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]

New Years casualties expected

As the valiant members of the Samizdata Air Service deploy across the globe, spreading the good news about liberty and confounding it’s enemies, expect the rate at which articles get posted to slow significently as, one by one, we end up passed out under tables, asleep in strange beds or the centre of large steaming alcohol induced craters somewhere, mumbling incoherently about several property, Ludwig von Mises and some chick with short blonde hair and long sheer stockinged legs.

New Years greetings from this most global blog. Wassail and Cheers from:
Britain (Perry de Havilland, David Carr and Tom Burroughes in London; Natalie Solent in the Home Counties)
Northern Ireland (Dale Amon in Belfast)
Austria (Natalija Radic in Vienna)
United States (Walter Uhlman in New Jersey and Christopher Pellerito in Michigan)
Rlyeh (‘Samizdata Illuminatus’, somewhere under the South Pacific, we think)

Conservatives burn bridges again

Samizdata has seen a debate of recent on the procurement of a harlot for a dying underage boy. This has been a great source of consternation for those who call themselves Conservatives and/or Christian. There have been hysterical letters to the Telegraph pondering the fate of the boy’s soul. In my not so humble opinion I think it was a stellar idea to give the kid his dying wish. Surely getting laid is a hell of a lot more healthy than be taken to a park owned by the arch-evil, Disney or meeting some knuckle-dragging sports hero barely capable of joined up words? At least one is natural.

The debate over the fate of this poor boy does ape the debate over cannabis, both medical and otherwise. For some, mostly the same people listed above, the fact that cannabis has a medicinal effect for me and many others is irrelevant. It is an “evil” drug that leads to other evils, full stop.

I digress, this row has reminded me of a stink that has raised the hackles of many in the US, and more specifically Maine. A Republican Representative in the Maine State Legislature proposed a law to make adultery a crime. She proposed jailing adulterers as if they were murderers, fraud-sters or child molesters. The Representative wished to enshrine her religious beliefs in law and then use it to pummel “fornicators.” Above I have listed the discussions surrounding the bill and its merits. It should be noted that neither she nor her supporters had done much contemplation about how the bill was to be enforced.

This is yet another case of the Conservative right in both the US and the UK being as statist as their socialist opponents. Both sides wish to use the state to enforce their particular form of morality.

What bothers me more is that this Representative is making a complete arse out of her party and those of us on the right. (In Maine right of centre whether it be libertarian or authoritarian, are tarred with the same brush). Worse yet, this idiot is providing a staging area for every religious loon going to come out of the wood-work they were confined to in order that Bush might get elected. They seem to be keen to tear up the uneasy truce that saw those of us of my ilk siding with those of an authoritarian nature to rid the US of the vile Clinton/Gore axis. Many of these types are rather perturbed that Mr Bush is not as hard-right as he was portrayed by the left-wing media.

I would like to point out to some of you on this list that a few years ago this hysterical happy-clappy element in Maine “outed” me as a Satanist and follower of “dark path” as a result of a satirical site (about me) which I linked to for a laugh. Puritanism is alive and well in the New England and the South of the US even in the 21st century.

It does pain me to see this sort of hysterical superstitious idiocy still existing in a so-called civilised country in the beginning of the 21st century. Do anyone believe that the US will ever outgrow this lunacy or is it a permanent feature of the country ready to rear itself given the slightest opportunity to do so?

Can US libertarians take the right-of-centre ground away from these people? WIll the actual founding beliefs of the country ever actually have a chance to take hold or will the US continue to piss away it’s founding beliefs and freedom? At the rate its going I doubt the US will make its next b-day and it certainly won’t make 400 years old. I should not be too shocked, after all the US has an Attorney General who thinks dancing is a mortal sin.

Andrew Ian Dodge

[Editor's note: Andrew is the author is the excellent book Statism Sucks!, which is about, well, take a wild guess]

Olive branches and full magazines

The debate with Brian Linse at Ain’tNoBadDude could no doubt go on forever. Both sides are obviously “well-armed”, resolute and entrenched. In Brian’s 29 Dec post on the subject, however, I find something we could probably both live with. He states:

I do not wish for more gun laws. I wish for very few effective gun laws.

