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]

Batman: the Dark Knight Rises

No long review.

Just whose fault the peril Gotham (not New York – honest) was. Indeed the peril of Western civilization.

Many people – but three billionaires spring to mind

One obsessed with money – no honour, good sense undermined by greed (leading to consequences he did NOT want). Jamie Dimon and so many others who supported for Obama for corporate welfare?

One with utterly perverted idealism – the George Soros figure. Secretly financing and organizing the Occupy Movement (and worse).

And the good billionaire – who has given up on the world, hiding with his bad memories in his house (thus leaving the world to the evil).

Greed.

Collectivism.

Despair.

The rule of law is dead

“I will not hesitate to move swiftly, without notice and retrospectively if inappropriate ways around these new rules are found. People have been warned.”

– The ‘Right Honourable’ George Osborne MP

The rule of law is officially dead in the United Kingdom

The Fox News – Wall Street Journal debate

The best debater was, without doubt, Newt Gingrich. He would tear Barack Obama apart in a debate.

A good way of understanding just how good a debater Gingrich is may be to compare him to Ron Paul – someone whose opinions I often agree with more than I do with the opinions of Newt Gingrich.

Ron Paul was asked about a radio interview where he appeared to say that Bin Laden should not have been killed by the Navy Seals (I, and a lot of other people, predicted that he would be asked such questions by Obama if Ron Paul was the nominee).

The only way out of such a position is to apologize for one’s confused speech and say “OF COURSE BIN LADEN SHOULD HAVE BEEN SHOT”.

Instead we got a long complicated reply, comparing (at one point) Islamist terrorists in Pakistan to Chinese dissenters in the United States, and saying that the reason that people attack the United States is “because we bomb their countries all the time”.

And on and on (Taliban allies against the Soviets – the Taliban hardly existed at the time, Taliban totally different from Bin Laden’s supporters NOT TRUE THEY HAVE THE SAME THEOLOGY, and…).

Ron I agree with you that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have proved to be a mistake – and I was still almost booing at the television screen as you spoke (a lot of people actually present at the debate could not stop themselves booing you – how you spoke was just so offensive). I agree with your policies (on just about everything), but they way you express yourself…….. You do not just sound silly (and make errors of fact) you actually sound hostile to the United States and the West in general. As if you were an enemy of the West – you are not, but you sound as if you were.

And Newt Gingrich – he told a brief story about Andrew Jackson and “killing the enemies of America” and had everyone cheering him. As he did on virtually everything else…

“But he is still wrong about the issues” – no more wrong than Mitt Romney, Rick Perry (less than one percent of the vote in New Hampshire) and Rick Santorum. And he can debate vastly better than they can.

Still it is all pointless now.

Neither Rick Santorum or (even) Rick Perry will get out of the race and endorse Gingrich – which means that Mitt Romney will win on Saturday.

And that means it is over.

The candidate with the least good economic plan (although light years better than Obama) and the person who, when asked if he would support the new Obama law that allows imprisonment (without time limit) of citizens suspected of supporting enemies of the United States – said “yes” (and meant it).

People are to “trust in the good character” of the President not to “abuse this power” – well that is fine, let us see the end of what is left of the rule of law at once. As long as the President is of “good character”.

Oh well at least Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase will be pleased.

I hear they have switched some of their support from Barack to Mitt – what a good sign of high moral character. Almost as good as being against abortion (as the most senior Elder of the Morman Church in Massachusetts), then being “pro choice” when in politics in Massachusetts, then being against abortion again (when running for the Republican nomination for President). Oh well my “do not say nasty things about Mitt” New Year’s Resolution did not last long – but he is going to be nominee after Saturday, so it is a last negative statement before I (and everyone else interested in defending the West) have to rally behind this man’s banner.

