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

Second, anyone who thinks MPs will reject Article 50 in such a vote is deluding themselves. The overwhelming majority of the Parliamentary Conservative Party now wants to get on with implementing the outcome of the referendum, regardless of which side they were on in the campaign. A pleasantly surprising number of Labour MPs have also taken on board the message from their Leave-voting constituencies. Having gone through the unpleasant experience of being at loggerheads with their voters on the doorstep, they rightly don’t want to defy them now they have spoken. The referendum may have been advisory, but its advice was clear – and when seen in pseudo-First Past The Post terms, ie in terms of MPs’ constituencies, Leave won a two thirds majority. Ultimately, de facto sovereignty lies with the electorate, and politicians value their seats.

Mark Wallace

Samizdata quote of the day

A while ago a Russian friend of mine in Sakhalin asked what people in the West were saying about Russia. I told him that most people really couldn’t care less about Russia or what it is doing. The average Brit or American cares as much about Russia as they do the sale that’s on at the bread-counter of their local supermarket. The Cold War ended some time ago and the widespread interest in Russia disappeared. It is only those who follow geopolitics that care a jot about what Russia is doing and why, nobody else cares. This is probably something that drives Putin nuts.

Tim Newman

Samizdata quote of the day

If anything is harming Britain right now, it is the ongoing attempts to catastrophise Brexit being fomented by bitter Remainers – people who would seemingly rather Britain descend into some dark, dystopian future and be vindicated in their doomsaying than help their own country to present a positive, open and internationalist face to the world.

We should not be surprised. In an age where looking good (and signalling virtue) is more important than actually doing good, there is every incentive for Remainers to continue seizing on every morsel of bad news, overlooking every positive development and generally acting hysterically, so long as their precious internal narrative – that They Virtuous Few stood alone against the “dark forces” of racist Brexit – is not disrupted.

Personally, I find it despicable, but good luck to them.

Samuel Hooper

Samizdata quote of the day

Economist have taken positive empiricism one step beyond and formulated economic theory from empirical regularities; Okun’s law, the Phillips curve or, more recently, the popularity of Rogoff and Reinhart’s debt-to-GDP tipping point. Economists, also, have little restraint in throwing up graphs showing empirically causal relationships between economic variables.

This is, however, taking economics way beyond what it can do, yet, few professional economists take to the airwaves to denounce this bastardisation of the science. Empiricism can support an economic theory, but it cannot prove or disprove an economic theory.

Frank Hollenbeck

Samizdata quote of the day

What looks like a contradiction – being anti-Brexit, but pro-Sexit – makes perfect sense: underpinning both positions is a loathing of the largely English demos. That’s why the cause of Scottish independence feeds into, and reinforces, the anti-democratic tendency of our present moment. Scotland is being turned into a utopia for those seeking refuge from the people.

The irony to all this, of course, is that Scottish independence is itself now being shown to be a misnomer. There is no real talk of going it alone, of ensuring that the Scottish people have control of their own affairs. Because those arguing for freedom from the UK want nothing more than to immerse Scotland in the even greater union of the EU. Which is no kind of independence at all.

Tim Black

Samizdata quote of the day

I don’t generally seek political analysis from trained monkeys responding to the commands of talented directors and screenwriters.

– Samizdata commenter ‘the other rob

Samizdata quote of the day

Labour really is circling the drain, the obsession with JEWS is like late senile dementia settling in, and there ain’t anyway back from that. So much so, it’s time to figure out what opposition politics in Britain will look like. UKIP might or might not disintegrate but all those voters will still be there: if it does blow up completely, something will fill the void. If it doesn’t, then that’s probably the core around which Her Majesty’s Opposition will coalesce. But it’s looking more and more likely that won’t be Labour, because it’s coming close to the point someone needs to stick a fork in ’em because they’re done, just another hate group loony tunes fringe party.

– Samizdata commenter ‘Marcher’

Book review: Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent: Inside British Islam by Innes Bowen

In the book Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent: Inside British Islam, the author – a BBC radio producer (boo, hiss) – attempts to provide an overview of the various strands of Islam in the UK. Her aim is not to tell us what to think but simply to provide the facts – what are they called? how many of them are there? where so they come from? what do they believe? etc. It is up to us, the readers, to draw conclusions.

Along the way there are a number of surprises. One of them is how different Islam is from Christianity. You would expect them to be rather similar given that they are both book-based, mono-theistic religions that revere both Abraham and Christ. Not a bit of it.

