Tuesday, June 02, 2020 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Ha-Joon Chang

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As water flows from high to low, knowledge has always flowed from where there is more to where there is less. Those countries that are better at absorbing the knowledge inflow have been more successful in catching up with the more economically advanced nations. On the other side of the fence, those advanced nations that are good at controlling the outflow of core technologies have retained their technological leadership for longer. The technological ‘arms race’, between backward countries trying to acquire advanced foreign knowledge and the advanced countries trying to prevent its outflow has always been at the heart of the game of economic development.
Ch. 6: Windows 98 in 1997; Is it wrong to ‘borrow’ ideas?, John Law and the first technological arms race, p. 115

Ha-Joon Chang

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Global economic competition is a game of unequal players ... Consequently, it is only fair that we ‘tilt the playing field’ in favour of the weaker countries. In practice, this means allowing them to protect and subsidize their producers more vigorously and to put stricter regulations on foreign investment. These countries should also be allowed to protect intellectual property rights less stringently so that they can more actively ‘borrow’ ideas from more advanced countries.

Ha-Joon Chang

Ricardo’s theory is absolutely right—within its narrow confines. His theory correctly says that, accepting their current levels of technology as given, it is better for countries to specialize in things that they are relatively better at. One cannot argue with that.
His theory fails when a country wants to acquire more advanced technologies so that it can do more difficult things that few others can do—that is, when it wants to develop its economy. It takes time and experience to absorb new technologies, so technologically backward producers need a period of protection from international competition during this period of learning. Such protection is costly, because the country is giving up the chance to import better and cheaper products. However, it is a price that has to be paid if it wants to develop advanced industries. Ricardo’s theory is, thus seen, for those who accept the status quo but not for those who want to change it.

David Ricardo

Government policy, legislation on the family and marriage, and propaganda should not encourage an increase in the birth rates of advanced countries while demanding that it be curtailed in underdeveloped countries that are receiving assistance. Such a two-faced game would produce nothing but bitterness and nationalism.

Andrei Sakharov

The war is relentless: it puts the alternative in a ruthless relief: either to perish, or to catch up with the advanced countries and outdistance them, too, in economic matters.

Vladimir Lenin

In the Middle East, the opposition is quite different than the opposition in advanced countries. In our countries, the opposition takes the form of explosions, assassinations, killings.

Muammar Gaddafi
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