Before I throw in with you on that one, could you define “effective”?

From my perspective, nobody wants the bad guys to be armed while most don’t object to the good guys owning a bangstick or two. Unfortunately, for everything from prostitution to narcotics, underage drinking to drunk-driving, tax-evasion to weapon possession, the law only works when you choose to obey it.

In a free society, how do you force compliance?

New faces at Samizdata

The Samizdata legion of wild-eyed but erudite libertarians continues to grow apace. Our lastest regular contributor is Tom Burroughes, who has been known to moonlight as a journalist at Reuters for his measly paycheck when not more productively spending his time with Libertarian Samizdata. Expect to see him poking a pointy stick in the eye of irrational socialists of both left and right on a regular basis.

Also expect a steady flow of guest articles from people such as author of Statism Sucks! Ver 2.0, the redoubtable Andrew Ian Dodge and many other such folk in the New Year.

New Years down-under New Years

New Years greetings from Britain, Europe and North America to readers and fellow bloggers down-under. Special greetings to the redoubtable Aussie firefighters who, judging by the reports in the British media, are still in the midst of their finest hour. Godspeed gentlemen.

Stupidity across the spectrum

Fellows, read Stuart Reid in the Monday, December 31 edition of the Daily Telegraph, the Conservative Party supporting daily, for an example of how not all of the most idiotic remarks on September 11 and the aftermath have come from the hard left. This is a good case of how some of the remarks emanating from the paleo-right have echoes of “they had it coming”, only in this case the sins being punished are sexual rather than to do with capitalism. Reid is deputy editor of the Spectator. Let’s hope his editor, Boris Johnson, finds a decent replacement.

Hardcore blogging at its best

Over on Inappropriate Responces, the every readable Moira Breen analyses…no, dissects…hmm, no… I’ve got it…Moira Breen mercilessly crucifies Roger Owen, who is the director of the Arab Contemporary Studies Program at Harvard University, in her article “B.S” SCREAMING FROM EVERY PIXEL.

The bulk of the article (paragraphs 6-11) is essentially an exercise in issue-avoiding gobbledegook – you can see man burrowing through a steamin’ heap o’ stats, trying to find a pellet for face-saving spin. Owen argues not only that the only meaningful comparisons are local (previously undefinable MENA country to MENA country), but that an economy must be measured outside the vagaries of the global market: that the only proper benchmark is some mythical economic “normal” point, unaffected by oil prices, multinational hiring, emerging markets, and, bizarrely, better or worse economic management. As far as I can tell, his idea is to factor out just about everything that could be used for objective measurement and practical application.

Splendid stuff. If you are into blood sports the way I am, you will enjoy the whole article. Highly recommended

Sex, choices and why I am not a conservative

Kevin Holtsberry writes in Sex and Libertarians that he does not agree with the views that I expressed in Sex makes (some) people stupid back on December 25th, about a 15 year old boy in Australia who was dying of cancer being provided with a prostitute.

I really think this sums up the difference between us. She describes sex between a 15 year old and a prostitute as “casual physical intimacy.” I guess I am a prude because I see sex as an important and consequential physical and emotional act that should not be entered into lightly or flippantly.

No, that is not what sums up the difference between us at all. I have no desire to force my views on anyone else, but Kevin wants his views to have the force of law, that is what sums up the difference between us.

Although it does bother me a bit that Kevin does not feel more empathy for that poor boy wanting to do something so human, it certainly does not bother me at all if Kevin does not conduct his social life the way I do. It does not even bother me that he would almost certainly not approve of the twists and turns of my complex love life. Kevin disapproves of casual sex and presumably feels it should happen only within deep and emotionally engaged relationships. Well I am certainly all in favour of deep and emotionally engaged relationships! But life is just not that simple, at least not for me and I think for most people. If I choose to have a relationship with someone, does that mean I have to marry them? Why? Can we not just be friends? Maybe we are just indulging mutual infatuations for a while and we both want it to be non-consequential because we are adult enough to realise we are not well suited for a deeper relationship. And pretty much the ultimate in non-consequential low risk relationships without a future, would have to be a boy about to die of cancer experiencing sex with a prostitute. Sex does not get much safer than that.

