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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

No way Britain will be "decolonized". Too much cultural and historical links with the US for that to ever happen. Same with the rest of the Anglosphere. As long as early 20th century levels of communication and transportation technology exist, these regions will remain American vassals.

The rest of Europe on the other hand is more likely to chart its own path. If a US President ever has the courage to withdraw troops from Germany, blow up all 10 aircraft carriers, and salvage all the F-22s for scrap metal, European countries will actually function like sovereign states again. The above example is dramatic, but the US government's own budgetary issues might force it to reduce its military strength and the competency crisis could mean the remaining military is not all that effective. This could also have the effect of continental Europe acting more independent.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

No chance of Euro independence so long as they have enough money to purchase US hydrocarbons or weapons.

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Continental Europe is built around the mercantilist model of national champion corporations working closely in concert with a protectionist/anti-competitive government. The objective is exports. Europe has ignored conditions in its near abroad ( N Africa, Mideast) rather than attempt to improve and stabilize and integrate. An “independent” EU will kowtow to China and Russia to sell widgets. The model is WWII neutral Sweden, with SKF selling ball bearings to the Nazis. We can see this in n France’s comparative non-involvement in the Ukraine war and its refusal or participate in keeping shipping lanes clear. France is thinking about future export orders for Macron’s backers. China, Russia, Iran all know Europe can be bought off. As Churchill was purported to have said- “we have confirmed what you are madam, now we are just discussing price”

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Europeans like being slaves. A slave has little in the way of responsibility and can't take the blame for decisions that Master makes. Since europe will never be a power again, the path of least resistance is to simply obey its American Master.

And europeans like to tell themselves that the life of a house slave isn't too bad, especially compared with that of a field hand. Didn't Borrell say something about Europe as a "garden", as opposed to the "jungle" lurking beyond its borders?

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Living standards in Europe appear to be good. Is this true?

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Relatively speaking, although declining.

Still, european politicians flaunt how out of touch they are, how little the care about the public and its concerns. Baerbock herself straight up told german voters that she did not care if they froze or starved - Ukraine would come first.

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Damn. No politico in Canada could get away with that.

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I dunno, look at the measures Trudeau used to suppress the trucker protests, all at American behest.

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Directed towards a hated group, courtesy of the mass media.

What Baerbock said was directed to the German people at large?

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It's so easy to directly link DEI to Jewish quotas from the interwar period. In Hungary, we learn about ours in school, as the starting point to the Holocaust:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_quota

"The Numerus Clausus Act was introduced in 1920, under the government of Pál Teleki. It was said that the ethnic makeup of student bodies must meet the ethnic rate of population."

I believe DEI is one good example where arguments are completely useless against zealotry. For a believer, letting a plane crash from time to time is a small price for adhering to dogma.

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deletedJan 15
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hmmm what other religion put a sacred victim at the center of its moral universe, proclaimed human equality and "love thy neighbor as thyself" as the highest demands, and told its adherents that we must pray to the sacred victim as this is what morality/

eschatology demands??

Christianity had to change in order to stay the same.

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What culture did Christianity spring from?

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i get it!

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I think Judaism is responsible for social justice activism with its universalism and focus on justice, which has been contorted and perverted. Same goes for secularism and progressivism. I believe these are outgrowths of Judaism.

Christianity took it a step further with its victim centered prophet and the meek shall inherit the earth. Equality before God is great, but then got contorted and perverted.

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Sadly you are right <arguments are completely useless>. "Thanks to the internet, there is now a wealth of journalism, of impeccable probity, investigating and interrogating the prevailing left-liberal narratives on race, gender and much else. Now, any open-minded person can - if the will is there - find persuasive, evidence-based refutations of those MSM narratives with their wilful seeking of ‘discrimination’ et al. If the will is there – therein lies the rub. As Saul Bellow put it “a great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.” https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/mrs-thatcher-and-the-good-life

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Well documented by Professor Kevin MacDonald in “Culture of Critique”. The Frankfurt School, critical theory, the civil rights movement, mass immigration from the third world, feminism and attacks on Christianity… it’s all there and thoroughly analyzed. And Dr. MacDonald did not even consider who established and owns the Fed not to mention Congress and the mass media.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

"...arguments are completely useless..."

