Daniel “Twoface” Defoe

Addendum (3 Oct 2010):

Daniel Defoe.
Is he really the champion of neo-liberal free-market economics, as he is commonly portrayed through his famous characterisation of Robinson Crusoe:

In classical, neoclassical and Austrian economics, Crusoe is regularly used to illustrate the theory of production and choice in the absence of trade, money and prices. Crusoe must allocate effort between production and leisure, and must choose between alternative production possibilities to meet his needs. The arrival of Friday is then used to illustrate the possibility of, and gains from, trade.

The classical treatment of the Crusoe economy has been discussed and criticised from a variety of perspectives.



Daniel Defoe’s fictional hero, Robinson Crusoe, is often used by economics teachers as the pure example of ‘rational economic man’, the hero of neo-liberal free-market economics. They claim that, even though he lives alone, Crusoe has to make ‘economic’ decisions all the time. He has to decide how much to work in order to satisfy his desire for material consumption and leisure. Being a rational man, he puts in precisely the minumum of amount of work to achieve the goal.

Bad Samaritans

Or is the twofaced Defoe really a double agent engaging in doublespeak, and preaching something different from what he is really practicing?

As a double agent spying first for the Tory government, and later for the Whig government of the Walpole administration, Defoe wrote something else which was much less well-known than his Robinson Crusoe fiction. In Defoe’s main economic work, A Plan of the English Commerce (1728),

Defoe describes how the Tudor monarchs, especially Henry VII and Elizabeth I, used protectionism, subsidies, distribution of monopoly rights, government-sponsored industrial espionage and other means of government intervention to develop England’s woollen manufacturing industry, England’s high-tech industry at the time.

Bad Samaritans


Andre Gunder Frank: True world history & global ORIENTation

Addendum (3 Oct 2010):

Some titles by Andre Gunder Frank:

ReOrient: Global economy in the Asian Age

Table of Contents
Introduction to Real World History vs. Eurocentric Social Theory
Holistic Methodology and Objectives
Globalism, not Eurocentrism
Outline of a Global Economic Perspective
Anticipating and Confronting Resistance and Obstacles
The Global Trade Carousel 1400-1800
An Introduction to the World Economy
World Division of Labor and Balances of Trade
India and the Indian Ocean
Southeast Asia
Money Went Around the World and Made the World Go Round
World Money: Its Production and Exchange
How Did the Winners Use Their Money?
The Global Economy: Comparisons and Relations
Quantities: Population, Production, Productivity, Income, and Trade
Qualities: Science and Technology
Mechanisms: Economic and Financial Institutions
Horizontally Integrative Macrohistory
Simultaneity Is No Coincidence
Doing Horizontally Integrative Macrohistory
Why Did the West Win (Temporarily)?
Is There a Long-Cycle Roller Coaster?
The Decline of the East Preceded the Rise of the West
How Did the West Rise?
A Global Economic Demographic Explanation
Historiographic Conclusions and Theoretical Implications
Historiographic Conclusions: The Eurocentric Emperor Has No Clothes
Theoretical Implications: Through the Global Looking Glass

The section on Southeast Asia is especially interesting, where Frank describes the region as having been the lynchpin and center of entrepot commerce in sea-going global trading for the last two thousand years, where the 2 ends of this world trade (mainly China in the East, and the Mediterranean countries in the West), were actually pretty much ignorant of each others’ existence, and which was richly facilitated by the seafaring Arabian merchants and the seafaring Javanese+Bugis traders.

This ties in well with material I read elsewhere which investigated that much of the innovation in sailing and ocean-going vessels technology+techniques in the Chinese ships of the Ming dynasty fleet, and which was later picked up (through the Arabian ships+navigators) by the western countries allowing them to kickstart their Old Imperialism navigational voyages (sacrilegeous eh! I can just hear the gasps now), actually originated from the Javanese, Sumatran and Bugis sailors and shipbuilders of the (at that time still Hindu & Buddhist) ancient Indonesian archipelago empires — Srivijava, Sailendra, Majapahit, Sanjaya empires.

Southeast Asia (through maritime), together with Central Asia (through overland), truly were the ‘centers’ of world trade for much of the last 5000 years.

