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

I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing.

– wise words from Milton Friedman much quoted of late, e.g. here.

11 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • RRS

    Sadly, it has first become necessary to make it politically UNprofitable to do the wrong thing.

    Which, of course, takes nothing away from Friedman’s observation and the wisdom behind it; but evidences the continuing decline of “representative” governments.

  • Richard Thomas

    There is no answer.

    There are those that want to lead, those that wish to be led and those that just want to be left alone. unfortunately, the collaboration of those in the first two groups inevitably lead to imposition on those of us in the third. Only occasionally when the stars align and/or the leaders finally overstep their control of the followers do we obtain any respite for a little while.

    I think all we can do is do the best we can, lead our lives as our own wherever possible and stay ready.

  • Richard Thomas

    Representative democracy is defunct too. Not that it’s a bad idea, it works well to limit the growth and power of a small government but, unfortunately, cannot halt it completely. As government reaches medium-sized, it starts to fail and by the time we are where we are, it is irrelevant other than to serve as bread and circuses for the masses.

    This, in its way, is the brilliance of the founding fathers of the USA. They sought, not to provide a solution for all time but one that would preserve liberty as much as possible for as long as possible. The question is not so much “if” but “when”. And given the “when”, the shape of the “what” that follows.

  • Ian F4

    Representative democracy is defunct too.

    We don’t have proper representative democracy in this country, and we’re too afraid to try it. The political system is too entrenched in the party ideology, the proles vote for their teams not individual people to represent them, and those who stand under the party banner often have no intention of complying with their proclaimed manifesto, it’s a massive con job.

    Eliminate exclusive political parties and then you’ll see true representational democracy, admittedly you’ll also see several pages of candidates to choose from.

    Political parties are just carpetbaggers, and they dominate, that’s why it doesn’t work.

  • Richard Thomas

    “Eliminate political parties” indeed. If such a thing were possible, I have no doubts it would go a long way to solve a lot of issues. Unfortunately, I fear it is as realistic as proposing a solution to crumbs on the carpet to be to eliminate the law of gravity.

  • K

    Good luck with that. But assuming someone wanted to take the task on, here’ a laundry list:

    1. Recapture the media. Eliminate government arts and media subsidies of all types.
    2. Recapture the academy.
    3. Ban public employee unions.
    4. Make all taxes directly payable from individuals. Preferably the day before the elections.

  • Paul Marks

    One needs both.

    Even if there is a climate of opinion against statism – statists will do statist things anyway, regardless of the consequences.

    For example, MILLIONS of people took to the street in protests against Obamacare – and the opinion polls showed that (unlike the elite – such the Economist magazine with its endless lies) the ordinary votere were against it, yet it passed.

    And if one has the “right” people in office – but they do not have a groundswell of popular support, statist things will also happen.

    For example, I am no fan of “Arnie” in California (the now retired Governor) like many libertarians and conservatives I never trusted him.

    However, he did try to do the right thing – at first.

    When the State Legislature of California blocked his reforms (designed to roll back government spending and regulations) he took the campaign to the people.

    And in the direct public vote the people voted AGAINST free market reforms (if any Californian blames the problems of California just on representative democracy – please remind them of this).

    After that “Arnie” despaired, and just went with the flow of statism.

    I repeat one must have BOTH.

    Both elect the right people (such as some State Governors) AND support them in policy terms. You will NOT get libertarianism (it is not on offer), but you CAN get smaller government (less government spending and regulations), if you BOTH manage to get the right people elected (no Bush types) AND support policy when they are in office.

    When the government unions call demonstations (and so on) organize marches and so on of your own (in fact do that BEFORE the statists act).

    Write letters – support free market (as opposed to statist) radio stations and so on.

    Never say “this is all we want” – be HONEST and say “I am a libertarian, I would like to go vastly further than X – but I support what he or she is doing to roll back government”.

    No person elected to office (no matter how sincere they are) can roll back government spending and regulations without support from ordinary people (otherwise the elected people become isolated – easy victims for the left).

    This is why friends like Glenn Beck (who can get vast numbers of people to express their support for your efforts) are useful – and radical libertarians are often not useful at all.

    Partly because “radical” libertarians (the left libertarians) can never seem to raise a large number of people – if they are part of large number of people it is going to be a leftist effort (organized by socialists) which they are attending because… (well because of reasons that only make sense to them).

    And partly because the left libertarian is likely to say “politics is useless” or even “Obama is not different from Eisenhower – they are just puppets of the corporate American empire that has controlled the world since World War One….”

    “You are making this up Paul”.

    No I am not – I had a Facebook discussion with such a radical libertarian on New Year’s Eve.

    They may believe themselves to be libertarians – but they are at best of no use at all, and (more often) “objective allies” of the left.

    “But what about the elite Paul”.

    Whilst there is a government funded (for example student loans) and government regulated (for example “teacher training”) education system at school and university level – there will be a powerful leftist elite (that is just the nature of the beast).

    However, I do believe their power is declining – partly due to the contempt for education that the left themselves have worked so hard to create (for some reason they still do not understand that this contempt applies to their teachers and lecturers also).

    “oft evil does evil mar”.

    As for the “mainstream media” that constant reinforcement machine – by which (both in news and in entertainment shows) the leftist messages of school and university are kept up (against the pressures of real world experience – i.e. experience that shows that the political and cultural doctrines taught in the education system are utter nonsense).

    The MSM has been in decline for sometime (as we all know) – however I think the decline of the MSM will be much more extreme this year.

    I am not sure yet – but I will be sure by Friday.

  • Laird

    Why Friday?

  • Paul Marks

    A few reasons Laird – although they may only make sense in my own twisted mind (so I will not rant on about them).

