Tag: UK

Toxic Femininity Exists and Gillette Is Feeding It

Luke-David Boswell | United Kingdom

I’m a bit late to the party on the Gillette advertisement. But after watching the video, I learned that it sums up the current political climate; a small, vocal group of radical feminists are speaking without a clear understanding of men. I’ll forever stand by the belief that feminism is for the equality of both sexes. However, this increasing group of self-proclaimed social justice warriors receives constant media catering. In many cases, this is due to merely being brash and vocal against people who disagree and searching for ways to label society as oppressive.

I can agree that the motives of Gillette are brave. Nonetheless, the way they depict toxic masculinity (which I believe exists) is obviously stereotypical and against the popular opinion. For this reason, I cannot fathom how it got approval. If we’re going to discuss toxic masculinity and take out all our energy focusing on how men are apparently the devil, then we also have to talk about toxic femininity.

What Is Toxic Femininity?

Toxic femininity is noticed in passive aggression, person-to-person manipulation and systemic manipulation of victim complexes. A frequent talking about weight in women’s circles, female on female ‘slut shaming’, and using the status of a woman to ruin a man’s reputation are all evident. Ignoring that toxic femininity exists is detrimental to feminism’s own principles of equality. It is an issue we must recognize as much as toxic masculinity is attracting attention.

Toxic masculinity is not at all barbecuing, having a beard, playing sport, hunting, fishing or even laddish humor. Instead, we should recognize toxic masculinity for what it is. A harmful mental aspect of being a man and the pressure to assimilate into the regimented image of manliness is a key reason why many men feel like they don’t fit into current society.

Real Instances of Toxic Masculinity

Toxic masculinity is present in the objectification of women, violence, and the ‘boys will be boys’ mentality. It also appears in an inability to express emotions and in homophobia when men express non-masculine traits. Hugging a male friend, crying or struggling with mental illness may sometimes get the response of ‘man up’. as a man is often countered with ‘man up’. These issues are the true exemplifications of toxic masculinity. The issue is much more complex than the single narrative that many in the feminist movement focus on.

My main problem is the ad focused on how men need to improve themselves and become like Gillette suggests: the best they can be. Instead, we should also focus on how men need help overcoming the restrictions society has placed on them. Gillette, though, chose to generalize about men, further adding to a narrative of hatred.


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After a Rejected Brexit Deal, What Comes Next?

Rufus Coombe | UK

Theresa May lost the vote on her Brexit deal this week with 202 votes in favor and 432 against. This is the largest commons defeat for a government since 1924, with 118 of Theresa May’s own MPs voting against her. Britain’s future relationship with Europe is once again uncertain but one thing is now clear: May’s deal is dead. There are three popular alternatives which we may see in the coming months.

The 585-page agreement, which Theresa May brought back from Brussels, received criticism for being both too ‘hard’ and too ‘soft’ a deal from both sides. A soft Brexit maintains many ties with the EU, whereas a hard Brexit severs many.

The Failed Brexit Deal of Theresa May

A sticking point in the deal for both remainers and leavers alike was the proposed Irish backstop. This is a plan to keep the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland open at all costs. However, to do this the deal proposed to have EU law bind all of Ireland. Instead, there would be a border between Northern Ireland and the UK. This would effectively force the UK to split and create a border within its own territory.

The deal also included a £39 Billion payout to the EU (roughly the defense budget for a year). The deal asserted that Britain would keep ‘equivalent standards’ to the EU on employment, regulation, and the environment. This means that Britain would not be able to compete with the EU by becoming a tax haven. Many ardent leavers see this as a breach of sovereignty.

Additionally, the backstop agreement does not allow the UK to leave unilaterally. Rather, they must remain in the EU until the EU gives them permission to leave. This means that EU nations could hold the government to ransom. It seems difficult to negotiate a fair deal when the EU has huge power over our land. One Conservative MP repeated the apt proverb: “You cannot reason with a tiger with your head in its mouth”.

Others opposed the deal as they said it went too far. For example, it included taking Britain out of the single market and customs union. The government also acknowledged that it would make Britain worse off.

Britain leaves Europe, with or without a deal, on the 29th of March, 2019. The questions thus become: who will try to obstruct Brexit in the next few months? How successful will their operations be? There are many rival factions within Parliament but the main three are the following:

A Second Referendum

Around 125 Members of Parliament from all sides of the house support this notion. It would involve another vote by the British people. It is a position that almost exclusively remainers support. As a result, many see it as an attempt to reverse the previous vote. Most Conservatives and the leadership of the Labour Party strongly oppose this. It would mean that Britain would have the option to go back to the EU.