Yesterday I read of an experiment conducted recently where they had experiment subjects "follow" articles given to them by a bot for a month. The subjects were broken into two groups: conservative or progressive. The conservatives were following progressive articles and the progressive subjects were following conservative articles. At the end of the period they were tested again and found that it had increased the amount of polarization between the two groups, rather than decreased it.

This study would seem to have some bearing on your comment.

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"No country has shown more deference to American foreign policy objectives than the Brits (see: Iraq wars, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and now Israel vs. Hamas), and no country tries to portray itself punching well above its weight as they constantly try to do"

I like to remind Brits that for their continued loyalty, the US recognizes Israel as their greatest ally.

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That being said, the fanboyish subservience of Britain to America is a lot more appealing than the spineless German capitulation to the slightest yelp coming from Washington.

Trump's inability to wield real power was clearly demonstrated by the German political elite's unabashed opposition to him, a rare sight before and since.

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It is not specific American presidents that are obeyed by Europe. It is its Deep State, MICIMATT or whatever you call it. That includes NATO officials, army officers, diplomats, think tankers, etc. You can see it now in action regarding Ukraine where the European position is more bellicose than that of Biden.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

This is completely wrong. The UK created the foundations for Palestine/Israel and has had a uniquely pro Zionist and pro Palestine policy since at least the Balfour Declaration. The UK has a current responsibility to Israel as a former colony: indeed many of today’s issues can be traced back to Balfour’s ambiguous language.

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I don't know how your reply refutes - or even relates - to my comment, but I can assure you, no one in Washington or Tel Aviv ever stops to consider London's opinion when it comes to US-Israeli relations.

10 Downing Street is barely relevant to Brits themselves. When 13 years of Conservative rule is indistinguishable from a Leftist government's tenure, why would anyone bother, other than the tabloids, fishing for some petty trash to air.

The same is true for the Continent, as far as we're concerned, Brexit went without a hitch.

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deletedJan 15
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You must be a rare breed, based on your signature. Orban's fanbase loves Israel, to the point of voting against the ceasefire in the UN, and they always cheer when Netanyahu jr. visits Budapest to talk about Hungary being the safest country for Jews in Europe.

Which is true.

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“No country has shown more deference to American foreign policy objectives than the Brits (see: Iraq wars, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and now Israel vs. Hamas)”

The point is Britain has had a consistent (if contradictory and confusing) strategic objective in Israel well before the US came on the scene (see Balfour Declaration, 1917).

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How does that refutes the quote about the present?

Even if Britain wanted to pursuit a separate foreign policy towards Israel, the latter would rightfully bypass London and go straight to Washington, ever since the Suez Crisis in 1956.

Britain used to meddle, Britain used to be strong, take the initiative; but it's all history now, including the Middle East, and has been, in case of the latter, since 1956.

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Britain has had a consistent and separate foreign policy objective in Palestine since 1917. This is “vaguely” a Two State solution. What you and the author don’t understand is that it’s largely the policy the US adopted and pursued more aggressively.

Britain has been pursuing this policy for over 100 years through any means it deems suitable. However, It’s not a strategic priority for the country (unlike Ukraine). Claiming the US has given Britain an Israeli policy to adopt is just wrong.

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Niccolo's whole country (Croatia or something) was part of Hungary for a millennia, can Hungarians take credit for his prose?

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

The UK laid the foundations for Israel via the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate. However, the UK changed tack on Zionism very early on, at least as early as Lord Passfield's tenure at the Foreign and Colonial Office.

The Brits limited Jewish migration to Palestine in the 30s, scupered the deal for mass migration negotiated by Jabotinsky and the governments of Poland and Hungary (or was it Rumania?) and after WW2 MI6 sabotaged ships carrying refugees to Palestine.

The UK abstained from voting on partition itself and slapped an arms embargo on both sides, but actively supported the Arab forces by allowing Arabs to help themselves to British rms dumps. The RAF flew reconnaisance missions for the Arabs too.

Hostility to Israel was instinctive to many in Whitehall. Sir Evelyn Shuckburgh (the Assistant Under-Secretary of the department responsible for the Near East) in the 50s and 60s was so anxious around Israelis that he'd get stomach cramps prior to meetings. It took decades for this to change.

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Yes, but the policy of supporting both Zionists and Arabs has never been abandoned. It may have been pursued at different speeds at different times, but Britain has had always had a Zionist policy.

