A Semi-Platonic Dialogue on “Slouching Towards Utopia” with Timothy Burke
He has given me the best of all presents for a professor: a serious engagemetn starting from a very different point of view
This from the wise and learned Timothy Burke:
is what I hoped for in my most pleasant dreams: a very serious engagement with Slouching Towards Utopia <bit.ly/3pP3Krk> by a very smart and thoughtful person who thinks differently than I do. Indeed, now I can sing the nunc dimittis—what you do when everything you had ever hoped to see is in front of your eyes. To be called “very engaging” and “a compulsively readable economic history from an eclectic economist’s point of view”—what more could I ask? And that so many people are saying that that is what the book is—that tells me that I have many more friends than I imagined, and that the world is a more benevolent place toward me than I had hoped.
So now I need to figure out how to highlight and respond to what Timothy Burke has to say. It would be most fun if I were to snip out selected pieces of his review, and respond to them in a semi-platonic dialogue. So I will do so—with additions in brackets:
TB: [The book] did quite often leave me saying “Hold up a minute, I have a substantial number of quibbles, occasionally metastasizing into real arguments.
BD: Quibbles are great! Real arguments with the book are better!
TB: Is [the book] what I thought it was?… It’s completely what I expected in one sense, in that it is very recognizably DeLong…
BD: This is one thing that I wish people would expand on more. I fairly often hear it. And people who say it to each other nod knowingly. But I am inside this particular neural engine. And so I do not know what it looks like from outside…
TB It often does not closely cohere to… what I expect to see in economic history…. Modern history from an eclectic economist… rather than in terms of a conventionally circumscribed economic history is fine as a decision, and it plays to DeLong’s strengths…
BD: But would I have served my readers well had I done anything else?
It seems to me that one owes them a duty to say not just what happened in the economy but why it matters, and that requires that you spread out from economics narrowly so-called to political economy and politics (plus bio-socio-psychology). Adam Smith certainly did.
TB: A lot of this book is straight-up (and very engaging)… politics… wars… social and cultural changes… linking… description and explanation of those histories to some form of highly generalized economic causality…
BD: Yes! Exactly! It’s 600 pages. There was a moment when I had written 1000, with no central thrust, no single Grand Narrative for readers to hold onto and follow. And I needed one. So I took a chainsaw and cut the book down to the particular Grand Narrative I found myself most excited about at that moment. .
TB: [The] highly generalized economic causality… [is] that a series of interlinked changes after 1870 began a “slouch towards utopia” which was at times a bit more of a rapid walk which inflected into all other global developments after that date…
BD: And the particular Grand Narrative I found myself most excited about at that moment was the “1870 is the hinge of history” starting point, and the “downstream” consequences of the shift of the engine of scientific and technological progress into high gear. All post–1870 historical developments were inflected and indeed more than inflected by the sudden appearance of this every-generation doubling of humanity’s technological competence.
TB: I’ll start with a big and abstract objection… not limited to DeLong…. Many economists and allied thinkers… [say] that we live in a world of unimaginable wealth…. That… makes the entirety of premodern economic history into an undifferentiated blob of bleak and unrelenting poverty…
BD: Well, wasn’t it?
Before 1870 technological progress was too slow, and patriarchal and other pressures for fertility too strong, for humanity to ever escape from its ensorcellment by the Devil of Malthus. There was no possibility for humanity to produce at utopian scale; bake a sufficiently large economic pie so that everyone could potentially have enough. Governance and politics was then overwhelmingly some élite running a force-and-fraud domination game so that its members could have enough. Build high cultures, yes they could. But at bottom, those high cultures were made and lived by a coalitions of thugs-with-spears with their associated toadying propagandists, bureaucrats, and accountants.
From the 30,000-foot level, isn’t that a bleak blob? And compared to us, don’t differences within that bleak blob tend to become hard to see?
TB: Many economists and allied thinkers… [then become] rather bullish… [say that we] in fact are doing rather well at responding to the needs of humanity…
BD: But I am not among that “many”! Or, at least, if the “me” that is in my book places himself among that “many”, I wrote the book wrong! Baking, slicing, tasting the economic pie. Yes, since 1870 we have made enormous progress in baking a sufficiently large pie, but slicing and tasting—equitably distributing and then utilizing our wealth to create a world in which people feel safe and secure and are healthy and happy—continues to flummox us, and to flummox us more-or-less completely.
