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]

Now you listen to me little Missy!

Here is a picture of the intelligent and attractive Missy Schwartz. Sigh

Just say NO to policeware

Yes, I realise we can deactivate/avoid/subvert anything the bastards come up with but wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t bloody well have to in the first place?

Dudley Moore R.I.P.

“I don’t want to see lust and rape and incest and sodomy in the theatre. I can get all that at home.”
-Dudley Moore, entertainer, jazz and classical pianist.

Brian Micklethwait on BBC Radio 4 later today

Regular Samizdata.net contributor Brian Micklethwait will be appearing on BBC Radio 4’s “You and Yours” programme, defending the relaxation of the drink licensing and gambling laws, on Thursday March 28, at 12:30 pm. As will long-time Libertarian Alliance supporter Dr Robert Lefever, an expert on addiction, and Mary Kenny for the keep-it-illegal persuasion.

Samizdata slogan of the day

I know what you’re thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I’ve kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya punk?
– (if you don’t know who said this, you are obviously a visiting space alien)

Immigration and libertarians

This is an issue that often brings out the divisions amongst libertarians. There are two broad camps on this matter:

Most libertarians take the view that it is just a matter of free association and thus the state has no business preventing people from seeking opportunities wherever they are found. Within this group, most also hold that the new arrivals should not be given access to welfare or other transfer payments, taking the view that such redistributions of wealth are just theft in any case and should not be made to anyone, let alone immigrants.

The other camp of people with more or less libertarian views, such as Ilana Mercer and Hans-Hermann Hoppe take the view that unrestricted immigration is actually a facet of statism, not liberty. They argue that as all property should be private, mass immigration only occurs when the state takes a hand to prevent people from excluding the new arrivals from privately owned housing and jobs in the manner they assume existing property owners would naturally choose to pursue.

The two main reasons held up to justify this opposition to open immigration is firstly that of the risk of swamping their freedom loving culture that is evolving towards libertarian understandings… and secondly that new and economically unproductive arrivals often hugely increase demand on social security and welfare systems, thereby leading to an increase in unjustified appropriation by the state of tax monies.

The first argument, to which Hans-Hermann Hoppe addresses at great length has two main strands. Firstly the risk of crime and violence posed by a large underclass of non-assimilated immigrants and secondly the moral right of ‘citizen’ peoples to naturally form communities of cultural affinity and ‘dis-affinity’ (i.e. to accept and reject certain types of people without being coerced by the state).

The argument goes that it is the state which ‘imposes’ immigrants on communities and to make it worse there is little motivation to assimilate but rather to just line up for welfare handouts. Additionally, without the coercion of the state, societies in their natural form have deep genetic, racial and ethnic elements which will militate towards evolving to a series of economically interlinked but spatially separated communities, presumably rather like ancient Greek city-states. Whilst the corrosive effects of welfare are undeniably true, the foundation of both these ideas is, I believe, quite false.

It is only due to active state efforts to prevent assimilation (called ‘multiculturalism’) that the ghettoization of sections of society are more than a passing phase in the immigration process. Unless they are uprooted forcibly (as was the case with the arrival of Africans as slaves in North America), people do not emigrate great distances to a foreign land in this modern era because they are happy with their existing way of life and culture. For an Indian or Chinese family to move to Britain, it does not mean they are completely rejecting their original culture and family ties, but it does mean they are making a value judgement that life and culture is at least in some significant measure superior in their destination of choice. Thus to argue that it is intrinsically rational to reject immigrants from different cultures if natural social forces are allowed to work seems to misunderstand why people become immigrants in the first place.

Some like Hans-Hermann Hoppe have what I believe to be quite incorrect understandings of not just the inevitably fluid nature of society in a modern extended order but have also failed to grasp the dramatic effect of capitalist trade based economics on making societies more dynamic and adaptive when they interact increasingly globally. As a result, Hoppe takes an extremely non-Anglosphere, quintessentially Germanic view of the nature of civil society when viewed separately from the state: at its core he sees a blood and soil Volk, racially, genetically as well as culturally based and therefore leading to self reinforcing communities of ‘like cultures’.

