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

Oh, it’ll change. We must always strive to avoid the common misconception that we live at the end of history. Humanity has a very long time ahead.

In the shorter term, there will be a reaction against the current hegemony. The key thing for us now is to strive to be the ideologists of it when it happens; last time that role was grabbed by the marxists.

We’ll win this thing one day. Not next week. But we will win. We will win because liberalism is the only ideology compatible with sustainable advanced civilisation; all the competing ideologies, of Left and Right, are holdovers from more primitive social/technological stages of existence. We may never see it (but we may; history moves faster than we think) but our descendants surely will. Without running away anywhere.

– Redoubtable serial commenter Ian B

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Brenda Gunn

    Humanity may have a long time ahead, but Europeans are an ageing demographic – one of the consequences of hyper-individualism (liberalism to you). We are being slowly but inexorably replaced as a people in Europe by Africans and Asians, neither of whom are are capable or interested in maintaining Western civilisation.

    The only way to preserve what we have built is to survive ourselves. But there’s the catch for hyper-individualism. It cannot be done through the reproductive and life-style choices we are making today, but requires a far more conservative, traditionalist and even nationalist zeitgeist.

    Hyper-individualistic liberalism does not have a future.

  • Damn, IanB is normally the most hyper pessimistic individual I read. This is the first time I have ever seen him so unquestionably optimistic.

    There really IS hope for the future.

  • . We are being slowly but inexorably replaced as a people in Europe by Africans and Asians, neither of whom are are capable or interested in maintaining Western civilisation.

    Wrong. Africans and Asians are perfectly capable and interested in maintaining Western civilisation, and all we have to do is integrate the ones in our midst into said civilisation as we have always done… and to do that we just need to defeat the mostly white European multiculturalists who are the genuine threat. The atavistic (i.e. fascistic racial collectivist) ‘solution’ is one that asks all the wrong questions. The issue of genetics is a total canard.

  • I do not agree that the triumph of liberalism and reason is inevitable. History does show that the forces of the endarkenment do tend to prevail, over most of the earth, for most of the time. Brief interludes of enlightenenment and progress are few and far between, and are always extinguished, so far.

  • John B

    I think David Davis´comment is accurate.
    So, indeed, there does not really seem to be too much cause for optimism.
    Perhaps one should try to identify the real cause of those moments of enlightenment (rather than the popular, propaganda reasons) and build on them ?

  • David,

    I disagree. Civilisational succession is the rule, but true dark ages are few and far between.

    What we call the dark ages was a strictly western European phenomenon, and the eclipse of the middle east was more a rise of the west. The thousand year abandonment of enquiry we see a bit of in the middle east is globally very much the exception rather than the rule.

    Right across the far east we don’t see a dark age, merely an eclipse, again by the west. That eclipse is passing.

    Enlightenment values are embeded everywhere now, other than in Islam, and I have high hopes long term, although I am dreadfully worried short term.

    By short term, I mean the next fifty years.

  • I think David Davis´comment is accurate.

    But I do not think it is accurate. Indeed I find it hard to look at the last 2000 years of history and not see a tale of fitful but recurring progress. Ten steps forward and nine steps back but progress nevertheless.

    So, indeed, there does not really seem to be too much cause for optimism.

    Speak for yourself, mate. Is ‘our’ victory ‘ inevitable’? No but I do think it is more than likely in the long run.

  • Janine McA

    Hyper-individualistic liberalism does not have a future.

    Oh god another lunatic crypto-fascist “race realist” who is no doubt heading for the /ban list. Libertarianism is about allowing social pressures and the usual non-state mechanisms that make things work being allowed to actually do their job, not “hyper-individualism”, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean. Ignorant fool.

  • Ian B

    Well speaking as a hyper-individualist, I don’t think Brenda Gunn has a future, personally.

    Seriously, anyone who thinks Britain for the past century has been “hyper individualist” is in cloud cuckoo land.

