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

Getting the institutions right matters. Many people simply don’t understand that issue. They don’t understand it because they still believe in magic. Few people believe that the chanting of magic words or incantations exercises power over the world. Most of us believe in cause and effect – in tracing out the effects to their causes. The scientific approach has been triumphant in such fields of enquiry as physics, chemistry, biology and geology. Unfortunately, when it comes to the science of human behaviour, many people – possibly most – still believe in magic, because they believe that a special class of wizards and magicians are called legislators, rulers, governors and presidents, and so most people believe, when they say such words as `It shall be the law that all shall have the right to good health care, or a good education, or a higher living standard,’ that those words carry the power to bring about the intentions behind them.”

Tom G Palmer, Realising Freedom, page 207.

I strongly recommend this gem of a book.

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Brad

    I have said many times over that our societies are just as superstitious as they have ever been because the underlying existential fears have never changed. Once man gained enough knowledge that he was mortal he has been looking at ways to navigate his life in a world of chaos. The threats exist as ambiguous constructs of the mind, and so the counter strokes must be also. Clear and present dangers call for clear and present defenses – amorphous dangers call for “magical” counter measures. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Magicians will then appear.

    Unfortunately “getting the institutions right” is the million dollar trick. Getting people to not use their primordial fears as an excuse to swing wildly in the dark is the key. You can’t talk people out of their religions and their (supposedly secular) quasi-religions, it is just to ask them set aside Force – to not hire agents, no matter how sweet talking, to be their fists. It is a matter of clearly defining the maladies they face, the level of risk they face that one will come to pass, and seeing that their broadcast Force against shadows makes them worse off overall than better. They are welcome to whatever beliefs they want, and whatever phantoms go with it, and the freedom to associate with others with the same fears to pool against their shared perceived risks. They just can’t use Force unless the danger is clear and present. Seven levels of induction into the Ether does not qualify for the use of Force.

    The need to do this isn’t any longer simply a preferred situation to maximize freedom in some abstract. Every use of Force based on superstition has an effect of economic misallocation, some small, some big. It is the painful and immediate correction of these misallocations that cause societies to implode. We have (in the US anyway) nearly 100 years of superstition enduced Statist misallocation that is set to come undone very soon (if it’s not to late already). Unfortunately when the “White” Magic fails, the superstitious tend to look for solutions in Dark Magic. That is when the State moves from fines and levies and stern warnings to camps with smoke chimneys or mass graves or gutters running red with blood.

  • That was quite a comment Brad.

  • Jerry

    Then of course there is also the possibility that many simply don’t care as long as they have Survivor or Dancing with the Stars to watch and water from the tap and beer in the fridge.
    Or those that only care about who is going to promise them the ‘most free stuff’ and who do not know where it comes from or why or even care and fail to remember how few of those promises are actually kept.
    There are many people who simply have NO IDEA how the U.S. economy works.
    All they hear is ‘we’ll get federal dollars to pay for it’
    ( or state money or some other kind of money, just as long as it isn’t OURS ) which is mentally translated instantaneously into ‘it’s FREE and won’t cost us a cent’.
    I have friends, neighbors and relatives, some of whom astound me when they talk of how health care is going to be FREE !! Or, ‘let’s see how it works out before we start condemning it’.
    Yep, that’ll work.
    Once you can prove it is a failure and unsustainable, it’s too late. Too many people feeding at the trough that THEY ARE NOT PAYING FOR to get it dismantled !
    We all know socialized medicine has NEVER been attempted anywhere else at any time. /so
    These are the same selfish, short-sighted idiots who would have cheered for Social Security and some, I’m sure, did cheer for Medicare and Medicaid and look where those are now.
    Yet time and again you see the masses who either can’t or won’t think, with their hands out, shoving all of down the same steep path that leads to a place so many of us do not want to go because we’ve seen what has happened elsewhere.
    I really do truly mourn for where my country is headed.
    I fear and worry for my children and now feel something that I NEVER thought I would feel and that is relief at being as far along in years as I am. There are many things that I simply will not have to see and endure and bear.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Jerry, not sure about this:

    We all know socialized medicine has NEVER been attempted anywhere else at any time.

    It has been tried, for instance, in the UK. During the 1940s, when regulators’ heads were buzzing with the dreams of a Soviet, planned economy run, naturally, by themselves, the NHS was formed. The NHS was initially quite good as it benefited from being able to use hospitals that had been built under the old, private regime. And for about a decade or so it worked okay; but slowly but surely, a service that was funded by tax, provided “free” at the point of use and directed by the state showed its limitations. In particular, the NHS, as it avoids rationing of healthcare via the market, has to use bureaucratic fiat instead.

    If the American people want to see where their country is headed, look at the UK.

  • Paul Marks

    Let us say that people DO care – and let us say that they are also intelligent (in the sense of taking ideas to their logical conclusions – “questioning the questions”, i.e. doubting the basic assumptions, is not what is normally meant by the word “intelligence”) and hard working – what are they going to do?

    They will listen to their teachers at school and their lecturers at college, and they will read the books they are told to read – and for relief they will watch “intellectual” comics such as “Jon Stewart” (childhood hero the socialist Norman Thomas – most children do not even know the names of unsuccessful socialist candidates for President, let alone make them their hero figures) on television.

    And what is all that going to tell the young people?

    It will tell them that financial crises is caused by “animal spirits” and “greed” (the “frauds of the rich” as Mr “Stewart” put it the other night), and it will also tell them that government can put things right by (even more) regulations, and by trillions of Dollars of bailouts and “stimulus” spending (in part financed by simply creating more money – “by magic”).

    In short it is not the lazy and stupid who will be most mislead – it is the young person who studies hard and reads and watches what he or she is supposed to. School, college and the “mainstream” media (in Britain at least as much as the United States) have been taken over by the witchdoctors and their “magic”.

    Of course the standard response of the left to the above will be to accuse me of racism – as I used the word “witchdoctors”.

    Trying to get the truth to people (about the real cause of the economic crises – for it has not really gone away, the world will be hit again soon) and what policies should be followed is a very difficult task – especially in this country where no real dissenting media (no Fox News, no anti leftist talk radio stations and so on – and, therefore, very few anti leftist books on sale for there are few ways to promote them) exist.

    Here it is a matter of a few (not many) journalists in the print media and a few sites (such as this one) on the internet.

    I do not believe that is enough.

  • JP: Jerry was obviously being sarcastic.

  • Jerry

    JP – Alisa is right – just my feeble attempt at sarcasm.

  • Nuke Gray

    I read a piece in today’s ‘The Australian’, about Britons ignoring all slogans, routinely consigning them to the ‘jargon’ file. Thanks to Blair (and isn’t that an odd thing to be doing?), everyone hates cliches, and have become immune to them.