Thus he takes the view that were it not for the imposed integration of the state, whilst people may wish to trade with anyone, they would inevitably not freely wish to live and work in close physical proximity with different cultures, races and lifestyles. Different races, homosexuals, libertines, people who take siestas in the afternoon etc. etc. (i.e. anyone who was not a member of the Volk either racially or culturally) would be either excluded from the community of free property owning citizens all together or at the very least banished to enforced ghettos like medieval Jews. I do not feel I am overstating Hoppe’s position (see ch.9 ‘On Cooperation, Tribe, City, and State’ in ‘Democracy-The God that failed’ (2001, Transaction Publisher)).

Yet I look around at London and see a very different world to that of Hoppe. It is abundantly clear that when the state does not enforce distorting multiculturalism, social values will naturally evolve not to Hoppe’s hypothetical future libertarian neo-tribalism but rather to cosmopolitanism, right here and right now. The only Volk of the future is the Volkswagen. When people of different cultures and races actually interact economically, the inevitable consequence is familiarity, cultural confluence and ultimately miscegenation, not a regression to atavistic tribalism. One only has to walk down the streets of London to see the truth of that.

Sure, areas of minority racial and to a lesser extent cultural concentration can be found in Britain, yet one does not have to look far to see an expanding and entirely British black and Asian population already in the mainstream of cultural and economic life of the country… and not just flipping burgers and digging up roads. In racial flash points, such as Oldham, it is racially ghettoized low income supporters of socialist largess who exchange barrages of bricks and bottles over which community is getting the bigger handout from local government. In less radically separated and far less state dependent majority black communities like Clapham in London, for instance, economics un-mediated by the state lead to a very different and altogether better result.

Ilana Mercer makes several excellent points as to the harmful effects of the welfare state on creating an ‘acculturation’ to largess. In this as in so many things she is manifestly correct. Certainly people who see political favour rather than economic interaction as the means to support ones self are indeed the ‘wrong’ sort of immigrant (not to mention the wrong sort of domestic ‘citizen’) who are little more than muggers-by-proxy. However this is not then an argument against open immigration on economic grounds but rather a self-evident argument against the welfare state and all other forms of democratically sanctioned criminality that falls under the ‘redistribution of wealth’ category.

As far as I am concerned Hans-Hermann and Ilana are free to feel distaste at the idea of the close proximity of alien cultures, races and lifestyles (clearly the case for Hoppe) but for them to then deduce that their sentiments are in fact what would be the ‘natural’ sentiments of the majority if it were not for state enforced integration is not really born out by the evidence.

I share the view that socialist multiculturalism is in fact just an attempt to dismantle Anglosphere civil society with its dynamist adaptive nature and replace it with ‘social’ values more amenable to state centred stasis collectivism. However again this is not an argument against immigration but against state interference in the values of civil society. In reality I am probably much more of a cultural chauvinist than Ilana Mercer and Hans-Hermann Hoppe are. They fear the ‘other’ out of alarm for the fate of liberty based civil society in the face of more primitive collectivist based social values that they see as inevitably (and often incorrectly) defining Third World newcomers.

However I do not fear the cultural alien at all because it is the anti-culture of collectivism which should be afraid and not Anglosphere civil society. I am so convinced of the seductive, viral nature of the core value of our civil society (severalty, unenumerated rights, free contract, personal choice) that unless the dead hand of the state actively prevents it from spreading (i.e. by enforcing ‘multiculturalism’ legislation), the triumph of liberty’s cultural underpinnings is pretty much just a matter of time. The reason for this is that the modern dynamist technological networked extended order is so much more economically effective than every single one of the collectivist state centred stasis based alternatives… all we have to do to ‘win’ is continue to produce the things other societies want and yet are incapable of actually producing.

Just as Hoppe’s ‘Volk’ based understanding of what lies at the core of society was archaic and false even 100 years ago, it is reduced to complete nonsense by the subversive, dynamic, eclectic and market driven screech of the modem, the convenience of the mobile phone and TV screens filled with The History Channel, Australian Soap Operas, Star Trek, Monty Python and Baywatch (quite possibly dubbed in Urdu) and other irresistible bourgeois banalities. Do not fear the immigrant because freed from the baleful distortions of statism, they wish to be us, only more colourfully so. Let them get on with it and thereby enrich us all.