The entire issue of Israel needs to be understood in the bedrock of Britain’s vague and contradictory policy of 1917. Thus, I don’t understand why the author assumes the UK to a puppet when it is actually the original author of the story.

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The UK plays a very curious role in US policy formation. It may be a mistake to think of the UK as a single coherent player acting in its national interest. Westminster, Whitehall and the City are all so thoroughly connected to networks within the American power structure that they are extensions of it rather than representatives of the British body politic itself.

UK ambivalence on Israel mirrors the ambivalence of the US very closely. The UK historically pursued a consistent strategy in Europe from the Hundred Years War and, later on, the Treaty of Lisbon which established the Anglo-Portuguese alliance: back the weaker party in enduring continental disputes in order to prevent the stronger one from dominating and switch sides as necessary. The UK and US seek to constrain Israel whenever it succeeds in war (the 'peace process' is essentially about robbing Israel of the security gained from victory) but back it against regional hegemon Iran.

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"Westminster, Whitehall and the City "

Out of these three, you only hear about two if you watch period dramas.

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The City is the key connection between the US and the UK. It is an extension of the cybernetic networks within the US elite itself as well as an instrument for controlling the UK itself. Its discretion, archaic privileges and influence empower the GAE while allowing the British the illusion that they are somehow partners in the governance of the empire.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

The US tells everyone that they are their greatest ally. It is a much over-used term.

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ngl it would be nice to hear that it's Hungary for once <3

Would not join conflicts for it though.

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The very last thing Hungary needs is US approval.

IMHO the Visegrad Bloc should form a collective security pact to defend existing borders, maintain separate armies but establish a joint command structure. Observe strict neutrality between West and Russia. This is way more sense than NATO.

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Anne Applebaum, in a hilariously cunty interview in 2016 - "This is why I don't talk to Hungarians" - already implied that the Visegrad Block is an obstacle for the parasocial Atlanticism that aims for the complete submission of Europe, first to Brussels, then to Washington.

https://mandiner.hu/belfold/2016/04/ezert-nem-allok-szoba-magyarokkal-anne-applebaum-interju-mandiner

She didn't mean it as a compliment. Now her husband is the Polish foreign minister.

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I believe that Eastern Europe:

1. Should be a united block within the EU and on the world stage.

2. Should have its number one goal the level of the prosperity that it was deprived of in the 20th century

Poland alone:

1. Runs a corrosive diplomacy angering all its neighbors (chiefly Germany) based on the security guaranteed by the metropole an ocean away. It's not the first time that Polish diplomacy is irresponsible to the point of lunacy:

https://www.magyar.blog/i/57773727/polish-diplomacy

2. Aims to become some sort of local middle power. That will require sacrifices in men, materiel and prosperity.

My advice: if the Poles are as good at war as they are at diplomacy, they should seek peace.

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A sound idea provided that the bloc base its foreign and defence policies on the principle of non-belligerence and security for its neighbours, above all Russia. Poland's ongoing obsession with confronting Russia is the definition of futility. It cannot expect success and it ignores the fact that an underpopulated Russia would welcome stability on its western frontier.

Poland's infatuation with Washington mirrors the pre-war reliance on Paris and London. The Sanacja (the regime that ran Poland then) were obsessed with the prestige of aligning with imperial powers and ignored the fact that by the 1930s Stalin had given up on exporting revolution and had warm relations with non-communist states like Czechoslovakia.

There is no need to be a middle power. What would it prove? Who would it help? Not ordinary Poles.

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It makes no sense to us, Hungarians either.

I guess we're fundamentally more hedonist and just want to have a good time. I blame paprika.

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Take away Russia, and Poland goes from America's Special Little Buddy to a rather yappy mid-tier backwater satrapy of no particular importance.

Sort of a euro-Colombia, if Colombia had delusions of grandeur but didn't have any cocaine.

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

The German industrial elite continues to pursue a parallel foreign policy to their state/media. If you only focus on that layer of international relations, Germany and Hungary is a love story.

This elite managed to dodge the consequences of Germany's servitude to the American empire, managed to gently push back at every opportunity and exploit every crack. Since NS2 it finds itself, for the first time, suffocating.

This elite is a powerful entity both at home and abroad, and very quiet, or has been, so far.

An American parallel would be Blinken vs Tim Apple, when it comes to Beijing.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

An extremely acute observation. We too often think of foreign policy as a purely state affair but big companies, above all multinationals, are players in their own right.

