Quotable (#218)

Timothy Garton Ash on Europe today:

Had I been cryogenically frozen in January 2005, I would have gone to my provisional rest as a happy European. … […] … Cryogenically reanimated in January 2017, I would immediately have died again from shock. For now there is crisis and disintegration wherever I look …

Quotable (#199)

Why did the Industrial Revolution happen in Europe, rather than China? Joel Mokyr thinks fragmentation was the key:

In Europe, no one ever succeeds in unifying it, and you have continuous competition. The French are worried about the English, the English are worried about the Spanish, the Spanish are worried about the Turks. That keeps everybody on their toes, which is something economists immediately recognize as the competitive model. To have progress, you want a system that is competitive, not one that is dominated by a single power. […] I think that is the major difference. It isn’t just that China doesn’t have an Industrial Revolution, it doesn’t have a Galileo or a Newton or a Descartes, people who announced that everything people did before them was wrong. That’s hard to do in any society, but it was easier to do in Europe than China. The reason precisely is because Europe was fragmented, and so when somebody says something very novel and radical, if the government decides they are a heretic and threatens to prosecute them, they pack their suitcase and go across the border.

Unity is a decelerator.

Digital Thing

Iceland could be about to become a redoubt for Cyberspace liberty:

The party that could be on the cusp of winning Iceland’s national elections on Saturday didn’t exist four years ago. […] Its members are a collection of anarchists, hackers, libertarians and Web geeks. It sets policy through online polls — and thinks the government should do the same. It wants to make Iceland “a Switzerland of bits,” free of digital snooping. It has offered Edward Snowden a new place to call home. […] And then there’s the name: In this land of Vikings, the Pirate Party may soon be king. …