Ryan Bridges, an editor with Geopolitical Futures, wrote a summary of “Tales of BREXITs past and present: Understanding the Choices, Threats and Opportunities in Our Separation from the EU” by Nigel Culkin and Richard Simmons in the “What We’re Reading” section of the Geopolitical Futures website. It’s available to subscribers of Geopolitical Futures only, and I do encourage you to subscribe if you haven’t done so. I think it would be well worth your time and money. I have only read Ryan Bridges’ summary of the book , not the book itself, and what I read stirred me enough to write this post on it. The book isn’t available for general loan but is apparently available in the reference section of the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library of the National Library of Singapore, so I might just make some time to hop over and at least give it a gander.
I’d like to comment broadly about two things here: tradeoffs and free markets.
As Thomas Sowell repeatedly says, economic factors, which are part of overall geopolitical factors, will influence the political decisions of the nation to whom those factors pertain. That is, if the political leaders are willing to include facts when making those decisions. This short video by STRATFOR sums it up very well where the UK is concerned. It’s embedded immediately below:
We cannot have our cake and eat it too. All of us live according to constraints, and the quality of our natural lives depends on how well we respond to those constraints. If we respond well to the characteristics of those constraints, there will be a tendency towards greater prosperity and freedom for the majority of a nation’s people and hopefully for neighbouring states as well. The UK has traditionally been known as a “sea power” but that could not have occurred if England and Scotland had not been linked by London Bridge. Geopolitical Futures’ Founder and Chairman George Friedman wrote a piece on London Bridge a while back. It makes for intriguing reading, and I recommend you get your hands on it. Once a stable land base has been acquired, there will be a tendency for nations to expand outward over the seas. Carthage, the European powers, Kublai Khan’s Yuan Dynasty, more Chinese than Mongol, and of course, following the Yuan Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty’s Admiral Cheng Ho, or Zheng He as he is better known here, all expanded out to sea, with varying degrees of success. The United States would not be the empire it is now had it not first secured North America while continuously developing sea power and now space, which is actually an extension of air power, in my own view. The UK has traditionally kept to the British Isles while playing off Continental powers against each other. Perhaps this agreed with George Friedman’s view that Europe consists of 52 sovereign states which hate each other, so better for the UK to steer clear of the Continent. In fact, France and Germany actively prevented the UK’s integration into the various forms of European Union after the Second World War. Perhaps the UK sought economic security in the wake of losing its empire, an empire upon which, it was once said, and truly so, the sun never sets. BREXIT probably occurred when the EU’s promise of “peace and prosperity” seemed to fade away after the 2008 global financial crisis. Thatcherism prevailed over Socialism, it seems, during that time. A myriad of reasons, no doubt, but the country decided on that tradeoff. Tradeoffs are not zero-sum games. They occur because the nature of people does not naturally change and this world will not satisfy what everybody wants. Tradeoffs, not solutions, are the way to manage the use of scarce resources which have alternative uses. I hope the UK remembers that she is trading off socialist distribution of perceived plenty for better husbanding of Human Capital.
Walter E Williams said that for free markets to work, there has got to be a high level of morality, of common decency and civic virtue (my extrapolations included). That is besides small government, meaning a government that takes care of what it is supposed to take care of and leave the free market to regulate itself. The government basically makes sure that when the free market regulates itself, people remain nice to each other and not kill each other. I have just begun to explore more fully Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman, never having studied economics in my life. I remain firm in the belief that, in this constrained world, free markets as advocated by them, and others like them, are the way forward. The video below is a good excerpt of Milton Friedman’s thoughts. It is titled “Testing Milton Friedman: Equality of Opportunity”.
With the downward spiral from responsible self-worth, diligence in industry, rule of law and upholding equal opportunity, even as one seeks to gain as much as possible for his own, towards self-loathing “entitlement” mindsets, continually encouraging genuinely free markets in our societies is of paramount importance. There is no perfect system in this world, but we ought to strive for what brings people forward in an ennobling way in this life. There is another interesting video in which Peter Robinson discusses with Richard Epstein and John Taylor the question “Are we all Keynesians now?” referring of course to the propositions of John Maynard Keynes. The video is below:
I trust this short post will set you thinking about tradeoffs and free markets, and cause you to explore what free market proponents from Adam Smith to Thomas Sowell have put forth in their writings. They have their differences, of course, but take a look at what they have said and come to your own conclusions.
My thanks to Ryan Bridges for his summary. Nice rabbit trail. Perhaps I could end with this paragraph from Jack Weatherford’s “Genghis Khan and the making of the Modern World”. It is the second paragraph on page 234 of the paperback copy.
“In conquering their empire, not only had the Mongols revolutionized warfare, they also created the nucleus of a universal culture and world system. This new global culture continued to grow long after the demise of the Mongol Empire, and through continued development over the coming centuries, it became the foundation of the modern world system with the original Mongol emphases on free commerce, open communication, shared knowledge, secular politics, religious coexistence, international law, and diplomatic immunity.”
Sounds like a good tradeoff to me.