For one thing, we still have our bottom 500 million, many of whose lives are not thatdistinguishable from those of our pre-industrial Agrarian Age ancestors (save for the public health that gives them life expectancy over 60, access to the village cellphone, and for their societal interfaces with the globalized world).
TB: It may be that ordinary farmers living under the rule of the Mwenemutapa state in what is now Zimbabwe in 1560 and even the royal court of that state are in absolute terms ridiculously poor compared to all modern Zimbabweans, and that farmers in the southeastern low veld of Zimbabwe today are enormously wealthy in material terms compared to people living there four centuries ago…
BD: Yes. They are. And we are. After 1870, the technological competence of the human race doubles every generation. That allows the creation of enough wealth to trigger the demographic transition. And thereafter fertility has no chance of keeping up with technology. The possibility of a world rich enough for everyone to have enough draws into view, not as some far off millennium fantasy, but rather as something that could will be accomplished in a few generations—Keynes, in fact, put its likely appearance sometime shortly after the year 2000.
Moreover, after 1870, governance and politics could shift from domination-and-exploitation to utopia-building: nurturing the process of preparing to bake and then baking the sufficiently large economic pie, and then undertaking the secondary tasks of properly slicing and tasting. Governance and politics did not have to be the grabbing élite of thugs-with-spears with associated toadying propagandists, bureaucrats, and accountants, & c….
TB: [But the material wealth is] a nonsense comparison when it comes to how people experience their material culture. If everybody’s poor—and there’s no option to be as rich as we are now—then our judgment that they’re living horrible lives is irrelevant in that time frame…
BD: This is the first thing in your review where I want to stop and say: Hold it! I really do not understand you here! This I find to be a hill that I will die on.
TB: [Please explain?]
BD: Unless Lindert, Milanovic, and Williamson (2015) are completely wrong <https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0297.2010.02403.x>, the typical pre–1870 society was as unequal as it could < possibly be—that is, without forcing its lower class into poverty so severe to make its rate of population growth negative.
The typical human before 1870 would see their average son grow up stunted: 5’,3“ or 5’4”. And that was for those of their babies that survived: the typical human would see half their babies die before the age of five. The typical human would live many days in which for several hours they would be thinking about how they really wished they could have more calories right now. The typical human would spend many nights worrying about where their 2000 calories per day plus essential nutrients would come from next year, or next month, or tomorrow. The typical human had a life expectancy at birth of less than 30 years. And the typical woman would find herself eating for two for more than 15 years of her life—and would routinely losing teeth during pregnancy due to calcium shortages.
The typical human before 1870 really was was desperately poor.
TB: [But that is not] how people experience[d] their material culture…
BD: I do not believe the argument that people then did not know that they were poor.
Many of them could look around and see people in their own societies who were not as poor.
They could see people who lost only a third rather than half of their babies before the age of five; people whose sons grew up to be 5’6“ or perhaps 5’7”, people who were not potentially protein-deprived in utero.
The tame propagandist allies of the thugs-with-spears would try to convince the typical person that this was the will of the gods, and perhaps that via their poverty they were storing up treasure in heaven or paying down some karmic debt incurred in a previous life. Those outside of the élite pretended to agree. Probably some of them did believe it.
I have always been struck by Robert Darnton’s <https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1984/02/02/the-meaning-of-mother-goose/> interpretations of fairy tales. What does Jack do when he finds the giant’s castle at the top of the beanstalk? The first thing he does is head for the kitchen to eat. What was going on before the beanstalk grew? They had sold their cow, and were beginning the process of starving to death.
TB: [But even their societies’ rich did not live as we do.]
BD: Exactly. We today are not only richer than the upper classes that our past ancestors envied, hated, and feared for grabbing enough for themselves, we in the global north upper middle class are rich beyond the dreams of past utopias. We have surpassed “the limit of human felicity”, as Edward Bellamy has his protagonist say in Looking Backward<https://archive.org/details/lookingbackward01bellgoog>
I would go so far as to say that for most high cultures before the 1870 coming of modern economic growth, the mass poverty of the poor is seen as highly functional and positively desirable. Adam Smith is being snarkily contrarian to the conventional wisdom of Augustan-Age Britain when he writes:
AS: Is…. improvement in the circumstances of the lower ranks of the people… an advantage or as an inconveniency to the society?… No society can surely be flourishing and happy, of which the far greater part of the members are poor and miserable. It is but equity, besides, that they who feed, clothe, and lodge the whole body of the people, should have such a share of the produce of their own labour as to be themselves tolerably well fed, clothed, and lodged <https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.76521>…
BD: No, wealth does not necessarily make a good life and poverty—even poverty that leaves your sons stunted at 5’3" adult height and perhaps protein-deprived in utero—does not necessarily make a bad one. But wealth and poverty matter. And they are what they are.
