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]

Seen on a building site in cosmopolitan London…

building site putin

I saw this in a very affluent part of London, scrawled on the hoarding of a building site. One of the people working there saw me taking this picture and laughed.

Me: “I wonder who wrote that?”

Builder bloke, foreign accent:  “Many guys here are Polish.”

Me:  “One of them wrote this?”

Builder bloke, shrugging: “I guess.”

Me:  “Is this because of what is happening in Ukraine?”

Builder bloke:  “Yeah, Ukraine.  And because it’s true.  People forget, then something like this makes you remember what it is to live close to Russia.  My son is in Army.  Shit like this is why.”

Me: “Polish army?”

Builder bloke:  “Latvian army.”

Samizdata quote of the day

A Russian communist-era movie played on the TV. I couldn’t understand the dialogue, but it was at least passively propagandistic. The main characters, scientists in white lab coats, worked in a sparkling clean high-tech facility, the kind of place science fiction writers of the 1950s imagined were in our future. The movie portrayed an entirely staged idealized version of an advanced communist utopia without gulags, without long lines for potatoes, and without the NKVD. Ukrainians don’t need communist-produced re-runs. They, like the rest of us, need a serious film about Stalinism for a mass audience, a Schindler’s List of the Soviet Union.

- Michael Totten

Samizdata quote of the day

Yes, we want guns to shoot criminals who threaten us. Firearms are so readily available to them that we are really asking for nothing more than – in Guardian terms – equality and social justice between the criminal and non-criminal communities. We are not fussed how many criminals die, but that doesn’t make us uncaring because we also believe that many people would never become criminals if it could be made as risky as, say, being a victim of crime.

But we also want to deter the heavily-armed state. To break its monopoly of force. To keep it in its place as our servant by restoring its fear of us. We don’t believe there would be nearly as many smug Guardianisti telling us how to live our lives if every Englishman’s castle still had guns behind the portcullis.

- ‘Tom Paine

Samizdata quote of the day

I agree with what Simon Jenkins says here. I take it that he opposes the 1965 Race Relations Act and the other measures that have undermined freedom of speech in this land.

- Paul Marks

Samizdata quote of the day

I am reactionary on freedom of speech. I am for it. I have no time for the weasel words of pseudo-liberalism, that freedom must sometimes be curbed to advance freedom. It is like the tyrant’s censor who declares he approves of all criticism provided it is fair, constructive, offends no one and is not conducive to violence. That is free speech a la Putin. It is the more dangerous as it often has the best tunes.

- Simon Jenkins

Samizdata quote of the day

Do you think Apple helped [the NSA] build that? I don’t know. I hope Apple will clarify that… Here’s a problem: I don’t really believe that Apple didn’t help them. I can’t really prove it, but they [the NSA] literally claim that anytime they target an iOS device, that it will succeed for implantation. Either they have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I’d like to believe that since Apple didn’t join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it’s just that they write shitty software.

- Jacob Applebaum

Vince Cable criticises ‘ideological’ cuts to state expenditure…

… because his, er, ideology makes him in favour of more spending and more taxation.

Yes, really.

Does he think his own views are not completely ideologically based as well?

Well done Nigel Farage!

Nigel Farage has just stuck up two fingers and waved them in the direction of the mainstream.

The Ukip leader has said it is party policy for hand guns to be legalised and licensed in the UK despite being banned in the UK for the last 18 years. Mr Farage said the current ban on the guns, which were made illegal following the school shooting at Dunblane in 1996, was “ludicrous.”

Speaking on LBC Radio Mr Farage said that it was Ukip policy to create a “proper licensing policy” and that people who kept hand guns responsibility locked up and had were willing to get an official license should “absolutely” be allowed them.

And of course he has unleashed a wave of outrage from ‘sensible’ statists of both left and right.

Well done Farage! To annoy so many of them at the same time just drives home that the Tories, Labour and LibDems really are largely interchangeable. It also means you are indeed doing something right.

This could be interesting

So will this be an apologia filled with ‘but’ and ‘trade off’ or a genuine inquiry into the growing global panopticon?

Independent commission to investigate future of internet after NSA revelations. Two-year inquiry headed by Swedish foreign minister, set up by Chatham House and CIGI thinktanks, is announced at Davos…

Sayeth the Guardian, listing all manner of statist worthies who will be a part of this.

Worth watching methinks.

Samizdata quote of the day

It was disappointing, however, to see that many of the recommendations offered by Obama’s own Surveillance Review Group were either neglected or specifically rejected. While the unconstitutional permanent gag orders attached to National Security Letters will be time-limited, they will continue to be issued by FBI agents, not judges, for sensitive financial and communications records.

Nor did the president address NSA’s myopic efforts to degrade the security of the Internet by compromising the encryption systems relied on by millions of innocent users. And it is also important to realize that changing one controversial program doesn’t alter the broader section 215 authority, which can still be used to collect other types of records in bulk—and for all we know, may already be used for that purpose.

- Julian Sanchez

Samizdata quote of the day

Given the actual, historical record of government behavior, asking government – simply because it possesses fearful power and expresses an interest in the assignment – to watch over “the poor” is akin to asking a gang of serial rapists – simply because it possesses fearful power and expresses an interest in the assignment – to watch over a dormitory full of unarmed co-eds.

- Don Boudreaux

Samizdata quote of the day

So in the next 18 months the US intelligence community will have cleaned up its act. Britain, almost alone in the West, has been remarkably complacent about the astonishing way that the NSA has, with GCHQ assistance, used an extremely loose interpretation of the law to go on a fishing expedition through the phone, internet and e-mail records of its own and allied citizens. Even if we accept that it is tolerable for British citizens to have a much poorer standard of privacy than Americans, the economic consequences of our complacency are likely to prove unpalatable at very least.

Distrust is on the rise. E-mail companies are already setting up in countries with strong privacy protection, such as Germany, to take advantage of the loss of credibility of US companies. The internet makes up about 12 per cent of Britain’s economy. If we do not act to make our intelligence-gathering systems as focused and accountable as the Americans have, the shadow of distrust could shift from them to us. That means that fewer IT-based companies will come here, and some will migrate abroad.

British industry and the British economy have benefited hugely from our country’s reputation for trust and integrity. It would be a terrible paradox if our intelligence communities’ well-intentioned efforts to protect our physical security ended up undermining our economic security.

- David Davis

…even if I am sceptical, to say the least, that the NSA will have ‘cleaned up its act’ in any meaningful way whatsoever.