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America is a Banana Republic
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 9:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not only is it geographically specific, Urban Myth. It is also historically specific. Central America under United Fruit. And that is it.

This is getting ridiculous. This website often becomes a forum of very ignorant people with attitudes, deciding that they are going to make things up on the spot just because.

Define "banana republic" as you understand it, then, Urban Myth. And please cite your authorities. How do you know what it is? Further, how do you know that those, whoever they may be, who have called Eastern-European nation-states "banana republics" concluded that this was an appropriate use of the metaphor. Anyone can call anything whatever they like. Please do not tell me that you merely take this as evidence that they are not speaking out of their asses.

And what is next? Are people here going to start calling any ruler they dislike "caudillo...?"

Quote:
O. Henry author profile
born September 11, 1862
died June 05, 1910
gender male
place of birth The United States
genre Literature & Fiction

O. Henry is the pen name of William Sydney Porter, a short story writer who began his career as an author while serving time in the Ohio Penitentiary under charges of embezzlement. Best known for his surprise endings and twists, he was sometimes called America's answer to Guy de Maupassant. He also coined the term "banana republic" while visiting Honduras in the 1890s, having left the country precipitously the day before he was due to stand trial.
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TheUrbanMyth



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: It's not a superiority complex when you really are superior

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gopher wrote:
Not only is it geographically specific, Urban Myth. It is also historically specific. Central America under United Fruit. And that is it.

This is getting ridiculous. This website often becomes a forum of very ignorant people with attitudes, deciding that they are going to make things up on the spot just because.

Define "banana republic" as you understand it, then, Urban Myth. And please cite your authorities.


Webster's New World College Dictionary defines "Banana Republic" as

Any small, usually Latin American country, that is politically unstable and has a one crop economy controlled by foreign capital"


Notice that they do not say EXCLUSIVELY Latin American.

And just for the record I am not saying that America is a banana republic as by the criteria applied in this definition it is clearly not.

Now I've stated MY source...care to provide a reliable source or sources that contradict this by stating the term "banana republic" is exclusively used for certain Latin American countries?

Or if that is not what you are saying, care to elaborate on what you ARE saying?

And without the personal attacks if you please.
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Banana Republic" is used in Central American and Caribbean historical literature -- pervasively, all you need to do is read this literature; start with W. LaFeber, if you like; and I believe G. García Márquez describes its conditions in his novel, Cien años de soledad-- and it specifically refers to the United Fruit Company's dominating Caribbean politics between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, until the antitrust suit in summer 1954.

It refers to an American corporation that absolutely dominated the republics, especially Guatemala and Honduras and other banana producers, that fell within its sphere of operations. Liberal (that is friendly to classically liberal capitalism) dictators emerged from the armed forces who granted extremely favorable conditions to United Fruit. When the company needed to create such dictators, it did. That is the beginning and the end of it: the banana company exercised sovereignty.

Its constituent elements necessarily include: a banana-producing country, completely dominated by the United Fruit company, and usually ruled by a military dictator or a local oligarchy under the company's control and/or influence -- usually willingly so because of the political power, enrichment, and other benefits they accrued.

It makes a nice, catchy metaphor. And people misuse it all the time. Usually willfully ignorantly and usually in a lame attempt to shame the target of their criticism -- as in this thread's OP. But that does not make them right. It does not make it anymore right than the graduate student who smugly told a seminar that this Brazilian tune she was discussing was in "4/4 waltz time..."
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TheUrbanMyth



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Location: It's not a superiority complex when you really are superior

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is indeed the historical usage of the term. However nowadays it has been expanded.

http://www.economicexpert.com/a/Banana:republic.htm

See Modern Usage. Under that definition it could have fit any number of Eastern European countries especially under Communism.

But even there it can not be applied to America...if memory serves me rightly at least three of Obama's appointees had to turn down their nominations as they had tax problems or something like that?

Basically I think that what exactly constitutes a "banana republic" is where we differ. We can each provide reliable sources backing up our views..but at least we can agree that America is not one...by whatever definition one wishes to apply.
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ubermenzch



Joined: 09 Jun 2008
Location: bundang, south korea

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gopher wrote:
Not only is it geographically specific, Urban Myth. It is also historically specific. Central America under United Fruit. And that is it.

This is getting ridiculous. This website often becomes a forum of very ignorant people with attitudes, deciding that they are going to make things up on the spot just because.

