Full Circle

I suppose that, very roughly, the world in which I grew up was divided in two. On the one hand there was the democratic Free West, with the USA as primus inter pares. And on the other hand there were the one-party state-controlled Soviet Union and Communist China. An Iron Curtain divided the two. Proxy wars were continually fought, first in Korea, and then Vietnam, and elsewhere.

The political argument between the two sides was essentially between bottom-up free market capitalism and top-down state control. In Britain we had a compromise between the two, a “mixed economy” with nationalised state-controlled industries side by side with private enterprise. And there was a robust political debate between the statist Labour party and the free market Conservative party, which eventually resulted in the the Thatcher Conservative government in which most (but not all) state-owned enterprises were sold into private ownership, with the NHS as the principal state-controlled industry.

And at about the same time, the Soviet one-party state dissolved, and Russia became a free-market economy with multi-billionaire oligarchs. Something similar happened in China. After decades of top-down control, the Chinese economy began to boom. The Cold War came to an end. In both Russia and China there remained a remnant one-party state.

It now seems that the two sides may have simply changed places, and exchanged ideologies. For as Russia and China liberalised their economies, the formerly free-market West began to show more and more signs of becoming a top-down-controlled one-party state. For while Europe had long remained a family of democratic nation states, it now began  to metamorphose into something akin to a Soviet one-party state, with an unelected Central Committee issuing innumerable rules and regulations. The resulting sovietisation of Europe unsurprisingly began to stifle the European economy, which began to sink into a similar bureaucratic stagnation as the Soviet Union, with mounting unemployment.

Something similar seems to have happened in the USA, which also began to suffer from increasing state regulation under presidents who seemed to exercise greater and greater personal power, and experienced less and less restraint by the houses of Congress. And the US economy –  once the locomotive of the free world –  has become stagnant like the Soviet Union.

In Britain, the formerly robust debate between the parties gave way to an almost complete uniformity of opinion. The Labour and Conservative and Liberal parties all became slightly different flavours of The Party. You could still vote, but The Party would always be elected, whoever you voted for.  And the mainstream media – the BBC and all the other TV stations as well as the newspapers – all became mouthpieces of The Party.

Nothing expressed all this better than the 2007 UK smoking ban. This appeared as an overnight edict from on high, backed by a propaganda campaign in the mainstream media that Soviet propagandists of the Stalin era would have envied. Numerous other edicts followed, replacing perfectly serviceable incandescent light bulbs with dim and short-lived ones. Useless windmills appeared everywhere. Carbon dioxide was demonised. Gay marriage was rushed through by supposedly conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

And so we now have a world that has been turned completely upside down. The formerly free West has become replica of the Soviet Union, and the formerly one-party states of the Soviet Union and Communist China have become plausible replicas of the formerly free market West. It would seem that while the communist East was learning how to become capitalist, the capitalist West was learning how to become communist.

The current US election might best be understood as a power struggle inside the Soviet Union, with Donald Trump playing the role of Boris Yeltsin, and trying to overthrow a US Communist one-party state which, much like in Britain, comes in two flavours – Republican and Democrat.  If he wins the election, stifling top-down control will give way to deregulated free market capitalism, much as happened when the old Soviet Union disintegrated. If he doesn’t, stagnation and corruption will continue.

It may simply be that power always tends to become concentrated in the hands of single individuals, who may in different eras be despots or tyrants or kings or emperors or party chairmen or presidents or prime ministers. The absence of any restraining power on these individuals results in increasingly arbitrary and ill-considered and in many cases completely crackpot decisions. The resulting misgovernment eventually becomes unendurable, and the despot is overthrown, either in a bloody revolution or a bloodless election which hands power to a number of people, perhaps even the entire population. And with that, the cycle repeats itself, with power gradually becoming concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, until the next despot emerges.

In this respect, the Eastern and Western cycles are completely out of sync with each other. The Eastern world in 1950 was dominated by two despots – Stalin and Mao -, while the Western world had power dispersed in parliaments and assemblies. Over the subsequent 50 years, the despotic East gradually liberalised, and the liberal West gradually became despotic. We have come almost full circle.