One must draw a sharp distinction between the person of the King (as a human being) and “the Crown”. In the clash against the Marxists, Mitt Romney will be “King” after Saturday (the Coronation is not till the Convention, but a King is King before his coronation) – so his personal imperfections will have to be overlooked, the oaths that I (and so many others) have taken to defend the West against the totalitarians, will bind us to him in the contest (regardless of what terrible end this riding leads to). The choice of not following the banner will still exist – but not as an honourable choice. The statement “the King will lead us to our deaths” may be true – but it is also irrelevant. After all the enemy will still be in the field, seeking to flee (on the grounds that the commander of our own army is useless) is just a “cop out”. When the banner is formally raised one follows the banner – even if it leads into a narrow valley, with the enemy in front and on both flanks. One can advice against it – one can even call the King an idiot to his face. But fleeing is not really an option – neither in honour (leaving everyone else to die), or in practicality (for the enemy will follow after they have done their business – in reality there is no real place to hide). And defeat is not predetermined – if one attacks fast enough (and fortune turns in one’s favour), one may be able to cut one’s way through, before the enemy has time to react.

To turn to lighter matters…. or, at least, the same matters expressed in a lighter tone.

Max Keiser (and the rest of the dodgy people) will be overjoyed – they are already using their “two Dollar whore” lines (and so on) against Romney. The attacks on Bain Capital may be unfair – but “loading companies with debt so that they fail after you walk away with millions” was a line used against Romney by the Wall Street Journal questioner, the left will use it also (and much more). They will love it when he is the nominee.

Which he will be.

The best American Presidential debate so far was not a “debate”

Equal time for each candidate (no playing favourites), no audience to make animal noises, serious questions from people who are not media hacks (the A.G.s of three States – including the key States of Virginia and Florida) and no stupid stunts such as hand shows or video links to media plants.

Each candidate given time to express their opinions on serious matters – just that, nothing else. With even the order people spoke in determined by lot.

Not hard to think up – yet no previous debate did that.

And the “Candidates Forum” on Mike Huckabee’s show did do this. So a pat on the back due to former Governor Huckabee.

How did the candidates do?

Well Jon Huntsman did not show up (so he gets a fail) and Gary Johnson does not seem to have been invited (the one demerit that can be given to Huckabee), as for the rest……

Ron Paul showed his age (both in his thin voice and in the difficulty he had hearing what was said to him) – but he did advise people to read Bastiat’s “The Law” (perhaps the best reading advice any candidate has ever given). He also understood that the Welfare State is unsustainable (as well as being unconstitutional), but also that just waving a magic wand would not wish away the problem of the millions of people who have grown to depend on it – hence the need for transition programs. However, when questioned about terrorism he hinted (did not formally state – but hinted) that America being attacked was the fault of American policy overseas – and that is both vile and just plain wrong.

Governor Perry had some sensible ideas (on energy and on education) – but (as usual) was undermined by his inability, unless speaking from a prepared text, to speak in public (sorry but that is part of the skill set for a candidate).

Rick Santorum spoke with true passion about the things that really matter to him – the social issues (abortion and so on). This will appeal to those who share his passions – but, of course, turn everyone else away from him.

Michelle Bachmann had a lot of good things to say (and some less good) – but she also had that oft mocked (by Jon Stewart and co) fixed look in her eyes. I am certain there is something wrong with her sight – indeed I would not be astonished if it turned out she could not clearly see the people she was talking to. I know poor eyesight should not be relevant – but the look on someone’s face does matter. On budget issues Congresswomen Bachmann was good, on illegal immigration her hard line will alienate some people (especially as it is clear, from her whole manner, that everything she says is sincere – so when she says that eleven million people are going to be rounded up, that is exactly what she would do).

Governor Romney was the opposite – his look was perfect (straight at the people he was talking to – with a look of intelligent concern), his voice was perfect also – exactly the right pitch and so on. Content is not really his thing (deliberately so – as it would give the Obama people ammunition to fire at him in a general election, should he win the nomination), but his presentation was ideal. A very good performance.

That leaves Newton ‘Newt’ Gingrich.

The American Gothic (for that is what he is – an incredible mixture of good and bad in both policy and his personality). Speaker Gingrich’s personality is the opposite of mine – to him no position is unwinnable and he is certain that he is the person who can achieve victory. He could be surrounded by a legion of enemies – and be astonished at his good fortune in so many enemies falling into his grasp.

