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THE WEST – Episode 4

Well worth your time…

11 comments to THE WEST – Episode 4

  • Paul Marks

    Yes indeed – well worth watching.

  • Paul Marks

    One can argue over some aspects – for example patents and copyrights (perhaps a good idea when first created) have got totally out of control in the modern West, with Corporations buying up copyrights not to protect books, plays (and now) films and television shows, but to destroy the story and prevent anyone else creating things that are true to the spirit of the original stories, and patents lasting for an absurd length of time and being applied to things that were really invented by other people (there is a whole town in Texas whose “industry” is enforcing patents for corporations – corporations that did not create what the court there pretends they did) and anything not patented (such as medical treatments for Covid) attacked and de facto banned by government officials and corporate managers (but I repeat myself- as major Western nations are, basically, Corporate State “public-private partnerships” now).

    The Netherlands in the 19th century did without patents and copyrights – which is, perhaps, going too far the other way. But certainly the present IP position in the West is weakness (trying to pretend that bits of paper can save industries – industries that are no longer low cost in the West, including the “creative industries”) – and rising powers, such as China, laugh at it (they know that production moves to where it is least expensive to produce – and no bits of paper, patents and copyrights, are going to stop that happening).

    Still any civilisation becomes corrupted over time. Let us remember the good things that Western Civilisation achieved in its prime – and this series is good for that.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I finally got around to finish watching episodes 1 to 3.
    Episode 3 contained perhaps the most (important) things that i did not know before, but i shall watch the whole series through when it’s completed.

  • Paul Marks

    Can Western Civilisation be restored, or is its decline going to continue till it becomes collapse?

    That is the great question – and the first step to dealing with the decline of basic Western principles is to understand how long it is going on. For example, the rise of the state (in both size, the proportion of the economy, and scope, regulations) goes back at least one and a half centuries in most Western countries.

    But there is also the intellectual decline – for example in the 17th century it was well understood that the Common Lawyers in England were the great enemies of state absolutists such as Thomas Hobbes, that it was the Common Lawyers (from Chief Justice Coke, he of the case of Dr Bonham, on down) who argued that neither the King or Parliament (not one ruler or a group of them) could just declare anything they felt like “law” – that there were basic principles that governed what was lawful and what was not. Indeed Thomas Hobbes himself understood that the lawyers and legal writers were his great enemies- hence his “A dialogue between a philosopher and a student of the common laws of England” (with Mr Hobbes being the “philosopher” and, as he is writing the book, making sure that he wins the debate with the made up student).

    But by the 19th century (indeed even reaching back into 18th century – with the writings of Sir William Blackstone and his Divine Right of Parliament which so disgusted the Founding Fathers of the United States Constitution) it became the normal position that the state could do anything it liked – Maitland (perhaps the most well known legal writer in Victorian Britain) even praises Hobbes by name.

    In short the intellectual collapse is well under way BEFORE the rise of the state (in both size and scope) and it is the intellectual collapse that leads to the other evils – in Britain and other lands.

    One of the best known liberal writers in Victorian Britain was Walter Bagehot (third editor of the Economist magazine – but, in his day, better known for his books) – what does he say in his “classic” work “The English Constitution” (1868) where is his program for rolling back the state?

    There is no program for rolling back the state to be found there (or in other books by most liberal writers of the late Victorian Age) – instead we get “we should concede whatever is safe to concede” in terms of public services and benefits for the people – it should not go too-far (too far being a threat to all the wealth of Mr Bagehot and his associates), but it is O.K. of the state expands in a more gradual way (so any crises will come many decades after Mr Bagehot and his associates are long dead – as Mr Keynes was to say in the 20th century “in the long run we are all dead”) – under the wise guidance of experts like himself, and (after all) if bankers deserve bailouts (and Mr Bagehot and his associates were firm supporters of corporate welfare in this field) it is not consistent to deny the poor help from the state.

    Intellectual bankruptcy – not now, but when liberty was at its zenith (when the state was at its smallest), some one and half centuries ago.

    Yes some people did all they could to fight the intellectual and (later) political decay -for example there is Herbert Spencer’s “Man Versus The State” (1884) and such writers as Isobel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane and Ayn Rand in the 20th century United States.

    But it is has been very much “fighting the long defeat” (Tolkien) – in Britain, France, the United States, the Netherlands, indeed where ever one looks. The state as grown and grown and grown everywhere – even money is now just the whims of the state (not a physical commodity of any sort) and the institutionally corrupt bankers and corporations.

    How to win? How to actually roll things back?

    Sadly it is not a matter of casting an evil ring of power into Mount Doom. Unless the fiat money (the lights on the computer screens – for that is all it is now) is that evil ring of power – which enables out of control government spending and regulations (handing over the economy and society to a handful of “Woke” international corporations) to endlessly grow – twisting and corrupting society.

    Frodo did not choose to cast the One Ring into the volcano – he failed when put to the test (as we all tend to fail), yet “by chance – if chance you call it” the One Ring did end up being destroyed.

    Perhaps there is hope for Western Civilisation.

  • David Roberts

    I have just purchased but not yet read SUPERABUNDANCE BY Tupy and Pooley. This book, purportedly, makes the case, among other things, for an optimistic future for both the West and the World in general. Anyone else read it?

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT The Night Watch, it is a bit messy for my taste.
    My fav Rembrandt is De Staalmeesters; one of the very few paintings that made an impression on me at first sight. The impression was that, if i had a bag with tens of thousands of euros (or dollars, or pounds) in cash or gold, i would feel safe in leaving it with such people while going to the men’s room.

    Other than that, i tend to favor Vermeer over Rembrandt.
    I don’t know much about art (unlike my cousin, an art historian) but i know what i like.

  • Rob Fisher

    I’ve watched two of these; I need to catch up with the rest. The episode about Christianity was more interesting than I expected. The one about invention I expect to be fascinating.

  • Paul Marks

    David Roberts – no I have not read the book. However, the present system is not going to lead to superabundance – the present system (which is nothing to do with traditional Western principles – we have departed so far from Western principles that calling us the West does not really make much sense anymore) is not going to survive – it is going to go.

    The question is – will there be a new Dark Age, or will there be tyrannical rule by the People’s Republic of China Communist Party Dictatorship, or will Western principles of limited government and individual rights be rediscovered?

    I hope it is the third alternative.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – agreed.

    I feel the same when looking at the painting.

  • sch

    Somewhat different, but an old series called “Connections” by James Burke, now all on youtube, has held up pretty well and is quite interesting.
    A variant “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell remarks on how tech development is somewhat peculiar to the milieu in which it occurs, and differing milieus
    would never see the flowering of that development.

  • Paul Marks

    sch – yes I remember “Connections” by Mr Burke, it was an excellent series.