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]

The Rare Banker

Mike Oliver (who blogs as ‘Mr. Integrity’… currently off-line) spotted an interesting article over on National Review that for once does not try to give Rand a kicking.

BB&T – and its open defence of rational/individualist/objectivist philosophy, a credo that runs counter to 2000 years of Judea/Christian/subjectivist/marxist ethics and deeper subjectivist planks that link those categories. Explicit defense of reason – I say!

Yes, such businessmen do exist, they are not merely the stuff of a well-known novel. As opposed to at least a large plurality of “business leaders” who seek always to cultivate government/business linkages, contracts, and of course regulations that “rationalize” their sectors (with such government rules used to ossify the industry with them – the privileged businessmen- commanding a degree of non-market control over that business sector). In history classes the U.S. trends now massively underway was how Fascism was defined.

But modern lovers of the State seem to have conveniently blanked that out. Anyway BB&T stands out from the crowd. What is most curious on a meta-level about this online article is that it comes from NationalReviewOnline.

National Review has been and until now at least was always the most outspoken and spewing opponent of Rand & Objectivism. Denouncing Rand’s rational philosophical base. NR has always been at its core, and explicity so – Buckley’s first book was titled God and Man at Yale) a subjectivist, religiously-planked political credo, arguing that God and a belief therein is the basis of capitalism and individual rights, etc. No wonder over the decades so many young potentially-bright students have mistakenly linked (as their professors would have them do) capitalism, or such that we have had in the U.S. that is labeled “capitalism.” with a religous or non-rational philosophical base.

Many of those students, not realizing the subjectivist, A-is-not-A base of Marxism, therefore sized-up the two choices – of an ethical code based on mysticism (the Buckley-type defence of “capitalism”… or Marxism… which to so many seemed a “scientific” or otherwise rational view of the world. And tended to opt for the later – either Marxism or many of its falsely-”humanist” variants.

Anyway, National Review was on the side of mysticism and held that banner high while viciously attacking Rand and her atheism – almost foaming in their attacks over the years. Well, perhaps even that changes with new blood at National Review? No, it’s probably just the failure of one of their higher editors to notice that one of their writers slipped this article onto their online site. Well, in any case it is an interesting article about the current times and the role of ideas: ideas taken from reality then applied back to issues of dealing with reality.

The American Tribe Honors a Hero

Taylor Dinerman attended a funeral of a respected soldier and space advocate and sent us this small remembrance of the man. I expect a couple of you in the commercial space business knew Mil Roberts from his days in High Frontier.

Taylor is a freelance professional journalist who from time to time graces our pages both on ‘page one’ and as a respected member of the commentariat.

“The flag that he honored with his life, now honors him.” These words spoken by the Army   chaplain at the graveside ceremony for General Mil Roberts at Arlington on March 12th, explained why it is so symbolically   important that the flag cover the coffins of our fallen heroes. The idea of reciprocal shared honor is one that binds any good   military organization together, the past, the present and the future are all embodied in that symbol and with the deep meaning that we Americans give it.  

The ceremony, with the honor guard, the riderless horse,   a fifteen gun salute, the US Army Band playing Ruffles and Flourishes and America The Beautiful, the firing of the traditional three volleys, all done with precision and strict discipline but without the boot stomping and barked orders that one associates with some military ceremonies. The whole event was simple, elegant and dignified.   

Mil was sent off to what he, as a Christian, believed was a better place by his friends, comrades and family in a style and manner that he had earned in combat and in years of service to America. He landed on Omaha Beach on June 6th 1944 and fought his way across Europe ending up in Czechoslovakia. Later he served in the Army reserves while pursuing a normal civilian life. In 1970 he was called up for active duty as head of the Army Reserve in the Pentagon.  

As President of the High Frontier Missile Defense advocacy group,   he helped get the DC-X program off the ground. That Rocket proved many things, including the fact that worthwhile space launch development programs could be done for far less than the billions of dollars that the government normally requires. This helped jump start the suborbital space tourism industry and may someday lead to a revolutionary low cost way to get into orbit.  

