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Julien Peter Benney
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An interesting thought, after reading Robert Mickey’s Paths out of Dixie: The Democratization of Authoritarian Enclaves in America’s Deep South, 1944-1972 is that oil – and possibly other capital-intensive non-metallic minerals like phosphate, nitrate and diamonds – constitute “reactionary minerals“. Logically, mining elites would be even more likely than large landholders to fear democratization, since their assets are much more fixed than even a landowner’s – fixed in quantity as well as in space. The most extreme fear of democratization in mining elites would be via democratization’s strong potential for inflation as more public services are demanded, because inflation would wipe out mining elites’ once-off wealth. Fear of democratization would be most true of minerals that are most concentrated spatially – as oil wells and fields are. Interestingly, it seems to me that the less labor-intensive the mining activity, the more its elites are likely to fear democratization – or more accurately able to resist it – the opposite of landholders. Mining workers extracting a more labor-intensive mineral (like coal or most metals) can organize much more easily than sugar or cotton laborers, and powerful unions in these industries have often (as in the Border States of Kentucky and West Virginia, or in Australia) done much to preclude authoritarian enclaves. The notion that oil and diamonds constitute “reactionary minerals” fits in very well with the history of South Africa and the Gulf States – and having an even bigger share of global phosphate rock reserves (over 80 percent) than of oil is a double whammy for trying to democratize the Arab World. The fact that Australia’s major minerals are less “reactionary” makes its puzzling early and stable democracy (in a land of huge landholders) partially if by no means completely or even largely explicable vis-à-vis the ecologically most similar nations of Southern Africa and the Persian Gulf.
Toggle Commented Jun 18, 2017 on Coffee and Sugar at After the Future
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Jun 10, 2017