TB: I was a bit surprised at DeLong’s relative reluctance to grapple with racism and empire. He doesn’t leave it out by any means, but the Occam’s Razor version of explaining inequality, especially racial inequality, as a deliberately constructed economic system, seems to me something he steps around a fair amount…
BD: I did not intend to step around it. Maybe I just took it too much for granted?
Admittedly, most of the discussion of racism is in the American context, but I want to tell arresting stories that will grab my audience, the stories I know best, how to tell are the American stories, and I think the overwhelming bulk of my audience is an American audience.
TB: [Is that adequate?]
BD: No. Almost surely there are things on the cutting-room floor that should have been in the main text, but… can I plead 600 pages?
TB: [A few times. But not too many. It would grow tiresome…]
BD: And empire. Admittedly, most of the discussion of empire focuses on how imperial masters and colonizers—whether external colonizers from Europe, internal colonizers who claimed to be descended from Castilan conquistadores, or semi-internal colonizers of Manchu, lineage—made it impossible for full-fledged economic development to take hold outside the 300 mile-radius Dover Circle (plus its offshoots and emulators) before decolonization. There is very little about how colonial masters played the force-and-fraud domination-and-exploitation game.
TB: [And is that adequate?]
BD: Looking at it: No. You are right.
I did take it too much for granted—“it” being that before 1870 nearly everywhere and after 1870 wherever modern economic growth had not yet taken hold for at least a generation, politics and governance was still on the old-fashioned pattern of force-and-fraud, exploitation-and-domination, the same old-same old. For one élite to elbow another out of the way was not what I saw as different about post–1870 history, even though one élite does so with Maxim guns. Looking back, I was simply not invested in the fortunes of any one élite rather than another, and to spend time on how one elbowed another out of the way and then ran its version of the force-and-fraud exploitation-and-domination game seemed less interesting.
TB: [Looking back: are you satisfied with your choices?]
BD: No. This was, I think a mistake: I should have spent more pages on how colonial masters played their version of the force-and-fraud, domination-and-exploitation game. But… 600 pages?
TB: The “new imperialism” that ramped up in 1870 is squarely in the wheelhouse of this book… but empire gets folded into war and nationalism as things that a classic liberal economist prior to 1914 might see as unexpected atavisms that produced woefully unoptimal outcomes…
BD: Well, I am a liberal and an economist—just not a “classical” one. They did produce woefully unoptimal outcomes. And they were, I think, from the standpoint of a post-demographic transition high-technology world in which we can produce enough, atavisms…
TB: [You know] that Schumpeter, Hobson, etc. were not only proven wrong but that they simply weren’t understanding what empire (and later nationalism and global war) were all about…
BD: Yes… and now. Outside of the charmed circle of 300 miles in radius around the port of Dover, plus its settler-colony offshoots and successful emulators, what empire was “about” was the same-old same-old that empire had been “about” since the thugs-with-spears first realized that the farmers could not evade them by running away into the wilderness without starving. It was another version of the force-and-fraud domination-and-exploitation machine. But from inside the charmed Dover Circle, Norman Angell <https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.261777> was right: it had become cheaper, easier, less effortful, and much more effective to produce and trade rather than invade, conquer, rule, and extract.
TB: The racialization of access to the combination of features that DeLong sees as the key to “escaping the Malthusian trap” in the slow-walk to utopia was often explicit not just at the outset of empire but all along. If economists are puzzled by why the British Raj did not engender transformation, they’re maybe not paying attention. (But of course some have—Amartya Sen has a pretty good intuition about the reason, for example)…
BD: Intersectionality: that you have not just a politics-and-governance of an élite running a force-and-fraud game, but of an imperial élite running a racialized force-and-fraud game.
I had hoped to capture some of that in the overlapping penumbras of my discussions of W.E.B. DuBois and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Looking back, I have to conclude that I failed: I made a mistake here.
