James Eccleton remarked on how the mighty have fallen. “Brazil is becoming Argentina, Argentina is becoming Venezuela, and Venezuela is becoming Zimbabwe.” The question that always puzzles historians about the fall of great and rich countries is: ‘why didn’t they say it coming?’ How did they let disaster sneak up on them?
Adam Smith once remarked that “there is a great deal of ruin in a nation”. That is usually understood to mean that it takes a long time to break things...But it is more correct to say ‘a great deal of ruin’ means “it takes a long time to realize that things are breaking”.
The clue is the total finality of the crash when it comes. The victim when examined for postmortem is drained of blood; his organs are all twisted and perverted. The dead man was not ‘a little weaker than yesterday’ but in a far more fragile than was supposed. The damage was hidden as if the final day of reckoning was put off by eating the seed corn, pawning the family jewels and finally, selling the family members to buy the final meal — in a word as if everything was consumed to counterfeit the appearance of normalcy.
Thus, the collapse when it comes is unexpectedly complete. When National Intelligence Director James Clapper says Syria has become an ‘apocalyptic disaster’ it doesn’t simply mean that Syria is a little worse than in 2011, but far, far worse than we thought it was even in December 2013. The husk of Syria has not only consumed its final supplies of food, but also its reserves of comity, good will, human capital and luck.
The real damage was internal. A society can survive the loss of things, but it cannot survive without institutions or the destruction of culture. Culture is to nations what an immune system is to people. Nations under siege fall back on some atavistic condition. Thus, occupied Poland becomes more Catholic, as does Ireland, and as Egypt perhaps becomes more Muslim. They fall back on the known and the comforting. City Hall might collapse and the factory temporarily closed but if culture and identity survive these things can be reopened again.
The apocalypse of Syria means that many people don’t even want to reopen things any more. They hate their neighbors, individually and collectively.
The linked columnist, Richard Fernandez, is writing about a group of slow-motion trainwrecks around the world. And this comment about Argentina caught my eye:
Regarding the discussion on Argentina below, after traveling around the country a bit, my conclusion was that the root cause of its woes is institutionalized racism and exploitation. Remain in the city centers and you will see nothing but faces that could come from Barcelona or Milan. But take a bus out of town and you will view mile after mile of shanties filled with poor mestizos. The European elites don't give a rats ass about them, don't educate them, and don't value them even as consumers. How can you grow a prosperous industrial state when 80% of the population is on the dole and and lacks the basic literacy and math skills to be prosperous.The author is obviously unable to connnect the human biodiversity-dots from what he saw firsthand but given the OP is PJ Media, it's about as candid a statement as you're likely to see.
Several decades ago, my father's rugby team played Argentina's Club Puerrydon. They were and are extraordinarily handsome and civilized people; rugby in Argentina is clearly an upper caste activity. Outside the southern European-style cities, Argentina apparently looks a lot more like Peru.
I don't know this, but I think the same thing that commenter observed playing out in Argentina is what played out in Syria. An urbanized, K-selected, Byzantine and Assyrian remnant lived their refined Mediterranean lifestyles while an r-selected, Sunni Arab underclass was quietly having all the babies and listening to Wahabbist sermons. The Assad nuclear family and their lackeys are not the most forward-thinking group, and they have been stealing, brutalizing and doing whatever else to feather their own nests for decades. Long term investment and planning are impossible in such a place. The high-g professionals and entrepeneurs have been streaming out, because that's what K-selected people do in environments which are so hostile to family formation: they withdraw or they shut down. All sorts of social and financial capital was being eroded and then, poof, the civil order vanished. I know Syrians who came piling over into the US when it happened. They didn't see it coming, and they still can't believe it. They think something will work out and they'll be back enjoying their easygoing lifestyles. They won't, not ever. The Syria they knew is gone.
This is why I rail about low-g immigration and transfer payments so much, because those trainwrecks that we think only happen in other people's countries can happen here.