July 24

Ep. 0015: The Age of Classical Liberalism in Europe

The episode following this one (ie, Ep. 0016, due out Monday the 28th) will begin a multi-part series on the First World War.  So I figured it would be a good idea to give an overview of what Europe was like before that huge turning point conflict.  The 99 years from 1815 (when Napoleon was finally defeated for good) to 1914 (when WWI started) were years in which the dominant ideology in most of Europe (especially the more advanced parts of Western Europe) was that of ‘Liberalism,’ in the old sense of the word — or what today we have to call ‘Classical Liberalism.’

Join Prof CJ as he discusses:

  •  A brief explanation of classical liberalism as an ideology
  • Some quotes and information about 19th century Europe that illustrate some ways in which things were better than in the 20th century (especially compared to the era of the World Wars)
  • How classical liberalism was never fully implemented anywhere in the world — even countries such as the United States and United Kingdom, which were strongholds of the ideology, still had significant deviations from it
  • The worldwide trend towards centralization between roughly the 1860s and 1900, which boded ill for classical liberalism and which can be seen in varying forms in the US, Japan, Canada, Italy, Germany, France, and Russia, among other countries
  • Tools of centralization, which included compulsory social insurance programs, compulsory state education; and military conscription
  • Some brief highlights of France, Britain, and Germany in the decades prior to the Great War
  • How mass democracy was a key factor in bringing down classical liberalism as an influential ideology European governments, because working-class voters tended to vote either for nationalist/imperialist parties, or for socialist parties, leaving classical liberalism as a doctrine without a mass constituency.  (In other words, the masses preferred to vote for varying flavors of collectivism.)
  • The fatal flaw of classical liberalism as a political belief system, which the bloody 20th century gruesomely illustrated

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July 21

Ep. 0014: The Collapse of the Soviet Empire

Join Prof. C.J. as he discusses:

  • The proximate causes of the fall of the Soviet Empire, i.e., the long term/inherent problems of communism as an economic system, which are the incentive problem & the calculation problem
  • How the Soviet system could produce AKs but failed at such basic things as agriculture and consumer goods
  • How the Soviets’ renewed aggressiveness after America’s failure in Vietnam may have led to Soviet overextension
  • Immediate causes (that caused the Soviet system to fall when it did): an unwinnable, costly war (in Afghanistan of all places!); a lack of good leadership (exemplified by the dimwitted & senile Brezhnev); and nationalist unrest (sometimes combined with religious unrest) in the satellite states, starting with the Polish Solidarity movement
  • Symptoms of decline & milestones in the loss of legitimacy for the Soviet regime in the 1980s
  • The rise to power of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985
  • Gorbachev’s 3-pronged plan to ‘fix’ communism:  glasnost; perestroika; and peredyshka
  • The success of (mostly nonviolent) resistance in the satellite states, culminating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989
  • Gorbachev’s renunciation of the use of force and the Brezhnev doctrine
  • The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan
  • Political reforms within the USSR, which led to its disintegration
  • How the US disbanded NATO and drastically slashed its defense spending, because after all, the Soviet Union was gone, the Cold War was over, so the rationale for those things no longer existed.  (Oh, wait, that last part didn’t really happen.  Actually, the opposite happened.)

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