I also believe that it is not something that 15 year olds should be engaged in. A terminal illness does not change the fact that he is a 15-year-old boy and that sex with a prostitute is illegal and wrong and not likely to help him any.

The problem I have with Kevin’s views are that they are based around the idea that it is perfectly okay to force moral ideas on others. This boy was 15 years old, not 5 years old, so he will have had more than enough time to contruct a valid even if incomplete world view of his own, along with moral ideas to go with it. Kevin too has moral ideas, as all people do, but which part of that morality allows him to support using force to impose his views on someone else?

I grew up in a world in which the Communist Party stood as the sole provider of morality and of truth itself. Like most people, I saw it for what it was and lived my life in spite of, rather than according to, the state. I understood intuitively long before I read the books that explained why the state was wrong to try to force me to see things its way. People make mistakes and states are made up of people, which means states make mistakes… and when states make mistakes, they tend to ruin lives and kill people on a far greater scale.

So when Kevin says that something is illegal and wrong in the same breath, I wonder if he thinks that everything that is illegal is also wrong? If he does think that, then I guess he thinks I am very wicked indeed for having not obeyed all sorts of laws that the Yugoslav Communist Party tried to force me to obey, like when I read certain books or forbidden magazines. But if you think I did the correct thing, then I guess you agree with me that morality, not law, is what matters and that law and morality are not the same thing at all.

People have different ideas about how things work, what is moral, what things mean and so on. If someone disagrees with you, you argue and maybe one or both of you changes their mind. Or maybe not. But unless you never make mistakes, what gives you the right to use force to make the other person act the way you want unless they are trying to do the same to you? Yet Kevin do not seem to think this boy can choose what he believes to be correct at all, but rather must do what he is told by people whose views he obviously does not share. He becomes not a boy but just a human shaped animal that has no choices to make at all.

How about some counseling on his mortality and how to deal with it appropriately? Was this out of the question or was he so stuck on sex that he couldn’t think about anything else? Is that the key to dying in peace – have sex? To me this seems shallow.

I have always been chilled when I hear some Americans call for ‘counseling’ when someone else does something they do not approve of. It suggests that only experts can actually understand the truth of a matter and us mere lumpen should listen and learn from them. Kevin should be entitled to die as he pleases, but why does he feel it is important to force his views on how to die appropriately on other people? Morality, as my editor is always saying, is objectively derived, and if not then what passes for morality is just quaint custom to be followed or ignored as one deems prudent [That does rather sound like me, Ed.].

I believe society has the right to define boundaries for the community as a whole – and keep 15 year olds from having sex with prostitutes seems like one we should keep. I for one am glad that prostitution is illegal in this country (USA) and I am also reassured to know that someone still considers it troubling to supply young people with prostitutes. (more on society, boundaries etc. later).

And there we have it: Kevin uses ‘society’ and ‘state’, for only states make laws, interchangeably*1 like all socialists of both left and right. That is why the word ‘socialist’ is such a sick joke: it is the negation of anything ‘social’ and it’s replacement by ‘state’. What Kevin specifically values may be different to that of a bunch of European communists but the underlying philosophy is based on that oh so familiar subjective collectivist matrix, just painted a different colour.

By meeting with political activists the state did not approve of in a private room in somewhere, I might have been arrested and thrown in jail by the now vanished communists. And by meeting a woman in a room in Australia in order to have sex and then paying her, a boy and prostitute might be arrested and thrown in jail by conservatives even though both parties are willing and know what they are doing. Communists and conservatives agree that it is okay to arrest people for free association with other people of whom they do not approve. Same music, just played in a different key.

[*1 Editors note: see Common Sense by Tom Paine]

How to make money

The headline should attract attention if nothing else. After all, who doesn’t want to make money? Still, the internet is nothing if not awash with get-rich-quick scams and I therefore understand your initial skepticism. However, let me assure you that this information is genuine

This opportunity comes to us courtesy of the European Empire which, ever mindful of the need to be seen to be doing something, has published a list ‘person and groups considered to be terrorists’. Well, it’s a start I suppose but where do we go from here I wonder? One of the named persons is someone actually called ENEKO GOGEASCOECHEA ARRONATEGUI. Are they serious? How are we supposed to catch him when we can’t even pronounce him??!!

