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]

Social Injustice

A new study, based upon the census date from 1991 and 2001, has concluded that New Labour’s redistributive policies and demands for social justice, have failed to halt the long-term trend towards greater inequality. If you live in the South, in the countryside or the suburb and are well-educated, you are likely to be richer and healthier.

In our post-Christian society, the researchers have still taken the biblical warning that the poor will always be present to heart. Of course, they now have to redefine the poverty in order to substantiate their conclusion that Britain is more unequal:

The poverty measure used is the Breadline Britain measure
This defines a household as poor if the majority of people in Britain, at the time of calculation, would think that household to be poor

Britain is more unequal because the majority of the population have concluded that it has become more unequal. Hmmm…

Nevertheless, there are stretches of genuine poverty in Britain where families will go hungry for the sake of their children.

The research appeared to confirm other reports earlier this month which showed that about half of Glasgow’s population lived in deprived areas, with many parents going hungry in order to feed their children.

The actions of parents in such straitened circumstances are admirable, but their sacrifice is surely unnecessary. It is another example of socialism condemning the past and endeavouring to repeat it.

Shouldn’t advocates of social justice campaign for the abolition of the Common Agricultural Policy and the removal of all EU tariffs on agricultural products, providing cheaper food for all, especially the deprived of Glasgow, who are going hungry in the 21st century?

Statist self delusion

One way to guarantee Bush’s reelection.

Gone batty

Meanwhile, in Gotham City:

People who kill bats or destroy their roosts are to be targeted in a nationwide police campaign.

Officers are to be trained in how to investigate damage to roosts as part of Operation Bat, which is officially launched on Wednesday.

Police will also be warning builders, roofers and pest control workers that it is a crime to destroy bat roosts.

Ker-pow! Take that, you builders. Spla-tt! Not so fast, roofer-man. Ka-boom! It’s the Gotham City jail for you, pest control worker.

Conservationists hope the crackdown will help protect dwindling native numbers of the nocturnal mammal.

With the added benefit of thwarting the fiendish plans of The Joker, The Riddler and The Penguin.

Surely you do not have to be Superhero to appreciate that the very essence of private property is exclusivity. That means the owner is entitled to eject all manner of other living things regardless of the number of legs and wings they possess. Otherwise, what is the point of private property? If we are obliged to maintain our homes as wildlife sanctuaries then we may as well revert to living in forests under the shelter of banana leaves.

Never mind the ‘dwindling native numbers of nocturnal mammals’, what about the dwindling native numbers of property rights?

I just hope that these apparently well-connected ‘conservationists’ do not take it into their heads to add wasps, rats or cockroaches to their little list.

Some guerilla marketing for Samizdata.net

Rob Fisher has discovered a foolproof plan for getting invited to our famed Blogger Bashes

advertising Samizdata.net at the Glastonbury festival

A petrol-head reports

The present UK government, like many socialist-leaning administrations, does not like cars. Besides complaints – sometimes justified – about pollution and congestion, a lot of the hatred of the car contains a puritan impulse (sometimes this is also seen among a certain tweedy sort of conservative). Congestion charges, petrol taxes, speed cameras, road bumps… you name it, owning a car will soon be on a par with smoking, eating red meat, or confessing to enjoying recreational sex.

Well, I have bad news for the puritans. I spent last Saturday in total petrol-head heaven – the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed in west Sussex, and the event was a total sellout. I saw the Lotus of the late Ayrton Senna driven immaculately on a wet track at 150 mph and hear the unbelievably high noise that a F1 car makes. Vintage Maseratis, Ferraris, Lotuses and BRMs vied with Le Mans endurance cars such as the Ford GT40 or the Gulf Porsche (of the kind that Steve McQueen drove in the movie, Le Mans). Magic. There is an almost sensual pleasure involved in the sight, shape, noise, and yes, the smell, of a very fast car.

The crowds were large although not so big as to impede my enjoyment. From what I could see, Britons remain firmly in love with cars, including very fast and noisy ones. I would not presume to check the political/cultural views of the crowds, but I would guess the bias would be towards liberal (small l), fairly pro-enterprise, pro-fun, and not very keen on environmentalism and high taxes. If I were Conservative Party leader Michael Howard, then the Goodwood Festival of Speed clientele would be the sort of folk I would have in mind as a target constituency. I would call it the ‘Jeremy Clarkson Voter Segment’.

