Saturday, January 16, 2010

It's Not the Culture, Stupid

Over the past few decades, the world has spent trillions of dollars to generate growth in the developing world. The countries that have not received much aid, like China, have seen tremendous growth and tremendous poverty reductions. The countries that have received aid, like Haiti, have not.
This is stupid beyond belief. It appears that Brooks believes that the only difference between China and Haiti is that Haiti has received foreign aid. is time to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty. Why is Haiti so poor? Well, it has a history of oppression, slavery and colonialism. But so does Barbados, and Barbados is doing pretty well. 
Again, Barbados is a completely different country, colonized by a different nation (Britain), with a completely different history. 
Haiti has endured ruthless dictators, corruption and foreign invasions. 
Brooks conveniently leaves out the fact that the ruthless and corrupt dictators were fully supported by the United States, which kept them in power because they accepted the constitution which the Americans forced on the country at gunpoint, and which was written by Americans to allow Americans to take Haitian land, and that the foreign invaders were the Americans. 
But so has the Dominican Republic, and the D.R. is in much better shape.
Yes, it's better. The US didn't rape it to the extent it raped Haiti, either. Also-different country.
 Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island and the same basic environment, yet the border between the two societies offers one of the starkest contrasts on earth — with trees and progress on one side, and deforestation and poverty and early death on the other.
Why is this, Mr Brooks?

As Lawrence E. Harrison explained in his book “The Central Liberal Truth,” Haiti, like most of the world’s poorest nations, suffers from a complex web of progress-resistant cultural influences. There is the influence of the voodoo religion, which spreads the message that life is capricious and planning futile. There are high levels of social mistrust. Responsibility is often not internalized. Child-rearing practices often involve neglect in the early years and harsh retribution when kids hit 9 or 10.
We’re all supposed to politely respect each other’s cultures. But some cultures are more progress-resistant than others, and a horrible tragedy was just exacerbated by one of them.

So, let's all forget the facts: That the United States invaded Haiti in 1915 under false pretexts, then, in the words of US Marine Major Smedley Butler "hunted the Cacos (Haitians) like pigs", overthrew their government, forced them to accept a constitution legalizing the seizure of their land, installed, armed and supported the brutal and murderous Duvalier regime, and then, when the extremely popular reformist Jean-Bertrand Aristide managed to win an election, immediately worked to have him overthrown in a military coup by brutal authoritarians who promised to keep US corporations in power.

For starters.

Let's forget that, and focus on the culture. Because the real problem is that these damn black people don't have any work ethic.

Send a $10 Donation to the Red Cross by Texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999

1 comment:

  1. If you read Jared Diamond's book Collapse, he contrasts Haiti and the DR and their environment is actually different; the DR has much better access to resources.