Mil always had a great sense of humor and both he and his wife Priscilla had a wonderful gift for friendship.        

He lived his life according to the old Jewish rule “Be a Mensch!”

- Taylor Dinerman

The real Che Guevara

Dr. Douglas Young, Professor from the Political Science & History at Gainesville State College has a question for you to ask the next person you see wearing a Che Guevara tee-shirt

Hollywood has dutifully churned out yet another cinematic agitprop paean to a leftist ‘martyr’, this time Ernesto Guevara. So let us recall the real ‘Che’ and try to discern why many supposedly democratic, civil libertarian liberals still swoon over this Stalinist mass-murderer.

The meticulous myth of Senor Guevara is of a handsome Argentine heroically helping Fidel Castro’s guerrillas liberate Cuba from Fulgencio Batista’s military dictatorship in 1959. Then he became a global revolutionary icon inspiring the downtrodden to rise up everywhere, even personally leading rebel warriors in the Congo before being executed doing the same in Bolivia in 1967. The (communist) party line says Che personifies the selfless humanitarian courageously fighting for ‘social justice’. He is the Marxists’ martyred Christ figure replete with pictures of his half-naked corpse riddled with bullet holes. And the classic poster of an angry young Guevara has scarred countless college dorm rooms for over 40 years, putting a face on the eternally young rebel for angry adolescents everywhere.

The real Guevara was a reckless bourgeois adrenaline-junkie seeking a place in history as a liberator of the oppressed. But this fanatic’s vehicle of ‘liberation’ was Stalinism, named for Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, murderer of well over 20 million of his own people. As one of Castro’s top lieutenants, Che helped steer Cuba’s revolutionary regime in a radically repressive direction. Soon after overthrowing Batista, Guevara choreographed the executions of hundreds of Batista officials without any fair trials. He thought nothing of summarily executing even fellow guerrillas suspected of disloyalty and shot one himself with no due process.

Che was a purist political fanatic who saw everything in stark black and white. Therefore he vociferously opposed freedoms of religion, speech, press, assembly, protest, or any other rights not completely consistent with his North Korean-style communism. How many rock music-loving teens sporting Guevara t-shirts today know their hero supported Cuba’s 1960s’ repression of the genre? How many homosexual fans know he had gays jailed?

Did the Obama volunteers in that Texas campaign headquarters with Che’s poster on the wall know that Guevara fervently opposed any free elections? How ‘progressive’ is that?

How socially just was it that Che was enraged when the Russians blinked during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis and withdrew their nuclear missiles from the island, thus averting a nuclear war? Guevara was such a zealous ideologue that he relished the specter of millions of Cuban lives sacrificed on the altar of communism, declaring Cuba “a people ready to sacrifice itself to nuclear arms, that its ashes might serve as a basis for new societies”. Some humanitarian!

Che was a narcissist who boasted that “I have no house, wife, children, parents, or brothers; my friends are friends as long as they think like me, politically”. This is a role model for today’s ‘post-political’ voters claiming we should get beyond partisanship?

Adding to the ridiculousness of the Che cult is that he was virtually a complete failure. As a medical doctor, he never even had a practice. When put in charge of the Cuban economy at the start of Castro’s government, his uncompromising communist diktats ran it completely into the ground, from which it never recovered. Humiliated, and also angry that Castro was not fomenting enough revolution abroad, he then tried to lead such quixotic adventures in Argentina, the Congo, and Bolivia, failing miserably everywhere while sacrificing the lives of scores of naïve, idealistic young followers as deluded pawns in the service of his personality cult.

Another reason he fled Cuba in the mid-1960s was the complete mess he made of his private life. Though he preached sexual purity to his colleagues, he was a shameless adulterer who abandoned two wives and many children, some legitimate, others not. As a grandson put it, “he was never home”. The public Che who supposedly had such great love for humanity privately could not stand most folks.

