less they may have of stringent State Government, the more they must have of individual self-government. The less they rely on public law or physical force, the more they must rely on private moral restraint. Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the Word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible, or by the bayonet.

    Biblical Self-Government: The desire and the ability to willingly submit to God-given authority without being forced, coerced, or constantly reminded to do so.

    When man refuses to be self-governed, he asks to be a slave. This sums up the whole history of mankind. It started in Eden, and it is still true, even in our country today.

    We see the same principle at work in the history of the Israelite people. They were established in the Promised Land as a self-governing people. They had no king, no parliament, and no president to rule over them, only the law of God. They had been taught the law and how to deal justly with the lawless by Moses, and now they were to put everything they had been taught into practice. However, once again, the people failed to exercise self-government. The people forsook God and His law and as a result, God sent judgment in the form of other nations to rule over them.

  30. Rafe Champion

    Just a thought.

    Finally I get it. . Iampeter is a humourless retard.

    Call me a slow learner. I was thinking about making a considered reply to one of his sallies the other day.

    Once upon a time when I was a young and naive Cat I was wont to engage trolls and hard lefties on the defunct leftie blog Lavartus by asking polite questions to see if they were open to discussion. Not a successful experiment.

  31. Rafe Champion

    From the last edition of Lavartas Prodeo. Pity about the colour scheme.

  32. sabena

    Hong Kong under the British was not an autocracy in the sense being talked about here.The Governor was not elected,nor did the population have rights to vote.But the Governor was subject to the rule of law.
    Likewise in Singapore.
    The British did not have full democracy in 1858 either-you had to meet a property qualification to be able to vote.Nor did Australians until the end of the 19th century.

  33. Behind Enemy Lines

    Last time I looked, no one asked for a dictator (benevolent or otherwise) so they could have a happy economy. People support dictators for two reasons.

    (1) The political class back dictators because they expect they’ll be the ones in charge.

    (2) Ordinary people back dictators because they want an end to social chaos (and occasionally to head off the threat of even worse dictators).

    In most of the West, the political class has been backing government-sponsored social chaos for quite a while now, don’t you think?

    We live in interesting times.

  34. Iampeter is a humourless retard.

    You’ve just described every Leftist.

  35. Iampeter

    Finally I get it. . Iampeter is a humourless retard.

    Call me a slow learner. I was thinking about making a considered reply to one of his sallies the other day.

    Once upon a time when I was a young and naive Cat I was wont to engage trolls and hard lefties on the defunct leftie blog Lavartus by asking polite questions to see if they were open to discussion. Not a successful experiment.

    So, when you’re not posting embarrassing, child-like, talking points, you’re throwing ad hominems.
    Just don’t have the time for “considered replies” because you’re too smart, not because you have no clue.
    Totally.

    Good to see the lifetime you’ve spent learning politics hasn’t been a complete waste of time.

  36. Iampeter

    Iampeter is a humourless retard.

    You’ve just described every Leftist.

    Except I’m the guy arguing in favor of capitalism, unlike most other posters here, including clueless boomers like Rafe.
    So how can I be the leftist?

    Oh that’s right. This is the Cat. Australias leading Right Wing blog, utterly overrun by politically illiterate leftists, who are so clueless they think they are fighting the left for some reason.

  37. John A

    bob sykes #3109820, posted on July 17, 2019 at 9:18 pm

    I notice the start date is well after the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, which occurred under monarchs. So who were the benevolent dictators? Were there any dictators in late 19th Century Europe. Napoleon is long gone. There were kings and emperors everywhere.

    Well, they may not have looked like 20th Century examples (eg. Castro) but think of strong men like Bismarck, unifiers of national groups like Garibaldi, and Prime Ministers in Britain with majorities of 80%, who were backed by mad kings, or “raving colonialists” running large parts of Africa and Asia.

    All of these kinds were about and operating within different political structures. No label, but acting dictatorially nonetheless.

  38. egg_

    Iampeter is a humourless retard.

    Echoes of sh1tfer.

  39. Except I’m the guy arguing in favor of capitalism, unlike most other posters here, including clueless boomers like Rafe.

    Pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells. Do you wear a red bandanna?