A No-deal Brexit

Not a single MP supports this publicly as a first option. However, fervent Brexit supporters would support a no-deal over delaying the leave. These individuals are small in number but nonetheless very vocal. The government has refused to rule out a no deal Brexit.

Experts predict that a no-deal scenario would be disastrous for the economy. Thus, businesses and Parliament alike widely oppose the plan. Its supporters are often dismissed as zealots and ‘extremists’. Despite this, do not underestimate the possibility of it occurring. This is the default position on the 29th of March if Parliament has not ratified a deal.

A Norway Option

Currently, Norway is not a member-state of the EU, but the two groups have close ties. Some in Britain believe that the best way forward is to adopt a similar policy.

This would include the negotiation of a new deal which would keep Britain in the customs union and single market. It would also mean that EU rules and regulations would apply to Britain. However, much like Norway, the country would not have control over the creation of these rules.

Britain would also be unable to set its own immigration policy. It is possible that a majority of Parliament could support this notion, but negotiations would likely delay Brexit, which the government opposes. It would end up being popular in Parliament but not with the people. Brexit supporters may see it as a sell-out. On the contrary, remainers might consider it a waste of time and still fight for a second referendum. The division between these two factions will probably appear soon.

The Most Likely Scenario

The MPs who threw themselves behind Theresa May will now have to find a new option. Many will stick to the party line, which indicates that no-deal may be possible. With the gridlock in Parliament, we may find ourselves walking into a no-deal Brexit.

The next important vote in Parliament will probably be an attempt to rule out a no-deal or an attempt to delay Brexit. If the conservatives can hold the line on these votes, then no-deal becomes much more likely. If the government loses these votes, we will likely get a deal ‘softer’ than the one the house just rejected. It is unlikely that there will be another referendum unless the Labour Party changes its position. 


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Is Britain Still a Free Country Today?

By Rufus Coombe | United Kingdom

During the 19th century, Britain was a pioneer of freedom, a leader in individual liberties, and a staunch defender of the ideas of classical liberalism, many of which have their origins in British philosophy. Today, Britain no longer stands as a staunch bastion of liberty nor does it stand out in its defense of free markets. Britain, the country that began modern capitalism, lead the campaign against slavery, created the first restrictive constitution (the Magna Carta), popularised free trade and which was at the forefront of the fight for personal liberty. Much of this changed dramatically during the late 20th century.

An integral question for the modern day is; does Britain still protect the values of free people and free markets it once espoused? How authoritarian is modern Britain?

A common talking point of the right, particularly in America, is the alleged authoritarianism of Europe. The focus of such arguments usually revolves around the supposedly tyrannous state of Britain. One should explore the accuracy of this sentiment and tackle both the myths and the truths of the accusation.

Britain and Negative Rights

To assess the validity of the claims about freedom in Britain, start by using the idea of negative rights. Negative rights are a rejection of the contemporary view of rights. They state that an individual is free if others cannot inhibit them from acting. Negative rights impose a duty on others to abscond from intervening whereas positive rights compel another to act to provide the right. An action is not representative of freedom if others are forced to aid you in any way. By this definition, one does not have a ‘right’ to healthcare because healthcare forces others to act for you (they must pay taxes to subsidize it). However one does have a right to private property as private property only requires that others refrain from infringing upon your land. These differences will be crucial in the analysis.

Britain, for a large part, is still a free society. Inalienable rights such as the right to property and life are still tenets of its legal system. Murder, rape, and theft are prohibited by the British state. The government still carries out its proper protective functions such as the protection of life and property.

Furthermore, British press freedom is ranked 40th in the world, low for a western country but still above the global average. Britain, in theory, also has equality in the eyes of the law for sexual and racial minorities summarised in the 2010 equality act which forbids the state or judiciary from discriminating based on race, religion or sexuality. Moreover, the police force is unarmed and has restraints placed upon it. This protects the citizens from being violated by a rogue or overreaching constabulary.

However, Britain has ventured into an age of authoritarianism. With enforced progressivism, the introduction of an extensive welfare state, and increasingly invasive powers handed to the police, Britain seems on the cusp of becoming Orwellian.

