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jerryking : ruling_classes   4

How Britons forgot that history can hurt
September 19, 2019 | | Financial Times| by Simon Kuper.

Centuries of stability have created a country careless about risk... the British mainland has meandered along nicely since Newton’s death in 1727: no conquest, dictatorship, revolution, famine or civil war. The sea prevented invasions; coal made Britain the first industrialised power. Few Britons developed strong ideologies that they were motivated to kill for.

How to square this historical stability with the UK’s newfound instability?......What explains Britain’s transformation? I suspect it’s precisely the country’s historical stability that has made many of today’s Britons insouciant about risk. They have forgotten that history can hurt. Other countries remember....their citizens remember how countries can go horribly wrong (see Uganda, the French in Algeria, etc.)......Britain has no comparable traumas. Terrible things do happen there but chiefly to poor people — which is how the country is supposed to work. Even the losses suffered during two world wars have been reconfigured into proud national moments. The widespread American guilt about slavery is almost absent here.

And so, Britain has a uniquely untroubled relationship with its past, and a suspicion of anything new. No wonder the natural ruling party calls itself “Conservative”.

Britain’s ruling classes are especially nostalgic, because they live amid the glorious past: the family’s country home, then ancient public school, Oxbridge and Westminster. They felt Britain was so secure from constitutional outrages that they never bothered to write a constitution.

But it’s wrong to blame British insouciance (embodied by Johnson) on the elite. It extends across all classes. Most Britons have learnt to be politically unserious. Hence their tolerance for toy newspapers they know to be mendacious — Britons’ ironic relationship with their tabloids puzzles many foreigners.

Postwar Britons — the most shielded generation in this shielded country’s history — voted Brexit not out of fanaticism but in a spirit of “Why not?” Many Leave voters argued additionally that “Things can’t get worse”, which any Ugandan could have told them was mistaken. Some Leavers even seemed to crave a bit of history.
'30s  Argentina  Brexit  carelessness  complacency  constitutions  decay  false_sense_of_security  German  history  historical_amnesia  insouciance  ruling_classes  Simon_Kuper  social_classes  United_Kingdom  worrying 
september 2019 by jerryking
Good leadership is Africa’s missing ingredient
Mar. 04 2013 | The Globe and Mail |Robert Rotberg.

Because so many of sub-Saharan Africa’s 49 countries are preinstitutional, and not yet fully nations, leaders matter immensely, more than they do in the developed world. Leaders call the shots, as they have in most sub-Saharan African countries since independence in the 1960s. They set the ethical tone. If leaders are greedy, as many are, their citizens become more cynical and the quality of governmental discourse suffers enormously.

In Africa and elsewhere, governments are expected by their subjects to provide security and safety, rule of law, open political participation, sustainable economic prospects and a large measure of human development (educational and health opportunities and services).

In states where political institutions are weak, legislatures are subordinate to executives, the media are barely free and the judiciary is subordinate rather than independent, the manner in which leaders behave as presidents and prime ministers is much more decisive than it might be in a fully-formed nation where political institutions work and constrain overweening political executives.

A majority of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa are still controlled by men who are motivated not by what they can do for their people but by what their people can do for them. Such leaders exist to prey on their own citizens, to extract from the body politic corrupt rents and other privileges that benefit the ruler and ruling class, their families, and their cliques or lineages.
leadership  leaders  leadership_development  Africa  CIDA  capacity-building  weak_states  judiciary  institutions  greed  rent-seeking  institutional_integrity  failed_states  ruling_classes  sub-Saharan_Africa  Non-Integrating_Gap  autocrats  misgovernance  predatory_practices  developing_countries  independent_judiciary 
march 2013 by jerryking

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