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 special costume shop

Things had been very boring in the rue de la Fête. Mr Benalla thought, “I think it is a good day to visit the special costume shop.” Inside the shop, as if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared.

“Good morning sir,” he said. “Which costume would you like to try today?”

“That one with the visor, please,” said Mr Benalla. And he took the outfit into the fitting room. Inside the room, Mr Benalla changed into the outfit and then looked at himself in the mirror. “It looks a bit like a riot cop’s costume,” he thought. “Is that cool or what?” Then he went through the door – not the door back to the shop but the second door that could lead to an adventure!

*

So to prevent the immense coercive power of the state from being abused, said Hayek, we need to restrict its use to enforcing a strictly limited list of duties that we all accept and understand. Setting limits on how the state’s monopoly of force can be used at least spares us from arbitrary or growing coercion by other people who happen to be in authority.

Friedrich Hayek: The ideas and influence of the Libertarian Economist by Eamonn Butler

*

For those poor souls who did not grow up with tales of Mr Benn, this post refers to the extra-curricular activities of Alexandre Benalla, formerly a senior security officer for President Macron of France:

Emmanuel Macron faces the biggest crisis of his presidency over the growing scandal of one of his closest security officials who was filmed being allowed by police to violently assault a young man and woman at the edge of a Paris demonstration while illegally dressed as an officer.

That the French riot police beat people up is not news. That they allow well-connected civilians to put on a spare uniform and join in the fun was surprising.

Conservation of prohibitionism

July 1st 2018:

Jeremy Corbyn backs calls to decriminalise possession of cannabis

Jeremy Corbyn said he would like to see the possession of cannabis to be decriminalised as he backed calls for the drug to be used for medicinal purposes.

July 10th 2018:

Corbyn backs Nordic Model to tackle sexual exploitation

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn declared his full support for Britain to look at changing our prostitution laws by criminalising the purchase of sex, also referred to as the ‘Nordic model’.

Get them while they’re young

The Courier reports:

Scottish Government asks eight-year-olds to reveal their Brexit views

The Scottish Government is appealing to children as young as eight to share their views on Brexit.

Critics branded the Twitter plea for youngsters to “work with” the government on a Europe panel “creepy”.

But the SNP administration defended the move as giving those who will be most affected by leaving the EU a “voice in the Brexit negotiations”.

The call by the Twitter account ScotGovEurope said: “Are you aged 8 – 18? Children and young people in Scotland are going to be affected by #Brexit, so we want your views!

“Apply to join the @cisweb Children & Young People’s Panel on Europe to work with @scotgov.”

It sparked claims that SNP ministers are trying to indoctrinate children on the constitution.

The charity says that young people have a “right to be heard in the discussions about Brexit”, which they say is backed up by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Brexit is the single biggest threat to our economy and future prosperity, and children and young people will be most affected in the coming years.

“We are therefore supporting Children in Scotland to establish the children and young people’s panel on Europe and enable them to have a voice in the Brexit negotiations.”

Here’s where you can apply to join the Panel, but first they recommend that you ask yourself

Is the project for me?

This project might be for you if you like standing up for the things you believe in, and
talking about:
• What Brexit might mean for your family and friends
• What people in charge should be doing to help children
• What rules people in charge should follow when they make
decisions about Brexit

I think we can safely say that most Samizdata readers qualify. However this one might be more tricky:

• Why children should have their say on Brexit

The question of whether those who think that children should not have their say on Brexit could or should join the Panel is left for the reader. Oh, I nearly forgot, to be eligible you do have to be aged between eight and eighteen. Reassuringly,

You don’t need to know much about Brexit to apply. We will share information with you to
help you to take part.

Elon Musk just made a lot of enemies in Britain

There is a lot to admire about Elon Musk. I thought the space car was glorious. The whimsicality of it, which so many objected to, delighted me.

It is sad that Mr Musk has now shown that his whims can take a nastier turn.