  40. Dr Fred Lenin

    How about the Kim Dynasty in North Korea. Dictators dont come more benevolent than Fatty. The pollsters who predicted victory for hilarity and shorten took a popularity poll in Pyonyang , 107.86 per cent of thosepolled were in favour of the Fatty government . The left elites who wanted to invite Maduro here to show us how to improve peoples lives should invite Fatty to come here and do likewise ,you can always learn by listening comrades .

  41. Dr Fred Lenin

    Correction ,it was Chavez the gangrenes and alp communists invited ,the other bastard murderer Maduro had died ,hopefull in pain .

  42. Iampeter

    Pull the other one, it plays Jingle Bells. Do you wear a red bandanna?

    Pull what other one? What are you thinking was said and what are you trying to say?
    Let me be clear, capitalists, like me, are on the right wing side of politics.
    Statists, that want to regulate every aspect of peoples lives, from marriage to trade, like most posters at the cat, including Rafe, are on the left wing side of politics.
    This is basic.
    The fact that it needs to be explained is why you are politically illiterate leftists. Why are you on a right wing blog?

    Now I know you, like Rafe, were tying to make a knowingly funny comment, but you, like Rafe, don’t know anything about this subject, so the only thing that is funny, is you trying to talk politics.

  43. What are you thinking was said and what are you trying to say?

    Your inappropriate use of commas mimics that of the apeman who wears a red bandanna (something Tim Blair often points out) .

  44. Frank Walker from National Tiles

    The Cat is governed by a benevolent dictator.
    Congrats to Jason Soon who started it and to Sinc who took it to a new level.

    Our Great Leader and Dear Leader.

    As for myself?

    I am Marching Forward Dynamically Towards Final Victory, Holding Higher the Banner of Soon!

  45. Squirrel

    It might be more to the point to say that (truly) benevolent dictators don’t grow on trees – even if they start out with benevolent intentions, that tends not to last, and the pressures to buy off powerful interests etc. will sooner or later see corruption and misallocation of resources beyond what most decent democracies tolerate (or achieve….)

  46. max

    For: Iampeter

    Copy paste from:
    The Story Of Civilisation 01 by Will Durant

    The first task of those customs that constitute the moral code of a group is to regulate the relations of the sexes, for these are a perennial source of discord, violence, and possible degeneration. The basic form of this sexual regulation is marriage, which may be defined as the association of mates for the care of offspring.

    physical desire does not give rise to the institution of marriage.
    For marriage, with its restrictions and psychological irritations, could not possibly compete with sexual communism as a mode of satisfying the erotic propensities of men.
    Some powerful economic motives must have favored the evolution of marriage. In all probability these motives were connected with the rising institution of property.
    Individual marriage came through the desire of the male to have cheap slaves, and to avoid bequeathing his property to other men’s children.
    The women themselves often favored polygamy; it permitted them to nurse their children longer, and therefore to reduce the frequency of motherhood without interfering with the erotic and philoprogenitive inclinations of the male.

    The decrease in danger and violence, consequent upon a settled agricultural life, brought the sexes towards an approximate numerical equality; and under these circumstances open polygamy, even in primitive societies, became the privilege of the prosperous minority

    Jealousy in the male, and possessiveness in the female, entered into the situation more effectively as the sexes approximated in number; for where the strong could not have a multiplicity of wives except by taking the actual or potential wives of other men~ and by (in some cases) offending their own, polygamy became a difficult matter, which only the cleverest could manage.
    As property accumulated, and men were loath to scatter it in small bequests, it became desirable to differentiate wives into “chief wife” and concubines, so that only the children of the former should share the legacy; this remained the status of marriage in Asia until our own generation. Gradually the chief wife became the only wife, the concubines became kept women in secret and apart, or they disappeared; and as Christianity entered upon the scene, monogamy, in Europe, took the place of polygamy as the lawful and outward form of sexual association. But monogamy, like letters and the state, is artificial, and belongs to the history, not to the origins, of civilization.

    Marriage is never a sacrament with him, and seldom an affair of lavish ceremony; it is frankly a commercial transaction.
    The primitive male looked upon marriage in terms not of sexual license but of economic cooperation.
    Marriage was a profitable partnership, not a private debauch; it was a way whereby a man and a woman, working together, might be more prosperous than if each worked alone. Wherever, in the history of civilization, woman has ceased to be an economic asset in marriage, marriage has decayed; and sometimes civilization has decayed with it.