I’m not a betting man. I place bets on average once every 10 years or so. But last Friday I went into a betting shop and placed a £10 bet on Donald Trump to be elected as the next President of the United States, at odds of 4 to 1. Because I think we have arrived at the point in the cycle where power has become too concentrated in the hands of unaccountable and slightly mad individuals at the top, and needs to be returned to the plurality of commonsensical people at the bottom.  If the US electorate doesn’t manage to do this in a bloodless election in a couple of weeks, I fear they will do it in a bloody revolution a few years later.

If Trump wins, top-down state control will be slashed, the US economy will be deregulated and begin to boom, and the current absurd new Cold War will end. And also most likely Britain will leave the top-down-controlled EU, which will disintegrate back into a diverse collection of self-governing sovereign states. If he doesn’t win, I would expect both the USA and UK and Europe to become even more despotic (quite possibly with the equivalents of Stalin or Mao emerging), and their economies even more stagnant, and the people ever more angry.  And Britain forced to stay in the EU.

About Frank Davis

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27 Responses to Full Circle

  1. Manfred says:

    Interesting article thank you Frank, though I think that there may one or two lines between dots that I’m not entirely in agreement with. The expansion of the rule-bound, politically correct society has been aided and abetted by a well orchestrated Progressive globalist movement the corrupt UN, which now resembles a global administration-in-waiting, poised to repeat the failed redistribution politics of its Sino-Soviet predecessors. Western political correctness (Cultural Marxism) engineered an invertebrate culture with spineless leaders and a wider societal leftward drift that makes the mildest of right wing claims sound like a war cry from Ghenghis Khan. No wonder the dispositional fragility of the Left requires ‘safe spaces’ and insulation from ‘micro-aggression’. Ironically, laughably, idiotically, the Black students it seems are now demanding segregation at Berkeley, where people of colour can ‘safe’ be without their white oppressors. Their grandparents must be beside themselves. The worm has finally turned full circle.

    Trump (the movement) is arguably a last significant political hope at effective push back against faceless UN eco-globalisation, whose sole aim is global administration by totalitarian bureaucracy, supported by the accredited and euphemistically named ‘civil society’, the 4,507 (NGO’s) in active consultative status with UN Economic and Social Council. Why a last great hope? There will be no future ‘global’ elections in which the sheeple can participate. All that will remain will be meaningless national and local body elections, much like those seen in the Kollectvist Societies of yore. Push back without resorting to arms and a state of Revolution may become nigh on impossible.

  2. Barnaby Capel-Dunn says:

    “Something similar seems to have happened in the USA, which also began to suffer from increasing state regulation under presidents who seemed to exercise greater and greater personal power, and experienced less and less restraint by the houses of Congress. And the US economy – once the locomotive of the free world – has become stagnant like the Soviet Union.”

    I suppose an example of “increasing state regulation” would be the financial crisis of 2008? Is this really the best you can do?

  3. letsexpressjohn says:

    I am in total agreement with all that you write except for one thing. It is my belief that what we are seeing is a return to Fascism in the West while the East and Chine are truly exploring a kind of democracy that suits them, one that may evolve if allowed to do so. The most troubling development for me is American militarism. They appear to believe they can stamp around the world, invading whoever they wish and de-stabalising any Government they don’t like. That attitude is being confronted now in Syria and God knows where that will take us all.

  4. Barnaby Capel-Dunn says:

    “The current US election might best be understood as a power struggle inside the Soviet Union, with Donald Trump playing the role of Boris Yeltsin, and trying to overthrow a US Communist one-party state which, much like in Britain, comes in two flavours – Republican and Democrat. If he wins the election, stifling top-down control will give way to deregulated free market capitalism, much as happened when the old Soviet Union disintegrated. If he doesn’t, stagnation and corruption will continue.”
    I’m sorry, Frank, but this is just barking mad. The whole trend over the last 50 years in the States has been TOWARDS deregulation. Donald Trump simply wants to take the process a step further! And how!
    As for deregulation in Put insurance Russia, I’m sure everyone is very pleased with the result…

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      ‘Deregulation’ is a bit like ‘Denormalisation’ – terms promoted as one thing when actually they are something else entirely…

      *Bait and switch, Clicky, exactly…*

    • Frank Davis says:

      The whole trend over the last 50 years in the States has been TOWARDS deregulation.

