Back in the mid 1980s, when the Cold War was still on, and the Soviet Union still considered the dreaded “Evil Empire”, a biologist named Paul Colinvaux wrote a pithy little book called The Fates of Nations. In it, he wrote a theory of history using ecological and biological principles to predict, correctly, all of the major upheavals past and future, as well as the life cycle of a nation.
It echoed what Alexander Tytler supposedly said was the life of a civilization: (“from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, from dependence back into bondage.”), but went one step further be explaining the mechanics of each progression, and make specific predictions of what we might expect to happen in the near future.
He predicted, for example, that the various countries of Africa would attempt to form a political union similar to that of the United States (not yet, but keep an eye on Qaddafi); that the proletarian submachine gun and assault rifle would largely lessen the technological advantage traditionally enjoyed by imperial armies (yup: see Iraq); that the United States and the Soviet Union would someday join forces and go to war in order to obtain petroleum (check: see Gulf War I), and also that many of the freedoms taken for granted by most Americans at the time would crumble under the weight of a growing urban population living in poverty, many of whom expecting entitlements from the State (absolutely: just look around).
Most notably, he compared the USA and the USSR, which were the two most powerful empires of the day. What he found was a huge population living on a huge continental landmass with a great number of natural resources on the one side (the United States), and a relatively smaller population living on a far larger landmass with far more natural resources (the Soviet Union). He then did the math: fewer people sharing a larger pie with more cherries in it should equal greater freedom. “I predict that by the next century,” he declared, meaning the 21st century, “the Russian people will enjoy greater freedom than the people of the United States. All they suffer from now is an excess of policemen, and policemen come and go.”
I find no flaw in his argument. Also, judging from the Russians that I know personally, I must conclude that they are, as a people, more politically aware, more literate, more financially savvy, and generally better educated than their American counterparts. They are also not disgusting fatbodies who require electric carts to convey their bloated carcasses down the aisles of Wal-Mart.
So while I’m not necessarily rooting for them, I will not be surprised at all if the Russians come out ahead of us economically and freedom-wise in the next two decades. All they suffer from now is an excess of mobsters, and mobsters come and go.