Economics · Politics

Developing Countries and Degenerating Countries

We used to divide the countries of the earth into the first, second, and third world. In particular the term “second world” has fallen out of favor, even though it is still widely used. It used to mainly refer to the Eastern European countries behind the Iron Curtain. I think it is more descriptive to speak of the developed world, with the developing world in second place, followed by, as Donald Trump called them, “shithole countries.” I’m only quoting the guy, so don’t tell me about my foul language!

Speaking of developing countries is misleading for various reasons. One is, as is often quipped, the developing world is not developing. They tend to be in perpetual limbo. Likewise, there is not much happening in the third world either. We have pumped trillions of dollars into Africa, with dubious effects. Another issue I have with the trifecta developed — developing — shithole countries is that it implies a progression. In the American dream, due to hard work, a dishwasher rises up to become a millionaire. In modern UN mythology, third world countries rise up to the status of developing countries, until they finally join the first world. The American dream normally only works out in Horatio Alger novels, just like bottom-tier countries with their countless doctors and engineers only ever prosper in some imagined future, but never in reality. (Note that I am explicitly excluding cases like Singapore, which transformed from a mosquito-infested swamp to a first-world country within the span of one generation. IQ is destiny.)

We may lament the fate of struggling countries all we want and sit back in our first-world complacency. However, there is an aspect that does not seem to be discussed in political science at all: what if a country slides from a seat at the high table with the other first-world fat cats down to the second or third world? Clearly, it does not make sense to say that a first world country such as France, Belgium, Germany, or Sweden has been turning into a “developing country”. Pointing out that some of those countries are closer to the second world than the first would be more fitting, but such terminology is no longer seen as polite.

Instead, I propose an alternative term. A country that is moving up can justly be called a developing country, even if it may never really develop and reach first-world status. On the other hand, a first-world country that is falling apart should be referred to as a degenerating country. That a large part of the population in those countries have become (morally) degenerate is another issue that is possibly related. I still prefer this term over alternatives such as “declining countries”, though, as this would sound too clinical. It also does not quite capture that conditions in such countries are rapidly deteriorating.

A degenerating country quite simply goes downhill. Sure, the powers that be may resort to statistical tricks, such as France when they count the number of cars set ablaze and ignore secondary fires. If one car goes up in flames and, in turn, five others catch fire, this leads to only one more entry in the official governmental statistics. Germans are not known for their sense of humor, but when the minister of the interior tells the baffled nation that Germany in 2018 has not been safer in decades [German], you really wonder what they are smoking. As it turns out, people learn that the police have no interest in prosecuting crimes, so you don’t bother reporting them, and if you get beaten to death by a non-white immigrant, you’ll simply die of “heart failure” and thus a natural cause [German].

No matter where you look, a degenerating country seems to have lost control. It has lost control of its borders, of its culture, of its institutions. In Germany, Arab clans have managed to infiltrate the police. In England, gangs of Pakistanis were free to rape white underclass girls for a quarter of a century, and in Sweden, police stations get bombed. Meanwhile, the tax burden gets increased further and further because the unproductive members of society need their gibs.

While it has been said that developing countries never develop, I posit that degenerating countries are not so lucky to remain in relative stasis. Instead, they can very easily slide down into third-world status. If this sounds completely outlandish to you, then you may want to be reminded of the fate of South Africa, a country that was founded by whites, i.e. Dutch settlers, and which used to be an ethnostate. It is now firmly in the third world.

It seems almost too easy to bring a first-world country down to the status of a degenerating country. All it takes is giving up control of your borders and building up a welfare state that promises more and more gibs to more and more people until the net taxpayers have had enough. This is a particular problem for Germany, by the way, which has been experiencing an enormous brain drain to countries like Austria, Switzerland, and the United States. Genuine doctors and engineers are leaving, to be replaced by “doctors and engineers” who may be illiterate.

If I look at the state of the world, I think chances are high that within a few decades, of the current crop of first-world countries only Japan and Singapore will remain, joined by China. If you live in a first-world country that is not Japan or Singapore, ask yourself if you notice anything turning to the better. Seriously, if you look at the direction your country has been going, do you think the future is a hopeful one or not? If it is not, your country is most certainly already on a downward slope, and if you think it is not, you probably have not been paying attention.

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8 thoughts on “Developing Countries and Degenerating Countries

  1. In your view, are things getting better in the 3 Asian countries you mentioned or are they declining albeit more slowly than the western first world?

    1. Those countries are having issues with a declining birth rate. With China, it’s due to an imbalance of genders from the one-child policy. With Japan and Singapore, it’s due to a combination of a rigid work-centric culture, Western feminist ideology affecting the women, and a lack of masculinity among the men.

