Friday, February 13, 2009

Cuture and Development

"...we still suffer from vestigial traces of a prejudice against 'trade', left over from the days when the aristocracy and landed gentry lived off the rents from their land and estates, and did not engage in anything so vulgar as the making and selling of goods."
A pretty good portrait of Brazil, isn't it? Due to its history, the Brazilian culture opposes entrepreneurship or money making activities, and this has been an obstacle for development. Damn Portuguese colonization! At least this is what lots of people say...
Funny enough, the quote above is about the English and not the Brazilians! The author, Kate Fox, shows that traces of a aristocracy mentality explain many issues of contemporary English people. ( Watching the English: The Hidden Rules of English Behaviour, an excellent anthropology for non-anthropologists - book. Strongly recommended.)
The English prejudice against trade didn't hinder the Industrial Revolution at all. My point is that, by the same token, the aristocratic and slave-holding mentality of Brazilians is not the reason why the country fell behind. Well, but this is only my opinion.


Benjamin Guilbert said...

Interestingly enough capuchin monkeys also have some sort of prejudice against trade (endowment effect). So it might mean that there was a capuchin gentry back in the days but thanks to the Great Capuchin Revolution (following the Gibbons invasions), slavery ended.

Alternatively, it's a primate thing. We are risk averse and there is risk in trade. We humans need particularly good conditions to engage in commercial activities. The slightest problem will shut trade down.

Leonardo Monasterio said...

You said:
"The slightest problem will shut trade down."

On the other hand, I guess that there are accounts of trade even between groups that were waging wars. Isn't it?