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

It is difficult to accept the sincerity of the professed free market beliefs from the kind of Tory who rails against the permissiveness of our age; even on the purely economic side, the supposedly laissez-faire beliefs of some extreme Tory activists are barely skin-deep.

- Samuel Brittan, in 1969 reviewing ‘Freedom and Reality’ by Enoch Powell for ‘The Spectator’.* As true today as it was 40 years ago, sad to say. He goes on:

There is no evidence for putting Mr Powell in this latter category. But his economic liberalism is allied uneasily with an attachment to the nation state as the absolute political value. Most economic liberals, on the other hand, while conceding that Englishmen would naturally have a greater feeling for other Englishmen than Peruvians, regard the national interest as a function of the interests of the individuals who compose it, and are highly suspicious of supposedly superior collective entities. Indeed, once the supremacy of overriding national goals is admitted it is difficult to see what arguments there are against Mr Wilson, having been elected by a national majority, decreeing that an excessive consumption of candyfloss is against his conception of the British idea.

The latter was merely a philosophical fancy in 1969. Mr Wilson went out of his way to be photographed smoking. O tempora! O mores!

Let us revive the permissive society! [pic: Allan Warren]

Let us revive the permissive society! [pic: Allan Warren]

 —
* [Reprinted in his 1973 book 'Capitalism and the Permissive Society' whose 40th anniversary calls for a series of quotations. Let us revive the permissive society!]

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Samuel Britton questioning the free market principle of other people?

    Pot-calls-kettle-black.

    Samuel Britton is a Keynesian – always demanding yet more money (from NOTHING) and spending.

    Nor is this just senility (I am sick of the “poor Sam he is senile” defence). I met Samuel Britton DECADES ago, and he was a RIG (“fix”) exchange rates, ever more power to the EEC (now E.U.) man even then.

    So I do not think anyone needs to take a lecture on free market principle from Samuel Britton – thank you very much.

    As for “permissiveness”.

    Here (to be charitable) Samual Britton, at best, is showing both philosophical and historical ignorance.

    Even before the “Poltical Correctness” of the Frankfurt School of Cultural Marxism in the 1920s (which, via American academia, worked to create the “turn on, tune in and drop out” Herbert Marcuse 1960s) it has been a (indeed THE) major aim of the left to undermine the CULTURAL foundations of what they call “capitalism” – i.e. civil soceity.

    What are those cultural foundations?

    Cultural institutions such as the family, and such principles as hard work, moral restraint, and thrift.

    Spend all your money, screw anything that moves, and use any drugs you feel like using does NOT lead to a free society.

    On the contrary, it leads (and is INTENDED TO LEAD) to a society of dependents – the break down of the family (and all other traditional cultural insitutions of civil society) and the reduction of huge parts of the population to an underclass, dependent on the state for everything from education (such as it is) to support in old age.

    None of this is a new discovery – for example why did the Fabians and the “Bloomsbury set” so mock the churches? They did so because, traditionally, the churches were major competitors for the state in such things as education.

    The undermining of traditional virtues (in the sense that Aristotle, Cicero and so on would have understood the term) is not an invention of the Frankfurt School (or the 1960s trash who call themselves “Critical Theory” people now in American universities).

    It was understood by radicals in the 19th century – and even in the 18th century.

    See Edmund Burke’s struggle against Rousseau.

    “I love all children” means “I am going to throw my children into the rubbish heap and let them die”.

    “I love the whole world” means “I am going to betray my country to its tyrannical enemies” (see the Bloomsbury trash with their “I would rather betray my country than my friend” – some “friends” these people had). Today such enemines include the “EU” the “UN” and the rest of the “world goverance”, “international community”. Freedom can not exist unless their is choice – and if all nations are bound by international authorities then choice (in everything from tax rates to the position on abortion) DIES.

    “Freedom is about more than property rights of big estates and factory owners” means “I want the freedom to ROB and to MURDER”.

    And on and on……

    “But does that mean the state should work to defend the traditional virtues”.

    No, no, no – a thousand times no.

    Give the state that sort of power and it will be used to UNDERMINE the traditional virtues (the moral foundation of a free society against moral, and eventual political, chaos and breakdown). It is no accident that (for example) state education has been used as weapon to undermine traditional civil society – give the state administrative structure that sort of power and, of course, the left will do anything (anything at all) in order to control it.

    Edmund Burke was AGAINST government controls on booze (and upon drugs).

    And Gladstone held….

    Of one thing I am certain – it is not from the state that there will be moral advancement.

    But it is thousand miles away from saying that giving the state more power will UNDERMINE the traditional virtues (the foundation of the free society) to saying the traditional virtues are wrong – and we should go for the age of Rousseau, Herber Marcuse and “let it all hang out”.

    If the traditional virtues (the voluntary cultural insitutions of civil soceity) go – then the free society is not advanced, it is DESTROYED.

    Samuel Britton is ignorant.

    Economically – as his monetary policy (and Welfare State – creation of the Underclass) views show (and have shown for decades).

    Historically – as none of the above is secret, he just does not bother to know it.