    “The greatest task of morals is always sexual regulation; for the reproductive instinct creates problems not only within marriage, but before and after it, and threatens at any moment to disturb social order with its persistence, its intensity, its scorn of law, and its perversions.”
    The first problem concerns premarital relations-shall they be restricted, or free? Even among animals sex is not quite unrestrained;
    man differs from the animal in eating without being hungry, drinking without being thirsty, and making love at all seasons.

    The “oldest profession” is comparatively young; it arises only with civilization, with the appearance of property and the disappearance of premarital freedom.

    Chastity is a correspondingly late development. What the primitive maiden dreaded was not the loss of virginity, but a reputation for sterility;
    In many places virginity was considered a barrier to marriage, because it laid upon the husband the unpleasant task of violating the tabu that forbade him to shed the blood of any member of his tribe.
    What was it that changed virginity from a fault into a virtue, and made it an element in the moral codes of all the higher civilizations? Doubtless it was the institution of property.

    Social order is none the less necessary; the game must still have rules in order to be played; men must know what to expect of one another in the ordinary circumstances of life. Hence the unanimity with which the members of a society practise its moral code is quite as important as the contents of that code.
    The institutions, conventions, customs and laws that make up the complex structure of a society are the work of a hundred centuries and a billion minds; and one mind must not expect to comprehend them in one lifetime, much less in twenty years.

    The inculcation of virginity destroyed the naturalness and ease of primitive sexual life; but, by discouraging early sex development and premature motherhood, it lessened the gap -which tends to widen disruptively as civilization develops-between economic and sexual maturity. Probably it served in this way to strengthen the individual physically and mentally, to lengthen adolescence and training, and so to lift the level of the race .
    As the institution of property developed, adultery graduated from a venial into a mortal sin.

    Under the patriarchate adultery was classed with theft; it was, so to speak, an infringement of patent.

    With the coming of a settled agricultural life, unions became more permanent. Under the patriarchal system the man found it uneconomical to divorce a wife, for this meant, in effect, to lose a profitable slave.” As the family became the productive unit of society, tilling the soil together, it prospered-other things equal-according to its size and cohesion; it was found to some advantage that the union of the mates should continue until the last child was reared.

    Individualism, like liberty, is a luxury of civilization. Only with the dawn of history were a sufficient number of men and women freed from the burdens of hunger, reproduction and war to create the intangible values of leisure, culture and art.

  47. Rafe Champion

    Karl Popper had 2 issues with benevolent dictators. One is the unwillingness of his underlings to tell him when he is making mistakes. The other is the problem of succession. And another one is when he loses his capacities or goes mad.

  48. Iampeter

    Your inappropriate use of commas mimics that of the apeman who wears a red bandanna (something Tim Blair often points out) .

    The commas in the post responding to you are not inappropriate, but as a politically illiterate leftist on a right wing blog, other peoples grammar are the least of your problems.

    Max, you don’t need to keep grasping at straws. Western Civilization was no more created by marriage, than it was by genetic traits, or men with long beards, or anything else you cargo culstists grasp onto because you have no idea about our culture or it’s history.
    You and most at the Cat would vehemently oppose Western Civilization if you understood it.

    Individualism, like liberty, is a luxury of civilization.

    No, they’re not.
    Also, the cart doesn’t come before the horse.

  49. The commas in the post responding to you are not inappropriate

    Your use of commas is still inappropriate, meaning that you don’t know how to correctly use punctuation (or possessives). You certainly do write and demonstrate the same warped views as Mr Fitzsimian. I guess once an NPC, always an NPC.

  50. Iampeter

    You certainly do write and demonstrate the same warped views as Mr Fitzsimian. I guess once an NPC, always an NPC.

    No, none of my views are warped or the same as Red Bandana man. My views are right wing and therefore opposite. This is obvious but you don’t know anything about politics and no amount of discussion of punctuation will change this.
    You are also misusing the NPC meme as it describes you and most other posters here, not me.

    You have no business on a blog about politics.

