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]

Approaching the event horizon

The black hole at the heart of the Out campaign is this. After all those years of demanding this referendum, they can’t agree on what the UK would look like if it chose to self-eject from the European Union.

– Andrew Rawnsley writing in the Observer.

For a real black hole, the event horizon is the boundary from within which nothing, not even light, can ever escape. As Wikipedia puts it “Once a particle is inside the horizon, moving into the hole is as inevitable as moving forward in time.”

The black hole at the heart of the In campaign, and of the European Union itself, is that it was agreed among the elite what the future would look like years ago.

So the Out campaign – a collective noun that must stretch to encompass George Galloway, Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson – cannot agree? Glory in it! They cannot agree what the future UK would look like because it wouldn’t be up to them. Outside the EU event horizon the future would not be predetermined. It would be decided by the electorate. For real, I mean, in elections that mattered. Those mad buggers might do anything.

Good grief! The President of the European Parliament said something I agree with!

“If Brits want to leave, let them leave!”

…says Martin Schulz.

And I agree! How very nice of him to want to ‘let’ the Brits leave. He goes on to say how the UK “tests the patience” of EU politicians, presumably by being a net contributor to the EU’s funds.

Keep talking, Herr Schulz. Please, just keep talking. It is almost as if Farage himself had written this plonker’s remarks to push ever more people into voting OUT.

I believe the cry at Senlac Hill was “UT! UT! UT!”, even if on that occasion it was my Norman ancestors who had the best of the day.

“EU warns Britain any membership deal will be hard won”… er… what?

I really do not understand this.

EU warns Britain any membership deal will be hard won

The presupposition seems to be that in order to keep the UK in the EU, the UK will have to give a lot of negotiating ground. Why? If the UK leaves the EU, it will be because the UK electorate, not the UK government, gives Brussels an Agincourt salute in the referendum, and thus it does not behove the UK government, a craven collection of moon-faced pro-EU shits for the most part, to make that outcome more likely by caving in yet again to the Bastards in Berlaymont and elsewhere.

So surely the headline should read:

UK warns EU any continued membership deal will be hard won

It is the EU who must be the ones to give ground. The fact of the matter is, the UK does not need the EU more than the EU needs the UK. The UK are net contributors and will do just fine in a reinvigorated EFTA. The EU’s leaders would do well to remember that they need access to the UK’s market and not just the other way around, and that the UK is and always has been a global trading nation, not just a Little Europe focused one.

I would think this makes ‘Brexit’ more rather than less likely…

With EU political leaders nakedly threatening the UK with political and economic punishment if it leaves the EU, they are pretty much making the case for Farage et al.

If ever there was group of politicians just begging for a two finger Agincourt salute, it is the people mentioned in this article.

The bit I find particularly amusing is the notion the great and good in the EU think they can decide post-Brexit if London will remain a financial centre. Actually all it will take is more deregulation to make the UK even more attractive than it is now, and would that be easier in or out of the EU? Well out, obviously.


Arise, Sir Joris

Joris Luyendijk is actually Dutch but honorary knighthoods can be conferred on foreigners who “have made an important contribution to relations between their country and Britain”. I think he qualifies. He writes,

Yes, we would strangle or crush the English in the post-Brexit negotiations, the way any group of nations comprising 450 million people would to an opponent eight times smaller who has just tried to blackmail them

This is why the best way forward for Europe is to threaten to hit the English as hard as we can. We must stop treating membership of the EU as a favour granted by England, and instead make the English feel their vulnerability and dependence.

Phone versus Zone (again)

Dan Hannan, in a piece about how Indians would like Britain out of the EU so that Indians can more easily do business with Britain, ruminates upon the irrelevance of mere geography in the modern world:

Two generations ago, when most business was localised and freight costs were high, regional customs unions had a certain appeal. But in the Internet age, geographical proximity has never mattered less. Culture and kinship trump distance.

Likewise, in many eyes, lack of cultural affinity and lack of kinship trump geographical proximity, or they should. The biggest reason why Brexit seems now to be winning in Britain is that we are now watching EUrope make a hopeless mess of mass immigration from its geographically near but culturally very distinct eastern neighbours.

