Delusions of Grandeur

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

What do Switzerland, Norway and Australia have in common?, Alexander Boot asks:

Oh, several things.

First, they’re all small, in population at any rate. Australia is the most populous of the three, and it only has about 23 million people. Switzerland has about eight million and Norway five.

Second, none of the three either is or, more important, aspires to be a great power. They are happy to mind their own business and aghast at the very thought of having to mind other countries’. Not a single one of them is trying to expand her territory, even though Switzerland, for one, could do with a bit more space.

Third, all three jealously guard their independence. Australia is of course part of the Commonwealth, but she doesn’t rely on the metropolis to tell her how to run her affairs. And both Switzerland and Norway stubbornly refuse to join the EU.

Fourth and most important, they occupy the top three places in the list of countries with the best quality of life.


  1. Alrenous says:

    Strongly agree.

    Nitpicks: Boot has an obvious pro-scholar bias. (Anti-merchant anti-warrior.) Second a blindness to non-Jesus sources of meaning; he sits on a false dilemma between modern materialism and Abraham’s scions.

  2. Bruce says:

    Mexico has a pretty solid “no permanent friends, only changing interests” foreign policy. It’s got a solid middle class — after about fifty years of honest hard work by the whatever they call the permanent political party nowadays. We underestimate that in America because 1) they want us to, 2) they send us the poorest third of their population, 3) racist arrogance.

  3. Congo Sam says:

    Bruce, I’ve heard the rulers of Mexico called a number of things, but “honest” is a new one.

  4. Bruce says:

    Honest politics is rare, sure. Fehrenbach’s history of Mexico, Fire and Blood, suggests it may well describe Mexico’s 1920-1970 successful effort to build a middle class. That’s a rare success. I can’t think of many other successful efforts to build a middle class.

    I’m not accusing Carlos Slim of personal integrity.

  5. Toddy Cat says:

    Yes, it’s probably true that more Third-world countries could learn from Mexico. One thing that seems to be unusual about “Development” experts is that they seldom seem to actually look at success stories, like Japan, or Thailand, or Mexico, because the way that they achieved relative prosperity does not accord with current developmental dogma. Although, to be fair, Mexico did have some advantages that would be hard to duplicate. Being right next door to the most prosperous and powerful country on earth, being able to export the poorest portion of its population, a vast and rich resource base — these advantages would not be replicable in every country. But yeah, all of Fehrenbach’s writing deserves to be better known than it is.

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