Another interesting book from Gunder Frank:
The World system: five hundred years or five thousand?

Table of Contents

The 5,000-Year World System: An Interdisciplinary Introduction
Building Blocks of Theory and Analysis
“Capital” Imperialism and Exploitation in Ancient World Systems
The cumulation of Accumulation
Hegemonic Transitions in the World System
Using the Theory to Reanalyze History
World System Cycles, Crises, and Hegemonic Shifts, 1700 BC to 1700 AD
Transitiona Ideological Modes: Feudalism, Capitalism, Socialism
The World System: 500 Years or 5,000? Discussing the Theoretical, Historical and Political Issues
Civilizations, Cores, World Economies, and Oikumenes
The Ancient World-System Versus the Modern Capitalist World-System
Discontinuities and Persistence: One World System or a Succession of Systems?
World System Versus World-Systems: A Critique
Rejoinder and Conclusions

And others:

T’ang China : the rise of the East in world history
The centrality of Central Asia

Chang Ha-Joon: Debunking modern myths

Chang Ha-Joon, formal title as:
Reader in the Political Economy of Development at the Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge;
also known as a Heterodox economist;
but I prefer to call him an economics and history Mythbuster.

One of the few lone voices calling out against the myths and untruths in the wasteland of what is currently ‘orthodox’ economic history.
I wonder how long it will take for Chang’s view, and of others like him, to become accepted in the main.
Well, at least time and momentum is on his side.

And the book from which the Chang quotes in the previous post was taken, Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective [2002].

Chang knows that his views run counter to current accepted orthodoxy, and so, even included the following ‘health warning’ in the introduction:

Many of these accounts go almost completely against what most of us know (or think we know) about the economic histories of these countries. Particularly striking to the contemporary reader are List’s analyses of Britain and the USA — the supposed homes of liberal economic policy.

A ‘Health Warning’

What this book is about to say will undoubtedbly disturb many people, both intellectually and morally. Many of the myths that they have taken for granted or even passionately believed in will be challenged, in the same way that many of my own assumptions were challenged in the process of researching it. Some of the conclusions may be morally uncomfortable for some readers. Of course, I claim no moral superiority for the arguments put forward. I hope, however, to reveal some of the complexities surrounding these issues which have long been obscured by ahistorical and often moralistic arguments.

–Chang Ha-Joon, Kicking Away the Ladder: Development Strategy in Historical Perspective [2002]

Here is the book’s Table of Contents (the various chapter titles should whet the enquiring reader’s appetite):

Introduction: How did the Rich Countries Really Become Rich?
Some Methodological Issues: Drawing Lessons from History
Policies for Economic Development: Industrial, Trade and Technology Policies in Historical Perspective
The Catch-up Strategies
The Pulling-Ahead Strategy by the Leader and the Responses of the Catching-up Countries–Britain and its Followers
Policies for Industrial Development: Some Historical Myths and Lessons
Institutions and Economic Development: ‘Good Governance’ in Historical Perspective
The History of Institutional Development in the Developed Countries
Institutional development in developing countries then and now
Lessons for the Present
Rethinking Economic Policies for Development
Rethinking Institutional Development
Possible Objections
Concluding Remarks

And if that doesn’t do it, here’s the backcover summary:

How did the rich countries really become rich? In this provocative new study, Ha-Joon Chang examines the great pressure on developing countries from the developed world to adopt certain ‘good policies’ and ‘good institutions’, seen today as necessary for economic development. Adopting a historical approach, Dr Chang finds that the economic evolution of now-developed countries differed dramatically from the procedures that they now recommend to poorer countries. His conclusions are compelling and disturbing: that developed countries are attempting to ‘kick away the ladder’ by which they have climbed to the top, thereby preventing developing countries from adopting policies and institutions that they themselves used.

