Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The threat of progress

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson have a new book out: Why Nations Fail.

I have not read the book:  At least not yet. But I did find this interesting little piece at the books website:

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson, Why Nations Fail Blog, 12 March 2012 (hat tip: MR)

In the early 1980s in Takasera, a village in Rukum District in western Nepal, a group of locals decided to begin a development project and bought a Swiss-made water mill which would power machinery such as a press to make oil and a saw mill. The community sent a group of men to Kathmandu who learned how to dismantle the machinery and then put it back together again. The machinery was brought back and successfully put into operation. In 1984, a government official wrote saying that in autonomously undertaking this project the community had “usurped the role of the king” and the mill would have to be shut down. When the locals refused, the police was sent to destroy the mill. The mill was only saved because the villagers were able to ambush and disarm the police.

They go onto note that development often does threaten the position of the elite.

One suspects that this would be   particularly true of an open and free society, where people had a degree of economic independence.

Well our elites here don’t seem to have too much to be worrying about at the moment- not a lot of economic Independence going on around here.

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