We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day – Europe’s relative decline edition

“The EU, by contrast, is in danger of becoming the left-behind continent, with its economy stuck in the mud, its corporate sector sluggish and its polity adrift. In the two decades since 2004, US productivity growth as measured by output per hour worked has been more than double that of the Eurozone. Whereas Eurozone productivity has, at best, flatlined since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, US productivity has risen by more than 6%. The EU bureaucracy is preoccupied with being a regulatory superpower, treating access to its consumers as one of its main competitive advantages. But this obsession with regulation is killing the animal spirits that drive capitalist growth. Europe is terrified that a Trump victory in the November presidential election will produce instability. It should also worry that it will produce a mixture of deregulation and tax-cutting in the US, similar to Trump’s first two years, which will suck even more capital and talent from the EU to the US.”

Adrian Wooldridge, Bloomberg ($). Wooldridge’s book on the history of American capitalism, co-authored with Alan Greenspan (who is probably about 1,000 years’ old by now), is well worth a read. The chapters on agricultural innovation struck me as particularly good, and often neglected by journalists who find farming boring. The book generally debunks myths about Big Business and anti-trust, as well.

16 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – Europe’s relative decline edition

  • Paul Marks

    As a share of world population Europe has been in decline since the First World War. Although it is only in recent years that many European nations have seen the fertility rate fall below two – thus meaning that the future is genocide– the death of historic nations (as it now is in America as well – sadly the low American fertility rate is one of the few honest statistics, I wish it were not).

    As for liberty – statism has been on the rise (liberty on the decline) in most of Europe since the late 19th century. As Ludwig Von Mises (born 1881) put it – “I wanted to be a reformer – but I became an historian of decline”.

    Indeed the “unification” of the German and Italian lands (mistakenly supported by most liberals) was really relatively high tax Piedmont and Prussia conquering relatively lower taxed lands, it was not likely to turn out well for liberty – and it did not turn out well for liberty.

    As for the United States – one problem is that American statistics, for example on inflation, are unreliable (to put the matter mildly), so the idea that the American economy is doing well is based on a dodgy foundation.

    If one communicates with ordinary Americans (and I do) they are finding it harder and harder to get by, they are getting poorer and poorer – whilst the media (with the understated inflation numbers) pretend that Americans are doing well

    There is intense anger – but it is impotent anger, as there is nothing ordinary Americans can do.

    As for Europeans – each nation is different. The Italian government is blackmailed by the need for European Union funding, in Germany dissent is basically illegal (which it is not in Italy), and on and on – each European nation has to be considered individually, comparing “Europe” with “America” is a bit much.

    The nearest conservative government, of a reasonably sized nation (rather than a tiny place such as Liechtenstein) to Britain is Hungary (almost needless to say, the United Kingdom does not have a Conservative government and has not since at least 1990 – individual ministers may be Conservatives, but they do NOT control the bureaucracy or the courts) – although Western intelligence agencies and vast Corporations (the Corporations and the intelligence services having much the same agenda – whether it be called DEI, SEG, or some other name) clearly plan to destablise Hungary – as they did Poland.

    As for American capitalism – the United States has been been moving away from Capitalism (from a limited government, free market place, with honest money and honest finance) since at least 1913 – America was never a pure free market, but even as late as 1912 it was BASICALLY a free market capitalist society.

    Indeed I would go further – I would argue that as late as the 1980s America was still a basically (basically) decent society, BlackRock and so on (with their far left agenda) did NOT yet control the American economy. The fertility rate was above 2 (Americans were not dying out – as, like Europeans, they are dying out now). And American government statistics were basically (basically) honest.

    Now almost everything is rigged – even historic temperature figures are changed (“adjusted” – i.e. rigged).

    The American people get poorer and poorer (and like people in some European nations, watch their country taken away from them by mass immigration – much of it illegal, and the tidal wave of immigration from the Third World into European nations and the United States is NOT made up of people who wish to be part of the nations they are moving to, very much the contrary) – whist the government and Corporate media sadistically mock them, by saying how well the economy is doing.

  • Paul Marks

    On the other hand…..

    There is still some real local autonomy in the United States.

