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]

What is ‘fight the power’ in German?

There is a great little article in Slashdot about a well known German hacker group, Chaos Computer Club, publishing the fingerprints of German Secretary of the Interior as part of their protest against state use of biometric ID.

The club published 4,000 copies of their magazine Die Datenschleuder including a plastic foil reproducing the minister’s fingerprint – ready to glue to someone else’s finger to provide a false biometric reading. The CCC has a page on their site detailing how to make such a fake fingerprint

Sweet. I suppose that is a ‘hardware hack’ of sorts!

Motoring architecture

If you buy a new BMW car, you can make a trip to the place near where these fine German machines are built, in southern Germany. These photos of the building where many of the cars are kept for their owners are impressive. One thing that people who criticise some of the horrendous modern architecture used to house people en masse in the 1950s, 60s and 70s tend to forget is that when these buildings are done right and with the needs of clients in mind, they work superbly.

Of course, some stunning cars have been made in very ordinary-looking places indeed. Like Aston Martin.

Brian Micklethwait has dug out some superb pictures of modern buildings via this guy. Amazing stuff.

Competing currencies in Germany

An idea of the late FA Hayek was that people could use different currencies within the same jurisdiction and break away from the idea that if you lived in country A or B, you could only use one currency within A or B and never use more than one in each place. The idea of “monopoly money” is so ingrained that to broach the idea is to incur looks of incredulity. (“But surely that would be messy!”) Now, I have looked quite a bit at the idea of competing currencies and there strikes me as being nothing that is implausible about such an idea as such. This story in the Daily Telegraph is therefore most interesting:

If you live in the Bavarian region of Chiemgau, you can exist for months at a time in a euro-free zone of hills and lakes with a population of half a million people. Restaurants, bakeries, hairdressers and a network of supermarkets will accept the local currency: the Chiemgauer.

Notes are exchanged freely like legal tender. You can even use a debit card. Petrol stations are still a problem, but biofuel outlets are signing up. Dentists are next.

The Chiemgauer is one of 16 regional currencies that have sprung into existence across Germany and Austria since the launch of the euro five years ago.

Article worth reading here from time back by Max More.

‘Universal jurisdiction’

The idea that any country has universal jurisdiction over citizens of other countries, and can try them for actions taking place in yet a third country, would be risible if it were not deeply offensive.

One would think the Germans, of all people, would exhibit a tad more humility in these matters, but if the assertion of universal jurisdiction is not symptomotic of a colossal arrogance, I do not know what is. You would have thought we kicked this nonsense out of the Germans during the ’40s, but I guess not.

It also makes the concept of ‘representative government’ rather irrelevant – after all, the Americans who are apparently now subject to German law never voted in any German election.

It does place our new Democratic overlords in rather an awkward spot; they loathe Rumsfeld, but I suspect that even they are reluctant to bundle him off to Germany for judgement by lefty Euros and miscellaneous anti-American yahoos. After all, if a Republican official is subject to German judgement, why, so might be a Democratic official, should the Rodham-Clinton administration find it necessary to stand up to the jihadis in ways that the neo-dhimmis of Eurabia find offensive.

Heartening self defence story from Germany

This via Reuters:

A 70-year-old British pensioner, trained in martial arts during his military service, dispatched a gang of four would-be muggers in a late-night attack in Germany.

“Looks like he had everything under control,” a police spokesman from the German town of Bielefeld said of the incident last Friday.

The man, a native of Birmingham who now lives in Germany, was challenged by three men, demanding money, while a fourth crept up behind him. Recalling his training, the Briton grabbed the first assailant and threw him over his shoulder.

When a second man tried to kick him, the pensioner grabbed his foot and tipped him to the ground. At this point, the three men, thought to be aged between 18 and 25, fled, carrying their injured accomplice with them.

The pensioner, whose name was not immediately available, suffered light abrasions.

Well, some of our older citizens are not pussies, it seems. I trust and hope that this guy gets a commendation for dealing with these scum in such an exemplary manner.

I have taken some lessons with these guys, and I can strongly recommend them for those in decent physical shape (and that does not mean you have to be a big tough bruiser, either. There is something positively encouraging about watching a petite woman throw off an attack by a 6 foot-tall rugby player type).

Vorsprung durch realpolitik

The European ‘social model’ is nearing the end of the road:

Jobless Germans could be forced to surrender anything but the cheapest of cars to keep their benefit payments flowing, if a plan by conservative politicians goes ahead.

The latest bid to make drawing Germany’s traditionally generous social benefits less attractive would see the long-term unemployed forced to shun high-end “Vorsprung Durch Technik” Audi convertibles, BMWs and Mercedes S Class cars for distinctly lesser models.

Those who live by the state will die by the state.

Lets hear it for the famous Germany work ethic!

