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Samizdata quote of the day

I find it very likely that most future historians will put the date of the real beginning of the collapse of the current political and geopolitical order right here, right now, at the US withdrawal from Afghanistan. Just as with any other big historical process, however, many others will point out that the seeds of the collapse were sown much farther back, and that a case can be made for several other dates, or perhaps no specific date at all. This is how we modern people look at the fall of the french ancien regime, after all. Still, it is quite obvious that the epoch of the liberal technocrat is now over. The bell has well and truly tolled for mankind’s belief in their ability to do anything else than enrich themselves and ruin things for everyone else.

How long it will take for their institutions to disappear, or before they end up toppled by popular discontent and revolution, no one can know. But at this point, I think most people on some level now understand that it really is only a matter of time.

Malcom Kyeyune (who is a strange sort of Marxist btw)

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • It ain’t a milestone. Abandoning Saigon was a milestone, the latest Afghan debacle is just a checkpoint in the decline. A mark on the map saying “You are here”.

  • Patrick

    The political managerial class we live under in the west has proved rather definitively that it cannot manage. And what’s more, that it cares nothing for our liberty or opinions – only it’s own continued grip on the levers and rewards of power. I think what the chaos of withdrawal from Afghanistan has done is to pull back the final curtain. Expose these empty tools as naked emperors. Politicians are held in wide contempt. I hope something better comes forward. But I’m not optimistic – they have too strong a grip on too much of our world. The media, education, academia, the courts, the military, the civil service, the charities, the RNLI, etc, etc, ad fucking nauseam. There is much work to do and little will to do it.

  • Paul Marks

    If one is talking about the start of the decline of liberty, then liberty (in the West) has been in decline for about 150 years – the state has been on the rise (even as a proportion of society) since the start of the 1870s.

    However, one could still make the argument that life was getting better and society was strong – after all as late as 1960 the American government (Federal. State and local) was only about 25% of society (if that). And the vast majority of people lived in stable families and both religious and secular associations (mutual aid and so on) were strong – this was also true in the United Kingdom and other Western nations. The decline of Civil Society, as such, only became really noticeable in the 1960s.

    In the United States of 1960 there were no “Food Stamps”, or “right to sleep on the streets” (try that in Russia or China, see what happens to you – but in America in the 1960s the courts, in line with their new ideology, got rid of centuries of vagrancy laws, now left complains about the very “homelessness” that they created), and any company (or rich individual) could pay for a television show and have editorial control over it – the Kennedy Administration (FCC) concentrated all power in the hands of a handful of people at ABC, CBS and NBC (using Orwellian language about “creative freedom” whilst giving all entertainment shows to a certain point of view), the Kennedy Administration also used the IRS (the income tax people) as a political weapon – trying to shut down opposition, that was not the case in 1960. However, the actions of the Kennedy Administration (1961 onwards) were mild compared to today.

    As for relative industrial might – the United States stopped being “Number One!” in 2010 – fools, obsessed with “GDP” (consumption), did not even notice that China had overtaken the United States in manufacturing in 2010 – just as the United States had overtaken Britain in 1890 (the “American century”, which actually lasted a bit over a century, ended in 2010).

    Military might, in the end, is a reflection of industrial power – so China will, eventually, be vastly stronger militarily than the United States.

    There is also the “Woke” factor – I “bang on” about Frankfurt School Marxism because it is important. The Frankfurt School Marxists (the “Woke” the “Social Justice Warriors” who control just about everything in the modern West) have added stuff to Marxism that is NOT there in the works of Marx and Engels – stuff about race (their obsession with certain races that Dr Marx himself had no time for at all – indeed considered subhuman), and “gender”, and various sexual practices and sexual mutilations (again Karl Marx and Frederick Engels would have nothing but contempt for all this).

    The military such Frankfurt School Marxist policies will produce (see the policies of the Biden/Harris Administration – which is saturated with the “Woke” version of Marxism) will be no match for the warriors of Islam, let alone for the People’s Republic of China – but then these are NOT the targets of the new Frankfurt School Marxist American military (with its cartoon characters with “two mothers”), its target is DOMESTIC.

    The Biden/Harris Administration (the product of the massive election fraud of November 2020) has made it very clear that the new military (purged of “reactionary” elements) is about crushing domestic dissent.

