The Great Decline: Where Is This All Going?
The UK, along with the rest of Western Europe, not to mention the US, is in a very bad place. Where does this end up? Your Sunday morning thought piece.
Something is very wrong with my country. Something big and something bad.
We can all feel it, though we might not agree on what is actually wrong.
The great institutions of state are falling apart. Mighty institutions that I grew up trusting for their integrity, respected around the world, seem to be crumbling amidst incompetence, incoherence, corruption and more.
The government, essentially unelected, is unpopular and ineffectual. Not that a properly elected government would make much difference. Sir Humphrey and the Blob still seem to run everything. The system seems set up to look after the system, rather than its people. The opportunities for change and reform that were first, Brexit, then Boris Johnson’s sweeping 2019 election win, have been squandered. The government is unable to carry out even its most basic function, which is to defend the borders.
The Bank of England has for many years been destroying the value of money. Inflation, which apparently was unforeseeable, is now at 9%. And that’s just official inflation – we all know actual inflation is higher. The Bank’s monetary policies, together with planning laws, have given us an intergenerational wealth divide which means anyone born after about 1985 can’t afford anywhere to live. They delay starting families as a result, and they have smaller families, with the long-term consequence that the local population is eroded away. This then gives rise to the argument that, as locals aren’t reproducing, we “need” immigration.
I can’t remember trust in the police, who seem more concerned with online wrong-think than violent crime, ever having been so low. I wrote that sentence before the David Carrick scandal. The courts are overwhelmed and the court system is both expensive and antiquated. The legal system is manipulated and exploited, only affordable to the very rich or very poor. The penal system is inadequate.
Google “NHS and news”, if you want to see what state healthcare is in. Radical progressive ideology has enveloped education. Even the armed forces have been afflicted by it. Universities are overpriced and increasingly irrelevant to the modern work environment.
The BBC, the national broadcaster, is loathed for its bias, and its output is, for the most part, crap. Luxury green ideology has left us with sky-high energy prices. Royal Mail only occasionally delivers - I’m still getting Christmas cards now. The trains are useless and expensive. Who knows how well the civil service is doing? It’s opaque.
The electoral process has become meaningless. You get the same blob whoever you vote for. Representative democracy is neither representative nor democratic.
I could go on. You get the point.
Everywhere that is not functioning involves (or has involved in its recent history) the heavy hand of the state. You could look at, say, shops, tech, restaurants or media – areas where the state is less involved – and user dissatisfaction levels are not comparable. Airports actually ran better when the border force went on strike. It’s as though the state is inherently incompetent. Why there aren’t more libertarians, I’ll never understand.
Meanwhile, all of these institutions are costing a fortune. Spending on most is at all-time highs. By the time you factor in inflation (which is a stealth tax - even the Chancellor recently admitted as much), taxation levels are comfortably in excess of 50%. That is to say: more than half of everything you earn is taken from you by the state to pay for stuff that doesn’t work.
That’s before we get to the tax on the future which is debt and deficit spending.
And then there’s the waste. Here is just one example:
Imagine how much better off we’d all be, if citizens, rather than the government, could choose where to allocate the money they earn. You spend your money better than they do.
Culture wars and mass migration
It’s not just crumbling institutions and state overreach. They call it the Culture Wars, but we are in the midst of a religious war, an ideological struggle. What Elon Musk calls “the woke mind virus” – an aggressive, radically progressive ideology born out of an obsession with identity politics – has taken over, especially within institutions and education, and is wreaking havoc.
From male rapists being put into women’s prisons to expensive green initiatives that actually damage the environment to a pandemic of cancel culture. Again, I could go on. I don’t need to spell it out here. You know what I’m talking about.
Small government and libertarianism solves this too, by the way. The virus would not be able to survive and spread without the oxygen of public money.
Meanwhile, the demography of the country has changed, and as a result, so has its identity (though few have yet realised that). Last year, 1.1 million people migrated to this country – that’s just the ones who were granted visas. There are plenty more that weren’t. In effect, roughly one in every 65 people you meet in this country only came here last year.
The London of the 1970s that I grew up in has vanished. The archetypical Londoner used to be the Cockney – the white working-class man or woman born within the sound of Bow Bells. Today the Cockney, once such an instantly recognisable English type and one that has had an incredible influence on Britain, barely exists. They’ve all gone. Almost every other UK city is on a similar journey to indigenous British white minority.