One might even argue that German industry is a shadow nation (a ghostly Fourth Reich as it were) in its own right. Now that they are cut off from Russia German industry are constrained by American geopolitics as never before.

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It's not a uniquely German phenomenon, when it comes to dodging sanctions, the Benelux countries are real mofos.

The Dutch can be particularly nasty when it comes to economic interests, some say that Romania's (and Bulgaria's) inability to join Schengen is entirely due to their Black Sea ports offering a competitive alternative trade route.

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Adding Ireland

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"some say that Romania's (and Bulgaria's) inability to join Schengen is entirely due to their Black Sea ports offering a competitive alternative trade route."

Maybe in the backrooms. But I have never heard it when the subject is discussed here. It is always about (too many) immigrants.

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Re: Britain

The author and commentator (cut and paster) ignore the fact that American is born from British principles of Locke, Smith, etc. It is no surprise that their world visions and methods of power projection are very similar.

The author also neglects the cultural and familiar ties that bind across multi-generations. The US makes Winston Churchill a national hero. JFK and Clinton were educated in Britain. Cary Grant, Charlie Chaplin, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Harry Potter, etc form a transatlantic cultural fabric.

The author also misunderstands Russia in the context of Anglo-American relations. No country has done more to appease Russian elites before the Ukraine invasion than the UK. A walk through Mayfair or a look at elite boarding schools show London’s roll in recruiting and laundering the capital and reputation of Russian oligarchs. The volte face on this laundering was from public opinion in the face of Ukraine, not US dictat (e.g. Chelsea supporters).

Next, when strategic objectives vary, the countries have different military objectives. Syria and the Falklands are a notable example.

The author also fails to understand the basic history for the decline of British military power. The USA set out to break and inherit relevant parts of the British empire. For example, territory in Diego Garcia, Jamaica, Newfoundland, Bahamas was given to the US in the “Destroyers for Bases” deal. This was specifically engineered by the US to screw Britain in the long run.

It’s manifestly true the US is top dog and all nations are subservient to it. Indeed, China can’t even unify its own nation / invade China without the US’s approval. I’m not sure how unique the UK is in this context.

I don’t understand his points on “British yapping”. If he’s referring to the Red Sea, the author would do well to remember the UK has been the guarantor of Red Sea maritime traffic for 300 years and has had continuous presence in the region since. Would the world be better or worse off if Europe had no short maritime access to Asia?

Finally, where is this lingering hatred of the British? You are using their language, using their philosophy, and using their technology? Why do West Indians, Pakistanis, Indians, Malayas, Nigerians, Ghanaians, etc, continue to export their children to the UK and become British in increasingly record numbers? Indeed, the British government is one of the most diverse in the world.

Does America have a huge influence in the world? Yes. Do open and progressive forward facing countries like the UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Norway see this most? Yes. Does the US have an outsized impact on the UK given we were all once part of the same country and share a common history? Yes.

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

"Yet despite their obsequiousness to American interests, British security think tanks have “next to no influence across the Atlantic”"

The article above bravely presents a sobering assessment of British delusions of equality with America and Britain's status as a sovereign, global power. The political class in America doesn't care about who's in power in Britain, it's irrelevant. It never comes up. Harry Potter, as you rightfully note, is way more relevant in American politics, than whoever the current PM is, or what lunatics will form government after the Conservatives' well-earned implosion.

The Falklands War shocked the world, because nobody expected Britain to act on its own initiative. The Argentinian junta was a very fortunate match, but credit is due, well done, Maggie. It was 40 years ago.

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I think you need to stop taking “Anti-British” pills! The political class in America doesn’t care who’s in power anywhere. China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, EU: all are irrelevant to the hegemony that is the US.

In the hierarchy of irrelevance, Britain will always be top and the most like-minded given shared culture, history and language. This natural produces goal congruence. The UK certainly does not have any pretences otherwise: any Brit will tell as much.

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I love Brits more than any other people in Europe, that's why I don't enable their delusions.

I'm wrestling with Pride and Prejudice at the moment.

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Good points.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

You mean to tell me that natural disasters and systems collapses are going to be reduced to dating profile axioms? Why did this happen? It's complicated. ;)

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Most European states have never been truly sovereign.