TB: Being focused on the twentieth century… is maybe a valid way to wiggle out of having to get into the relationship between the Atlantic slave trade (or the intensification of global trade generally in the early modern era) and industrial capitalism, though…
BD: I would not say “wiggle”. I would say that that is part of a 1500–1870 book that I simply did not write. And I would say that the issues are deep, complex, and unsettled: they are hard to convey in thumbnail descriptions.
That said: First, my view is that the exploitation profits of the 1500–1770 Imperial-Commercial Age west African slave trade were probably not sufficiently channeled into investments that then proved critical in sparking and powering the British Industrial Revolution. Most of the profits went not to building up capital but to boosting the consumption of the slaveowners, and of those who bought slave-produced goods. From a resource- and ideas-mobilization perspective, Atlantic slavery over 1500–1770 probably did little to spark or power the British Industrial Revolution.
Second. But. Cotton. Without American slave-grown cotton and the cotton gin, the Industrial Revolution in textiles would have been delayed for a generation, and perhaps for longer.
Third: I find it highly plausible that the slaveowner-merchant complex gained sufficient additional wealth from slavery to boost its political power enough to accelerate the coming of the pieces of the institutional complex of modern capitalism that does power modern economic growth. And I find convincing—that is, more likely than not—Bob Allen’s argument that without the British Empire wages in England would have been too low for it ever to have been worth anybody’s while to spend the necessary time and energy to make the steam engine work. And the slavery complex was essential to the creation of the British Empire.
In short, I am an unorthodox Eric Williamsite here.
But I am certain of nothing.
But this is another book, or rather more than several other books, no?
TB: The intensification of global trade generally in the early modern era) and industrial capitalism… he…has quite a lot to say about this much later in the book in his discussion of postwar economic development in the global South…
BD Yes! And not just post–1945! I do stress that globalization was very importan in the 1870–1914 pre-WWI era. I think it significantly more likely than not that W. Arthur Lewis was right in his The Evolution of the International Economic Order, and that the racialized pattern of the 100-million pre-WWI global migration flow was decisive in the development of underdevelopment—of concentrating the world’s engineers in the Dover Circle-Plus, and of making it virtually impossible for anyone else to even keep pace with the global leader’s in economic growth.
TB: Between about 1850 and 1910, many young African men were quite voluntarily drawn towards engaging in wage labor in new mines, in sugar plantations, and as domestic workers…. The market as a concept wasn’t regarded as an alien intrusion on a perfectly formed moral economy. For many young men… working in order to earn either currency or commodity payments… allowed them to do an end-run around generational transmission of wealth that kept them dependent on their fathers and uncles…
BD: Yes! Globalization brings opportunities for trade and employment! It also brings opportunities for learning—for technology transfer! It also brings the concentration of manufacturing and the communities of engineering practice inside the Dover-Circle-Plus, creating huge barriers to peripheral growth and developing underdevelopment! It also brings new forms of industrial-scale destruction-based domination! It overturns traditional élites! It gives different élites much more force with which to grab! It does all of these things!
TB: The new plantation owners and then the consolidators of mineral digs… used racial restrictions, petty taxation that was only payable in currency, and a massive scale of land alienation that transferred the best agrarian land to exclusively white owners in order to try and compel African workers to work for as long as mine owners and plantation owners needed them to work, not as long as the workers themselves wanted in terms of satisfying their own needs…
BD: Yes! A good deal of the market society’s “the only rights that matter are property rights” his its then giving rising élites the incentive to grab all the property—and “let’s run off all the Mexicans first” or “the Cherokee have some nice land here: John Marshall has said what he thinks the law is, now let him try to enforce it” is a big part of the story!
TB: If “laboratory, the corporation, global transportation, global communications, and falling barriers” were a big part of the kick-off after 1870 (along with education, which DeLong frequently sees as important), I’d argue that so was the national mobilization of violence to suppress the power of labor and through empire to create valuable property rights through theft which were conferred on a racially exclusive basis long enough to structure a lasting global inequality…
BD: But, as I say, an atavism. In the post–1870 world, it was more expensive and less effective to rule and exploit than to produce and trade. And then there is the judo-move of turning your past conquests into property, and then the market is on your side—the mechanisms that thereafter give you the lion’s share of resources more-or-less run themselves.