    The vicious thugs of the FBI may come and kick down your door and wave automatic rifles in the faces of your children – before dragging you off to face a political show trial thousands of miles away from where you live (“someone in New York City read what you said on the internet, so we are holding the show trial here – you can tell the jury, they are the creatures with the fangs and tentacles”), but if you carefully keep out of politics (any form of politics – including cultural matters) this is very unlikely to happen to you.

    It is actually less likely than being struck by lighting – if you are an ordinary person.

    What will influence the life of an ordinary person are things such as taxes, government spending levels and regulations.

    And somewhere like South Dakota is a much better society than somewhere like California.

    And the comparison can be much more local – compare, for example, the autonomous Pine Ridge Reservation to Rapid City South Dakota.

    In Pine Ridge socialism is not a theoretical thing – they have socialism right now, collective land ownership under an elected Tribal Council, and all the rest of it. What Mr Obama and co want to do the United States generally is what Pine Ridge is right now.

    But Rapid City is very clearly NOT socialist.

  • Stuart Noyes

    The EU uses regulation to further its only real policy, political integration. Its an unnatural polity with no demos. Success isn’t possible.

  • Paul Marks

    Stuart Noyes – agreed.

  • Discovered Joys

    I’ve argued before that the EU is a New Hanseatic League whose trade protection deliberately favours big businesses – big businesses that run big special interest lobbies. Since big businesses are still managing a nice living, mostly at the expense of small businesses that cannot compete and (of course) the captive consumers, there is little appetite for change or productivity.

  • Paul Marks

    Discovered Joys.

    All systems of regulation favour Big Business (especially Corporate Big Business) against small business enterprises – that is the nature of the beast, and it is just as true in the United States as in the European Union (remember claims that the American economy is doing well are based on systematically rigged statistics – on such matters as underestimating inflation undermining living standards).

    For example, California (the largest population State of the United States) is one of the worst places on Earth for regulations – almost all trades are “licensed” there.

    During Covid small business enterprises in California were ruthlessly crushed – whilst large “Woke” Corporations (such as the Hollywood filth) were given lots of money.

    Anyone who thinks that policy had something to do with “saving lives from a virus” is an idiot – the policy in California was openly designed (intended) to crush independent business enterprises and hand the economy over to “Partner Corporations” (very World Economic Forum).

    Covid was just the latest excuse. “Climate” is another one.

    The California of Governor Ronald Reagan is long dead.

  • Kirk

    Bureaucratic sclerosis and stagnation are features of any declining civilization. Which is cause, and which is effect may be argued, but the two are always seen together.

    Permission-regimes kill innovation and initiative. One of the most pernicious features of such things is just how much the regime siphons off competency… Look at the US, for example: Nobody goes into manufacturing, all the “bright lights” go into law or finance. Shortly after that, they go into government employment, telling other people what they can and cannot do. You wonder why the rate of innovation drops in societies undergoing senescence processes? That’s the main reason, right there: The utter misallocation of human effort.

    During the 1930s, everyone in the US who was intellectually able was trying to find productive work in things like the aviation industry; they weren’t looking for work administering homelessness programs or to sit atop the bureaucracy machine of the EPA and shouting “STOP!!!” at the world going by.

    Same thing is going on in Europe. Look where your young and productive wind up working; is it in some new industry, creating new and better products, or is it in support of some ancien regime bullshit?

    If you read the histories, you know the signs. Europe today is Egypt before the Romans came in, Rome before the barbarians flooded over the borders… France before the Revolution. The signs are there, and the inevitable will occur, on schedule.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – the bureaucratic sclerosis and stagnation are the definition of a declining civilisation, so they come first.

    But I know what you mean – America in the 1930s was a big government (even President Hoover agreed to a top income tax rate of over 60% – 20 years before the top rate had been ZERO because the Federal Income Tax did not exist) economically depressed place – but the SOCIETY was basically sound.

    People got married, had children, had confidence in a technological future, their cultural level was high – even if they had holes in their boots and an empty belly. Only drunken bums like Ronald Reagan’s Democrat father WANTED to be WPA Administrators (or what-not) – most people wanted honest work.

    All that has gone – at least as much in the United States as in some European coutries.

    As for the “private enterprise corporations” – they are mostly DEI riddled organisations such as Boeing (so much for the aviation).

    You are right – everyone wants to be a bureaucrat or a lawyer or in “banking” (which is no longer banking by any honest definition of money lending).