For example, in Christianity there is usually a close relationship between denomination and building. In Islam (at least in the UK) it is far more vague. A sect might be said to be “in control” of a mosque, the implication being that that control is temporary and could be lost. Many influential Muslim organisations such as Tablighi Jamaat and Jamaat-e-Islami have no mosques at all or very few.

Another is that the largest two sects in the UK are the Deobandis and Barelwis. No, I’d never heard of them either. For the record they are both Sunni (one definitely Sufi the other arguably so) and both originated in British India. It is worth pointing out that for the most part Bowen focuses on Sunni Islam but that is hardly surprising given that Sunnis vastly outnumber Shi’ites both globally and in the UK.

Another is that interest in Islam seems to be a second-generation thing. The first generation brought their Islam with them but seem to have regarded it as something they did rather than thought about. The second generation are much more inclined to read the Koran, take it seriously and ask questions. Even so, the most influential Islamic thinkers still tend to be based abroad.

I said earlier that it is left up to the reader to draw his own conclusions. So what does this reader conclude? Well, my biggest takeaway was that despite there being many strands of Islam and many weird and wonderful doctrinal disputes within Islam, there is no “good” Islam. The best you get is “less awful” Islam.

We are all well aware of the religion’s major dos and don’ts: praying, fasting (which includes liquids in case you didn’t already know), pork, alcohol, Halal etc. But there are others. The Deobandis, for instance, deprecate watching TV and listening to music. Almost all sects oppose celebrating the birthday of Muhammed which I assume gets extended to birthdays in general. There isn’t even the avenue of creativity in the service of the religion. Christianity has inspired great art, great songs and great buildings. But Islam has nothing to show for itself – at least not recently. The fact is that to be Muslim is to be miserable.

Of course, people are free to be miserable in private. What we really want to know about is whether they are going to blow us up or not. The news is not good. Islamic thought – of whatever strand – has little time for infidels and their institutions. Almost all sects are inward looking and wish to isolate themselves from the surrounding society. In this, they are helped by the welfare state and an ideology of political correctness. There seems to be no inquiry as to why it is that the followers of the one true God have ended up so poor while the non-believers and wrong believers are so rich. At best infidels are to be tolerated. At worst, to be eliminated. As such, Islamic terrorism is a bit like a genetic disease. Millions of Muslims by their faith can carry the disease without ever showing the symptoms but every so often it becomes virulent and people die. Islam and violence are inseparable.

This even has an impact on language. In the West words like “scholar” and “pious” tend to have positive connotations. But when they are applied to Islam – as Bowen does from time to time – they imply something altogether more sinister.

The only real challenge to Islam and violence comes from Ismaili doctrine which allows women to go around unveiled and for alcohol to be drunk in moderation and whose adherents do not appear to have got mixed up in terrorism. Ismailis have never had political power (at least not recently) and have a long tradition of trading. It is a general rule that the more trading that goes on in an Islamic community the less likely it is to produce terrorists. Even so the very small amount of tolerance that the (Nazari) Ismailis permit is largely – if not entirely – due to the influence of the Aga Khan. A different Aga Khan could easily change things.

Samizdata quote of the day

Because it’s being made very clear to us that the Single Market is Brexit. We are being told that if we want membership of that trading area then we’ve got to accept free movement of people (not in itself a bad idea but not really what people voted for), all of the regulation of the economy which the EU imposes, must pay into the EU budget and so on and on. Essentially, it is being made very clear that membership of the Single Market comes with all of the costs and responsibilities of full EU membership.

That is, single market membership is a denial of Brexit itself.

We do all know that a majority of MPs are against the very idea of leaving. Which is exactly why they shouldn’t have a vote on the matter. For accepting single market membership is tantamount to not leaving, it would be a reversal of the referendum by the back door.

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

As most LGBT activists are aware, gay white men are the most privileged members of the queer community and therefore should siphon their activism toward holding space for those who are more oppressed, like transgender women of color for example.

Ethan Jacobs, without irony.

Samizdata quote of the day

There is an insular quality to the Democrats’ current fears, along the lines of ‘how could Clinton be tied with Trump, when I don’t know anyone who supports him?’. For the most part, they’ve blamed Trump’s rise on the media, saying the fourth estate is not calling out his lies. This is ridiculous, since about 99 per cent of pundits are against Trump, and even ‘straight reporting’ news journalists are saying they have a moral duty to oppose the Republican candidate, apparently because he is such a threat to the country.

Sean Collins

Samizdata quote of the day

If you see FRENCH MAN ARRESTED AFTER BOMB ATROCITY as a BBC website headline, you know that there might have been a bomb, there might have been an atrocity, and the person arrested was probably a man. But you can be quite sure he wasn’t French.

Lee Moore