And here’s a review by the American Library Association:

Chang’s premise is that developed countries have protectionism and interventionist policies to thank for that development. Help offered to less developed economies depends on their pursuit of free trade and laissez faire policies, which prevent them from achieving the results of today’s more developed countries. Chang (Cambridge Univ.) presents historical references related to the growth of industrialized economies along with widely circulated myths regarding the paths to development in those countries. The author contends that developing countries are being denied the true path to development, either because of well-intentioned but ultimately misguided analysis of the impact of policy on growth or a more malign desire of the industrialized world to maintain economic distance from less developed countries. Furthermore, he asserts that the policy prescriptions advocated by neoliberal observers result in less, not more, growth.

Here are some other interesting books by Chang:

-The Northern WTO Agenda on Investment: Do as we say, not as we did
-Bad Samaritans: Rich Nations, Poor Policies, and the Threat to the Developing World
-Reclaiming Development: An Alternative Economic Policy Manual

and the TOC for the last book:

Myths and Realities About Development
Myth I: History Shows that Free Markets Are Best
Myth II: Neo-Liberalism Works
Myth III: Globalisation Cannot and Should Not Be Stopped
Myth IV: The (Neo-Liberal) American Model of Capitalism Represents the Ideal that All
Developing Countries Should Seek to Replicate
Myth V: The East Asian Model is Idiosyncratic The Anglo-American Model is Universal
Myth VI: Developing Countries Need Discipline Discipline is Provided by International Institutions Like the IMF and the WTO, and by Independent Domestic Institutions, Such As Currency Boards
Policy Alternatives
Policy Alternatives I: Trade and Industry
Policy Alternatives II: Privatisation and Property Rights
Policy Alternatives III: International Private Capital Flows
Policy Alternatives
Domestic Financial Regulation
Policy Alternatives V: Macroeconomic Policies and Institutions

So there.

Friedrich List: Kicking Away The Ladder

The long-contested and now falsely-debated point (.) of disequillibria.

In case it is unclear as to the origins of this posting, I am responding in large part to the cited article in the point-link (.) above.
(And probably also from a little of the leftover ethos from the previous post)
Below is a sampling of the article, just to make it really clear.]

U.S. Steps Up Criticism of China’s Practices

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration increased its criticism of China’s economic policies on Thursday, as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner told Congress that China had substantially undervalued its currency to gain an unfair trade advantage, tolerated theft of foreign technology and created unreasonable barriers to American imports.

–The NYT, September 16, 2010

A refresher on Friedrich List may allow us to clean the blackboard of our minds from the choking chalk-dust of the modern myths of ‘orthodox’ history and economics, and consider the unvarnished events of history with an untainted eye.

First, a description of Friedrich List:

Some Methodological Issues: Drawing Lessons from History

The ninetheenth-century German economist Friedrich List (1789-1846) is commonly known as the father of the infant industry argument, namely, the view that in the presence of more developed countries, backward countries cannot develop new industries without state intervention, especially tariff protection. His masterpiece, The National System of Political Economy, was originally published in 1841.

List starts the book with a lengthy historical discussion. In fact he devotes the first 115 pages of his 435-page text to a review of trade and industrial policies in the major countries of the western world up to his time. Included in his survey were the experiences of Venice (and other Italian states), the Hanseatic cities (led by Hamburg and Lubeck), the Netherlands, England, Spain and Portugal, France, Germany and the USA.

Many of these accounts go almost completely against what most of us know (or think we know) about the economic histories of these countries. Particularly striking to the contemporary reader are List’s analyses of Britain and the USA — the supposed homes of liberal economic policy.

–Chang Ha-Joon [2002]

Friedrich List argued that Britain was actually the first country to perfect the art of infant industry promotion (ie. Protectionism), which in his view is the principle behind most countries’ journey to prosperity. He recommends that casual and uneducated proponents of ‘Free Trade’ (in its rhetorical and mythical meaning), first study the history of English industry closely. And this is his (ironical) summary of the British road to industrial success:

[H]aving attained to a certain grade of development by means of free trade, the great monarchies [of Britain] perceived that the highest degree of civilization, power, and wealth can only be attained by a combination of manufactures and commerce with agriculture. They perceived that their newly established native manufactures could never hope to succeed in free competition with the old and long-established manufactures of foreigners [the Italians, the Hansards, the Belgians, and the Dutch] … Hence they sought, by a system of restrictions, privileges, and encouragements, to transplant on to their native soil the wealth, the talents, and the spirit of enterprise of foreigners.