  51. max

    From the same book:

    CIVILIZATION is social order promoting cultural creation. Four elements constitute it: economic provision, political organization, moral traditions, and the pursuit of knowledge and the arts. It begins where chaos and insecurity end. For when fear is overcome, curiosity and constructiveness are free, and man passes by natural impulse towards the understanding and embellishment of life.
    Certain factors condition civilization, and may encourage or impede it.
    First, geological conditions.
    Second, geographical conditions. The heat of the tropics, and the innumerable parasites that infest them, are hostile to civilization; lethargy and disease, and a precocious maturity and decay, divert the energies from those inessentials of life that make civilization, and absorb them in hunger and reproduction; nothing is left for the play of the arts and the mind. Rain is necessary; for water is the medium of life, more important even than the light of the sun;
    If the soil is fertile in food or minerals, if rivers offer an easy avenue of exchange, if the coast-line is indented with natural harbors for a commercial fleet, if, above all, a nation lies on the highroad of the world’s trade, like Athens or Carthage, Venice-then geography, though it can never create it, smiles upon civilization, and nourishes it.
    Economic conditions are more important.
    The first form of culture is agriculture. It is when man settles down to till the soil and lay up provisions for the uncertain future that he finds time and reason to be civilized. Within that little circle of security – a reliable supply of water and food – he builds his huts, his temples and his schools; he invents productive tools, and domesticates the dog, the ass, the pig, at last himself. He learns to work with regularity and order, maintains a longer tenure of life, and transmits more completely than before the mental and moral heritage of his race.
    Culture suggests agriculture, but civilization suggests the city. In one aspect civilization is the habit of civility; and civility is the refinement which townsmen, who made the word, thought possible only in the civitas or city …. For in the city are gathered, rightly or wrongly, the wealth and brains produced in the countryside; in the city invention and industry multiply comforts, luxuries and leisure; in the city traders meet, and baner goods and ideas; in that cross-fertilisation of minds at the crossroads of trade intelligence is sharpened and stimulated to creative power. In the city some men are set aside from the making of material things, and produce science and philosophy, literature and an. Civilization begins in the peasant’s hut, but it comes to flower only in the towns. There are no racial conditions to civilization. It may appear on any continent and in any color:
    It is not the great race that makes the civilization, it is the great civilization that makes the people; circumstances geographical and economic create a culture, and the culture creates a type.

    you can find books for free pdf here:

    https://archive.org/details/TheStoryOfCivilizationcomplete

    read book 1 first 50 pages after introduction and pictures.
    unfotunately Ayn Rand was born in slavic country and from there pick up many bad habits/thinking of slavic people ( in my former country there was saying Popovi lopovi — which mean priest are thief.
    And by the way Ayn Rand is not God you can read other people and their opinions.

  52. Tel

    As others have said, Singapore is the obvious counter example, but we aren’t supposed to call them a dictatorship. The Thai kings have done a pretty reasonable job, and they are very powerful but choose to allow democracy to some extent while keeping an eye on things at the same time. That’s about the best you can get.

    You won’t find any benevolent dictator doing bad things, because that would be a contradiction in terms. Trouble is, you start with a dictator and only later on get to figure out which one was benevolent, so it’s a bit hit and miss.

  53. You have no business on a blog about politics.

    In one short sentence (without commas) you revealed your true nature. Leftist really can’t maintain a facade for very long, if at all.

  54. max

    These physical and biological conditions are only prerequisites to civilization; they do not constitute or generate it. Subtle psychological factors must enter into play.
    There must be political order, even if it be so near to chaos as in Renaissance Florence or Rome; men must feel, by and large, that they need not look for death or taxes at every tum. There must be some unity of language to serve as a medium of mental exchange.
    Through church, or family, or school, or otherwise, there must be a unifying moral code, some rules of the game of life acknowledged even by those who violate them, and giving to conduct some order and regularity, some direction and stimulus. Perhaps there must also be some unity of basic belief, some faith, supernatural or utopian, that lifts morality from calculation to devotion, and gives life nobility and significance despite our mortal brevity.
    And finally there must be education-some technique, however primitive, for the transmission of culture. Whether through imi- tation, initiation or instruction, whether through father or mother, teacher or priest, the lore and heritage of the tribe-its language and knowledge, its morals and manners, its technology and arts-must be handed down to the young, as the very instrument through which they are turned from animals into men.

