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

Those who expect the end of the world relatively soon should be kept as far away from public office as possible. They can keep their apocalypses to themselves.

Andrew Sullivan.

44 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • nic

    Hold on. I am predicting the end of Western civilisation but not of humanity in general. Do I count?

  • Verity

    Andrew Sullivan will only be happy to face the apocolypse when every gay man in the world has a framed marriage certificate and photos of him throwing a bouquet from a circular, floral-dressed staircase hanging on his office wall.

    I used to love his writing and I just cannot stand him any more.

  • permanent expat

    Apocalypses do happen & we have to live with the idea….the dinosaurs did..although a few of them managed to survive long enough to rename themselves as ‘NuLab’

  • veryretired

    George Will’s latest column is a very nice recapitulation of the end of the world scenario that was all the rage in the 70′s, i.e., global cooling, and the coming ice age.

    Concurrent with that prediction was the “irrefutable” global trend towards famine and societal collapse due to overpopulation and exhausted resources.

    In this age of global warming and an “epidemic” of obesity, the fantasies of a few decades ago seem almost quaint, especially the one about deliberately melting the polar ice cap by covering it with soot inorder to forestall glaciation.

    I wonder what kind of mess we would be in now if we had followed all those chicken littles, and their demands for a “restructuring of society”, instead of blundering along into several decades of increasing prosperity?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Andrew Sullivan will only be happy to face the apocolypse when every gay man in the world has a framed marriage certificate and photos of him throwing a bouquet from a circular, floral-dressed staircase hanging on his office wall.

    Somehow I doubt you’d be invited to his ceremony, Verity. I do find his obsession with the gay marriage issue a bit annoying, but I applaud his honesty in re-appraising Bush’s monstrous record as a big-spender conservative and incompetent war leader, while most rightwing bloggers have tended to look the other way. For that, Sully deserves respect.

  • Johnathan – I agree. I find it hard to understand how anyone who is interested in the vision of the Founding Fathers could admire GWB’s record. I appreciate him due to the fact that he irritates the hell out of people whose politics (and antics) I dislike intensely, but then GWB has proven himself to be a different side of the same coin. Pity.

  • The apocalypse theories to worry about are not the ones that require direct intervention by deity; as long as the deity doesn’t cooperate, Armageddon won’t come. The scary ones are those that are human-led and that require no unfakeable divine miracles. I dont’ know if the Twelfth Imam prophecy involves miraculous events, but Eric Pianka’s proposed extreme population control program certainly does not.

    I do believe Pianka has watched a few too many James Bond movies.

  • David Nilsson

    Funny that Sullivan should rule short-termist apocalypse seers out of political debate. Some of us feel the same way about men who recuse themselves from the duty of creating the next generation, and risk their lives and health in pursuit of sensual gratification.

    As William Rees-Mogg said, Keynes might have found it easier to be insouciant about running up public debt and stoking inflation because he and his chums had no kids who would have to pay the piper.

  • Nick M

    David Nilsson,

    “The duty of creating the next generation”

    Tomorrow truly does belong to you.

  • guy herbert

    And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a MARK in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
    And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the MARK, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    I’ll get my tinfoil hat and go…

  • michael farris

    “Some of us feel the same way about men who recuse themselves from the duty of creating the next generation, and risk their lives and health in pursuit of sensual gratification.”

    This is a bizarre comment even for this place.

    What do you think he should do? Keep his opinions on the future to himself? Welcome those with grand apocalyptic visions into the corridors of power? Or do you think he should procreate (for example by donating sperm for artificial insemination)?

  • Jacob

    For that, Sully deserves respect.

    Since he succumbed to his emotional instincts (regarding gay rights) and FERVENTLY endorsed that empty gasbag Kerry – I cannot respect him. He is too emotionally driven and irrational.

    Also his ranting about mishandling the Iraq war is nonesense. The Iraq war is a difficult proposition given all the restraints that apply ( notably: the limited availability of soldiers) – and I doubt it could have been handled any different.

  • Verity

    I agree with Jacob. Sullivan has become emotionally driven and irrational, and there are other journalists discussing Mr Bush’s mishandling of the economy.