–Friedrich List, The National System of Political Economy

And then in the following, where List’s famously sarcastic metaphor of “Kicking Away The Ladder” is given voice:

It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of climbing up after him. In this lies the secret of the cosmopolitical doctrine of Adam Smith, and of the cosmopolitical tendencies of his great contemporary William Pitt, and of all his successors in the British Government administrations.

Any nation which by means of protective duties and restrictions on navigation has raised her manufacturing power and her navigation to such a degree of development that no other nation can sustain free competition with her, can do nothing wiser than to throw away these ladders of her greatness, to preach to other nations the benefits of free trade, and to declare in penitent tones that she has hitherto wandered in the paths of error, and has now for the first time succeeded in discovering the truth.

–Friedrich List, The National System of Political Economy

List warned not to be taken in by the British ‘sleight-of-hand’; rather than follow the British in what they say (through Adam Smith’s ‘Free Trade’ laissez faire doublespeak), follow what they actually did (the successful practice of intervention and protectionism):

Had the English left everything to itself—’Laissez faire, laissez aller’, as the popular economical school recommends—the [German] merchants of the Steelyard would be still carrying on their trade in London, the Belgians would be still manufacturing cloth for the English, England would have still continued to be the sheep-farm of the Hansards, just as Portugal became the vineyard of England, and has remained so till our days, owing to the stratagem of a cunning diplomatist. Indeed, it is more than probable that without her [highly protectionist] commercial policy England would never have attained to such a large measure of municipal and individual freedom as she now possesses, for such freedom is the daughter of industry and wealth.

–Friedrich List

But then, Friedrich List was really doing no more than just following the example and teachings of the American founding father and economist, Alexander Hamilton:

Alexander Hamilton is sometimes considered the “patron saint” of the American School of economic philosophy that, according to one historian, dominated economic policy after 1861. He firmly supported government intervention in favor of business, after the manner of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, as early as the fall of 1781.

Hamilton opposed the British ideas of free trade, which he believed skewed benefits to colonial/imperial powers, in favor of U.S. protectionism, which he believed would help develop the fledgling nation’s emerging economy. Henry C. Carey was inspired by his writings. Some say he influenced the ideas and work of German Friedrich List.


And apparently, many countries later embraced American/Hamiltonian economics and policies in their own rise up the economic+developmental ladder:

From the 1860s onwards Japan’s Meiji leadership embraced Hamilton’s words and work as being valid to their own modernization requirement after touring America’s post-Civil War political and industrial landscape. Within the Grant Administration they found Hamiltonian advocates who opened up American financial and manufacturing operations for Japanese inspection. The Meiji leadership sent their sons to study American finance and industry in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and other centres of commerce. These same Japanese leaders found Hamilton’s words and work also being utilized by Bismarck’s administration in Germany, having been brought to Germany by Friedrich List in the 1840s after List had spent time in exile in Philadelphia. Later Hamilton’s reports to Congress could be found in libraries not only in Japan, but Taiwan and Korea, as they came under the colonial rule of Meiji Japan. Post-1945 leaders in both countries (South Korea is a divided nation) utilized Hamilton’s Report on Credit to establish their own modern financial systems.


Chang Ha-Joon puts it most succintly in this paragraph:

The USA as ‘the mother country and bastion of modern protectionism’

It was the USA, and not Germany as is commonly believed, which first systematized the logic of infant industry promotion that Britain has used so effectively in order to engineer its industrial ascent. The first systematic arguments for infant industry were developed by American thinkers such as Alexander Hamilton and Daniel Raymond, while Friedrich List, the supposed intellectual father of the infant industry protection argument, first learned about it during his exile in the USA.

The US government put this logic into practice more diligently than any other country for over a century (1816-1945). During this period, the USA had one of the highest average tariff rates on manufacturing imports in the world. Given that the country enjoyed an exceptionally high degree of ‘natural’ protection due to high transportation costs, at least until the 1870s, it seems reasonable to say that throughout its industrial catching-up the US industries were the most protected in the world.