  55. max

    “Three meals a day are a highly advanced institution. Savages gorge themselves or fast.’
    The natives of Australia are incapable of any labor whose reward is not immediate; and with the Bushmen of Africa it is always “either a feast or a famine.’
    The moment man begins to take thought of the morrow he passes out of the Garden of Eden into the vale of anxiety; the pale cast of worry settles down upon him, greed is sharpened, property begins, and the good cheer of the “thoughtless” native disappears.

    “Of what are you thinking?” Peary asked one of his Eskimo guides. “I do not have to think,” was the answer; “I have plenty of meat.” Not to think unless we have to-there is much to be said for this as the summation of wisdom.

  56. mh

    Iampeter, what other political blogs/sites do you post comments on?

  57. max

    ECONOMIC ORGANIZATION
    Primitive communism

    Trade was the great disturber of the primitive world, for until it came, bringing money and profit in its wake, there was no property, and therefore little government. In the early stages of economic development property was limited for the most part to things personally used; the property sense applied so strongly to such articles that they (even the wife) were often buried with their owner; it applied so weakly to things not personally used that in their case the sense of property, far from being innate, required perpetual reinforcement and inculcation.

    Almost everywhere, among primitive peoples, land was owned by the community.

    “The land,” said the Omaha Indians, “is like water and wind- what cannot be sold.” In Samoa the idea of selling land was unknown prior to the coming of the white man.

    Only less widespread was communism in food.

    It was usual among “savages” for the man who had food to share it with the man who had none, for travelers to be fed at any home they chose to stop at on their way, and for communities harassed with drought to be maintained by their neighbors.

    If a man sat down to his meal in the woods he was expected to call loudly for some one to come and share it with him, before he might justly eat alone.”

    When Turner told a Samoan about the poor in London the “savage” asked in astonishment: “How is it? No food? No friends? No house to live in? Where did he grow? Are there no houses belonging to his friends?”

    The hungry Indian had but to ask to receive; no matter how small the supply was, food was given him if he needed it; “no one can want food while there is corn anywhere in the town.

    The Eskimo hunter had no personal right to his catch; it had to be divided among the inhabitants of the village, and tools and provisions were the common property of all.

    The North American Indians were described by Captain Carver as “strangers to all distinctions of property, except in the articles of domestic use…

    “What is extremely surprising,” reports a missionary, “is to see them treat one another with a gentleness and consideration which one does not find among common people in the most civilized nations. This, doubt- less, arises from the fact that the words ‘mine’ and ‘thine,’ which St. Chrysostom says extinguish in our hearts the fire of charity and kindle that of greed, are unknown to these savages.”

    “I have seen them,” says another observer, “divide game among themselves when they sometimes had many shares to make; and cannot recollect a single instance of their falling into a dispute or finding fault with the distribution as being unequal or otherwise objectionable. They would rather lie down themselves on an empty stomach than have it laid to their charge that they neglected to satisfy the needy…. They look upon themselves as but one great family.”

  58. max

    Why did this primitive communism disappear as men rose to what we, with some partiality, call civilization? Sumner believed that communism proved unbiological, a handicap in the struggle for existence; that it gave insufficient stimulus to inventiveness, industry and thrift; and that the failure to reward the more able, and punish the less able, made for a leveling of capacity which was hostile to growth or to successful competition with other groups.

    Loskiel reported some Indian tribes of the northeast as “so lazy that they plant nothing themselves, but rely entirely upon the expectation that others will not refuse to share their produce with them. Since the industrious thus enjoy no more of the fruits of their labor than the idle, they plant less every year.

    Communism brought a certain security to all who survived the diseases and accidents due to the poverty and ignorance of primitive society; but it did not lift them out of that poverty.
    Individualism brought wealth, but it brought, also, insecurity and slavery; it stimulated the latent powers of superior men, but it intensified the competition of life, and made men feel bitterly a poverty which, when all shared it alike, had seemed to oppress none.

    Perhaps one reason why communism tends to appear chiefly at the beginning of civilizations is that it flourishes most readily in times of dearth, when the common danger of starvation fuses the individual into the group. When abundance comes, and the danger subsides, social cohesion is lessened, and individualism increases; communism ends where luxury begins.

