William Easterly is generally a serious person. He’s a well-credentialed economist who spent sixteen years working at the World Bank, is a tenured professor at an excellent institution, and has written two well-received books on foreign aid. His work is, often, a useful critique of the dominant World Bank/IMF development strategy. But it’s easy to dismiss him as an idiot when he writes things like this:
A dark ideological specter is haunting the world. It is almost as deadly as the tired ideologies of the last century — communism, fascism, and socialism — that failed so miserably. It feeds some of the most dangerous trends of our time, including religious fundamentalism. It is the halfcenturyold ideology of Developmentalism. And it is thriving.
Really. He wrote that. He thinks that Jeff Sachs is today’s version of Hitler or Stalin. So much for polite disagreement.
This being Easterly, I would expect him to follow up with, you know, evidence of some sort. But he doesn’t. Instead, Arendt-style, he analyzes “Developmentalism” like it’s a pathology. He doesn’t address foreign aid’s successes or new aid methods which are proving effective. He just violates Godwin’s law again and again and again. I’d expect this from a National Review writer or some other hack, but not from someone like Easterly.