On the importance of the hegemon, with reference to Macedonia but not only

by on August 11, 2017 at 9:31 am in Current Affairs, History, Law, Political Science | Permalink

That is my latest column for Bloomberg, here is one bit from it:

In other words, a country can experience hundreds of years of bad events, but if it succeeds in attaching itself to a benevolent, moderately competent protector, it still can have a fantastic future of peace and prosperity, even if it does not stand on the global cutting edge.


If Macedonia doesn’t make it into the EU, it is not difficult to envision a future where the country ends up being picked apart by a variety of pressures from Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece, in some unknown combination. Keep in mind that an independent Macedonian nation has existed for only a few decades over the course of many centuries, and so its continuing existence cannot be taken for granted.


But when it comes to economic development, don’t just look at demographics or economic policy. Ponder the hegemon.

I wish to thank J. and P. for conversations that spurred some of these thoughts.

1 JWatts August 11, 2017 at 9:42 am

Tyler, you seem to be consistently pushing an expansion of the EU, but I’ve never seen you push for an expansion of the US. Why the double standard?

Wouldn’t a lot of the Carribbean or Pacific Islands benefit from incorporation into the US?

2 Nodnarb the Nasty August 11, 2017 at 9:46 am

The US should expand into Europe and East Asia, too: https://notesonliberty.com/2016/10/02/taxes-free-riding-and-federation/

3 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 10:13 am

No, it wouldn’t. North America (just see the name!) has no place in Guam, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Americans, go home!

4 prior_test3 August 11, 2017 at 10:29 am

EU expansion, or contraction, relies on the will of the voters of the country joining or leaving.

The people of the unincorporated territories of the U.S were not asked their opinion about becoming inhabitants of American territory ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unincorporated_territories_of_the_United_States – American Samoans are still not automatically American citizens, by the way), and quite honestly, no one seems to be clamoring to join (or leave) the U.S.

5 dan1111 August 11, 2017 at 10:40 am

“no one seems to be clamoring to join…the U.S.”



6 dan1111 August 11, 2017 at 11:05 am

Also Guam had a referendum in 1982 where they overwhelmingly voted to remain a part of America.

7 Art Deco August 11, 2017 at 3:55 pm

There are 130,000 people on Guam. The make a rather improbable sovereign state. (Then again, so do a raft of insular countries who opted for sovereignty (or had it shoved down their throat by the British Colonial Office).

8 dan1111 August 12, 2017 at 2:05 am

For an isolated island nation, I don’t think it’s improbable. There are quite a few such nations with a population of 130,000 or less.

9 Cooper August 11, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Dan, that plebiscite was illegitimate.

Voter turnout was extremely low because opponents boycotted the election.

10 Art Deco August 11, 2017 at 3:57 pm

Wouldn’t matter. The dependency relationship between Puerto Rico and the U.S. began to go sideways 50-odd years ago. We should negotiate a velvet divorce and tell them they’re not welcome in these United States.

11 Art Deco August 11, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Why the double standard?

He’d prefer the U.S. ‘expand’ by being extensively colonized by Mexicans and Syrian refugees.

12 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 9:50 am

Macedonia and Poland are legitimate parts of Russia. As much as I despise the Russian regime and its leader(s), I think no one has the right to keep the Russia nation divided.

13 JWatts August 11, 2017 at 10:17 am

Between this comment and the one you made earlier indicating a deep knowledge of historical Communism, I’ve had an epiphany.

You aren’t really a guy from Ohio, you are a guy from Moscow! Or maybe Saint Petersburg?

14 Russian Hacker August 11, 2017 at 10:52 am

It’s Putin himself!!!!!!!!

15 msgkings August 11, 2017 at 11:22 am

Or maybe just E. Harding

16 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 11:30 am

I would rather call it Petrograd. And no, I am not Russian, I do not live in Russia, I have never been to Russia, I have no relationship with the Russian regime and I have no deep knowledge of historical Communism.

