We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Samizdata quote of the day

In Britain, the EU is often thought about as a single entity — and one that in the end will do whatever Germany says. But Angela Merkel is struggling to exert control over her own government, let alone the continent. Juncker and Barnier see an EU that does not take its orders from member states, but draws (or claims to draw) its own democratic legitimacy from the European Parliament. The EU member states have an interest in a good deal with Britain. But the European Commission — the apparatus in Brussels — has an interest in Britain being seen to be worse off after leaving the EU. The Commission would also receive 80 per cent of the tariff revenue from UK exports to the EU, making ‘no deal’ more appealing to Brussels than to member states.

– Editorial in the UK’s Spectator magazine (£).

Austrians on barbarians

Mises sees ideologies – sets of ideas – as guiding people’s actions such that they extend or curtail the growth of the division of labour. But people can participate in an extended division of labour while still holding to an ideology of violence which must run counter to, and undermine, peaceful cooperation. Many who joined this extended order by moving into urban areas remained strangers to the ideas which made wider specialisation and exchange possible:

“One cannot make a social philosophy one’s own as easily as a new costume. It must be earned – earned with the effort of thought.”

Hence in history there appear periods in which the division of labour is extended and others in which it regresses: “More menacing than the barbarians storming the walls from without are the seeming citizens within – those who are citizens in gesture, but not in thought.” – Hayek too excoriates those “non-domesticated barbarians in our midst” who “refuse to accept” the “acquired discipline” of a world-wide division of labour while “they still claim all its benefits”.

Sudha Shenoy, Towards a Theoretical Framework for British and International Economic History: Early modern England, a case study, p283. Don’t be confused by the title – not a dicky bird so far about post-Black Death cesspit management – this is an overview of Austrian economics. And a rather good one at that.

It’s a joke, you fucking cunts

I must withdraw one of my charges against Jeremy Corbyn

When Corbynites say how their leader’s apparent chumminess with Hezbollah and Hamas or the IRA only arose because to make peace one must talk to those one does not like, I have long been in the habit of asking, “So why did he never meet with the equivalents on the side the left wingers don’t like? When did he arrange to meet with ‘price tag’ Israeli terrorists, or with Loyalist paramilitaries in Northern Ireland? Why did he never have similar dialogue with fascists and racists?”

I must eat my words. He did.

Via a post on the “UK politics” subreddit by “Tophattingson”, I learned that in March 2015, Corbyn spoke for a conference organized by the fascist cult “LaRouche Movement”.

Thoughts on crime fiction – provoked by the recent publication of The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins

Some time towards the end of last year, my niece Roz emailed me to the effect that she was in London, and would I care to meet up with her for some coffee? I was intrigued. Because of our differing political views, Roz and I have had a polite but somewhat distant relationship. She is into feminism and environmentalism. I am into, well …: see all my other postings here. What was going on? Why this meet-up? I knew some unusual game was afoot. But what?

We duly met up, and after some further polite chit-chat, what was afoot was revealed. Roz had written a crime novel, called The Devil’s Dice. This book, she said, was in the process of being published, by a real publisher of the sort that you have heard of. I like crime novels, and I like detective dramas on television. And I know how hard it can be to write anything even as long as a longish blog posting (such as this one is (you have been warned)), let alone a book. So, I was impressed.

Although she didn’t spell this out, it was clear that Roz was then at the stage of communicating with everyone she could think of who might be able to help her sell this book. Which also impressed me. Good for her. And good for her also, and good for me, that she was content to include me in this process. Later, an advance copy of the book arrived at my home, in a bright gold bubble-wrapped package, together with some chocolate dice, in a little bag made of bright red netting.

I read the book, and found it thoroughly absorbing and entertaining. She writes really well.

A quote from the book? Try the dedication:

To my parents.

Thank you for your support and encouragement, and advice on how to kill people.

Roz’s mum, my older sister, was a National Health Service doctor, and her husband was a psychiatric social worker. Short of having parents who were directly involved in the criminal justice machine, like detectives or coroners or forensic pathologists or suchlike, a crime writer couldn’t ask for a better start.

→ Continue reading: Thoughts on crime fiction – provoked by the recent publication of The Devil’s Dice by Roz Watkins

Yezhov would have been proud of this ‘self-purging’ British Police officer

An unnamed West Yorkshire police officer has managed to attempt to pervert the course of justice by getting himself summonsed for driving an untaxed vehicle, when he accidentally put his own details on a form instead of those of the alleged miscreant, reports the Daily Mail.

Members of West Yorkshire Police’s Roads Policing Unit (RPU) took to Twitter to mock another member of their team who appears to have put his own name on a form rather than the real offender.