      You must think that smoking bans are a form of deregulation.

      • Barnaby Capel-Dunn says:

        I can understand and, as an off-on smoker myself, even sympathise with your views on the smoking ban, but to base an entire theory of the world on that insight, as you seem to do, is perhaps a little bit over the top, especially when it leads you to (deliberately?) misrepresent what is going on today.

        • Frank Davis says:

          Smoking bans are just the tip of the iceberg of regulation.

          About the only person who ever deregulated the US economy was Ronald Reagan, whereupon the economy began booming. Since then the government has continued to grow, and regulations to multiply. In Europe it’s far worse, with the EU regulating more or less everything. Just today I came across a headline.

          SWEDEN BANS CHRISTMAS LIGHTS UNDER THE GUISE OF “SECURITY”

          I’ve lost count of the number of similar regulations I’ve come across in recent years. Theresa May is planning a Great Repeal Bill to accompany Brexit. Then we can at last start getting rid of EU regulations. It can’t come soon enough for me.

        • garyk30 says:

          Going back only to 2009, there have been 3500 to 3800 new regulations, per year, put in place by un-elected bureaucrats in Washington.

          That does not count the new regulations put in by state and local politicians, such as minimum wage laws.

    • waltc says:

      Iirc, it was Jimmy Carter who deregulated airlines, but I think that was the last dereg we’ve had. The only bad dereg I can think of is the one that let banks dabble in the market and create investment vehicles–major cause of 2008 crash along with the govt fiat that banks had to give mortgages to people who couldn’t afford them.

      Bad recent regs that affect Joe and Jane: national bans of incandescent light bulbs and toilets that work. Obamacare, which has made insurance unaffordable, caused doctors to quit, limited actual care, caused a loss of full-time jobs. Govt demands that colleges ban smoking or forfeit subsidies. Inflated minimum wages which cost jobs, lead to accelerated automation and cause companies to leave the country. EPA regs that cause the collapse of industries and raise the cost of energy. Give me 10 more minutes and I’ll think of 100 more.

      I don’t begin to know the depth and range of regs that affect businesses. But here’s a goofy example: Was told by a publisher of children’s books that per a new reg of a few yrs ago, the publisher has to swear that it has examined each individual book under its imprint to attest that it does not contain lead or any swallowable parts. Aside from the fact that no book contains these things, the publisher never even sees the books, which go directly from the printer to the distributor to the retailer. IOW, complying would be impossible or the costs in time and money would put them out of business.

  5. slugbop007 says:

    The pending HUD legislation to ban smoking throughout its social housing network is a return to institutionalized segregation. Supported, ironically, by the USA’s first black president.

    slugbop007

  6. Barnaby Capel-Dunn says:

    “I’m not a betting man. I place bets on average once every 10 years or so. But last Friday I went into a betting shop and placed a £10 bet on Donald Trump to be elected as the next President of the United States, at odds of 4 to 1. Because I think we have arrived at the point in the cycle where power has become too concentrated in the hands of unaccountable and slightly mad individuals at the top, and needs to be returned to the plurality of commonsensical people at the bottom. If the US electorate doesn’t manage to do this in a bloodless election in a couple of weeks, I fear they will do it in a bloody revolution a few years later.”

    Do I detect a note of doubt creeping in?

  7. From everything Ive read the liberal polling has been using their fraudulent polls to keeps realclear politics to show a hiltery lead in the averages. Problem for the leftists is all their polls are 9-20% more democrats polled then GOP respondents plus other under handed ways to tilt the outcomes.

    The 12 point lead poll was shown having slanted calls and questions along with more democrats and swing independents than gop by 2 or 3 to 1……….

    The last electorial college count had Trump in the lead……..

  8. garyk30 says:

    China can not go Capitalist:

    “Article 1 of the State Constitution describes China as “a socialist state under the people’s democratic dictatorship”[3] meaning that the system is based on an alliance of the working classes—in communist terminology, the workers and peasants—and is led by the Communist Party.”