17 JWatts August 11, 2017 at 2:13 pm

“I would rather call it Petrograd. … I have no deep knowledge of historical Communism.”

Saint Petersburg was only referred to as Petrograd from 1914 to 1924. That’s the kind of fact that someone with a pretty good knowledge of early Communist history would know.

“And no, I am not Russian, I do not live in Russia, I have never been to Russia,”

Sure, you’re just a guy on the internet with a deep hatred of American, a habit of making delusional boasts about Brazil and who apparently has a better working knowledge of the Communist Soviet Union than he does about Brazil.

18 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Petrograd is the city’s legitimate name. The name Saint Petersburg reeks of German domination. It is as if Washington was called Hitlercity or Tojotown. Petrograd was the capital of Russia and Kerensky plan to surrender the city (that was the center of Bolshevik agitation, that almost every else followed a defeatist agenda denounced by the social-patriotic wing of the Socialism movement) to the Huns failed due to the vigorous popular reaction. The Petrograd Soviet had already decided that the Provisory Government orders should only be obeyed as long as they did not contradict the Soviet orders. Furthermore, Trotsky already controlled the “red” Baltic Fleet, particularly the Kronstadt garrison. It was Trotsky who ordered the sailors to support Kerensky against Kornilov (who the American far-right – Pipes et al. – sees as some kind of hero). The end was near, kerensky could control anymore the soldiers and sailors his political survival depended upon. As Trotsky had said to his former friend Skobelev (who has become Kerensky’s Minister of Labor), “I think we will get the better of you very soon”.

The point is, I have no relationship with Russia, the Russian regime or communiam whatsoever.

19 Thomas Taylor August 11, 2017 at 3:03 pm

But I do.

20 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 3:41 pm

No, you do not.

21 Thomas Taylor August 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm

Yes we do.

22 JWatts August 11, 2017 at 3:49 pm

“Petrograd is the city’s legitimate name. …. long winded paragraph on obscure Communist Russian history.”

“The point is, I have no relationship with Russia, the Russian regime or communiam whatsoever.”

Sure TR, sure.

23 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 3:50 pm

No, I am opposed to Communist because Communist is a doctrine that enslaves people.

24 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 4:02 pm

It is not obscure, it is in all history books! WWI and its consequences including the fall of the czar, the rise and fall of the moderate socialist-constitutionist-trudovik provisory government and the Bolsheviks’ triumph in Russia and Hitler’s rise in Germany are well-known and have been exhaustively studied. Hundreds of thousands of books in almost every conceivable language hve been written about those historical situations and those historical figures who were part of them.

25 Macedonian August 11, 2017 at 9:58 pm

Thiago , I hope you are thinking Moldavia & Poland and not Macedonia & Poland. Geographically Macedonia is far from Russia, Macedonia was never part of Russa!

26 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 10:22 pm

Moldova /Moldavia is a legitimate part of Romania, it is a latin country. Macedonia is a legitimate part of Russia, it is a Slav, orthodox country.

27 JonFraz August 14, 2017 at 4:30 pm

I guess Portugal has an even stronger claim to Brazil– Britain to the US, and France to Quebec.

28 edgar August 11, 2017 at 10:17 am

“…..has existed for only a few decades over the course of many centuries, and so its continuing existence cannot be taken for granted.”
You could say the same of the EU, obviously, but is there a country whose “continuing existence” can be taken for granted? No. The 20th century should have put the notion that states have any permanence to rest for good. But more humorous is the notion that an EU that cannot even secure its borders from a large scale invasion of migrants or even pacify the millions they already have absorbed could protect a smaller member state. An EU without NATO is defenseless. But the funniest bit in the whole thing is the notion that the EU could offer Macedonia a “fantastic future of peace and prosperity.” As if a 1.6% growth rate was prosperity and migrant riots were not the new norm, as if France has not been in a state of alert for the past two years with its armed forces deployed internally patrolling the streets. Membership would only exacerbate emigration problems leaving the country weaker and poorer. And the EU’s campaign to eliminate the few remaining coherent populations of indigenous peoples would leave Macedonia with unsustainable numbers of desperately poor migrants. Bigger is not better despite all the pseudo-cosmopolitan wishful thinking in the world.

