Friday, March 18, 2022

"What Would Orwell Say?"

"What Would Orwell Say?"
by Jeffrey Tucker

"Just the other day, Vladimir Putin gave an address to the nation that urged his country to be patient with the current pain. He said he is working to restructure economic life to deal with the ongoing disaster in employment, good access, productivity, technology and inflation. It’s transitory, he explained, and all the fault of the West. He has this totally under control, he says. Just trust the government. Many people do. People in cities are skeptical but he remains widely popular in rural areas. Meanwhile the government works to silence dissent, punish those who protest and control the media.

This story sounds strangely familiar, doesn’t it? Biden’s White House daily urges this country to be patient with the current pain. They are working on ways to address the ongoing mess with inflation; declining financials; goods shortages; supply-chain woes; mail that barely functions; and a medical system that is throttled, distorted and wildly expensive. It’s all the fault of Putin for invading Ukraine, thus necessitating severe economic sanctions and driving up the costs of everything.

The Price of Freedom: It’s the price we pay for freedom! All we are supposed to do is trust the government. Biden has this totally under control. People are skeptical but he remains popular in some circles, mostly in large blue states. Meanwhile, the government works to silence dissent, punish those who protest and control the media.

It’s getting creepy how government policies are increasingly copying each other. It’s not unlike the final global equilibrium in Orwell’s "Nineteen Eighty-Four": three large states that are indistinguishable in despotism, constantly trading places to demonize the other.

Copycat Policies: Ever since the end of the Second World War, we had a sense that governments of the world were competing over economic systems. Which had the most freedom? Which nations were rich versus poor? What kinds of policies did nations have, and which policies were best at promoting economic growth, human rights and peace?

There was of course the Cold War that pitted the “free world” against the captive world. What an innocent time that was! It lasted 40 years, which in retrospect seemed like mostly pretty good years for the West. We had a sense of what we were and what we were not. We had a model of what we never wanted to become, and that was a tyrannical communist state.

The changes from 1989 and forward fundamentally altered that perception. Communism went away and even the remaining communist empire of China itself opened up its economy to trade, ownership and enterprise. That binary world was blown apart. Our lizard brains that look for easy stories were challenged by new forms of what not to be. Terrorism fit the bill for some years but it couldn’t last.

One System for the World: As we now look at the large world alliances - dominated by Russia, China and the U.S. - it is increasingly difficult to distinguish their policies. There is a push in the U.S. for a China-style social credit system. Russia uses brutal tactics for suppressing dissent that it copied from China. China copies the U.S. system of industrial subsidies and fiscal and monetary stimulus. Each government aspires to the same: total political and social control, while allowing just enough freedom to keep the wealth machine running to provide the revenue.

What burned this copycat system in place were the lockdowns of 2020. They began in China, expanded to Italy and were quickly copied by the U.S. That was a devastating moment because it told the world: This is good science! If the Bill of Rights and the Constitution in the U.S. were not enough to stop this from happening, surely this virus could kill us all! Very quickly after that, most states adopted that very system. Amazing.

The New Freedom Index: They also copied the wild spending, the monetary expansion, the police-state tactics, the vaccine mandates, the surveillance and the demonization of dissent. All governments in the world blew up in size and scope. They have stayed that way. Now we are left with the results of massive and ubiquitous authoritarianism plus rampant inflation and debt, along with slow economic growth and goods shortages. All these nations too have kept media empires that reflect the prevailing line plus a small dissident press that is barely tolerated and often fighting for attention and even existence.

What states in the world resisted? There are only a few. Sweden. Tanzania. Nicaragua. Belarus. South Dakota. Later, the most open states in the world were in the U.S.: Georgia, Florida, Texas, South Carolina. These are now the outliers in the world, actual places of freedom. Other quasi-rational places are Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands. As far as I know, 10 years ago, there were zero predictions out there that these would be the new free lands in the whole planet Earth.

The Great Struggle for the Future: The world is fundamentally different now than two years ago. The internet is no longer open. The censorship has become brutal. Ten years of programming from RT America were deleted by YouTube. For reasons we do not know, the entire channel was closed by some decision somewhere. All employees were fired.

It was not supposed to be this way. In the old days, people believed that a major advantage of the internet was that it was forever. Now it has become a tool of the censors. The lack of concern for freedom and truth is utterly appalling. In Orwell’s book, there are three superstates that forever rule the world: Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. Is this our future? Maybe. I actually doubt it. What we actually see happening is a global awakening for freedom. It’s happening. Slowly, but it's out there.

Good News and Bad News: A major factor here is just how poorly the elites have performed. Their plans have failed and they have only generated poverty and chaos. Biden, Putin and the CCP all face the same problem: They preside over systems that are underperforming and generating enormous unrest at all levels. We are just at the beginning, but this could end very badly for the arrogant political class that imagines no limit to their power. Unfortunately, things could get a lot worse before they get better."

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