Nationalism, Development and Cultural Degeneration

Nationalism, development and cultural degeneration by Wilhelm Röpke

Google translate from the original Portuguese, from the blog:

The background to this blog is that it supports the ordoliberal policies of the original German exiles from Hitler, exiles who mostly fled to German language cantons of Switzerland where they settled, many of them getting Chairs.

RIBEIRO, A. Rizzi¹.

Wilhelm Röpke (1899 – 1966) was a historian, German philosopher and economist, simultaneously influenced by the Austrian school and the school of Freiburg, Röpke became one of the mentors of ordoliberal thought to be of great influence on Ludwig Erhard.

In a little book called “The underdeveloped countries” published in Brazil by Editora Saraiva, in 1963, Röpke is a methodical analysis of how national developmentalism is a curse to the country, not only on the economic level, but also social and political. When Röpke wrote this book passed through a period marked by rampant Keynesian statism from the 50s and 60s, where all economic policy was based on inflation, and political tensions arising from the fear of communism encouraged bubbles of artificial growth. Röpke realized that, contrary to prevent the advance of communism, by contrast, stimulated.

The intelligentsia of the time argued that communism was a phenomenon of poor countries and therefore take these countries underdevelopment was essential, which Röpke also agreed, however, differed from economists of his time in as.

During the famous Bretton Woods agreements, it was agreed that developed nations would help the underdeveloped to achieve development through the creation of international funds, specific banks to nations where the rich countries, especially the United States, lend large sums in money to poor nations finance its development program.

A seemingly good idea, but Röpke made ​​serious objections to it. In the opinion of the “philosopher-economist”, this idea actually reinforced ideological biases of former colonies to their former metropolis, given the fact that these countries developed blame for their poverty and feel the moral obligation to charge them an aid to development. Another problem, in the view of Röpke, was the money be given to States that choose the national champions, thereby inflating the corporatist and politically strengthening nationalist groups, which after the end of fascism and the fall of Nazism, met ideologically more next of communists. For example, here in Brazil we have the case of João Goulart, Brazilian president deposed by the military uprising of 64, who was a descendant of Getulism, and sought support in the socialist and communist, which would culminate in a constitutional crisis that led him to deposition.

Röpke also emphasizes that these policies are creating further ideological biases with underdeveloped countries, since the funds and international banks are just extensions of the economic power of the wealthy nations, so when these countries are ultimately face some crisis will end drowned in debt huge with wealthy countries to be seen again, as the culprits for their misfortune. Röpke was prophetic in it. The oil crisis revealed the fragility of countries like Brazil, which now suffer from hyperinflation and high degree of social inequality.

Another point raised by ordoliberal economist is a cultural issue, the technical development of the West is the result of its Judeo-Christian and Enlightenment worldview, which allowed the advancement of science and technology thus boosting social and economic development. However, non-Western nations, envying achieve this same level are forced to give up their values ​​and traditions. Wilhelm recognizes that culture is a flexible substrate and the modification of it is inevitable, but reiterates that the modification of it should be gradual and voluntary because the sudden change of the way of life of these countries can create social chaos and have negative impacts that will be loaded for all posterity.

Criticism of Röpke to conceive of this goes back to developmental as to Röpke, when financing through international funds the national developmentalism these peripheral countries into the global production chain, is up funding states to dissolve the cultural and spiritual foundations that legitimize totally irresponsibly, which also jeopardizes the very economic development, because the forced development does not respect the sociological time of the population who will be forced to adapt to new ways of life, which certainly distort the social process that promotes technical development. This situation will only strengthen nationalist and socialist groups. The large rural exodus promoted by rapid industrialization promote a disproportionate rural exodus to shorten labor in the primary sector, labor cheaper and less qualified, and will lead to large urban centers creating huge favelizações. As actually occurred in Brazil’s military regime. Also occurred (as predicted by Röpke), the rise in food prices due to insufficient production of the primary sector.

Finally, it is amazing how a book written so long ago, by a man who was born in Germany and went into exile in the United States, the book is able to tell in advance so much about the history of Brazil and other Latin American countries. Röpke via the free market, the best way to provide technical and social development in an underdeveloped nation, it would be only the developed West to open its ports to underdeveloped and vice versa. It was precisely this that led to the collapse of communism, the return to free-market forced the Soviet Union to compete with an economic, social and technical advance that it was impossible to follow due to its giant bureaucracy, which immobilized the entire chain of production. Wilhelm Röpke, though prophetic, was no prophet, was a man who just decided to see the “blindingly obvious” like say Nelson Rodrigues, “the reaça”. Instead of fantasizing about abstract categories or beg attention with materialistic and superficial theories, Röpke sought to understand the politics and the economy in the most fundamental categories, culture and tradition, beyond human action filed by them; the fact is that such a level of understanding of reality could only come from someone influenced by two major schools of economic thought in the twentieth century, the Austrian school and the school of Freiburg.

¹ The author graduated in pedagogy at São Camilo University Center – Holy Spirit and majoring in History at the Federal University of Espírito Santo. Christian Democrat, Ordoliberal, radically anti-communist and anti-fascist.

Röpke, Wilhelm. Underdeveloped countries. São Paulo: Saraiva Edition, 1963.

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