In this hugely engrossing work, one of the most cited prolific researchers in the domain of Economics, William Easterly opens up the perception of the reader to what he terms “The Tyranny of Experts”, a technocrat driven path towards enhancing development standards and the general well being of the world. In a manner that is audacious yet not overtly polemic, Easterly brings his vast repertoire of research methodologies to bear as he identifies the following ‘three’ flawed pillars surrounding Development Economics and influencing its practitioners currently:
Believing in a ‘Blank Slate’or Tabula Rasa approach instead of learning from History;
Emphasising too much on the development of nations at the cost of the enrichment of the individual (whereby the individual is deprived of both economic as well as political freedom); and
Devising conscious designs rather than paying heed to spontaneous solutions.
The book begins with a riveting Chapter on the contradictory views on development nursed by two prominent and legendary economists – Friedrich Hayek and Gunnar Myrdal. Although the two economists received the Nobel Prize jointly in 1974, their views on development were diametrically opposed to one another. While Hayek was a firm proponent of spontaneous solutions and learning from History, Myrdal was a champion of the Blank Slate approach and had an unwavering belief in conscious design.
Easterly proceeds to elucidate each of the pillars that he deems to be antithetical to growth by setting out empirical evidence, case studies and historical facts. Going way back into history, Easterly relieves the practices adopted by the Maghrib tribes, the colonisation and subsequent liberation of Africa and the rise of communist China to weave an intricate network of reason, logic and convictions.
While one might not be entirely comfortable with some of the postulations set out in this book, there can be no denying it that this makes an essential reading for anyone even remotely interested in the Economic, Political and Cultural travails plaguing the world today.
“The Tyranny of Experts” – A timely reminder at introspection