“The Huns are back, and they speak English with a variety of invariably common accents. No other nation manages to spoil other people’s holidays so thoroughly as the British. They do that all through the summer everywhere the sun shines with their unique mixture of wantonness and arrogance, their pathetic addiction to drink, their bad taste, and actually just their ugliness and thickheaded presence. There, that is a relief.
Exactly 25 years ago, on 31 August 1980, Walesa, an electrician at the Lenin Shipyards in Gdansk, forced the Communist regime in Poland to recognise the independent trade union Solidarity. In December 1981 the Communists announced a state of emergency, disbanded Solidarity and imprisoned Walesa. The regime, however, could not stop the demand for freedom and democracy. Before the decade was over every Communist dictatorship in Europe had fallen. In 1990 Walesa became Poland’s President. Five years later, however, he lost the elections to the former Communist Aleksander Kwasniewski.
“An exacerbation of the Dutch disease promotes corruption, impairs the quality of policies, including those of an economic nature, and demoralizes essential federal and public institutions. The flow of revenues not earned through the hard labour of the government or economic entities has a degrading effect, thus encouraging the emergence of a ‘rent-oriented’ government and a ‘rent-oriented’ society. As a result, the idea of business through creative endeavors gives way to an aggressive ideology of redistribution."
“There is a well-known saying that we should not fight the old, already non-existent battles. I find this point worth stressing even if I do not want to say that socialism is definitely over. There are, I believe, at least two arguments, which justify looking at other ideologies as well. The first is the difference between the hard and soft version of socialism and the second is the emergence of new ‘isms’ based on similar illiberal or antiliberal views.”
In 1994 Estonia introduced a flat tax rate of 26%. The flat tax is a system with only one tax rate for all personal income and corporate profits. Almost overnight this led to a phenomenal economic expansion. Contrary to the situation in a tax system with progressive rates, people were no longer punished fiscally if they worked harder. Very soon the Estonian example was being followed by its Baltic neighbours Lithuania and Latvia. In 1997 Russia introduced a flat tax of 13%. Serbia followed suit, as did the Ukraine, Slovakia and Georgia. Romania followed in 2005.
In 1931 Hayek, who called himself a liberal (in the original “classical” meaning of the word as a philosophy defending freedom), left Vienna for London. Though Hitler did not annex Austria until 1938 Hayek realised that the pattern which applied to Germany also applied to his home country: “By the time Hitler came to power liberalism was to all intents and purposes dead in Germany. And it was socialism that had killed it.”