Guevara’s promiscuous communist adventurism was the pattern of a terminal adolescent running away from his problems to get caught up in some heroic crusade against his eternal bete noir, ‘Yankee imperialism’.

So why do so many well-heeled American libs still admire this thug? Are the young simply ignorant of his execrable record and drawn to the image of the dashing young rebel? Do older progressives feel guilt for their free market prosperity, and showing solidarity with Che absolves them? Do hippies-turned-yuppies get nostalgic for their youthful protests and rationalize that the symbolism of Che as a ‘social reformer’ eclipses his actual horrific human rights record? And are some American Guevaraistas truly dangerous leftists who seek to emulate their icon and destroy our free, democratic, capitalist society?

Ask that guy wearing the Che tee-shirt.

Russia’s descent into reality

Nicolas Bourbaki presents a very interesting insider’s view of the how things are developing in Russia. Several of the article’s links require registration at the linked site.

The summer of 2007 was a busy year for the Russian oil and gas business. In April of that year, the state-run energy company Gazprom finally exerted enough pressure on the Sakhalin II consortium to wrest control of the giant project in Russia’s Far East from Shell, who had hitherto been the majority owner and manager of the development. In return for a cash payment of $7.45bn, at the time seen as a knock-down price, Gazprom acquired a 50% plus one share stake in the project. The deal was struck after months of the Russian environmental regulator exerting pressure on the consortium, Sakhalin Energy, resulting in works being delayed, stopped, and threats being made to withdraw the license to continue the development altogether. Despite there being genuine concerns regarding environmental damage incurred by the development, not to mention the doubling of project costs to $22bn, few believed that the governmental pressure exerted on Sakhalin Energy was anything other than a naked attempt by the Russian government to gain control over the project, its resources, and its revenues by force. Sure enough, within weeks of Gazprom taking the keys to Sakhalin II, the environmental regulator cheerily announced that all concerns had been resolved to its satisfaction and not a peep has been heard from them since. The outcome at Sakhalin II was presented by the Russian government, and accepted by many Russians, as a significant victory of the resurgent Russian state in reversing their exploitation at the hands of foreign powers when they were weak, and regaining control over Russia’s strategic resources, its wealth, and its independence.

Buoyed with confidence from their coup on Sakhalin, the month of June saw the Kremlin use alleged breaches of license obligations to ‘persuade’ BP to sell its 62.85% stake in Siberia’s Kovykta development to Gazprom for $900m in cash, a figure many people thought better than what was feared, i.e. nothing. Two months later, in August 2007, the Russian government moved to deny the Exxon-led Sakhalin I consortium the right to export gas from its development in an attempt to force the sale of the gas to Gazprom at artificially low domestic prices, after which Gazprom would be free to export it via pipeline or LNG carrier at international prices.

Now that Russia’s foreign-run developments were back under government control or suitably compliant, the government ensured that all future developments would remain similarly tied to the Kremlin with limited foreign influence. In April 2008, the Russian parliament approved a new law which effectively handed monopoly rights for all future developments of the Russian continental shelf to just two companies: Gazprom and state-owned Rosneft. By now, the bulk of Russia’s enormous hydrocarbon wealth both present and future was firmly in government hands, a situation which was looked on with gleeful satisfaction by Russians and allowed them to wield considerable influence beyond their borders. Soon followed grand plans for Gazprom to build a pipeline across the Sahara desert, buy all of Libya’s gas, and build LNG plants in Nigeria. Energy nationalism at home and the loudly announced forays abroad as personified by Vladimir Putin helped ensure the Russian population returned approval ratings of over 80% for their then president, now prime minister. Russia had picked itself up off its knees, Russia was strong once more, Russia could once again command respect from others. Russia was back. → Continue reading: Russia’s descent into reality

On true ‘Bad Faith Economists’

Nicolas Chatfort calls foul on the absurd sense of moral superiority trumpeted by Paul Krugman when the man’s own pronouncements are riddled with falsehoods

In a recent New York Times column, Paul Krugman wrote about what he called the bad faith of the opponents of President Obama’s economic stimulus plan. Krugman is apparently labouring under the view that his side has a monopoly of virtue in the current debate and that the Obama plan can not possibly be attacked on the merits. It must be comforting to be allied with people of such beneficence and infallibility.

