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

“What’s really going on, I think, is that the nature of class war has changed. The old virus has mutated. The old social and political divisions have given way to two new classes — rather as on the trains. Those in economy are most of us, paying for the comforts of those in first class. And those in first class are the new political class — all those who owe their advancement and their security and their pensions and their privileges not to their backgrounds or their talents, or even necessarily their political parties, but to the state and our taxes.”

- Minette Marrin

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • I think that almost any talk of classes in a political context is counterproductive towards reduction of the state. It’s not that I don’t realize that class divisions have always been with us, and are here to stay for as long as human society exists. But, although Ms. Marrin’s heart may be in the right place, what a regular person reading her article is likely to take from it is the idea that he is in the wrong class, and all he needs to do to make things better for himself and his family is to position himself/his children closer to the right class.

  • Brian, follower of Deornoth

    There are three classes; the nomenklatura, who rule us all, the workers, who pay for all, and the welfare-dependent who provide the nomenklatura with votes and ideological justification.

    The nomenklatura are keen to provide ‘social mobility’ between the second and third classes.

  • True, but there is also an existent, though limited, mobility to the nomenklatura: get a degree in journalism or law, for example, and you are mostly set.

  • Ahhhhhh….I see that she’s noticed! Seriously, where’s she been all these years?

  • just a human being

    That’s patently false. There are a lot more net consumers than net producers.

    The unpopularity of libertarianism stems from this fact.

    And the sad thing is, I cannot name any peaceful solution.

  • Brad

    I don’t really see any mutation at all. Every age of man has had those with power and privilege and the rest (made up of bureaucrats who keep themselves out of the salt mines by transmitting the demands of powerful into action). Patrician/Plebian, Master/Slave, Noble/Serf and on and on. The key issue in all these cases is the bureaucrats owe their status to the powerful, but that isn’t enough – enough of the slaves have to WANT to be enslaved. The prestigious and powerful are installed by the very people they Lord over.

    You get the government you deserve.

    The semantics may have changed, but the process hasn’t changed a bit.

  • guy herbert

    Indeed Ms Marrin, but it is not a new system in the slightest, but is entrenched over much of the world.

    There is a good name name for the class in first class: waBenzi a satirical Swahili formation meaning “the people of the Mercedes Benz”.

  • jdm

    Brad,

    Agreed.

    Outside Independence Hall when the Constitutional Convention of 1787 ended, Mrs. Powel of Philadelphia asked Benjamin Franklin, “Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” With no hesitation whatsoever, Franklin responded, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

  • Richard Thomas

    Indeed, I’m often concerned that as libertarians, we may be missing the point by hoping to make everyone equal, free actors.

    The question better asked may be that given the predilection of some people to rule and of many others to be ruled, what can the rest of us do to stop the former from making our lives a misery.

  • Laird

    Brad, I don’t disagree with anything you said, but I think you’ve missed Ms. Marrin’s point. It’s not that there haven’t always been the rulers and the ruled, it’s that the nature of the ruling class is fundamentally different today than at any other time in western history. Previously, at various times the ruling class was the priesthood, or an hereditary aristocracy, or the military, or the very wealthy, but only today is it a largely self-selected political/regulatory class. (I like the British term “quangos”, but that would be meaningless to most people in the US.) Perhaps the ancient Chinese mandarins came close, but I don’t know enough about Chinese history to be certain. Anyway, this seems significant to me.

    And I don’t have an answer to Richard Thomas’ question about what can we do to rein them in. Instead I’ll just offer up a pertinent quotation:

    “People unfit for freedom — who cannot do much with it — are hungry for power. The desire for freedom is an attribute of a ‘have’ type of self. It says: leave me alone and I shall grow, learn, and realize my capacities. The desire for power is basically an attribute of a ‘have not’ type of self.” — Eric Hoffer

  • Greg

    Herman van Rompuy has the “charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk”

  • Paul Marks

    “Where to go”.

    Although it is one of the oldest Welfare States on the planet I suggest (for English speakers) New Zealand might prove a less bad (if not good) place to go.