    • Roobeedoo2 says:

      Sorry if this is a stupid question, but what’s that ‘0.longlineofzeros1’ you’ve mentioned before with regards to risk from smoking?

      • garyk30 says:

        In the USA, a person has a 1 in 2,000 risk of dying from lung cancer in any given year.
        That is 1/2,000

        To change the fraction to a more precise decimal number
        That is 1 divided by 2,000 = 0.0005
        With 1 as an absolute certainty of something happening or not happening
        That is a 0.0005 risk/probabilitychance of
        That is a o.9995 chance/probability/risk of not

        Folks like percentages and 0.0005 becomes 0.05%
        That is 5/100’s of 1 percent chance/risk/probability of something happening or a 99.95% chance/risk/probability of it not happening

  9. beobrigitte says:

    In Britain, the formerly robust debate between the parties gave way to an almost complete uniformity of opinion. The Labour and Conservative and Liberal parties all became slightly different flavours of The Party. You could still vote, but The Party would always be elected, whoever you voted for. And the mainstream media – the BBC and all the other TV stations as well as the newspapers – all became mouthpieces of The Party.

    Nothing expressed all this better than the 2007 UK smoking ban.

    For quite a while I have been trying to put my finger on when EXACTLY this all started…. Frank, you quoted Britain but I recall one politically active person lamenting back in the very early 1980s stating the same. “All parties [well almost all,] having become the same-ish”.
    The exceptions were the (far and few then) far right and the RAF ideology (not sure, if they were ever a party). As a then socialist, these parties were out of my voting spectrum, anyway.
    Not only the UK has a smoking ban. Much to the dismay of the German anti-smokers a blanket smoking ban as it happens(d) everywhere is difficult to achieve due to the individual Bundeslaender being governed individually. Not sure for how much longer…..

  10. petesquiz says:

    I’d liken what you describe more as a pendulum swinging back and forth through human history, but what frustrates (and puzzles!) me is that it never stops in the middle. There’s always one extreme viewpoint or another pushing at the pendulum to get it over to ‘their side’ without realising that as soon as it is there it will inevitably swing back the other way. (“You canna’ change the Laws of Physics, Captain!”)

    But, maybe, human society does run like clockwork and that without the pendulum swinging from side to side stagnation would set in and there’d be no progress any more! Just a thought!

  11. Barnaby Capel-Dunn says:

    Frank, all I’m saying is that your blog is a good example of a one-party state: freedom of expression as long as we agree with you, otherwise censorship.

    • Frank Davis says:

      But I have permitted a number of your comments to appear verbatim. I just haven’t permitted them all to appear. I’ve blocked the ones that I regarded as gratuitously rude, which several of them have been. And I’ve blocked them when they’ve become too numerous.

      I don’t mind if people disagree with me. I just want them to disagree in an agreeable manner. I rely on my commenters to comport themselves in a civilised manner, and 99% of them do, and I never bother to moderate their opinions. But there is always the 1% to which you belong.

      There is one exception: I do not tolerate antismokers. In a world that is dominated by antismokers, I intend my blog to be antismoker-free.

      • Barnaby Capel-Dunn says:

        Fair enough, but:
        Apart from me, can you point to the last comment from someone who disagrees with you?
        I only become ” disagreeable”, as you put it, when you make little or no attempt to address a point that I rise, preferring instead,as the French say, to “s’en sortir avec une pirouette” Example: When I said “The whole trend over the last 50 years in the States has been TOWARDS deregulation.”, you answered: “You must think that smoking bans are a form of deregulation.”
        You are far too intelligent not to realise that this is NOT an answer.
        No hard feelings.

        • Frank Davis says:

          “s’en sortir avec une pirouette”

          I’ll try and remember that one. It could come in handy.

          And you are, I must say, extremely demanding. In this comment alone, you want me to a) find an example of someone disagreeing with me, b) address the points you raise, on pain of becoming disagreeable, and c) provide a better answer to the deregulation question than the one I already provided.

          Really now, life’s too short.

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