Perhaps Krugman, however, should examine the good faith of his own claims before casting aspersions against his opponents. At first glance his counter arguments appear cogent, but a closer look reveals that Krugman is a master of illusion, employing many tricks that would do any sideshow magician proud.

First, Krugman assails the criticism that the Obama plan will cost $275,000 per job created as being a bogus talking point. His reasoning is that this figure involves taking the multi-year cost of the program and divides it by the number of jobs created in just one year. Krugman claims that the true cost per job is closer to $100,000 – or even a net cost of only $60,000 if you take into account the higher taxes that would be generated from a stronger economy.

Let us examine this counter argument carefully as Krugman is employing some slight of hand here. He is pulling a switch by re-framing the costs from a total program basis to an annual basis. The critics of the plan never claimed that the $275,000 per job was an annual cost. By the way, the $275,000 per job estimate is generous as it cedes the point that the plan will create the 3 million new jobs claimed for it by President Obama. Not all economists believe that anywhere near this number of new jobs will be created under this plan. → Continue reading: On true ‘Bad Faith Economists’

Unmasking the crisis of regulatory statism

Mike Oliver has spent a great deal of time on the coalface of capitalism and has some interesting things to say about the current economic crisis.

In years gone by I was a radical libertarian/objectivist fomenter in the U.S. In fact in the mid-1970′s when the late Chris Tame of the Libertarian Alliance spent a month or few crossing this once great land, he spent a few nights under my roof. He was a great guy and I miss him.

In any case in the years since my crusading lapsed (I used to be editor of The New Banner, perhaps the first widely read national objectivist/anarcho-capitalist periodical in the U.S.) I since went to ground. I became a futures market specialist and then a market analyst (for hire to major asset management entities such as multi-billion dollar mutual funds). I did my work and looked at the world from a market perspective.

In the summer of 2007 as a small hedge fund manager/analyst-for-hire I realized that the interventions of the U.S Fed under Bernanke were engineered to hold up/support the S&P500. I realized that if that persisted that the downside move that I had expected in the market ‘correction’ would turn into something other than a mere correction… as indeed it did.

The lovers of statism (and of we the people) decided to pull out all the plugs and defend the market at each and every low – to try to fake reality. Instead they super-charged the downside. What would have been a normal correction in the market ballooned into a disaster. Why?

Benanke allowed in summer of 2007 for an asset class never previously allowed to be used as collateral in fed borrowings by financial institutions, and even expanded what institutions could come to the Fed. In effect the Fed was “pricing” this debt (sub prime mortgages, etc.) at a level such that it would not have to hit the market and be priced openly and fairly.. The Fed was apparently afraid of the real consequences of seeing it priced openly. So they in effect took it off the market and froze it at the Fed window as “acceptable collateral” but as an unpriced asset. Hence from that point forward these sorts of assets on bank books were not “priced” in an open and market manner. Hence those who wanted to invest in the bank were uncertain as to the value of these assets. Hence uncertainty arose as to any and all bank valuations.

Uncertainty breeds doubt and fear and finally the collapse we saw in October and November. The lack of clarity of valuation – created by the Fed’s motherly and smothering love of “the people” in effect created the doubt and uncertainty that cascaded into the spiral we later saw in October of 2008. Oh sure, the chain of statist actions that helped to build and blow-up these malevolent factors date from before Bernanke, but he was pivotal at his unique moment in time.

