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]

Discussion Point XXXI

According to Peter Hitchens:

The Atheists must reject Christianity as well as Islam. Alas, for them, Islam responds to their rejection by ignoring them, whereas Christianity tends to retreat before them. And a weakened church laces a vacuum into which Islam can move. Result? The growing power of Islam in our society, our culture, our government, our political parties and our schools, so that an essentially Atheist state pays increasing obeisance to Islam. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the new Atheists, by attacking Christianity, are simply clearing a space for Islam to establish itself in the space they have swept and garnished.

Discuss.

We are all good comrades now

As far as I know, it was my very good friend Sean Gabb who first posited a theory about who may be responsible for the hacking of the CRU e-mails that have now formed the basis of ‘Climategate’:

In short, I believe the Russians are behind this. It may be that all those megabytes of data were stolen by a computer hacker. There may be any number of people who are up to such hacking in the technical sense. But this seems to have been an integrated operation. Having the technical skills to get access to a computer archive is not the same as knowing where to look in that archive and what to look for. Nor is it the same as knowing what to do with it.

But the Russians had means and opportunity to do the job. Perhaps their security services are no longer as efficient and as well-funded as in Soviet times. But they are still there. Their mission is no longer to win the Cold War. But making life easier for Mr Putin and his friends is a large mission in itself.

I have no idea whether or not there is any truth in this. Certainly the Russian state has plenty of motivation but then so do a host of others. Sean offers very little in the way of evidence because there is very little in the way of evidence.

But, interestingly, there are some tufts of corroboration emerging:

Suspicions were growing last night that Russian security services were behind the leaking of the notorious British ‘Climategate’ emails which threaten to undermine tomorrow’s Copenhagen global warming summit.

An investigation by The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the explosive hacked emails from the University of East Anglia were leaked via a small web server in the formerly closed city of Tomsk in Siberia.

Have they merely read and then embellished Sean’s article I wonder? Or is there some flickering fire to accompany this smoke? The evidence is, at best, circumstantial.

But what if it does turn out to have been the former KGB? Would it not be an irony of historic proportions that an organisation formerly devoted to establishing a global tyrrany has thrown a big hammer-and-sickle into the works of their would-be successors? And, not just ironic, but also just.

Because if the warm-mongers get their way, then it is not the powerful and the well-connected that need fear their zealotry. The Al Gores and Zac Goldsmiths of the world can afford to bask in the green glow of personal glory, safe in the knowledge that their opulent lifestyles will not be compromised by so much a sterling silver napkin ring. They will soar (both literally and metaphorically) above it all. No, it is the Average Joe/Jane who will be forced to endure the austerity that their new overlords will demand. It is those who struggle to make ends meet who will be told that the planet can no longer afford their humble family saloon or their two weeks a year in the Algarve. It is the little people who will be stepped upon because they can be stepped upon.

Maybe, one day, we will know the true identity of the e-mail hackers. Or maybe we will never know. But I do sort of hope that it does turn out to be some guy called Yvgeny, acting on orders from the Kremlin, tapping away in a windowless room in a drab building on a military base in Krasnoyarsk because then, we will be able to say: congratulations, tovarisch! You have, at long last, established yourself as a Hero of the Proletariat.

Minarets ‘r’ not us

The result is in: the Swiss public has voted in favour of a proposition prohibiting the construction of any new minarets in their country. Note: this is not a ban on Islam or even the construction of mosques, just minarets.

Aside from all the obvious reprecussions (which are not hard to predict), it does occur to me that this raises an interesting and very thorny questions for libertarians because this is not a straightforward case of state repression. In fact, it appears that both the Swiss government and parliament were firmly opposed to the proposition which has been put to the public by referendum following a petition which was endorsed by a sufficient number of Swiss citizens. The Swiss state urged the public to reject the proposition but, having lost, is now forced, reluctantly, to change the constitution to enact the minaret ban into Swiss law. This was ground-up not top-down.

When a government says no to freedom of religious worship, it is easy to mount our high horses and ride forth bearing gleaming swords of indignation. But when a clear majority of the demos say no, well, then it gets rather harder. At least, it does for me.

Discussion Point XXX

“The British haven’t lost their fondness for liberty. We never had it.”

(Taken from this comment by Ian B)

Sunday morning joke

BREAKING NEWS

It has just been reported that the head gardener at The White House has been dismissed after 28 years of loyal service to the many US presidents.

When interviewed the elderly, Caucasian gardener protested his innocence and said:

All I know is I was walking past the Oval Office and I yelled out to my assistants, “Has anyone seen the spade and the hoe?” The next thing I knew I was fired.