British cave diver considering legal action over Elon Musk’s ‘pedo’ attack

A British cave diver who was instrumental in the rescue of 12 children trapped in a northern Thailand cave says he is considering legal action after the inventor Elon Musk called him a “pedo” on Twitter.

Vernon Unsworth told the Guardian on Monday he was “astonished and very angry” at the attack, for which Musk offered no evidence or basis. The billionaire initially doubled down on the comments made on social media, but has since deleted them.

Apparently it started when Mr Unsworth was rude about Mr Musk’s offer of his mini-submarine to help in the rescue:

Previously, Unsworth had described Musk’s offer to help the rescue effort as a “PR stunt”, and had told CNN Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts”.

If nothing else had been said, my sympathies would have been with Mr Musk. Even if it was something of PR stunt, I am sure Musk did genuinely want to help save lives. Still, I dare say tempers often flare in these high pressure situations. One man’s praiseworthy offer of aid can be another’s dangerous distraction from an urgent task.

However then Mr Musk went on to call Mr Unsworth a “pedo”, not just once – in which case it might have been written off as a random zero-content insult like calling someone a “bastard” when you neither know nor care whether their parents were legally married – but repeatedly. Mr Musk’s “evidence” for this allegation out a blue sky was that Mr Unsworth is a white guy living in Thailand. Musk said that that in itself was “sus”, meaning suspicious.

Angry comments are coming thick and fast to the Times article “Thai boys’ rescuer Vern Unsworth could sue Elon Musk over paedophile smear”. If even a fraction of those commenting on the Times website and those of other British newspapers who have said that they are about to cancel their Tesla order follow through with it, Musk’s UK operation could be in real trouble. That comes on top of the doubts already raised about the company by Tesla’s failure to live up to some of Musk’s earlier extravagant promises. For all the fame of the brand, the number of Tesla electric cars in the UK is still only in the low thousands, and Times subscribers are exactly the sort of people who would be most likely to buy them.

Charismatic individuals can push forward scientific innovation. They can also screw up big time.

What Paddy Ashdown said when he thought Remain would win

Given the recent Brexit-related shenanigans, it seems appropriate to post this video showing what the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, Paddy Ashdown, said as the referendum votes were being counted but before the result was known.

“I will forgive no one who does not accept the sovereign voice of the British people once it has spoken, whether it is by one percent or twenty percent.”

Update: Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray very reasonably asked what Baron Ashdown is saying now. When he was asked last December if he remembered saying the words above, this was his response:

“The UK people voted for Brexit – but not this Brexit. Their vote has been hijacked by the extreme Brexiteers to support their own prejudices. This is not respecting the vote it is abusing the vote for extremist nonsense which damages the UK.”

Discussion point: what do the Tory resignations portend?

Boris Johnson quits to add to pressure on May over Brexit

David Davis and Steve Baker had resigned earlier.

What will happen with Brexit? Will May hold on?

Don’t ask me, ‘cos I’m asking you.

Football news for people who aren’t really interested in football

I hear there is a footballing tournament taking place.

Apparently the English team is not doing too badly, and some people feel happy about this. Naturally, the Guardian is on the case. Steve Bloomfield writes, “If this England team represents anyone, it’s the 48%: the remainers”

My favourite comment came from DunstanMc:

‘If this England team represents anyone, it’s the 48%: the remainers’

God I hope not. They lost.

Me, too?

Canada’s second generation Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in a spot of bother.

The Guardian reports, “Justin Trudeau ‘does not remember’ groping reporter at festival”.

Justin Trudeau has publicly addressed allegations that he groped a reporter at an event 18 years ago, saying he does not recall any “negative interactions” taking place that day.

Which is only to be expected, given it was eighteen years ago. After such a long time it is surely unfair to drag up an unproven accusation from way back to blacken a man’s name now… Except that is exactly what the tousle-headed heartthrob of 24 Sussex Drive did to others.