Well, for the record my small hedge fund was up nearly 10% in 2008 while the lovers of “trend following” and statism sank some 30-40%. Good riddance.

Then came the onslaught of statist bandages and programs etc. And therefore here comes the final wave of statism – fully open to “caring” for us all in the wake of the failure of “capitalism.” And all the while many in the press and public accept the notion that the “market” failed and government has and will be our saviour. But reality ultimately will betray the fakery. There are already too many in the financial markets and in the financial press who realize the sequence of events, and who will not be fooled. The Charade has reached its zenith. The seemingly perpetual ascendancy of the State is in fact a paper tiger. Yes, the State will appear to rise as The Saviour, but its salvation and credibility will not weather the storm that it has itself created.

The Libertarian’s Song

by Liberty Fitz-Claridge

I am the very model of a modern libertarian;
I’m at the Diamond’s farthest corner from ‘Authoritarian’.
I’m of the view, in short, that we should do away with all the laws,
Except the ones that thwart the sort who’d harm or take my things by force.

The socialists demand that we ought really to redistribute
The money made by businessmen to help support the destitute.
But those of us who set less store by looting than by Liberty
Would say a man’s well-being is his own responsibility!

Would say a man’s well-being is his own responsibility,
Would say a man’s well-being is his own responsibility,
Would say a man’s well-being is his own responsibili-bili-ty!

Ideas which stem from this include that school is not compulsory.
When older, children may attend free-market university.
In short, it is the opposite of life totalitarian,
With free adults and children in a climate libertarian.

In short, it is the opposite of life totalitarian,
With free adults and children in a climate libertarian.

The hoi polloi have rolled their eyes and left us to obscurity,
Since fans of David Friedman cry, “The state, the state is after me.”
Indeed, there are among us those who dream of a utopia.
For this they are thought madmen, though it’s only hyperopia.

We liberals won’t rest until all state-run works are privatised;
From ports to courts, from wealth to health, we want the state to be downsized.
These things are not done well by even loving, caring government;
It loves us at our own expense – and what when all that love is spent?

It loves us at our own expense – and what when all that love is spent?
It loves us at our own expense – and what when all that love is spent?
It loves us at our own expense – and what when all that love-is love-is spent?

And surely no one’s worthy of the job of politician
Who does not see the value of untrammelled competition.
In short, you should repudiate the crude authoritarian
And study to become a far superior libertarian.

In short, I should repudiate the crude authoritarian
And study to become a far superior libertarian.

When I have read von Mises’ massive tomes from end to end firsthand;
When I’ve the nerve to voice in English classes that I like Ayn Rand;
When I have studied economics and gone earnestly to FEE;
When I have learnt what progress has been made in private law theory …

When I’ve read Hayek, Mill and Smith, my expertise evincible;
And when I know exactly what is meant by ‘homestead principle’;
In short, when I know politics and all the right philosophy,
You’ll say a better libertarian there never was than me.

You’ll say a better libertarian there never was than she,
You’ll say a better libertarian there never was than she,
You’ll say a better libertarian there never was-than was-than she!

Though mainstream folk are loath to recognize or even tolerate
These vital, timeless principles that libertarians venerate,
And though the ignorant consensus is authoritarian,
I am the very model of a modern libertarian.

And though the ignorant consensus is authoritarian,
She is the very model of a modern libertarian.

The dilemma of ‘doing something’

Darryl Watson wrote in with something that is indeed a topic worthy of pondering…

I am not sure if this is a worthy topic of discussion, but the issue is gnawing at me right now, and thought I would share:

I have a ten-minute walk to my preferred parking spot, from where I work in downtown Denver. The parking lot is in a less savoury neighbourhood. While I was on my way to my vehicle, half a block away, I saw a man come around a corner quickly, pushing a bicycle. He was moving too quick to simply be going from point A to B, and I immediately knew something was wrong. As he hopped on the bike and started pedalling toward me, another man came around the corner, grizzled, a biker type, with a big beard and leather hat. He was shouting, ‘Hey! Hey!’ at the man on the bike, who started to increase his speed.