The Goodwood event also reminded me of something else, which is the high number of South Africans, Finns and Scots who have excelled as drivers over the years. I wonder why that is?

Samizdata quote of the day

“Many of you are well enough off that… the tax cuts may have helped you. We’re saying that for America to get back on track, we’re probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Hillary Clinton, at a San Francisco fundraiser for fellow statist Sen. Boxer.

This Week’s Practical Exercise in Democracy? Invading Luxembourg

Imagine the European People’s Democratic Front.
Imagine their first press release…

We, the people of Europe, hold the following truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Unfortunately, we don’t consent to a junket-ocracy, which is what the proposed EU will be.

As such, we undertake to occupy and subvert any referendum in Luxembourg, a country with a conveniently tiny voting population of less than 350,000. One residential mailing address (with 50,000 registered residents) later, and the constitution will be consigned, where it belongs, to the dustbin of history.

Naw, it could never happen…


Nation-building is a tricky business for a post-Marxist mind…

Paul Bremer has left the country… Two days earlier than was expected, he handed the administration over to the Iraqi government under Iyad Allawi. More than 100,000 foreign troops will remain as well as the funds voted for by the American Congress to finance the work of reconstruction.

John Keegan offers a ‘meta-contextual perspective’ on what is “rotten in the state of Iraq” (and in Washington) with regard to the aftermath of probably the most successful war ever fought between a democracy and a dictatorship. The entourage of highly opinionated advisers, that have become known as “neo-conservatives” may be at the root of the problem with the ill-conceived nation-building in Iraq:

A more accurate way of describing them would be as “post-Marxists”, in that, like many 20th-century intellectuals, their thinking was formed in reaction to the Soviet system, whether originally for or against. In the world in which they matured, it was impossible not to perceive politics as the supreme and dominant human activity. Their perception had distorting after-effects.

The new conservatives who had rejected Left-wing solutions to the world’s problems were nevertheless left with the conviction that any solution would be political. Confronted by the residue of tyranny, as in post-Soviet Eastern Europe, they expected democracy to take its place. Inside any people’s democracy, they might have said, there is a real democracy struggling to get out. In the case of eastern Europe, they were genuinely right.

Although the journey to freedom and democracy in the former communist bloc has not been straightforward, the assumption that those who opposed the communist tyranny saw democracy as the natural alternative, was certainly correct.

The neo-conservatives’ mistake was to suppose that, wherever tyranny ruled, democracy was its natural alternative. So, when planning for the government of post-war Iraq, the lead agency, the Pentagon, dominated by neo-conservatives, jumps to the conclusion that, as soon as Saddam’s tyranny was destroyed, Iraqi democrats would emerge to assume governmental responsibility from the liberating coalition and a pro-Western regime would evolve seamlessly from the flawed past.

To think in such a way was to reveal a dangerously post-Marxist cast of mind. Marxists can think only in political terms. They accept, even if they despise, liberal and conservative opposition. What they cannot accept is that their opponents may be motivated by beliefs which are not political in any way at all.

John Keegan concludes that the real opposition force is religion. There are others opposing the American presence, such as the survivors of the Ba’ath Party, a strictly secular organisation, however, religion is the only force that can provide an ‘alternative’, however flawed, to the current state of affairs. He admonished the Americans for dissolving the Iraqi army or police or civil administration, regardless of the number of Ba’ath Party members they contained.

Perhaps the current security problems in Iraq prove him right. I do not know whether using ex-Ba’athists in the post-Saddam Iraq would have prevented the deterioration of security in Iraq we have witnessed. I do, however, have a problem with moral implications of not purging the society of those who propped an oppressive regime. One man cannot sustain a totalitarian regime alone, it is the thousands of ‘little’ authoritarians that help to maintain the regime’s grip on its victims and destroy its opponents. I believe it was wrong (morally and politically) for the countries of Central and Eastern Europe not conduct a thorough ‘de-communisation’ of their political systems and societies. Similarly, I believe de-Ba’athification is desirable for the Iraqi society to find its footing.

However, I also find it hard to disagree with Keegan’s parting shot:

Looking back, better a Ba’athist Iraq than an Islamic one. Let us hope that it is not too late.

Oh dear! How tragic!

Michael Moore bans Michael Moore?

