I agree with all of this. It saddens me, but it is true.

The fundamental strength of liberalism is that most smart people agree with it. A lot of high-IQ people are useless and deluded, but most aren't and having them on your side is basically the only thing that matters. This is true for both economic growth and political stability. You're in for trouble if the smart cool people feel like the governent is not run by them (for them), because once the really competent autocrat dies there's no telling if a similarly competent guy will manage to properly repress the high IQ malcontents. Autocracies (and right wing ones especially) have a small pool of talent to choose from, while a liberal oligarchy gets a constant stream of mostly competent true believers to fill the ranks. Curtis Yarvin has this funny story about his mother being an au-pair in Franco's regime and basically everybody cool wanting to listen to the Beatles and wear blue jeans.

I think it gets better at the extreme tail of the intelligence distribution, but the overwhelming majority of the smarter midwits will be liberal.

This is true in the US and it is especially true everywhere else. This problem seems basically unsolvable for me, although you seem to think that average Taliban intelligence proves things can be better. They can't.


The Right's human capital problem is probably responsible for poor Russian performance in the war and it is generally responsible for how liberalism is the default cultural setting everywhere. I don't have much insight on China, but the only thing that matters, for me, is that the world's poorest Chinese live in the PRC. It always made little sense for people like us to have a lot of faith in the Chinese system. If your population has the highest average IQ on earth, minimally sane institutions should suffice for success; Taiwan is right next door proving so.

In less horrid timeline, all of this could be fine. IQ research wouldn't be a problem had the US not imported hundreds of thousands of blacks. Russia would be a large, very wealthy, relatively conservative alternative to Anglo-Saxon neuroticism without the Bolsheviks destroying their potential. Maybe China could've avoided Mao and thus become a normal, wealthy country with its own gravitational pull and appeal.

But none of this happened.

I still think Russia could be fine and a much diminished but real alternative to the reigning political paradigm if it manages a reasonable victory in Ukraine. This would involve annexing half the country, which is hard, but I think the western sanction arsenal has largely been exhausted and the country can do more or less fine quality-of-life wise; It's still a reasonably smart country. Winning the war would take care of the biggest risks to political stability and would probably reverse a non-trivial amount of the (relatively small, for Russia) brain-drain that started this year. The USSR managed to be wealthier than most of the planet with similar isolation and much worse economic management.

For China, my only hope is that insanity can't go on forever. But then again, the decade-old widely deluded notions of most elite westerners and their policy consequences proves you can be stupid for a very long time.

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Strange to read something that basically says "things are going to continue on pretty much as they always have, etc." and it leave me feeling like I just took the biggest black pill.

Also, are u okay, bro? Have u given up? If I took this article seriously then I wouldn't really have any reason to continue reading your work (sorry I dont pay, inflation and 4 mouths to feed and all that). And honestly, if this is how u feel then why write anything else on these topics?

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This was excellent. I think your long form writing is a better use of it time than Twitter. I think it’s hard to write when I’m on Twitter. It makes concentration harder I think.

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Oct 2, 2022·edited Oct 2, 2022Liked by Richard Hanania

It's great to update one's beliefs as the passage of time provides new data. But this would be even more interesting if you were to pre-register how future events would strengthen or reverse these recent conclusions. For example, would you change your mind if life expectancy in China were to surpass life expectancy among Asian-Americans (and not just Americans as a whole)? Or, what are each of the potential outcomes of the next global economic downturn, and which are consistent vs inconsistent with this theory?

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Oct 2, 2022Liked by Richard Hanania

> I’ve always had a visceral dislike of what I call “normie theories of democracy.” We are told that democracy works because it provides checks and balances, allows for the peaceful transfer of power, and the correction of mistakes.

