Peter Bauer and the Third World

On May 7, 2004, Theodore Dalrymple gave a speech at Princeton University as part of a three-day conference entitled, “How Does Development Happen? A Conference in Tribute to Peter Bauer”. The event was hosted by the James Madison Program at Princeton University and honored the work of the great development economist that Dalrymple was honored to call a friend and about whom he had written before.
His speech cites his experiences in Julius Nyerere’s Tanzania in support of Bauer’s work. Nyerere’s ideas and policies were precisely those against which Bauer fought: the hatred and demonization of profit, the control of products and prices, and the almost unending flow of state aid from Western to Third World nations. The results were exactly those that Bauer predicted: impoverishment, oppression and “the complete politicization of life”.
You can watch the speech here (see Part 6) and read the text here.
I would like to thank Betsy Schneck and the other fine folks at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University for making all of the conference speeches available online.

4 thoughts on “Peter Bauer and the Third World

  1. Jaxon

    Yes that’s interesting, thank you.

    I’m curious about this Zero Sum idea whereby, supposedly, wealth creation, success, necessitates something like Newton’s law of an equal and opposite reaction… outcome, elsewhere; Third World? Indeed, TD, as I understand it, articulates something like this in his essay Roads To Serfdom:

    “And you can no more protect one group of workers’ wages against market fluctuations without penalizing another group than you can discriminate positively in one group’s favor without discriminating negatively against another.”

    The key thing here, I suppose, is that this negative consequence is a result of centralised bureaucrats thinking their knowledge, intervention, is superior to, say, East African Indian traders, or peasants, and their customers.

    He also says something similar in Praise of Prejudice – though early on, invoking something like the Newtonian principle (Thermodynamics) – he later states how his own increase of wealth i.e. acquisition of Microsoft technology is compatible with an overall massive increase of Bill Gates’ personal wealth (perhaps ironically the Bill & Melinda trust, may not score too well in the ‘Bauer scheme’, I don’t know).

    However, people take their reckoning from their immediate social sphere; most especially where the “false prospectus” of transient sexual relations (guerrilla lover’s?) is the norm; this I’m sure, far more often than not, will shape most profoundly the manners, prejudices and priorities of even the most ‘earnest’ PhD student of global economic development. It is, I believe, this false prospectus that arouses most perniciously a cynical Zero Sum outlook.


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