An Orwellian Country

The principle of voluntary association has been disregarded and replaced with a new idea that one’s land is no longer one’s own but rather the property of the community. This is seen by the popularisation of collectivist values with most, if not all prominent politicians arguing from the collective perspective on issues such as healthcare, education and unemployment benefit. No prominent political party supports the privatization of these faculties of the state.

The individual is no longer free to use their property as they see fit, instead the use of land is now often dictated by the state. For example, intrusive Pigovian taxes augmented by heavy substance controls means that people can no longer buy and sell what they want. Britain has waged an extensive war against ‘victimless crimes’ with a costly drug war and stringent rules on prostitution. Implementation of a sugar tax and congestion charges (effectively taxes on driving in certain areas) has allowed the state to step further forwards in its march for omnipotence. Britain is very much a nanny state with Pigovian taxes on everything from alcohol to energy drinks.

In addition, it is now illegal to refuse service to certain groups of people or to extend membership organizations to only one member. For example, the equality act of 2010 means employees and property owners cannot discriminate based on race, sexuality or gender. While equal treatment should be encouraged, legislation compelling it is in flagrant violation of the principle of individual sovereignty. The state intervenes to ensure that an opening to one is an opening to all- a job must be equal to all applicants regardless of the wishes of the employer. In Britain, one has no choice but to bake the cake. The moral reservations of individuals are cast aside for the demands of the collective. Unlike in some countries (such as the US) where the right to refuse services have been preserved.

Furthermore, Britain has implemented numerous draconian free speech restrictions which inhibit the individual’s ability to speak candidly and openly. With the recent and notoriously case of count Dankula, who was fined for racist language and hate speech after filming his pug making Nazi salutes, it is clear that Britain is no longer free, even in the realm of entertainment. The police in the UK spent 3,750 police hours tackling online hate speech, most of which was even too trivial to be taken to court. Britain has begun curbing freedom of speech- a fundamental tenet of freedom.

But it is not only jokes which are being censored (albeit unfunny ones). The government has criminalized numerous political organizations of an unsavory nature. The actions of individual members of these groups have led to the government cracking down on their very existence. Such as the banning of National Front (a neo-fascist organization) which was banned in December 2016. Again, the right to free association falls apart.

The Surveillance State

Then there is the issue of privacy. In 2016 the government passed the investigatory powers bill, also dubbed the ‘snoopers charter’. This was only the most recent extension of the state’s powers to monitor and collect online content. The bill stipulates that all data providers must monitor and keep a record of their users’ messages and viewed content which the security agencies can then view if necessary. The UK authorities now have the power to draw up and read anyone’s private messages or see their web history, a clear violation of the right to privacy.

Government mass surveillance does not end at the internet, the security agencies also have a prodigious network of security cameras. It is estimated that there are 11 people per security camera in the UK. Britain is one of the most surveyed countries in the world.

Moreover, Britain also has a protruding welfare state. Funded by burdening tax rates (some brackets which are in excess of 40%). People are being extorted to pay for the government, large tax rates are the enemy of a free and prosperous country. The British welfare state is one of the most intrusive and malignant welfare programs in the world. The arguably bureaucracy riddled welfare system is now being reformed, however, the main principle of collective responsibility remains. To those who believe in a free economy, this spells bad news.

41% of GDP in the UK is from government spending. This exorbitant amount of government spending coupled with cumbersome regulations means huge sections of the economy are now de facto controlled by the state. The constant stream of new regulation flowing from parliament augmented by additional EU restrictions has led to an economic minefield of regulation. Bizarrely, private property no longer seems very private. What good is privately owning a business or a home if it’s management is dictated to you by the state?

Finally, what many Americans love to decry; Britain has the most hostile gun regulation in the world. The right to own guns has been severely curtailed. The rules on getting a firearm have very stringent since the 1997 handgun act. Due to a recent surge in knife crime in the capital, the mayor, Sadiq Khan, is banning knives and considering imposing yet more pernicious regulation on gun ownership. The idea of banning knives is something Americans find alien if also a little comical, in Britain the general populace barely bat an eye at the idea.

This article was intended to be a balanced piece to debunk the claims of totalitarianism in Britain, but the overwhelming amount of evidence found was against this premise. The more was discovered about the modern legal system, the more demoralizing the situation seemed to become. As you will see from the points discussed above, Britain is far from the bastion of freedom it once was. It has strayed from beliefs in small government and inalienable rights. There is now a socialist mindset which has permeated into British society. A mindset which will only bring more authoritarianism.

