Sunday, November 26, 2017
Blaming others after wasting resources in a conflict
As Catalan former president Carles Puigdemont blames "Madrid" and now even the EU for all his problems, I find this paragraph in a new article about populism very suitable, especially where it says that when he finally fails to deliver, the populist finds someone else to blame for spoiling the party: "The populist wants, of course, to complete his takeover of the system before the negative consequences of his policies start to bite. But if he cannot achieve this objective he ‘doubles up’, raising his populist bets. Policies that benefit his constituencies gain priority while deficits, inflation, debt, and/or state intervention, price control, and protectionism increase as democratic institutions crumble. Again, the populist leader is ‘time consistent’ – he expected these results and never intended to pay for those costs, financed through the use of financial and physical repression, default, institutional destruction, expropriation, etc. He continues to promise massive gains in output, employment, trade, and so on, and when he finally fails to deliver, he finds someone else to blame for spoiling the party. He starts resorting to extreme policies (undue pressure on business leaders, state interventions in various forms, nationalisation, and so on) particularly before each election cycle. He also goes after individual freedoms, and institutions whose remit is to protect them." The academic literature about populism will learn a lot from the Catalan case and the neo-populist tricks of the secessionists, which can also be illuminated with the academic literature about conflict (violent or not). Ethnic conflict (ethnic in a very general sense, as based on a marker different from income) is more sustainable than income conflict because ethnic groups include rich individuals that have the resources to sustain conflict over time. As Esteban, Mayoral and Ray argue in an article in Science, "such markers can profitably be exploited for economic and political ends, even when the markers themselves have nothing to do with economics. A study of this requires an extension of the theory to include the economic characteristics of ethnic groups and how such characteristics influence the supply of resources to conflict."