Discover more from Culturcidal by John Hawkins
Freedom and Prosperity Are the Outliers, Not Tyranny and Poverty
An account I follow on X, Wall Street Silver, asked a question that is probably on the minds of many people looking at how badly run our country has become:
The thing is, there is nothing more natural to human beings than tribalism, tyranny, and poverty. It has been our natural state of being throughout world history. Almost all of recorded human history features societies with some kind of strongman with a few allies at the top reaping most of the rewards along with a large body of poor people at the bottom, with very little say in anything, barely making it.
Some people might be under the impression that changed when the Greeks and then later, the Romans, made a Republic work and showed the world a better way. However, it’s worth noting that both those nations fell back into tyranny. In fact, most countries remained monarchies of one sort or another until the 20th century. Even today, twice as many people on earth live in some form of autocracy as a democratic society.
As to accumulating wealth, despite the endless complaints you hear, America is doing pretty well at $69,185. On the other hand, roughly 2/3 of the world’s nations have a GDP per capita of less than 10,000 American dollars. In fact, some of the world’s most prominent nations (China $12,347 and Russia $12,259) are just above that. Nearly half of the world’s countries are at $5,000 GDP per capita or less per year.
Even this level of wealth is a fairly recent development as well. For example, in 1960, the US GDP per capita in today’s dollars was only $19,135. In other words, recorded human history goes back about 5,000 years, but a large portion of the wealth creation in America and for that matter, the world, has occurred in the last 60 years.
That begs an obvious question that most people have already assumed they know how to answer.
If most of the world’s progress towards freedom has occurred in the last 100 years or so and most of the world’s economic progress has happened in the last 60, is that the start of a trend, or is it possible that we are going to revert back towards the mean? The assumption everyone seems to make is that OF COURSE we’re going to continue to get richer and OF COURSE, we’re going to stay free.
History tells us that these are not safe assumptions. Not even close and we’re not even talking about some dystopian scenario out of “The Walking Dead, “Godzilla” or “The Andromeda Strain” ruining things either.
The whole world economy is currently floating on an unsustainable tidal wave of unbacked fiat money that seems almost inevitably destined to create a bigger, badder “Great Depression” when it finally hits. We don’t know when it’s going to finally sweep over us, but when it does, it is at least possible that no one currently reading this will be alive if and when we economically reach the same heights again.
Does that sound too pessimistic? Well, maybe it is, but do you know when the all-time high of Japan’s stock exchange was? 1989. Thirty-four years ago. Detroit used to be one of the biggest economic powerhouses in the world, but it started declining in the fifties and never recovered. Did you know that far in the past, Portugal, Spain, and the Netherlands all were so successful that they managed to have the world’s reserve currencies? Do you ever hear anyone talk about any of those countries as economic powerhouses today? Again, we don’t know how this will play out over the long term, but what we can say is that anyone who assumes we can’t go backward economically, perhaps a great distance, is very foolish.
Similarly, while there certainly are governments of democratic societies that function fairly well, here in the United States and increasingly in Eastern Europe, the governments are poorly run and dysfunctional.
When you consider that our nation was once led by men like Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams, and James Madison while it’s now led by people like Joe Biden, Matt Gaetz, Rashida Tlaib, and George Santos, it’s clear that we’ve degraded more than our ancestors would have thought possible.
Of course, no one likes to point out the obvious, which is that the quality of people we have in office has degraded so much because the morals, common sense, and interest in the common good of the American people have degraded so much.
Let me give you one example of it that seemed like a bit of an out-of-place excerpt from a book I’m currently reading called, Life Lessons From A Brain Surgeon: Practical Strategies for Peak Health and Performance:
Greetings from the year 1954, when the book Seduction of the Innocent by psychiatrist Fredric Wetham became a bestseller. What was the great evil ruining children’s minds back then? None other than the comic book. Batman and Robin were secretly encouraging homosexuality! Professor Marston’s Wonder Woman was turning girls into lesbians! Monsters were filling the kids’ heads with, um, monsters. It may seem like a joke now, but it was an absolute panic back then. Congress held hearings on this terrible vise, grilling William Grimes, publisher of Tales from the Crypt and MAD. By the 1960s and ’70s, it was television that was rotting the young mind. Apparently, the Brady Bunch and Love Boat were corroding kids’ brain cells. Then came the first home video games in the early 1980s. Again, Congress held hearings. Parents’ groups rose up to demand warning labels on excessively violent games. And now we have the latest, most spectacular threat of all: the cell phone—vile robber of children’s attention, purveyor of porn, instrument of peer pressure, destroyer of self-esteem, and ultimate time-waster.
Most people would look at that and go, “Wow, how silly worrying about all those things!” Not me. In fact, to the contrary, I think that is a sign of a healthy, vibrant society. Parents, teachers, and Congress are SUPPOSED TO BE concerned about cultural bad influences on kids. It doesn’t mean they’re always right.
My mom, for example, was very worried about me playing Dungeons and Dragons as a teenager, when all that game ever did was entertain me, help me make friends, and give me an outstanding understanding of statistical probability because of all the different dice you had to roll to play. However, was the fact that she was concerned a sign that she was a good mother? Absolutely.
Today, we have kids growing up on pornography, Andrew Tate, Dylan Mulvaney, TikTok, and drag-queen story hours. Are people alarmed about that? For the most part “no,” but they should be. As the great one, Thomas Sowell likes to say:
Patriotism, morals, and traditional American values don’t just happen naturally, like the sun coming up in the morning. Those things have to be passed on. They have to be pursued intentionally. They have to be taught.
If they’re passed on and taught inconsistently, you’ll see havoc all over your society as a result and WE DO. Again, the natural state of the world is your chief telling you how it’s going to be or you hoping that the Mongols coming over the hill will just loot your farm instead of killing you, burning it down, raping your wife, and selling your son into slavery. Getting past that type of world is anything but easy and natural. It takes a lot of work, consistent effort, and values that go against our natural instincts.
Our instincts are selfish, tribal, and emotional while having a healthy, functional, civilized society requires us to at least have a minimal level of respect for people we don’t like, the law, logic, and what’s good for our whole society, not just us.
We have something historically rare and incredibly special here and if it’s lost, it may take a long time, if we ever get it back at all.