    Hence the dream of communism lurks in every modem society as a racial memory of a simpler and more equal life; and where inequality or insecurity rises beyond sufferance, men welcome a return to a condition which they idealize by recalling its equality and forgetting its poverty. Periodically the land gets itself redistributed, legally or not, whether by the Gracchi in Rome, the Jacobins in France, or the Communists in Russia; – periodically wealth is redistributed, whether by the violent confiscation of property, or by confiscatory taxation of incomes and bequests. Then the race for wealth, goods and power begins again, and the pyramid of ability takes form once more; under whatever laws may be enacted the abler man manages somehow to get the richer soil, the better place, the lion’s share; soon he is strong enough to dominate the state and rewrite or interpret the laws; and in time the inequality is as great as before. In this aspect all economic history is the slow heart-beat of the social organism, a vast systole and diastole of naturally concentrating wealth and naturally explosive revolution.

  59. Iampeter

    Max, I understand there are more random misintegrations in the book but posting them isn’t going to change anything.
    If I’ve read one of these books I’ve read them all. Like the natives of pacific islands who didn’t understand what was going on and thought recreating runways would bring back modern goods, so these authors don’t understand what’s going on, producing equally nonsense outputs with their books.
    That’s why I refer to them as, “cargo cultist.”

    Their primary mistake is treating humans as deterministic.
    This fails for observable reasons, like the self-evident fact that humans are not deterministic but have volition.
    And the self-evident fact that actually deterministic creatures, like every other animal on the planet, don’t have cultures, or civilization, etc.
    This together with their inability to think rationally, integrating concepts in their proper order and without contradiction, leaves them incapable of writing correctly on subjects that are this abstract.

    Rand being Slavic has nothing to do with her ability to think or not.
    Humans are not different breeds of cattle.
    Nor do I think she’s a god, because there are no gods, nor is that required to be either right or wrong about anything anyway.

    You’ll note I don’t quote others as if it’s an argument, I can make my own.

    And my argument is as follows:
    Humans think and act.
    To the extent humans have good ideas behind their actions they prosper, otherwise they don’t.
    In other words, no mindless savage cannibal will ever build a civilization, regardless of climate, his marriage arrangements, skin color, or any other random factor. Only ideas matter.

    Western Civilization is that civilization which has the best ideas.
    It’s the civilization where reason was first discovered. A way to think properly.
    It is therefore necessarily secular and was able to think its way to freedom and prosperity as a result.
    Contrary to what you quoted before, it is individualism and the corresponding rational thinking that came first, which in turn allows for the creation of our prosperous civilization and culture.

    We’ve had tons of setbacks, none more so than those cause by Christianity, when men stopped thinking rationally and things went backwards. Most peoples ideas today are mixed but we succeed to the extent we embrace reason and reject mysticism.

    That’s the West. It’s not a culture fit for religious or secular irrationalists. Both progressives and conservatives are just two sides of the same coin and are enemies of the West.

    Also, I think we’re posting this in the wrong thread.

  60. Iampeter

    In one short sentence (without commas) you revealed your true nature. Leftist really can’t maintain a facade for very long, if at all.

    Except as has already been explained, capitalists are not leftists.
    You and most posters here are the leftists but you don’t need to worry about any of that.
    You have no business on a political blog.
    You should go to a blog about grammar or something.
    You don’t need to respond to this post.
    I’m not going to bother repeating this to you again, you are just another of the many nutjobs here.

  61. mh

    Most capitalists jump at the chance to climb into bed with government. Adolf Hitler discovered this even before gaining power.

    We see the same thing today with the capitalists of Silicon Valley.

  62. Iampeter

    Most capitalists jump at the chance to climb into bed with government.

    Then they’re not capitalists, are they?

    I can see why so many people wish that anything other than ideas drove human life.
    Thinking takes effort.

    Much easier to just blurt random words and pretend you’ve made a point, when you’ve really just contradicted yourself…

  63. mh

    This is where Iampeter let’s himself down. Big time.

    Then they’re not capitalists, are they?

    Yes. Yes they are.