    Government spending is actually less than British or American government spending now (at least if honest book keeping methods are used) and there is vastly less regulation.

  • I thought that to make money trains made economy class as unpleasant as possible so as to encourage anyone how could afford to to move to 1st class. So, 1st class would be paying for the rest of the train, which is the opposite of what the quote is trying to say.

  • HatlessHessian

    I tend to prefer more of a post-Marxist class interpretation, recognizing that we’ve evolved to a symbiotic parasitic structure between upper and lower classes, both feeding upon the middle.

    The lower empowers the upper with the authority of the state, authorizing it to use force to extract whatever is needed from the middle. In return, the upper provides the lower with sustenance and stability. Values in common to both are stability, certainty and avoidance of change (which makes Obama’s message most curious; there may be “change” with respect to goodies re-distributed to the parasitic bottom, but actual change in power structures is absolutely feared by the elite Octobrist-inspired statists that backed Obama).

    Indeed, the repositioning and excessive seizure of power by the globalists appears to be a “hunkering down” effort in anticipation of the very rough seas ahead. When the middle class realizes they’ve been sold into economic slavery for 200+ years due to the globalists massive ponzi debt scheme, there would be global upheaval akin to the mid-1800s overthrow of European monarchies, save for the globalists attempts to lock in biopolitical power via health care, cap & trade and other surveillance and power structures masquerading as social service benefits.

  • mcgruder

    Im not sure Im with this in fact, tho in spirit it rings true.
    In the US, the filthiest of filthy secrets is that the rank majority of the populace pays no taxes or actually recieves money back from the state. Outisde of the top quintile, life in the US, is, as they might say, “tit” (from a tax-revenue perspective.)

  • HatlessHessian

    mcgruder: You’re right on the bottom majority not paying net taxes for benefits received, but neglect the top 2% with respect to their minimal tax burden. I’ve worked with several $100M+ net work individuals the past few years who have the majority of their investments tied up in tax-free munis or have assets shielded by trusts and such. They’ll pay a salary for their foundation or hobby corporation at $25K-$30K, showing an income tax liability that is insignificant.

    True wealth in the United States does not suffer from our oppressive income taxation schemes either.

  • I agree and I think you can take the analogy even further. On the old trains in France there was a famous case of what economists call price discrimination. They made the third class passengers ride in uncovered cars not because it was so expensive to put roofs on them but to scare the people in second class away from buying third class tickets.

    The same thing is going on with government. The conditions of those trying to make it outside the government cocoon of services are being made worse off by our current health care system precisely in order to encourage them to buy into government care.

  • Jocon307

    On a train those in first class pay more, so this analogy makes no sense.

  • comatus

    Ere they hewed the Sphinx’s visage…

  • gichens

    HatlessHessian, whether the non-taxpaying uberwealthy is real or a myth, IRS stats still show that the top 5% of tax payers pay over 60% of Federal Income Tax while earning 37% of the total AGI.

  • LAterDude

    HatlessHessian, people who put all their money in tax-free munis do pay tax, implicitly, by loaning money to local goverment at a discounted interest rate. In other words, the tax you pay is in the interest that you don’t earn.

  • Paul Marks

    “Post Marx” implies the Red Prussian had something useful to say (and that we build on his foundations – or whatever). In fact Karl was a tosspot.

    If “class theory” has any useful version it is the PRE Marx sort of class theory – i.e. that of “tax payers and tax eaters”.

    Although it is possible to get tax eaters to vote for the reduction of government – if they understand that things are going backrupt and real cuts have to be made.

    Harris managed it in Ontario. But, inspite of the need for real govenment spending cuts being far greater in modern Britain than they were in Ontario – David Cameron will not even try.

  • Dale Amon

    The 1st and business class seats are where a flight makes most of the profit. The rest of us barely cover the gas to carry us.

  • On SouthEastern trains it seems that strategy is to make first class as indistinguishable from the rest of the train as possible, presumably in order to fine more people for sitting in the wrong seat…