    David Nilson’s comment though, as noted above, is baffling. Do you think people sit around thinking, “Gosh, I wonder whether I might have more fun if I were gay. May as well give it a try.” ??

    All the gay men I know, and have known, have gone through terrible emotional turmoil when they began to realise that an attraction to women was never going to kick in, and that they were attracted to other males. And hid their prediliction from their families because they feared their parents would stop loving them, and feeling like a freak of nature.

    Of course, it will be different today, but what has not changed is, being homosexual is not a lifestyle choice. There is a very good book called BrainSex that explains how a pregnant woman’s hormone production during pregnancy can effect an embryo’s eventual sexuality.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A bit surprised to see that my use of a quotation from Sullivan has led to jibes about his sexuality. I could not care less who Sully sleeps with, but it seems to bug some people.

    Verity, I would credit Sullivan because he has cottoned on to Bush’s delinquent public spending habits months before most other right-of-centre commenters did, so he deserves respect for that. Perhaps that is what also bugs people — it took an extpat Brit to point out the emerging fiscal disaster in the States.

  • Verity

    Johnathan – Yes, I take your point, but in my opinion, he used to be a much sharper writer and less driven by his feelings. You say, “I could not care less who Sully sleeps with, but it seems to bug some people.” I don’t think it bugs anyone, Johnathan. I think we would just take it as a kindness if he would keep his bedroom door closed.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Well, I would argue that he is perfectly entitled, on his own blog, to write about issues such as treatment of gays in the military, the marriage issue, AIDS, and so forth. All issues of public affairs. And it is good that a libertarian conservative like Sullivan is doing so, rather than from a socialist perspective. I would obviously prefer it if such a talented writer could cover more subjects, but hey, I am not his editor.

    And he has been largely vindicated on topics like the budget deficit, Patriot Act, the torture issue, the need to fire Rumsfeld, and much else. When this decade gets written up in the history books, Sully will emerge better than many of his rivals. And he has been honest about his changing views on the war.

  • rosignol

    …and there are other journalists discussing Mr Bush’s mishandling of the economy.

    Mishandling?

    What basis do you have for that assessment?

    By most measures, the US economy is actually doing fairly well, especially considering what energy prices have been doing lately.

  • Verity

    rosignol – My American friends – conservatives every one – are disappointed in Bush’s capitulations regarding welfare and other special interest groups. I believe he has doubled the size of the deficit since he came to office. (I may be off in my figures. My friends tell me and to be candid, my eyes glaze over a little because it is remote from me.)

  • Jacob

    ” has cottoned on to Bush’s delinquent public spending habits months before…”

    He has started an intensive campaign of Bush bashing and hating on every conceivable topic, the moment Bush tepidly endorsed the anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment. (Not a second before !).

    I would say – it’s not a terrible crime to hate Bush, but to endorse enthusiastically Kerry – that’s crazy. Nobody, not even the lefties, praised Kerry as intensly as Sullivan.

  • Bush is a fiscal nightmare. Along with Reagan he’s done more than any other president to bankrupt the USA and push the entire world monetary system to the brink of collapse.

    It’s ironic you pulled that quote out of Sullivan’s writing. He often strikes me as being hte wide-eyed apocalyptic sort.

  • There was never any reason to think Bush would do anything other than he has done on spending. Nixon and Reagan set the tone.

    Of course Sullivan can say what he wants on his blog. But I stopped reading his opinions on anything because he let his self-righteousness about a savage and ugly personal obsession take over his political analysis.

    And anyone who thinks most right wing bloggers are looking the other way on Bush’s utterly predictable and consistent, if lamentable, positions on immigration and spending hasn’t been reading the same right-wing bloggers I have. As to the war, Bush is “monstrously incompetent” as a leader compared to whom? Lincoln? FDR? LBJ? Clinton????!

  • Verity

    Sullivan has become completely immersed in the gay “marriage” issue and it has clouded his judgement on other issues. He used to be a sparkling and incisive writer with perceptive insights. Now he has become cloudy and turgid. And endorsing Kerry was, you must admit Johnathan, a bit off.

