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]

Monuments

But telling the truth about our ancestors should not mean discounting everything they ever did, for if we do that for any person, including ourselves, we all have nothing to do but go home and weep. If we discount achievements because those who perform them are imperfect, there will be no achievements, only darkness. That creates a world of always tearing down and never building up, and the end of it is annihilation. In life is both great joy and great sorrow, and both deserve their due. That is what monuments are for.

Joy Pullmann.

As the author of the article states, while it is legitimate (if not always smart) for a legislature to remove a statue/monument for some reason (preferably to go in a museum so as to protect historical information), it certainly isn’t okay for criminals in the dead of night to smash them up for no other reason than they are, or claim to be (?) offended. Even in the case of say, the former Soviet Union, a decision to take down a statue of a mass-murderer such as Stalin, a totalitarian such as Lenin, etc should be done by the duly elected government of the day, if only to reinforce the fact that an emblem of totalitarian horror was being replaced by an elected, democratic authority. The symbolism of due process actually is as important as the monument being removed or installed. The process, in other words, is as important in some cases as the actual deed.

This being a broadly libertarian blog, it is also worth pointing out that if a statue/monument is in a public place, decisions about its upkeep, creation or removal are public decisions. This isn’t the case with private land, however. For example, if an eccentric millionaire landlord wanted to put up lots of statues of Lenin, say, or to take an example I’d favour, of all the US astronauts from the 50s and 60s onwards, that isn’t and shouldn’t be a public matter. If, say, a Confederate history buff who has a bunch of land near a road wanted to put up a whole rank of generals’ statues, there is no right of anyone to stop that.

When there is a public space, however, the decision is necessarily a public matter, and in a constitutional republic, it is bound to be the case that the choice of what goes up and what goes down might vary over time. The reasons can be good, or they can be silly, as is arguably the case now.

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British, indeed world, politics is dominated by the idea of ‘Social Reform’ – and this is an idea which violates basic economic law

What is “Social Reform”? Social Reform is the idea that increasing government spending and/or regulations reduces poverty or other “social ills” (sickness and so on) and it is the idea that has dominated British thinking since the late 19th century. Liberal Party “Radical Joe” Chamberlain of Birmingham (so beloved by Prime Minister May) outlined his program of using government to improve life (the central idea of “Social Reform”) in 1865 – but Liberal Party Manchester had already taken over such things as the provision of water and gas and undertaken various other “Social Reforms” in the years after the Act of 1835 set up modern local government in the cities and towns, replacing the old “Closed Corporations” – apart from in the one-square-mile City of London that has kept its Closed Corporation to this day.

Conservative Party Prime Minister Disraeli made it compulsory for local government to do about 40 Social Reforms (i.e. perpetual government spending functions) in 1875 – whether local tax payers wanted this or not. And J.S. Mill stated in 1848 (in his “Principles of Political Economy”) that “everyone agreed” (by which Mr Mill meant that he and his friends agreed – no opponent counted as part of “everyone”) that local government should do X,Y, Z, to help the people. Liberal Party Prime Minister Gladstone agreed in 1870 that School Boards be set up in most of the country (some towns, such as the one I am sitting in, refused to have one – but were forced to have one some 20 years later) to build state schools on the Prussian model – although denying they would be like the Prussian schools. And Conservative Party Prime Minister Disraeli put unions above the Common Law in 1875 – by allowing “picketing” (obstruction) and giving the unions immunity from some claims of civil damage. This was part of the theory that wages and conditions of work should not be determined by the market (by supply and demand) but by “collective bargaining” – basically (as W.H. Hutt explained in the “Strike Threat System”) of “give us what we want – or we will not allow people to go in or our of your place of business, at least we will make it very difficult for them to do so”. Conservative Party Disraeli was a Social Reformer – he had no love for “capitalists” believing (or half believing) that they “exploited” people, and Liberal Party Mr J. S. Mill had much the same opinion (indeed a more radical one) – longing for the day when workers co-ops would replace the “capitalists”.

Since about 1870 the British state has grown – not just spending more money, but spending more money even as a proportion of the economy (leading to a rise in taxes over time). In the early 19th century the state, at least as a proportion of the economy shrank – since the 1870s it has grown. Also the early 19th century witnessed deregulation – the repeal of various restrictions and edicts. From the 1870s onwards there has been a massive increase in regulation – with the state seeking to control every aspect of life, much the like the last years of Queen Elizabeth the First when there was an orgy of statute passing, often quite demented statutes such as the “Statute of Artificers” which tried to make everyone follow the occupation of their parents, there were also attempts to tie people to the parish of their birth and other throwbacks to the late Roman Empire (the Emperor Diocletian and all that).

