Monday, December 15, 2008

The Radzewicz Riddle--The Rise and Fall of Nations

The 17th century English pamphleteer Cato ranked among the great enemies of Kings and champions of the common people. Like Algernon Sidney, John Trenchard, Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, and John Dickinson, he advocated an end to the Divine Right of Kings, and a beginning for the Rights of Men. They were the talk radio of their respective eras and helped fashion the 17th century Glorious Revolution in England and the even more glorious Revolution in America in the following century.

It is impressive to consider the lengthy time periods that were required to throw off the shackles of aristocratic authority from the shoulders of the common people. The Magna Carta had been signed by King John in 1215, six to seven hundred years before these more final revolutions occurred in England and the American colonies. The ordinary citizens had been striving for that long to make headway. And even the Glorious Revolution of the 1680's didn't grant enough rights to dissuade millions of Englishmen from leaving their homes and going to the New World.

It is even more humbling to recognize that that slow centuries long process of gaining freedom for a majority of English speaking citizens was the best there ever had been--anywhere on earth. England's democritization was painfully slow, but at least it happened--and led to America's full blown freedoms. Aside from a few other European nations, there was no movement to free individuals anywhere else on the Globe!

Now there had been antecedents in a few isolated outposts where there was no aristocracy or autocrats to tyrannize the people. Phoenicia, Greece, Rome, Venice, Holland, Iceland, and the Hanseatic cities had flourished while they remained free and open societies, but that's only about a fraction of 1% of the world's population! However, if you look at each of those rare free societies, even though they all Rose for a while to great affluence, sooner or later they all matured, withered, and Declined to obscurity.

The Riddle of History is Why, when these nations were small and isolated, with limited resources, poor school systems, struggling to grow food and manufacture tools and equipment, they somehow did all that, gained prosperity, and yet later, with better schools, a growing elite intellectual class, and expanded governmental systems in place, they commenced a Decline? Did adversity make the people work harder at first? What happened to end the upward progress of these successful enclaves?

And why was the existence of free societies restricted to this tiny handful of the world's people? What was unique to those few "laboratories of history" that showed the way to personal liberty and affluence. The Radzewicz Rule suggests that it was economic freedom and an empowering Faith that allowed the common genius of a citizenry to flourish. But those conditions were extremely rare throughout history for all people. If you had been born somewhere at random on earth during the period from 3,000 BC to 1,775 AD, your odds or chance of gaining personal freedom would be akin to winning the Massachusetts mega jackpot! That is why the pamphleteers for liberty were so praiseworthy--where they were allowed to speak and write they demanded freedom.

Those scribblers, sneered at by the great Philosophers, wrote simply. They laid out the case for liberty in brief essays that were widely read by common people.. There was no need for academics to explain what they wrote. They knew of the actual cases in history where people had gained freedom and they called for more of the same.

Cato wrote, "The People, when they are not misled or corrupted, generally make a sound Judgment of Things. They have natural Qualifications equal to those of their Superiors; and there is oftener found a great Genius carrying a Pitchfork, than carrying a White Staff."

In those two sentences, Cato attests to the fact that common people are often wiser than their intellectual and over-educated betters. However, Cato went on to make a key point about the Rise and Fall of Nations; he echoed the Radzewicz Rule axiom that successful societies were created by common folk only when they were free and unburdened by intellectuals.

Cato wrote: "Besides, there are not such mighty Talents requisite for Government, as some, who pretend to them without possessing them, would make us believe; Honest affections, and common Qualifications are sufficient; and the Administration has always been best executed, and the Publick Liberty best preserved, near the Origin and Rise of States, when plain Honesty and common Sense alone governed the public Affairs and the Morals of Men."

There, in Cato's fine words, is the answer to the Riddle-- Young, vibrant societies are not burdened by non-productive elites that advise and consult but do no real work. They are unregulated, unrestricted, and the citizenry are forced to innovate and free to produce. Only after those ordinary people have created abundance can their society have the where-withall to support parasitic classes--mostly academics, utopianists, government employees, foundation employees and special interest groups.

All those new elites that emerge in successful nations are parasites--they were not present in the building--but now they have to carve out a comfortable niche for themselves. Since they are by definition non-productive, their only role can be found in directing the efforts of the remaining productive citizenry. Since they bring an inexperienced vision to the task, tainted with utopian abstractions, the resulting direction will always be counter-productive. This process continues and escalates over time. One mistaken policy requires another worse policy to correct the results of the last failure --and Decline sets in.

The amswer to the Riddle is counter-intuitive. But only if you have an undue respect for the intellectual elites that presume to control the nation from lofty non-productive perches on high. Remember that it was the Honest Affections of the common people at the beginning that made for Efficiency and the maintenance of Publick Liberty. And, sadly, it is the complex ideologies of the new elites that undermine the sturdy foundation built by those honest and simple people.

