Friday, October 8, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.
Brad DeLong recently compared the economic performance of communist countries with their capitalist neighbors and found, surprise surprise, that capitalism works a lot better than communism:
Eschewing markets robs you of between 80% and 90% of your potential economic productivity.
DeLong’s argument is persuasive, but it also seems a bit dated. Outside of a few English departments pretty much everyone recognizes that communism was a flop. Heck, even Fidel Castro admits that it doesn’t work. Today the pressing question is not America vs. the Soviet Union but America vs. the European Union, i.e. the relatively free market system of the United States vs. the relatively more social democratic system of many European countries.
Here is some recent OCED data on median income by country, from the mid 2000S
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Friday, September 17, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.
My second favorite living historian, Michael Burleigh, who has written stunningly original works on subjects as diverse as Nazi Germany, religion and politics in the last two centuries, terrorism, and morality and World War II, has taken up the cudgels against the despicable attitude of many Brits of the chattering classes regarding the visit of the Pope to the Island next to Ireland.
Under normal circumstances, one might say “welcome” rather than “receive”. But the multiple sexual scandals that have afflicted parts of the Catholic Church have created a window of opportunity for sundry chasers of limelight – including human rights militants, crusading gays, Islamist fanatics, and celebrity God-botherers – to band together to “arrest” the Pope under laws so obscure that few knew they existed. Because child abuse is involved, rather than the more widespread phenomenon of homosexual predation on young men, these manifestations will receive much media attention, especially from the BBC, to the guaranteed perplexity of a less involved general public in a nominally Protestant country. It will require some effort of mind to tune out this noise to hear what the Pope will be saying.
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Monday, July 12, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.
Nine Days That Changed the World is a film produced by Citizens United, Newt Gingrich’s, former Republican Speaker of the House and Catholic convert, group. That Gingrich produced it will probably reduce the number of people who will see the film, due to the fact that Gingrich is subject to legitimate criticism for his past infidelities to his first two wives, and because he is a devil figure for the Left. That is a shame because this film is a thoughtful look at one of the pivotal events in the last century: the unraveling of the Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, which began in Poland and was directly sparked by the visit of John Paul II in 1979 who inspired Lech Walesa and other Poles to found Solidarity and give voice to the Polish cry for freedom that ultimately prevailed.
In his address to the civil authorities in Poland on June 2, 1979, the Pope touched upon the never ending desire of the Poles for their independence:
We Poles feel in a particularly deep way the fact that the raison d’être of the State is the sovereignty of society, of the nation, of the motherland. We have learned this during the whole course of our history, and especially through the hard trials of recent centuries. We can never forget that terrible historical lesson—the loss of the independence of Poland from the end of the eighteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. This painful and essentially negative experience has become as it were a new forge of Polish patriotism. For us, the word “motherland” has a meaning, both for the mind and for the heart, such as the other nations of Europe and the world appear not to know, especially those nations that have not experienced, as ours has, historical wrongs, injustices and menaces. And thus the last World War and the Occupation, which Poland experienced, were still for our generation such a great shock thirty-five years ago when this war finished on all fronts. At this moment there began the new period of the history of our motherland. We cannot however forget everything that influenced the experiences of the war and of the Occupation. We cannot forget the sacrifice of the lives of so many men and women of Poland. Neither can we forget the heroism of the Polish soldier who fought on all fronts of the world “for our freedom and for yours”.
We have respect for and we are grateful for every help that we received from others at that time, while we think with sadness of the disappointments that we were not spared.
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Saturday, June 26, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.
June 25, 1950, the North Koreans, at the instigation of Stalin, invaded South Korea. The US, under UN auspices, intervened under General Douglas MacArthur. In a brilliant campaign, MacArthur led the American and allied forces to victory, largely destroying the North Korean Army and conquering most of North Korea. Massive Chinese intervention led to a see-saw war up and down the Korean peninsula, with a stalemate ensuing from July 1951-July 1953. Eisenhower got the North Koreans and their Chinese and Soviet backers to finally agree to a truce by threatening to use nuclear weapons in Korea.
Our POWs during the war were treated with the usual barbarity with which Communist regimes have treated prisoners of war.
One reason that the war dragged on is because many North Korean and Chinese prisoners of war did not want to be repatriated. Harry Truman, to his everlasting credit, refused to send them back against their will: “We will not buy an armistice by turning over human beings for slaughter or slavery“. Eventually, in a stunning rebuke to Communism, some 46,000 North Korean and Chinese soldiers refused repatriation. Conversely, only 22 Americans and 1 Brit refused repatriation, with almost all of them eventually returning after the war. Read the rest of this entry »
Saturday, June 12, 2010 \AM\.\Sat\.
Thursday, June 10, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.
On my personal blog. I write about my experience with the music of Russian folk singer Zhanna Bichevskaya.