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Samizdata quote of the day

The first step to freeing yourself from oppressive power is to find the courage to admit that you are afraid. The more people confess to being afraid, the less reason there is to fear and the easier it is to isolate repressive forces.

- Nick Cohen, quoted by Mark Steyn here.

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • I think we should make clear that the quote is by Nick Cohen.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    Indeed, my mistake. I failed to notice, and have revised the original posting, omitting some now somewhat irrelevant things I said about Mark Steyn’s pessimism.

  • Paul Marks

    The efforts to reply to Mark Steyn in the article pointed to are not good – in fact they are very poor. And I speak as someone who is certainly not a slavish follower of Mr Steyn – I opposed him for years (on the whole spread-democracy-to-the-Islamic-world thing).

    Mr Steyn makes (in various different writings) essentially three points.

    The monetary and banking system is a total mess based upon fundamentally wrong principles – this is clearly correct and those who think that a monetary and banking system can be based upon credit expansion (rather than real savings) are just wrong – flat wrong.

    The population of the United States is increasingly dependent upon unsustainable government programs.

    There is also clearly true – about half the entire population either now works for government (Federal, State and local) or is dependent upon benefits.

    This was as if the entire Roman Empire was like the City of Rome – in practice it was not (outside the major cities hardly anyone was dependent for their basic needs on the government – that is why the Roman Empire lasted for centuries and the modern West will NOT).

    As for Obamacare – as Senator Rand Paul has often pointed out this (when it works itself out) will be basically “most Americans on Medicaid” in fact (with government finance) if not in name.

    I am reminded of a popular way of describing the “Hillarycare” back in the 1990s – which led to the defeat of Hillarycare.

    It would, if enacted, be “the straw that broke the camel’s back” – one entitlement program (on top of all the others) that finally led to breakdown.

    Hillarycare was defeated – Obamacare has been PASSED, this is a fact and no amount of “Steyn is a gloomy guts, there have always been such people” changes that fact.

    Lastly Mark Steyn makes a CULTURAL point.

    The left (the Frankfurt School, the Critical Theory crowd – whatever they call themselves) control much of the media, the education system, and increasingly the law (the courts).

    This is true in the United States and nearly every other Western nation.

    That is the context of Steyn’s gloomy view of immigration.

    If immigrants were following into the West to join Western culture things would be well – but they are not doing that.

    Sorry but goods and services (such as strip clubs or porn) are not “Western Culture” – at least not a Western Culture that immigrants would give their lives to defend.

    Islamic immigrants into Europe are NOT giving up Islam and flocking to Christian Churches – those Christian Churches are dying on their feet (and the clear signs of decay are visible in the United States).

    “I do not care – I am an atheist” – well you should care, because the Islamic immigrants (and their children) are not flocking to become Randian Objectivists, they remain what they are – and their children tend to be MORE hard line than the parents.

    And who not? After all they are entering a cultural wasteland in Western Europe and elsewhere – an area where the population no longer believe in the founding principles of their own civilisation.

    In the United States also – it is NOT the brown skins of Hispanic immigrants that is the problem, it is their lack of loyalty to the United States.

    And why should they be loyal?

    After all both the media and the education system tell them that America “stole the land” (Mexican war aims in the war of 1848 are not even mentioned), and the limited government principles of the Bill of Rights are openly mocked and abused.

    And not just by Democrats – but by some Republicans also.

    Take the media darling (and poster boy for 2016) Governor Chris Christie.

    First Amendment?

    Oh dear me know – not if speech is “homophobic” (let alone “racist” or whatever).

    Second Amendment?

    Silly thing – let us attack the National Rifle Association.

    Fourth Amendment?

    Oh that absurd Senator Rand Paul – what is wrong with warrantless spying. That was the Christie position – and the (degenerate) population, clearly agree with him.

    Tenth Amendment?

    That would get in the way of New Jersey getting more money via the Medicaid extension of Obamacare – we can not have that. Although Governor Christie (with seemingly limitless hypocrisy) is now attacking Obamacare – without saying that he was wrong to accept the unsustainable Medicaid extension (it was voluntary – he could have refused, and many Governors did refuse).

    So this “leading Republican” thinks (when the boiler plate is removed)that the Bill of Rights is toilet paper.

    I will not bother writing about the Democrats – they are basically just zombie space monsters (it is pointless to write about them).

    So why should immigrants join traditional American culture?

    Why not join in the (profitable) destruction of the United States?

    After all even leading Republicans (let alone the zombie space monsters) do not (clearly do not) believe in the principles of civil society – of limits on government.

    Economic, and social – cultural, collapse appears to be inevitable. And they are linked.

  • Paul Marks

    All the above being said, I remain “tormented by hope” about the United States – or at least for parts of it.

    One of the reasons I find the American situation so painful is that are still a lot of people in the United States who believe in the old principles of Western Civilisation. And LIVE THEIR BELIEFS.

    There are also vast natural resources – which both sustain the current mess and (perhaps) will help people start again.

    But it is beliefs (not natural resources) that really matter and the “saving remnant” in the United States is still large (although now a MINORITY of the population) and worth considering.

    I am not tormented about the British situation.

    The British situation is hopeless.

    So there is no point in worrying about it.

    One is not “tormented by hope” in a British context.

