Monday, 26 October 2015

A Lack of Economic Knowledge


Mario Varghas Llosa, Peru's most distinguished writer, had written a doctoral thesis on Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But his own novels made him an international literary figure. He began as a student communist and staunchly defended Fidel Castro's Cuban revolution.

But when he dared to criticize Castro for imprisoning writes, a hail of invective from Castro and his worldwide intellectual defenders fell upon Llosa. He came to see that communism meant repression, but also that if failed to deliver on its promises. He became a social democrat. He studied economics and concluded that liberal economics best delivers prosperity and freedom. Leftist intellectuals heaped calumny on him. And he returned it in kind. He denounced "cut rate intellectuals", who went with fashions, and were profoundly ignorant of economics. "You cannot be modern and Marxist", he declared. He mused on why intellectuals were so fascinated with state control and Marxism. Partly patronage, partly fashion, partly "lack of economic knowledge." He reserved some of his greatest contempt for Latin American intellectuals, who made a career of denouncing the USA, while finding succor from professorships in its Universities and grants from its foundations.


He encountered his old friend Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who never abandoned Castro, one evening at a theater in Mexico city. They got into an argument and Varghas Llosa ended up knocking out Marquez. Which is something that one hardly ever gets to do with the subject of one's doctoral dissertation.

This is an extract from a few paragraphs in the book "The Commanding Heights", by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw. A translation in Tamil will follow shortly, as a separate blog post.

Other Essays

Pigs Have Wings
Vote for Google
Democracy or Free Market
South American Transport Revolution

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