Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Whether it is North Korea, Sierra Leone, or Zimbabwe… poor countries are poor for the same reason that Egypt is poor. Countries such as Great Britain and the United States became rich because their citizens overthrew the elites who controlled power and created a society where political rights were much more broadly distributed, where the government was accountable and responsive to citizens, and where the great mass of people could take advantage of economic opportunities…. Though the Egyptians shook off the Ottoman and British empires and, in 1952, overthrew their monarchy, these were not revolutions like that of 1688 in England, and rather than fundamentally transforming politics in Egypt, they brought to power another elite as disinterested in achieving prosperity for ordinary Egyptians as the Ottoman and British had been. In consequence, the basic structure of society did not change, and Egypt stayed poor…. [T]hose who mounted the revolutions simply took over the reins form those they’d deposed and re-created a similar system. It is indeed difficult for ordinary citizens to acquire real political power and change the way their society works. But it is possible…. Fundamentally it is a political transformation of this sort that is required for a poor society to become rich.

– Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, WHY NATIONS FAIL (2012)

Advertisements