Monday, June 28, 2010

"destitute, hopelessly stagnant proletariat" in 1971 South Korea

another 1970s time capsule, this time from Super-Economy:
The book is hints at how crazy the ideological atmosphere was in 1971. As I wrote, Villy Bergström was a brilliant economist, and considered a centrist Social Democrat. Yet he writes in one point, favorably comparing North Korea with other nations: "[Classical] liberalism and capitalism in South Korea has led to fascism and an upper class in ruthless luxury, with a destitute, hopelessly stagnant proletariat. This has happened in South Korea, Taiwan, South Vietnam, Pakistan, South America and southern Italy."

I am quite impressed with the epic fail of choosing 2/4 of the Asian Tigers to illustrate "hopelessly stagnant proletariat."

(And incidentally, I don't think that that sharp disconnect from economic reality discredits the other remarks here. Most of the other remarks in the passage are not as sharp as "stagnant [vs. a reality of dramatic economic change]," leaving room for reasonable people to disagree about how correct they are, and I even agree that some of them are correct. I do disagree about how "classically liberal" these societies were. I also have a narrower disagreement with "fascist" not because it's overharsh, but because it's overspecific. I don't see how the 1971 snapshots can be classified with Hitler but not with Stalin, or with Mussolini but without 1900 Japan or 1900 Russia or 1920s Russia. Thus I'd prefer a term less misleadingly specifically referring to the enemies of the Social Democrats, perhaps "tyranny" or "absolutism.")

Saturday, June 26, 2010



I cut capitalized page titles from an EconLog web form and an EconLog posting-delay-notification screen and pasted them into my remarks in two blog comments. OOPS!

I have spent a lot of time working with program comments and plain ASCII documentation files like this, using a convention where ALL CAPS indicates not yelling but quoting of fragments of computer programs, rather like italics can indicate not emphasis but quoting of title text like The Wealth of Nations. This seems to've created a blind spot in my proofreading skillz, since the yelling interpretation wasn't glaringly obvious to me. The yelling interpretation was certainly glaringly obvious to EconLib Ed., though: "If you can't wait so much as five or ten minutes before griping and screaming and yelling, you are pretty hair-trigger, eh?".

Sadly, perhaps EconLib Ed.'s assessment that I'm a ranting loon is uncontroversially true. More positively, though, perhaps I should take this a sort of double hint from fate (first that this occurred in my comment about how it's technically easier to do something on my own blog and second that this occurred in a blog post advising "Get Your Own Blog") reminding me that even if I am a ranting loon I can still post here! (What could possibly go wrong?)

Meanwhile I should probably try to remember to proofread more carefully the next time that I need to identify a web screen URL-suitable global meaning so that I am tempted to identify it by giving its title and furthermore its title happens to be capitalized. Too bad the brain is too inexpressive to support OAOO implementation of this as (DEFMETHOD MAKE :AROUND ((M MISTAKE)) (UNLESS (ALREADY-MADE-P M) (CALL-NEXT-METHOD)))...

On maintaining the appearance of balance

I'm surprised that both Tyler Cowen and Julian Sanchez wrote lengthy blog posts about the severity of Dave Weigel's problems with his Journolist emails, but didn't mention the coincidence that this is in the wake of the controversy over apparent maneuvering to try to protect Rep. Etheridge. (A "any video of a member [of Congress] acting strangely, no matter how grainy" forsooth!) When fire from the right catches you just as you're heeled over that far to the left, it tends to strike below the waterline.

UPDATE: also observed at Colby Cosh