The Canadian National Post has two good articles on the subject. Firstly,

Andrew Coyne: Trudeau has to say something about groping accusation. Yet what can he say?

If he confessed “I did it. It was a fleeting moment of madness for which I apologized at the time, and which I regret today,” that would not be the worst thing in the world, assuming no other cases emerged. Except that, having famously established, with great fanfare, a zero tolerance policy for his party and himself in such matters, with no statute of limitations, he would then have to explain why he should not have to pay the same price that others have had to pay for similar offences.

But what if he did not do it? Well, judging from the way Trudeau has treated others, that should make no difference. According to a second article in the National Post:

Joe Oliver: Groping allegations snare Justin Trudeau in a trap he created himself

As a self-proclaimed feminist, Justin Trudeau mandated a gender-equal cabinet and repeatedly proclaimed his devotion to women’s rights. He dealt ruthlessly with two Liberal members of Parliament who were accused of inappropriate behaviour by unnamed members of the NDP caucus. Without warning, the accused were booted from the Liberal caucus at an open meeting. They were not provided any information about the allegations against them, any chance to defend themselves or even to inform their spouses before their simultaneous show trial and sentence went public. In an instant, political careers were eviscerated and reputations in tatters.

The price of the presumption of guilt can be heavier even than that. In not unrelated news, remember “Nick”, the man whose accusations of every crime from sexual abuse to murder against the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor among many others were infamously described as “credible and true” by Detective Superintendent Kenny McDonald without the formality of a trial?

Man who said he was victim of VIP child sexual abuse ring charged

The man who claimed to have been the victim of a VIP child sexual abuse and murder ring has been charged with 12 counts of perverting the course of justice and one of fraud.

The claims from “Nick” led to Scotland Yard’s disastrous Operation Midland investigation. He is charged over false claims of child sexual abuse and child killings.

The Crown Prosecution Service said on Tuesday it had authorised the series of criminal charges against the 50-year-old man, who cannot be named for legal reasons.

The claims led to the Met investigating public figures including the former military chief Lord Bramall, the former home secretary Leon Brittan and the former Conservative MP Harvey Proctor.

One charge against Nick relates to Proctor and accuses him of “doing acts tending and intended to pervert the course of public justice, in that he made a false allegation of witnessing the child homicide of an unnamed boy committed by Mr Harvey Proctor”.

Those awful Americans and their guns. Not like civilised New Zealanders.

The Times reports:

Online stalker who flew round the world shot by girl’s mother

A 25-year-old man who flew 9,000 miles from New Zealand to see an American teenager he had met online was shot by her mother as he was breaking into their house.

Troy Skinner was armed with a pocket knife, pepper spray and duct tape when he began battering doors and smashed a window at the family’s home, detectives in Virginia said. He was taken by air ambulance to hospital in a critical condition after being shot twice, once in the neck, but was expected to survive.

Sheriff James Agnew, of Goochland County, said: “The manner in which he attempted to enter that home in the face of a firearm pointed at him and the implements we recovered from him, the only inference is that he had very bad intent. He was not invited here, he was not expected here. He had been told the daughter no longer wished to communicate with him.”

Mr Skinner had struck up a relationship with the 14-year-old girl on a video gamers’ chat app called Discord about four months ago, the sheriff said. The app says that it is a place for people who “love playing games” to share “relationships, memories, and laughs”.

Mr Skinner decided to travel halfway across the world to see her when she tried to break things off. He had taken three flights and a long interstate bus trip to get to her house. “This was not random. This was not spontaneous. This was something very planned,” the sheriff said.

And

The mother told police that she was at home painting with her two teenage daughters when Mr Skinner came to the door. She refused to open it, but he then went around the back and tried to break down a rear door with a concrete block from their garden.

The girl’s mother warned him several times that she was armed with a handgun and she opened fire when he smashed a glass panel and started reaching inside to try to open it by the latch.