      I expect there to be social instability in China when too many men have to fight over too few women, and similar instability in Singapore and Japan as immigration becomes a necessity to replenish the tax base.

      1. I recently learned that the one-child policy wasn’t nearly as disastrous as previously thought because there are apparently countless cases where parents, in particular in the countryside, just didn’t report the birth of a daughter. I haven’t come across numbers on this issue, though.

        The low birth rate is a problem. Singapore has other long-term issues, which I’ll cover in a separate post.

      2. Indeed, there is a gender imbalance but its much smaller than usually assumed. IIRC the imbalance is notable in the reported births, but by the time children reach school enrollment age the stats tend to level out again. Turns out bribing local officials to turn a blind eye is more common than sex-selective abortion/infanticide.

    2. China has been improving rapidly. In terms of PPP, they are the richest country in the world. However, right now they are getting ravaged by Covid-19, so we’ll see. Japan has an aging society. Singapore has the same problem. They would need to dial back feminism and promote motherhood to fix this. Singapore has some serious long-term issues. I’ll cover this in a separate blog post, but, in short: financial services are very important for their economy, yet this sector is highly susceptible to automation. Then there is the geographic problem that this country is an embodied insult to its neighbors, being a first-world country amid second and third world malaise. Lastly, they are sitting on a demographic time bomb because the Chinese don’t have many children, unlike the Malays and Indians in Singapore. The latter two are not known for their work ethic. Thus, this mirrors the problems the West is facing where the least productive part of society is increasing at a rapid clip.

  2. Good post!

    I’ve often thought about what I would name if I was asked for the key factors that guarantee a decline of a country. I think my top pick would be “easy money”, followed by democracy.
    Both factors have a horrible historical track record. There has never been an empire that lasted once it started increasing its monetary supply and there has never been a democracy which could claim that say 50-100 years after it was founded it had managed to increase individual freedoms (or at least keep them at the same level as they were in the beginning).

    If I am right about these two, then there’s pretty much no country that’ll hold up for a long time.

    By the way, do you know Saifedean Ammous? He makes some excellent points on the hard-money front and argues for a bitcoin-standard. Interestingly he once mentioned of an essay referring to the cultural decline, especially in arts, pinpointing it to pretty much the very same time the gold standard was abandoned, i.e. 1914. In other words “easy money” leads to BS like modern art and modern music.
    Based on that I was thinking about a way to explain how we managed to have such a great period of pop music up until the 80s and I guess the best explanation would be stability (albeit fake) that Bretton Woods provided until 1971.
    Would be curious to hear your thoughts.

    1. Those are interesting thoughts. I don’t disagree that easy money seems to lead to all kinds of undesirable societal consequences. You can observe this all around you: saving is punished, and if you reach that point, I don’t quite see how you could every recover due to the high levels of public and private debt. Sure, you could do a jubilee, but how pissed off would the productive members of society feel about that?

      Arts and music are a more complex topic. I think there has been a concerted effort to destroy the arts, and beauty in general. It partly has to do with the dominance of government. We have corrupt, uneducated bureaucrats devoid of vision who dole out grants to “artists” that just so happen to belong to the same party. It seems to often just be a cover to support certain groups, be it ethnic or political. In contrast, in the old days, a king would not actively fund groups of people who want to demolish the state, and he wouldn’t spend money — his, or his family’s money! — on ugly art. Beethoven was funded by aristocrats. Now compare that to today’s “artists” who scoff at the thought of writing melodic music or developing measurable skills. Instead, they throw a bucket of paint against the wall, call it “Creation Myth”, wax lyrical about what that crap stands for, and have their corrupt claqueurs hype it up, with the goal of finding some parvenu who is willing to spend a lot of money, believing this would lend him some credibility among the Old Money crowd.

      1. I agree with the idea of an intentional push against true art which comes from dominant government.
        If we are a bit more radical we would trace back the governments dominance to easy money and the cantillion effect, which of course enables big government.
        PlanB by the way argues that a Bitcoin Standard would also get rid of the Triffin dilemma and therefore he concludes that there is a chance that smaller countries with less exports would actually be the ones he’d bet on to start buying bitcoin through their central bank.
        Now, this of course assumes that the powers that be, i.e. the G7 and China will just watch and in particular it assumes that the US won’t bring some democracy to say Estonia or Malta.
        Speaking of Estonia, that’s an interesting country. Good tax laws, actually good gun laws (gun purchase permit equals gun carry permit, albeit you can’t carry one in the pipe). Only problem is that they are in the EU and I hear the language is a nightmare and that you are better served with Russian than English as an alternative to Estonian.

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