I should despise the man. After all on policy he is as mercurial as Romney (accept that Governor Romney adapts his positions to suit the audience he is trying to reach, the ultimate democrat, small “d” – whereas Gingrich is always restless, always seeking new ideas, even if they contradict some of his older ideas, and is not wildly interested in saying what he is expected to say as he has total confidence in his ability to convince people that he is right), and in personal conduct…..

Governor Romney appears to have no vices (none whatever), no human is without sin – but “Mitt” appears to be as close to being without sin as it is possible for a human being to be, even his changes of policy are a sincere effort to win the support of the voters, and he tends to keep specific promises he makes to voters if he wins an election. Whereas to list the personal failings of Speaker Gingrich would take quite some time – indeed there was so many things that Democrat attack dogs appear to be confused over what specifically to attack him about, especially as, under the normal rules of politics, a Republican who has committed adultery or taken money from Fannie Mae, or has used political connections for his own advantage in office (and on and on) should slink away in shame (for a Democrat to do these things, and much worse, is fine as far as the media are concerned – but Republicans are held to a different standard).

Yet Gingrich shows no shame whatever… → Continue reading: The best American Presidential debate so far was not a “debate”

Economist magazine madness

People who know me are most likely sick of my ranting against the Economist magazine, but an article in the present edition deserves to be noted – as example of establishment statist folly.

Under the title of “Poor By Definition” we are told that the Chinese government has adopted an international measure of poverty (support for international government, European-world-whatever, is one of the defining features of the establishment to which Economist magazine writers belong) which will mean that one hundred million extra people will get various forms of government benefit. This is “good news” – “for them” and “for the economy”.

Let us leave the World Government (world definition of poverty, claim of entitlement…) stuff aside – like its support for the European Union, the international statism of the Economist is too demented (and too unpopular – outside a narrow international elite) to be worth further comment. I will just comment upon the social and economic claim being made in the article.

One hundred million MORE (not less) people getting various forms of government benefit is a “good thing”. Someone can only suppose it is “good for them” if they have ignored all the careful examination of what welfare dependence does, to individuals, families and whole communities. Works such as “Losing Ground” have been out for some time – but if the Economist magazine writers have not yet got up to speed with Aristotle and Cicero (who made similar points about the Greek and Roman worlds) it is perhaps too much to hope they would have read and understood more recent studies on how just handing out benefits undermines people – destroys families, undermines communities by destroying self help and mutual aid. And on and on – the growth of the “underclass” and the destruction of such institutions as the family among large segments of the population (the poor) all over the Western world, has been a central element of the history over the last 40 to 50 years – but the Economist magazine writers have totally missed it.

As for “good for the economy” this is the spend-our-way-to-prosperity fallacy that the Classical Economists (such as J.B. Say and Bastiat) thought they had killed off – but got a zombie rebirth with the influence of the late Lord Keynes. As Hunter Lewis points out in his “Where Keynes Went Wrong“, what we call “Keynesianism” (all the central fallacies) had been refuted long before Keynes was even born – even Karl Marx (not known as a hard core “right winger”) laughed at the absurdities of what is now called “fiscal and monetary stimulus”. However, neither the works of the Classical Economists or more recent works (such as those by W.H. Hutt.., Henry Hazlitt, Ludwig Von Mises and many others) have had any effects on the minds of the international elite – because they have never read such writers. Their education is confined to nonsense and, being intelligent (but not wise) and hard working people, they absorb the nonsense and it remains with them for the rest of their lives. They base all their policy opinions and proposals on a foundation of nonsense – which they learned (with great attention) in their early years. They are (falsely) taught that rejecting common sense is the mark of the “intellectual” (putting them above the common herd of humanity) – and so they reject common sense (basic human reason) with a passion, embracing the absurdities they are taught, perhaps, because what they are taught is absurd.

Lastly the Economist magazine article declares that the money is better spent on expanding welfare schemes than on Chinese banks. An odd statement considering that the Economist magazine has been the leading defender, in the English speaking world, of credit bubble banking and government bailouts. From the rather limited interventionism (corporate welfare) suggested by Walter Bagehot (third editor of the Economist and enemy of then Governor of the Bank of England who, quite rightly, thought that Bagehot’s suggestions would encourage all that was bad in banking) to the “unlimited” (their word – used repeatedly in articles) money creation (money creation from NOTHING) that the Economist magazine has supported in relation to bank bailouts in the United States and for bank, and national government, bailouts in the European Union. Again for the Economist magazine to attack money being thrown at the banks (anywhere) is very odd. The last demented spit of a demented article – the product of an intellectually bankrupt elite who are pushing the world towards bankruptcy. Not just economic bankruptcy – but social, cultural and moral bankruptcy also.

