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I am writing a blog post about knowledge banning, either by state censorship or by self-imposed censorship, like the US Comics Code Authority of the 20th century.

My focus is moral censorship, driven by cultural and religious taboos, and not military censorship defending state secrets.

Are there any good examples of moral censorship causing a dramatic economic decline on the imposers?

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I doubt you'll find dramatic examples. The whole point of decline is that it's slow and at first imperceptible. –  Felix Goldberg Feb 24 '13 at 12:42
@BrockAdams: Linked by whom? –  Felix Goldberg Feb 24 '13 at 15:35
@FelixGoldberg, IIRC, people like Cato, Mark Twain, Heinlein, Bismark (I think), and Churchill all remarked that declining manners were a sure indicator of a society in collapse. I think Jefferson or Adams might have said this too. –  Brock Adams Feb 24 '13 at 15:48
@BrockAdams: Mind if I convert the incipient discussion into a question? –  Felix Goldberg Feb 24 '13 at 15:51
@FelixGoldberg Be careful phrasing it. It sounds like a candidate for "Subjective and argumentative" closing. –  Adam Matan Feb 24 '13 at 17:06

1 Answer 1

A historical example of "censorship" was the Spanish Inquisition. Spain was a thriving, "progressive" country until the Inquisition took hold, driving out the Jews, and intimidating other "free thinkers." Then Spain began a long decline lasting perhaps four centuries.

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AFAIR the standard explanation of Spanish decline relates to long term secular inflation due to specie supply expansion—a feudal economy choking itself to death on gold. –  Samuel Russell Feb 24 '13 at 21:24
@SamuelRussell: The roots of Spain's decline lay in its reliance on gold rather than "enterpreneurship." "Choking itself to death on gold" may have been a consequence (rather than a cause) of the "Inquisition" mindset. I would even argue that the "censoriousness" that began toward the Jews was later extended to the "Amerindians." –  Tom Au Feb 24 '13 at 21:27
As far as censoriousness you'd need to go back to the Reconquista—so does censoriousness advance certain economies? –  Samuel Russell Feb 24 '13 at 23:32
a major cause for that decline was the deforestation of Spain in the effort to build its fleet. This led to changes in precipitation patterns, failing agriculture, industry was geared towards a single product (ships) almost nationwide, etc. etc. –  jwenting Feb 25 '13 at 11:05
+1! There is some controversy and healthy scholarly debate about "Spanish decline" (hinted at in the comments here) but overall I heartily agree - this is a prime example. However, note that it took at least a hundred years before the cumulative effects of the decline began to register and be perceived. –  Felix Goldberg Feb 25 '13 at 12:57

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