Przeworski on life, politics and motherhood

by Henry on March 5, 2006

Via 3 Quarks Daily this very enjoyable interview with Adam Przeworski on his life, his research and his intellectual development. And on the causal explanations for dictators’ economic strategies …

Then, for the particular question I addressed in Democracy and Development I thought I needed statistics. But in the work I’m currently doing on development, I am back to reading biographies of dictators and novels about dictators, which are very informative. I would like to get into Park’s shoes and Mobutu’s shoes and see why one of them was a developmental leader and the other was a thief. My current hunch is that developmentalist dictators are those who loved their mothers: obviously this is not something you will learn or be able to test with statistics, but when you read novels and biographies, the pattern becomes uncanny.

{ 6 comments }

1

schwa 03.05.06 at 3:53 pm

You forgot to link to the actual interview, you know.

With regard to your quote, Saparmurat “More barking mad than a sack full of wet puppies” Niyazov is a data point against Przeworski’s thesis.

2

Henry 03.05.06 at 4:21 pm

Thanks – link added.

3

Aaron Swartz 03.05.06 at 5:08 pm

Is Barry a relative of yours?

4

derrida derider 03.05.06 at 6:20 pm

The trouble is that not only are there many Mobutus for every Park or Lee Kuan Yew, there are also many Pinochets, Indira Gandhis, Castros and, yes, even Putins and Marcos’.

That is, people who genuinely believe they are saving their country with ‘strong measures’, but just end up putting it further in the shit. Strong measures often have very bad results even if they’re delivered with good intent.

5

ab 03.05.06 at 6:45 pm

This is another nice quotation from the interview:

“The entire structure of incentives of academia in the United States works against taking big intellectual and political risks. Graduate students and assistant professors learn to package their intellectual ambitions into articles publishable by a few journals and to shy away from anything that might look like a political stance. This professionalism does advance knowledge of narrowly formulated questions, but we do not have forums for spreading our knowledge outside academia; indeed, we do not talk about politics even among ourselves. It has been decades since professional journals—”professional” is what they are called—published essays on “What is wrong today with the United States, with democracy, or what not?” or on “How to make the world better?” As far as I am concerned, we would be saying more if the American Political Science Review were simply closed. “

6

dunno 03.05.06 at 6:48 pm

My current hunch is that developmentalist dictators are those who loved their mothers. . . , but when you read novels and biographies, the pattern becomes uncanny.

Does Autumn of the Patriarch count? Cause boyoboy, is he a thief.

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