    Philosophically – because his thought is as insubstantial as the very “candy floss” he mentions.

  • Snorri Godhi

    WRT Paul’s comment, it is interesting to me that all the cultural roots of Western civilization (Jewish, Christian, Greek, Roman, and Germanic) seem to share 3 values: monogamy, the rule of law, and property rights. No wonder they fit well together.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Snorri.

    Although Greek civilisation declined (with “law” turning into endless regulations strangling the life of the city-states which became puppets of Empires in any care) and Roman civilisation also declined.

    The difference with present times is – SPEED.

    What took centuries to happen in Ancient Rome (the transformation of the law – and the explosion of taxation) has happening here in decades.

    Jewish civilisation faces a choice.

    1960s style dengeneracy has been rejected (the insitution of the family, and religious faith are strong in Israel – whereas the have collapsed in many other places since 1960) however there are other threats.

    One must NOT give the state the power to enforce virtue – that was the mistake Rome made with Cato the Elder (back in the days of the late Republic) and, of course, it led to the UNDERMINING of virtue.

    Take a point in which Jewish civilisation differs from Western civilisation – the eating of pork.

    If people do not regard the eating of pork as acceptable – then they should NOT eat pork (nor should pork be “celebrated” in the government education system and the government mocked media, 1960s “tolerance” style, and non pork eaters MOCKED – as with the “acid on traditional values” “That Was The Week That Was” and other shows that deliberatly mocked the principles of Western civilisation and worked, with great success, to undermine them).

    However, the power of the state must NOT be used to de facto (via E.U. style regulations – “E.U. style” meaning not an official ban, but regulations making something so difficult and expensive it is what American totalitarianism-by-the-installment-plan collectivists “liberterian paternalists” call a “Nudge”) ban the raising of pigs and the sale of pork.

    It is an important distinction.

    Traditional customs should not be mocked and undermined by the state (for example via the government media, and the American “private” media in the 1960s was really government thanks to 1960s FCC regulations creating a de facto leftist cartel of ABC, CBS and NBC, – and that vile concept of the government EDUCATION SYSTEM, for the schools and the universites are the heart, the evil heart, of the left), but nor should traditional customs be defended by state power.

    For a state with that sort of power will undermine the very principles it was give that power to defend.

    Yes – even the basic principles (common to all good civilisations) of the family, the rule of law, and private property rights.

    The “Sword of State” is a terrible thing – it must be carefully limited.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way….

    One thing I can not remember about Samuel Brittan – and I really can not remember, I am not just saying that for effect.

    Did he DENOUNCE the “Race Relations Act” of 1965 and 1968 (which were direct attacks on both freedom of speech and private property rights) and the “Race Relations Act” of 1976?

    If he did denounce these Acts (and he may have done) I would think better of him.

  • Marc

    I am not going to leave a long comment like Paul Marks, I will just say the following:

    People who believe, in the face of all the evidence, that the ‘permissiveness of our age’ is compatible with a free society in which rights of free association, ownership and disposal of property and speech are maintained and in which the state is small are completely delusional. There’s no point debating this, anymore than debating with people who think you can “stimulate” an economy: if you can’t see what’s in front of your damn eyes then you never will.

  • Snorri Godhi

    In support of the views of Paul Marks (and Marc?) there is something that I read in The New Totalitarians, a book by Roland Huntford about Swedish social democracy.
    According to Huntford, Swedish liberals abolished strip farming by diktat in 1827, believing that village communities foster conservatism. The result was that the working class, having lost the social support of the village, looked for social support in the social democratic party. End of Swedish classical liberalism.

    The Kulturkampf also comes to mind. Some German liberals such as Virchow apparently thought that Bismarck was the lesser evil compared to the Catholic Church. Considering the fate of German liberalism, and comparing the map of German Catholicism with the map of votes for the NSDAP in the July 1932 election, it seems to me that Virchow made a mistake.

  • ragingnick

    You cannot have economic freedom without social conservatism – Libertarianism is NOT the same thing as
    Libertinism (in fact Libertinism leads to the opposite, the left know this, which is why they promote it)

    The agenda of cultural Marxism, which includes the promotion of homosexuality, drug use, athiesm, feminism and promiscuity, has a very specific aim: to attack the institution of the family and church. Both the church and the family have traditionally been the foundations of support for the individual and of western civilisation more generally. by relentlessly attacking both the left aim to create a slave population dependent upon welfare, and to replace religion with the worship of the collectivist state.

  • Paul Marks

    Sweden and stip farming.

    It existed in some areas of Sweden but not others.

    But, yes, where it existed the government got rid of it.

    Actually the rise of the Social Democrats is much later.

    Nor is strip farming a good thing.

    In Russia it led to terrible fammines.

    Which is why Stolypin allowed peasants to opt out of the system – taking land with them (after all the village “Mir” or semicommune had been an invention of the Russian Imperial government anyway – many years before).

    That is what should have been done in Sweden (allow peasants to opt out if they want to) – but they went for a more “blunt instrument” approach.