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Kicking Away the Ladder September 15, 2007

Posted by fukumimi in Economy & Business, History.
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(Something I had begun writing more than a month ago and was sitting in my drafts folder)

For people who are interested in the hows and whys of historical successes in economic development, and especially the impact of foreign trade and the conditions thereof (and who isn’t?), this piece in the Independent is a good place to start.

If that piques your interest, Ha-Joon Chang’s “Kicking Away the Ladder” itself is also a good read.

Of course, economic development of entire nations does not rise or fall on just one issue, however given the fairly one-sided debate (discounting the failed economic models which continue to have religious adherents) which conveniently glosses over significant historical facts, it is heartening to see a piece in the mainstream press (albeit in the Indy which many may(!) consider left of centre) which challenges the dogma that a strict form of free market capitalism is the best model for the economic development of a developing nation (especially in a highly assymetric environment with powerful external forces), and might persuade some people to dig into the matter in more detail.

When I first read Kicking Away the Ladder, what struck me most was the (re-)realization that formal history education is sorely lacking. People harp on about how the Japanese education system’s history text books are inaccurate (or gloss over awkward issues), but I certainly saw little evidence of any attempt at tackling the multi-dimensional nature of historical events in any of the other attempts at taught history in any other country either.

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