Here comes an interesting term that many confuse with autarchism but is completely different, meaning self-sufficiency, while autarchism means self-government. An interesting article examines this multi faceted term further than it's economic interpretation (http://www.mccarthy,cx/WorldSystem/autarky.htm). In wikipedia also, one can find 14 examples of states' autarky manifested in different historical periods. The question is if now after 20 years of excessive globalisation policy resulting to a mess of national debts , autarky in a national scale could serve as a possible remedy of this condaminated illness of debts tending to be epidemic. The question is linked also to the conception of what modern democracy can be since dictatorships have more possibilities to establish autarky such as Rumania's Causesku sometimes surpassing the problems of debts. If autarky needs sacrifices for the average consumer maybe it's final result deserves all the pain. Who could advocate that autarky in it's deeper conception of a needful political and social decision is not democratic ? By an anthropological scope , autarky leads to a closed society where even the communication and exchange of ideas is limited.But ideas can circulate today through the modern media with no cost. Exchange values were always not costy as use values , and this was noticed by Marx , something that nobody denied afterwards.
It should be interesting to have comments on this issue from multiple members of OAC who follow the analogy
3-3-3-1 after today's Keith's statistics ( American, UK and the rest of english speaking countries, non english speaking Europe and the rest of the World). Even under this strange analogy, opinions from ALL categories should be appreciated.
Nikos, could you be a bit clearer about what you are driving at? I would have said, off the top of my head, that OAC is the antithesis of autarky. No one is self-sufficient here, and the major value in the enterprise comes from its globalization, e.g., I, an American living in Japan, can talk with you, a Greek living in Greece.
My initial quest about autarky is just an attempt to inquire how in past even harder times , nations could survive by defining their proper state policies and independencies by limiting depenses and imports and increasing exports, something that seems unlikely or even impossible today.
LImiting imports and increasing imports may sound, rhetorically speaking, like two sides of the same coin. We should, I would argue, consider them separately—but both, however, in relation to questions of scale.
First, on the limiting imports side: Autarky, in this sense, can work in two ways, policies that depend on return to "traditional" ways of life dependent only on local resources. Alternatively, if the "local" is big enough and unexploited resources are available, internally driven growth may be possible.
Both these approaches, however, now confront an issue raised by Stewart Brand in The Media Lab—and before Brand in the popular post-WWI song, "How are you going to keep them down on the farm after they've seen Paree?" In a world in which people from the impoverished south have access to TV and the Internet and can see what they are missing, the politics of autarky become increasingly complicated.
Turning, then, to exports: Export-driven growth depends on having external markets big enough to absorb the exports in question. Here I note a question raised by William Grieder in One World Ready or Not: The Manic Logic of Global Capitalism. In the post-WWII era, countries like Japan and Germany experienced economic miracles by focusing on export-led development. These countries were, however, smaller than their customer of last resort, the United States of America. It's a simple matter of arithmetic. If the population of country A is x, the population of country B is y, and y>=2x. The per capital contribution of A's imports of B's goods is large. Suppose, however, that the relationship is reversed, as it is in the case of China or India versus the OECD. The amount of exports required for China or India to raise standards of living to U.S.A., EU, or Japanese levels, is far larger than than any of these now mature markets can absorb. Thus the pressure now put on both China and India to boost internal consumption.
But these are as Eugene Mendonsa has just pointed out, short-term problems. The ecological consequences of growth to economic parity by China, India, Brazil, then Indonesia and Bangladesh, for example, may render these purely economic considerations moot.
How anthropologists can contribute, qua anthropologists, to the global debates on these issues is far from clear to me. When pointing out miseries in the particular places we study and appealing to Gaia-like notions of global interdependence, we are only adding a few voices to a growing global choir. There is nothing specifically anthropological about either approach. What, specifically, do anthropologists have to contribute?