My apologies to readers from New Zealand. The sarcasm of my title was just a rhetorical device to make a particular point. Of course I am aware that this type of madman can arise in any country. The roles could easily be reversed, with an American obsessive armed with knife, pepper spray and duct tape trying to break into the house of a fourteen year old New Zealand girl.

Of course given that in New Zealand, as in the UK,

Gun licenses are issued at the discretion of the police in New Zealand provided the police consider the person to be of good standing and without criminal, psychiatric or drug issues as well as meeting other conditions such as having suitable storage facilities. To be issued, they must be issued for a valid reason, which may not include self defense.

…if this had taken place in New Zealand or the UK the mother would have had no gun and the girl would have been raped and murdered.

“If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner”

Remember the mockery that Sarah Palin got for her prediction that state health care might result in “Death panels”?

She was wrong about a few things. There is no need for a panel of bureaucrats to decide when it is time to stop treating old people and those with Downs syndrome. That can be done more conveniently by the doctors and nurses. And while we’re at it, why confine ourselves to stopping treatment? Would it not also reduce the burden on the NHS and its employees to become a bit more proactive and actively shorten these useless lives?

This article by Dominic Lawson about the Gosport War Memorial Hospital scandal is one of the most powerful I have ever read.

Last week’s monstrously belated report on the Hampshire hospital’s treatment of its patients in the 1990s revealed that at least 450, and probably more than 650, had been killed — sorry, had had their lives shortened — as a result of a policy of attaching them to syringe drivers pumping diamorphine. Diamorphine is medically indicated only when the patient is either in the severest pain or terminally ill, because its notable side effect, when large doses are consistently administered, is respiratory failure. Injections of diamorphine — in 30mg doses — were Dr Harold Shipman’s chosen method of dispatching his patients. But the numbers at Gosport exceed the tally of Britain’s most prolific mass murderer.

You may be thinking, no need for that sort overblown rhetoric. Surely this is a case of misplaced mercy, of overdoing the pain relief? That is what I thought too. It is why I had not paid much attention to this story until now. More fool me. Read on:

The report, led by James Jones, the former Bishop of Liverpool, reveals that only 45% of those administered terminal quantities of diamorphine were said to be in pain. And in 29% of cases their medical notes give either no reason, or no comprehensible justification, for the lethal dose (most died within a couple of days of being attached to the pump).

(Emphasis added by me, as it is in all the excerpts I quote in this post.)

Even that is not the worst. Read on further:

The ones most likely to get the treatment appeared to be not the sickest, but the most “difficult”. As the stepson of one of the victims remarked: “If a nurse didn’t like you, you were a goner.” This was clear from the testimony of Pauline Spilka, an auxiliary nurse. After the local newspaper in 2001 reported the complaints by relatives of Gladys Richards, (whose life had been “shortened”), Spilka went to the police. In an interview with Detective Chief Inspector Ray Burt of the Hampshire constabulary, Spilka said: “It appeared to me then and more so now that euthanasia was practised by the nursing staff. I cannot offer an explanation as to why I did not challenge what I saw at that time . . . I feel incredibly guilty.”

Spilka was especially troubled by the fate of an 80-year-old patient (his name is redacted) whom she described as “mentally alert and capable of long conversations . . . able to walk . . . and to wash himself”. He was, however, “difficult”. She told the policeman that this patient was “always making demands” and that “I remember having a conversation with one of the other auxiliaries [Marion] . . . we agreed that if he wasn’t careful he would ‘talk himself onto a syringe driver’.”

So it came to pass: “One day I left work after my shift and he was his normal self. Upon returning to work the following day, I was shocked to find him on a syringe driver and unconscious. I was so shocked and angered by this that Marion and I went to confront the ward manager.” They were told to put a sock in it. Nursing auxiliaries are at the bottom of the chain, without any medical qualifications. What was their word worth, against that of the formidable (and formidably well connected) Dr Jane Barton

Whereas a word from Dr Jane Barton was literally enough to sentence a woman to death. Lawson continues:

Perhaps the most upsetting case — at least, as the father of an adult with Down’s syndrome, I found it so — was that of 78-year-old Ethel Thurston, admitted with a fractured femur. She was described in the report as having “learning difficulties [and] the mental capacity of a 10-year-old”, though she “once held down a job in a bank . . . and had been able to travel across London independently”. The nurses’ notes took a different tack: “Willing to feed herself only if she feels like it . . . her behaviour can be aggressive.”

