The Return Of Danegeld

Why Europeans will soon be paying vast annual sums to Russia, and more

Allan Milne Lees

--

Image credit: British Library

Students of history will recall that the word Danegeld refers to the practice of preyed-upon people paying huge sums of money to bloodthirsty adversaries in order to obtain a brief respite from slaughter and looting. Unfortunately, while the short-term gain seemed beguiling, the longer-term consequence was to ensure that the adversary’s capacity to inflict harm increased because much of the payment could be used to acquire more weapons and build more raiding ships.

This is essentially the same problem as arises with protection rackets: the store owner buys a temporary reprieve from violence but the money they hand over enables the mobsters to buy more guns and hire more goons.

On a larger scale the same dynamic pertains. The appeal of appeasement in the 1930s was that it provided the illusion of peace while in reality enabling aggressor nations to continue to build up their military and economic capacity for waging war so that the inevitable conflict was far, far worse than if the so-called “Great Powers” had acted decisively earlier on.

Unfortunately, the limitations of human cognition and our hardwired patterns of behavior ensure we reliably fall into the same trap over and over again. Fearful self-absorbed citizens want “peace” at any price and never more so than when an illusion of peace can be obtained by sacrificing other people in some other country.

Today we’re watching 1930s-style appeasement occur again, this time with Russia’s brutal occupation of Ukraine. Fat indolent empty-headed Western citizens and the incompetent halfwits they vote for lack all capacity to oppose even the incompetent aggression of deeply corrupt Russia. As a result, Russia (a nation with a GDP lower than that of Italy) is succeeding in its grinding conquest of Ukraine and will by 2025 have its army established on the borders of the European Union. As NATO is a hollow joke already, and will be even more of a joke after the second Trump administration de facto pulls the USA out after 2025, it is clear that although the EU is vastly more prosperous than Russia, it is Russia that will dominate Europe from the second half of this decade onward.

--

--

Allan Milne Lees

Anyone who enjoys my articles here on Medium may be interested in my books Why Democracy Failed and The Praying Ape, both available from Amazon.