This article has only tackled the major talking points and there is far more to say. The government is continuing to snowball in size, pressure groups seem to see the government as the only tool for influence and the corporate elite are continuing to pump out regulation. The situation will deteriorate before it gets better.


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The German Empire Lost World War One Before the Start

By John Keller | United States

In 1914, the stage was set for a world war with European imperialism, growing nationalism, and a web of alliances all coming to a head. The “Powderkeg” of Europe, the Balkans, was set to explode for the third time in two years with the assassination of Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The German Empire, a key military power of the Central Alliance, lost the war before a shot was even fired. How is this possible? There are several reasons for this, but they fall mainly into seven themes: The German independence of command structure, the mass alteration of the set military plan, the gross misjudgement of French military power, the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military, the underestimation of the British field army, overestimation of Austro-Hungarian military strength, and the failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance.

An Independent Command Structure

The first major error of the German military was its structure of independence of command. The German officer corps, deeply rooted with origins in the Prussian military dating as far back as 1525, boasted a strong tradition that if an officer was correctly trained he could act independently of orders because he would simply know what to do. This system, although effective when dating back to the set-piece battles of the 1700’s, proved to be disastrous for the German Empire. An example of this is at the Battle of the Marne, occurring September 5th through the 12th, 1914.

The German First and Second Army were attacking towards Paris and were starting to lose momentum. The French commander, General Joffre, quickly counterattacked against German General Bulow’s First Army’s right flank. Due to Bulow lacking direct orders in the field from von Moltke, the German Chief of Staff, Bulow ordered his men from his left flank to reinforce his right. This created a several mile wide gap between his army and the neighboring Second Army under General von Kluck. Joffre recognized the opportunity, seized the initiative, and ordered the British Expeditionary Force forward, directly into the gap. As the gap widened, panic struck the two German generals and, lacking communication, a general collapse of the German armies ensued. Lastly, the head of the German command, von Moltke, was proven to be an incompetent leader due to his belief that once he set a plan in motion, his generals would be able to swiftly execute it without major issues or direct intervention from his headquarters. This is apparent during the First Battle of the Masurian Lakes and the First Battle of the Marne when von Moltke issued a total of two orders, neither directed towards either of the battle zones. This inability to coordinate attacks and failure of the German generals to cooperate cost them the war.

A Modified Plan

Although the German officer corps was plagued with issues in regards to the autonomy of their generals on the field, they also suffered from Moltke’s constant alteration of the original military strategy. The German military plan, originally formed by Schlieffen, called for a strong right-wing thrust through the Netherlands and Belgium and into northern France, where the bulk of the army would be in position to take Paris and strike the rear of the French military, leading to a swift victory and allowing for the Germans to then swing their full military might on Russia. The problem that arose occurred when Moltke ordered 40,000 men, roughly the strength of a corp, away from Third Army, under General Hausen, which served as the center of the swing through Belgium. These men were strategically redeployed to the 8th Army in East Prussia preparing to fight against Russia in the case of a two-front war. This was further an issue when in September of 1914, when the German attack through Belgium was in full swing and was on the verge of ending the war in the west, von Moltke ordered three divisions, roughly 54,000 men, to the east to support von Hindenburg’s Eighth Army, which had recently won a miraculous victory at Tannenberg. Due to Moltke’s meddling with the original plan, roughly 94,000 men were taken away from the main German thrust into northern France, which led to the Germans being forced to switch from their main drive from the West of Paris to the east, leaving a 296 kilometer gap between the German far right flank and the sea.

Underestimations of the Enemy

Furthermore, the Germans grossly underestimated the military power of the French. With the French defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71, the Germans believed the French army to be weak, and rightly so. In the German Empire, they had a population of roughly 40 million people, in which they mobilized 1.2 million men. The French Empire, which had a total population of 42 million, only mobilized 900,000 men. The aftermath of the war was roughly 139,000 French killed to roughly 28,000 Germans killed. With such a grand victory over an empire that was larger, the Franco-Prussian War showed the weakness the French army had and led to Germany being the undisputed European superpower on land. Germany also believed that France and its army was lacking in quality due to the French army’s failures abroad in their interventions in Mexico (1862-67), their loss to Korea (1866), and their slow victory over Algeria, taking them 17 years to conquer this small nation lacking in modern military equipment, when the Germans defeated France’s modern army in roughly nine months. This all led to the underestimation of France’s military, which, in 1914, boasted a mobilization strength of 2.1 million men and 4,000 artillery pieces to Germany’s 2.9 million men and 5,700 artillery pieces.

