My friend Eddie (of Hidden Unities) sent me “The Long-Term Effects of Africa’s Slave Trades,” a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, by Nathan Nunn (pdf download). In the paper Nunn finds a correlation between a region’s loss of slaves in the Atlantic Ocean, Sahara Desert, Red Sea, and Indian Ocean slave trades and present levels of misery.
Certainly one explanation is that Africa’s misery is the result of the slave trade. Indeed, that conclusion is the title of Nunn’s paper. Another is that regions that are so capital-starved and economically-screwy that they export a substantial fraction of their work force probably will remain capital-starved and economically-screwy.
Whatever the course — slavery, anti-state guerrillaism, or just low general intelligence, the moral of the story is the hard part of shrinking the Gap is ahead of us. Building up a Military-Industrial-Complex and waiting seems to have been enough to globalize eastern Europe and eastern Asia,
However, when it comes to the hard part of globalization — hookin up the Muslim world and especailly Africa — are record is not so good. The world lost the highest-functioning indigienous Systems Administration forces it had in those areas — French Algeria and South Africa — while the Empires of Japan, France, and Britain – which did so much good for so many — were disolved in the wake of World War II.
This is why building a Sysadmin Industrial Complex, as we are currently doing in the United States, is so vital. It’s not fair that merely leaving the deepest parts of the Gap alone will actually help end misery. We need to do more. A Sysadmin Industrial Complex of the military, Congress, and private contractors — resting on and supported by the people — is the only institutional way to move shrinking the gap beyond politics and to results.