I’m pretty sure that a humourless American prosecutor would seize on this as obstruction of justice by wrongly reporting yourself as the ‘perp’, and to be fair, it does seem to have all the necessary elements of causing wasteful employment of police time in UK law.

Our wonderful mini plea-bargain system of fixed penalty notices in the UK allows you to buy off a prosecution, or go to Court and challenge the basis of the ticket and risk conviction.

Whilst the UK may seem more and more like East Germany as time goes by, witness recent police action on free speech, it is heartening that the police are managing to boost their summons rates in a way that cuts out the unfortunate middleman, like the Armenian Orthodox Priest in Soviet Russia who, having a conspiracy beaten out of him by Stalin’s NKVD, managed to name as his co-conspirators every member of his congregation that he had buried in the past 3 years, thus enabling his tormentors to fill their quota with ‘real’ people. At least for now, this is a laughing matter. Should Comrade Yezhov‘s admirers take power, it might not be so nice.

While we’re at it, why not gas the dog?

Mark Meechan a.k.a. “Count Dankula”, the man who imperilled us all by making a funny video of a little dog lifting its paw like a Nazi salute, has been found guilty of a crime under the Communications Act 2003 at Airdrie Sheriff Court.

If we are handing out punishments to obvious non-Nazis for doing stuff that reminds people of Nazis I don’t see why that Seig-Heiling pug should get away scot-free.

A book from the future?

Hopefully from a future in a parallel universe…

(found sloshing around on the interwebz)

Chimpocracy is clearly the way forward…

California Would Be Less Stupidly Run If We Let Chimps Vote Instead Of People.

Because chimps would vote at random, we’d at least have some chance of having sensible choices made — unlike those so often by our idiot electorate.

Amy Alkon

Of course, the same is true pretty much everywhere, not just California…

Chimpocracy clearly has much to commend it.

The Gullibility of Cynicism

Under these conditions, you could make people believe the most fantastic lies one day, and if the next day they were presented with irrefutable proof that their leaders had lied, they would take refuge in cynicism: they would protest that they had always known they were lies, and admire their leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.     (‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’, Hannah Arendt)

Arendt states that ideology and terror are two sides of the same coin, preparing people for their two-sided role as persecutor or victim in a totalitarian state. She never quite says – but it is close to the surface in several remarks – that cynicism and gullibility are likewise two sides of the same coin, not opposites at all, preparing people for their two-sided role as liar or dupe in enforcing political correctness.

Jeremy Corbyn does not trust the UK’s forensics and wants the nerve gas sent to Russia for their analysis. Mr Ed may be right that Corbyn’s reported statement – that “the nerve agent be sent back to Russia” – reveals his true opinion, but the boy who came from a posh-enough background, attended a grammar school, and yet managed to leave it with two Es, is quite thick enough both to reveal an unconscious assumption and to believe his conscious words. Jeremy is too cynical to credit UK forensics – so he wants Putin’s people to examine the evidence and announce whether Putin did it or not. (One might guess he likewise thinks reports of Russian athletic doping are western lies – after all, Putin’s experts say so – and be even more sure he thought that in the days when the ‘peoples republics’ won many an olympic medal. But perhaps even Jeremy is not rash enough to say so – there are voters who ignore politics but understand sport well enough. 🙂 )

Scepticism can be very healthy (this blog has always had a very healthy number of eurosceptics 🙂 ). But when you want to believe the forensic analysis of the Russian state because you are too cynical to believe the forensic analysis of the British state then you have indeed demonstrated Arendt’s point: cynicism and gullibility are not opposites. The precise evidential value of the UK’s ongoing forensic tests can be debated. The evidential value of anything announced by Russia, were Corbyn’s idiot demand acted on, cannot be.

Samizdata quote of the day

[Corbyn’s] Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and his Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith both saw that briefing and agreed there was “prima facie evidence” and said the party “fully accepts that Russia is responsible”.

Corbyn said he didn’t trust British scientists and British intelligence services, and suggested samples of the nerve agent be sent back to Russia because he DID trust them and Russia had asked to see the evidence.

Fleet Street Fox

The article is ‘all over the place’ regarding the USSR (to be charitable) but it does make this rather good point.

Samizdata quote of the day

…as I have complained about in the past, there has been a major shift in modern companies from delivering something useful – such as a bridge which doesn’t collapse – to managing processes. A lot of companies have subcontracted out the actual work – designing, building, manufacturing, operating, maintaining – and instead busy themselves with “managing” the whole process. This involves lots of well-educated people in nice clothes sitting in glass-fronted office buildings sharing spreadsheets, reports, and PowerPoint presentations by email and holding lengthy meetings during which they convince one another of how essential they are.

Tim Newman speculating on the causes of the Florida footbridge collapse.