As the song goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”. Whatever we had has gone and we will never get it back.
It’s not just the UK. It’s the whole of Western Europe, and probably much of North America too. My German friend jokes that Buenos Aires will be the last European city.
On which note, it was incredible to watch the World Cup Final between Argentina and France. By the time the game ended and the substitutions had been made, it was, essentially, a match between Africans from Europe and Europeans from South America.
I am not “anti-migration”, by the way. If anything, I am pro it. In my National Anthem of Libertaria I argue for free movement. The mass movement of people is an inevitable tide in the affairs of men. People have always moved, and always will. But I also view conserving our culture, identity and communities as paramount, and the state is failing to do that. If such things were not state responsibility, but locals’, and people were empowered by lower taxes and the greater responsibility that comes with a smaller state, the outcome would be different.
Mass migration is inevitable. People think it’s going to decrease. It’s not. It’s going to increase. There are more people in the world than ever before and – whether it’s those displaced by war, by lack of water, by poverty, hunger or (probably the primary factor) lack of opportunity – more and more of them are on the move. Because of modern communications, more of them are aware of better lives to be had elsewhere. Because of modern travel, more of them are able to travel further and faster than ever before. As a result, we are in a migration of people of historically unprecedented proportions. It’s only going to increase.
Terrified of being labelled racist, Western governments have no coherent philosophy, let alone an actionable strategy, to deal with it all. Especially as both the public and the media have lost sight of the difference between what is legal immigration, what is illegal and what is asylum. Moreover, it has become impossible for all the shouting “racist” to have a grown up conversation about how much immigration we actually want - 100,000 a year? 500,000? Net zero? How pertinent is the Douglas Murray title: The Strange Death of Europe.
The world is changing fast. For good or for bad, the Britain we once knew has left Middle Earth. I don’t think anyone voted for it. I don’t see many leaders trying to stop it.
Locals who have paid taxes all their life and now receive inadequate services, or see that tax money being spent on these new Britons, while they go overlooked, not unreasonably feel betrayed, angry, frightened and more.
Accountable local government with local borders might be better able to act on the wishes of its people, and defend against this sudden influx that is disrupting so many communities – if so desired. But that is not possible with Britain’s remote, centralised, unaccountable state. Given its record elsewhere, when the state is in charge of borders, why should it be any surprise they don’t function properly?
A genuinely free market-driven economy might be happy with open borders and quickly able to adapt – more people to sell products to, a greater choice of people to employ – what’s not to like?
But the state systems – schools, hospitals, transport infrastructure – cannot cope. As Milton Friedman observed, you cannot have open borders and an expansive and benevolent welfare state. You can have one or the other, but not both. Yet currently, both is what we have (or are attempting to have). That’s why everything is falling apart. In effect, we are paying for ourselves to be colonised.
Maybe it’s multi-culturalism and expansive state welfare that are incompatible: the latter may only properly function in more mono-cultural societies, such as Japan.
(Similar arguments can be made about crime levels. They tend to be lower in mostly mono-cultural cities, especially in Asia, to those in the the more multi-cultural west).
Whether it’s Hull, Skegness, Mansfield or any other provincial town, when boatloads of young men from different cultures, with no instinctive loyalty to the UK or its ways (and sometimes a contempt for it), are dumped in a community and the community is given no say in the matter, and locals have no power to resist, any anger felt is pretty understandable. There are incidents when the young men are put up in four or five-star hotels, while there are locals, homeless, in tents outside. It is not what people want, nor what they voted for. As I say, representative democracy is neither representative, nor democratic. The model is broken.
Brave New World, digital nomad-ery, robot takeover — or something worse?
Finally, there are incredible developments in technology: the new worlds being designed for us by nameless, and, in many cases, slightly autistic coders in far away places, the extraordinary expansion of surveillance and the erosion of privacy. Those who have monitored ChatGPT will know that before long as much as half of the content on the internet will be generated by bots. But they are not neutral - they are politically biased. What are the implications of that and the extraordinary influence these nameless coders will have to shape the global narrative?
