Discussion Thread Questions for 20th Century Economic History
Fall 2021 Instantiation:
Thinking: Why would one want to think (or not think) “like an economist”? What benefits (and what costs) would doing so bring?
Course Organization: What do you think is likely to go wrong with this course structure, as we have outlined it so far?
William Baumol & Michael Polanyi: What struck you as important things in the Michael Polanyi <https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/michael-polanyi-republic-growth.pdf> or in the William Baumol <https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-baumol-entrepreneurship.pdf> readings that were not mentioned by Professor DeLong in the lectures?
Barry Eichengreen's The Populist Temptation <https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/chapters-eichengreen-populist-temptation-2-3-4.pdf> is—is going to be—very harsh in its judgments on modern political movements called "populist". Does he have a more positive take on the Populist movements back before 1950? Why do you think he winds up taking the attitudes toward these movements that he does?
Lewis: Evolution of the International Economic Order <https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/book-lewis-evolution-selections.pdf>: How would we go about finding out whether Arthur Lewis is right in his belief that over 1870-1914 the world was divided into rich and poor countries by the workings of the global market and by migration, rather than by the more direct consequences of imperialist rule?
Why Wasn’t Keynes Convincing?: From DeLong's standpoint, at least, John Maynard Keynes's arguments for being clever at economic management and not simply trying to claw back to pre-WWI structures are irrefutable; so why weren't they convincing to powerholders in the global north in the years after WWI?
Consequences of the Great Depression: How was the political-economic landscape of the global north different as a result of the Great Depression and uneven recovery than it had been before 1929? Before 1914?
Thirty Glorious Years: Lots of hypotheses have been thrown out for why the Post-WWII "glorious years" in the global north were so peaceful, harmonious, and prosperous. What pieces of evidence should we go look for to try to judge between these hypotheses?
Conflict Between Systems: Back in 1990 or so, at the end of the Cold War, Frank Fukuyama wrote <https://github.com/braddelong/public-files/blob/master/readings/article-fukuyama-1989-end-of-history.pdf>: “In the past century, there have been two major challenges to liberalism, those of fascism and of communism.... Fascism was destroyed as a living ideology by World War II. This was a defeat, of course, on a very material level, but it amounted to a defeat of the idea as well. What destroyed fascism as an idea was not universal moral revulsion against it, since plenty of people were willing to endorse the idea as long as it seemed the wave of the future, but its lack of success. After the war, it seemed to most people that German fascism as well as its other European and Asian variants were bound to self-destruct. There was no material reason why new fascist movements could not have sprung up again after the war in other locales, but for What responsibility does common humanity impose upon the rich of the global north with respect to attempting to illuminate dire poverty in the global south? the fact that expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat, had completely lost its appeal. The ruins of the Reich chancellery as well as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed this ideology on the level of consciousness as well as materially, and all of the pro-fascist movements spawned by the German and Japanese examples like the Peronist movement in Argentina or Subhas Chandra Bose's Indian National Army withered after the war…” How does this position need to be revised in light of all the history that has flowed under the bridge since 1990?
Moral Burdens for Economic Development: What responsibility does the history of the development of underdevelopment impose upon the rich of the global north with respect to attempting to eliminate dire poverty and accelerate uneven and halting development in the global south?
Decline of Hierarchy: For much of human history, putting up barriers that keep opportunity and status in the hands of a small group has been much more the rule than the exception. Why is it that in the 20th century there has been a broad movement for "inclusion"? What is different about the long 20th century that drives this very different sociological current than we ever saw before in the human past? Or are the sociological currents different—is hierarchy based on ethnicity, class, gender, etc. truly on the decline?
Neoliberalism: DeLong distinguishes between three different flavors of "neoliberalism". Are these three really different—that is, is a useful purpose served by splitting them apart, conceptually?
Hyperglobalization: In what ways, if any, was the hyperglobalized world that emerged after 1995 qualitatively different from the globalized world that had emerged after 1950, or the earlier first wave globalized world that had emerged after 1870?
Hyperglobalization & Neoliberalism: Are hyperglobalization and neoliberalism linked closely? Or are they two nearly independent and separate things that simply happened to happen at the same time?
The Great Recession: How was it that a mere $500 billion of bad mortgage debt in the United States was able, in 2007 and 2008, to cause a $20 trillion loss of value on global financial markets? Why did not global north governments do the obvious thing in 2008-2012—print money and buy things to get back to full employment?
Gain up to 6 points per thread by either (a) being one of the first five to give a substantive answer to (one of) the question(s) with which I launch the thread, and then giving a substantive and relevant comment on one of your peers’ comments; or (b) making three substantive and relevant comments on one or more of your peers’ comments. Your discussion-thread points are capped at 30 for the semester. (In short: you need to contribute to five threads to max out your discussion-thread points.)