–Chang Ha-Joon [2002]

So, Britain ascends, then kicks away the ladder and throws sand in the face of Germany and America by preaching Free Trade.
Then, the still-nascent nations of first America, then Germany, circle the wagons around their infant industries in Protectionism, to arbitrage their own ascent up the ladder.
Later, America having reached and displaced all at the top, eschews its own protectionistic past and takes on the mantle as the new preacher of Free Trade to the world, and frowned and clucked disapprovingly at the high-export-dependent economies of first Japan, then the Asian Tigers (but who really had only been diligently reading+following American/Hamiltonian economics) respectively in the 70s, 80s and 90s.
And now, shaking It’s star-studded and metal-spangled fists and ranting all the way up the Hill at the latest entrant to modern industrialization, China.

If you scratch under the surface of the Names (given by the myopic western press and academics), “Asian Development Model”, “Centrally-planned Economy”, “Social-Capitalist Economy”, “State-owned Entities and Intervention”, “Export-driven/High-trade-surplus Model” and so on; you just might find the hotly-seared and proudly-branded: “American Protectionism/Hamiltonian Economics”.
(Which is itself a defensive reaction to the latter British faux laissez-faire ‘Free Trade’ spiel.)

What goes around, comes around.
Just more of the same-old, same-old, again and again…
And this Great Game has actually been playing for much longer than just the three hundred or so years sketched out above.
It is at least as old as Man… and probably even older.


The above may be a little hard to accept and stomach for some.

[But actually, List and Chang had already been very polite and kept silent on the really gut-wrenching stuff:
The gunboats ‘trade’ diplomacy; the institutionalised inter-continent slave trade; the wanton looting of gold silver minerals; the pillaging of real agricultural commodities and resources; outright export of drugs and death at gun-point ; discharging pollutants into the world for 200 years gaily without as much as a zip-pah-dee-do-dah for the everyman’s A-dream of putting 2 cars in every clean-cut suburban home…

But of course, all these are not important when compared to how unfairly undervalued the Deutschmark, the Yen, and now the Yuan, are.

-American School of economics

-Hamiltonian economics
-And the most important of Hamilton’s 3 reports of his economic program, the Report on Manufactures

Through the distorted lens of “The Western Imagination”

The former prime minister of Spore, Lee KY, had a recent interview with The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune. He has had so many interviews with foreign newspapers but this one seemed especially poignant, with questions asked and very candid answers given, on a range of topics including his advancing age, how Sporean society may progress after his passing, and particularly on his thoughts and feelings on taking care of his currently bed-ridden wife, who had suffered strokes in recent years.

Days of Reflection

“So, when is the last leaf falling?” asked LKY, the man who made Singapore in his own stern and unsentimental image, nearing his 87th birthday and contemplating age, infirmity and loss.
In a long, unusually reflective interview last week, he talked about the aches and pains of age and the solace of meditation, about his struggle to build a thriving nation on this resource-poor island, and his concern that the next generation might take his achievements for granted and let them slip away.
But in these final years, he said, his life has been darkened by the illness of his wife and companion of 61 years, bedridden and mute after a series of strokes.

Article of interview from the NYT.
Full transcript of the interview.

Within the interview are some interesting points (he is an agnostic but has been practicing christian meditation), and some not so interesting; some amusing (his favourite book is Don Quixote), and some not so amusing.

As always, there will be many from all quarters who will take offence at any number of his comments on the many issues covered, political social economical. But these are just the usual stuff for which he normally receive applause as well as sharp knives anyway.

I have nothing to say about the political social economical issues mentioned in the article. The only item in the article which made me sit up and take notice is one purely on literature.

The following little remark he made seemed to me to be rather unfortunate:

Q: ‘And what kind of books do you read to her?”

Mr Lee: “So much of my time is reading things online. The latest book which I want to read or re-read is Kim. It is as beautiful a description of India as it was in Kipling’s time. And he had an insight into the Indian mind and it is still basically that same society that I find when I visit India. “

The remark was referring to reading books to his currently infirmed wife, which I find really heartwarming.

But to say that Kipling “had an insight into the Indian mind” or that Kipling’s portrayal of India is accurate, will only reinforce a flawed viewpoint and carry on the perpetuating of that most insidious of modern myths — the Western view of World History, and of Asia and ‘Asiatics’ (another mythical word).

