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]

The Power of the Daleks – a correction

In a previous blog posting I may have given the impression that the rediscovery of the missing episodes of the Power of the Daleks Doctor Who serial would be about as welcome to the BBC as a new series of Jim’ll Fix It.

Of course, the impression that I meant to convey was that the BBC would in fact be delighted to be once again be in possession of the telerecordings and failing that would be quite prepared to go to the effort of animating the entire thing and making it available online from 5 November onwards.

Thanks, Recep old boy. Cheque’s in the post. Yours, Boris.

The Telegraph reports,

Turkey demands Germany prosecute comedian for Erdogan insult

Angela Merkel is facing a political dilemma after Turkey demanded one of Germany’s most popular comedians face prosecution for insulting its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The row could jeopardise the EU’s controversial migrant deal with Turkey.

The German government confirmed on Monday it had received a “formal request” from Turkey over the weekend indicating it wishes to press charges in the case.

If Mrs Merkel agrees to allow the prosecution, she will face accusations of limiting free speech to placate the authoritarian Mr Erdogan.

But if she refuses it could put the migrant deal with Turkey, which she personally brokered, at risk.

Jan Böhmermann, one of Germany’s most successful young comedians, faces up to five years in prison over a poem in which he referred to Mr Erdogan as a “goat-f*****” and described him as watching child pornography.

Insulting a foreign head of state is illegal under German law, but a prosecution can only take place if a foreign government requests it.

Any prosecution also requires the express authorisation of the German government — leaving Mrs Merkel in a difficult position.

Posing a question about migration

I wonder if it ever crosses the mind of any refugee that the countries of western Europe are free and prosperous not as a temporary co-incidence and a convenient solution to their woes, but because the inhabitants of those countries fought over many centuries at an incalculable cost to life for the freedom they enjoy today? It is a matter of not inconsiderable astonishment to me that of the many millions of us who care for justice and an end to human misery, few if any are calling attention to the conditions that prevail in theocratic tyrannies, or demanding, in the first place, absolute rejection by western governments of theocratic tyranny, wherever it may prevail (even in nominally “friendly” nations), and, concomitantly, resistance and rejection by citizens of theocratic (and secular) countries to the tyrannies that exist either in their name or the absence of their implacable resistance. No commentator that I have yet heard has ever held the citizens of theocracies accountable for the “governments” they live under, There has been much hand wringing at the absence of effective action now available to the Western powers to bring peace to Middle Eastern tyrannies, but no suggestion that citizens are complicit in the establishment of fascist regimes that always and inevitably morph into tyranny.

I am aware that by their endless chicanery, opportunism and hypocrisy, western powers have signally contributed towards the destabilisation of many countries of the world, certainly including many in the Middle East, and they therefore have a lot to answer for, but even so, this does not in itself exculpate the residents, the sometime voters, the fellow travellers, and – sorry it must be said – the co-religionists of tyranny, who looked the other way when bad things were done in their name, or who indeed conspired in the doing of such bad things.

It will be argued by the professional philanthropic classes of the West that the conditions prevailing in the many tyrannies of the Middle East or Africa or Asia are altogether too hostile, cruel and implacable to admit of resistance. They conveniently forget the iron grip that monarchism and the Roman Catholic Church had on Europe, but which was successfully prised open by freedom loving people, to say nothing of the unendurable socio-economic conditions that ordinary people had to fight so hard and so long against to overcome. It is the heroism and the courage of such ordinary people that we all have to thank for the blessed conditions of freedom that prevail in Western Europe, it is not a consequence of good luck or privilege.

Colin Bower

It is difficult to know to what extent people who live in theocracies can have or should have responsibility for the waking nightmare of the society in which they live or be blamed for not doing more to change it. For example, to what extent should I, or any other Samizdata commentator, take responsibility for some of the cretinous, statist, zero-sum economic views that are embedded in the governance of the countries in which we live? We can do what we can to change the climate of opinion, but this is hard and the beneficial effects of any struggles take decades or more to bear fruit.

On immigrants

I’m afraid I feel rather personally about the current immigration crises in the United States and Europe.

(Yes, we have a crisis in the United States as well, or at least, we have Presidential candidates with high poll numbers claiming that we do, and said candidates are threatening to enact draconian measures, including mass deportations.)