First, with the exception of the UK, Spain, Russia, France...most current national states are only 200 years old and an artificial construct to resist French or British hegemony. From the Seven Years war onwards, Prussia, Austria, Illyrians, most of Germany and Italian kingdoms/duchies have not been able to exercise any sovereign strategic power without the consent of Britain, France or Russia. Indeed, when modern nation states attempted to exert sovereign power without hegemony, the result was self interested anarchy (WWI) or subjugation (WWII).

So there is no linear or clear history of sovereign European states, with Spain, Russia, Britain and France as notable exceptions.

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Thanks Niccolo!

I only have one serious note - Lepold should be Leopold. See below.

By the 1960s, the systematic selection for competence came into direct conflict with the political imperatives of the civil rights movement

[Comment: I wonder whether this was partly due to new imperatives of a generation selected and successful due to meritocracy now facing the prospect of that success not being able to be transmitted to their progeny exactly due to meritocracy, so they were creating loopholes, and redefinitions...I wonder if the more intense the meritocracy the more short lived it must be as the winners have a new problem of handing on their privilege to more average regress-to-mean children]

No country has shown more deference to American foreign policy objectives than the Brits (see: Iraq wars, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and now Israel vs. Hamas),

[Comment: given the UK didnt go to Vietnam, and Australia has fought in every war the US requested since WWII, I think AU at least gets an honorable mention in the USA deference olympics...Australia also LOVES to play the punching above weight line as well, in exactly those terms. But this game of being deputy regional sherriff can actually be quite a rational one - one gets all the benefits of the big power, while getting enough regional autonomy to enjoy some freedom. And in the absence of any other spectacular vision of how to live or structure one's society - the big questions of liberalism, religion, tech, hedonism, passage of regimes have been settled, why not? Why reject shopping malls as the end of history if all you are going to do is have high streets, malls, covered-mall arcades, and eventually functional equivalents of shopping malls?]

Lepold Aschenbrenner -->

Leopold Aschenbrenner

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Everything Aris Roussinos says in his witheringly contemptuous assessment of 'The Special Relationship' is true. But it makes me (a Brit) want to just flag up the one good thing that has happened in the UK political landscape since WW2....Margaret Thatcher. Yes 'The Special Relationship' was already delusional in her time but her extraordinary charisma did - at least for a time - make it mean something and be not entirely an embarrassing joke. "Margaret Thatcher inspired the admiration of tens of millions around the world. By bizarre contrast she remains - for large numbers of the progressive-minded among her own countrymen and women - a hate figure." Which says it all about the collapse of the British metaphorical backbone. https://grahamcunningham.substack.com/p/mrs-thatcher-and-the-good-life

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I was in the UK in Spring 1998 when Clinton and Blair re-committed to the Special Relationship. When our English poli sci professor talked about it none of us Yanks knew what he was talking about

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

If Turbo America makes a meritocratic turn, would this necessarily benefit anyone within the US?

The US might choose to simply recruit the best from the global pool, leaving the US with a wholly foreign professional and managerial class. Turbo America would end up like Egypt under the Mamelukes which had a governmental and military elite of Turkish, Balkans and Caucasian origin and a mostly Levantine commercial elite.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

I was thinking of the Ottomans, who also recruited a lot of foreign talent.

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That's a polite way of describing the "boy tax".

The long term result of the Ottoman's relying on the Balkans and the Caucasus to fill their military and administrative elite (and lets not forget the Russians and Ukrainians who ended up in harems) has been to create a very divided Turkey, with an elite that remains distinctly un-Anatolian.

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I didn't just have the Devshirme in mind.

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"So the “debate” that the author wants to see is really just him wanting Classical Liberalism to return to the fore and not actual diversity of thought and opinion?

Shit essay, I apologize for sharing it."

You take what you get nowadays, it's a step in the right direction. I keep track of "Classical Liberals" in Hungary who are critical of Hegemonic Liberalism. I need one hand.

They are, of course, labelled as traitors and proto-fascist collaborators by the colonial comprador bourgeoisie.

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Perhaps Muscular Liberalism would help them return to the fore.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Meritocracy of any kind is only established when elites face either the threat of revolution from below or invasion from without. The soporific social peace established by consumer capitalism and the relative calm of post-Cold War hegemony removed any urgency from the equation, enabling the excesses of DEI to mount. Now that social peace is breaking down at home and inter-state competition heating up America needs to reset the system.