Near the end of the same piece Hannan says:

Next year, Britain will have to decide whether we are defined chiefly by our geography. Must we merge with states which happen to be in the vicinity, or do we recognise that some values transcend continents, linking us to kindred peoples in more distant lands?

I was having similar thoughts here, a while back, when the internet was just getting into its stride as a mass experience.

I see that I also had some rather prophetic things to say in that piece (posted in 2002) about the recently concluded Rugby World Cup (2015). The point being that rugby is an activity that was then and still remains at the mercy of geographical proximity. Rugby tournaments that happen every year, all the time, need to be based in the same approximate locality. Northern Hemisphere rugby teams were in 2002, and remain in 2015, physically separated from their superior Southern Hemisphere rivals. England had a little moment of superiority in the noughts, just winning the 2003 World Cup and coming second in 2007. So when England recently got knocked out at the group stage of the latest Rugby World Cup in 2015, in England, it felt like a uniquely terrible failure. But come the semi-finals this time around, no Northern Hemisphere teams remained in the tournament, despite the event itself having been held in the Northern Hemisphere. In the quarter finals, New Zealand slaughtered France, and Argentina decisively defeated Ireland, France and Ireland having been regarded by many as the best Northern Hemisphere bets. Many had realised that Argentina, who now regularly play against the Southern Hemisphere big three (NZ, Australia, South Africa) have recently got a lot better, but many others, me included, were amazed, not just by the fact of Argentina’s victory over Ireland but by the manner of it. Wales and Scotland did better but still lost, to South Africa and Australia.

However, the fact that regular rugby tournaments are obliged to cluster geographically is no reason for political entities to attempt to do the same. Geographical proximity to weaker teams and separation from the strongest teams is seen by Northern Hemisphere rugby people as a problem, not as any sort of answer to their problems.

With Dan Hannan, I say: Brexit. And it has to be a good sign that this anti-Brexit guy, in an article with very high google visibility, is making excuses about why his team may be about to lose rather than even attempting to make persuasive arguments about why it should win.

Samizdata quote of the day

Brussels is effectively offering landowners money to advertise the EU. Then again, that’s the reason that a lot of people in Britain agree to support the EU: NGOs, charities, big corporations and universities.

Daniel Hannan

Who should we blame in the Volkswagen scandal?

By now, everyone knows about the Volkswagen scandal. VW have admitted installing software that cuts exhaust emissions when their cars are being tested and lets them spew death and disease every which way when they’re not.

So who is the villain here? To my mind there are two possible suspects: the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Union. I know what you are thinking: why can’t we pin the blame on both of them? Well, cheer up because I think we can.

To my mind pollution is simple. The polluter pays the victim. I would like to find some non-state means for doing this and as I understand it in the days prior to environmentalism just such a mechanism – albeit involving courts – did indeed exist.

Of course, since then government has queered the pitch for everyone introducing two principles which it rolls out according to taste. One, that the polluter pays the government. Two, that the polluter becomes subject to government violence – or to put it in statist terms: pollution is regulated.

So, the government imposes regulations in which if you score below a certain number you are left alone and if you score above they send the boys round. Black mark against the EPA.

But meanwhile the EU has been promoting diesels like crazy over recent years. Whether this is a sinister French plot or the result of the global warming hoax, who knows. The really sad thing is that we have ended up with that abomination: the diesel-powered sports car. Oh yeah, and London’s air ain’t too great either.

Some diesel

Some diesel

Miscellaneous thoughts and questions

Why is that we are quite happy to use the term NOx but not the term COx? It makes no sense.

What were VW doing selling diesel cars in the US? Petrol (US = gasoline) is much cheaper there. So the market for diesel cars is much smaller. Come to think of it it’s probably because they were trying to make inroads into the market in the expectation that diesel taxes would come down making diesels more attractive. It is a tax issue isn’t it?

Why is it that cars are regulated in this way? I find it difficult to believe that a lorry or bus is in any way cleaner than a car. But I bet the latter two are not nearly as stringently regulated. To ask the question is, of course, to answer it. They do it because they can.