    Will the Corporate State regime be toppled? Both Classical (as opposed to Frankfurt School) Marxists, and Conservatives and Classical Liberals HOPE so – we have a unusual alliance on this.

    We may agree on nothing else – but we all want the Frankfurt School trash (with their Credit Bubble economics and their perverted cultural practices) OUT.

    Joseph Stalin (a Classical Marxist) would have killed me (indeed he would have killed everyone associated with this site) – but I can tell you how he would have felt if he had heard “mathematics is racist”, or observed the “Woke” doctrines of the new American military.

    “Uncle Joe” would have got Joseph Biden and hung him from a meat hook shoved into Mr Biden’s throat. Ditto with the rest of the Corporate State establishment – as society collapses all around them.

    I am most certainly NOT saying I approve of such terrible conduct by Joseph Stalin – certainly not. Or what Mr Putin or “Winnie the Pooh” in China would do to the degenerate Western elite (with their pathetic, Frankfurt School, cultural doctrines and their insane money-from-NOTHING).

    This Corporate State, Credit Money Bubble, System will collapse – that is certain.

    The question is – what will replace it?

    Classical Marxists, Classical Liberals (libertarians), and Followers of Islam, all have their own ideas about what will replace the present diseased and collapsing system – but one thing is indeed certain, the present mess is going to go (and not just in the United States).

  • Stonyground

    “The bell has well and truly tolled for mankind’s belief in their ability to do anything else than enrich themselves and ruin things for everyone else.”

    Mankind? This statement seems to be true of the politicians, but why include the rest of us? I certainly don’t behave that way, nor do the people that I know.

  • vicki james

    then liberty (in the West) has been in decline for about 150 years

    Yes, the state is way too big and powerful, but as a woman, the fact I can vote and own property in my own right (without losing it if I get married) means I don’t look back 150 years and see some golden age of liberty. I realised “recentism” is a thing but seriously, get a grip.

  • Paul Marks


    Capturing (rather than killing) enemies – and then letting-them-go (letting them lead warriors in battle again).

    And no alternative philosophy on offer to the Islamic philosophy that had dominated the area for more than a thousand years. “You are misinterpreting Islam” is not very impressive when it is from Mr Bush and Mr Blair – the Taliban could reply (quite understandably) “how are you Islamic scholars?”

    I doubt the People’s Republic of China was impressed, by the American lack of seriousness. The CCP regime in China has no problem with culturally converting or physically exterminating population groups that get in the way of its plans. And it certainly does not believe that “all cultures are equal” or that “mathematics is racist”.

    Mao said long ago that America was a “Paper Tiger” – because America had the technical means to win wars but not the WILL to do so. As President Trump said “I could win the war, but I would have to kill ten million people – I can not do that”. “Winnie the Pooh” was amused – because he can, he has no problem with doing that at all (if he needs to). There would be no protest in China (the media and the education system would not report it) – and the history books would soon record that the population group had never existed and that the new land “had always been part of China”.

    Mao did not need ESP to know that America was a “Paper Tiger” – he could just observe Vietnam and so on.

    The crawling of the pathetic President Nixon before Mao, just confirmed to Mao that American “conservatives” (RINOs) were as pathetic as American “liberals” (Fabians such as President Johnson).

    Mao was the largest scale mass murderer in human history – and “conservatives” such as Nixon and Heath crawled before him and licked his human blood covered boots.

    The West was already spiritually dead.

  • Paul Marks

    I have got a “awaiting moderation” on one comment – I must have clicked the wrong thing by mistake.

    However, Vicki Jones, has replied to me.

    It is true that in some areas the state has been on the rise for MORE than 150 years – for example the German lands (where the war of 1866 was a disaster for liberty, in Hanover and so on – and taxes were on the rise in Prussia from 1861), and the Italian lands – where “Italian unification” was really the conquest of relatively lower taxed areas by relatively high taxed Piedmont – and led to language persecution (just as German “unification” led to religious persecution) and to such things as conscription in Sicily.

    I was thinking really of Britain and France – where the rise of the state (relative to society) can be dated to about 1870. I failed to remember that in other areas of the world liberty was already in decline – I apologise for my oversight.

    In Japan the old system (with its restrictions) was overthrown in 1868 – but new things emerged in the 1870s. The mass state education system (designed to make the population aggressive servants of the state) and the system of mass military conscription. All this cost a lot of money – and peasants who could not afford the new taxes were (un officially) told to sell their daughters to brothels.