Niccolo is dead right about the time frame. America has a little bit of time left to adjust though I am not sure that it has a full twenty years.

The weakness of a lot of thinking about the competency crisis is the assumption that the regime is even aiming for optimal results. It isn't. The regime is aiming for internal stability. Meritocracy is potentially very disruptive indeed.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Do you really think internal stability is the aim at this point? It feels like these policies were put in place by the desire for internal stability but they long ago forgot what their original intent was and are actually destabilizing at this point. They serve the minority at the expense of the majority.

It seems like some pretty common sense course corrections could re-stabilize things within the US but ideology might not allow course correction at this point.

As for America and its time frame I watch with interest. It feels these days like America will still dominate but over half the world instead of the entire world as China-Iran-Russia alternative is taken up by the rest. I vacillate between reminding myself just how powerful a force inertia is and just how quickly things can fall apart under the right conditions so I don’t know.

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I expressed myself very poorly. By internal stability I meant regime/elite continuity. The stability they seek is the security of the elite.

You are 100% right about destabilization. The regime is actively destabilizing conditions for everyone else to undermine or weaken potential opposition.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Exactly. I took your comment for more pessimistic than it might appear on the surface. It reminds me of the many examples of the dissolution of meritocratic systems that evolved over the millennia described by Fukuyama in The Origins of Political Order, and Political Order and Political Decay. Elites inevitably evolve which concentrate and focus power to aggrandize their group at the overall expense of the entire system.

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That makes sense.

In general I can understand that they are only trying to stabilize for their class at the expense of everyone else but it’s got to be a little more than this right? There is an ideology that is being acted on that works against being able to maintain power. I mean if I was to model how to do this, one thing I would not suggest is to maintain power and stability by degrading competency. I know they don’t say this to themselves but that only furthers my point that much of this is just people acting on ideology. I mean look at the US vp Harris. This is not someone I would put my trust in maintaining power under but they have at least partially done exactly that. There are many other examples as well, they aren’t sending there best and this is at least part of the reason we are headed into a multi polar world (and the people I see who are leading China and Russia appear to be no where near as incompetent as some of the people being promoted within the US system, Lavrov for example seems to be downright brilliant and I’ve seen similar examples on the Chinese side).

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The regime is caught in a trap. It is being weakened internationally by the falling quality of its own personnel and the deterioration in the culture of the elite (evident from the plagiarism scandal a Harvard) and the necessity to prioritise compliance over competency. The growing contrast between much of the US elite and its counterparts in Asia and beyond is striking. This is most apparent in the diplomatic field. There is no one remotely like Lavrov in the US foreign policy elite.

Deskilling and dumbing down the population has certainly worked to make the US more easily controlled from above but has weakened the country as a whole. Given the choice between governing a high performing industrial superpower and managing the decline of a deindustrialized power propped up by key trading partners the elite chose the latter. We are now starting to understand the implications of that choice.

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Really good analysis. I was trying to consider how I might respond to my post and was thinking that they are simply valuing loyalty above all else, a short term play at best. I hadn't considered it this far however.

I often discount the factor of the population itself, but that is a really good point. It still takes a lot of deprogramming on my part to accept how degraded the US, and especially it's population, has become. I grew up in a very patriotic home to good parents that are a perfect example of what a stable country is built on. I still want to believe there is something special about this country, and that we are only one Disney story away from redeeming ourselves, but logically I can only see more of the same ahead, only accelerated (and I guess I mean a former Disney story away, not the current Disney which has embraced this culture of incompetence within it's structure and is expressed through it's storytelling, kind of a perfect mirror image of the country itself if you consider it).

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Not disagreeing, but every country / nation is special. But we also have to remember there some non-countries / nations, such as Ukraine / Israel and Taiwan which are being hollowed out, perhaps to show us just that, that those who resist, are also special.

On the flip-side, the 'culture' as shown through Netflix and Hollywood, at least in the decadent West is, as you say, weak gruel.

On a related point, but Brit-centric, I just tried to read the Booker prize winner of this year, and found it to be very run-of-the-mill fare, ordinary, able to string coherent sentences together, apart from the lack of normal paragraphing. But after reading three quarters of it, I decided not to bother with finishing it, and had someone else tell me the ending.

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Lee Kwan Yew did it in Singapore at independence. He convinced society that meritocracy was the way to go despite the fact that some groups would be underrepresented in cognitively-demanding professions.