Define "banana republic" as you understand it, then, Urban Myth. And please cite your authorities. How do you know what it is? Further, how do you know that those, whoever they may be, who have called Eastern-European nation-states "banana republics" concluded that this was an appropriate use of the metaphor. Anyone can call anything whatever they like. Please do not tell me that you merely take this as evidence that they are not speaking out of their asses...


whenever i am reading and come across the term used to describe a country, i am instantly aware that it can be and often is read in two ways; they are either talking about the actual historically specific central america under united fruit. or they are drawing parallels, a common device used in political and historical writing. it is perhaps unfairly assumed that the readers will have the sophistication to pick up on the difference. but nonetheless if this demand for sophistication is a novelty in gopher's burrows that's too bad. i don't think anybody was making up anything on the spot, something your mind alone seems to have picked up. i am a frequent reader of the economist, for example, and often come across the term used to describe non-central american countries. just leafing through my piles here i've come across an article titled "Banana Union" which details the problems with corruption in the European parliament. when i read that i don't think to myself, "wait a sec, the united fruit company has gotten a hold on the EU?" but perhaps that was my error.
one example of a term that experienced a shift in meaning is "gypsies". it used to be used to describe the romani people, but gradually it came to mean also those who live a similar lifestyle. wouldja look at that?? the meaning sorta changed there a bit didn't it? neato!
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I concede the issue; this is a stupid, pointless conversation with veritable bricks.

I am sure that "banana republic" means whatever you people -- and the journalists you cite -- want it to mean. Congratulations. You have just taken yet another originally meaningful metaphor and diluted it so that it now has universal application -- in "banana republic's" case, not only to the United States today, but also to the European Union. Why not even Antarctica?

I think of G. Orwell's essay, "Politics and the English Language..."

G. Orwell wrote:
The word Fascism has no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable..." In the case of a word like democracy, not only is there no agreed definition, but the attempt to make one is resisted from all sides. It is almost universally felt that when we call a country democratic we are praising it; consequently the defenders of every kind of regime claims that it is a democracy...


You people and your journalists and critics have done and are doing much the same with the concept "banana republic." It, too, has no meaning except in so far as it signifies "something not desirable." And it, too, is almost universally felt that when we call a country "a banana republic" we are criticizing it; consequently the critics of this or that regime claim that it is like "a banana republic" to ensure that we all understand that it is not behaving optimally, at least according to the moral standards of he who lobs the term like a grenade.

So here is to political hyperbole and "banana republics" everywhere...
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ubermenzch



Joined: 09 Jun 2008
Location: bundang, south korea

PostPosted: Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting points, i can see where you're coming from in your opposition to it. i am especially thankful for the video.
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Captain Corea



Joined: 28 Feb 2005
Location: Seoul

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gopher wrote:
I concede the issue; this is a stupid, pointless conversation with veritable bricks.


Wow, is this you admitting that you might actually be wrong? Nah, it's you saying that it's a pointless discussion... right after people have shown you that there are opposing views.

I don't think that anyone here is saying that the term has not been predominantly used in reference to certain parts of the Americas, but it's becoming obvious that it has also been used in other places. Heck, even the dictionary does not define it as you do.

So instead of belittling an argument that you lost, why not just say 'hmph, never heard it used like that.' ?

It's funny, because I'm the one that brought it up in the first place and I did so because I thought it was strange how you included Central America in your definition. Now, it seems that we've come to understand that that is not necessarily part of the definition.

Good to know.
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mises



Joined: 05 Nov 2007
Location: retired

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 6:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Replace banana republic with emerging market, which is probably accurate given lacking infrastructure, low educational outcomes, regulatory capture, incarceration rates etc.

And frankly, which state isn't behaving like an emerging market in this crises? Maybe Germany?
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, America is behaving like an emerging market, but I won't change the title of the thread now because then latercomers will look puzzled when they come across all of Gopher's posts protesting the title.

Hell, I thought the controversial thing would be a comparison to South Korea's chaebol, except that it would be an unfavorable comparison on behalf of the US because South Korea actually cleaned up its act after IMF intervention.

However, the economy is outside of Gopher's specialty so he's going to rant about an inexact reference into his field of study. Ya-Ta was right, I should have anticipated this, but of course I saw the author use the term Banana Republic, so I adopted it for the title.
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You may have been right to do so, Kuros. It appears that "banana republics" have been with us for a long time in human history. This professor, in fact, once read a paper he titled

"The Roman Empire: A Banana Republic?"