Let’s get real

It has often been said that one of the more important functions of blogs like this is to get ‘memes’ (or ideas, as I prefer to call them) started and then spread around virally. In the spirit, I think it behoves us to begin spreading this idea: that people who work in the public sector should be exempt from having to pay tax. All tax.

And, no, I am not proposing to do them a big favour, though expect that many in the public sector will see it as a favour and that is all for the good. No, what I am proposing is the stripping away of a fig-leaf that disguises the very important distinction between tax-payers and tax-consumers.

Currently, only those who earn their living in the private or voluntary sector are tax-payers and while public sector employees do file tax returns and, on the face of it, pay their taxes too, this is a mere bookkeeping fiction. They are the recipients of tax, adding nothing to the public purse. The number of people who fail to understand this distinction, holding instead that “we are all taxpayers” is alarmingly high. By forcing the public sector to lead tax-free lives, we make their true status not just clearer but undeniable.

It is high time that we made it crystal clear as to who bears the burden of taxation and who enjoys the benefit; who produces the wealth and who gets the wealth handed to them. It is a cheap and easy means of dramatically changing the dynamic of all economic and political debate.

If you like this idea, then tell someone else. Let’s start spreading it.

Discussion Point XXIX

How has the current Western political class come into being?

What economic, social, historical, cultural, technological or other factors have contributed to its growth and ascendancy?

Not me

Gordon Brown and his pack of malignant ZaNulabour jackals do not deserve all this negative sentiment and opprobrium. No, really they don’t. They deserve far worse.

I regard ZaNulabour as just about the worst thing to happen to this country since the Black Death and I share Brian’s manifest and meritorious glee at the now-very-likely prospect of Mr. Brown (together with his toadies and his cronies and his aunts) being given their marching orders and sent packing off to political obscurity. If we lived in a more civilised world then this story would end with each and every one of them staring up at the glinting, merciless blade of Madame Guillotine. But we don’t, so I will have to content myself with some sincere and noisy expressions of satisfaction at their demise together with a toast to Guido Fawkes, who did so much to bring it about.

But, what then? What follows next after Mr. Brown and his minions have been given the big, national elbow? Well, in due course (and perhaps even short course) Mr. Brown will be replaced by Mr. Not-Brown. And what lessons will Mr. Not-Brown have learned from the rise and ignoble fall of Mr. Brown? He will have learned that you can relentlessly plunder the wealth-producing sector of the economy in order to provide booty for your clients and be regarded as a visionary leader. He will have learned that you can establish a pettyfogging, pecksniffing, bullying surveillance state and be called a great statesman. He will have learned that you can hack at a once-prosperous economy with punitive taxes and onerous regulations until said economy collapses in an anaemic heap and be praised as an economic genius. And, crucially, he will have learned that you can get away with doing all of that, as long as you observe parliamentary protocols and refrain from seeking to smear your political classmates. That is unacceptable.

So Mr. Not-Brown has had his very simple manifesto handed to him on a plate, courtesy of his predecessor. All Mr. Not-Brown has to do is to pledge to ‘clean up’ politics and put a stop to all this lack of propriety and he is home and hosed. He doesn’t even have to keep his pledge because everyone will be so relieved that Mr. Not-Brown is not Mr. Brown that they will believe him. They will want to believe him and so he will get a free pass to do pretty much whatever takes his fancy. All Mr. Not-Brown has to do (for a couple of years at least) is to make sure that his toadies and his cronies and his aunts keep their cards closer to their chests while they get on with what everybody agrees to be the praiseworthy and important business of stamping on our faces.

In the fullness of time, Mr. Not-Brown will also be humbled by some scandal or other (brought to light, I am sure, by Guido) but by then he will have had his fun and he will shuffle away only to hand the baton of national-ruin over to Mr.Not-Not-Brown.

I am already celebrating the unfolding ZaNulabour train wreck and I cannot begin to tell anyone just how pleased I will be to finally see the back of them. But my joy is tempered with the melancholy realisation that a change of government on the basis of sleaze means no real change at all.

Prison island

To date, we have been fortunate.

I say that because, given the consistently submissive nature of the British public, we have been blessed (yes, I do mean blessed) with a ruling political class that has been, relatively speaking, both modest in its ambitions and cautious in its actions. If they only realised how much more they could get away with we would, by now, be living in a hell on earth. This is why I say that we, so far, been very lucky.

But luck always runs out and I think ours is about to do just that:

Anyone departing the UK by land, sea or air will have their trip recorded and stored on a database for a decade.