But this is hardly a surprise, after all, considering LKY’s background:
his anglicized Straits-Chinese (Peranakan) family background;
his early education at what was probably the closest version of British ‘public’ schools outside of the British Isles – Raffles Institution;
and later, his university law education at Cambridge.

And here is what an Indian (also Cambridge educated) has to say about Kipling’s and the larger western view of India.
Amartya Sen, in his book The Argumentative Indian, from the chapter Indian Traditions and The Western Imagination, notes that the typical Western approaches to and interpretations of India falls into three main categories — the Exoticist, the Curatorial and the Magisterial approaches; with all three suffering from myopic and distorted preconceptions in varying degrees, but undoubtably, all flawed.

And the most lamentable approach (and probably with subsequently grim consequences), the Magisterial Approach:

The Magisterial Burden

I turn now to the second category, the magisterial approaches. The task of ruling a foreign country is not an easy one when its subjects are seen as equals. In this context, it is quite remarkable that the early British administrators in India, even the controversial Warren Hastings, were as respectful of the Indian traditions as they clearly were. The empire was still in its infancy and was being gradually acquired, rather tentatively.

A good example of a magisterial approach to India is the classic book on India written by James Mill [father of the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who influenced his son’s thinking tremendously, for better and for worse] published in 1817, on the strength of which he was appointed as an official of the East India Company. Mill’s The History of British India played a major role in introducing the British governors of India to a particular characterisation of the country. Mill disputed and dismissed practically every claim ever made on behalf of Indian culture and its intellectual traditions, concluding that it was totally primitive and rude. This diagnosis went well with Mill’s general attitude, which supported the idea of a bringing a rather barbaric nation under the benign and reformist administration of the British Empire. Consistent with his beliefs, Mill was an expansionist in dealing with the remaining independent states in the subcontinent. The obvious policy to pursue, he explained, was to make war on those states and subdue them.

Mill chastised early British administrators (William Jones) for having taken ‘Hindus to be a people of high civilization, while they have in reality made but a few of the earliest steps in the progress to civilization’. At the end of a comprehensive attack on all fronts, he came to the conclusion that Indian civilization was on a par with other inferior ones known to Mill — ‘very nearly the same with that of the Chinese, the Persians, and the Arabians’; he also put in this category, for good measure, ‘subordinate nations, the Japanese, Cochin-chinese, Siamese, Burmans, and even Malays and Tibetans’.

How well informed was Mill in dealing with his subject matter?
Mill wrote his book without ever having visited India. He knew no Sanskrit, nor any Persian or Arabic, had practically no knowledge of any of the modern Indian languages, and thus his reading of Indian material was of neccesity most limited. There is another feature of Mill that clearly influenced his investigations, his inclination to distrust anything stated by native scholars, since they appeared to him to have ‘a general disposition to deceit and perfidy’.

Perhaps some examples of Mill’s treatment of particular claims of achievement may be useful to illustrate the nature of his extremely influential approach. The invention of the decimal system with place values and the placed use of zero, now used everywhere, as well as the so-called Arabic numerals, are generally known to be Indian developments. In fact, Alberuni had already mentioned this in his eleventh-century book on India, and many European as well as Arab scholars had written on this subject. Mill dismisses the claim altogether on the grounds that ‘the invention of numerical characters must have been very ancient’ and ‘whether the signs used by the Hindus are so peculiar as to render it probable that they invented them, or whether it is still more probable that they borrowed them, are questions which, for the purpose of ascertaining their progress in civilization, are not worth resolving’.

Mill proceeds then to explain that the Arabic numerals ‘are really hieroglyphics’ … At one level Mill’s rather elemetary error lies in not knowing what a decimal or a place-value system is, but his ignorant smugness cannot be understood except in terms of his implicit unwillingness to believe that a very sophisticated invention could have been managed by such primitive people.


There are plenty of other examples of ‘magisterial’ readings of India in Mill’s history. This is of some importance, since the book was extremely influential in the British administration and widely praised, for example by Macaulay (‘the greatest historical work…since that of Gibbon’). Macaulay’s own approach and inclinations echoed James Mill’s.


