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

“No one died in any of these imperial takeovers of British soccer teams, no wildlife killed, no beaches littered with tarballs. But perhaps the outraged columnists in the UK should inform their football-obsessed readers that, like BP, most everything is globalized these days—from the strikers on their favorite club, to the companies headquartered in London. BP is a multinational corporation with American subsidiaries and workers, Swiss well operators, and a gaffe-prone Swedish chairman. And McDonald’s—that often-invoked symbol of American cultural hegemony—is no longer run out of Ray Kroc’s garage. The dreaded hamburger giant uses local products, employs regional officers and franchisees, is staffed by high school students from Flanders and Dortmund, and is eaten by almost everyone on Earth. Sarah Palin’s lame attempt at vilifying “foreign” BP, or Barack Obama’s subtle attempt to underscore the company’s non-American roots, is little different than former BBC reporter Andre Gilligan complaining that London is “owned by Americans,” with its streets “lined with New York Bagel shops, Manhattan Coffee Company outlets.” The stakes are different, of course, but the sentiment is much the same; if the city goes to pot, if the oil well explodes, it ain’t our fault. Obama is a blame-passing protectionist. Palin is an attention-seeking populist. And the poor British columnists are giving me reflux, that fashionable and incredibly painful American disease.”

- Michael C. Moynihan

His right, of course. Given the amount of anti-American BS that regularly comes out of the UK intelligentsia (or what passes for it), a certain amount of “take some of that, Limeys!” is understandable. Another point that adds to the angst here, of course, is that so many British people imagined, naively, that that post-racial, leftie POTUS would not lower himself to the sort of nationalist rhetoric allegedly indulged by his Texan predecessor. But then we should remember that even a supposed “progressive” such as Gordon Brown was able to come out with lines such as “British jobs for British workers”, a remark that must have surely raised a sour expression among the many US expats who work in the City over here.

6 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Kevin B

    I haven’t read most of the British press articles that Moynihan is whinging about, but I have read Norman Tebbit’s blog post. The quote that is shown here:

    Lord Tebbitt, a member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, took to the pages of The Telegraph to denounce the president’s “hate campaign against the British.”

    Oh dear.

    is not perhaps representative of Norman’s article (Link) as a whole or even the bit containing Moynihan’s quote:

    What Mr Cameron has to explain to the President is that winding up a hate campaign against the British is not a terribly smart policy. It may win Mr Obama political support amongst the less well-informed voters right now, but the long-term effects are less sure.

    The discrepancy tends to undermine his point.

    Yes, there are idiots who ‘blame America first’ on both sides of the Alantic, but Moynihan’s somewhat unbalanced article won’t dissipate this reaction.

    I too am sick of hearing football supporters blaming ‘the Yanks’ instead of the players, coaches or managers, and the ‘Little Englanders’ of the left and right who moan on about McDonalds are a pain, but someone should remind Mr Moynihan that tu quoque is not the most attractive debating point.

    Still, it’s a good job that Beyond Petroleum changed it’s name from the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company.

  • John Galt


    British jobs for British workers

    If Gordon Brown had posted the reality of the situation, it would have been

    British Jobs for EU workers.

  • atul

    The society is facing problems with such laws. This has to go legal
    and it’s needed to be sorted at the earlier.

    Great Law Group

  • guy herbert

    Not sure that anti-British rhetoric in the States should be imagined to be retalilation for the anti-Americanism of the British establishment. It is more of a piece with the long-standing nativist and populist strains (and their paranoid style) in US politics generally.

    Blaming BP as ‘foreign’ for something that has gone wrong, is very little different from the Birthers’ desperate desire for President Obama himself to be proved ‘foreign’. It is a sort of cognitive dissonance: when you invest a lot in ‘American’ as exclusively representing all that is good, then things you don’t like, even other Americans’ free choices, must be the result of un-American activity.

    I think British anti-Americanism is differently motivated. It is more directed to American institutions rather than Americans-as-foreigners, more akin to envy and resentment of success than fear of pollution of the ideals of British society. As an Englishman I find it impossible to write ‘the ideals of British society’ with a straight face. Such a concept is absurd.