  64. max

    Iampeter sinceThe Age of Enlightenment when man started to abandon God, individual have less freedom than before start of Enlightenment.

  65. Iampeter

    This is where Iampeter let’s himself down. Big time.

    Then they’re not capitalists, are they?

    Yes. Yes they are.

    Oh OK then. I guess capitalism is just socialism then.

    I mean, or whatever you need it to be, because you want to say stuff.

    Good political discussion, moron. Derp, berp, derp.

  66. max

    Nisbet was born in 1913. He commented decades later that in the year of his birth, the only contact that most Americans had with the U.S. government was the Post Office.

    Nisbet defined totalitarianism in the same way that Hannah Arendt did in The Origins of Totalitarianism: a society in which there is no intervening authority between the state and the citizen. He believed that modern totalitarianism began with Woodrow Wilson, not Lenin. “I believe it is no exaggeration to say that the West’s first real experience with totalitarianism — political absolutism extended into every possible area of culture and society, education, religion, industry, the arts, local community and family included, with a kind of terror always waiting in the wings — came with the American war state under Woodrow Wilson” (The Twilight of Authority, p. 183). There are few American scholars with national reputations who would have the courage to say that in print today. In 1975, it was unheard of. In The Present Age, he devoted eight pages to Wilson’s war state (42—50).
    https://www.garynorth.com/public/18426.cfm

  67. Iampeter

    Iampeter sinceThe Age of Enlightenment when man started to abandon God, individual have less freedom than before start of Enlightenment.

    Oh I see, you’re at the level of the other exceptional individuals here.
    Sure thing, bud.
    Slavery is freedom and war is peace, and capitalist is socialism, and just say whatever words because whatever, amirite? Thinking straight and not contradicting yourself with everything you say is too much effort anyway.

    Your ideas are certainly working out well in the Middle East at the moment and the Dark Ages was a high age of progress as opposed to the horror we’re living in today, right?

    It’s like a whole bunch of InfoWars, DailyStormer and Vox Day morons have gotten lost and ended up on The CatallaxyFiles for some reason…

    As I keep saying, I have never seen a more clueless bunch of authoritarians, leftists and theocrats, than at Australia’s Leading Right Wing Blog LOL!

  68. mh

    It’s like a whole bunch of InfoWars, DailyStormer and Vox Day morons have gotten lost and ended up on The CatallaxyFiles for some reason…

    Should be easy for your arguments to triumph here then, Iampeter.

    Except I cannot remember that ever happening. Funny that.

  69. J.H.

    They don’t grow the economy, they grow regulation. The more you grow the taxpool…. The more people you have to steal from to keep it filled. Eventually you enslave them for nothing and give them the benefit your benevolent rule.

  70. max

    before 1913 in America:

    no income tax
    no FED
    gold or silver was money
    no social security
    no medicare
    no Passport

    yes American where free people not today.

  71. max

    all this comes to America because they abandoned Christian God and substitute it with man made God which is state

  72. Iampeter

    Should be easy for your arguments to triumph here then, Iampeter.

    It is.

    before 1913 in America:

    “Freedom” is not about listing out random policies, all of which you should support, since you are religious and believe in mindlessly submitting to a higher power anyway.

    Freedom has a specific definition which requires a whole series of thinking steps to be followed correctly, that I pointed out in the last thread. Only then would you even be able to oppose these things anyway.

    But just because there was less for the state to loot back then doesn’t mean there was more freedom.
    You are simply saying words you don’t really understand. This is just cargo cultism.

    all this comes to America because they abandoned Christian God and substitute it with man made God which is state

    That’s the same thing. It doesn’t really matter which higher authority you want to mindlessly obey, the results will be the same.

    Look I get it, you want to go back to the Dark Ages. So who’s stopping you?

    There’s a whole part of the world that agrees with your ideas.

    I hear Syria is wonderful this time of year. Have fun!

  73. mh

    Should be easy for your arguments to triumph here then, Iampeter.

    It is.

    LOL

    Peter, please. Stop it.

  74. Iampeter

    LOL

    Peter, please. Stop it.

    Stop what?
    Everything you say makes no sense.

    My arguments should be winning because I’m outnumbered by morons?
    Capitalists are really statists?
    So what are statists? Capitalists?
    So to be right wing, you have to actually be left wing?