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Lee Kwan Yew had several advantages. Singapore had a Chinese majority and the Chinese tend to be pragmatic, unsentimental and realistic (also have a high average IQ). Singapore at the time was very poor and in very dire straits. South-East Asia as a whole was in turmoil. He also had the legacy of British rule, above all the impact of impartial civil law. In addition, Asia has long experience of hierarchy, caste, inequality. The overseas Chinese in particular have plenty of experience of real-life as a market dominant minority which would have helped.

Lee Kwan Yew was perhaps the very best of the post-colonial leaders and easily stands alongside Ataturk, Ben Gurion, Nehru. An extraordinary man. His achievements put the others in the shade. No discussion of post-colonial development is serious without some mention of him.

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Jan 15·edited Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

The Bond listicle: I find the otherwise cheery author's constant tiptoeing around ideological landmines and the guideline-abiding excuses that must be stated up front for the crime of being such a fan girl to potentially "controversial" content sadly oppressive.

Save Olivia Rutigliano from the Bond villain who put an explosive collar on her!

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

British decolonization will be vigorously resisted by the UK elite because such a thing would risk cutting them off from access to the sinecures and opportunities (both corporate and NGO) currently available to loyal US clients. Neither Russia nor China can hope to compete with the US in this regard.

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Apart from all the jobs and scholarships being provided by Russia and Chine to those who glimpse the future more clearly. They may not yet be a flood, but they are there.

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Good point. The standard of higher education in the best Russian and Chinese universities compares favourably to the West but this is rarely acknowledged. The very best investment Russia and China could make is to engage Westerners frustrated by the educational degradation at home.

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

I was going to ask American commenters about the reasons for the decline in American infrastructure, but then I found this in Wikipedia(*) :

"some motorists thought that bridge tolls could more than double (to $12-$15 for automobiles, eastbound only), rising to those of New York City's Hudson River crossings. However, the state passed legislation freezing the toll on the bridge at $5 through 2020 in its 2016 legislative session."

That probably explains it...

(*) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tappan_Zee_Bridge_(2017%E2%80%93present)

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Mainly it is impossible to build anything for anywhere close to even a ridiculous price due to enviro rules, union rules, regulations and pols throwing sand in the gears (sometimes to get paid off).

Also, left wing activists want virtue signaling measures and the right wants tax cuts - nobody wants to pay for some building

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

"Mainly it is impossible to build anything for anywhere close to even a ridiculous price due to enviro rules, regulations..."

Sure. But if the costs of those ridiculous prices are hidden from users and consumers (through subsidies, etc...) it makes it much less likely for voters to finally put some pressure on politicians to block a $3 billion project that could be made for $1.5 billion. Get politicians to block new projects until the rules change (but then I guess they'll just build public "free" projects instead of public-private partnerships....).

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Jan 15Liked by Niccolo Soldo

Logically this should be possible, but so far it hasn’t happened. The ridiculous costs for the 2nd Ave subway or California’s “high speed” rail haven’t hurt the pols backing these at all

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This is one of the reasons I own pipeline and other cash flowing physical infrastructure stocks. It's basically illegal to build competing lines. Incumbents have insurmountable advantages.

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NIMBY is a major factor. People quickly organize to block new development. Skim the first few paragraphs of this article, and realize that articles like this one are a dime a dozen. Homeowners tried to block a utility project for years, finally relented to a downscaled project, and then it STILL got blocked by a regulator. https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2021/09/24/pennsylvania-fight-over-electric-lines-shows-tensions-coming-with-a-clean-energy-future/

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A major problem, as anyone who has ever attempted a rezoning can attest. I split an 18 acre lot into 3x6. One of the neighbors, who himself lived on a 5 acre lot previously split from a larger farm, was against i. Despite the fact his own home would not exist if his ideological position had prevailed 10 years ago when his own lot was divided.

Climb the ladder and pull it up behind you. Story of a generation.

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I don't believe that putting a price tag on everything will make things better. That is just a neoliberal fantasy. Usually it works much better to keep things simple. All those toll booths must be manned and that costs money. People evading the cost will harm the general economy and make sure that a doubling of the price will be far from a doubling of the receipts.

It is a problem of some democracies that politicians have given up on maintaining things because it is nearly invisible for the average voter. But I don't see an easy solution to that.

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