    Making things? In the 1930s America was still, in spite of the Great Depression, the top manufacturing nation – it had been since at least 1890 (Disraeli signed the slow motion death of British manufacturing dominance in the 1875 Trade Union Act – and the “Liberals” confirmed this death in 1906 Trade Union Act).

    Now a few people in the United States care about making things (Donald John Trump, Elon Musk – a few others) – but most important people just want jobs in the bureaucracy, government and corporate).

    It is much the same in many European countries.

    France has been called the soul of Europe – and Charles De Galle gave up Algeria NOT for military reasons, but because he feared that a connection with Africa would mean such people moving into France and then natural increase would take place – destroying France.

    Now France has wild celebrations of abortion (which would have horrified De Gaulle) and it is French babies who are being killed, and anyone who is opposed to the demographic transformation of France is called a “Nazi” – yes Charles De Gaulle, the leader of the French Resistance, would today be called a Nazi by President Macron and co.

    Is France even worth saving at this point?

    And it is not different in Britain.

  • jgh

    ….China basically forever.

  • Paul Marks

    The largest city in the United States is New York, the second largest is Los Angeles, the third largest is Chicago.

    A serious look at these places shows that the United States has nothing good to teach European nations – about productivity or anything else.

    People need to free themselves from government and corporate statistics and look around them.

    If you look around and what you see is not good – then things are not going well.

  • Paul Marks

    jgh – if we believe the official statistics, and we are told to in the case of the United States, then China is doing very well.

    Twice the manufacturing output of the United States – and still expanding strongly.

    Of course the Chinese government is dishonest – but so is the American government.

    As for American corporations – the leading ones, that make anything, make the toxic genetically modified organisms (GMOs) that they dishonestly pretended were “Covid Vaccines”.

    They paid off the mainstream media with advertising money and they paid off the government regulators as well.

    A “public-private partnership” indeed – a perfect example of “Stakeholder Capitalism”.

    Now if we can just hide all the people who are dying of cancer…..

    Even Donald John Trump will not touch these corporations – how can he? After all he approved “Operation Warp Speed”.

    Of course they lied to him – but it is still his sigature.

  • Kirk

    The entire enterprise seems to be all about a race to see which civilizational-spanning thing they can break first and hardest.

    My guess is that the current system, world-wide, is due for a serious comeuppance. China is the current favorite of idiots everywhere for “dominating the coming century”, but they are mostly the same sort of idiots that predicted the same thing for Japan, Inc.

    Remember how that turned out? Yeah.

    Xi cannot undo the things he’s done. He cannot decree success; he is currently living off the fat generated during the “good years” enabled by the very people he’s doing his best to suppress. This will, inevitably, catch up with China as quickly as their little adventure in demographic engineering did. Same with Russia; demographics is destiny, and they’re pissing away young men in Ukraine about as fast as they can. The results will be seen.

    The problem idiots have is that they’re distracted by the bright-shineys: Moscow, Shanghai, and all the rest are really quite meaningless. You want to assess where Russia and China are going? Get out into the hinterlands, where Russia still has an utter dearth of indoor plumbing across all demographics. Look to rural China, where the agricultural underpinnings for China are; how good is live for the average villager, these days? Is it getting better? Worse?

    Answer those questions, and you’ll have a much better idea about where the world is heading. I don’t think anyone betting on China’s ascendancy will come out ahead; there are too many issues at hand for the regime, ones that could play out very badly for them. Say they invade Taiwan; what then? Short of the Taiwanese just saying “OK, fine, we’ll be Han…”, they’re never going to recoup the things they’ll lose from such an endeavor. One of the issues you have to keep in mind is that China is reliant on trade, in order to keep afloat. Should they lose that trade? Buh-bye prosperity and ‘ello famine.

    One of the big things people ought to remember is that good will is something that can cost you one hell of a lot, when you lose it. China has this history of pissing off neighbors and abusing them; do you think the Philippines will happily host the PLA Navy? Will Singapore or Vietnam? Or, will they more likely help cut China off from world trade?

    Adventurism cuts both ways: You build out your little empire, and then you have to protect it all, or lose it piecemeal. And, if you’ve managed to piss off the locals the way the Chinese are prone to, well… Yeah. Watch what happens.

