The Great Recession

Consider some recent political events:


1.  Civil unrest in Iran.

2.  The Honduran military arrests the country’s President and gives him a free trip out of the country.

3.  China (at least according to Friday’s Washington Post) launches a crackdown on human rights lawyers by letting their bar licenses “lapse.”

4.  Vietnam arrests a leading human rights lawyer and charges him with treason (last week)

5.  Thailand continues to face turmoil between supporters and opponents of ex-Prime Minister Thaksin (that started last fall with the airport shutdown, but it’s still going on).  

It may be that each of these events are independent and rooted in particular national or cultural issues.  But as a political science professor of mine used to say, “There’s no gravitational theory of Mars.”  In other words, context is often overrated.  So here’s the obvious question — is this the result of The Great Recession (or the Panic of 2008)?  Everyone is aware that the Great Depression caused massive political upheavals during the 1930s.  Is this the (thus far) milder version of that?  And what is the next shoe to drop?

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2 Responses

  1. Insofar as there is political disquiet involving the masses with more or less “middle class” leadership, I would suspect something on the order of the “rising expectations” hypothesis might be pertinent (that is to say, expectations are frustrated, thwarted, blocked, disappointed, etc. in a rather stark or dramatic fashion, particularly given the nature and promises of economic globalization and widespread aspirations for democractic representation). So…there might be some comparison to the 1930s.

  2. A.J. Sutter says:

    Your selection of recent events, particularly in China and Vietnam (and perhaps in other cases as well), looks like a great example of a post hoc, propter hoc fallacy. What was the record of human rights abuses in those countries before the “Great Recession”?

    Nor does the Mars argument support the notion of historical laws, as you seem to be suggesting. And your professor’s analogy was misleading in a couple of other respects. One is that in practice, the Martian gravity field does vary according to local context unless you’re sufficiently far away from the planet’s surface. Another is that even in theory, there isn’t a general analytical solution to the gravity equations once you get a third body involved, to say nothing of millions.