Friday, April 22, 2016

Dani Rodrik plays sleuth

A Harvard ecomomist, A coup plot, A career forever changed by Marc Parry in The Chronicle of Hiher Education: "It began with unexpected news from home. In January 2010, Dani Rodrik and Pinar Dogan, married Turkish economists at Harvard University, got word of a dramatic story hitting newsstands in Istanbul. There had been a plot to topple the government. It involved terrorism. And its ringleader was a retired general named Cetin Dogan — Pinar’s father.....
 In 2014 the Turkish constitutional court, finding that the defendants’ rights had been violated, ordered a retrial in the Sledgehammer case. Cetin Dogan was released from jail. When The Economist wrote up the news, its article began, "That long-awaited ‘we told you so’ moment arrived on June 18 for Dani Rodrik … and his wife Pinar Dogan." The retrial resulted in the acquittal, on March 31, of all the defendants.........
"How could this have happened?" Rodrik asks later, after his wife has left. "How could such a massive undermining of the rule of law have taken place in the name of building the rule of law for so many years," all while "people were looking and applauding? That’s the massive paradox that I’m trying to understand."
. In practice, though, most of those democracies "fail to provide equal protection under thel aw," according to a recent essay that Rodrik published with another economist, Sharun Mukand. To understand why, they examine three kinds of rights. Political rights rest on the strength of numbers. Property rights have the wealth of elites behind them. But civil rights typically benefit a relatively powerless minority, who lack wealth or numbers. For that reason, "a truly functioning liberal democracy that provides civil rights is going to be a very, very rare phenomenon," Rodrik says. The question isn’t why democracies slide into illiberalism. That’s what you should expect. The interesting question — and one of the key puzzles that his new work tries to solve — is why some democracies manage to remain liberal. What makes the emergence of civil rights possible in societies where, on the face of it, those rights don’t have a strong constituency? "
Finally, the article oes on to discuss the role of liberals:
"On a less abstract level, Sledgehammer changed another aspect of Rodrik’s thinking. He no longer trusts much of what he reads in the newspaper. The professor had long been skeptical of economics stories. He now feels similarly wary about coverage of political developments in foreign countries. The reason: If you hadn’t known the reality in Turkey, he says, it was simple to accept the usual liberal explanations of what was happening.
"It’s very easy to read these stories, and they resonate with your own worldview as a liberal," Rodrik says. "And you’re likely to believe it. I wouldn’t say that it turned me into a conservative. But it made me much more skeptical and much more cautious about what one might say is the standard Northeastern-Ivy League-elite-liberal-establishment narrative about how the world works. It’s made me extremely skeptical of what I read in The New York Times, and The New York Times’s take on what’s happening in different countries. In a way, I should have known."
Another conviction of 275 people convicted in the Ergenkon case was recently overturned.

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