29 webster August 11, 2017 at 11:24 am

“continuing existence” can be taken for granted?

yes, that also struck me as a dumb statement

“Macedonia” is merely a passing political abstraction & artifice of very little significance. The same can be said of the U.S., on a bit longer time frame.

“Hegemon”, the submission of smaller political state to a larger one… is severely anti-democratic and anti-liberty. Why would a 21st American economist find it even slightly appealing?

30 Thiago Ribeiro August 11, 2017 at 11:56 am
31 dan1111 August 11, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Having one hegemon protect you from a worse hegemon can be pro-liberty.

Not ideal, but realistically, that’s usually life for small states.

32 88.9 August 11, 2017 at 5:02 pm

… American Colonies were a small-state after dumping British hegemon — with no replacement.
How did that work out long term?

33 JWatts August 11, 2017 at 9:52 pm

“… American Colonies were a small-state after dumping British hegemon — with no replacement. ”

The American colonies courted relations with the French, the other major power of the time. So, I’d say dan1111’s statement was accurate in that case.

34 clayton August 12, 2017 at 9:22 am

…nonsense — U.S. was never under French hegemon

35 ChrisA August 11, 2017 at 12:19 pm

Countries!=people. So we should not mourn if countries don’t exist anymore. Maybe the average Macedonia would be better off if they were ruled by another country. A lot of countries definitely would be better off ruled by say one of the more progressive European ones. Nationalism is just another mind hack by career politicians of our evolutionary psychology where we like to think we are part of some tribe with common goals. Having lived all over the world I find the idea comical that just because of a common geographical birth area I should be nice too one group of people rather than other ones born elsewhere.

36 Anonymous August 11, 2017 at 1:03 pm

“Having lived all over the world I find the idea comical that just because of a common geographical birth area”

Everyone else but you has a problem

37 Art Deco August 11, 2017 at 4:03 pm

Having lived all over the world

Care to leave, Mr. Citizen-of-the-World?

38 Tanturn August 11, 2017 at 1:15 pm

Macedonia will try to join the EU, it’s hard to say no to the roughly 1000$ each East European gets from the West European taxpayer.

Not sure what it will get in terms off security. If there is a secessionist war in Macedonia, what help will the EU be? Didn’t do much to help Spain or Britain. Maybe that 1000$ will bee enough to entice the Albanians to stay rather than try to form a breakaway state.

39 Cooper August 11, 2017 at 1:42 pm

As we’ve seen with Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia, it’s difficult to maintain your territorial integrity and political independence outside of the EU/NATO security umbrella.

Putin’s Russia will steal your land, infiltrate your government and fund rebel separatist groups. You will be too weak and disunited to stop them. There is no Finlandization on offer for eastern European/Caucasian minor powers. You cannot stay neutral.

Either you join the EU or Russia will pester you forever until they take over a chunk of your territory. There is no alternative.

Surely Macedonians know this.

40 Art Deco August 11, 2017 at 3:46 pm

The seizure and ethnic cleansing of Abkhazia antedated Putin. As for South Ossetia it has a population of about 55,000, of whom few are ethnic Georgians. Georgia will survive its loss.

41 Justin Trudeau August 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

The Alaskan panhandle has a population of about 40,000, of whom few have ever visited the continental U.S. The U.S. will survive its loss.

42 Art Deco August 11, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Do they object to being part of Canada? Do they have an affinity for a population on the other side of the border? Was their inclusion in the U.S. arbitrary?