  • Laird

    I agree with Guy Herbert that whatever anti-British rhetoric there may be here in the US is entirely unrelated to any anti-Americanism over there. Frankly, most of us are completely unaware of any anti-Americanism in the UK; it’s not an animating factor here. We don’t pay enough attention to foreign affairs, even British ones, to either notice or care.

    But I don’t agree with the rest of his post. I can’t speak to the animus driving British anti-Americanism; Guy may be correct there. But on this side of the pond, ordinary Americans aren’t angry with BP because it’s “foreign” (let alone because it’s British); we’re angry with it because it’s a big bad oil company which is fouling our waters and beaches. This (understandable) anger would be the same if the culpable party were Exxon or any other* oil company (domestic or foreign; is there really any difference these days?), and it’s exacerbated by the fact that we’ve been conditioned by years of relentless environmentalist and socialist propaganda to dislike and distrust huge multinationals generally and “big oil” specifically. Don’t confuse “anti-BP” with “anti-British”. It’s nothing personal, mates.

    Whatever anti-Britishism you’re perceiving is not coming from the American populace, but rather from the political elites, primarily the Obama administration which is (typically) flailing about wildly for a likely scapegoat upon which it can deflect blame. To somehow equate this with “the Birthers’ desperate desire for President Obama himself to be proved ‘foreign’” is wholly irrational. Both the specific actors and the motivating factors are entirely different in the two cases.

    * The possible exception is Citgo, since it’s owned by the Venezuelan government. If it had caused the spill I imagine there would be a sizable contingent over here claiming that it was an intentional terrorist act by Hugo Chavez. Still, I imagine he’s enjoying our discomfiture.

  • Paul Marks

    “As an Englishmen I find it impossible it impossible to write the “ideals of British society” with a straight face – the concept is absurd”.

    Guy Herbert.

    Well that could mean that Guy rejects the idea of “Britain” in favour of England – but I think it is more radical than that.

    I think what is being rejected (indeed rejected with contempt) is the idea that this country (the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – or the alternative of England) has any “ideals”, not just a rejection of leftist ideals (as with those people who sneer at American companies), but ANY conception of traditions and ways of doing things things that one can be proud of.

    Now Guy may be totally correct – this nation may have sunk so low that such a conception is “absurd”, but then this nation is DEAD.

    Perhaps the late Enoch Powell was correct – when asked if he wished anything had gone differently in his life he replied “I wish I had been killed in the war” – if there is no longer anything about this society that is special, that is worthy of pride, then that is understandable.

    Libertarian and Conservative Americans are very well aware of the decline of America – how the basic cultural institutions of society (not “just” the Constitution – everything) have been undermined and are under contant attack (for example by the activities of most the activities of most of the “education system”).

    But they do not find it difficult to “keep a straight face” about this horror – there is no smileing about it. Just a grim determination to (in spite of the vast powers of the forces of evil) rebuild the ideals of American society. The odds against a restoration may be very great – but that is no reason not to try, to at least live one’s own life, with ones family and friends, as an act of defiance against cultural decline. Trying to spead the light – or at least preserve what light is left against the expanding darkness.

    Liberty, honour, family – they may all be doomed, but they will not go down without a fight. They will live as long as one person who still believes in them draws breath.

    I must stress that this is NOT an attack on Guy Herbert – indeed what he wrote (and the way he wrote it) is entirely normal for British (or English) people (at least those from a certain background).

    However, although I was born here and have lived all my life here – I find (and have always found) the attitude totally incomprehensible.

    Still back to J.P.s post.

    Yes it is nice when various people from all over the world come and set up business enterprises (of various sorts).

    A major city should have all sorts of shops and restaurants (and so on) showing different cultures – indeed that is part of what being a “major city” is about (not just having lots of people – but showing all sorts of unusual things, things that one would not find in the villages and small towns of a country).

    However, if people come to stay (not just to visit) a country one would hope they come because they admire the basic cultural insitutions (the values and insitutions of that nation) and wish to join them – bringing in some of their own culture to enrich the existing culture they admire.

    Of course this is not likely if even the locals have lost faith – if even they have no pride in the basic ideals of their nation.