Two English people having a snog

Warning: rockfalls ahead

I found myself nodding in agreement whilst reading this snapshot analysis of the state of politics in Britain by Brian Micklethwait.

What he is really describing is the slow, but seemingly irreversible, public disengagement from politics and its traditional practices. The ever decreasing voter-turnout, not just in Britain but elsewhere, confirms it. People simply don’t want to talk about politics or politicians anymore (except to complain about both). The whole subject is boring; painfully boring. Switch channels, change subjects, let’s talk about Feng Shui instead. Or skiing. Or David Beckham. Or something. Anything. Politics is dull. Politicians are all the same anyway.They’re all useless. They’re all liars. Voting changes nothing.

Good. Disengagement from and disillusion with politicians is precisely what we want and not voting is a libertarian act. But it may not have libertarian consequences.

First of all, voter apathy is not being matched by bureaucratic or managerial apathy. In fact, if anything, the reverse is true. (I do not have any scientific evidence but there may be some correlation here). The less the public engages in political debate the more laws and regulations and policies get churned out. Take the EU (somebody, please). There is no voter engagement at all with the EU commission yet it is a sausage-factory of pointless pettyfogging decrees. It is almost as if, freed from the effort and inconvenience of actually having to argue the merits of their case(s), our political masters are free to do more or less as they please. Added to this is the damage than can be wrought by small but well-organised and energetic lobbyists (coporate and otherwise) who can pressure politicians to get their agenda imposed upon all. Meanwhile, the poor exhausted public simply rolls its eyes, tuts, grumbles and gets on with it, as if they expect this and just have to learn to live with it. There is apathy but widespread obediance and disillusion is a long way from rebellion.

Now some will say that this state of affairs cannot possibly last forever and they would be right. But it can last for an awfully long time and, currently, there is no end in sight.

Secondly, there most certainly is a huge, sucking ideological vacuum out there and nature dictates that it will be filled sooner or later. Certainly liberty is the oxygen that may well fill it but it is just as possible that it may be filled by a re-emergence of communism or (more likely in my view) tribal nationalism. Reason does not always triumph over stupidity and, let’s face it, collectivist philosophies have always had a far more visceral appeal to disenchanted and angry mobs.

Libertarians tend to assume that because we are right we will prevail. Dangerous, very dangerous.

Samizdata slogan of the day

To not vote in an election is to vote for civil society and against the state itself
– Perry de Havilland

Inconsistent meddling might be better

Why is it called the “Kate Kennedy Club”? Search me. And search The Liberty Log while you’re about it and you still won’t know. But you will find a thoughtful piece posted this lunchtime about the Kate Kennedy club by St Andrews University Liberty Club‘s Alex Singleton. Apparently this evil Kate Kennedy Club is run entirely by males, and the PC meddler tendency of St Andrews U’ want something done about that. Alex ends his piece thus:

The distinction the anti-Kate Kennedy Club protesters are making between public and private is a false one. The Kate Kennedy Club is a private club, funded and organised privately. If the University decides to ban the Club, it needs to be able to explain just why it is OK for a collection of individuals to do something but not for a collection of individuals who have chosen to give themselves a name.

It’s a nice piece, but this last bit bothers me. One must be careful about telling meddlers to be more consistent. They might reply: “Singleton, you’re right. Good point. We must do something about all those damned collections of individuals.”

Don’t worry Alex. I’m being contrary pretty much for the sake of it. The way to spread ideas is to argue about them. Keep it coming. And thanks for the speaking invite.

Blairbour losing – Conservatives not gaining – Further gains for the Sod-You-All Party

Time for an update about British party politics. When I started Samizdating, I posted a piece about how the British media have finally started laying in to our hitherto untouchable Blair Labour – from now on: Blairbour – government, after about seven years of Blairbour being beyond criticism. However, in my earlier posting I exaggerated how easily the Conservatives might be able to exploit all this. I assumed that they could make clear and rapid strides in the entirely smart direction, and of course being the Conservative Party that’s beyond them. Plus, I keep forgetting how much Normal People hate and despise the Conservatives.

The underlying story here is of a great nationwide coalition for Blairbour between (a) Normal People who want better public services without taxes going up, and (b) Abnormal Socialists who find the Conservatives so appalling that they are prepared to tolerate any other non- or anti-socialist humiliations in order to see the Conservatives go on being humiliated by the Normals. This coalition is starting to crumble.