It was clear that the man on foot wanted the man on the bike to stop, and that the man on the bike was fleeing. And both were approaching me quickly.

I was immediately conscious of the motorcycle helmet in one hand, my bag of work sundries in the other, and the distance between us. There was no one else anyone else within a block. I immediately moved to block the fleeing man’s path on the sidewalk; he saw me and swerved sharply out into the street, trying to stay out of my reach.

This is the instant where I disappointed myself. If I had not hesitated, I would have been able to clothesline him and bring him to a stop, but instead I was thinking:

  1. This situation might not be what it looks like… a bicycle theft
  2. I knew without a doubt the fleeing man would have to be knocked off the bike to get him to stop
  3. I had my cowboy boots on (yes, I work in an office in cowboy boots… it is Denver) and they were terrible for running
  4. If I injured the guy, I could get charged with battery

It was option ’4′ which caused me to hesitate and let the thief slip by. He got away, and the man on foot ran after, calling for police to no avail.

I imagine the threat of criminal charges for being decent and willing to apply a little violence to better one’s neighbourhood is a sore topic in this blog. We in Colorado have not quite gotten as bad as England, but, I fear it will come to that as people increasingly rely on authorities to rescue them when there is trouble. I would be interested in reading commentary on the issue.

When is it time to quit?

The pseudonymous Sunfish is well known member of the Samizdata commentariat and brings some interesting perspectives as when he is not throwing down pixels in this parish, he is a policeman ‘somewhere in the USA’. And Sunfish has a question…

Governments have goons. That’s what makes them governments rather than debating societies. Even the governments of relatively free societies have them. I would like some guidance from my fellow goons now.

Back in the 1990′s, when I first graduated the academy and became a cop, I thought I was going to go out and slay dragons. I also thought that I would not have to compromise any of my beliefs in order to do so. I can not have been the first libertarian to go into this line of work. However I did not originally sign up to be a drug warrior, tax collector, or the mailed fist of the ‘Mommy Knows Best’ state. Yet somehow, I occasionally end up being all three of those things. Most of the time, though, I think that we still do more good than harm.

But at what point do we actually do more harm than good for liberty? When is it time to quit?

Health care, class conflict, and the Democratic Party

William H. Stoddard of San Diego, California has some interesting commentary on the state of the debate between Clinton and Obama on what they want for US health care policy

Health care policy is a major issue in the Democratic Party’s choice of a presidential candidate. The final debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in Ohio, spent a reported 15 minutes on it. Yet the mainstream news media in the United States consistently report that there are only very minor differences between the positions of the two candidates. Given this, the argument looks like little more than semantic quibbling over the meaning of the word “universal,” all too typical of Clinton’s struggle to contest Obama’s unexpected rivalry for the nomination.

But the mainstream news media have it wrong. There is, in fact, a vitally important difference between the two positions, though one that their worldview makes them ill equipped to recognize. The difference is that Clinton would compel everyone to purchase health insurance; Obama would not. The standard label for this difference in health policy debates is “mandate,” for what Clinton wants.

Clinton has been evasive about exactly how she would compel the purchase of insurance – which is not surprising, as talking about punishing voters is not a good selling point in an election. The state of Massachusetts, which has a mandate, imposes fines on adults who do not have health insurance. Clinton has not talked about fines, but has suggested garnishing wages or making enrollment compulsory on admission to any hospital.

