Monday, June 17, 2013

Development As Development Of The Heart: Why Are We So Poor? - a response to Vagisha Gunasekara

Vagisha Gunasekara has published an article on development. This is an extended version of the reply that I posted on Colombo Telegraph.

What she presents is an agreeable philosophical argument, one that I have much sympathy with. Unfortunately the solution, the pooling of resources, while intrinsically appealing is unworkable in practice.

Pooling is the essence of Socialism and Marxism.

The problem is that pooling or sharing is only possible within ones own social circle - family and friends - or a small tribe. Man is a tribal animal, pooling and sharing will take place within a tribe but never between tribes.

In anything larger, the competitive beast that is the essential nature of man comes to the forefront and the question of "why share when I can enjoy it all?" comes up. The answer, invariably is "let me enjoy it all".

Is this not the very behaviour that we see in the ruling cabal of Sri Lanka? Is this not the observed behaviour that has been experienced in innumerable dictatorships the world over?

On a smaller scale, just observe the typical behaviour at traffic light controlled intersections. When there is a jam in the road ahead how many drivers will wait, regardless of the light until it is clear to move ahead? How many will just drive into the middle of the junction and block all traffic going across? If they cannot even share a little space (and observe the road rules) so that in the long run all will be better off what hope of sharing anything else?

This is why every experiment at practising socialism has eventually ended up a communism-the only way to share on a wider scale is to do so by force. Force leads to terror and repression that leaves everyone worse off.

Related posts on tribal leaders, on re imagining development

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