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Author Topic: Breaking News
Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 11:48
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At least in the United States, the wheels started to go off in the Reconstruction era

It may be cliche' to point out that, historically, wars have triggered huge expansions of State power with the concurrent decrease of personal freedoms. And once the wars are over, the people never seem to regain the lost freedoms.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 12:19
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"War is the health of the state." Of course, it takes a large war to do this. Some modest expansion of the US federal government came with the War of 1812 (which was a big war for the US). Mexico and the various Indian wars had much less effect, and likewise the Spanish-American War (though it coincided with a period of colonial expansion that also included Hawaii). But the War of the Rebellion, the World Wars, and the Cold War (with its severe hot outbreaks in Korea and Vietnam), all within the span of a century, were too much for the spark of freedom.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 18:08
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He was complaining that Bush was no friend of Israel because Bush was demanding the halt of settlements in the West Bank

Well, Mr. Kung, I say build settlements in the West Bank and annex Lebanon as well and make a country out of it. But I do understand that there are some hair-trigger Jews who think in quite bombastic terms — Left or right. Just as black degrade the meaning of racism when they cry wolf, so Jews can do the same thing regarding anti-Semitism. That said, I wouldn't doubt that James Baker is a real asshole.

But I believe we are now on a retrograde path, back to the old days where an aristocracy determines the fate of the rest of us and uses the powers of government to keep us in line.

That’s not even seriously debatable. The EU is a living example.

As for what unleashed modern freedom-based economic and political systems, it likely require (in no particular order):

+ Breaking the hegemony of the Catholic Church
+ Breaking the hegemony of various feudal tyrants (political, social, and market-oriented tyrants who tended to control all)
+ Unleashing of technology and putting it to use

And, really, that last one is nearly all-telling. Materially improving the lives of people requires increasing productivity. And to be able to use inventions and such, you have to be able to break through or break down existing autocratic orders.

And I’m no Catholic-basher. But I believe that, just as with Islam (but not anywhere near as bad), where Catholics rule, you’re not going to get the kind of open-market, entrepreneurial economy we’ve gotten used to. The Germans have their faults. But one wonders if they would be the powerhouse they are if they were predominantly Catholic instead of Lutheran. What would South America be today if it had been settled by Protestants? There are just a whole set of different goals and values implicit in this.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 18:25
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There was a social theory by Max Weber that there was a Protestant work ethic which played a major role in modern economic growth because it enabled modern capitalism. This was discussed in my high school European history text. Weber thought Calvinism was especially important in this way, and it's true that the French Huguenots and the Dutch both combined Calvinism and economic prosperity through being industrious. But by this logic, Calvinist Prussia would have been very wealthy, but that only happened when it included not only a lot of Lutherans but also a lot of Catholics (especially in Silesia and the Rhineland).

Technically, there's a difference between traditional aristocracy and the literal bureaucracy (i.e., rule by bureaus) in the EU. The former probably wasn't as bad, though it had to go to develop modern capitalism. Perhaps the biggest key, though, was eliminating domination by guilds. The aristocrats (aside from the royal family) never truly ruled, and the towns were controlled by merchants and guilds (who tended to ally with the monarch against the aristocrats).

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 19:45
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I wouldn't doubt that James Baker is a real asshole.

I have considered him a prick since he brought about the Plaza Accord, which was a systematic devaluation of the US dollar based on the theory that with a weaker dollar there would be fewer imports into and more exports from the USA. It was more theoretical nonsense from academics and assholes who didn't see the whole picture. The world economy works in real time and people and countries adjust to such agreements. Have a look and see if the USA balance of payment numbers have improved over the last thirty years.

The son-of-a-bitch cost me a fortune.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 19:58
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The aristocrats (aside from the royal family) never truly ruled, and the towns were controlled by merchants and guilds (who tended to ally with the monarch against the aristocrats).

That depends on which countries and what time periods one is talking about. For example, in England the monarchy consolidated power pretty well by the late 15th, early 16th century. In France I would say monarchical power was truly consolidated by Louis XIV. In both England and France, the royals used intelligent, successful and ambitious commoners to organize and increase the government bureaucracy and weaken the power of the aristocrats.

Germany and Italy were both conglomerations of numerous smaller states, none which approached the power of a France or an England, except Prussia which had become a power by Frederick the Great's time.

Of course, given the state of communications, while kings may have had theoretical power, in practice they had to allow a lot of local decision making to resident aristocrats.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 20:36
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There are many variations. German states had provincial diets that had to approve taxes. Frederick William, the Great Elector (who started the Prussian trend of naming all its rulers "Frederick or William or both"), faced severe problems because there was no diet for Brandeburg-Prussia; there were individual diets for each province, and their members didn't care about the other provinces. The wine-producing Lower Palatinate generated enough income that the Count never had to summon his diet. (Sort of like France, never calling the Estates General for 175 years, until the Parlement in Paris said they had to call them in 1789 to pass Louis XVI's proposals. This was an early reminder of the power of arrogant judges.)

The Holy Roman Empire had large numbers of imperial cities (e.g., the Archbishop of Cologne didn't rule the city in which his episcopate was based). This probably reduced the influence of merchants and guilds in many of the provinces. But the local rulers still tended to get into disputes with the aristocrats even as they relied on them for officers and ministers.

Kung Fu Zu
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Kung Fu Zu
Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 20:41
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There are many variations.

That's one of the reasons European history is so interesting. And we haven't even touched on Spain, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia or the Habsburgs who covered a lot of different countries.

Timothy-
Lane
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Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 6, 2018, 21:03
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And of course you had Poland with its elected king. They actually were a republic, a term which comes from there (the res publica). And of course every aristocrat had a veto in their legislature.

Brad-
Nelson
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Brad Nelson
Post Re: Breaking News
on: December 7, 2018, 08:38
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I finally put two and two together the other day. I had wondered why the mail didn’t come on Monday. Listen, I’m not a heartless person. But I think a day off for Federal employees for the natural death of an ex-president is too much like the Soviet Union used to do for a dead General Secretary.

We don’t need to raise these people to the status of Gods. They are (at least in the United States) supposed to be public servants, not a form of royalty.

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