Johan Norberg on the Devil's Advocate

Shameless self-promotion but – I hope – of interest to both Danish and international readers of this blog:

The Devil's Advocate is back with another English edition of our show (available here). The show was recorded in Stockholm, where the Devil's Advocate met with Swedish author Johan Norberg for a most interesting discussion.

The discussion focused on the following issues: the effects of globalization, how to explain the success of the Nordic welfare states and how these compare to the US, whether the role of the state in the economic development of the Asian tigers challenges the widely held belief that economic liberalism and political and individual freedom are inseparable. Finally we touch on Johan Norberg's vision of the good society and how to achieve it in a world where even right wing governments are at home with the notion of a big state.

Quotes from the debate:
"It is correct that the wealth of the world is very unevenly distributed… the reason why it is unevenly distributed is that there is an uneven distribution of capitalism [..] The problem of the world today is too little globalization and too little capitalism."

"The bureaucracy in the Nordic countries defied many of the liberal suspicions of how they would act but at the same time they did it because they were born under a completely different system and in the long run I think it [the size of the public sectors] creates problems".

"There is an inherent problem of combining authoritarian government with economic liberalism. The problem is that you create new power structures you create other groups that are not as dependent on the government as they were before and then they can begin to challenge the old things."

"My moral ground for this is based on the idea that individuals are actually quite smart they are quite creative. That's why I think freedom is a good idea basically, because I think people can create wonders and that's what I think history has taught us. In the last 100 years of relative freedom we have created more than in the 100.000 years of oppression, slavery and feudalism before that."

"We don't see those strong classical liberal or libertarian influences in the big centre right parties that we saw 15 years ago or something like that. Partly I think it is because if you have power you begin to like it. That's what you can see with people like Bush who when suddenly he has power he wants to do all manners of different things to institute his ideas."

"It is time for a bit of a change in attitude from people like my self when we speak for changes. I think it is more important to create reforms that have consequences that follow later on rather than try to run straight into the system and getting a nose bleed. We should instead look at those reforms which might expand people's freedom and increase the demand for more freedom."

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