TB: The “man starts on third base, thinks he hit a triple” is not a metaphor in this case, it’s an empirical reality…. The global South was integrated into globalization through empire, violence and racial hierarchy, and that a fair amount of the unequal distribution of modern capital derives from the organized transfer of resources, land and labor from the people who had those to people who stole them on the grounds that the previous owners weren’t doing enough to create value with what they had…
BD: A “fair amount”. “People who had those”. Increased concentration of wealth is something to mourn, indeed. Blocking the creation and diffusion of useful human technologies for manipulating nature and coöperatively organizing humans is something to mourn, indeed, One élite elbowing another out of the way? In my view, not so much. If you mourn the fact that after the Battle of Plassey the taxes of Bengal were going not to Siruj ud-Dowla but rather to Robert Clive and his employers—well, I am getting off that streetcar at the next stop…
TB The book as a whole takes much of the “global South” in the economic history of the 20th Century as an edge case when it seems to me to be central to explaining not just half the planet’s economic history but the economic history of the whole. I can’t imagine that laboratories, corporations, technology, education and falling barriers would return the same 20th Century if half the planet had magically disappeared in 1870s and the global North was left spinning through space intact on its own…
BD: These are issues that I did sideline—in large part because my attempts to write them up were a mess, and I am genuinely uncertain what was what, and they seemed to me for the most part to have serious bite back before 1870.
My guesses: For the world as a whole, technology was advancing at some 0.05% per year—that is 5% per century—before 1870. Then, for the world as a whole, 0.15%/year during the 1500–1770 Imperial-Commercial Age, then 0.45%/year during the 1770–1870 British Industrial Revolution Century, and then 2.1%/year in the post–1870 Modern Economic Growth Era.
For the Dover-Circle-Plus—the 300 miles in radius around Dover, plus the settler colonies they established, plus those who thoroughly emulated them in places like Milan and Prague and Yokohama and Seoul and Taipei—technology advances at 0.1% per year from 800 to 1500, as the Dover Circle changes from being a backwater to a potential industrial leader. Then, after 1500: 0.2%/year (compared to a world average of 0.15%) over 1500–1770, 0.9% (compared to a world average of 0.45%) over 1770–1870, and then 2.5% (compared to a world average of 2.1%) over 1870–2010.
But there is also resource engrossment: conquest, theft, settlement, genocide, even purchase, plus the resources brought to the Dover-Circle-Plus as the emulators joined it. Those boost, I think, the rate of growth of the material well-being of those in the Dover-Circle-Plus by 0.12%/year over 1500–1770; by 0.2%/year over 1770–1870; and by 0.08%/year over 1870–2010.
Compared to the 0.05%/year technology growth gap of 1500–1770; of 0.45%/year over 1770–1870; and 0.4%/year over 1870–2010, these resource-engrossment numbers are of about the same order of magnitude as the technology advance numbers over 1500–1870; but after 1870 they are small beer compared to the technology-advance gap.
Would I die on the hill that is made up of these guesses of mine? No. But they are my guesses.
Plus there is the fact that resource-engrossment is a profoundly negative-sum process: the gains to the winners are much less than the losses to the losers. It is the story of empire, of élites grabbing enough for themselves and their families from others who do not have the ability to defend themselves: the strong do what they wish, and the weak suffer what they must.
Plus there is the fact that the globalized market concentrates manufacturing and engineers in the Dover-Circle-Plus, and that concentration is the principal reason that there is a post–1870 technology-growth gap…
TB: [Well, Sokrates, I am not sure how to respond to that! Let me shift gears, and move to another topic: Your] history… is quite aware of the recurrence of certain kinds of events—speculative panics, depressions, inflation (caused by monetary policy or otherwise), predatory transfer-seeking or corruption, wars that in some sense made no ‘rational’ sense, etc., there’s a recurrent interest in turning to serendipity, accident and randomness as explanation, or “bad luck and bad choices”…
BD: Franz Ferdinand’s driver’s turning left and Lenin’s sealed train to the Baltic made huge differences—how huge, I am not sure, but huge. FDR made a huge difference…
TB: Perhaps because more structural explanations of at least some of those seeming patterns unbalances the book’s desire to walk between Polanyi and Hayek and to see the economic history of the 20th Century as also balanced between them…
BD: We do make our own history—albeit under circumstances not of our own choosing…
TB: If one were to conclude that market economies predictably favor certain kinds of “bad choices”—perhaps actively enable them—then that’s more than Polanyi’s thought that the market can’t satisfy all human needs for justice and fairness, it’s that markets—or more abstractly capitalism—have an attractor towards empirically bad outcomes…
BD: Why “capitalism” rather than “human nature”? Certainly pre-capitalist modes of production seem to have had attractors toward outcomes that, to me at least, look significantly worse. And so do those societies that claimed to be moving toward post-capitalism.
