When I hear that the Soviets had born the brunt of efforts at defeating Nazi Germany, with 25 million dead, what comes to my mind is: only goes to show what a terrible regime it was. Had the Soviet Union been a capitalist and politically free country, her better efficiency and greater humanity would have saved millions of her own people.
It annoys me that Soviet achievements are cited to belittle American efforts, political, financial and military, which, in fact, were decisive in curtailing the length of the Nazi-induced ordeal. Beyond that, our American liberators ensured that the Soviets would not overrun Europe and gave future generations of Europeans the gift of freedom, prosperity and peace.
Also, I have two comments on the issue at the Coyote blog.
I’ve never had a close call wing-suit flying. I practice a very conservative form of human flight. When I fly with Whisper, we only jump off the safest cliffs in the world with the longest and cleanest rock drops. This allows Whisper to go on amazing, long mountain climbs and hikes with us, instead of being trapped in the car or left at home. It was mostly a matter of practicality of not wanting Whisper to miss out on incredible mountain dog-walks that led us to wing-suit flying together.
Make sure to check the panorama view of this sunset at Henri-Chapelle.
Situated 20 miles from Liège (Belgium), Maastricht (Netherlands) and Aachen (Germany), respectively, the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery is a strikingly dignified and beautiful place. Since my first visit in 2002, I keep returning to the cemetery when in the area. Magically, the atmosphere at Henri-Chapelle creates a close, even vibrant tie between us and our liberators.
It is a mystery to me how one should be able to make any money at all with the product discussed in the below clip -- it just tastes awful. By contrast, milk is one of my favourite drinks. Also, the best energy drink I know is mate tea. Or a drop of vodka. But only a drop.
Mind you, Austria can be a funny place: you arrive at your ski resort, happy to take a breather, on the drinks menu you are being offered a fancy sounding drink which consists of whiskey and Red Bull. You order the oddity and are promptly served a glass of whiskey and a can of the energy drink. So you open the can and pour it into the whiskey. When you get to sip the drink and dreamily study the inscription on the can, you learn that it is illegal to mix the energy drink with alcohol. Which is oddly constricting, as the drink is only drinkable when heavily diluted with whiskey. In the meantime, you are left to reason - since it is me who has committed the mixing act, I suppose, the restaurant proprietor is off the hook, and full legal responsibility rests with the hapless foreigner.
I could talk for hours on the masochism of being a German spending a holiday in Austria.
As for the below opinion, while I regret the language used in certain passages and doubt the gentleman's economic literacy, I am impressed with the show of character and share with him a robust dislike of the beverage.
I am not sure that respect for the productive (and the processes that allow them to be productive in a singularly benign fashion) is deeply rooted in our political consciousness, or ever was, as Deirdre McCloskey seems to propose in her illuminating presentation below; the opposite attitude is not only politically correct in our days, it has been popular for a long time. In highly developed Germany, Nazism was utterly anti-capitalist (as was the Weimar Republic dominated by totalitarian parties, and social democratic post-War Germany), and the Jews were a widely despised symbol of the forces that have made mankind rich.
I tend to think, capitalism-and-freedom survive because they work so much better than anything else. In this way, they create a corridor of success from whose purest and most efficacious part, the corridor's middle lane, you may deviate in this or that direction. However, the farther you veer away from the center section the more the deviation begins to hurt - and people tend to return to the middle, as the Germans's did after 1945.
Unfortunately that is only true for the few countries that have had the fortune of developing, at an early stage in history, by human action but not by human design the fundamental institutions of capitalism-and-freedom.
Political awareness of the unrivalled benefits of capitalism-and-freedom, I suspect, has a negligible role to play in the success story of the free world.
We stumbled into it. And we keep stumbling.
Mind you, this need not be bad news altogether. Within the corridor of success, there is leeway to accommodate all manner of novel comportment and social experimentation, while such probing is rather strictly bounded, at the end of the day. The trials may affect the shape of the corridor, and it may get twisted in unexpected directions. But such is the character of a spontaneous order whose detailed outcome no one can predict.
Hayek tends to invoke the term spontaneous order to highlight the beauty and cybernetic strength of important institutions of freedom, especially the free market. What he does not seem to appreciate sufficiently, however, is that freedom herself accelerates the process by which new permutations are generated in a spontaneous order. Significantly, this may mean that liberty produces her own challenges and rivals to a larger degree than may appear desirable to the purist liberal (European sense of the word). And this may be her inescapable nature.
Viewed within the framework of the corridor of success, we may find ourselves blessed with a dynamic self-equilibrating process that admits more freedom-averse currents than the ordinary liberal will countenance, thus enhancing and accelerating the experimentation while keeping it within relatively safe and long-term promising limits.
In my above reasoning, I am almost certainly underestimating the importance of liberty-conscious activists, opinion-makers and politicians in the history of freedom. In Germany, for example, up to the middle of the 19th century, the educated were liberals almost to a man. However, often submerged in countervailing currents, the work of the politically active/effective liberal is immensely difficult, especially today; in order to understand the dimension of the liberals' efforts, their difficulties and options, I would like to think, it might be helpful to consider the implications of my theory of the corridor of success. What is more, with our rightfully keen eye for the white and the black, we should not forget to reward ourselves with an eye for the pleasantly grey as well.
"Stoffel" in German is a boor, a churlish, rude, or unmannerly person. The term may have similar meanings in Dutch or Afrikaans. At any rate, it is not a bad name for an animal I greatly admire - the amazing honey badger, a rather small but immensely powerful creature, who is able to kill lions and tigers - the honey badger domiciles in Africa, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and, yes, the Indian peninsula. Probably the most intelligent animal next to the raven and us. Fierce, fearless and ravenous, he kills and feasts on the most venomous snakes on earth, and accepts hundreds of (occasionally lethal) bee stings to get to his favourite food, honey and larvae.