54 thoughts on “Suicide Of The West”

  1. “And then the Miracle came. “It is impossible to authoritatively answer the question of why” capitalism arose. Maybe “Christianity was a necessary ingredient.” Maybe the scientific revolution was. Maybe the most important factors arose from the “weirdness” of England in the 1700s. ”

    I think the miracle was caused by exploration.
    Exploration is similar to invasion or war.
    But basically it exposure to something new/difference. And in things like world conquest one can’t avoid discovering new things and you have problems overcoming various “enemies” you would encounter.

    Generally war has always been considered an element to cause “economic growth” but I think it’S the exploration part connected to war, which is the real gold that is plundered.

    1. There was nothing new about exploration. It was likely a combination of the rise of science and rationality, combined with English Common Law, plus the invention of coffee, which gave people places to meet and drink and do business in London and Amsterdam without getting drunk.

      1. Which brings to mind this article, at https://cliscep.com/2018/03/31/safety-in-numbers/

        “So I asked one of IEC 61508’s authors to outline the process they’d used to decide how to correlate the approved methods and techniques to the SILs [Safety Integrity Levels]. The story he told me was that he met up with two of his colleagues at a pavement café in Bruges, where they determined themselves to thrash it out. Basically, they just shouted things out and wrote them down, and as the strong Belgian lager flowed, the job just got easier and easier.”

        The producers of the West met in coffee houses, while (or event”whilst”) the regulators met in bars…

      1. capitalism
        an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

        1. Yes. So?

          It’s much more complicated than that and a lot more than mere trading (e.g., contract law, equity, shareholders, legal corporations, etc.). That was all pretty much invented de novo in the late 17th century in northern Europe and England.

        2. It also includes a banking system that allows people to store money safely. The first modern system that I know of was used by the Knights Templar.

          A definition of capitalism includes saving your money so that other people can use it. With the invention of the Federal Reserve System, banks no longer need that money and instead get it from the banks that borrow money directly from the Fed at the discount rate. This is why, with ZIRP and very low rates, the banks are flush with cash and it causes inflation throughout the system–especially housing. This is total market distortion and catastrophic on a real capitalist system, and introduces massive income inequality, because those with first access to credit are unfair winners.

          With this in mind, we can say that capitalism died in 1913 thanks to the Progressive, Wilson.

        3. Andrew, you wrote:

          Weren’t The business people and traders of the ancient world capitalists

          And then you wrote the definition of capitalism:

          an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state.

          Before a few centuries ago, trade and industry was controlled by the state or its actors. This is most evident in the late Bronze age of the Middle East with the city states based on palace economies which were strictly government controlled. But even when there were private-side economic activity it was completely subordinate to the whims of elites and governments.

          For example, over the entirety of the Roman civilization from early kingdom through republic through empire, one’s property and liberty could be seized arbitrarily. Rule of law which protects private property is an important implied characteristic of a capitalist system. You can’t have control of private property, if it can be seized at a whim. That is why capitalism is a new thing. There is all this legal, social, economic, and technological infrastructure for creating and protecting private property that was present before near modern times.

          1. My understanding of the ancient world is different to yours then, I don’t believe the seizure of private property by the state was common during long periods of stability, I think of the bazaars and their equivalents around the world that have been in existence for thousands of years. It was when the bazaars were disrupted by thuggish government that the people became unhappy, so I think that the norm was for governments to respect private property rights.

            So pretty much the same as things are today, economic principles and human nature don’t change, technology and culture do.

    1. I can see what you are getting at as trade, commerce, free markets, ect are very much a part of our humanity. It is a bit like a natural right, like the right to self defense or freedom of speech. But it took conscious action to protect these rights from other human traits that seek to control people. This is where the stuff Rand mentions comes in.

      Why did capitalism arise as it we know it? It was a confluence of ideological innovations.

      1. Why did capitalism arise as it we know it? It was a confluence of ideological innovations.

        I think not so much ideological as technological, the machinery that supports modern capitalism couldn’t exist without technology, keep in mind that the Romans had a basic banking and financial system, it’s just become more sophisticated as advancing technology has allowed it to.

        1. Maybe a bit of both, sure. However, I am not so sure that capitalism couldn’t exist without without some of the technology talked about in the comments. In your comments you seem to allude to various aspects of capitalism existing at different points in time. What are the bare minimum technologies needed?

  2. A chapter on the administrative state shows how the alphabet soup of regulatory agencies, insulated from politics in a way that distorts our constitutional order, contributes to a complexification of life that can especially harm the poor and poorly educated.

    World ends, the poor are hardest hit. Sheesh. Overregulation results in… needless complexification. Forget the ingrained destruction of productivity, the by-design ratchet effect of power concentration (Pournelle’s Iron Law), the normalization of dehumanization. No, overregulation is bad because it makes things too complicated.

    A chapter on populism — including “Trumpian” populism — rightly links it to demagoguery and the erosion of norms.

    Yeah, those two quotes are not separated. Populism is bad because is leads to demagoguery and the erosion of norms. Don’t know for sure if those chapters follow each other in the book but if so that would be rich. We have come to a time of overregulation and an all-powerful administrative state, which just makes things over complicated. And Populism? No, that just leads to demagoguery.