  • John B

    I usually do, mate, I usually do.
    Without going into anything beyond the natural (as different from supernatural) it really does seem to me that mankind has outgrown its wisdom.
    The future, in the natural, is totalitarian or intensely moral, which, without love, would be the same thing.
    What else does one do when everyone has a nuke (or its equivalent in effective terms) in their backyard?

  • What else does one do when everyone has a nuke (or its equivalent in effective terms) in their backyard?

    Never bother turning the lights off and worry rather less about environmental or political issues given that access to affluence becomes trivially easy when that much workable power is in everyone’s backyard.

  • John B

    I agree it would be nice if we could make it all work.
    It seems to me a big problem will be whether the benevolence and wisdom to run a situation, where it will be possible for those with the levers of control at their disposal to do as they see fit without any “let or hindrance”, will be present.
    Unlimited power will be possible. Who will have access to it?
    Unrestricted availability of information and unlimited capacity to process that information are becoming reality.
    When it becomes possible will we really just say, ‘oops, we’d better not do that’ ?
    It will be irresistible.
    And if a moral West didn’t do it then perhaps someone somewhere else might.

    If after 50 or 100 years that totalitarian set up fell apart could we then move on or back to an enlightenment?
    If the technology was still around it would need a very moral and benevolent humankind that could cope with it. Which sounds rather familiar.
    If it wasn’t it would no doubt be rediscovered.

    Complete control is becoming possible.
    We did cope with the nuclear age.
    Perhaps we can somehow cope with an age of total control capability?

  • Laird

    I tend toward the pessimistic myself. One can legitimately characterize the last 2000 years as “a tale of fitful but recurring progress”, but remember that during most of that time the condition of ordinary individuals was pretty bleak. Arts and sciences progressed, but mostly under the dominion and patronage of tyrants and despots. Individual freedom as we understand it is of recent vintage, only the last 200 years or so, and from all evidence doesn’t appear sustainable for much longer. Once it’s lost, although it may eventually reappear in the long run of human history I fear that the interregnum will be long and dark indeed. Another multi-century Dark Ages isn’t a pleasant prospect. Frankly, I don’t see much cause for optimism when we can’t even hope that our grandchildren will enjoy the re-emergence of freedom.

  • Ian B

    History is not a good guide in this instance; our society is unlike any previous one. The significant difference is that for pre-industrial societies, militarist despotism and resource capture are the optimum strategy. That is why those societies almost invariably are imperialist military despotisms.

    For an industrial society, that ceases to be the optimum strategy. Liberalism is. That’s the difference.

    It’s all about production per capita, but that would take a comment longer than I can be bothered to type right now to go into. So just pretend I’m Steve Jobs and believe everything I say, however ludicrous it may seem.

  • That is pretty much how I see it, except I am not convinced even Steve Jobs believes everything he says 😛

  • Laird

    “History is not a good guide.” Sounds like a securities disclaimer; are you a stockbroker? 🙂

    Seriously, though, one factor you’ve omitted from your analysis is power. Whether or not “resource capture” is an optimal strategy, and even if it results in reduced or sub-optimal production per capita, some people simply like to rule others. That’s true whether the society is pre- or post-industrial*, and I can’t imagine that facet of human nature changing any time soon.

    Still, I hope you’re correct and I’m wrong.

    * Or even unearthly; read Milton.

  • I too hope IanB@Cats is right and that I am wrong. But I certainly share his worry about the next 50 years. And I am not as optimistic about the 100 after that either.

  • Rich Rostrom

    “We will win because liberalism is the only ideology compatible with sustainable advanced civilisation…”

    There’s an assumption here that advanced civilization will be sustained.

    I see no reason why the load of rent-seeking and gangsterism cannot exceed the carrying ability of society. Nor why gangsterism and corruption cannot overwhelm the rule of law.

    Take the U.S. There have been localities where the government was corrupt, with police, judiciary, and electoral officials all conspiring to retain power for the corrupt rulers. In many cases, these local kleptocracies were brought down in part by the intervention of Federal authorities, who outranked the locals.

    Here in Chicago, the corruptionists have been restrained, and sometimes punished, by Federal authority.

