Posts Tagged ‘Benevolent dictatorship’

So my big plan to have a two part post on China in Africa fell apart, not because I’m lazy, but because there’s too much stuff to jam into part 2. So I’m going to just keep writing until I see fit 🙂

I don’t exactly whole-heartedly endorse Dr. Dambisa Moyo.  I covet her educational background, and I want to be an economist (a real one) one day, but that’s about it.  When she gave a talk two weeks ago on how aid is failing Africa, I had to get to the bottom of her argument.  After all, half an hour of talking wouldn’t do any person justice, not Einstein, not Ghandi, not Jesus.  I want to find out what she thinks about China’s record of governance and whether or not governance gets in the way of economic growth.  So, now we have her book.

Dead Aid.  And Moi.

Sorry Dr. Moyo, I libraried your book so you aren't getting any $$ from moi!

So I’m scouring it for references to governance, and here’s a gist of what she has to say, summarized into a few bullet points

  • Good governance provides a slew of benefits to a country.  It encourages the distribution of  public goods, enforces property rights, creates an atmosphere where contracts can be expected to be enforced, and in general does support the functioning of democracy
  • Aid given to a country with poor governance will not see an improvement in governance. In some cases, it might reduce it.
  • The only way to legitimately improve economic growth in an LDC is to put democracy on the back burner and the solution is not multi-party democracy, but a “benevolent dictator to push through the reforms required to get an economy moving.”

Dr. Moyo acknowledges that this benevolent dictator is kind of more “dictator” than “benevolent.”  A benevolent dictator is like a sasquatch; illusive (and predominantly residing in the minds of imaginative people?).  She then lists some examples of SE Asian countries that have achieved economic growth by crushing democracy and includes Chile as another example.

Dr. Moyo then acknowledges that Chile may not have been the best place to live under Pinochet but hey, at least they achieved economic growth.  And now they are a democracy “thanks to the economic success.”

I’m not quite sure how I feel about the assertion that economic success leads to democratization, and whether or not this will happen in every case.  If it did, then would it be worth it, knowing what Chile went through?  We can’t even be sure that Pinochet was a “benevolent dictator,” so how would this be a prime example?


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