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]

Germany to Gordon Brown: you are an idiot

Germany’s finance minister has gone on the record as saying that Britain’s rush into ever greater debt to try to halt a recession is foolish, even “depressing”.

Crikey. It makes me wonder whether Germany, mindful of what happened in the hyper-inflation of the 1920s, is worried that sooner or later, the vast amounts of money being hurled at the economies in the West, such as in Britain, will produce a sharp rise in inflation and that ever-higher borrowing will only prolong, but not halt, the current pain.

Anyway, this is bound to be seized upon by the Tories. It will be interesting to see if they do so.

A very relevant film about East Germany

The other night I rented out the DVD based on life in former East Germany, The Lives of Others. It is about what life in the former Communist state was like in the fag-end of the Cold War era. It portrays the extent to which people were spied on by the Stasi, and the brutal efficiency with which that organisation went about its job. It does not sound very promising material for an evening in front of the TV but the film is simply outstanding. I strongly recommend it.

Inevitably, given recent UK events and the government’s mania for CCTV, abuse of civil liberties and assault on the Common Law, the film has a certain poignance for a British viewer. It is also clearly apparent to me that once a critical number of people become involved in spying on others and earning a living from doing this, it is very hard to dislodge it but East Germany eventually crumbled along with the Berlin Wall. When, I wonder, will ZanuLabour have its 1989?

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.