    In Brazil liberty peaked as late as the 1880s – with the final end of slavery.

    So it is really a matter of where you are talking about – I oversimplified, and I am sorry about that.

    However, it is true that in the Western World society was (or at least appeared to be) strong as late as 1960 – there was little open sign of decline in society itself till the 1960s. Again it depends where you were – different nations have different histories.

    Russia and China are vastly better places today than they were in 1960. So is all of Eastern Europe.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way I did not answer with one aspect of vicki james’s reply.

    Do I support the Married Woman’s Property Act – yes I do. I hope that it is clear.

    I will also answer a question vicki james did NOT ask – but someone else might.

    Do I support the legalisation of homosexual acts?

    Yes I do – again I hope that is clear. Not that this a female thing (lesbian acts never were illegal), but someone might ask the question anyway.

    I do not believe that one can, or should, deal with such matters via the criminal law.

    “Of one thing I am certain, it is not by the state that the morality of the people will be improved”.

    Alas – I am old, I can not remember where Gladstone said that. But I hope I have got the wording about right.

  • Jim

    Surely the first stone to fall out of the arch of US world hegemony was the decision by Richard Nixon 50 years ago this month to close the Gold Window? That was an admission that it was in effect broke, in the terms of the world currency system it had itself created only 25 years previously, and would in future rely on financial slight of hand to finance itself.

  • Paul Marks

    Jim – Richard Nixon was the messenger boy.

    The Dollar was not worth one 35th of an ounce of gold (35 Dollars to an ounce of gold). When Franklin Roosevelt declared it was – he was LYING.

    Why do you think that Franklin Roosevelt in 1933 tore up the gold clauses of contracts (in defiance of the Constitution – but with the help of five corrupt Supreme Court Justices in 1935) – he did that because neither the banker filth nor the government had the gold to back their paper Dollars.

    They could admit that – or they could steal people’s gold (which still would not give them enough) and rip up all contracts – private and public. They choose option number two. The bankers also had a “bank holiday” – one of their “suspensions of cash payments” (hence banker FILTH).

    The Bretton Woods system (agreed at the end of World War II) only lasted as long as foreign governments did not ask for physical gold (private people were not allowed to ask for gold – they had been robbed).

    When governments started to ask for the gold Nixon had-to “close the gold window” – because the American government did not have that gold.

    The honest thing to do would have been to divide the amount of gold by the number of Dollars and say “we will not give you an ounce of gold for 35 Dollars – but we will will give you an ounce of gold for 35 thousand Dollars [or whatever tiny scrap of gold the paper Dollar was actually worth]”.

    Instead President Nixon choose to be a crook – but he was no more of a crook that all the rest of them.

    Remember the Credit Bubble economy of the late 1920s (the Benjamin Strong bubble) was created under the “Gold Standard”.

    What is that word “standard” for?

    It is there because the money is not really gold – they are pretending it is.

    A bit like the modern Western gold markets – where there is a lot selling of “gold” that does-not-exist.

    If you can not physically touch your gold – you have no gold.

    And if someone tries to sell you gold – ask to see it before you buy it.

    The same with anything else (any commodity – indeed anything at all) – most of the markets are “complex” (the modern word for crooked).

    For example, they used to sell “mortgage backed securities” – a “mortgage” is someone borrowing money to buy property (normally a home).

    Obvious questions would be “can see this property” (to see what it might be worth if it had to be sold – if the borrower did not pay the mortgage) and “what sort of person is this – are they trustworthy, are they going to pay the money back?”

    Asking these sorts of questions would get you looked at as if you were totally insane – these were “financial products” you see.

    We live in a world of “financial products” – many TRILLIONS of them (at least in theory), which have very little connection to reality.

    It might not have been as bad in 1971 – but it was rather bad even then.

    Now it is totally insane – a vast bubble economy, dependent on endless funny money from the government backed Central Banks.

    So YES Jim – Richard Nixon should have (like Sampson) brought the whole house of evil crashing down – but he was not that sort of man.

    Instead he bought them another 50 years – and they have done terrible, truly terrible, things in that 50 years.