Moreover, the Germans had the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military. Although Russia had suffered a string of defeats, it had also seen a vast improvement overall. The Russian Empire had suffered a defeat in the hands of the “Allies”, a united alliance of the French Empire, British Empire, Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia, in the Crimean War of 1853-56. Although the Russian Empire lost the war itself, they had won most of the land battles. They were only forced to surrender when the Tzar ordered a backing out of the war (and the Danube region, giving power back to the Turks) as a result of the need to train the Russian Army. They had sent their men into combat inexperienced and mostly untrained which cost them about half a million men. As a result of this war, Russia was misjudged as weak; however, Russia took from their mistake and started equipping and retraining her army.

The belief that Russia was weak was furthered by a series of 1500 minor mutinies in the Russian ranks up until 1903. At this point, Russia was on the verge of completing its initial reformation policy; however, in 1904 they were at war with Japan in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Japan had attacked the Russian Empire without a formal declaration of war. The Tzar was totally stunned by this and ordered a mobilization of forces into Siberia. The problem was that there was only one railway into Siberia and the bulk of the Russian Imperial Navy was in the Baltic Sea when it needed to be deployed against the Japanese in the Sea of Japan. It was clear that the Japanese had the clear advantage in the war, and after about a year and a half of fighting the Russians were defeated, Nearly one-third of the Japanese Imperial Army was killed (86,100 men) compared to the Russians dead of 54,400 men.

The Russians, then returning from a “defeat”, were then tossed into a war-torn empire with the outbreak of the Revolution of 1905. After winning the revolution and a constitution put in place, although the Tzar kept his throne, several political, economic, and primarily military changes went underway. From 1856 to 1905 the Russian Imperial defense budget dropped by 12%, coming to only 56% of the German military’s budget, even though the Russian military was nearly  47% larger. Russian mobilization strength went from a million men and 22 artillery batteries to 3.1 million men and 385 artillery batteries. By the time their new policy was implemented and ready to go, the Russian Empire would be able to raise ten armies fully backed by artillery (an estimated 13,400 artillery pieces). This compared to Germany’s mobilization strength of 2.9 million men composed into eight armies supported by 206 artillery batteries (5,700 artillery pieces). This miscalculation would lead to a brutal campaign that would force Germany to move over 100,000 men away from France, which would be crucial in the first campaign.

In addition to this, the German high command seriously underestimated the British Army and disregarded it as an effective force in the field. A key factor in this assumption was the size of the British professional army. It had only 125,000 men composed into six infantry divisions and one cavalry division backed by only 470 artillery guns. The entire British field army had hardly the strength of a German field army; however, they still had a militia reserve of 285,000 men. In addition, they had only 66% of the artillery one German army would have. To further the German’s belief that the British army was inferior was the recent defeats and poor conduct of the British army. While fighting the Zulu African tribe for control of South Africa, they lost most of their battles despite holding superior firepower. Furthermore, in the Boer Wars, the British Empire had to fight South African militia rebels, and the British suffered nearly 22,000 dead to the Boers 9,000. Although the British had won, thousands of British were left dead or seriously injured at the hands of the South African militia. Moreover, the British Empire had a naval focus. The British Navy boasted nearly 160 modern warships and the German navy boasted a strength of only 87. In addition, the French Navy supported the British Navy with an additional 91 warships. By having twice as many warships, the British spent £173,500,000 on their navy (roughly $267,190,000) and the Germans spent ₰986,523,189 on their total military (roughly $573,000,000). This vast difference would be a key premise that lead to a major underestimation of the British military power.

The Overestimation of an Ally

To add to the miscalculations by the German General Staff was the overestimation of the military strength of Austria-Hungary. The first error of this was that Field Marshal von Moltke expected his Austrian counterpart, Field Marshal Conrad von Hotzendorf, to field a modern and effective army. The Austro-Hungarian army fielded about one million men at mobilization, supported by 1,200 artillery pieces. 26% of the Austro-Hungarian army had equipment dated back to 1895. The remaining 74% of the Austro-Hungarian military had mainly 1903 equipment; however, their artillery force used mainly guns dating back to 1908 and even fewer more modern 1911 guns. The main rifle being used by the Austro-Hungarian field armies was the Mannlicher-Schonauer, a rifle that went into production in 1903. The secondary rifle of the Austro-Hungarian field armies was the Steyr-Mannlicher M1895. This army was expected to decisively defeat 420,000 Serbians using generally more modern equipment, notably pre-modern (post-1900 production) rifles and artillery, as well as roughly 2,000,000 Russians, using mainly postmodern rifles and artillery, due to the modernization after the Russian loss in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05). Outnumbered and primarily outgunned, the German high command expected the Austro-Hungarian to perform ably and decisively in the field.