Only 85 members of the German Parliament support the opinion of the people against yet more bailouts

The German people (like the British people and the American people) are overwhelmingly against the bailouts. But their opinion (like the opinion of the British and American peoples) has been ignored in the past – and vast sums of money have been spent.

Today was a vote over whether or not extra hundreds of billions are to be spent – and to be spent by an European Union executive agency with arbitrary powers. At least 70% of the German people were against this – in spite of the intense propaganda of the establishment media.

Yet only 85 members of the German Parliament voted to stop it.

It is the end – not just the end of any prospect that people will really face up to their problems (rather than scream for endless bailouts), but also the end for any pretence that modern government is in any real sense “democratic”. It is not a sudden emotional whim of the people that has been ignored – it is the settled opinion (conviction) of the people, which has been held (in spite of intense propaganda against it) for a long period of time, that has been spat upon.

“Vote them out”.

How? Both the governing CDU and the opposition SPD voted for endless bailouts and arbitrary executive power.

The corruption of the political and financial elite continues

As has been widely reported, Standard and Poor’s (S&P) credit rating agency is under criminal investigation for the “crime” of rating various financial instruments as low risk (“triple A”) when, in fact, these financial instruments were based on worthless mortgages (worthless as the original home loans were paid to people who had very little chance of ever paying them back).

No doubt S&P did not do their job of rating risk very well. After all S&P is part of a de facto government established cartel of ratings agencies (the vast level of regulation makes very difficult for new companies to compete in the credit rating business) and the government wanted its “affordable housing” policy to continue and part of that was for the original lenders (the banks and other such who had made loans to people who could not pay them back – partly to avoid legal action under the Community Reinvestment Act and partly because the Federal Reserve system was making lots and lots of cheap credit money available and it had to go somewhere) to be able to pass on the loans as securities and other financial products.

Also, of course, S&P (like the other ratings agencies) is paid by the people it is rating (not the people who want to check credit worthiness) so it has a perverted incentive to not look too closely at the financial products it rates – and the mortgage backed financial products (i.e. the pass-the-parcel-before-it-blows-up products) paid very well – especially as financial people (as financial people are apt to do) were using the mortgage based financial products as the basis for pyramid schemes – building vast constructions of debt upon them.

However, every single word of the above could be applied to the larger “Moody’s” Credit Ratings agency. For example, it was the credit rating enterprise that rated the (utterly demented) government backed (and government created) “Fannie Mae” and “Freddie Mac” (the organizations that own most American home loans) as perfectly safe.

Yet Moody’s is not under criminal investigation – why not?

By an odd coincidence S&P downgraded American government debt about a month ago – and (after observing the hostile reaction of the American government) Moody’s chose not to. Could this (as some have claimed) be the latest example of the “Chicago Way” where commercial “friends” get rewarded politically – and “enemies” get punished?

The existing regulations already gave the government (via such agencies as the SEC) vast (and, to a great extent, arbitrary) power. But the passing of “Dodd/Frank” (an Act of Congress named after, arguably, the most corrupt members of the Senate and the House of Representatives at the time) completed the process of turning the American financial system and markets it a political toy – totally under the control of the government. And presently it is a very corrupt government – dominated by Chicago Machine people (from the President down).

However, it is hard to have much sympathy for the financial companies and traders – they are, after all, addicted to government subsidies and have long stopped being anything to do with “free enterprise”.

For example, whenever a vast new government subsidy orgy is announced (such as a new round of funny money creation by the Federal Reserve – or a promise of a vast bailout for European banks) the markets go up not down. The long term is of no interest to most players on the market – they care only about the new money that government creates (from nothing) and their personal chances of getting some of it.

They (most of the financial elite) and the governments (for the other governments are much the same as the American one) are made for each other – it is just a shame that the rest of humanity has to live on the same planet as these people.

