Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Developing World: Adolescent Children?

It's been a freakishly long hiatus for no real reason. I wasn't getting married in these two months, like I was last hiatus. Just plain busy.

Lots happened during the hiatus. Musharaff declared emergency in Pakistan. Some "sting" reports were carried out on Modi's henchmen confirming his guilt in slaughtering Muslims in Gujarat a few years ago. And Bush's (presumable) plans to bomb Iran to hell received a plausibly fatal setback: apparently, Iran does not have nukes at all (and is probably not contemplating building any, either). Yet, John Bolton went on American National Television claiming that he does not trust the above "Intelligence Estimate". And America lost its most dependable (and unbiased) source of news when Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert were forced out of Air by striking writers. [I was wondering why Lou Dobbs and Bill O'Rielly were still on, but I realized that these people probably do not allow their writers to join unions].

Despite so many interesting developments to make fun of (Isn't John Bolton just asking for it?) , I still choose to talk about a lecture that I attended a few weeks ago for a "seminar" class. A lecture which was quite illuminating in understanding international perceptions on the whole energy crisis the earth is said to be facing.

But before that, let me make a mention of Mr Al-Gore's speech yesterday when recieving the Nobel "Peace" prize (a prize, I believe he really deserves, because his movie reaches exactly the right audience). He lambasted US and China for not doing enough to fight carbon emissions. The US stands squarely incriminated in both these estimates: (total CO2, per capita CO2), whereas China is the 80th in the "per-capita" pollution ratings. To blame a bunch of people who emit 10 times less CO2 (each) than you is plain bigotry. Or plain ignorance. And I believe it is more the latter than the former.

Here's an irksome analogy that I came across during a discussion after a lecture on energy policy a few weeks ago. (I keep the identity of the speaker secret, because some of the comments I make here can be quite caustic, and I know the speaker did not mean any harm - he just suffers from a luxury delusion syndrome - like Al Gore and most of the people in the US, who have been insulated from significant economic suffering by a nation with a historically unprecedented per-capita prosperity)

"Think of Europe as the Old Man of the World, The US as the 40-something middle aged man, and the developing countries as the Adolescent kids of the World. We need to show them the way and teach them how to live the right way. We need to sensitize them of environmental issues."

The above analogy is so miserably flawed that I don't even want to start to correct it. Suffice it to say that it serves as good starting point to understand the well intentioned but far-removed-from-reality mentality of the first world inhabitant. Perhaps we should call the first world the fantasy world, instead?

It's no wonder that fear-mongerers like Lou Dobbs are immensely popular here, in the US. Lou Dobbs' entire life is dedicated to making the lives of some of the poorest people in the world (who come to the extremely prosperous US in search of an opportunity to feed their family back in Mexico, just like his Ancestors did, from, presumably, Europe) that little bit more miserable, thereby enhancing his ratings and making him a little richer. Nothing sells like patriotism, as Stephen Colbert shrewdly observes.

The whole thing is just a battle of perceptions. I am not indicating that there is any actual bigotry in the Average American (or the average inhabitant of the first world). The First world inhabitant, as a matter of fact, the least racist and the most tolerant (dare I say liberal?) person there is in the world today.

The truth is that Democracies are genetic algorithms which favor populism and narrow regionalism over globally egalitarian ideals. This is because only inhabitants of the first world vote for their leaders. And this makes me conclude that the very concept of regional democracy is deeply flawed.

It is my opinion that, for democracy to really work (and for free trade and free markets to really work), the world needs to be one large nation which free movement of capital AND labor, not just the former.