As the splendidly politically incorrect Ray D. puts it:

This much is clear: Next year’s World Cup in Germany promises to be a high-scoring event!


The cliff-hanger in Germany

Just in case you have not been already doing so, essential blog commentary on Germany’s cliff-hanger can be found over on David’s Medienkritik.

It will be interested to see if just under 12% unemployment has actually got the attention of the German electorate or is it going to be more of the same old stuff? Angela Merkel is something of an unknown quantity and the mere fact she is described as a ‘loose cannon’ by the political chattering classes makes her someone worth watching with at least a soupcon of hope. Germany badly needs an ‘Iron Lady’ so it will be interesting to see if Angela Merkel has what it takes or will the entrenched system just make her one of them.

The election hangs on a knife edge…

Then they can call the tune

Bob ‘give-us-yer-fokken-money’ Geldof must be losing his touch:

Berlin’s planned Live8 concert next week threatens to turn into a fiasco because it has failed to attract the support of politicians or business sponsors, the event’s German organiser has admitted.

Marek Lieberberg, a friend of Bob Geldof contracted to run the Live8 concert in Berlin, said the lack of support meant the rock bands appearing at the event risked having to pay for the €1m (£663,000) show themselves.

A risk? Surely not a ‘risk’ but a heaven-sent opportunity for the socially-conscious cream of the rockeratti to put their own money where their big ‘fokken’ mouths are.

The locust gambit failed

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s social democratic (SPD) party has been hit hard in regional elections over the weekend, with voter anger at his party over the crummy state of the economy overwhelming an attempt by some of his own party members to whip up a storm of anti-capitalist sentiment in order to cling to power. Good. I honestly don’t know whether we are seeing a transition phase in Germany towards sanity and liberal economics. What is clear is that a country that has suffered double-digit unemployment for more than half a decade cannot go on like this without dreadful strains on its social fabric. Maybe some of the more intelligent parts of the German political class might get this point. We need the once-mighty German economic machine, brought to such a pitch by the late great Konrad Adenauer and Ludwig Ehrhard (friend of Hayek) brought to a purring level of growth again. It is in no-body’s interests, least of all ours in Britain, to see that nation permanently in the doldrums.

There is a related article here about what has gone wrong in Germany here in the latest edition of the Spectator. As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, read the whole thing.

Gordon Gekko goes to Germany

German’s leftwing SPD politicians have been bashing those symbols of hated capitalist activity, private equity buyout funds which look out for distressed firms, sell off some of the assets and reconstruct the remainder in the hope of turning a business around, before selling it at a profit. How shameful. Such people are “locusts” destroying Germany’s economy, scream the politicians (who of course have been doing a tremendous job on that score).

In fact, I find all this abuse rather encouraging. If entrepreneurs see value in the German economic landscape, and perceive there are rich profits to be made in turning around businesses and then flogging them off, it is very good news indeed for the country’s economy. By releasing capital from uneconomic areas and focussing it on lucrative new bits, the overall pie gets bigger, jobs get created, and productivity is also increased.

In fact, one could almost create a new economic law: the amount of abuse raining down on entrepreneurs is directly proportional to the good they do. I haven’t seen much reason to doubt this law yet.


Downfall (Der Untergang) proved the perfect foil to the Europe of the Diversities conference, referred to earlier by Johnathan Pearce. This is a controversial film that has excited some who argue that representations of the Nazis which humanise their actions, and detail their suffering, downplay the consequences of the regime. There is weight to this argument, as the film focuses fully on the people within Hitler’s bunker, their loyalty, their duty and their concerns in those final days.

Deftly underscored by Stephan Zacharias’s string-laden soundscape and cinematographer Rainer Klausmann’s truly terrific skill in capturing of the grim reality of the horror that was 1945 Berlin, Hirschbiegel pushes many buttons: the collective guilt of a nation for atrocities committed by their state balanced against the horrific human price of no surrender; the astonishing loyalty of the women around the cold-hearted dictator and the SS who vow to fight on because “we cannot outlive the Fuhrer’s death”; the double standard of being superior but cleansing themselves of traitors and the imperfect until there’s no leadership left to carry the torch.

Although Friedrich Hayek argued that totalitarian regimes allowed thugs and psychopaths to enter positions of authority, this film shows that traditional values of honour and duty were perverted and strengthened by the Nazis. In the film, it is Prussian values which sustain the dying regime, bring the Hitler Youth onto the streets and motivate the soldiers.

One should watch Shoah prior to this, as an inoculation, since one must make a conscious effort to recollect the camps in order to avoid feeling any empathy with these monsters.

UPDATE: For those who thought my link to a revisionist website was too obscure a warning signal that these memes still exist, here is an interview with Lanzmann, the director of Shoah, explaining the reasons why his work must exist.