Commentary by Oleksandr Shepotylo
Source: Ukrainian Observer
Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift is one of my favorite books. It has many allusions to the political situation in 18th century Europe described in a genre of political satire. One of the major themes in the book is the so-called egg dispute between the Lilliputians who preferred cracking open their soft-boiled eggs from the little end, and Blefuscans who preferred cracking the big end.
Deep ideological differences between Big-Enders and Little-Enders even led the countries into war against each other. Lilliputians and Blefuscans could have benefited greatly by ending the war and engaging in free trade to their mutual benefit.
However, the issue that was irrelevant for economic development plagued their relationships and considerably reduced potential for economic growth and prosperity. The seemingly ridiculous and artificial example of the egg dispute illustrates a very deep problem faced by many nations over and over again: ideological differences often prevent political parties from reaching a consensus over mutually beneficial economic policies.
By using this example, Jonathan Swift satirized the animosity between Catholics and Protestants to illustrate how ‘trivial’ matters often spoiled the relationships between two nations – England and France – and slowed down their economic development.
My task here is to explain how economists view this problem and how, in my opinion, the current political and economic situation in Ukraine is related to the egg dispute.