Dan Mitchell article: Is Switzerland the World’s Best Nation? (Francis Schaeffer in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? makes a similar point about the Swiss!)


Is Switzerland the World’s Best Nation?

In the past, I’ve referred to Switzerland as the world’s most sensible nation.

Does that make it also the world’s best nation?

I actually won’t try to answer that question, but we can say that Switzerland is the world’s most libertarian nation and a role model for others.

At least according to the Human Freedom Index, which ranks nations based on both economic and personal liberty.

Here are the 25 jurisdictions that lead the rankings.

For what it’s worth, Switzerland also was in first place the previous year.

New Zealand, which had been in first place in earlier years, still ranks very high. Estonia is in third place and several other European nations round out the top 10.

The United States, meanwhile, fell to #23, which is disappointing but predictable given the subpar politicians that have governed the nation this century.

But Hong Kong has suffered an even bigger fall. It’s now ranked #34, which is not good for a jurisdiction that used to lead the rankings as recently as 2016.

For those interested, here’s a description of how the Human Freedom Index is calculated, along with some of the grim findings.

The Human Freedom Index (HFI) presents a broad measure of human freedom, understood as the absence of coercive constraint. This eighth annual index uses 83 distinct indicators of personal and economic freedom… Human freedom deteriorated severely in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Most areas of freedom fell, including significant declines in the rule of law; freedom of movement, expression, association and assembly; and freedom to trade. On a scale of 0 to 10, where 10 represents more freedom, the average human freedom rating for 165 jurisdictions fell from 7.03 in 2019 to 6.81 in 2020. On the basis of that coverage, 94.3 percent of the world’s population saw a fall in human freedom from 2019 to 2020, with many more jurisdictions decreasing (148) than increasing (16) their ratings and 1 remaining unchanged. The sharp decline in freedom in 2020 comes after years of slow descent following a high point in 2007.

Here’s some additional analysis, most of it depressing.

The rating for France fell from 8.65 in 2007 to 7.8 in 2020, Brazil’s rating decreased from 7.61 to 6.86, the United States’ score dropped from 8.92 to 8.23, and Mexico’s rating fell from 7.27 to 6.6. … some countries that ranked high on personal freedom ranked significantly lower in economic freedom. For example, Sweden ranked 1st in personal freedom but fell to 33rd place in economic freedom, and Argentina ranked 29th in personal freedom but 161st in economic freedom. Similarly, some countries that ranked high in economic freedom found themselves significantly lower in personal freedom. For example, Singapore ranked 2nd in economic freedom while ranking 81st in personal freedom.

I’ll close by observing that Syria is the lowest-ranked nation, followed by Yemen, Venezuela, Iran, and Egypt.

P.S. Here are five more reasons to admire Switzerland.

Francis Schaeffer in his book HOW SHOULD WE THEN LIVE? makes a similar point about the Swiss:

PAGE 159 36%

36 Independence Hall, Philadelphia. “… the lay-  ing down of forms and freedoms.” National  Park Service Photo.  

The Reformation in northern Europe also  contributed to checks and balances in govern-  ment. This idea was, of course, not new in the  sixteenth century. Some form of checks and  balances was implicit in some medieval polit-  ical thought, as we saw earlier, and a particular  form of it is central to so-called Polybian re-  publicanism, which supposedly exemplified the  best elements in Greek and Roman practice.  Polybian republicanism is named for Polybius  (c. 198–c. 117 B.C.), a Greek who wrote a history  of the growth of the Roman Republic in terms  which were designed to cause his fellow Greeks  to accept Roman rule. Polybian republi-  canism—which Niccolò Machiavelli 1469–1527) embraced—was, however,  economically and politically elitist. Since  Machiavelli had witnessed the destruction of  Florentine republicanism, he was interested in  the Polybian theory of political cycles, which in-  volved a cyclical view of history. Machiavelli  therefore wrote The Prince, advocating firm  autocratic rule, because in his view only the  dictatorial regime of the “ideal” prince could  push along the cycle of political history; only  the exercise of ruthlessness could improve the  cycles. Machiavelli already showed in his day  that ultimately the humanist Renaissance had  no more of a universal in political morals than  it had in personal morals. Machiavelli’s The  Prince—destined to become a handbook of  political practice used by heads of state as re-  mote in time as Benito Mussolini (1883–1945)  and Adolf Hitler (1889–1945)—stands in sharp contrast to the checks-and-balances tradition  encouraged by the Reformation.