The list is also replete with names that all sound like Hamsi Gamsi Up’Ya Bumsi (the EU has confidently identified him as the mastermind behind the Real IRA) and the list of organisations includes the Terrorist Wing of Hamas! Beg pardon, but exactly what other wings do they have? A Catering Wing? (Hummous?)

Having published this portentous list and duly finger-wagged about the seriousness of terrorist activities (which they define as including, and I kid you not, ‘compelling the government to do something’) they don’t appear to be doing much else about it. Perhaps they feel they should lead their anti-terrorist crusade by example and feel themselves under no compulsion. But, really, how difficult could it be to get these dudes? After all they got their names and, for a lot of them, identity card numbers. Surely even Inspector Clouseau could wrap this one up? He could start by cross-checking names against welfare cheques. That would probably do the trick

But, no. Apparently further proposals are ‘under negotiation’. Don’t expect fireworks. See the boys in Brussels just aren’t cut out for all this terrorist-fighting stuff. It’s not in their nature. If you want 26,000 pages of regulations about the grain of wood to be used in garden furniture than they are the boys you call. For anything marginally more dynamic, contact the FBI or Mossad

So, how does all this present a golden earning opportunity? Well, I suggest that you take a large chunk of disposable cash (provided it has not yet been forcibly converted into Euro-roubles) and place a bet that, 12 months from today, Hamsi Gamsi and his chums will be lording it up very publicly in restaurants all over Paris and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad will have established a substantial voting bloc in the European Parliament

Failing that, I urge all productive people everywhere to carefully scrutinize the list of terrorist organisations as published and seek to infiltrate them by any and all means available because, in the People’s Republic of Europe, they will be the only places where both freedom and financial security can be guaranteed

…It’s the RIGHTS, stupid…

…It’s the RIGHTS, stupid…

[Editors note: The ubiquitous Mommabear has written in and decided to stick one of her fragrant paws into the BlogWarstm maelstrom]

Everyone seems to forget that, in the beginning, middle, and end, it boils down to:

The Constitution of The United States of America starts out and continues to enumerate the Rights of The People that are The Given in a set of constructed rules. It does NOT say that these Rights are something that the formation of a government created. Instead, it says that they exist and must be acknowledged before anything else can proceed. Most people argue about them from a backward direction, thereby inducing fatal errors into their arguments.

MommaBear

Who needs Afghanistan when you can have BlogWarstm

Just a brief exchange of munitions this time as I am up to my eyeballs in editing something for Natalija (which she keeps changing every 15 minutes).

Esteemed ace meta-blogger Tony Adragna from Quasipundit replied to my remarks below thusly:

Of course, rational libertarians don’t advocate “chaos or pious hopes”, but that is precisely where “spontaneous ways of deriving order in which guns tend to feature rather prominently” lead us sans some form of regulation. Even in Switzerland – every gun rights advocate’s favourite model of an armed citizenry – GUNS ARE REGULATED.

Quite so. But I have never been against the regulation of the actions of armed people (as in ‘a well regulated militia’) because I do not want to see my neighbour’s teenage son riding down genteel Cheyne Row on his mountain bike firing off a Kalashnikov in a fit of youthful exuberance. What I oppose is anything that would inexorably lead to prohibitions on ownership. I have no problem with seeing unreasonable endangering behaviour with weapons punished severely, just as my support of free speech does not extend to support for fraudulence and criminal liable… I have no desire to see voices licensed, just their misuse punished.

The key difference between Switzerland and the USA, is that the Swiss state does not pose a serious risk to the right of its citizens to be armed with military weapons… I am not completely uncritical of the structure of the Swiss state either but there is no Swiss version of a powerful figure like Senator Charles Schumer or his myriad of political and media supporters. The same cannot be said of the USA circa 2001 AD.