Happy Fourth of August

August the 4th 1789…

The day when the serfs (the few serfs there actually were in France) were freed and the day that all the old taxes and feudal restrictions were abolished.

Yes I know that what went before this day was evil and what came after this day was evil – but the day itself was good.

The one good day of the French Revolution.

Although (before the pedants start to bash me) I know the repeals did not fit into exactly this 24 hour period.

But the 4th of August has become known for the pro liberty moves.

Is the Afghan War lost?

I am not a consistent non-interventionist – as some people are fond of reminding me.

For example, I am no friend of the Slave Empire (sorry the “Slave Holding States of America” popularly known as the “Confederacy”), and I consider the struggle against the Axis Powers (National Socialist Germany, Fascist Italy, and the Empire of Japan) and the struggle against international Marxism, as two great achievements of the United States and Britain (and their allies) in the 20th century – not as shameful statism which should be condemned.

I even supported going into Afghanistan. It seemed the correct response to 9/11 and the other attacks by Bin Laden organization, to hunt him down and to hunt down his ally Mullah Omar, the creator of the Taliban – contrary to popular propaganda the Taliban was not created by the CIA to fight the Soviets.

However, it soon became clear that the Bush Administration was not making the hunting down of Bin Laden and Mullah Omar their top priority – which is most likely why the two men remain un-captured almost a decade after 9/11. Instead the Bush Administration fell in love with the Woodrow Wilson style “nation building” agenda of the “neo-cons”.

My attitude to the neo-cons is more nuanced than the attitude of most libertarians – in that I do not despise all of them. For example, I regard Frank Gaffney as a professional, I do not share some of his political opinions, but he is not a fool. Unlike most of the leading neo-cons who lined up to list the mistakes of the Bush Administration in Iraq and Afghanistan (mistakes often directly connected to their own wildly optimistic assumptions – a “detail” they tended to leave out) for Vanity Faire magazine in 2004 – in return for a promise that the article would not be published till after the election. That they were genuinely surprised when the magazine promptly broke this promise indicates a level of stupidity bordering on mental retardation. → Continue reading: Is the Afghan War lost?

George Soros’ Big Lie – “Market Fundamentalism”

Debate about George Soros has got bogged down.

Did he willingly help the Nazis deport Jews to their deaths, and plunder their property? Did he, even decades later, describe this as the most happy year of his life, fleeing only when he feared that the Nazis would discover that he himself was a Jew? Or did he have no choice, acting in the way he did simply out of a desire to save his own life?

How much did the parents of George Soros despise religious Jews? Did his father really support world government, and pass on this belief system to his son? Or was he just a man who enjoyed made up languages? Did his mother, in spite of being a Jew herself, really hate Jews? Or was it just a mild distaste? Does George Soros today fund groups, including groups in the Middle East, that want to wipe Israel from the map, out of hatred for Jews? Or, perhaps, out of hatred for any nation or individual that wishes to be fundamentally different – not part of a standardized world order? Or is Mr Soros simply ignorant of the true nature of the groups he funds?

Does George Soros fund – directly and via the Tides Foundation – groups in the United States that employ Marxists because he shares their desire to impose totalitarianism upon the world (making a mockery of his supposed anti totalitarian stand in Eastern Europe in past years)? Or because (again) he simply does not know the true nature of the groups he funds?

My own opinion is that the above is simply unknowable.

One can not get into the mind of George Soros to know whether he really knows that he funds anti-Israel groups, and far left groups. And one can not prove one way or the other whether he knows that many of the Marxists he funds, via the Soros money that goes to the groups they work for, are in “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” alliance with Islamist groups.

Mr Soros may simply be an old man totally unaware of, for example, the irony of his “Open Society Foundation” in the United States being controlled by a far left ex high officer of the SDS – someone who would be no friend of Karl Popper. For Soros to fund enemies of the Open Society in the name of the Open Society may simply be the result of a man whose brain is decaying with age – and who is getting a lot of bad counsel from evil advisers.

However, the written and spoken opinions of George Soros can be known.

