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Firstly, the difference in wealth between European states and North African states does not go back only 50 years

The observant reader will note that what I actually wrote was:

(a) until about two centuries ago, there was no really noteworthy difference, (b) the differences only reached their present order of magnitude about fifty years ago.

Emphasis added for, well, emphasis.

and is not only a product of imperial control of energy resources.

The raw materials footprints of the countries involved say otherwise.

African companies can buy energy on the free market the same way as Western companies

Indeed, African companies are able to buy energy on markets set up by Euro-American powers, that follow Euro-American rules and that clear transactions in Euro-American currencies...

The law is equal for every man: The rich man is as prohibited as the poor man from sleeping under bridges and begging for bread.

But even if we accept, for the sake of the argument, that the markets are not tilted in favour of WesternTM former and present colonial powers today, that still leaves a gap of a hundred, maybe a hundred and fifty years where WesternTM countries had monopoly access to the most concentrated and easily accessible energy reserves. Exponential growth being what it is, a constant head start translates into an exponentially increasing gap in absolute terms.

Chinese companies - which today are the world's largest consumers of energy. Do the Chinese have imperial control of energy resources? No. I'm digressig...

Actually, they do, by proxy. China operates within the American colonial order. It collects and processes tribute for the US, and keeps some of the proceeds for itself. Obviously, however, this is only an option available to a moderately powerful country - you can only proxy for the colonial overlord if you are not yourself a colony.

The difference between European and African wealth goes back hundreds (if not thousands) of years

Well, no. As late as the early Renaissance, North Africa was at least as wealthy as all but the most powerful city-states on the Northern shore of the Mediterranean. It really is only with the voyages of discovery (and attendant colonial acquisitions) that the Northern side of the Med began to pull ahead.

and is a product of the quality of land,

The soil and climate of the Southern shore of the Med is comparable to the Northern shore in most places, and superior in some.

labour and capital use,

Which is restricted by capital and raw material availability, which again brings us back to the advantage Europe accrued from raping the Americas, India and Sub-Saharan Africa...

the level of development of trade & commerce

Which, again, is not noticeably different between the two shores of the Med until trade with the colonies opened up.

and the nature of the social order (laws, governance, infrastructure, ...).

Comparable until the late Renaissance.

Just check out your history books.

See, there's this thing with history books: They normally gloss over such little details as the displacement of the North American population and the scramble for Africa...

Regarding the cultural differences and scary Muslims (as you refer to them)... It seems that as soon as one is not praising Muslims, one is a right wing Nazi bigot.

Yawn. While straw men are vaguely amusing the first time around, this one really is sort of old.

it would be absolute folly giving North Africa's + Turkey's 280M people almost equal voting rights in EU institutions on issues pertaining to our way of life (retirement, investments, taxes, resource allocation, social orientation) given that our cultures are so different

Eh. You still haven't pointed out any cultural differences at all, apart from the fact that the countries in question have a majority Muslim population. Which really doesn't count for much of anything.

and that the priorities of our two societies are so different. If it's'a LONG term project, then wake me up in 500 years when it's on the agenda

Poland was a third-world country in the fifties and sixties (and culturally still is in many respects). Now, I happen to think that Poland was admitted too soon, but certainly not by an order of magnitude...

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Aug 30th, 2010 at 03:39:59 PM EST
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