Jujube Manifesto

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:

"The 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. 

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