Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More on Hungary: Fascinating & Frightening

Kim Lane Scheppele of Princeton provides a follow-up in Paul Krugman's blog post to her (and my) earlier post about Hungary and the assent of the radical righ party.Historians among you will know that the minority Nazi party "hijacked" the German government quite legally in 1933, and then took the State down the road to totalitarianism. I'm not Chicken Little, and Hungary 2011 is not Germany 1933; however, right-wing and left-wing extremists, both anti-democratic and disdainful of human rights, pose a threat to the European project. All the problems with the Euro notwithstanding, Europe since 1945 has been a success. (The book to consult: Tony Judt's Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945.) The post-Warsaw block has seen some serious problems, but nothing (bar Russia's regressions) quite like this, I don't think. Something to watch carefully.

Inequality

I've encountered some interesting considerations about inequality in my wandering readings. In sum, it's a growing problem. Of course, some inequality is inherent in humans, as in other primates. But what I'm referring to is a pervasive inequality that becomes dysfunctional, not to mention unjust.

A good staring point is this Five Books interview with Darin Acemoglu. I think that this shows, like most social phenomena, there is no one answer to the emergence of a phenomenon. See also this presentation by him.

Jack Goldstone, another important social scientist, weighs in with this blog post.

Finally, welcoming back the truth-teller of Iowa (even if he no longer works here), Donald Kaul. Kaul is correct: don't say fault for the precarious situation is evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, because it isn't. We'll be damned lucky if we don't repeat the 1930's that way we've set things up like the 1920's.