Passengers leaving every international sea port, station or airport will have to supply detailed personal information as well as their travel plans. So-called “booze cruisers” who cross the Channel for a couple of hours to stock up on wine, beer and cigarettes will be subject to the rules.

In addition, weekend sailors and sea fishermen will be caught by the system if they plan to travel to another country – or face the possibility of criminal prosecution.

The owners of light aircraft will also be brought under the system, known as e-borders, which will eventually track 250 million journeys annually.

Even swimmers attempting to cross the Channel and their support teams will be subject to the rules which will require the provision of travellers’ personal information such as passport and credit card details, home and email addresses and exact travel plans.

Another database for the sake of it? Well, possibly. But I think we all know that it will not stop there. This is, of course, a prelude and a ‘softening up’ process for the eventual introduction of a requirement for exit visas (Soviet style).

So, a word of advice to any of my compatriots who are planning to emigrate abroad: settle your plans as soon as practicable and make your move within the next 5 years. After that, you may well find that your escape routes have been walled off.

Geert away from us

This is not the first time that the Home Office has used its discretionary powers to bar someone from entering the UK, nor surely will it be the last, but I cannot recall in my adult lifetime such powers ever being used against an elected, serving politician from a friendly, democratic country. And a member of the EU to boot!

Geert Wilders had been refused entry to the United Kingdom to broadcast his controversial anti-Muslim film Fitna in the House of Lords.

Mr Wilders said he had been told that in the interests of public order he will not be allowed to come to Britain.

Under normal circumstances, I would devote the rest of this article to speculation about the reasons behind this extraordinary decision. But, in this case, that would be redundant.

We all know why.

And now the end is near….

…and so they face the final curtain:

“Current estimates are that 700 of the 1,400 US newspapers will be out of business by the end of the next decade..”

Things have gotten so bad that the situation has even inspired a grass-roots effort of the kind usually aimed at curing deadly diseases, saving endangered species, or freeing the unfairly imprisoned: Today has been designated America’s “National buy a newspaper day”.

Their friends will say it clear, they’ll state their case of which they’re certain:

I don’t think it’s overstating the problem to say democracy is at stake.

But there were times, I’m sure you knew, when they’d print off something not quite true. But through it all, when there was doubt, they’d make it up and churn it out. The record shows, the public chose….

Tinsley says she’s optimistic that “after a period of markedly less in-depth reporting, the public will realize what it’s missing and the market will respond with a solution.”

….to do it our way.

Narrative narcosis

If there is anyone out there who still harbours doubts about the narcotic power of narrative, then I urge them to critically examine recent British history. This will confirm that such is the hallucinogenic power of narrative (or ‘discourse’ if you prefer) that it can capture an entire society in its analgesic embrace while being, not just divorced from the reality, but the demonstrably diametric opposite of the reality.

Since the late 1990′s everybody outside of us hardy but microscopic band of ideologues (and I do mean ‘everybody’ including his brother, mother, plumber and household pets) has been tub-thumpingly convinced that we have endured “the most right-wing government in history”. Oh my Lord, how right-wing it was! Uber-right-wing, ultra-rightist, extreme-uber-ultra-babyeatingly-sealcubbashingly-right-wing. Lord deliver us! Good people everywhere rolled their eyes heavenward and wondered just what was to become of us all in the new, ultra-neo-liberal, so-called-free-market, wild-west-uber-rampant-capitalist free-for-all.

Not us, of course. We could see the ugly truth that we were actually being sovietised. We told them all too. In fact, we shouted it from the blogtops. But was anybody listening? Were they hell. No, they were far too engaged in the generally agreed business of guffing on interminably about the rampant-wild-west-unregulated-greedy-so-called-laissez-faire-out-of-control-cowboy-shoot-’em-up-neo-liberal-free-for-all-unrestrained capitalist nightmare that was destined to reduce our once great nation to a dissipated radiation burst of lonely, atomised wage slaves chanting ‘greed is good’ as we are flung out to the frozen corners of an uncaring, Thatcherite universe.

So, do you think this incongruent moment of flying-piggery in today’s Times is going to incite a re-think?

PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found.

The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere….

The state now looms far larger in many parts of Britain than it did in former Soviet satellite states such as Hungary and Slovakia as they emerged from communism in the 1990s, when state spending accounted for about 60% of their economies.

Not a bit of it. By this evening, these stark truths will have disppeared down the memory-hole and, by tomorrow morning, everyone will be getting on with the urgent business of finding a strategy for bringing all this rampant, wild-west, cowboy capitalism back under control.

Does anybody have a truth serum?