    But if the Federal government was corrupted to the same degree? What can check the highest authority?

  • Ian B

    But if the Federal government was corrupted to the same degree? What can check the highest authority?

    Ultimately, failure. Creative destruction.

    I didn’t make any claims for the survival of particular historical political structures.

  • bob

    the universe appears generally weighted to ‘good’, unfortunately it tends to be leveraged to ‘evil’.

    the cycle tends to repeat itself endlessly and on a personal note, i feel that the future may bring something of a high tech dark age where opinion and fact have no difference in the eyes of politics, law, justice. where money rules all and perception of failure to perform in an culturally acceptable fashion (in either work or social aspects) will cast those individuals from the ranks of society into a grey twilight of garbage.

    oh…wait…nevermind. we already appear to be well on the way ;p

  • I don’t think humanity has much of a future at all. In 100 years time, humanity will have either turned into something barely recognisable, or it will be extinct. I would see the first of these as being a good thing, on the whole. The second, not so much.

  • Ian B

    I find the possibility of extinction implausible in the extreme, personally.

    100 years from now we may be, and 200 years from now we surely will be, immortal and free of all disease. The shape of society at that point is impossible for us to predict. Right now, it’s really just a matter of keeping on keeping on.

    It makes me sad to be one of those who have lived and died so close to the abolition of senescence; on the other hand I’m glad that it’s very unlikely that I’ll still be alive when the first immortals are born. That would be intolerably sad.

  • I agree Michael… H+ is the future.

  • Paul Marks

    Ian B. is quite correct in thinking that the policies of what is now called the left (I know Bastiat sat on the left hand side of the French National Assembly – but he did die in 1850, and most of the people around him on the left of the French National Assembly were collectivists) are incompatible with the long term existance of advanced civilization.

    Whether it is Marxism (i.e. full socialism), or the ever greater interventionism and subsidies of “Progressivism” or even the combination of the two (i.e. Cloward and Piven style – ever greater government Welfare State spending with the deliberate intention of collapsing “the system” and leading to socialism) these line of policy must end in collapse – although this process may take many decades (an important matter – as such societies could theoretically collapse AFTER they had taken over the world).

    However, this does not mean we will win – the world could collapse into a new Dark Age and one without the good features (the sparks of light) that existed in the European Dark Age.

    It is up to us – I do not believe that the people now alive will see the world as it ought to be (i.e. free), but the future freedom of the world depends upon us (upon our work, our willingness to accept the burdens) – even though we will, most likely, not live to see it.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way – libertarianism is about VOLUNTARISM not “individualism” or “hyper individualism” – we believe in CIVIL SOCIETY.

    Racists are just another form of nasty collectivist – people who believe in forced “cooperation” not real cooperation.

    Who is my friend (my “brother” even though we do not have the same mother or father). Is it the white man Karl Marx, or George Bernard Shaw (with his desire to kill anyone who could not “justify their existance to a government board”) or modern white people such as Cass Susteen (he of “Nudge” the book on how to manipulate people via government regulations) or the endless white Progressives, Marxists and Social Gospel types.

    Or is my “brother” black people like Booker T. Washington, or Thomas Sowell, or Walter Williams (or so many others), or hispanic people or asian people who share my basic beliefs. How am I a friend of white Marxists yet a foe of black, brown or asian libertarians?

    The racist says we should judge a person by the colour of their skin, that is absurd – people should be judged by their BELIEFS and what work they are prepared to put in to put their beliefs into practice.

    Basically racism is as irational as socialism – so it is no surprise to find that many socialists have also been racists. Karl Marx being an obvious example.

  • Rob

    “We must always strive to avoid the common misconception that we live at the end of history. Humanity has a very long time ahead.”

    But as C.S. Lewis pointed out in “The Abolition of Man”:

    Every generation is one generation closer to the last. Having just read this book for the first time I recommend it thoroughly for the insight into the end game for the marxists.

    Namely, a point in the future where they can use scientific “advance” to eliminate Human nature. The one thing that keeps getting in the way of their beloved theory.