I take the matter quite personally because my own father was once a war refugee. Indeed, he was once a war refugee who, because he was a member of a non-Christian religion, was denied refuge in more or less every civilized part of the world. Seventy five years ago, of course, Jews were not considered particularly welcome even by countries that knew full well what was happening in Germany.

My father managed to save himself by ignoring laws that said that he wasn’t allowed to cross borders in the night without permission. Had it been up to many people, of course, he would have died instead, but he quite sensibly believed that he was under no moral obligation to pay attention to people who would have preferred him to remain where he was and die, and thus he formed his own immigration plan without the permission of the legal authorities at his destination.

(Of course, only this morning I read that Victor Orbán has complained that allowing Syrians into Europe would diminish the Christian character of the continent, the sort of claim I’ve heard before in different contexts, including from the political movement that forced my father to flee in the first place. This does bring to mind an ancient set of questions for adherents of Christianity, such as what sort of razor-wire walled internment camp designs Jesus would have favored, as well as whom Jesus would have deported. But I digress.)

For me, the question of immigration is, because of my family history, a very emotional one. None the less, I have given the matter a considerable amount of thought, and I believe that, although I care deeply about the issue, my position is still not an irrational one. Rather, I think that my family history simply allows me to put faces to the theoretical people who might be denied passage and die where they are, and thus gives me the ability to understand by example the human consequences of policies.

(Indeed, this is perhaps much the same thing that has happened for people who have viewed the the photographs of poor Aylan Kurdi, who drowned because even though his family had plenty of money to go from where they were to a place of safety, they had to give it to smugglers instead of to a reliable airline or ferry company. Seeing an individual face, hearing an individual name, makes it harder to ignore the consequences of a policy. But again, I digress.)

So, as I have said, I’ve thought long and hard about this, and I’ve come to a straightforward conclusion. Anyone proposing that immigration from one country to another be stopped through the use of coercive state violence is, morally speaking, doing the equivalent of proposing to beat on the hands of a drowning man desperately trying to climb out of the sea.

I claim that there is no more moral justification for preventing a man from Homs from traveling to your town, renting a house and then looking for work than there would be for preventing a man from within the borders of your supposed “nation state” from doing the same. I have scoured the literature on moral philosophy and failed to find any justification for the claim that a man born across an imaginary line has particularly different rights than a man born within it. I claim this is true regardless of whether the man from Homs seeks to rent the house next door because he is fleeing for his life or because he prefers the weather in your part of the world.

Indeed, the only way to stop a man from Homs from traveling to your town, renting an apartment from a willing owner, and taking a job from a willing employer, would seem to be to threaten to do violence or actually to do violence to that man. Which is to say, the only way to prevent him from moving would be the initiation of violence against an entirely peaceful person who has done nothing whatsoever to the people doing violence to him.

Therefore, not only would it seem that there is no moral justification for preventing such behavior, and not only would it seem churlish, but it would also seem that, if anything at all can be called immoral, then doing violence to a peaceful person who wants nothing more than to rent a house, find a job and live as everyone else does is immoral. Perhaps, of course, there is no such thing as right and wrong beyond personal whim, perhaps morals are not a real thing at all, but if morals are indeed a real thing and if morality means anything useful, then clearly such acts are immoral.

I know that some, perhaps even here on Samizdata, would suggest that immigrants are coming to the West to take advantage of our generous state welfare policies. If you believe that, then there is a trivial solution. I will in no way oppose the proposal that the law that opens the border should also specify that immigrants and even their children should not receive state benefits until they’ve lived in the country for ten, or twenty, or, who cares, make it a thousand years if you like. I don’t believe in the dole or state benefits of any sort to begin with, so I can’t consistently oppose denying people such benefits.

I have heard some others say “but they will vote and they are illiberal!”, and if you believe that, fine, deny them the right to vote — I’m an anarchist, and as I don’t believe in elections in the first place, I feel comfortable with denying the franchise to immigrants forever if you feel that is necessary for you to agree to open the border.

But, if you refuse to consider opening the border even if those coming are doing so with their own resources, are renting or buying homes with their own money, are not taking state benefits and are not voting for more collectivism, then I am afraid that I do have to look askance at your position.