On July 26, 1999, Dr Barton made her recommendation: “Please keep comfortable. I am happy for nursing staff to confirm death.” Happy? The following then appears in the nursing notes: “Syringe driver started diamorphine 90mg. Midazolam 20mg.” These huge doses were administered at 11.15am. At 7pm a nurse confirmed Miss Thurston’s death.

Ça ira toujours

Ah! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira
Les aristocrates à la lanterne!

That is the famous song sung by the female revolutionaries storming the gates of Versailles in this clip from a 1953 film called “Si Versailles M’Etait Conté” (If Versailles Told me its Story).

Neither the voice of Edith Piaf at the head of the mob nor the glorious technicolor in the film can suppress the thought that “Les aristocrates à la lanterne!” (The aristocrats to the lamp-posts!) is a murderous sentiment. If that was the song of the Revolution, it is hardly surprising that it soon became the Terror.

Only those were not the words sung at the time of the Revolution. The film is peddling a myth. Today I learned, first that the words “ça ira, ça ira” do not mean “Thus it will go, thus it will go” as I had thought but “It’ll be fine, it’ll be fine”, secondly that they were originally said by Benjamin Franklin to express his confidence that the American Revolution would work out OK, and thirdly that the original words of the song are revolutionary but not murderous.

Here are a couple of extracts:

According to the precepts of the Gospel
Of the lawmaker everything shall be accomplished
The one who puts on airs shall be brought down
The one who is humble shall be elevated
The true catechism shall instruct us
And the awful fanaticism shall be snuffed out.

and

The aristocrat says, “Mea culpa!”
The clergy regrets its wealth,
The state, with justice, will get it.
Thanks to the careful Lafayette,
Everyone will calm down.

Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
By the torches of the august assembly,
Ah ! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
An armed people will always take care of themselves.
We’ll know right from wrong,
The citizen will support the Good.

Those were the words as first written by a former soldier turned street singer by the name of Ladré. It was not so much the song of the Revolution as the song of the Fête de la Fédération that took place a year later. This event was meant to be a symbol of national reconciliation. Wikipedia says:

At this relatively calm stage of the Revolution, many people considered the country’s period of political struggle to be over. This thinking was encouraged by counter-revolutionary monarchiens, and the first fête was designed with a role for King Louis XVI that would respect and maintain his royal status. The occasion passed peacefully and provided a powerful, but illusory, image of celebrating national unity after the divisive events of 1789–1790.

As we all know, that did not last. Unlike their American counterparts, the French revolutionaries had no intention of stopping just because they had achieved their ostensible aim. Ladré’s optimistic words about everyone calming down and the state “with justice” taking the wealth from repentant aristocrats and clergy were replaced by a new version of the “Ça ira” propagated by the sans-culottes:

Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
aristocrats to the lamp-post
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
the aristocrats, we’ll hang them!
If we don’t hang them
We’ll break them
If we don’t break them
We’ll burn them
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
aristocrats to the lamp-post
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
the aristocrats, we’ll hang them!
We shall have no more nobles nor priests
Ah! It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine, It’ll be fine
Equality will reign everywhere

The hangings, the breakings and the burnings all came to pass, as they always do when Equality reigns. Thus it did go, but it was not fine.

Tomorrow the People go forth

If you find yourself in London tomorrow, you can go on the March for a People’s Vote.

On the 23rd of June, we will march to Parliament Square to demand a vote on the final Brexit deal. Join us, for this historic event!

Remember this is the march for a People‘s Vote. The last one didn’t have enough proper people taking part.