    Western civ is collapsing because the overall concept of democracy, one-person-one-vote, dies when an entire generation has seen nothing but their elected representatives habitually act in ways counter to their very interests. Umm, I voted for you sir, but what you’re doing is not in my best interests. And it isn’t in the interests of my neighbor, who didn’t vote for you. And it isn’t in the interests of my brother-in-law either, who’s in prison and didn’t vote at all.

    Well my most wonderful constituent, it’s all rather complicated. I know it looks like this isn’t beneficial for you, but trust me, it really is.

    But responding to this insanity by resorting to populism? No, that won’t do at all. That will lead to demagoguery, and we absolutely can’t have that.

    Liberal Fascism was a great read, not sure if I’m going to plunk down for this one. Relying heavily on the thoughts of the former Donald McCloskey is not a positive indicator.

    1. One-person-one-vote has been a huge part of the problem, because it allows the left to ‘elect a new people’ through weaponized immigration. It doesn’t matter whether Americans or Britons will vote for them, if they can just import millions of foreigners who will.

      Democrats in America and Labour in the UK would be pretty much unelectable if not for the foreigner vote.

      1. One-person-one-vote has been a huge part of the problem,

        Not in historical terms, historically the problem has been no vote, or votes only for the approved few.

        1. “Not in historical terms”

          Only because mass democracy has never been tried before in history. And it will never be tried again in any group larger than a few dozen people.

          “historically the problem has been no vote, or votes only for the approved few.”

          And yet America was freest when the vote was limited to those with a vested interest in keeping it that way. The great leaps forward in socialism and authoritarianism have happened since the vote was spread to everyone.

          1. And yet America was freest when the vote was limited to those with a vested interest in keeping it that way. The great leaps forward in socialism and authoritarianism have happened since the vote was spread to everyone.

            An astonishingly disconnected from reality comment.

      2. Democracy is 2 wolves and a sheep voting on dinner. And absent cultural or institutional barriers, that’s what elections degenerate into. The problem with imported voters is they lack the cultural qualities that keep a democratically elected government functional. Rule of Law is so essential to preservation of liberty, but in most parts of the world people know only one group ruling over another.

  3. This all sounds a bit like “The end is nigh”. Unlike all you faithless pessimists I’ve great confidence in the free market (the important aspect of capitalism) and have no doubt that various forms of silliness that arise from time to time in opposition to the free market system will collapse under their own weight as they have always done.

      1. Now you’re telescoping together economic systems (market capitalism vs socialism) and political systems (democratic liberalism vs authoritarianism) there are any number of examples of market capitalism being combined with authoritarianism – starting with many examples of slavery, colonialism and moving on to Hitler’s Germany.

          1. Congratulations! You just demonstrated the level of intelligence displayed by people who think that because the official name of North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that that country must be a democracy.

            The fact is that when Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933, he introduced policies aimed at improving the economy. The changes included privatization of state industries. Overall Hitler’s economic philosophy was more pragmatic than anything else, he both wanted power over the nations economic output and the efficiency of capitalism.

          2. In Nazi Germany private ownership of important industries was in name only. The business Must service Party interests or management would be changed. And in a very real pragmatic sense control is ownership, not the name on the deed.

          3. In addition, universal health care was part of the Nazi Party platform. It really was national socialism. The left even agreed, right up to the point that Hitler betrayed Stalin.

          4. And in a very real pragmatic sense control is ownership, not the name on the deed.

            Indeed, but again that situation is a result of the impositions of a political system that is authoritarian, not an economic system.

          5. Maybe you should actually read something about Nazi Germany sometime. Its economy was just the standard cronyism that is typical in socialist economies, and had nothing to do with a free market.

        1. Doesn’t this disprove your statement that these systems collapse under their own weight? They tend to collapse from other people’s weight or their own people rebelling, meaning there is nothing inevitable about losing power. Just because a system doesn’t collapse doesn’t mean it isn’t horrid to begin with.

          1. The collapse under their own weight was a reference to the failings of the economic system of socialism, not the failings of autocratic political systems.

  4. If Instapundit posts this, the comments section will be inundated with Dumb Trumpkin snowflakes howling, “No, no, take it away! Goldberg doesn’t like Trump! I’m melting, I’m melting!”

    1. What would you like Trump to do differently right now?

      What are people like Goldberg doing to stick up for people that are the victims of Democrat’s mob justice?

      1. I’m sure a lot of people have ideas what Trump could be doing differently, but in terms of what meaningful governance he has done, what has he done that is so wrong?

        I completely agree that I don’t see many people, like Goldberg, showing any interest in the lawlessness of the Democrat’s mob. AoS is pointing at this like crazy.

        The Cohen raid is an affront to the Bill of Rights, as well as other stuff like the Broward County interrogation of a kid for being “pro-2nd Amendment” (their words and justification). When the left is openly calling for limiting speech, and doing just that wherever they are able to get away with it, I would expect more ire to be brought against that than whether Trump should use Twitter as an outlet.

