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“In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.” – Harry Lime, The Third Man

I’ve never been to Switzerland and I’d like to go one day, although it’s apparently damned expensive and with a culture that strikes me as more Germanic than French or Italian, despite the powerful and long-term influence of those neighbouring nations.

However I’m not sure I’d describe it as a paradise despite the following aspects:

  • strong emphasis on a strong defence that requires a well-armed citizenry.
  • several hundred years of neutrality through god knows how many European wars, including two World Wars.
  • Real participatory democracy that means when things happen they truly have the backing of the people.
  • A strong economy over a long period of time which, even with Orson Welles’s little crack, seems to have produced a strong, healthy and wealthy society.

Even so there’s something I always feel about them being not quite right. Being perfectly neutral means ignoring a lot of evil in the world, and perhaps even aiding it, if only indirectly; Swiss Banking anyone? Though I have to admit that more than a few refugees from evil have used that system.

Still, I agree that this is quite a view for a simple bike ride on a street.

Written by Tom Hunter

May 25, 2022 at 6:22 pm

One Response

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  1. “I’ve never been to Switzerland… a culture that strikes me as more Germanic than French or Italian…”

    I have been to Switzerland. The culture of the German speaking regions is pretty German. The culture of the French speaking regions is pretty French. I only stopped briefly in Ticino on the train, but I’m assuming it’s a fairly Italian sort of place. I have no idea what the one Canton where they speak Romantsch is like, but from what I hear, it’s the Swiss equivalent of Mississippi, and they only gave women the vote there in 1989, which is where direct democracy gets you. Anyway, the point is that these people are all pretty different from one another, but they all like making money, which is what has united them for hundreds of years.


    May 27, 2022 at 3:59 am

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