Tuesday, March 17, 2009

attack of the unbelievable nitpicker!

In march last year Trevor said this in the comments

There is also that haunting possibility that a significant proportion of that wealth is off the back of damage to the other nations.
I disputed this, claiming that only a small percentage of the current total stock of wealth in the west comes from exploitation/slavery. Trevor responded by saying
There is a difference between

1) Rich countries being as rich as they are MAINLY because of abusing poor countries

2) Poor Countries being better off than if there had been no interaction but being worse off they could have been if things had been `fair'

A lot of wealth `sailed over the seas' when Colonists left Africa, and the massive `sans-transtion' destabalation I think should deservedly inspire feelings of remorse up North.
This seemed to me to be changing the subject. I didn't claim that colonialisation didn't hurt the oppressed countries, just that only a tiny % of our current wealth comes from that exploitation and in my following post I made the point that it's possible to screw a place up without getting richer from doing so. Which is what happens when we blow a place up.

In his last post, Trevor repeats that claim that a large portion of our wealth comes from stuff the west stole.
there are arguments that large portions of this wealth are attributable to dispossession of resources from other countries.
I'm sceptical because the vast majority of wealth is created, not taken. Resource rich countries are often poor and resource poor places often become rich. There's little correlation between natural resources and wealth so I don't think there's any particular reason to believe that the west is rich because of the resources they took.


GT said...

Germany is a good example of your point. I don't know how much stuff they took from poor countries in their colonizing days, but I can' t imagine much was left after WW2. Yet they're rich again now.

stuart said...

my first draft of the post used that example. I took it out because of the potential claim that the marshal plan that make germany rich. I don't agree (I don't doubt it helped though) but I thought it would be a distraction.