→ Continue reading: British, indeed world, politics is dominated by the idea of ‘Social Reform’ – and this is an idea which violates basic economic law

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Samizdata quote of the day

In effect, Google is telling the world that unmoderated, no-holds-barred exchanges are not welcome in cyberspace. Playing censor, playing government – both made possible by Google’s market power, which, in its turn, makes it susceptible to government regulation.

Susceptible and even vulnerable as they might be, I don’t expect anti-trust proceedings anywhere in the world to put an end to Google’s and Apple’s dominance in certain markets. If I have hope – if never too much – it’s for new technology and know-how both to dislodge the oligopolies and defang government censorship.

The Dilettante’s Winterings

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Samizdata quote of the day

Rarely has the hypocrisy of the West’s ostensible liberals and leftists been as violently exposed as it has been this week. Between Charlottesville and Barcelona, between their fury over the former and their embarrassment at the latter, we have gained a glimpse into today’s extraordinary double standards over extremists who loathe liberty, democracy and swathes of mankind. If the extremists are white and fond of the swastika, they’ll be roundly condemned, organised against, transformed into a focal point for the activities of a flagging left. But if they’re Muslims, if it’s a misogynistic, homophobic caliphate they want to build, if their targets are ‘kuffars’ rather than pinkos or black people, they will be frowned upon, of course, but never raged against. Never organised against. They will be treated more forgivingly, and explicitly so. It’s clear now: leftists only dislike certain kinds of neo-fascism.

Brendan O’Neill

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Brexit: The argument from confusion and the argument from punitiveness

The EU is very complicated and confusing, which is a big reason for Brexit. But also very complicated and confusing, say the Remainers, is the process of Britain getting out of the EU. For that reason, they say, best to stay in. But I say that the more complicated and confusing it is to get Britain out, the more reason there is for Britain to get out. The more complicated getting out is, that means the more complicated the damn thing itself must be. The question becomes: Which is better? Complication for a year or three, while we extricate ourselves from this ghastly morass? Or: Complication for ever as we sink ever deeper into it? I say we should, you know, go with the result of the Referendum, and get out. Happily, that is now happening.

Lee Rotherham at CapX agrees:

In a sense, the Maastricht debate is still with us. But the coin has been flipped. Those now droning on about the complexities of a given aspect of the EU are the same people who accused Sir William Cash of being a “bore”. They are using the very same arguments about the extent and complexity of EU integration as its earlier critics. What they miss, of course, is their ironic vindication of the case against the EU.

Quite so.

Another Remainer argument which has a similar logical structure is that the EU, in addition to being diabolically complicated and confusing to get out of, on account of itself being diabolically complicated and confusing, is also determined to stop us Brits getting out easily. The only exit terms we will ever be able to extract from it will be crushingly punitive. Ergo, we should stay.

Britain’s exit deal may indeed prove costly to us. If EUrope lets us out easy, other rebellious bits of EUrope may also then try to leave.

But if such punitiveness happens, it will happen at the expense of EUropeans, who will find trading with Britain more costly, as well as at the expense of us Brits. And I say that the exact degree to which the rulers of the EU put the perpetuation of their own power ahead of the welfare of the people whom they will still rule, and ahead of the welfare of people generally, then to that exact degree they are a pack of megalomaniacs, of whom we Brits are well rid. The more punitively they are now behaving, the stronger is the case for us Brits to escape from their megalomaniac clutches, no matter what the short-term cost may be.

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Two extreme authoritarians on a bus

The author describes his characters as a social justice warrior and a neo-Nazi. His point is that authoritarians end up wanting similar things whatever their excuses.

SJW: Did you hear that at the University of Michigan, they’re so progressive, student activists demanded segregated areas for students of colour?

NN: This is exactly as it should be—the races are distinct and should stay that way. We must all strive to keep our unique practices intact. Honestly, it sickens me to see whites shamelessly adopting the customs of other cultures.

Both agree that

It’s the libertarian types who are the worst, with their self-serving so-called freedoms.

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Samizdata quote of the day

“Most people understand “single market” to mean something like “free trade zone”. In fact, in the EU context, it means “single regulatory regime”. Membership of the single market doesn’t mean the right to buy and sell there (pretty much the entire world can do that); it means accepting EU jurisdiction over your domestic technical standards… Only six per cent of British companies do any business at all with the rest of the EU; yet 100 per cent of our firms must apply 100 per cent of EU regulations. Our aim should be to exempt the 94 per cent … from EU directives and regulations.”