    Same with regards to the US… Observe what happened in Niger, and wonder why it went down the way it did. Sheer arrogance and stupidity on the part of the current lot of idjit types we have running things, who only understand US grievance politics, not real international relations realities.

    I don’t think the future belongs to anyone, TBH. The idjits are everywhere, and they’re going to f*ck everything up for a generation or two… At which point, they’ll have done what the Communists did in Russia, which was discredit the entire ideology they built up. Something new will come along, and maybe that will be common sense-based. For once.

    Gonna be a lot of lessons out there, to be learnt, in the coming years.

  • Alex

    China is the current favorite of idiots everywhere for “dominating the coming century”, but they are mostly the same sort of idiots that predicted the same thing for Japan, Inc.

    Good point. I remember well the enthusiasm for Japan and its economy, people learning Japanese because it was obvious that we’d all need to speak it to conduct business. It didn’t last much more than a decade in the end before it was clear that Hong-Kong, Taiwan and China were the more important economic centres in Asia, at least for the time being. That has been true for at least some thirty years now, but I agree that it doesn’t necessarily stay that way. China’s recent sabre-rattling is likely a sign of decline, just as Russia found itself less capable of prosecuting a modern war than it thought it was.

  • Paul Marks

    China has ten times the population of Japan – and its government (unlike that of Japan) used “private business” for political conquest.

    China is not some theoretical threat to the American leadership – China has twice the industrial output of the United States right now.

    The United States is also not the United States of the 1980s – its government, indeed all its institutions (including the Corporations) are under the control of people who are fanatically determined to destroy the United States (because it is “racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic”, “destroying the world with C02” – whatever, the reasons the elite hate America do not really matter, the hatred DOES matter).

    That some people still can not see the societal collapse around them is baffling.

    It is even a biological collapse – and (yes) replacement by hostile forces. And screaming “racist” at that does not alter its grim reality.

  • jgh

    Hmph! I learned Japanese because of all the cute Japanese girls at my university. 😉

    On NHK a couple of days ago I watched a news item about a megacity built in China that was going to be “the world’s biggest finance hub”. By decree. People would be told, and it would magically happen. Contrary to the established observed facts that people congregate where people congragate, not where somebody declares they will congregate.

    Said megacity is standing empty, with barely a few hundred inhabitants.

  • Kirk

    jgh said:

    On NHK a couple of days ago I watched a news item about a megacity built in China that was going to be “the world’s biggest finance hub”. By decree. People would be told, and it would magically happen. Contrary to the established observed facts that people congregate where people congragate, not where somebody declares they will congregate.

    Said megacity is standing empty, with barely a few hundred inhabitants.

    What was that quote by King Canute, when he tried to turn back the tide…?

    Hubris is inevitably followed by Nemesis. Do note the way major corporations and minor ones tend to go all pear-shaped once they build and occupy their expensive custom-built corporate headquarters… Something to be paid attention to, there; it’s a syndrome.

    The idiots who’ve tried building out all these wonderful “planned” things almost always wind up crashing and burning. The history is not at all good… Ever looked into Fordlandia? All the major things planned here in the US, that never quite panned out? Lessons to be learned, my friends.

    Also, do note something interesting about the Soviet experience: They built all those wonderful “industrial cities”, and what did they turn into, in the end…? Could they even build the damn things on their own, or did they have to actually import most of the machinery? Hell, even today the Russians are dependent upon European machine tools, and most of their vast stock of “industry” is in ruins. The underlying vitality of the economy simply wasn’t there to ever support such efforts; Russia is a colonial satrapy on steroids.

    You cannot ordain things to happen the way Xi and his ilk seem to think. For their dreams to work, they’d have to be finding, nurturing, and allowing Chinese Elon Musks to prosper and flourish. They can’t do this because if they did, that would imply and result in a loss of control for the CCP.

    The Chinese are brittle, and despite all the development, they have serious structural weaknesses both culturally and industrially. Their lack of quality control and hubris will result in major disaster somewhere along the line, and then their rigid response to it because of the hyper-centralized control they demand is just going to make everything far worse. Imagine if Three Gorges were to fail, and then try to imagine how that would impact Chinese everything. The mess would be gargantuan, making the Indian Ocean tsunami look like child’s play.

    China is a study in hubris and overconfidence. It will be terrifying to watch Nemesis at her work.

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