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Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries


Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries

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    Available in PDF Format | Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing: Accounting for Violence in Developing Countries.pdf | English
    Christoper Cramer(Author)
Why is there so much violence in the developing countries? What does it have to do with economic development? What does it have to do with globalisation? In addressing these and other questions, Christopher Cramer takes a broad comparative approach, from recent wars, insurgencies and violence in Angola, Brazil, and Iraq to the American Civil War, showing how wars have been paid for throughout history. He also compares post-conflict reconstruction efforts in Mozambique and Iraq with how nineteenth-century America and twentieth-century Europe rebuilt their shattered societies and economies. "Civil War is Not a Stupid Thing" takes issue with two common perspectives on violence and war. The first is the liberal interpretation, according to which war is exclusively negative in its effects and peace is easily achieved through democratisation and free trade. In this view, modern liberal market democracies have outgrown violence, and only resort to it in self-defence. The second is a romantic, utopian view of violence. Transposed into political rhetoric, these two views are often directly opposed, as they are nowadays in Iraq and in the 'War on Terror'. Cramer's book forges an alternative way of understanding the role of violence in the transition to capitalism and a global economy.

CHRISTOPHER CRAMER is Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), having previously taught at Cambridge and in Mozambique. His influential article on which this book is based, 'Homo Economicus Goes to War', was published in World Development.

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Book details

  • PDF | 329 pages
  • Christoper Cramer(Author)
  • C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd (2 Aug. 2006)
  • English
  • 3
  • Society, Politics & Philosophy

Review Text

  • By John Fletcher on 20 June 2013

    Christopher Cramer has written a superb book on the nature and causes of violence in developing countries, that goes far beyond the promise of the jokey and perhaps ill-chosen title. It is based firmly on personal research and experience, and along the way it shreds a whole series of neat, glib explanations for conflict, proposing instead a much more sophisticated, contingent, model. The Liberal theory of peace, in particular, is left lying bloodied in the gutter.The latter is not an insignificant point, because, as the author, notes, huge amounts of time and effort have been spent trying to prevent, end, and recover from conflicts, on the basis of liberal (and neoliberal) ideology, whereas there is no proof that this ideology actually works, or even that it explains anything of interest.Quibbles are relatively minor: in a book of such range there are obviously areas of weakness (I wasn't wholly persuaded by the discussion of ethnicity), and the author's expertise in Angola and Mozambique means those countries get perhaps a disproportionate share of attention.I also slightly question whether any model is actually capable of "accounting for violence" given the pervasive confusion over definitions and over even basic statistics.But overall an indispensable book, not just for the specialist but anyone interested in why conflicts happen and why they end.

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