Of course, Clinton promises to make health insurance affordable to everyone, through subsidies and through massive new regulation of the insurance industry. So does Obama. But what if their plans do not work out? Under Obama’s plan, adults who thought even subsidized health insurance cost more than they could pay would remain uninsured, and at least be no worse off. Under Clinton’s plan, they would be forced to sign up, or penalized for not doing so – and either way they would be hurt. And given that Clinton predicts that fifteen million Americans would remain uncovered under Obama’s voluntary plan, it seems that she anticipates that fifteen million people would have to be hurt financially to make her plan viable – or, perhaps, simply to justify her in calling it “universal.” → Continue reading: Health care, class conflict, and the Democratic Party

Vote green – go blackshirt

Rob Johnston has produced a very interesting essay on the true soulmates of Green Politics in Britain

  • Forbid the purchase of corner shops by migrants
  • Stop people from inner cities moving to the countryside to protect traditional lifestyles
  • Grant British citizenship only to children born here
  • Boycott food grown by black farmers and subsidise crops grown by whites
  • Restrict tourism and immigration from outside Europe
  • Prohibit embryo research
  • Stop lorry movements on the Lord’s Day
  • Require State approval for national sports teams to compete overseas
  • Disconnect Britain from the European electricity grid
  • Establish a “new order” between nations to resolve the world economic crisis

These are the policies of one of Britain’s most influential political parties: a party that has steadily increased its vote over the last decade; a party that appeals overwhelmingly to whites; and a party that shares significant objectives with neo-fascists and religious fundamentalists.

Perhaps – the BNP? Despite its attempts to appear modern and inclusive and the soothing talk in its 2005 General Election Manifesto, of “genuine ethnic and cultural diversity” [1].

Or UKIP? It harbours some pretty backward-looking individuals – but would they stop Britain buying electricity from France if necessary?

Or, maybe, the Conservatives? Could that be a list of recommendations from one of Dave’s lesser-known policy groups – chaired by the ghost of Enoch Powell – quietly shredded to avoid “re-contaminating the Brand”?

Actually, affiliates of the progressive consensus may be surprised to learn that all the reactionary policies in the first paragraph are from the Green Party’s Manifesto for a Sustainable Society (MfSS) or were adopted at the party’s Autumn Conference in Liverpool over the weekend of September 13-16, 2007 [2].

Of course, the Green Party will protest against the accusation of reactionary politics. However, in an article critical of the G8 leaders in June, George Monbiot, (capo di tutti capi of the green movement) advised readers to judge politicians for “what they do, not what they say”.

For example, as well as supporting ethnic and cultural diversity, the BNP says it accepts:

“… the right of law-abiding minorities, in our country because they or their ancestors came here legally, to remain here and to enjoy the full protection of the law against any form of harassment or hostility…” [3]

But, use Monbiot’s argument, disregard the rhetoric and look at what the rest of the BNP manifesto promises would actually do and it remains a party of racist and neo-fascist ideology – internationally isolationist and domestically reactionary.

The trouble for Greens is that their manifesto pledges would result in many of the same outcomes as the BNP programme.

You will not find the words “Boycott food grown by black farmers and subsidise crops grown by whites”, in the Green Party’s manifesto, but consider Monbiot’s advice about the effects of these policies:

“The Green Party recognises that subsidies are sometimes necessary to protect local, regional and national economies and the environment, and we will support them in these instances” [4].

“Controls such as tariff barriers and quotas should be gradually introduced on a national and/or regional bloc level, with the aim of allowing localities and countries to produce as much of their food, goods and services as they can themselves. Anything that cannot be provided nationally should be obtained from neighbouring countries, with long distance trade the very last resort” [5].

The paradox of arguing for Fair Trade while refusing to buy African vegetables because of “food miles” has been noted many times, but it is a paradox the Green Party simply ignores. According to the Guardian, Britain has two black farmers [6], so any policy to subsidise domestic produce and erect barriers to outsiders will, ipso facto, support white farmers and disadvantage black farmers. Even if supplies are “obtained from neighbouring countries”, white European farmers benefit at the expense of poor farmers in Africa and the developing world.

On agricultural policy in general, Greens will agree with the following sentiments:

“Britain’s farming industry will be encouraged to produce a much greater part of the nation’s need in food products. Priority will be switched from quantity to quality, as we move from competing in a global economy to maximum self-sufficiency for Britain, sustainable agriculture, decreased reliance on petro-chemical products and more organic production” [7].