The Normals want “better public services” and the idea was that by booting out the Conservatives (who supposedly don’t care about public services) and having a Blairbour government that did care about public services (but who wouldn’t put taxes up), they’d get better public services. This was never true. “Public services” don’t work like that. See everything else ever written by libertarians since the dawn of time. Blairbour cannot ever do as well with public services as it has promised. Some public services have patchily improved, at great cost. Others have got worse, also at great cost. Blairbour is starting to mutter about tax increases. The patience of the Normals is wearing thin.

Insofar as it is possible to contrive any “better public services” the only methods that stand any chance – and it is only a chance – are Conservative methods. So now that “we must start actually delivering better public services”, the Abnormals are also starting to be seriously pissed off. Their own methods always fail, and everyone except them knows it. So the methods of the hated Conservatives are being obstinately persisted with by Blairbour, and if anything being beefed up (“we must now actually deliver better public services”). So the patience of the Abnormals is also wearing thin.

(The Abnormals also hate that Blairbour backs the USA against Terrorism. The Abnormals are deeply confused about Terrorism. Some Abnormals are neutral for it. Others Abnormals are neutral against it. None oppose it as keenly as Blairbour or the Americans.)

But the Conservatives remain hated and despised by both Normals and Abnormals. Blairbour is no longer the Best Government available. But Blairbour remains something almost as politically potent, the Least Worst Government. Watch for a huge surge in the polls by the Conservatives, because if that happens I’ll be proved wrong. But my best guess for the next general election is for further significant gains by the Sod-You-All Party, that is to say a further decline in the overall percentage of people eligible to vote actually bothering to vote, for anyone, with the actual number of MPs remaining much as now, except that there’ll be a few more Liberal Democrats. Far more likely than a surge of enthusiasm for the Conservatives – or for anybody else – is a general sense of depression and cynicism about politics as a whole.

Sounds good to me.

Which provokes the question: what of libertarianism? Could there be some kind of British “libertarian political party” cobbled together to fill a small but growing patch of this huge vacuum and snatch some of those idle votes? Maybe. But as usual, the Conservatives are now making just enough libertarian-ish noises (“diversity” – “importance of the market”) to keep all those “libertarians” who are fascinated by British party politics fascinated, still, by the Conservative Party. And the rest of us have better and more amusing things to do with our lives.

George Bush adds $1,500 to cost of purchasing average new house in USA

Is that the headline you saw all over the US media the other day when the US government imposed import tariffs on Canadian lumber? No? I wonder why that was?

A question to all those people who sent me e-mails following my claims after Bush’s imposition of the steel quotas that his economic views were ludicrous. Many of you said he was just playing an inconsequential domestic political card and said George Bush was still a committed free trader. Given that:

1. A large number of US manufactured products involving steel and wood are about to become more expensive both domestically in the USA and compared to similar overseas products.

2. Other US produced goods and services are about to be made more expensive overseas due to retaliatory tariffs by the USA’s major trading partners (i.e. the people who actually have the money to buy most of the huge quantity of goods America exports).

Are you still unconcerned about the economic and political damage being done to the US economy (not to mention the rest of the world’s economy)?

Ahead of the Curve

Yes, I think that’s what they call it: being ‘ahead of the curve’. In this case, the ‘curve’ that I am ahead of is The Times in an article warning of the dangers of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, the UK government’s grand apparatus in the already-discredited war against ‘money-laundering’.

The writer adopts a more conservative (some might say measured) tone than I did. The piece reeks of unctious solicitude much in the manner of a senior Civil Servant advising a Minister that his decision is ‘courageous’ but it does taper to a fine point:

“The legislation needs to be framed in such a way that it does not deter honest businesses from consulting their professional advisers on grey areas, where they may need clarification of their position in order to be able to rectify it. Otherwise the very professional confidentiality that has created a healthy climate of compliance in the UK will be undermined. This is likely to lead to more criminality, not less.”

Precisely the point I made (among others) nearly a year ago(1).

Still, my natural desire to gloat must be tempered by my satisfaction that some serious people in serious places are starting to get the message and, more importantly, are broadcasting it.

(1)= (link requires Adobe Acrobat Reader which can be downloaded for free)