Identifying and promoting the writings of brilliant dissidents like Ha-Joon Chang, the Cambridge economist, has always struck me as a particularly useful role for NGOs. In 2001 Ha-Joon published ‘Kicking Away the Ladder‘, which had a significant impact in the Doha trade negotiations, helping to demonstrate the double standards being employed by rich countries who used protectionism and other industrial policies while they themselves were developing, but now urge today’s poor countries to abjure such measures.
In 2007 he published ‘Bad Samaritans‘, extending the argument to debunk rich country lectures on corruption, intellectual property, culture and much more. For a launch article, see here. He’s just got in touch with an update on its many translations – Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and US paperback to add to the UK paperback. None of these come close to the 200,000 copies he’s sold in his native South Korea, for which he partly thanks the Korean military, who put it on the list of books banned in the barracks. If nothing else, this suggests Korean grunts/squaddies are a cut above their average British or American counterparts – it’s hard to imagine our boys sneaking off to pore over radical critiques of orthodox economics under the duvet. Next question, how do I get someone to ban ‘From Poverty to Power’?