    When the house of evil (the Credit Bubble economy) finally collapses (and it will) it will be many times worse than a collapse in 1971 would have been. That is the true cost of the last 50 years – and it why I say they have done terrible things, making the position so many times worse than it was in 1971.

  • Paul Marks and Vicki James, another thing to note about 150 years ago – 1870 – is that we were then really just getting into gear fighting Arab slavery (I think the blockade of Zanzibar was around 1870), had not yet the western medicine to survive any attempt to reduce slavery within sub-Saharan Africa, and while they were become a lot rarer than black, white slaves were still offered for sale in their thousands in the markets of Egypt. We face some problems that grew fairly steadily from small beginnings around then, but we have others – the loss of free speech for example – where the current reversal is in our own lifetimes, and others where the trend fluctuates. In the last 150 years, whenever the west is confident, slavery has declined; whenever the west has lost its morale, slavery has returned – hugely under Stalin and Hitler in the 20th century, and more slowly but sinisterly in China and parts of the Arab world today.

    Voting (or at least, having votes honestly counted) and private property (or at least, having control of one’s own) are also under increased threat.

  • bobby b

    “I find it very likely that most future historians will put the date of the real beginning of the collapse of the current political and geopolitical order right here, right now, at the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

    I just don’t see this. We’ve needed to be out of Afghanistan for years – everyone knew this, and this was the plan. The only reason it’s now a crisis is because of the complete lack of competence displayed in how we did it. Everyone involved ought to be looking for other work.

    But we announced no new American policy or rule or philosophy in doing so, we didn’t change sides in any way – we just did a horridly stupid withdrawal.

    And, as to people looking at the US as some now-lousy ally – we’re as lousy as we were a month ago. The biggest factor here is the Prez and his top leaders (whom I hope no one will ever depend upon again.) They let down all of our allies in their stupidity – but it’s more of a personnel failure than a failure of the nation. Biden will be replaced. I think the country will survive him just fine, and so I see no real change in global relationships.

  • bobby b (August 20, 2021 at 7:19 pm), I entirely agree it is in the method(lessness) of Biden’s withdrawal that the disaster for the US, and perceptions of it, overwhelmingly lies. But that has consequences for your remarks.

    as to people looking at the US as some now-lousy ally – we’re as lousy as we were a month ago.

    It cuts both ways to say that, in a sense, the French were as lousy an ally at the end of June 1940 as they were at the start of May (save that many options had been lost; they were less able physically to reverse the fall of France than the US would be to change course and retake Kabul). Four years later, the reviving French army under de Gaulle made a useful if prickly ally in the final defeat of Germany.

    For the matter of that, the British Empire’s punitive return trip to Afghanistan impressed the locals very much more than our ignominious withdrawal from our first visit. The handling of the defeat-signifying Russian withdrawal 32 years ago nevertheless compares very favourably to Biden’s as do (all, I think) Britain’s later ones, but I can understand why Parliament, in its justly angry condemnation of Biden, did not (that I noticed) mention our own first experience of departing the country almost 180 years ago.

    The biggest factor here is the Prez and his top leaders

    Once things started unravelling, the biggest factor in the fall of France was who was in change of the French military machine – not de Gaulle because the desperate French prime minister had made him a cabinet minister (this had huge consequences later but removed him from combat at the time). While Biden, Kamala and their viewpoint remain at the top, the writing will remain on the wall. Whether it remains there till it is no longer prophecy but history is for the future to tell – but at current levels of incompetence not much of the future would be needed.

    it’s more of a personnel failure than a failure of the nation

    True, but through the power and prestige of the presidency he stole, Biden can make it the failure of the nation. One of the things noticeable after Munich and after May 1940 was how quickly the weaker people and countries scrambled to realign with Hitler. Such events mean the loss of power exceeds the overt loss of the political or military defeat.

  • NickM

    bobby b,
    We should never have been “in” Afghanistan in the first place. Special forces to take out bin Laden very quickly and then take the Lt Ripley option. Simples. “Nation building” might have worked in a few places but Afghanistan is, was and always shall be a titanic shit-hole.

  • AFT


    I was a bit puzzled by that sentence too, until I realised that ‘their’ is not referring back to ‘mankind’ but to ‘liberal technocrat[s]’. In other words, it’s the rest of us who have lost our belief in that specific group’s ability to achieve what it claims to want to achieve. It’s a badly-written sentence.