It seems the new stupid campaign finance regulations in the USA (the result of Michael Moore’s years of vomit among others) are about to be used to restrict distribution of Moore’s latest wind-up.

Because the law attempts to prohibit all sorts of ‘in kind’ donations to the Republicans [I meant political parties], making a movie that plugs one candidate at the expense of another in election year could be ruled “interference” by the Federal Electoral Commission. I wonder how Michael Moore feels being felt sorry for by the US Libertarian Party.

Of course it is a shocking abuse of the US constitution. (sigh) How sad!

Mojave Pictorial: Two Parties and a Launch

I finally have all my photographs in hand, or on disk rather. As promised, here is the behind the scenes photo story (via a small fixed lens film camera) of the people and the historic event they came to celebrate.

The first leg of my journey from Belfast ended at Dublin Connolly Rail Station.
Copyright D.Amon, all rights reserved

→ Continue reading: Mojave Pictorial: Two Parties and a Launch

A reply

David Sucher seems to like to have the last word on his blog City Comforts, and as it is his blog, he gets to call the tune and delete comments as he sees fit. That said, his claim that he only deletes comments which do not have real e-mail addresses is simply untrue. Nevertheless, his blog, his rules. Fair enough, we set our comment editorial policy here on Samizdata.net as we see fit too.

I took Sucher to task for what seemed to me to be some vindictive comments aimed at Jackie D, one of the Samizdatistas, regarding comments over on Harry’s Place and on his own blog that were started off by Dick Cheney’s indelicate words on the US Senate floor. My final comment on David Sucher’s blog was deleted, so… this one’s for you, David:

I am, as you point out, a ‘libertarian’ (for what of a better word. I prefer ‘liberal’ myself, or even ‘social individualist’), so the reference to ‘statism’ cannot be put aside. However the fact there are indeed a great many libertarian jackasses is not germane at all.

The use of the term statist in my comment is to demonstrate that I (like Jackie) regard both parties as odious and largely interchangeable thieves, and therefore the issue of Cheney telling someone to “go fuck themselves” is, to me, not a very damaging uses of language in a legislature. I wish all they ever did was curse at each other, but alas they do eventually get down to the serious business of administering looting rights. So for me, it is all rather a non-issue for the same reasons Jackie indicated.

Both here and on Harry’s blog you commented “It’s obviously not the saying of “fuck yourself” which is the issue”… but you are quite incorrect as Jackie makes clear that is *indeed* the issue she is talking about, not Dick Cheney.

As she was defending the use of “Go fuck yourself” when appropriate, rather than Dick Cheney himself, it seems that her disinclination to get into what I have described as a partisan ‘two minute hate’, adding to the chorus of “Oh those wicked Republicans”, was what incurred your ire and intemperate language. We all have tetchy days on our blogs but you do yourself no credit given the length you seem to have gone to to pick a fight with her.

So I am not holding “feeling better” as a standard for public behaviour because for me the issue is *your* behaviour, not Dick Cheney’s.

With due regard.

The great British pension swindle

The business and economics sections of the press have been dominated by the problems of private pensions in recent months. Once a dull-as-ditchwater subject about which journalists and the public showed little interest, the state of our retirement nest eggs is now a major policy issue. Hundreds of blue-chip British firms have shut pension plans to new staff, such as those which offer to pay a benefit linked to final salary at retirement age. Some workers even suffered the torment of losing all their accumulated pension when their sponsoring firms went to the wall. All in all, it has been an alarming time for those dreaming of retirement.

But to read the media, you would hardly know that the biggest pension scandal of all is in the state system. James Bartholomew, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, pens a scorching denunciation of state pensions. He points out that we are told by the experts that retirement ages will have to rise, and, to be fair, improved life expectancy (surely a triumph of health and living standards rather than a problem) makes that a sensible option. But taxpayers who paid their national “insurance” contributions are being told that the state is welshing on its side of the bargain. If a private business operated on the same basis as the government did with tax-funded pensions, the directors would be sent to jail for mis-selling on an epic scale.

Reform of our creaking state pensions system remains one of the most intractable public policy issues of the age. The destination — a system of privately held accounts may be obvious to a free market zealot like me, but getting there is going to be very, very hard unless politicians have the sense, and the courage, to scrap all taxes on savings income and capital gains to make widespread long term private saving a reality.

The present state of affairs cannot endure.