Perry takes me to task over my contention that we have at least de jure if not de facto protection from an overreaching state. Again, I admit that it’s a difficult argument for me to make, but then the real world is a difficult place to live – absent de facto protection from anything, I’m happy to at least have the de jure protection of my Bill of Rights.

As it clear from your own remarks that you are aware of your precarious position over exceedingly thin ice, I shall resist the urge to heave a stick of dynamite out onto the lake. Let me put it this way, you have just convincingly made my case for me: I support private ownership of arms because I do not actually think the state can ever be a reliable guarantor of my intrinsic rights. By agreeing that de facto protection from the state by the state does not in reality exist, you are actually saying the same thing I am, which is why I contend the state cannot be trusted to control to whom weapons are doled out.

Then you say you are happy with the de jure protection provided by the Bill of Rights, which in the previous sentence you admit means, de facto, not much. Tony, should you ever find yourself in a war zone, I strongly recommend against straw flak jackets that look good when worn and promise you invulnerability to the flying metal fragments of reality. I recommend the kevlar of objectively derived rights defended by a well armed culture of liberty. Accept no paper substitutes.

The inter-blog gun wars: credos and constitutions

It is good to see views strongly and forthrightly put, but without rancour and rudeness. It seems that blog culture is developing along much more civil, albeit robust, lines than the puerile exchanges that characterize UseNet and e-groups.

Rather than fire off another long winded broadside in this quite interesting inter-blog debate, I shall confine myself to the most direct remarks by famed meta-blogger Tony Adragna from Quasipundit that are germane to the central argument here.

Tony accurately points out that the variously articulated Samizdata positions on gun ownership and that of Brian Linse (and himself) may be irreconcilable, as indeed they are… but Tony also unintentionally shows exactly why that is the case in his characterization of the duel as:

I have to throw in with Brian on the 2nd Amendment v. gun regulation debate.

In fact the debate is nothing of the kind. As I has said again and again, the Second Amendment is irrelevant. It is nothing more than a useful 200 year old honoured bookmark to remind people of certain things and has no intrinsic relevance to the discussion. If you genuinely think that the right to own weapons comes from the US Constitution, or that it can somehow protect that right from infringement, then I would urge you to take a look at a 1929 painting by the Belgian surrealist, René Magritte showing a picture of a pipe. In case you cannot speak French, the worlds within the painting translate as “This is not a pipe”. When you understand what that means in that context, perhaps you will also understand what the US Constitution actually is and is not.

In the sidebar of the Samizdata is a little phase that explains why I keep hammering away at this point. I refuse to be drawn into defining moral theories which must underpin any legal discussion, within a meta-context in which the state, and its essential nature, is a given regardless of objectively derived first principals. I will not fight my battles on the ground chosen by liberty’s enemies. Tony presents himself as a realist faced with libertarian utopianism, but the reality is actually quite different. Rational libertarians do not advocate either chaos or pious hopes. What we advocate is merely more spontaneous ways of deriving order in which guns tend to feature rather prominently as in reality there is no assumption that people will always act in their rational self interest.

Tony correctly sums up both his and Brian’s position with a statist credo of earth shaking clarity and directness (no, I am not being sarcastic, I really mean it):

I acknowledge the evidence that suggests “registration leads to confiscation”, but how relevant is that evidence in light of our 2nd Amendment? Not very!

I shall doubtless be quoting this single bit of text as the simplest and most elegant possible distillation of the ‘Conservative Nicene Creed of Constitutionalist Faith’ imaginable. Evidence suggests the state will take our weapons but fortunately we have the state to protect us from that happening. Tony then consistently applies the same logic to forfeiture laws:

I also have a problem with part of the argument at Samizdata that deals with forfieture laws. Should the government prove “proceeds of criminal activity” prior to siezure? Yes, I agree! But, that badly enacted forfieture laws exist does not refute the argument that our constitution protects us, and grants redress from, government acts under those badly enacted statutes. OK, it’s hard for me to argue “protection” when there is no de facto protection, but is there de facto protection from anything. Not in the real world.

So here we have the contention that the state does indeed take property without due process because unconstitutional laws have been enacted by the state, thus it is fortunate we have the constitution to protect us from the state enacting unconstitutional laws.

I rest my case.