Did anyone else catch that excellent Mark Evans documentary about the diesel engine on BBC4 the other night? Comet swirl chambers, eh?

Cameron folds on demanding opt out from EU labour regulations

Seriously was anyone so credulous that they did not see this coming? To expect Cameron to stand his ground demanding the return of the opt out abandoned by Tony Blair, is like expecting a jellyfish to lift weights.

But at least the tech sector must be happy with Cameron, as he has promised to increase incentives for UK businesses to invest in more labour saving technologies, thereby increasing productivity and reducing total hours of employment needed, or to just automating certain jobs away entirely.

The EU’s Memory Holes

The European law gives individuals and institutions the right to demand that search engines such as Google must de-list postings containing ‘outdated’ or ‘irrelevant’ information. The Euro authorities insist that this cannot be construed as censorship, since the material will not actually be removed from the internet – it will simply not be linked to by Google and Co anymore. When plans for these regulations were first announced in 2012, the European Commission’s vice-president said: ‘It is clear that the right to be forgotten cannot amount to a right of the total erasure of history.’ That sounds like rewriting history. If material is not listed by search engines, it is effectively invisible to most online and ceases to exist as public information.

No, no, say the authorities, of course we are not banning this controversial book! We are simply ordering all libraries and bookshops to remove it from their shelves and websites forthwith. You will still be at liberty to read it – if you can find a copy anywhere, or even spot a reference to its existence…

Mick Hume

Subsidies: one of the very best ways to screw up an economy and a society

Krasimira is gloomy about the future. She doesn’t think Greece will implement the necessary reforms and will, in the end, have to leave the eurozone. As ever, she views the situation through a Bulgarian prism. “Greece has received €30 billion from Europe,” she says. (In fact the figure is far higher). “That’s more than seven other Balkan countries have received put together — I saw it on Bulgarian TV. You’ve got to pay back your debts in order to take more loans. If I ask you for a loan you’ll give it to me; if I can’t pay it back you wont give me any more.”

She has a final comment — on the EU subsidies. “In Bulgaria the state doesn’t give subsidies to the farmers.” She points to some sprinklers watering the garden. “So what you see here: water being wasted, you’ll never see in Bulgaria. My brother has 2,200 hectares there and grows corn and wheat and he is not allowed to overly water them, he has to rely on the weather. If it’s not good he has a problem.”

“Yes, the subsidies have made Greek farmers spoiled and wasteful. But since Bulgaria joined the EU and started receiving subsidies you’ve seen the same thing — people receiving subsidies and using them to buy houses and consumers goods instead of investing the money.”

The EU as resource curse: it’s an old tale — and one that seems to have had disastrous effects for Greece, which for years grew fat on easy money. Now in its time of crisis it must watch its poorer, leaner neighbor to the north further compound its deep, almost existential, despair.

– David Patrikarako, from the article Greece vs Bulgaria

François Hollande pays tribute to Jacques Delors in more than one sense

Le Journal du Dimanche printed a loyal address made by President Hollande to Jacques Delors on the occasion of the old emperor’s nintieth birthday.

Here are some extracts, translated by me and Messieurs Google et Bing:

“Because Europe can only advance if it carries the idea of ​​transcendence. No nation can contemplate giving up part of its sovereignty if it is not satisfied that it will emerge stronger from this process. He [Delors] intuited that out of the crisis, Europe needs to define a new horizon that can give rise to a new hope, because he knows that the European idea runs out of steam when it is no longer put into action.”

“What threatens us is not too much Europe but too little.”

“The eurozone has managed this week to reaffirm its cohesion with Greece.

The quality of the Franco-German relationship had a great deal to do with it. The European spirit prevailed. But we cannot stop there. I have offered to take forward Jacques Delors’s idea for a Government of the euro area with the addition of a specific budget and thus also a Parliament to ensure democratic control.”

Found via Bloomberg and the Drudge Report. The French original can be seen at the first link. Is he really saying what I think he’s saying? A unified Eurozone government?