Democracy: The God That Failed

18 01 2007

On the most abstract level, I want to show how theory is indispensible in correctly interpreting history. History – the sequence of events unfolding in time – is “blind.” It reveals nothing about causes and effects. We may agree, for instance, that feudal Europe was poor, that monarchical Europe was wealthier, and that democratic Europe is wealthier still, or that nineteenth-century America with its low taxes and few regulations was poor, while contemporary America with its high taxes and many regulations is rich. Yet was Europe poor because of feudalism, and did it grow richer because of monarchy and democracy? Or did Europe grow richer in spite of monarchy and democracy? Or are these phenomena unrelated?

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2 responses

16 06 2007
Stacy

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16 01 2012
Jan Rogozinski

I wonder where the “feudal Europe” you reference was located. And when it was located there.

It would be hard to find anyone with a PH.D in medieval history from any reputable university anywhere in the world who would agree that such a thing as “feudal Europe” ever existed.

And, in fact, those knowledgeable about French, English, German, Italian, Polish, or Russian history all agree that the one thing we can be absolutely certain about concerning “feudal Europe,” whenever and wherever it was, is that it was far wealthier than “monarchical Europe.” Or, at least the 99% were far better off in feudal Europe than in later centuries..

In the most recent Financial Times (Saturday’s), Zbigniew Brzezinski lamented that fact that Americans know nothing about Europe or European history. Well, you just proved he’s correct about that . An interesting question would be whether Americans know anything about American history.

It’s a little like turn-signals in South Florida. What does it mean when someone’s turn signal is blinking. It means that his turn signal is blinking. Nothing more, nothing less.

Similarly what does it mean when an American uses a word like “feudalism,” literalism, conservatism, or socialism. It means that he has used the word. Nothing more, nothing less. Since, if these words ever had any meaning, they no longer do.

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