However, those promises come from the BNP 2005 General Election Manifesto – in a section indistinguishable from the Green Party manifesto:

“To be able to fulfil all our basic food needs locally. To grow as many other products as we can to meet our basic needs (e.g. for textiles, fuel, paper) on a local or regional basis. To enable all communities to have access to land which can be used for growing for basic needs. To ensure that all growing systems use only natural, renewable inputs and that all organic waste outputs are able to be recycled back into the soil or water system” [8].

Perhaps this is why, according to the BNP:

“We are the only true ‘Green Party’ in Britain as only the BNP intends to end mass immigration into Britain and thereby remove at a stroke the need for an extra 4 million homes in the green belts of the South East and elsewhere, which are required to house the influx of 5 million immigrants expected to enter the country under present trends over the next twenty years” [9].

Greens agree with the BNP about migration and the green belt. They promise to: minimise the environmental degradation caused by migration; not allow increased net migration; and end the pressure on the Green Belt by reducing population and stopping growth-oriented development [10]. Reduction in non-white tourism and immigration would be an inevitable consequence of government restrictions on air travel. Few refugees from Iraq, Darfur, Zimbabwe manage to get all the way to Britain without a large carbon footprint, neither can tourists from beyond Europe. → Continue reading: Vote green – go blackshirt

Guido vs. Gracchi

The inimitable Guido Fawkes decides to use Samizdata to explain what he is… and what he is not.

Over on the misnamed Liberal Conspiracy blog ‘Gracchi’ proffers a serious and fair minded critique of my Guido alter ego’s oeuvre, rather than the usual “Guido is an evil baby eating Nazi who once voted Tory, does not use trackbacks and deletes comments” tripe. I will give it a reply here and defend my approach.

Clearly we all have a political agenda of some kind. Mine is the politics of anti-politics. It stems from wanting to expand the non-political space in life and culture. This flows from my belief in the primacy of individual liberty.

The charge of partisanship does have some validity, I would rather get this shower in government out, but the choice on offer is hardly compelling. It is not as if there was any attempt on my part to pretend to some kind of impartial objectivity. So far as the right-of-centre leaning blogosphere has any influence on the Tories it is often attacking from the ‘right’ of the Tory centre of gravity. The Samizdatistas despair of the Tories, Tim Montgomerie of ConservativeHome is more hawkish and less socially liberal than his party, even Iain Dale is more Thatcherite than the Tory leadership and my views on tax cuts, the minimal state, free migration and drug prohibition position me in a very different place on the political spectrum to the Tories. It is inimical to Toryism for instance to be a republican, so to characterise me as a Tory seems intellectually lazy to the point of cretinous.

I have written no ideological essays for nearly two decades. There are some still available from the Libertarian Alliance if you are interested – on human rights, the economics of the City and most famously acid house culture.

Gracchi is right to nuance the self-interest charge against politicians, they are more precisely motivated by “perceived self-interest”. I will adopt that phrase from now on. As for my understanding about policy development and the importance of wonks, well I have lived in that world, financially supported think tanks and indeed worked for think tanks in my youth. I just do not advertise it.

The rest of the complaint is based on a poor premise, on the evidence of Guido’s blog I am naive, according to Gracchi. Do you mean Paul Staines or the Guido personality? You are confusing the character with the author. The blog provides a tabloid sensationalist, personality driven narrative. It is meant to entertain in order to be populist. Carefully nuanced argumentation is not what it is about. Complaining that it is populist and not what blogging should aspire to, is like complaining that the New York Post is not the New York Times. You do your thing, Guido will do his thing.

Of course the irony is that more intellectuals, wonks and political thinkers read Guido’s blog than the New Statesman. In Gramscian terms Guido’s blog is now arguably the more important ‘site of struggle’. Discuss.