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#9 from 2016: What is the serious conservative approach to politics?

Sina Odugbemi's picture
Our Top Ten blog posts by readership in 2016. This post was originally published on May 19, 2016.  
 

The word ‘conservative’ has lost all meaning these days, which is both sad and depressing. It is now used as short hand for all manner of romantic reactionaries (who want to go back to some Golden Age), bigots, racists, obscurantists, buffoons, and carnival barkers. Yet modern conservatism is a serious and intelligent approach to politics espoused by some of the finest and deepest minds in the history of political thought. I always say that when I studied political philosophy in graduate school I went into my studies as a political liberal, and while I came out more convinced of the justness and soundness of liberal constitutional democracy, the thinkers that had impressed me the most were mainly conservative political philosophers, particularly David Hume, Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre and James Madison. An encounter with these minds is a bracing experience. You do not survive it without your mental architecture being somewhat rearranged.

In what follows, I will attempt a restatement of modern (because it is also, like liberalism, a product of the Enlightenment) conservative political thought as I understand it, and try to indicate why I deeply respect this approach to social and political challenges even if I don’t always agree with it.

Chart: High-Tech Exports Gaining Ground in Kazakhstan

Erin Scronce's picture

Over the past two decades, high-tech exports from Kazakhstan have been increasing steadily. The World Bank Group has been working since 2008 with the Kazakh Government and scientist groups to further expand the country’s high-tech exports in a number of sectors. Through the Technology Commercialization Project, 65 new startups received grant funding and business training to get their innovations out of the lab and into markets. The startups operate in a wide variety of industries including agriculture, health, medicine, gas, oil and robotics. Already 40 of these businesses have reached first sales.

Find out more about the project and how it energized innovation in Kazakhstan
 

Building sustainable infrastructure one click at a time

Mark Jamison's picture


Photo Credit: United Nations

Development of infrastructure services is often a central feature for rebuilding fragile and conflict affected states (FCSs). One of the reasons is that infrastructure is often devastated by conflict, making provision of water, power, communications and transportation priorities for recovery efforts. Another reason is that equitable distribution of services may be an important feature of a peace agreement and any appearance of unfairness could spark renewed unrest. Whatever the motivation, without proper planning for governance, the development can falter.
 
There are two governance challenges with infrastructure in FCSs. One is that the urgency to provide service sometimes overshadows developing systems that can easily transition from something quickly built to infrastructure with sound governance that grows and matures as the country progresses. Another challenge is establishing regulations that encourage investment by protecting property rights. And given the diversity of FCSs situations, there is no one-size-fits-all answer.
 
How can development professionals advance good infrastructure governance amongst the turbulence and urgency of infrastructure recovery in FCSs? PPIAF and the Public Utility Research Center (PURC) at the University of Florida recently launched a web portal to assist in this work.

West African countries commit to common vision for coastal resilience

Dahlia Lotayef's picture
Coastal erosion is threatening homes and livelihoods in Togo. Photo by: Eric Kaglan, World Bank 


Togolese families often place talismans, thought to contain magical or spiritual properties, outside their homes facing the Atlantic Ocean in hopes of protecting their dwellings from encroaching tides.
 
Unfortunately, dozens of villages have been devoured since the mid-1990s, leaving behind shells of houses, livelihoods and memories in the wake of a coast receding as much as 5-10 meters per year. When expatriates return to Togo’s coast to visit their childhood homes, they are astonished to see that communities have literally washed out to sea.

Learning from each other – Togo and Cote d’Ivoire lead way in Gender Equality in Africa

Yasmin Bin-Humam's picture
I was surprised at how easy it was for me to get married. There were a few bureaucratic hurdles to get a marriage license, and then we had a sentimental ceremony with an officiant and witnesses followed by a party for friends and family. That was it. We were legally married.  No one told me that getting married would affect my future property rights. Since I did not have any property at the time it was also not something that I focused on.
 
The cupcake tier wedding trend.
The cupcake tier wedding trend.

Taking stock of progress and prospects in Moldova

Maria Davalos's picture
As the end of a year approaches, we instinctively take stock of what we accomplished and what will make it to our list of resolutions for next year. But, once in a while, it’s good to take a broader view than just year-to-year.

And a recent report does just that! Poverty Reduction and Shared Prosperity in Moldova: Progress and Prospects looks at what Moldova has achieved over the past decade in terms of poverty reduction and inclusive growth, and what the challenges are for the coming years.


 

On International Migrants Day, unlocking prosperity through mobility

Manjula Luthria's picture
We are at the cusp of entering an era of increased mobility.  Photo © Dominic Chavez/World Bank

Stories and anecdotes of how migrants contribute to our economies are everywhere. A recently released McKinsey Global Institute report put some numbers to it. Migrants account for only 3.4% of the global population but produce 9.4% of the world output, or some $6.7 trillion. That’s almost as large as the size of the GDP of France, Germany and Switzerland combined. Compared to what they would’ve produced had they stayed at home, they add $3 trillion – that’s about the economic output of India and Indonesia combined.

Why Do Harmful Norms Persist? Female Genital Cutting in Burkina Faso: Guest post by Lindsey Novak

This is the fifteenth in our series of job market posts this year. 
 
For better or for worse, social norms have profound influence on many of the decisions we make—from political to personal. These norms can be particularly influential when it comes to making decisions surrounding child rearing, including the decision parents make to participate in the practice of female genital cutting (FGC). Parents living in communities that practice FGC—located primarily in parts of Africa, the Middle East, and Asia—decide whether or not their daughter will undergo FGC based on social pressure and the perceived costs and benefits of adhering to or deviating from the social norm.
 
The practice has no known medical benefits, and it is associated with a wide range of health complications, both physical and psychological. Women who undergo FGC are more than twice as likely to experience birthing complications (Jones et al., 1999), and are 25 percent more likely to contract sexually transmitted diseases (Wagner, 2014). In addition, women who have undergone FGC are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Dorkenoo, 1999;  Behrendt & Moritz, 2005). These health complications make working in and outside of the household more difficult.


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