  • permanent expat

    Oh my God!………….How short are our memories.
    Bash who you will…..but didn’t the profligate Reagan spend the USSR out of existence….or am I up a creek?
    Was that not the mark he made on history, like the man or not?
    Sullivan schmullivan……..who is he anyway?

  • Reagan did manage to accomplish spending cuts. But there’s only so much spending control that any President can get past a Congress that isn’t controlled by fiscal conservatives.

    Thanks to Reagan’s tax cuts and Fed chairman Paul Volcker’s repairs to the inflation problem (the early 80s recession was a painful but unavoidable temporary side effect), the US enjoyed an economic boom that ended in the final Clinton years, as the full effects of his and GHW Bush’s $300 billion tax hikes kicked in.

  • And anyone who thinks most right wing bloggers are looking the other way on Bush’s utterly predictable and consistent, if lamentable, positions on immigration and spending hasn’t been reading the same right-wing bloggers I have.

    You shouldn’t be surprised, Robert. I don’t think too many Samizdatistas are reading racist swill like vdare, which you approvingly quote on your blog. I hold out hope that you were being ironic there, and I failed to catch it.

  • Reagan did manage to accomplish spending cuts. But there’s only so much spending control that any President can get past a Congress that isn’t controlled by fiscal conservatives.

    Those spending cuts were a joke, they didn’t even come close to correcting the fiscal imbalance. The reality is Reagan set a precedent for enormous budget deficits combined with tax cuts. Cheney himself has been quoted as saying ‘Reagan has shown that deficits don’t matter’. Reagan’s fiscal imprudence has been taken its insanelyl logical conclusion under Bush. Combine this with Alan Greenspan’s mind-boggling profligacy as Fed chair and you have the perfect financial storm on America’s horizon. Tough times ahead for everyone. Buy some gold, dump your greenbacks.

  • I didn’t say he cut spending sufficiently. He simply did a better job than other recent presidents in controlling certain areas of spending. He certainly didn’t match Johnson and Nixon for creating brand-new massive bureaucracies out of whole cloth.

    I found this TCS article that compares the spending habits of Dubya and Reagan. The punchline:

    [I]n light of President Bush’s spending it looks like it would be more accurate to compare him to Jimmy Carter than Reagan.

    I also found a 1997 Cato Institute report titled How The Budget Revolution Was Lost. There’s some comparisons between Reagan and GHWBush-Clinton consistent with the article linked in my previous comment.

    See also this chart, which graphs revenue and expenditures from 1980 to 1993. Note the growth in revenues right after the end of the recession (during which the 25% across-the-board tax cuts were being phased in), and the hike in spending that follows Bush 41′s signing of the “Read My Lips” tax in 1990.

    Anyone know of a site that archives basic US budget info for ever year from the present all the way back to a few decades or so?

  • Bah, I’d rather the scumbag government runs deficits than surpluses. In fact, let them run deficits and let the beast drown in its own debt.

  • gravid

    Buy some gold you say…..I can see bartering kicking in before people will start asking for gold or silver in exchange for things.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    One commenter claimed Sullivan started to bash Bush not a moment before the Gay marriage issue surfaced. I once thought that so I decided to go back on his archives, and he had been making his points about spending and the deficit before the FMA issue came up.

    I agree with Verity that endorsing Kerry was a crazy move, though. It would have been more logical to have either not voted at all, or to vote Libertarian.

    Robert Speirs writes of Sullivan’s savage and ugly personal obsession . I hardly think that his writing on the issue of gay rights qualifies as “savage” or “ugly”, but then I am a libertarian who thinks people should be able to live their lives as they want, including deciding how they want to form their lifelong partnerships.

  • rosignol

    rosignol – My American friends – conservatives every one – are disappointed in Bush’s capitulations regarding welfare and other special interest groups. I believe he has doubled the size of the deficit since he came to office. (I may be off in my figures. My friends tell me and to be candid, my eyes glaze over a little because it is remote from me.)

    The deficit varies significantly depending on the state of the economy. What a lot of people don’t understand about the Clinton surpluses is that they didn’t have much to do with his spending cuts (ha!) or tax policies, the main reason they happened was the dotcom bubble drove tax reciepts up.

    While Bush has definitely been more profligate than I would like, I think this is more a case of prioritization than anything else. He has had to make concessions on some issues to secure support on others, which is nothing new.

