The Character of Nations: How Politics Makes and Breaks Prosperity, Family and Civility
A who's who of nations. Reading this book I feel like one of Mr Codevilla's students: “We have read the published version of this event. Please tell us the real story.” To me this book was a revelation, as much for the data inside as for the author, whom I would describe as another Thomas Sowell, for the clarity and immediacy of his speech. After reading this I am more than ever convinced that the admiration that elite-America has always felt for Europe is one of the main causes of the political and social divides inside American society today: Like an extra-marital affair with a high class prostitute. A doomed attraction.
I would recommend to the reader that he combine the reading of this book with Dick Morris's Catastrophe, for a more detailed analysis of how insiders to the regime play their lucrative parts in Obama's America. Thus you get to understand the big picture as well as the day-to-day money-dealings inside the
Here's all you want to know about the world, socially and politically. There is no better book to travel all over the world with, and understand how the common folks in those places have to deal with daily.
The nature of our western regimes:
“The most economically profitable thing you can do, whether in Europe or in Argentina, or China or Chicago, is to worry less about producing than about building a profitable relationship with the regime. Because exchanging economic privilege for political support is the essence of modern government.”
“Regimes have added a new twist … that government must depend on science, which dictates that people must surrender to their betters plenary powers over where and how they live, how much and what kind of energy or even food they consume, in order to 'save the planet' from human habitation's effects.”
The American military:
“The change began in the 1950's, as the social groups that make of the regime began to look down on their fellow citizens' revulsion to communism … our regime, scornful of the traditional military goal of victory, became accustomed to using the armed forces in ventures from the Balkans to Iraq that were neither war nor peace, that were more obviously related to regime goals than to American interests -but that got a lot of people killed nevertheless."
“Mafia oligarchies such as post-Communist Russia, where the rulers regard others' property as a threat to their own and where friendship is restricted to families.”
“defenseless free ports, like Singapore, where the rulers thrive within systems of law and low taxes that encourage large numbers of people to think of nothing but making money.”
“Business in China consists effectively of granting and using the privilege to hire labor for next to nothing. The system runs … on the expectation that various officials will be content with the bribes they have received.”
“All Europeans accept their roles as subjects -as entitled consumers of government services. The real citizens of Europe, from whom power and to whom privilege flow, are society's corporations, whether big business, unions, political parties, or the complex of bureaucrats and the interest groups they finance.”
“It is difficult to imagine Europeans nowadays offering their lives for their country. Contemporary Europe's way of life has been possible only because it was protected by the United States.” And here's where the US could have had the upper hand in its dealings with Europe, but dismissed it."
Analyses of other countries like Switzerland, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, Italy, etc. are all here, and every one of them is a travelogue to be relished, never boring and always enlightening.
How come the demise of faith-based Europe since WWII, and so fast?
“In Catholic Europe, the Christian Democratic movement, the principal reaction to militant liberalism, gave up advocacy of Christian causes, refused to take clear stands on the major issues of the day, immersed itself in day-to-day administration, and died. Throughout the European continent, then, politics has trained people to forget the soul.” Sounds like the story of official Republicanism lately.
Germany in a few slides:
“In their most vigorous years, these people lived by Nazi standards. They spent their middle age trying to approach the ideals of the Adenauer republic -bourgeois respectability … their old age has been passed in a country characterized by sex shops, welfare and environmentalism, where the ways of the Adenauer republic are ridiculed. Their last impressions must be of Muslim neighbors whom it is dangerous to displease.”
How the regime works”
"Scientific management, its success depending on maintaining a pretense of neutrality on the issues, but there is “massive evidence that those who hawk certain kinds of social or environmental policies in the name of science are partisans of those policies.”
“Today's tycoons have more power over ordinary people than the trusts of a century ago, because while the old robber barons had to do the robbing themselves, today's CEOs can count on the government to do it for them by manufacturing markets for them, by tailoring rules that stifle competition, and by bailing out their blunders.”
“The regimes rule more by fashion … than by statute. It defines itself by its icons and taboos.” Sounds like paganism and superstition are here again.
The way to get rich:
“The new path to riches is knowing what the government wants … though lawyers produce nothing, they are paid more than engineers because government makes their services really more valuable … such high salaries are passed on to the public through higher prices.”
“is about neither race nor sex. It is about politics … it is about patrons and clients … about adding to the power of those who already have power and obliging those under them to build the personal political relationships that override objective criteria and immunize against New Age accusations.”
You get a lot of information here, from almost every corner of the world and every facet of society. If a businessman came from outer space, this would be the book he should read. A who’s who of nations around the world.