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December 14, 2006

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How is it that these damn dictators seem to live forever? At least we had a good period of Soviet Premieres dying off left-and-right, can't Mugabe and Castro expire?

I was closing italics tags as Moe, and forgot to log out. This is by HILZOY, not Moe.

Well in that case I withdraw my comment. ;-)

Hil: You might be interested in this essay by economic historian John Blessing Karumbidza, which delves into China's involvement and strategic interest in keeping Mugabe and ZANU-PF in power:

It is arguable that whether the relationship becomes what the Chinese President described as a ‘win-win’ relationship is not entirely dependent on China, rather on whether Zimbabwe has the institutional and bureaucratic capacity to turn Chinese funds and investment to benefit the country. There are reasonable doubts about the possibility of widespread and long term economic benefits to Zimbabwe. Temporary benefits so far include the political preservation of Mugabe reign and personal aggrandizement through corruption and kickbacks by his ZANU PF cronies flowing from Chinese investment.

[...]

It is important to note however that this Chinese ‘non-interference’ policy cannot be permanent. The Chinese are well aware of this themselves. Where deals are signed with unpopular dictatorial regimes that could later be revised by a new government, it becomes necessary for the Chinese to protect such regimes. This explains their arming of the ZANU PF government in Zimbabwe. For example, China funded Zimbabwe’s acquisition of military-strength radio jamming equipment to block opposition broadcasts ahead of the 2005 elections.

[...]

For Mugabe, who sees democracy and development as mutually exclusive, the fact that China has been able to raise 400 million of its people out of poverty over two decades, without being subjected to democratic elections and a free press serves as a useful example. Mugabe cites the present world order as a source of conflict and war, and calls for a more positive alternative order.

[...]

For the Chinese, the investment in Zimbabwe is nothing different from Chinese ventures elsewhere on the continent. The current arrangements, simply allows Mugabe to keep the illusion of victory over the West; and enable his cronies in the army, police, government and business to partner with the Chinese in further exploitation of the masses. As in the 1980s, the poor people will be told to tie their stomachs and pull up their socks, and that a revolution is not for ‘cry babies’. For as long as Mugabe reigns over the abyss, the rhetoric of imperialist demons fighting against Zimbabwe will continue to suffice.

(This week's edition of Pambazuka News is devoted to China's diplomatic and economic relationship with a number of African nations, and is well worth exploring in its entirety.)

Permalink for Pambazuka News 282: African perpectives on China in Africa.

All italics and no close makes Moe a Moe Moe?

Although Zanu-PF describes the constitutional changes as cost-cutting measures and a bid to achieve "harmony" in the election process, critics say the move is really about holding on to power.

This is a truly hilarious example of classic both-sides-of-the-story journalism. Mind you, I can't exactly imagine something like this happening in our country - but if it did, I can certainly imagine it being reported this way!

Would it have been better when Mugabe was nationalizing farms and industry, and creating his own private army, to have had a military coup overthrow his regime? What if the military leaders did immoral things in order to stop Mugabe? Would then then people who who opposed Mugabe then be evil?

I suppose that they would. And the people who did nothing to oppose Mugabe would be bot evil, because they did not themselves support doing immoral things in order to stop a dangerous series of events that they themselves were not party to.

Me, I have no interest in Zimbabwe, so therefore I have no moral culpability. Yet if I had supported murdering or arresting Mugabe and his supporters because, for instance, I believe in private property rights, that would make me exteremely immoral as opposed to those disinterested people who advocated leaving Mugabe alone.

DaveC: Huh?

Generally, on moral questions I find it clarifying in my own mind to model the action (or inaction) in question as being inescapably both good *and* evil. The worth of the action is then embedded in the weights and judgements we give to it's good and evil parts. Always remembering that you always get the evil with the good and the good with the evil, whichever happens to predominate with any given act.

Fairly trite, but it helps me think about these things anyway. Don't know whether it helps you, dilute to taste.

Otherwise, I'm baffled. Actually I'm just generally baffled, and the otherwise is that I'm more baffled here as I'm really not at all sure I have any understanding of what you're driving at.

SKapusniak, I think he's drawing comparisons between Zimbabwe now and Chile under Allende's overthrow by Pinochet. (It was an earlier this week discussion.)

What Scott said - after all, we all know that it's not Pinochet whom Mugabe is like, or anything silly like that...

ScottM is right about what I was trying to get at.

This map points to what I can't articulate very well.
Argentina and Chile are now considered to be "free", and although the right wing coups did have the evil deeds that accompanied them, those countries did change governments and leadership, and have changed into something better.

Even the literally fascist counties like Italy and Spain recovered and became free more quickly than Communist countries. This is because private property rights were to some extent protected. I think that when everything is nationalized in a country, agriculture especially, and then small and medium businesses, anything that guarantees that the government is in complete control of commodities, then that leads to non-freedom. Because then the Premier or Ayatollah or what have you must be supported by the common folk or else they will not have life's necessities.

I'm busy in real life and don't know all the specifics about Allende (though I have read some stuff that makes me think he was into nationalizing everything), so I didn't want to dive into a discussion late in the game. Anyway my two cents is that Mugabe did succeed in taking control of all of the necessities in Zimbabwe, and that was before it became clear that he was a bad bad guy.

There is something vaguely amusing about talk of ``private property rights'' in conjunction with the white farmers of Zimbabwe. They stole the land from the original inhabitants. They didn't respect the ``private property rights'' of the native peoples.

The vast majority of white-owned land in Zimbabwe was almost certainly stolen, or at the very least taken under duress. It is all a bit hypocritical to scream ``private property'' only after you have stolen the land.

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