    I mean, you’re a complete moron.

    Every one of your posts is like watching someone step on a rake over and over.

  75. max

    Decline and Fall: The USA’s Freedom Ranking
    Gary North – November 09, 2016

    ON THE MAKING OF LISTS
    There are several indexes of liberty published by conservative and libertarian research organizations. They use different criteria. They weigh these criteria differently. There is a mixture of subjective and objective criteria. But there are similar findings.
    Here is a grim finding: on none of them is the United States at the top. Yet in 1770, the USA would probably have been #1 or #2.
    We know which nation was the major competitor: Switzerland. Switzerland remains in the top five on the various indexes. Switzerland has been the world’s operational model of liberty for at least three centuries.
    Something has gone wrong in the United States over the last 240 years. But what? It has not gone equally wrong in Switzerland. Why not?

    On personal freedom, the USA is not on the top ten list.
    Consider a different index: the Heritage Foundation’s index of economic liberty. Here is the top of the list as of 2016.

    1. Hong Kong
    2. Singapore
    3. New Zealand
    4. Switzerland
    5. Australia
    6. Canada
    7. Chile
    8. Ireland
    9. Estonia
    10. United Kingdom
    11. United States
    12. Denmark
    13. Lithuania
    14. Taiwan
    15. Mauritius
    Notice that Hong Kong is #1 on two lists, but #18 on the third: personal liberty. Hong Kong is an island with its roots in Britain’s common law tradition. Yet politically, it is under Communist China.
    New Zealand is way up there. So is Canada. So is Australia.
    In 1775, we launched a revolution against Great Britain. Yet a Chinese-speaking colony of Great Britain is at the top of two lists.
    Americans are taught to revere the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Obviously, they did not protect us.

    https://www.garynorth.com/public/15872.cfm

  76. mh

    Every one of your posts is like watching someone step on a rake over and over.

    😂😆😂

  77. Iampeter

    I get it max. America is losing it’s freedom because it’s less religious.

    Meanwhile the worlds theocracies are the freest and most prosperous places on earth.

    I’m sure you’re posting this from Syria or Iran.

  78. max

    All governments are theocracies, governments whose every law is a moral determination (or, more often than not, immoral determination), based upon the god of that government (more often than not some form of We the People). In turn, the leaders of said government are its “priesthood,” doing the bidding of said government’s god.

    theocracy–the rule of God’s law

    ecclesiocracy — civil rule by priests

    there are two basic ministerial offices, civil rulers and elders in the church.
    Neither is to replace the other.
    Neither can perform all the functions of the other.
    Neither is to be vested with comprehensive, monopolistic sovereignty.
    But both are to be governed by God’s law.

    ecclesiocracy does not allow for a jurisdictional separation between Church and State, something the Bible demands. The institutional Church would rule the State, and the State would carry out the ecclesiastical objectives of the Church. This is not the biblical model.

    Scripture describes a decentralized governmental system and a jurisdictional separation between Church and State. In biblical terms, government is broader than the State or the institutional church. Biblical governments include the family, church, and various levels of civil jurisdiction, all responsible to God’s government and supported by self-government under God.

    [W]e do not equate government with the state. To do so is totalitarianism. Government is first of all the self-government of man; it is also the family, the church, the school, our vocation, society and its institutions, and finally, civil government. Our problem today is that government is equated with the state, an anti-Christian view.

    To the modern ear the word “theocracy” has distinctly pejorative overtones, suggesting the rule of some oppressive priestly caste, “government by state by immediate Divine guidance or by officials regarded as divinely guided,” to quote a standard definition. Yet, unlike certain other systems known in antiquity, “the ‘Theocracy’ of Moses was not a government of priests, as opposed to kings; it was a government by God Himself, as opposed to the government by priests or kings”

    These principles have a long history, going back to the Old Testament. Moses became the chief judicial officer in Israel, assisted by numerous lesser civil magistrates (Ex. 18:17–26). Aaron, Moses’ brother, became the chief ecclesiastical officer as High Priest, assisted by numerous lesser priests (29:1–9; Lev. 8). Moses did not carry out the duties of a priest, and Aaron did not perform civil tasks.

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