  • rfichoke

    I posted a comment to Facebook a little bit ago about the need to face the truth of the situation, as Paul has done above. People who keep prattling on happily about everything working out should wake up. It might be possible to roll this back. But if it is, it won’t be done by optimists. They’re too lazy.

    It will have to be done by people who acknowledge the reality we face. We have lost the cultural battle over the last 150 years. Pernicious German philosophy has permeated our culture from top to bottom, rendering most people unable even to think the thoughts their ancestors thought, much less defend them.

    We need people who think and act subversively because we are fighting the tide.

  • Dom

    I’m lost. The “here” link is not to Steyn at all, it’s to an article about Steyn, and the quote isn’t there.

  • Brian Micklethwait (London)

    The posting is now corrected, again, this time with the link to the piece where Steyn includes the quote from Cohen. Sorry everyone. Just when I did not ****ing need it, I had computer problems which had to be firefought, which involved switching off and switching on again, and which therefore ****ed up my ability to post satisfactorily. This disrupted the first attempt at a correction and prevented me from checking what I had done properly. Hence the second error. (Sounds a bit like Obamacare, doesn’t it?)

    Here is the link to the Forbes piece I originally linked to, in error, and is the piece Paul Marks is disagreeing with above:
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntamny/2013/10/28/mark-steyn-resides-in-a-crowded-and-centuries-old-echo-chamber-of-american-doom/

    I think all is well now. As Paul would say in such circumstances: My apologies!!!

  • Paul Marks

    I have lots to apologise for Brian – my main comment is full of typing mistakes.

    As always……

  • George

    Hi Paul,

    am interested in why you think there is no hope for Britain?

  • Laird

    Thanks for the corrections, Brian, and for that link to the article Paul was responding to. His reply certainly makes more sense in the proper context! And FWIW, I agree with Paul that Tamny’s attack on Steyn is very weak. In essence, his argument is merely that the markets are still buying US debt, and capital continues to flood our shores, and surely the markets are smarter than Steyn, right? Well, yes and no. If a ship is sinking everyone will naturally flock to the highest point. That’s the logical thing to do. But it doesn’t mean that that point won’t eventually go down, too. And I fear that’s the position in which we now find ourselves. The common expressions are that US Treasuries are “the cleanest dirty shirt in the laundry” or the “most attractive horse in the glue factory.” The markets are merely making the best of a bad situation. That doesn’t make the situation “good” in any sense, a point completely ignored by Tamny.

    As to the original article, the point being made by Cohen (and Steyn), as represented in your quote, is a good one. However, another point being made by them in the source articles seems to be that the gallery which cancelled the exhibition did so out of moral cowardice. That may have played a part, but perhaps the more relevant problem (noted in Cohen’s original article, but omitted from Steyn’s selective quote) was that the event’s organizers couldn’t obtain insurance or provide security for the exhibit. That’s a pretty significant issue. If I couldn’t provide reasonable assurances of my patrons’ safety, or obtain insurance to protect my own assets from claims of liability should anything untoward occur, as a gallery owner (even one who liked to pride himself on being “fiercely independen”) I would think long and hard before mounting the exhibit. The unavailability of insurance or security speaks volumes about England, but nothing much about courage (or lack thereof) of the gallery owners.

  • Paul Marks

    George – the United Kingdom has the problems of the United States without the good side.

    For example the British budget deficit (as a percentage of the economy) is bigger than the American one – and the monetary policy is actually worse also (although, I admit, that is hard to believe).

    And the leadership?

    Believe me Mr David Cameron makes Chris Christie look good, indeed look wonderful.

    It is not often I agree with a certain man in Kent – but there is no hope for Britain, but there just might be for England.

    First Scotland needs to be independent – that would cost one Conservative seat and about 80 leftist ones (that makes the House of Commons a rather different place).

    Then the Conservative and Unionist Party needs a fundamentally different leadership – not just different people, different principles (and that make take a new alignment of parties).

    All this takes time and bankruptcy is more likely before it all occurs (if it occurs at all).

    So not “no hope” (I went too far there) – just “very little” hope.

    And all of the above assumes that the principles of most English people are not utterly corrupted.

    That people are WRONG when they say the public hold “the NHS” and “the BBC” to be the great things of our time.

    If they do (if English people are like Scots) then there really is “no hope”.

    Wales and Ulster need comments of their own.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not actually understand a mentality that thinks failed statist experiments (such as the BBC) are great and wonderful – like American Democrats people who think this way really are “zombie space aliens” as far as I am concerned.

    I know that they are created in the (mental and spiritual) image of God and all that – but I do rather think that they are likely to start trying to eat people if things get bad (which they are going to).

    Perhaps I should make more of an effort to understand then, or (then again) perhaps not.

  • That may have played a part, but perhaps the more relevant problem (noted in Cohen’s original article, but omitted from Steyn’s selective quote) was that the event’s organizers couldn’t obtain insurance or provide security for the exhibit.

    God forbid the police should provide security by arresting and charging any mindless thugs who prevent a citizen going about their lawful business!!

  • Miv Tucker

    Surely this is just a reworking of Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amNpxQANk0M

  • William O. B'Livion

    Mr. Marks, one *tiny* correction–the phrase, at least as I’ve always read and heard it here in the US is “Gloomy Gus” (Google says 79000 to 5100, has an entry in the dictionary etc.)

    Other than that, pretty much spot on.