The holiday season is a time for reflection. For those of us with an historical bent this reflection concerns what is happening in the world. Today's headline will be forgotten in a couple of months. The year's big story may well be a footnote in history. But what is happening now that really is important? What will be affecting lives for years and centuries to come?
Certainly the big story of the day is the war on terrorism and its manifestation in Iraq. Will this story have legs into the 22nd century? As a comparison we can consider an event at the beginning of the urge for American international imperial expansion, the Spanish American War, when the U.S. brought "freedom" to the Philippines. The Marines then proceeded to become entangled in a guerilla war for decades where thousands of them were killed. But this was not a war against the Spanish. It was against the Filipinos we were supposed to be setting free. And we killed hundreds of thousands of them. How many Americans know about this episode today? More importantly, how many recognize its historical significance in relation to our current imperial adventure in Iraq?
As the big story may turn out to be a dead end, what we historically minded would really like to know is the small overlooked story that will be prominent in the history books one hundred, or even a thousand years from now. For example, I suspect the Rome Times had the story "Judea's Herod Looks for Insurgent Child" buried on scroll 19.
Much of human history, the big stories, have related to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They ride angry and wild bringing destruction and death. However there is a positive, quiet, constructive story that is not usually news but has much more important and lasting impact.
What I believe will become a big story of our time is going on in China and India. Over the last quarter century or so a transformation has occurred and continues to proceed. Hundreds of millions of people have been allowed to lift themselves out of poverty. Tens of millions more have moved into the middle class. The data describing this incredible event was compiled by the World Bank (which is usually not a reliable organization).
Why did such a transformation take place? A small group of men, the leaders of these two countries, did not declare a war on poverty. On the contrary, the self-proclaimed communists and socialists simply unchained, the chains being socialism, the Four Horsemen of Abundance. They are Free Capital, Free Labor, Free Trade, and their leader Profit, the critical guide to the creative path. The horses are not wild stallions, they do not trample. No, they are draught horses that work for mankind to pull the multitudes out of poverty.
What is more, this economic tsunami spreading the division of labor has not only benefited the people of Asia. The flood of inexpensive, well made goods into the United States has been a boon for almost everyone here.
This is not an unprecedented event. Europe and the United States have reaped the harvest of their work over the last two centuries. The great potential for future work lies in Africa and South America. It seems that the false prophets of economics, the socialists in all of their flavors, have been silenced. So is the world safe from economic lies? There is much discussion in some circles concerning the Book of Revelation and the meaning of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. However, it is always agreed that War is one of them. If we were naming the economic destroyers of today, the evils that mire people in poverty around the world, the Four Horsemen of Economic Apocalypse; War is again prominent. The others are Welfare, Regulation (domestic and international, i.e., protectionism), and perhaps the most insidious of all, Fiat Money. Fiat Money makes all the evils of government intrusion on liberty and capitalism more likely.
In this holiday season, and every other day, we should count our blessings due to the Four Horsemen of Abundance and be vigilant for the Four Horsemen of Economic Apocalypse. This is accomplished practically by understanding historical significance.
December 28, 2004