The Reformers were not romantic about  man. With their strong emphasis on the Fall,  they understood that since every person is in-  deed a sinner there is a need for checks and  balances, especially on people in power. For  this reason, Calvin himself in Geneva did not  have the authority often attributed to him. As  we have seen, Calvin had been greatly influ-  enced by the thinking of Bucer in regard to  these things. In contrast to a formalized or in-  stitutional authority, Calvin’s influence was  moral and informal. This was so not only in  political matters (in which historians recognize  that Calvin had little or no direct say), but also  in church affairs. For example, he preferred to  have the Lord’s Supper given weekly, but he  allowed the will of the majority of the pastors in Geneva to prevail. Thus the Lord’s Supper was  celebrated only once every three months.

Each Reformation country showed the prac-  tice of checks and balances in different forms.  Switzerland (whose national political life was  shaped by the Reformation tradition even  though not all its cantons followed the Refor-  mation) is especially interesting in this regard.  Since the mid-nineteenth century, the Swiss  have separated geographically the legislative  and executive parts of government from the  judiciary, placing the former in Bern, the latter  in Lausanne. In Great Britain came the checks  and balances of a king, two Houses of Parlia-  ment, and the courts. Today the monarch has  less authority than when the division of power  was made, but the concept of checks and bal-  ances continues. The United States has a  slightly different arrangement, but with the same basic principle. The White House covers  the executive administration; Congress, in two  balanced parts, is the legislature; the Supreme  Court embodies the judiciary. In the Refor-  mation countries, there was a solution to the  “form” or “chaos” problem in society.

We must repeat that when Christians who  came out of the Reformation tradition had  more influence than they do now on the con-  sensus in the northern European culture (which  would include the United States, Canada, Aus-  tralia, New Zealand, and so on), this did not  mean that they achieved perfection.

How Should We Then Live | Season 1 | Episode 5 | The Revolutionary Age

Terror Robespierre and the French Revolution


Image result for francis schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer noted:

In the French Revolution, human reason was made supreme and christianity was pushed aside. In 1789, with the French Revolution at its height, the members of the National Assembly swore to establish a constitution: The Declaration of the Rights of Man. To make their outlook clear, the French changed the calendar and called 1792 the “year one,” and destroyed many of the things of the past, even suggesting the destruction of the cathedral at Chartres. They proclaimed the goddess of Reason in Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris and in other churches in France, including Chartres. In Paris, the goddess was personified by an actress, Demoiselle Candeille, carried shoulder high into the cathedral by men dressed in Roman costumes.
 Like the humanists of the Renaissance, the men of the Enlightenment pushed aside the Christian base and heritage and looked back to the old pre-Christian times. When the French Revolution tried to reproduce the English conditions without the Reformation base, but rather on Voltaire’s humanistic base, the result was a bloodbath and a rapid breakdown into the authoritarian rule of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821).

Image result for Maximilien Robespierre
 In Sept. 1792 began the massacre in which some 1,300 prisoners were killed. Before it was all over, the government and its agents killed 40,000 people, many of them peasants. Maximilien Robespierre (1758-1794), the revolutionary leader, was himself executed in July 1794. This destruction came not from outside the system; it was produced by the system.
 The influence of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, as seen within the context of the French Revolution, can hardly be overestimated. Within a period of two years, an extreme form of democracy had been established and all titles of privilege abolished. In subsequent decades, based on the achievements of the revolution, political theorists began suggesting even more dramatic changes in government–changes that in the 20th century are called socialism, Communism, and anarchism. It is no exaggeration to say that subsequent revolutions in Europe, especially the Russian Revolution of 1917, had their antecedent in the ideas and practices that were spawned by the French Revolution.



December 09, 2007


Martha Colburn Brings the War Home | “New York Close Up” | Art21

Featured artist is Martha Colburn

Martha Colburn

Martha Colburn was born in 1971 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, formerly lived and worked in New York, and currently lives between Amsterdam and Lisbon.

Colburn began working with film in the ’90s when she acquired a used projector and began splicing found footage into her works. Now, she works for years on a single project, and her films result from intensive research and meticulously rendered stop-motion animations that include photography, collage, and painting.

The artist’s vibrant imagery can belie the seriousness of the themes she addresses, which include America’s history of war and violence, and crystal-meth addiction in rural areas. While her work is viewed in both film and art contexts, she has said that the individual films are secondary to the ideas and images behind her work.

Artist’s website


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