  5. “”..plus the invention of coffee,…”

    “The earliest credible evidence of coffee-drinking appears in Yemen in southern Arabia in the middle of the 15th century in Sufi shrines”

    Obviously, coffee is important
    But age of exploration is considered to be:
    “The Age of Discovery, or the Age of Exploration (approximately from the beginning of the 15th century until the end of the 18th century) is an informal and loosely defined term for the period in European history in which extensive overseas exploration emerged as a powerful factor in European culture…”

  6. IMO, Goldberg is locked into his own form of romanticism and too many NeverTrump cheer on the degradation of our government institutions in the hopes of achieving their tribalistic goal or removing Trump through means other than the ballot box.

    The more people talk, or the greater the access to communication, the more differences will become apparent. It doesn’t mean those differences didn’t exist before. The “talk, talk, talk” is necessarily tribalistic, coarse, and offensive to elitist sensabilities. It is all very intrinsic to a free society.

    If the miracle of liberal democratic capitalism survives into the next generation, a share of the credit will be due to the talk, talk, talk of Jonah Goldberg.

    Talking is not doing. Talking isn’t organizing. Talking isn’t legislating. Talking is like diplomacy without the threat of armed conflict, it is only part of the equation. Relying only on talking is like relying only on diplomacy, its romanticism. Taking action to actually protect the things Goldberg values isn’t romantic, it’s messy and like in war (or really anything else in life), sometimes you can’t follow all of your ideals because the people you are dealing with do not hold those ideals and are not playing by the same rules.

    1. I think we’ve just returned to the age of the pamphleteers. A hundred plus years of centralized information has given us the illusion of togetherness. But it never was; it was just one ideology imposed over another. Now that barrier is gone and people are crying outrage.

      1. I agree and this is why there is so much effort to seize control over the internet and mobilize mobs to shut down businesses and get people excommunicated from society for not being sufficiently enthusiastic supporting the continuous progressive revolution.

  7. ““It is impossible to authoritatively answer the question of why” capitalism arose. ”

    The availability of printing presses surely help. Thank Gutenberg.

      1. I think it development of commodities like paper.
        Or magic is the pencil, you buy the wood, the lead, etc to manufacture the pencil, and sell lots of pencils.
        So it’s having the suppliers that allow pencils or whatever product to be made.
        Or there commodities markets selling wool, logs, fish, coal, and people can buy them and do something with them, make a coat, can fish, make pulp, distribute coal to homes, and etc. And have vehicles to ship stuff, and other people buy vehicles to move other stuff.
        Or specialization of mass production of something, rather a person or group, digging clay, making kilns, collecting fuel for kiln, and selling clay pots individual buyers. Or wholesale buying of raw material, wholesale selling finished product (like pencils).
        But can say this comes together in the industrial revolution which related powered mills (water, wind, and coal powered).

        1. I look at a lot of that stuff and notice that it could all exist after the agricultural revolution. What people didn’t have in those days was the ideological stuff. They might have had some but not all of the ideological ingredients.

          1. In technologically primitive societies the majority of the population is focused on producing the basics, as technology becomes more advanced there’s greater wealth because each person can use that technology to multiply their output, we get fewer people involved in agriculture more in industry, with still further technology wealth increases more and the society is able to support a complex service sector, it’s not just about the existence of printing and paper, it’s also about the cost of printing and paper and the cost of the salaries of all those service industry workers to the society.

            When you say “ideological” are you referring to the traditional Christian views around handling money and usury that saw Jews dominating that aspect of capitalism in Europe? If so it’s an interesting point.

  8. Free markets, aka “capitalism”, became possible only when government developed into principles like rule of law and property rights. The largest necessary ingredient was governments not gumming up the works. That happened to a limited degree in the British empire of the 18th Century, but really took off in North America after the colonists rebelled over their rights as citizens not being respected.

    1. All societies have laws. That is not the same as the term, “Rule of Law” in the context of western civilization, although the roots of inspiration to go back to the Greeks.

    1. My experience has been that it’s almost as rare as hens teeth for people challenging a wiki link to provide an alternative and superior source for the information. Almost always it’s either “ha that’s only wiki, wiki can’t be relied on” and then nothing, or else they refute wiki with a link to some opinion piece that has solid no references to back it up, or else if they offer a peer reviewed paper it’s a paper that at least 10 years old and has been challenged or superseded by several more recent papers.

      1. What I’ve seen is that people need to make a quick comeback, scan google, find a Wiki page and say Hah! Gotcha! Sometimes Wiki has good information, sometimes the nuances are lost that can be found in a book. But the most annoying aspect is that people throw the links around as if they suddenly have the authority of an expert. Often, they don’t even quote the Wiki content, they just throw the link and expect others to read it. Not very scholarly.

        And, of course, we know Wikipedia has been hijacked by SJWs.

        1. Personally I prefer it when people supply links, I don’t find reading, or at least a quick look at them, particularly arduous – as you seem to suggest others do with your “expect others to read it”, so I take the opposite approach, what sort of person is too lazy or stubborn to even click on a link to look at information that’s presented against their case? Probably someone who refuses to give reasonable consideration to other perspectives.

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