43 Juneau separatist August 11, 2017 at 4:07 pm

No, yes, yes

44 Art Deco August 11, 2017 at 3:52 pm

being picked apart by a variety of pressures from Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Albania and Greece

Russia has no interest in ‘picking apart’ Macedonia. Albania has a latent irridentist claim. The Macedonian government should just concede the Albanian municipalities. No need to have irreconcilable minorities in your house. Macedonia’s real problem is with Bulgaria (who contend that Macedonians are actually Bulgars) and Greece (who have a dreadful political culture and bully others because they can). A patron client relationship with Russia or Britain might suffice to keep these buggers at bay, without surrendering your sovereignty to Brussels.

But making the case for liquidating nations is the whole point, isn’t it Tyler?

45 Viking August 11, 2017 at 4:55 pm


My colleague is (slavic) Macedonian, and thinks the Bulgarians are most likely to claim Macedonia as a vassal.

46 M August 12, 2017 at 4:38 am

Seems like the EU might significantly worsen chances of survival of Macedonia as a nation. Neighbours like Greece and Bulgaria can exploit the power of EU membership against a smaller neighbour outside it. Not so much a protector as a bad neighbour.

47 James Anderson August 14, 2017 at 12:11 pm

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48 Greek August 19, 2017 at 2:16 am

@Tyler Cowen

The former Yugoslavians have turned into antihellenic founders of the hellenistic period right before y our eyes.. and use that claim to promote irredentism and you claim to be a “journalist”? . You couldn’t tell something authentically Macedonian if your life depended on it.

I hate to swear but on rare occasionit is appropriate. Please go f-ck yourself you patronizing antihellenic bigot

49 Greek August 19, 2017 at 2:25 am

In other news, along with claims obvious Slavs “ethnic” Macedonians… Tyler Cowen claim Palestinians “ethnic” Hebrews… and George Washington an “ethnic” Apache. Just names right cowan? Geography equals ethnic group in Cowen’s playbook.

Oh wait.. Macedonia isn’t even in Greece. In his rush to recognize Slavs as “ethnic” macedonian, he incompetently confused ancient Paeonia with Macedonia. Macedonia and Macedonians are of course located in Greece. Tyler claims that Macedonia needs a “protector”. indeed it does. Unfortunately antimacedonians like Tyler are too busy protecting Slav propagandists in ancient Paeonia.

Eisenhower and Truman, staunch military supporters of Greece on this Macedonia name issue, would be so proud of Tyler A man of principles… not a pretentious Greek hating pr-ck.

“This (US) Government considers talk of Macedonian “nation”, Macedonian “Fatherland”, or Macedonia “national consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.
○ – US Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, U.S State Department Foreign Relations Vol. VIII Washington D.C. Circular Airgram – 868.014/26 Dec. 1944

50 Greek August 19, 2017 at 2:28 am

@ethnic enginer Tyler Cowen

Best of luck trying to ethnic engineer Slavs into “ethnic” Macedonians…. like the Soviet Union tried. I’m sure the Greek writing on ancient Macedonian artifacts will disappear so antihellenic cockroaches like you can hide your shame of betraying Greece.

51 Greek August 19, 2017 at 2:33 am

@Art Deco

On the contrary… it is Greece that is being bullied by masses of Greek hating pricks, like you, that unethically evade as the former Yugoslavians try to narrate themselves into ancient Macedonians and promote irredentism. The moment you did that, was the moment you lost the moral and historical argument.

IMO Greece needs to start expending hostility beyond Skopje, towards the foreign nationalists that have effectively been colluding in their irredentism by taking a blind eye to it. Giant Alexander statues in ancient Paeonia, and what the Slavs in Skopje are implying by it are hard to miss jackass.

52 Greek August 19, 2017 at 2:36 am


Mark me words… if Greece’s allege NATO “allies’ continue to try and ethnic engineer Slavs into “Macedonians”… then you will get your wish of fake “Macedonians” in NATO… and find Russian nuclear subs parked in Aegean.

You will be the first generation of Americans to be antihellenic and thus turn Greeks into enemies. Great work “defending” western civilization.

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