Thursday, July 13, 2006

Inane Development Policies in the Killing Fields

Adam Smith on an episode of fallacious policies for agricultural improvements in a poor country:

The kings of Spain have also done all in their power to promote the improvement of land. Philip IVth went to the plow himself in order to sett the fashion. He did every thing for the farmers except bringing them a good market. He conferred tittles of nobility upon several farmers. He very absurdly endeavoured to oppress manufacturers with heavy taxes and fines in order to force them to the country. He thought that in proportion as the inhabitants of towns became more numerous, these in the country decreased. This notion was highly ridiculous, for the populousness of a town is the very cause of the populousness of the country, because it gives greater encouragement to industry. Every man in a town must be fed by another in the country, and it is always a sign that the country is improving when men go to town. There are no parts of the country so well inhabited nor so well cultivated as those which lye in the neighbourhood of populous cities.”

(A. Smith. 1764: Lectures in Jurisprudence, pp 525-6 (297-8), ed. R. L. Meek, D. D. Raphael and P. G. Stern, Liberty Fund edition)

Reading this passage this morning, I could not help but think of the lunacies of Pol Pot and his henchmen, all educated at the best of French Universities, who returned to Cambodia, formed the Khymer Rouge (communists), took power and forever will be remembered for their more than ridiculous policy of genocide by destroying towns, and emptying them of people (killing those who wouldn’t go and starving those who did). All in pursuit of an ideological objective, honed by their interpretation of Marxism.

Beside them, Philip IV, without benefit of modern, or any philosophy, appears in history as a pathetic fool, who limited his nonsense to imposing taxes, whereas the educated Pol Pot delegated a murderous crew of psychopaths to use bullets to clear Cambodia’s towns and villages of the people who could contribute to the development of the country.


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