I think a semi-implicit condition of these theories is that this democracy allows for radical opposition, some amount of riotous protests and at least plausible outside challenge (military or economic). The existence of the Sweden-Democrats forced the Social-Democrats to move back to the middle; Giorgia Meloni's ascendance is likely going to discourage future heavy-handed lockdowns in Italy; the shadow of the Kiev Majdan prevented Zelensky from making any overly strong concessions to Russia (even though he was elected as a dove). Ironically, the "most Western" countries like the US, Germany and France are the ones where these conditions are least satisfied: In Germany, the government has been keeping the Right out of ruling coalitions through a ridiculous informal system of "secondary sanctions" (the most famous case being https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_Thuringian_government_crisis ); the French Right is constantly battling what in the US would be considered brazen SLAPP lawsuits; and then there is the US, where some parts of the GOP are doing everything they can to speed up their ostracism.

My pet theory is that there is a "size penalty" in force here: Not just democracy, but any kind of responsible government becomes harder to maintain the larger (in population) and more heterogeneous (ethnically, culturally and even economically) a country is. Feedback takes longer to reach the government; local protest is easier to extinguish and marginalize; problems can stay unnoticed for longer while everyone is watching federal politics or pretending it doesn't need to concern them. This doesn't mean that we should try to break up states willy-nilly; Ukraine would probably have been a lot less successful if it entered the war in two pieces, and a divided Britain would be missing at least some of its current influence. But descriptively, it seems like a good predictor for success/failure of states where it would otherwise be surprising. Many small countries (including ones I thought well-governed, like Israel) went draconian on COVID restrictions early on, but quickly let go once they realized it wasn't sustainable or particularly well-advised. Being small and not overly bureaucratized, they reversed their policies without much trouble. Meanwhile, China's government can afford to live in the clouds for a while with its GDP, and the US, even as its government rightly changed course, is struggling to keep significant parts of its population on board.

This also means that success stories like Singapore, Israel, Estonia, Switzerland are perhaps less impressive than they look like -- sure, they've been going the right way, but they also had an easier time finding and following it. I've been joking that whoever loses the 2022 Sweden elections should get to rule Germany as a consolation prize, but in reality they would soon be suffering from the same problems that plague German politics. I'm afraid having Lee Kuan Yew preside over China won't be much better.

Obviously, this also means that the EU should be blown down to its role from the 1990s, but I doubt anyone commenting on this blog would disagree with that.

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Hanania’s liberal turn can be explained very simply by his acquiescence to his Silicon Valley paymasters and their social circles. Sad to see how easily the biggest troll on twitter got co-opted by social approval and money.

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Genuinely disappointing piece! History is LONG, Richard! For hundreds of years in Europe you could have said that feudalism would never end, and for hundreds of years you'd be proven right. And then....

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Is Brazil a "liberal democracy?" If so, then liberal democracy can last forever. But remember - America is fast becoming a hybrid of Honduras and Bangladesh. The days of happy-go-lucky Anglo-America are over, and instead we are quickly becoming a Brazil of twerking and mobilized hordes. If you call this a "democracy," then sure. But is it really?

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>While Democrats may be in favor of allowing “gender affirming care” for minors and Republicans might oppose it, Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell wouldn’t dare misgender a trans adult.

The notion that this state of affairs would continue and even solidify is one of the most depressing things imaginable to me. I agree that China and Russia are not credible threats or alternatives to the "liberal" order we have here. If we are to have change, it will have to come from within, not because Putin or Xi somehow magically showed us the way. But good Lord do I hope it can come somehow. The idea of leftism, in particular on this issue, simply continuing to harden as the status quo indefinitely feels like the final black pill to me, if that's really what one believes we're in for.

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You are a big supporter of prediction markets. Prediction markets are a bit similar to democracy in the way they trust the wisdom of the crowds. So preferring ballots to dictators should have been a natural instinct to you.

You didn't mention Sweden but it is pretty amazing how the most progressive nation on earth has just elected a far-right coalition when the excesses of third world immigration became unbearable. Democracy has innate flexibility.

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Shallow argument.