    I don’t like it much, but politics is like that.

  • Jacob

    “….but then I am a libertarian who thinks people should be able to live their lives as they want, including deciding how they want to form their lifelong partnerships.”

    Me too.

    But that’s not the issue! Libertarians don’t clamor for a government official seal of approval for their choices.

    Marriage is an idea that belongs to the religions. The gay’s attempt to steal it, disfigure it, corrupt it – is something I have no sympathy for , though I’m not religious myself.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Marriage is an idea that belongs to the religions. The gay’s attempt to steal it, disfigure it, corrupt it – is something I have no sympathy for , though I’m not religious myself.

    Yes indeed, but I don’t think Sullivan would actually disagree with the idea the the government should get out of the business of regulating what is known as marriage. He’d probably agree that it should be of no business but that of the parties concerned.

    Anyway, I’m done here.

  • Radical Sceptic

    Libertarians don’t clamor for a government official seal of approval for their choices.

    So you would insist that all heterosexual libertarians should never accept a government seal of approval for their choices by getting married?

    Marriage is an idea that belongs to the religions.

    So any atheists who get married would be stealing, disfiguring and corrupting the idea and you would have no sympathy for such unions?

    I’m not religious myself

    Then I take it you’re not married?

  • michael farris

    Jacob, if you’re not religious then you must not be married or plan on marrying.

    I’d really like to be a fly on the wall when you explain your unconventional views on the subject to a (potential or existing) girlfriend. Or maybe not, there would be the danger of being hit by something that she throws at your head ….

  • michael farris

    Also Jacob, there are churches that will perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples. So that ironically in many states its entirely possible for such couples to obtain a religious wedding ceremony (with no legal standing) but not civil recognition.

    In the US as far as I know, only civil marriage has any legal recognition, a religious wedding has no legal force until the person who performed the ceremony fills out the state-mandated paperwork.

  • Millard Foolmore

    rosignol:

    “While Bush has definitely been more profligate than I would like, I think this is more a case of prioritization than anything else. He has had to make concessions on some issues to secure support on others”

    Yeah, he has to bust the budget so he can go on fighting a war he can’t win.

  • Verity

    Millard Foolmore – you seem to have missed the meaning of the war in Iraq.

  • Jacob

    “So any atheists who get married would be stealing, disfiguring and corrupting the idea …”

    No. Any atheist getting married would compromise and adopt the religious idea. Religious people are only too happy about it as long as it is a regular marriage (i.e. not gay). Compromise is no dirty word, as long as you don’t commit murder.

    “..there are churches that will perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples…”
    There are churches or sects who perform all kind of bizarre rituals. Gay marriage is anathema to all normal religions.

    Sullivan strongly and fervently pushes for gay MARRIAGE. Not gay unions, not civil unions – MARRIAGE.
    The issue is not his private style of life, it’s an attempt to push that on everybody, to change society, via the state’s power of legislation. To hijack the concept and the institution.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I did not want this thread to turn into some flamewar about what Sullivan thinks about gay marriage, although I happen to think that marriage should be of no concern of the State at all, but just an expression of the agreement by two adults to make a binding commitment to one another, be able to sign contracts, etc. If one thinks about it, anything that encourages adults to make binding agreements born out of love and commitment is surely good for civil society, rather than destructive, but that is another topic of its own.

  • Verity

    Jacob – You’ve hit the nail on the head. Sullivan wants to change the entire basis of society to suit himself. This is egocentric to the point of lunacy. But I think this is what has put me off him – the intensity and the focus is just terribly off-putting. And I do think it has affected his writing, which used to be brilliant.

    I am very pro civil unions and think it’s only just that gay people not be denied legal rights the rest of us enjoy. There is no reason to demand more, unless one has a destructive, resentful, bitter agenda.

  • While Bush has definitely been more profligate than I would like, I think this is more a case of prioritization than anything else. He has had to make concessions on some issues to secure support on others, which is nothing new.

    I don’t like it much, but politics is like that.

    What ‘politics as usual’ has produced in America.

  • anthea

    Verity

    May I claim your hand in civil uniom?