on 22 December 2015
Easterly's book is at once a great survey of the empirical evidence of what works and what doesn't in terms of fostering economic growth, and a masterful argument against the school of thought that tends to see development merely in terms of anonymous masses to be moulded like so much clay by all-knowing experts.
The rights of individuals are not just important as a means of securing higher economic growth, but as an end in themselves, and the notion that individual rights must be sacrificed on the altar of growth is for the most part a false one, despite what those who would like to argue from China's example might believe. The West did not get to where it is today by stripping its people of rights, but by *giving* them rights to freedom of speech, freedom from expropriation, freedom from arbitrary arrest and punishment and so forth. Why then should Western experts believe anything different should hold in the less developed parts of the world, other than because of a racism that infantilises non-white people as "children" incapable of exercising their freedom properly?