Which is to say, your position was immoral in the first place, but if you refuse to reverse a completely immoral position even if the supposed “pragmatic” rationale for holding it vanishes, then perhaps your rationale is not only immoral but was also not held for pragmatic reasons in the first place.

London for Londoners

I spent some time in and around Leicester Square / Covent Garden / Oxford Street in central London this afternoon. The centre of the metropolis on a Saturday afternoon is full of people from other places. These people walk too slowly, don’t know when to stand and when to walk on the escalators (and which side to stand on), sometimes attempt to start conversations with strangers, and lack the proper air of purposefulness that is an integral part of the ancient London culture. At times they speak with absurd accents, totally different and much more jarring than the Slavic, Francophone and Hindustani accents that are so comfortable and reassuring, and that I am so used to hearing.

At times like this afternoon I feel alienated. I am culturally in a foreign place. This is no longer my city. This is not the city I did not grow up in.

When the London Independence Party (LIP) comes to power, something must be done about this. I fear that it is going to be necessary to impose border controls – at least on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings. These must be imposed near Watford, Epping, Reading, and a few other places, so that LONDON FOR LONDONERS can be maintained on our weekends.

Simultaneously we must maintain, defend, and keep open at all costs the corridors to Stansted, to Gatwick, and to Luton – to our precious airports. Desirable people must be allowed the freedom to come and go as they please, of course.

A political challenge

From the Daily Mail:

Polish prince challenges Nigel Farage to a DUEL with swords over Ukip slurs on immigrants

And why not? Resort to the field of honour would be in accordance with prime ministerial precedent. Those were the days. The Sussex Advertiser of 23rd March 1829 blandly recorded, “His Grace was seen riding through the Horse-Guards at six o’clock on Saturday morning, and returned to Downing-street at eight.”

Common sense from a politician? Whatever next!

It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom… But if you don’t like freedom, for heaven’s sake pack your bags and leave. There may be a place in the world where you can be yourself, be honest with yourself and do not go and kill innocent journalists. And if you do not like it here because humorists you do not like make a newspaper, may I then say you can fuck off.

Ahmed Aboutaleb, the Mayor of Rotterdam, speaking on live TV.

Pendulums swing. That is what they do

For years, those of us who have supported mass migration, and believed in the social and economic benefits its brings, deluded ourselves. We conned ourselves into thinking we represented the majority viewpoint, and reacted with visceral anger towards anyone who dared challenge our cosy world view. And it was a disaster. We did shut down debate, which in turn created a political vacuum. One that was filled initially by the BNP, and is currently being filled by Ukip. But now the pendulum has swung back. With a vengeance. Where once everything was decried as racist, suddenly nothing is racist. Where every legitimate question about immigration was ritualistically dismissed as base prejudice, now every overt and coded racial, homophobic or misogynistic slur is deconstructed, and rationalised and legitimised.

Dan Hodges.

He deserves credit for recognising that at one stage, a lot of supposedly right-thinking people wanted to regard anyone who challenged unfettered immigration as bigots, when they emphatically weren’t. And he’s also right that when genuinely vile sentiments are expressed, there is a sort of knee-jerk reaction from those who think of themselves as anti-Politically Correct to make excuses for such remarks.  (We forget that there is a sort of right-wing version of PC group-think).

As a libertarian, I think it is always good to point out the following: Bigotry that is not backed up by state coercion (as in the apartheid regime in South Africa, Jim Crow in the US etc) is a cost to the bigot; the racist employer who refuses to hire those from certain groups imposes a cost on that business, and in a vigorous free market economy, bigotry gets weeded out over time as a result. Capitalism, and a widely dispersed system of private property, is arguably the greatest force against such attitudes that has ever existed. But I also don’t – unlike some libertarians perhaps – think it is enough to just follow the non-initiation of force principle and leave it at that. I do think that a healthy society, of the sort I want to be a part of, needs to have a critical mass of its population to be rational, tolerant and civilised. If, on the other hand, you have a society in which, say, the majority are none of those things, then even if such a society observes some of the forms of a liberal order, in practice it will be a pretty shitty place in which to live. In other words, culture, or call it what you will, does matter. A lot.

(Health warning: my quoting Hodges, who is a man of the Left, does not imply I agree with all of his views in the article I linked to.)