To cause this belief among the German General Staff was a recent string of Austro-Hungarian victories. The Austro-Hungarian Empire had a stunning victory over the Ottoman Empire, where they funded a revolution in Bulgaria. This sparked the Russo-Turkish War of 1877, in which the Austro-Hungarians brought their two greatest rivals against each other, which lead to a serious weakening of the Ottoman Empire when the independence of Bulgaria was established in the postwar treaty. This war further benefited Austria-Hungary, because the Russian Empire was forced to back down when they attempted to make Bulgaria a puppet state and assert their dominance in the Balkans, due to the fact the British Empire stepped in and humiliated the Tzar. This caused a restriction on Russian influence in affairs in the Balkans.

With such a stunning result, and wanting to further their gains, the Austro-Hungarian Empire annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1905 and became the undisputed power in the Balkans. This, however, was a major diplomatic and political victory, and not a military victory, which the Germans were depending on their southern neighbors to make in the next war. The Austro-Hungarian Empire’s military problems were furthered by their Chief of the General Staff, Conrad von Hotzendorf, who proved unsuited for his position. He was fancied a military genius by colleagues when this proved to be nowhere near reality. He simply could not deliver a decisive victory when it was needed. He lost battles in Galicia, got, an entire army enveloped and entrapped around the Fortress of Przemysl, and was forced to abandon his positions around Krakow. Conrad von Hotzendorf proved in his many failures that he could not lead the Austro-Hungarian military, and the defeats were only going to add up as the war prolonged.

The Italy Problem

The final issue that brought the German Empire ruin was their failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance. The main reason for this was the Austro-Italian complex. Article Seven of the Amended Triple Alliance, written in 1912, states that:

“Austria-Hungary and Italy, having in mind only the maintenance, so far as possible, of the territorial status quo in the Orient, engage to use their influence to forestall any territorial modification which might be injurious to one or the other of the Powers signatory to the present Treaty.”

Between 1848 and 1866, Italy fought three wars of independence from the Austrian Empire. Although independence was eventually granted, Italy still had claims on the Tyrol Region (Trento), Trieste Region, the Dalmatian Islands, and much of the Austro-Hungarian coast on the Adriatic Sea. This all contributed to strained relations between Italy and Austria-Hungary, which created the Italo-German Complex. After Italy gained independence and Prussia unified Germany and formed the German Empire, they became natural allies, as they were the only new nations in the world power struggle of the era; however, as time went on, it was clear that Germany and Italy had different national goals. Germany planned on taking territory from France and weakening Russia as a European power. Italy had very limited plans about war with France, as they had helped secure Italian independence. Furthermore, Italy had made plans to reclaim their lands from the Austro-Hungarian Empire and form an Empire dominant in the Mediterranean and Africa. These plans would cause the final issue, the Ottoman-Italian complex. The Ottoman Empire had formed a secret alliance with the Germans, which was a problem for the Italian Empire. The Ottoman Empire dominated the eastern Mediterranean which made it a prime rival for the Italians, who proved they were on a warpath with the Ottomans in the Italo-Ottoman War of 1911 in which they seized several Ottoman islands and took Ottoman controlled Libya. These all led to the following message from the German Ambassador at Rome, Baron Ludwig von Flotow, to the German Foreign Office in 1914:

“The Minister, who was in a state of great excitement, said in explanation that the entire Ministerial Council, with the exception of himself, had shown a distinct dislike for Austria. It had been all the more difficult for him to contest this feeling, because Austria, as I myself knew, was continuing so persistently with a recognized injury to Italian interests, as to violate Article 7 of the Triple Alliance treaty, and because she was declining to give a guaranty for the independence and integrity of Serbia.”