Mr Soros may not be a good writer (I am not good writer either), but at least his works are fairly clear on his central claim. Pick one book at random, and the central political point is the same in each of the works that deal with policy. And his works have been stating the same central point – the same central lie – since at least the 1990s, so it cannot be a case of senility. If you wish me to pick out a single work, I suggest you look at the Open Society: The Crises of Global Capitalism. Remember that the first edition was published in the 1990s – long before any supposed senility can possibly have been a factor.

So what is the central lie told by George Soros?

It is his claim that “Market Fundamentalism” dominated the Western world in the 1990s, and in the 2000s. A fanatical laissez faire gripped the West, with government reduced to unimportance.

This is simply not true. → Continue reading: George Soros’ Big Lie – “Market Fundamentalism”

The rise and decline of freedom in Britain – the decline and rise of the State

Freedom/liberty is defined in different ways. Some people talk of “free will” of agency, of the ability (sometimes and to some extent) to choose. Of how human beings are just that (beings) not flesh robots whose actions are either determined by a process of causes and effects going back to the start of the universe or are a matter of random chance (neither determinism or random chance being agency – being human choice).

This is not the place to debate the existence of the “I” (the reasoning, self aware, self) and to argue that agency is not an “illusion” (although if it is a illusion who is having the illusion – humans being simply being flesh robots), but I will say that if humans are not “beings” (not agents) then freedom is of no moral importance. No more than it is of moral importance whether water is allowed to “run free” or constrained behind a dam. But then, of course, if there is no agency (no freedom of choice) then there is no morality anyway. A clockwork mouse does not have moral responsibility – and neither would something that looked like a human being but was, in fact, not a “being” (an agent – a choosing “I”) at all.

As for the position that it is “compatible” that a human might have no capacity what-so-ever to choose any of their actions (including lines of thought) and yet still be morally responsible for them – well it is not compatible, basic logic does not allow us to have our cake and eat it as well.

Others talk of freedom in terms of stuff – goods and services.

Such people may or may not accept that humans have the capacity (sometimes to some extent) to make real choices – but they hold that even if humans do have the ability to make choices this does not mean they should be allowed to.

People will make the wrong choices – they will do things make the world a worse place, even for themselves.

To some extent the political libertarian actually agrees with that – after all we do not believe that people should be allowed to make the choice to rob, rape or murder other people.

Or, rather, they should be allowed to make the choice – but not to act on it (aggression should be opposed), and they should be punished if they do act upon it.

Some people have suggested that we be called “propertarians” (rather than libertarians) because of our opposition to chosen actions that aggress against the bodies and goods of people – to which my response is “if you want to call me a propertarian do so – I do not take it as a insult”.

However, the political libertarian (such as myself) tends to deny that non-aggressive choices – choices that respect the bodies and goods of other people, tend to be “wrong” in general.

We hold that most people, most of the time are more likely to get things right than the “great and the good”.

Not just “were you ten times and wise you would not have the right to impose your plans upon myself and others”, but also “even if you were ten times as wise you would still muck it all up”. Indeed it would be claimed that the clever elite are not “wise” at all – for if they were “wise” (rather than just clever) they would understand that trying to “plan society” always ends badly.

In part at this point we move from philosophy to political economy – economics… → Continue reading: The rise and decline of freedom in Britain – the decline and rise of the State

A possible leader for UKIP whom I dislike more than I dislike David Cameron

Tim Congdon has thrown his hat in the ring to become the next leader of UKIP and that means UKIP could possibly end up with a leader whom I dislike even more than David Cameron (hard to believe, eh?).

I have disliked Tim Congdon long before I knew who David Cameron was. I remember him at a conference long ago – his reply to my suggestion that lending should be from real savings, and that governments should not subsidize or bailout banks (via such methods as the Bank of England lending them money) was to suggest that I supported a ban on overseas trade that (he stated) the Ming dynasty in China had imposed.

“Paul only you could hold a grudge over something like this” – not if the man had changed his opinions, but he has not (it is still corporate welfare all the way with him). Nor has he changed his manner – he does not debate, he just claims that foes do not understand banking.

If he means do not understand how to get paid lots of money for being an apologist for subsidies to the banks then he is right – although “understand” is not the correct word.