Daniel Hannan, quoted in a new paper from the Institute of Economic Affairs, making the case for unilateral free trade. The item is by Kevin Dowd, a noted exponent, among other things, of genuine competition in banking and money, and a scathing critic of our current banking and monetary regime.

Tim Worstall had thoughts on all this some time ago. And a little history: the speech by Sir Robert Peel, one of the greatest British statesmen of all time, on the case for ending agricultural protection.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Turning to communism for fear of fascism is like suicide for fear of death

Perry de Havilland.

Sadly, it is time to recycle this one yet again it seems.

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I wish I were reading a happier version of this story

Has anyone else been guiltily transfixed by the mystery of Danish inventor Peter Madsen, his now-sunken submarine, and the missing Swedish journalist Kim Wall? I truly do not wish to make light of the fact that a woman is missing, presumed dead, but I was undeniably fascinated by the whole idea of a crowd-sourced, privately built submarine. In any other circumstances I would have been delighted to learn that such a thing existed.

Here are some news reports on the story:

Danish submarine owner arrested over missing journalist

Submarine in missing journalist case sunk on purpose, Danish police say

Kim Wall and Danish submarine: What we know and what we don’t

Police in Two Countries Searching for Woman Missing Since Sub Sank

When commenting, please bear in mind that a criminal investigation is ongoing – and that all should be entitled to the presumption of innocence.

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Samizdata quote of the day

I found the reasons various people gave for choosing sides in the American Civil War fascinating, but the complexities of each choice have largely been ignored in contemporary discussions on the subject. I guess the BBC and their ilk prefer to stoke the flames of a race war by implying Lee was fighting to preserve slavery.

Well, they’re getting what they wanted, aren’t they?

Tim Newman

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German Historicism and American Pragmatism are very different philosophies, but they have some similar results

German “Historicism” (whether of the “right”, Hegel, or the “left” Karl Marx) and American “Pragmatism” (Charles Pierce, William James, John Dewey….) are very different philosophies (very different indeed) – but they have some things in common which lead to some similar results. They both deny objective and universal truth – the Ralph Cudworth or Thomas Reid thinking of “We hold these truths to be self evident….” of the American Declaration of Independence and the philosophy of the Bill of Rights. Made most obvious by the Ninth Amendment – indeed the Bill of Right is clearly compiled in the wrong order, the Ninth Amendment should be the First Amendment and the Tenth Amendment should be the Second Amendment – read it and it should be obvious to you.

German Historicism holds that different “truths” apply to different “historical periods” and to different “races” and “classes” – perhaps the only answer that such a relativist philosophy deserves is the one that such men as Erik Brown, “Mad Jack” Churchill and Audie Murphy gave it. But there are books that refute it, for example Carl Menger’s “The Errors of Historicism” (1883 – specifically on the German “Historical School” of economics and its denial of the universal and objective laws of economic truth), “Human Action” by Ludwig Von Mises, and “The Poverty of Historicism” by Karl Popper.

→ Continue reading: German Historicism and American Pragmatism are very different philosophies, but they have some similar results

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National Socialists are Socialists

National Socialists are socialists and trying to counter the “Identity Politics” of the left with more “Identity Politics” is like trying to counter arsenic with cyanide

One does not really need to read “The Road to Serfdom” by F.A. Hayek or “Omnipotent Government” by Ludwig Von Mises (although it is good to read these works – especially “Omnipotent Government”) to know that National Socialists are socialist collectivists – watching the Nazis, for that is what they are, marching at night with lighted touches through the University of Virginia chanting “Blood and Soil” should tell anyone that these people have nothing in common with the philosophy of the Bill of Rights – that they are collectivists, socialists.

“But Paul the opposition to them was controlled by Marxists – a movement that has murdered even more people than the Nazis” – and where have I denied that? I understand that very well – and I have condemned the left, in the strongest terms, all my life. But one does NOT oppose arsenic with cyanide – one does NOT oppose the “Identity Politics” of the “left” (of the Frankfurt School of Marxism “Diversity” crowd) with an “Identity Politics” of the “right”.

“But Paul one can not defeat the Marxists with the philosophy of the Bill of Rights (mocked for centuries now by the “educated” – Mr Hume, Mr Bentham and so on) – one can only defeat collectivism with a different form of collectivism”.

A pox on such a “victory” – and a pox on all those who choose it.

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