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PostRemembering Bill Ratliff (Bienvenido Macario, USA, 04/15/14 5:09 pm)
Other than meeting him briefly in 2001, I had practically no personal interaction with William Ratliff, but it was his WAIS post of March 21, 2011 that had the greatest impact, for it helped me understand and put into context the grieving process I was going through after the death of my wife.
First published in the Christian Science Monitor, Bill's op-ed zeroed in on the fact that development of these countries all started under a wise authoritarian rule. Yet he stressed the "lingering negative cultural values" as the main culprit for China and Vietnam's failure to make the economic leap typical of their tiger-nation neighbors. It was obvious to us Filipinos that the same applies to the Philippines, even though Bill didn't mention the Philippines specifically.
Could this apply to the problems of Latin America that Richard Hancock mentioned in his recent post of April 14th?
I believe so.
It was only after I read William Ratliff's post that I realize how different the cultural values my late wife and I have. I was greatly mistaken to think that all Christians have the same understanding and appreciation of Jesus Christ's two greatest commandments. Or that religion, especially Christianity, would trump culture and tradition.
After the death of Gene Franklin, whom I had hoped to meet in person at a WAIS conference [Gene passed away in August 2012--JE], I have stopped looking forward to whom I will meet at the next WAIS conference.
I offer my condolences to Bill's wife and family.
Excerpt from Bill's post: "[The Asian Tiger] countries share a profound, centuries-old link to traditional Chinese culture that has been adapted to the goals of individual nations.
"The tigers are the nations that during the past half century leaped over the rest of the so-called developing countries to join the already developed world, a process they began under wise authoritarian leadership. Even Sinic China and Vietnam have not made that leap despite extraordinary economic growth, in large part because of lingering negative cultural values.
"Nor has any country in Africa or the Middle East made the leap, excepting Israel. Nor has any country in Latin America, as Costa Rican Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias explains in the January/February issue of Foreign Affairs."
JE comments: One of many fitting tributes to Bill Ratliff would be a discussion of the concept he mentions above: wise authoritarian leadership. I was reminded again last week in Mexico that this notion applies to the Porfirio Díaz "presidency," 1876-1910, which ended in Revolution, but was also responsible for the industrialization and urbanization of the country. Many Mexicans idealize the "Porfiriato" as a time of positivist Order and Progress, but the poorest citizens scarcely benefited from these changes.
Wise authoritarian leadership: an ideal or an oxymoron? Could we cite places like Singapore as present-day examples?