A very London dialogue…

The setting is North End Road in Fulham, London, near a large street side food and fresh produce market. There is a stand with a whole roasting hog covered in fennel, described as ‘Italian Roast Pig’ by a large sign. It is in fact run by a couple Bulgarian guys who I know. The food tastes… exquisite. I eat there every Friday.

A man walked up to them, obviously a Muslim. He peers at the roasting pig, sniffs and look at the man inside the stand.

(Muslim bloke, pointing a large bowl of sauce. Good english with an East London accent) “Hmmm… what’s that?”

(Bulgarian proprietor. Good english with a South London accent) “Apple sauce. We make it ourselves from English apples.”

(Muslim bloke, pointing at the roasting pig) “Is that halal?”

(Bulgarian proprietor, looking perplexed) “Er… not really.”

(Muslim bloke, winking) “Oh, right. I’ll have mine with the apple sauce then.”

Samizdata quote of the day

The Hoppean position on immigration is illogical; you do not reduce the scope of the state by increasing it and the number of tasks it undertakes. We should be looking at ways to limit the damage and cost of government now, and not sit in ivory towers trying to fudge a philosophical position that takes away the right of free association.

Allrik Birch

Worrying about immigration was wrong then and it’s wrong now

Dr Frederick L. Hoffman, speaking at the International Eugenics Congress, as reported in the Times of 27 July 1912:

He said the statistics were taken from the [Rhode Island] State Census of 1905. They showed two things – first that half the population of this typical New England State were of foreign extraction, and, secondly, that fewer native-born women were married and had families as compared with foreign-born women. The statistics also showed that a far larger percentage of Roman Catholic married women were mothers. Therefore, this originally Protestant State was in a fair way of becoming Roman Catholic. He thought these figures showed an alarming tendency in American life.

Sound familiar? Of course it does. These are exactly the same fears we hear today and they are no more valid now than they were then. Well, I say that. I assume that Rhode Island is a functioning state albeit a social democratic one.

As this is a eugenics conference I can’t help being reminded of this choice quote from Niall Ferguson:

The crucial point to note is that a hundred years ago work like Galton’s was at the cutting edge of science. Racism was not some backward-looking reactionary ideology; the scientifically uneducated embraced it as enthusiastically as people today accept the theory of man-made global warming.

Who in the world has been going where in the world

I love David Thompson’s ephemera postings, which he does every Friday. Buried in among the fun and games are often things with a bit of a message, in favour of Thompsonism and against horribleness.

So, today, for instance, there is a link to three lists, of top migrant destinations, top emigration countries, and top “migration corridors”, migration corridors being country pairs, from and to. List one says how many people in each country were not born there, and the second list says how many people who were born there have now gone.

I have always believed that how people have been voting with their feet is one of the most potent judgements there can be at any particular moment in history, on the varying merits and demerits of different countries and different political and economic systems. The USSR bombarded the world with high decibel claims about the wonderfulness of itself and of its various national possessions, but could not explain why so many people wanted out, and so desperately, and so few in. How come the Berlin Wall only pointed in one particular direction? How come they were the ones who built it?

Contrariwise, the world’s anti-Thompsonists of an earlier time cursed the hideous exploitation of the emerging sweatshop (then) economies of South East Asia, but could not explain why people would swim through shark-infested waters, in order to be hideously exploited.

Such numbers also register how welcoming or unwelcoming different countries are towards being “flooded” with incomers. The USA, of course, is the country that positively defines itself as the country of migrants. That the USA, now as always, is by far the top migrant destination, leaving the rest in a clump far behind, says it all about the continuing vitality of the USA as the go-to superpower of the world, still, despite all the blunders its rulers are now making and which the USA itself is so good at drawing everyone’s attention to.

Russia and Saudi Arabia must also be doing something right, despite the stories you hear, and at least compared to the alternatives for those flooding in. Money plus labour shortages would be my guesses, in both cases.

The UK features in the top ten both for migration in and emigration out. That is a telling fact, is it not? India and Russia are also on both lists.

The biggest upheavals are surely the big numbers that pertain to countries with small populations. When you talk percentages, Australia looks to me positively USA-like in its eagerness to attract newcomers. That China, despite its colossal size and formidable recent economic vitality, is not on the top destination list is also quite telling, is it not?

These numbers are more than just ephemeral curiosities, I would say.