Do colleges help or hurt America ? ---- The Radzewicz Curve

There is a growing recognition that America's colleges are more and more influenced by the politically correct agendas of the new liberal Left--The vast majority of professors promote a world view that:

1- Supports large governmental bureaucracies that seek to solve everyone's needs.
2- Sees most citizens as victims instead of independent self-reliant individuals.
3- Looks more to foreign nations and laws than to our own traditional principles.
4- Favors socialistic policies and condemns the capitalist system and free markets.
5- Attacks corporations that actually deliver the goods better than any government.

In order to sustain this attack on the very nature of America these ideologues have to resort to abstractions and utopian dreaming. They do not examine the actual record of human advances under free economies -- instead they create grand philosophical theories on how it could be made better. In short, they abandon common sense and a factual analysis of historical progress and resort to theoretical projections, promises, and statements of intent.

Because these jealots place themselves in a position of wanting to make things better they appear to the young or uninformed as "reformers," "progressives" who seek change, and advocates of improvement. This appeals to youth and to those who hope to be on the reciving end of such policies. Unfortunately, since they rely, not on past proven practices, but on arm-chair concepts, the promised "solutions" almost always fail.

There is a type of individual who ignores the nitty-gritty mechanics of how things get accomplished and refuses to come to grips with such hard realities. Instead their minds skip such details and leap to grand conceptualizations of how things should be. They fail to accept the fact that improvements come from fine tinkerring in the shop, office, or the field, by workers who understand how things get done, and work with what they have and try and improve its performance. And those improvements are created in the private labs, factories and offices of entrepreneurial business men and scientists. Governmental planners have rarely if ever created new and better ways of making or delivering a product. But those with that idealistic or utopian mind set never give up dreaming about how it oughtta be--if only their ideas were implemented! And these are the people who teach our youth!

Now, in the hard sciences, American colleges do a good job. Those subjects rely on the scientific method--observation, tests, measurements, and repeatable results. Not so in the soft-sciences, where most American college students enjoy a fun-filled academic life devoid of real scientific or logical inquiry. The weaknesses in those soft-sciences are not the students' fault--the professors have abdicated real teaching for indoctrination. The facts of history, cases in economic policy, and analysis of comparative political systems is OUT. Criticisms of the United States is IN. There is no balance or proportion to what is taught. The two prisoners that were water boarded at Guantanamo are compared to the millions slaughtered by Nazis in WWII. Some professors have on that basis equated Bush with Hitler! The internment of Japanese Americans in 1942 is compared to Russian Gulags. Critical thinking and comparison of possibles is neglected. Instead, unsubstantiated policies that are claimed to be helpful are promoted. Programs are measured by the stated intent of those promoting them, not by the likelihood of their achieving the stated goals.

Students leave college with the idea that the biggest problems facing America are pollution, giant corporations, gender rights, animal rights, gay rights, oil spills, and the lack of a world government. The result is that today's students are actually being hurt by their education, their thinking processes dulled, and their attitudes corrupted. The controversial new theory embodied in the Radzewicz Curves indicates this direct relationship between years of schooling and a decline in common sense and wisdom, also known as "EQ".

In a graph, if you make the horizontal line represent the number of years of schooling in soft-sciences, and the verticle axis represents wisdom and common sense, you will almost always find a steeply sloping line--common sense declines or is extinguished gradually by the teachers' teaching. For simplicity, the statisticians have divided students into two broad categories, although refinements might provide further insights.

For normal, or average, students, the decline in wisdom continues with each additional year of schooling in the soft-sciences but at a declining rate, because such individuals have a significant degree of resistance to abstract concepts that defy reality. Consequently their descending line levels off and continues at a steady if low level of common sense. The final level at graduation is almost always below the good-sense they arrived with.

However, for students with a predilection for abstract thinking, the decline is linear, more precipitous, and there is very little levelling off. Students with the highest SAT test scores that get accepted into the prestigious Ivy League colleges tend to most frequently follow this linear pattern, while students at the less prestigious schools are more apt to have concave lines as they progress through years of advanced schooling. This is explained by the fact that the former are good at and love abstract conceptualizations. And, the latter, God Bless Them, get confused by theoretical ideas and seek a more practical and demonstrable common sense understanding.

Thus, there is a concave line for normal students, and a straight line for the more intellectual types. Although the concave line never reaches zero on the vertical scale, there have been cases where some of those in the other group have penetrated the zero point. In either case, children concentrating in the soft-sciences are left scarred from ever being able to think logically on governmental issues--which is exactly the object of their teachers!