    I am looking for certain signs (oh dear this does sound mystical – but actually I am operating according to what I hope is reason), I have seen some of them, but not all of them – indeed not seeing some things is actually a good thing (there are negative or inverted indications).

    Some I hope to see (or rather not see) tomorrow.

    “That is all as clear as mud Paul”.


    Anyway things are looking good so far (from our point of view – i.e. I believe the MSM are going to have a terrible year and their influence, which is still very strong, is going to greatly decline).

    I should repeat that I am really thinking the American context – the British context is too much of a mess (and I am too close to it) to make sense of.

    For example, all the “conservative” newspapers in this country are supporting tax increases – and supporting them in the name of the free market.

    It is as if the Economist magazine had infected the British “conservative” media (not just the official leftist part of the media – such as the BBC).

    Actually that is not true – the source of the weird thinking is just a common one, the education syste (the Economist and the Times and Daily Telegraph people share a common source, Oxford and so on, – they do not control each other).

    These days journalists come from universities – and in univerisity people are not just taught socialism (that would not mean total control – after all some students are going to reject socialism).

    People are also taught the “capitalist” alternative to socialism as part of a respectable “centre right”.

    In Britain being part of this “centre right” (i.e. being opposed to socialism) includes supporting an income tax of 50% (on people supposedly “rich”) a national sales tax of 20%, total submission to the European Union (being opposed to the E.U. is presented as being a “nationalistic” neo Fascist) not taking back any of of its regulatory powers at all……..

    And on and on. It also includes P.C. cultural politics (without being told of its Marxist Frankfurt School roots) and “social justice” (again without people knowing all the implications of this doctrine). “Respectable” conservatives (people who are educated and get to leadership postions) must accept these docrtines (even down to details like pushing Cas Susteen’s “Nudge” approach to regulation – without fully understanding that it is totalitarianism by the installment plan).

    In America also it is NOT true to say that the left establshment wants a one party state.

    If one reads people like Joe Klein in the media (or the various academics who produce such people) the left actually want a “respectable party of the centre right” to act as alternative to them.

    This is what Americans call “RINOs” (Republicans in name only – like the British Conservative party leadership of Cameron and co).

    Only if this is achieved (totally achieved) can total control be kept – whilst the outward forms of democracy are retained.

    However, I believe that this cultural project (which is really a political project, unlike Paul Gottfried I do NOT believe in a “Strange Death of Marxism” and so on – the cultural P.C.ism is not an end in its self, it is a means to an end – the same old end, the destruction of the “capitalist” economic order based on private ownership and civil interaction) is showing signs of being under pressure in the United States (of not working out as intended).

    I can say this because I am thousands of miles away – and thus have a view that is less cluttered by things that happen in my own life.

    Britain is too close to me – I am inside it. So if there are hopeful signs here I am not going to see them.

    For example, I welcome the decline of the British bookshops (Waterstones seems to be going the way of Borders – and I hope W.H. Smith joins it in collapse – they are all leftist playpens) but I would not call this a “hopeful” sign.

    A hopeful sign would not be closing book shops – it would be book shops with lots of well selling pro free market books.

    Just as a hopeful sign is not just a contempt for universities (that could be just a contempt for learning) – but a hunger for self education and mutual aid.

    And in newspapers a decline in newspaper circulations is nice (if the newspapers are degenerate – which they are), but a rise in (for example) anti tax increasing newspaper circulation is a more hopeful sign.

    The death of the false (the phony) right is essential – as people look for alternatives, and the establishment have provided one.

    Once this establishment trick (for that is what it is) is gone – then there is room for a real alternative.

    For example, people looking for an alternative to the leftism of Time and Newsweek in the United States turned to the Economist for a “free market” alternative (I know it is absurd – but that is how the Economist presented itself).

    But in recent times people are starting to see this is a false “alternative” (in reality it stands for the same things as Time and Newsweek). In Britain there is little sign of such an understanding.

    After all in this country the leading “business” newspaper is the far left “Financial Times”.

    I believe that certain things (in the United States) are near a breaking point – a point where the entire establishment media lose critical mass (become unimportant). I want to see how things are going at the start of 2011 (to see if this point has been reached).

    I do not believe the Britain (dominated by the BBC and so on) is anywhere near this point.

    Perhaps because, in Britain, there are no real alternatives.

    Other than a few sites on the internet.

  • Laird

    Thank you for supplying my (meager) part of this “dialog”, Paul, but I’m going to have to repeat my(your)self: “That is all as clear as mud Paul”.

    You didn’t explain (or even hint at) what will happen on this magical Friday, but I guess we’ll all find out tomorrow, right?

  • Paul Marks

    Actually is a combination of little things (such as MSM publications missing the opportunity to turn a new leaf in the new year).

    So far so “good” – for example, they are all mocking anyone even vaguely free market, and carrying on the same propaganda line as last year (not noticing that they are really getting people irritated – irritated enough to cancel subscriptions).

    Of course my “favourate” publication comes out tomorrow – I want to see if it goes with the rest, or makes a pretend repentance (I do not want them to claim to repent – I am not Glenn Beck, I do not believe sinners who claim to repent). I am long past the point of wanting an “end to bias” – I want an end to the influence of these people. And for that to happen I WANT them to be as blatently biased and disgusting as possible. I want the mask totally torn off – so that everyone can see the true face.

    I am also watching for a story in Texas (whether a caucus meeting of the Republicans in the State legislature happens, yes I know you are going to sleep at this point, – and various other things.

    Anyway there is a nice line from Joe Klein that describes the attitude of the establishment left well.

    “Democrats come up with new progams – and Republicans make them work” – the sort of non “extremist” Republican of course.

    The idea that anyone might get rid of the “new programs” or that such things CAN NOT “work” does not enter the thoughts of the true “ruling class”.

    Which is why I do not want them to rule anymore.