The most evil Belgian of them all
I had always assumed that Belgium's late nineteenth century and hence subsequent twentieth century prosperity was based on this African plunder and slaughter, but, says Bruce Bueno, not so. King Leopold II personally became obscenely wealthy as a result of his African depradations. But Belgium as a whole got rich, on an economic scale far more massive than mere African plunder could possibly explain, because it came to be very well governed, by King Leopold II. In particular, it switched to free trade. King Leopold II reigned from 1865 to his death in 1909. He had, in Belgium, quite a lot of power, but wished he had a lot more. He bitterly resented the constraints he faced. But, these constraints were a fact of life which he had to live with, and he did what he had to do to keep himself firmly in command of what power he had, which was to govern Belgium really quite well. Simply, too many Belgians influenced the decision about whether he should remain King for him to be able to bribe them all in the African manner.
Which nicely makes Bruno Bueno's point. Leopold II, pursuer of ultimate and permanent power whenever and wherever he could find it, was able to let rip in Africa, but not in Belgium. Her was a civilised Belgian ruler not because he liked his fellow Belgians and welcomed their massed and massive influence over him. He hated it. He just did, in Belgium, what he had to do. The environment made the difference.
Countries are governed the way they are, not because the politicians in some countries are intrinsically more greedy and corrupt than they are in other countries, or for that matter because people in different countries differ in their willingness to accept tyranny, but because different countries differ in the constraints they place upon rulers.