Jared Diamond, the biogeographer and psychologist of evolution, wrote in The New York Review of Books about a new book, Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson.
In his review, Diamond
discusses the different psychic effects of colonized societies.
Countries with rich resources were "extractive economic institutions,"
where European forces could get away with exploitative abuses to "drain
wealth" of the local people, like the diamond trade in Zimbabwe or
former banana republic Guatemala. Otherwise:
"... in formerly poor countries with sparse native
populations, such as Costa Rica and Australia, European settlers had to
work themselves and developed institutional incentives rewarding work.
When the former colonies achieved independence, they variously inherited
either the extractive institutions that coerced the masses to produce
wealth for dictators and the elite, or else institutions by which the
government shared power and gave people incentives to pursue. The
extractive institutions retarded economic development, but incentivizing
institutions promoted it."
In Bambi v. Godzilla (2007) a book about Hollywood moviemaking, the playwright and belle lettres
punchliner David Mamet applies a similar idea of "extractive" versus
"incentivizing" to the moviegoing audience. Mamet says that people keep
going to bad movies the way that Diamond suggests oppressed populations
fell victim to the pillage of Western mercantilism:
very vacuousness of these films is reassuring, for they ratify for the
viewer the presence of a repressive mechanism and offer momentary
reprieve from anxiety with this thought: 'Enough money spent can cure
anything. You are a member of a country, a part of a system capable of
wasting two hundred million dollars on an hour and a half of garbage.
You must be somebody."
This might seem to evidence a habit of "retarded economic development." But instead, the "hour and a half of garbage" becomes the extractivist's incentivizer for moviegoers' to pay $13 to pursue the next Twilight movie, or new Johnny Depp vehicle, in which advanced critics say Depp delivers.
Our food ration is the $15 pulled from our wages for soda and popcorn.