This culminated in Italy rejecting the Central Powers offer to join them in their war against Serbia, which violated Article Five of the Amended Triple Alliance of 1912, “They engage henceforward, in all cases of common participation in a war, to conclude neither armistice, nor peace, nor treaty, except by common agreement among themselves.” This then further disconnected Italy from the Central Powers and would eventually cost the German and Austro-Hungarians 1.6 million casualties and forced 66 divisions away from the other main fronts.

The German Empire, through their independence of command structure, the mass alteration of their military strategy, the gross misjudgement of French military power, the inability to calculate the size and power of the Russian military, the underestimation of the British field army, overestimation of Austro-Hungarian military strength, and the failure to keep Italy in the Triple Alliance, lost World War One before even a shot was fired. Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War, “The general who wins the battle makes many calculations in his temple before the battle is fought. The general who loses makes but few calculations beforehand.” The German Empire failed to do the many calculations needed to wage war, and therefore the First World War was lost to them before it was even fought.


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The Liberty-minded Solution to the Scallop War

By Thomas Calabro | United States

Perhaps the Scallop War is not the worst “war” we’ve seen, especially compared to our history of violent conflicts in the past decades. It is still, however, an intriguing conflict based on poor economic policies. The failed negotiations may increase tensions between the UK and France. But after looking at this so-called “war” between the two European allies, I saw the opportunity to discuss the best approach that promotes liberty and eases tensions, while protecting the stock of scallops.

What is the Scallop War?

The Scallop War is the hostile dispute over the fishing rights of scallops in the English Channel, specifically the Baie de Seine area off of Normandy. Both countries border the English Channel, but the UK has a longer scallop season than the French do. The fear of depletion from the British has pushed French boats to ward off their British counterparts by throwing “smoke bombs and rocks” at them.

This situation is not new. It has occurred before both historically as well as academically. The issue at hand is another example of the Tragedy of the Commons. Basically, this arises when parties consume common resources, those that are non-excludable and rival, at an unsustainable rate.

The increase in scarcity means that both parties cannot have all they desire. These common resources are goods that are not privately owned, and therefore non-excludable, but are also rival, in that consuming one unit of a good means everyone else has one unit less to use. In this case, the nations catch scallops in international water for economic gain. So, both parties have an incentive to catch as many as possible while they last.

Alex Tabarrok, a professor of economics at George Mason University, explains the Tragedy of the Commons while also outlining three main approaches to combat the issue. The approaches include Commanding and Controlling the actions of the perpetrators, using Cultural Norms to assure better practices of gathering resources, as well as simply Creating Property Rights on these Common Resources to incentivize good behavior.

Command and Control

France understood the issue at hand but went about it in the wrong way. They are legislating their own fleets from dredging those waters in the summer months. They intend to restrict fishing for scallops from May 15th to September 30th. But, this only puts France at a disadvantage, as British fishermen in vessels can still dredge for scallops. The attempt to control the collection of common resources only incentivizes people to find other ways to continue the harmful practice.

Cultural Norms

The second approach relies on slowly ushering in the cultural norm of exercising the preferred practice. The agreement that the two countries approved put this practice to the test. Basically, British fishermen were supposed to willingly give up their advantage in the scallop market and hold their fleets to the same policies as the French.

However, the deal fell apart a few days later when British fleets desired compensation for damages. This deal, though, was destined for failure from the start, as it relied heavily on the good faith of Britain to respect and follow France’s closure period. Even though the UK and France are close allies, it is tough to expect such cooperation without efficient incentives.

Property Rights

The third approach, on the other hand, is the most powerful policy. Creating property rights on the scallops themselves incentivizes the practice of restraint. Prof. Tabarrok mentions that New Zealand is an excellent example, having implemented property rights on fish with the use of Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ). Citizens can purchase the right to a certain amount of a common resource, such as scallops, that will sustain the population without hindering profits. Fishermen, therefore, have an incentive to increase profits by reducing the cost of collecting resources, rather than increasing the supply of that good.

By giving citizens private ownership over the scallops, therefore making it excludable, the State essentially changes the way people use the goods in question. It replaces the short-term concept of collecting as much as possible now with the idea of collecting a small amount now and leaving more to catch later in the long run.

This economic lesson does not resolve the issue of reparations, although one could argue that British fishermen deserve reimbursements for damages to their own private property.  That may be the only issue between the two countries if they seek this path of establishing property rights on scallops. Perhaps if States understand the effectiveness of incentives over controls, we could develop more policies that promote the ideas of property rights, free markets, and free people.

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