TB: There have been so many “bad choices” that they hardly seem like accidents…
BD: But there also have been a lot of good choices! Humanity is on the cusp of baking a sufficiently large economic pie, after all! With all of its flaws and murders, the “economic El Dorado” world of 1870–1914 was a vast improvement on its predecessors! The post-WWII trente glorieuses in the Dover-Circle-Plus likewise! As has been the post–1980 Neoliberal Era in China and India.
Yes, our being flummoxed by the problems of distribution and utilization is a scandal and a disgrace. Yes, the circumstances of the bottom billion today are a crime and an atrocity.
But it is not at all clear to me that any form of “pessimism of the intellect” is really justified. I do think that the next two generations are likely to see a richer world having a rougher ride than the world has had since 1945 at least. But I do not see us as structurally doomed at all!
TB: DeLong insists (whether talking about politics or economics) that the explanations of bad choices are local, particular, specific to a country, a political moment, or an individual leader. “Utopian faith is a helluva drug”, DeLong writes, and I think he kind of knows that there are times in the book where he’s getting high on his own supply…
BD Whether “we must imagine Sisyphus happy” means that if we don’t then we kill ourselves immediately, or alternatively that the logic of Sisyphus’s situation impels him to eagerly return to rolling the rock uphill, I do think there are very good reasons for Optimism of the Will—and some for Optimism of the Intellect as well.
TB: Anyway, this is me being feisty and maybe even nit-picky about a book that I enjoyed and found engaging….
BD: All of which are good things. We pick nits because we are professors—it is our job. And we are feisty because we care. And that is a good thing: these issues are very much worth caring about.
TB: I also like to take a puff or two of the desire to see our times as having the possibilities of utopia embedded within them and to think, with great dread, that we have crossed a boundary where those possibilities are going to fall away from us with accelerating speed.
BD: That is a very good please to close. But remember that whether we return to a more cyclical wheel-of-fortuna form of history is in our hands.
"One élite elbowing another out of the way? In my view, not so much. If you mourn the fact that after the Battle of Plassey the taxes of Bengal were going not to Siruj ud-Dowla but rather to Robert Clive and his employers—well, I am getting off that streetcar at the next stop…"
But if that makes a huge difference to the people of Bengal? As in, if the taxes of Bengal stayed in the neighbourhood, even if they were extracted by an exploitative elite, does that raise the status, state capacity, and local control of Bengal in such a way as to enable the people of Bengal to benefit more directly from the technological revolutions after 1870? Does it make it easier for local people to advance and challenge the exploitative hierarchy, and for local leadership to be forced to evolve in a more inclusive / less extractive direction? I don't know what the counterfactual is here but if empires had the effect of accelerating progress in the Global North by holding back development of the Global South then surely this is the kind of thing that does matter - not for the sake of Siruj ud-Dowla or Robert Clive but for the future of the people of Bengal.
The other factor that I think is tied in here is that one of the rights that people do insist on (Polanyi-esque if you like) is the right to identify with and project onto their leaders. You want a president that you can have a beer with, the Queen was mourned as the grandmother of a nation, etc. This can get pretty creepy pretty fast but its a real and powerful motivator - definitely one of the things that made it extremely difficult to defend the EU within the UK in 2016 (nobody loves 'faceless bureaucrats'), it's the desire that populists manipulate when they position themselves on the side of the people against the elite.
So all else being equal there is a real distress caused by the locus of power shifting away to people not-like-us for cultural or historical reasons (as opposed to not-like-us for reasons of having a ton more power and being able to eat well). Perhaps this is the kind of distress that we should regard as a barrier to human felicity, but it's deep-rooted and it's no good blithely pretending that it doesn't matter.
Burke: "Wise" but what are the policy implications?
Let's be terribly reductionist, how should the ARA have been different if we were more aware of the role of the Atlantic slave trade had in capital accumulation in the Global North or less impressed by the reduction in absolute poverty pre and post 1870, or had a less warm and fuzzy feeling about social democratic capitalism. or a greater revulsion for imperialism?