I imagine you can make anything you want into a banana republic as everything seems to be one.

Congratulations on your sharp, poignant thinking on this. You have joined those who reason and talk like this. I am glad you brought up Germany, Mises...
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gopher wrote:

Congratulations on your sharp, poignant thinking on this. You have joined those who reason and talk like this.


Frankly, Gopher, what you've really proven is that you're unable to meet the arguments on the merits. Usually with the conspiracy theorists, you meet their arguments, refute them, and then mock them and assail them once they hold onto them.

Note that I don't care what semantics are used. I'm ready to change the title, I just don't want to embarass you. The point is that the US government is unable to act in its own interests when those interests oppose the financial institutions' conception of their interests.
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I could not care less about the argument and the usual economics doomsday politics you are peddling in this thread. I take issue with the utterly ignorant misuse of "banana republic" -- defended by those who can only cite others who misuse it. Yes, I laugh at that.

As far as the allegation you want to advance here, I disagree. We have been here before in American history. These things come and go in cycles. America is a fluid place of competing, contesting interests. We have not ever seen a regime change since the Federalists wrote the constitution, and we have peacefully transferred power from civilian govt to civilian govt for over two hundred years. How many of your banana republics or any standing republic for that matter can say that?

And who are you to assert you know what the United States's "own interests" as opposed to "the financial institutions' conception of their interests" are, as if the latter represented something alien to American history and politics...?

Do you know how often this "shameful allegation" appears in the historical literature re: the United States? I would start citing titles. But I do not want to embarrass you, either. It is as old as K. Marx, Kuros. Especially the "shame" tactics. And, frankly, it bores me.
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Kuros



Joined: 27 Apr 2004

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gopher wrote:
I could not care less about the argument and the usual economics doomsday politics you are peddling in this thread. I take issue with the utterly ignorant misuse of "banana republic" -- defended by those who can only cite others who misuse it. Yes, I laugh at that.

As far as the allegation you want to advance here, I disagree. We have been here before in American history. These things come and go in cycles. America is a fluid place of competing, contesting interests. And who are you to assert you know what the United States's "own interests" as opposed to "the financial institutions' conception of their interests" are, as if the latter represented something alien to American history and politics...?

Do you know how often this "shameful allegation" appears in the historical literature re: the United States? I would start citing titles. But I do not want to embarrass you, either. It is as old as K. Marx, Kuros. Especially the "shame" tactics. And, frankly, it bores me.


This has nothing to do with Marx. I'm not asserting a philosophy of materialist dialectic propelling a proletariat to bring about an inevitable New World Order. I understand why you want to brand Marx's pathetic dreams onto this article, but it won't work.

I'm debating the wisdom of public policy. Bush-Obama has overturned the prior wisdom of "Sunlight provides the best disinfectant." They fear sunlight will damage the economy, because they fear sunlight will damage the financial industry, and they fear the financial industry is the economy.

Bush-Obama discerns the financial economy is the American economy. And its true that much of America's economic "growth" in the past has been predicated within the financial industry's expansion.

[sarcasm on] But how dare I debate the wisdom of the policy! I must be a conspiracy theorist, (even though I allege no hidden cabal and characterize something that is completely empirically testable and provable) simply because I might have used a term that, I guess, implies allegation-driven discourse. [sarcasm off]
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Gopher



Joined: 04 Jun 2005

PostPosted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

K. Marx wrote:
...the bourgeoisie has at last, since the establishment of Modern Industry and of the world market, conquered for itself, in the modern representative state, exclusive political sway. The executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.


Kuros wrote:
The point is that the US government is unable to act in its own interests when those interests oppose the financial institutions' conception of their interests.


And leftist historians of American history have been complaining about America along these lines since at least as early as the Vietnam era.

Historian John Lauritz Larson decided he had become disillusioned with the founding fathers as usurpers of American democracy, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, since the former lobbied for and then approved as president a public-works program that would benefit his state and his own landholdings first. See J. Larson, Internal Improvement: National Public Works and the Promise of Popular Government in the Early United States...

As I said, I am very familiar with the critique you repeat here.

Kuros: whether it is from the Atlantic's contributors or Mises, here, you seem to have assigned these critics, with this slant, and on this agenda, primacy of place in your thinking. Why?


Last edited by Gopher on Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:14 am; edited 1 time in total
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