The impact of the magisterial views of India was not confined to Britain and India. Modern documents in the same tradition have been influential elsewhere, including in the United States. In a series of long conversations on India and China conducted by Harold Isaacs in 1958 with 181 Americans –academics, professionals in mass media, government officials, missionaries and church officials, and officials of foundations, voluntary social-service groups, and political organisations– Isaacs found that the two most widely read literary sources on India were Rudyard Kipling and Katherine Mayo, the author of the extremely derogatory Mother India. Of these, Kipling’s writings would be more readily recognized as having something of the ‘magisterial’ approach to them. Lloyd Rudolph describes Mayo’s Mother India thus:

First published in 1927, Mother India was written in the context of official and unofficial British efforts to generate support in America for British rule in India. It added contemporary and lurid detail to the image of Hindu India as irredeemably and hopelessly impoverished, degraded, depraved, and corrupt. Mayo’s Mother India echoed not only the views of men like Alexander Duff, Charles Grant, and John Stuart Mill but also those of Theodore Roosevelt, who glorified in bearing the white man’s burden in Asia and celebrated the accomplishments of imperialism.

-Amartya Sen, The Argumentative Indian, “Indian Traditions and The Western Imagination”

I actually want to paraphrase, borrow and extend from Amartya Sen above to make another point:
The (far-reaching) impact of the Magisterial approach of the Western viewpoint on World History (that is, on Political Sociological Economic and especially Scientific histories of the world in its entirety), which is pretty much accepted as orthodox currently, is due primarily to the events of the last 200 years. In time, much of what currently passes for historical orthodoxy will be revealed as self-serving dogma, and the real historical truths and attributions restored.

When the effects of The Great Game and Adventure of the last 200 years finally die away (it will probably take 50-100 years at the quickest, but in truth may be as long as the gestation period itself, 200 years), and a true New Global Normal finally transpires (however transient), erasing that diabolical and utterly fraudulent divisive line in the head, Hemispheres, then…
Histories will be rewritten, but only back to their rightful places.

After all, history is always revisionist in nature, and indeed written by the Victors…or those who control the printing presses (of both the written word and of money), and of academic centres, and who write the textbooks, and manipulate the media in all its forms… and those with the biggest loudhailers.
For a time anyway.


Anyway, I wonder what George Yeo, with his Neo-Nalanda university project, might say about LKY’s remark.
[And this is the historical Nalanda.]
And whether if that number one cheerleader for the Asian Renaissance, Kishore Mahbubani, will cringe at it.

LKY, despite his detractors decrying his alleged championing of ‘Asian Exceptionalism’ and ‘Asian Values’, is actually rather anglicized and probably see the world through very much the same lenses as his western critics than they realize.

[BTW, there is a delicious irony in the above; an almost ‘swapping’ of perspectives between Lee and Sen on two congruent issues.]

2nd Intermission: Jostling for space

Yayayayaya… the gods must be crazy.

Jostling for space in public:

SPACE is a premium in land-scarce Singapore – even personal space!

With the large influx of foreigners, one thing that Singaporeans have had to cope with is infringements on their personal space…
While foreigners find it perfectly acceptable to rub shoulders with strangers in public places, Singaporeans find it less so.




1st Intermission: X million spores

We interrupt the scheduled Tizzy Bac music programming for some newsflashes:

S’pore population at 5.08m

SINGAPORE’s population now stands at 5.08 million as at end-June, according to official data released by the Singapore Department of Statistics on Tuesday.

There were 3.77 million residents, of whom 3.23 million were Singapore citizens and 540,000 permanent residents.

[ie. there are about 1.3 million non-resident foreign/transient workers in all. That’s 1 in every four people.]


Spores, spores mushrooming everywhere…
Like an over-fertile land sprouting in a fecund frenzy after ‘blessed’ showers of pregnant life-bearing rain and monsoons.
that gentle splash may not be too long in coming now…

If the powers that be do raise us up to Population X or 6 million spores, that gentle splash you hear, may just be me falling into the eastern seas, pushed off changi coast by the relentless encroaching crowds…