Russia was forced into war *because* it was non-Progressive (it isn't "Conservative", it just has a different ideological spectrum). It could only have been allowed to grow into a "medium European economy" if it accepted Progressivism as its state religion. What then? Just another dying, deracinating 19th century nationstate holdover with different colors on the wrapper. Russia may lose this war, because it isn't a particularly strong country, but it had no choice to fight it.

"Zero Covid" was the West's religion for two years. Now it's China's religion. Dumb I guess, but it's not like the West washed its hands of the dumb just because its media ordered peons (including yourself) to pretend they hadn't been hysterical about covid as recently as January and February this year (remember Austria's 2G+ regime and plans to criminalize being unvaccinated?). The priorities of the rulers changed but the West's dumbasses who did Zero Covid did not lose their positions. They are still there.

One could make a broader argument that neither Russia (a post-Bolshevik country that by no means purged the previous ideology) nor China (a current Bolshevik country) has ever been free of Progressivism in this century. They both inherited very much the same priors as the West. Let's see a Christian orthodox Russia with a birth rate of 7 children per women or a China with a divine Emperor that has no need to appeal to public opinion and see how well the West would be doing. Instead, they're fighting very much the same sort of states just with less incumbency advantage of having won recent conflicts and seized vassals.

The deep problem with "liberal democracy" (Progressivism) is the same as all dying later stage empires which is that it wants a population of atomized eunuchs. Is it going to get it? Probably. And as it gets closer and closer, it becomes easier and easier to conquer until a horse tribe of a few dozen people can come in, knock over the eunuch-bureaucrat "elite" and conquer or slaughter the serfs with minimal opposition. Is that a hundred years away? So what?

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"Democracy is the road to socialism" Karl Marx

Since the advent of democracy:

- taxes were never so high

- the state was never so patronizing

- the regulatory burden was never so heavy

- the surveillance state was never so snoopy

- political power was never so centralized

- the currency was never so worthless

- totalitarianism was never to close

- economic growth was never so low

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Just because liberal democracy produces better results does not at all mean it will become the default organization of human societies. There are more basic forces at work. From the time we came down from the trees humans have schemed, made war, plundered and murdered to gain power over other humans. Liberal democracy is a historical oddity at this point, created by men of the Enlightenment. Human nature is working hard to destroy it, every day.

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I wonder if Fukuyama would have called the increasingly authoritarian-leaning government that we have now in the West "liberalism"? And doesn't the transformation of the political ideology of the West violate Fukuyama's prediction, even though its still Western hegemony?

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Hanania with selective memory here. Was only a year ago U.S elites were telling us to double or triple mask up, even after a bunch of studies showed single masking did almost nothing. Hanania also praised western liberalism for not going into full China style lockdowns but the reality is several liberal countries came very close and it was only the loud protesting and “prove it” attitude from one corner of the American right that showed the ridiculousness of covid theater and stopped all the pandemic nonsense. Without them this article would be very different.

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If you truly hope to become the best intellectual in the twenty-first century, you're gonna have to do better than this, Hanania.

You're overupdating on the lockdowns. Chinese liberals are on the ascent, and will likely pressure Xi into relaxing Zero Covid. More broadly, the higher conformity of Asians might have downsides, but higher-comformity countries, -Germany, Japan, etc-, usually are more successful. Don't let your personaly distate for lockdowns and mask mandates alter your worldview.

Also, talk of democracy is usually misguided. What classical thinkers, such as Machiavelli in his Discourse on Livy, and we moderns, mean by democracy are two very different things. They would call what we live in an oligarchic republic, not a democracy. And they might call the Chinese that, too. It's not as if they had proven unable to adapt ; they've walked away from communism, for God's sake.

For states, there's a tradeoff between centralizing power, to be able to plan and make sacrifices for the future, and decentralizing, which improves efficiency. China and Russia are currently more centralized than most Western democracies. However, FDR, Churchill and de Gaulle all amassed amounts of political power comparable to what Xi has today. We should neither make ideological pronouncements nor talk about "democracies" and "dictatorships" ; what a state claims to be, whether socialist, democratic, fascist, or anything really, and what it is, have almost nothing to do with each other.

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