Never mind whose fault this all is, or the rights and wrongs of it all. We all have our ideas. Plenty of them. What I want to know is: where is this all going? I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
Many draw parallels with the Fall of Rome and the invading barbarians at the gates. Others say we are headed into totalitarianism akin to George Orwell’s 1984. Many of my Eastern European friends think we are making the same mistakes they once made and headed into some kind of 21st century Marxism. My Venezuelan friends think the same. Some see a new rise of fascism akin to the 1930s.
Some look to Isaac Asimov and the rise of intelligent machines (see my piece on ChatGPT, if you want to know just how advanced machine learning is now).
My genius bitcoin billionaire mate, who has long since disappeared somewhere remote in New Zealand, thinks we are going into a world where everybody is housed in Butlins/CentreParks/Club Med (depending on your socio-economic status)-type holiday resorts, with virtual reality headsets on all day, while robots do all the work. That vision tallies somewhat with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Another compelling scenario comes in James Dale Davidson and Lord William Rees-Mogg’s, in which they describe a two-tiered society. On one tier, thanks to advances in technology and communication, there will be a class of largely untaxed digital nomads, travelling from place to place, operating independently of nation states and government structures. Meanwhile, there will be a much larger class of people trapped in their nations, working in the physical economy (rather than the stateless digital one), heavily taxed and indebted.
Hard-money advocates argue that some kind of hyperinflation and the destruction of fiat money is inevitable, or that, with the emergence of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the US dollar is soon to lose its reserve currency status, with major implications for the international balance of power. In that case Western Europe is probably going the way of once-wealthy Argentina.
“Great Reset” theory, in the wake of Covid and the vaccine furore - that powerful, yet secret actors and organisations, especially the WEF, are planning all of this - looks rather more credible than it once did.
There is also a persuasive argument that the expansion of NATO, Vladimir Putin’s ambitions and the conflict in Ukraine is going to take us eventually to nuclear war.
There is a lot to worry about. These really are incredible times.
So back to the underlying question: where is this all going?
The South Africanisation of everything
I was in the pub with my friend, the director Alex McCarron, the other night, when this subject came up. He had a simple but compelling answer: South Africa. The South Africanisation of Everything.
There are many parallels: crumbling institutions, widespread corruption, mass migration; failing rule of law, rising crime rates – especially violent crime; inadequate policing and reliance on private security; identity politics, siloed, ghetto-ised communities within a so-called multi-cultural country; race-based crime, justified because of history; many cultures, each with their grievances, thrust together and by no means living harmoniously.
It’s a credible scenario and one I can envisage. One small example: private security vehicles are ubiquitous in Johannesburg. You never used to see them in the UK. My friend sent me this image, spotted this in Notting Hill the other evening. I think such sights are going to get more and more become commonplace. It’s another symptom of a failing state.
My view is that we are going to see all of those above scenarios.
Nevertheless … things are better than we realise
In all of this negativity, in many ways, things are much better than we may think and the world is in a better state than it has ever been. We are living longer than ever. There are fewer people living below the poverty line than ever. The number of people dying from natural disasters is lower than it has ever been. Information technology means we have greater access to information than ever. 6.8 billion people now have a smart phone - think of all the possibilities that open up as a result. More than 80% of the global population now has access to electricity. With modern transport we are able to go further than ever, quicker than ever. The world is, as a result, more accessible than ever. We might not enjoy her status, but most of us live with luxuries Marie Antoinette could never have dreamed of. Life is so much easier for us than it was for our ancestors and we should be grateful to them for the benefits we enjoy, as a result of what they went through. Wonderful things are possible. There is much to be positive and excited about. There has never been a better time to be alive.
But something is missing. Something is wrong. We can all feel it.
Our belief systems are awry. I am sure it’s to do with the absence of religion. Naive worship of incompetent state institutions has replaced it.
Am I right about this? Please post your thoughts in the comments below.
And how do you navigate it all, as an investor, and protect/grow your wealth?
Meanwhile, if you want to listen to Alex and I discuss the South Africanisation of everything – that podcast is here.
Interested in protecting your wealth in these extraordinary times? Then be sure to own some gold bullion. My current recommended bullion dealer is The Pure Gold Company, whether you are taking delivery or storing online. Premiums are low, quality of service is high. You can deal with a human being. I have an affiliation deals with them.
Make your Number One resolution for 2023 to listen to Kisses on a Postcard.
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