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 new world of news

It is interesting that media groups like the Kurdish Rûdaw are now able to plonk their news on YouTube with English subtitles, giving us yet another perspective of what is happening beyond the usual suspects.

I find it fascinating. Of course it will be no less slanted depending on the sensibilities of the source, but the notion of being able to watch stuff from a Kurdish news organisation in Erbil would have seemed fantastical just a few years ago. The fact they provide foreign subtitles is very telling.

Deleted by the Guardian

I have never… ever… heard a person of Pakistani or Arab origins called ‘Asian’ in the UK other than in the mainstream media. Never. Not even once.

It is a measure of how disconnected the media is from the society it ‘serves’. Come to think of it, that was precisely why I started blogging in November 2001.

- A comment by me deleted by the Guardian here. I think that is very telling.

Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms

Do an internet search today of any British newspaper for the word “Rotherham” and you will find accounts of how, to quote the Daily Mail’s headline, a “[d]amning report reveals 1,400 girls were abused by sex gangs because social workers and police feared racism claims – so did nothing”.

Nothing new here. There have been similar instances of organised and long-term child abuse by groups of Muslims going unpunished due to fear of claims of racism in Rochdale, Oxford, Derby, Telford and Keighley.

What is changing is the level of fury expressed not just about the rape and enslavement of the victims, nor just about the dereliction of duty on the part of social workers and police, but also about the efforts of the media to downplay that the perpetrators were Muslim. I picked the three links above because all three stories allowed comments. It is remarkable how similar the comments in the left-wing Guardian are to those in the right-wing Mail. Sarcastic, sad, jeering, hesitant or spitting righteous anger; the tone varied but outrage over that particular type of dishonesty was expressed again and again. The usual media procedure is to substitute “Asian” for “Muslim”, or for “Pakistani”, which would give the game away to anyone with a basic knowledge of the Indian subcontinent. I should say that given the relatively low numbers of orientals in Britain it is normal in British casual speech to say “Asian” when one really means “South Asian”, but British Sikhs and Hindus greatly resent the literal racism of the use of the term “Asian” in the context of this series of distinctly Muslim crimes. In some of their stories the BBC has gone further, from blurring relevant details to excising them. These BBC stories simply speak of events “in Rotherham” – even though the independent inquiry that started this firestorm of comment specifically says that fear of being denounced as racist (religious and racial prejudice are deliberately lumped together) was what kept the social workers silent. Instead Rotherham social workers devoted their child protection efforts to taking away their foster-children from a respectable couple on the grounds that they were members of UKIP.

Probably no one who who has ever had a hand in censoring mention of Islam from news reports will ever read this. But on the off-chance that someone relevant does, or in the faint hope that the general idea if not my particular words might reach such a person by indirect means, I would like to ask you, Ms or Mr Media Person, a question. Apart from the question of honest reporting, how do you think the strategy of silence and euphemism is working? Is the British public more or less likely to distinguish between the criminals of Rotherham and the next random “Asian” they see because the press has for so long refused to distinguish? Has it been successfully concealed that a common factor in these abuse rings has been that some Muslim men see non-Muslim girls as “white trash” and unworthy of respect? Not that the politically correct would care about this, but have the brave efforts of some Muslims to confront these warped attitudes been helped or hindered by the evasion?

How is one to know which horrors outrank which?

The rage metre has been in the red for a while now, with Baroness Warsi, a Muslim in case you did not know (or Baroness Token as she is known in some parts), quitting over the UK’s policies towards Israel (yes it is said the UK actually has a policy on the subject). Strangely she did not quit the government in protest over UK support of Pakistan, at a time when several hundred thousand people have been displaced by strikes against the Taliban in Waziristan. Go figure! I wonder why? Actually, no I don’t.

So what will be the reactions and suggestions from within the BBC/Guardian Bubble to the rapidly building catastrophe in Iraq amongst the Yazidi and Christian communities, I wonder? I realise these communities are being ethnically cleansed (i.e. murdered and dispossessed) but as it is not being done by Jews or Westerners, does it really matter? Indeed can it even be said to be truly happening? It will be interesting to see and contrast I think, in a nightmarish kind of way.

You wanted edgy comedy, and you got it

Of course Jeremy Clarkson’s pun on the word “slope” was racist. That was the point.

When sex talk was forbidden, sexual innuendo was funny. When blasphemy against Christianity was forbidden, sly puns in scurrilous seventeenth century pamphlets and even ambiguous symbols in paintings and engravings were funny. So powerful is the link between humour and prohibition that our modern comedians often seek to buttress a weak joke with a plea to be persecuted, only not too much.

Nowadays what is forbidden? Hostility to homosexuality is forbidden, hence the schoolchildren use “gay” to mean “unfashionable”, “lame”, “rubbishy”. Blasphemy against Islam is forbidden, hence Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons and Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. And racism is forbidden, hence Clarkson.

I don’t care for that sort of humour, myself. Clarkson can be much funnier than that. Also much funnier than that is the spectacle of all those Guardianistas and BBC types who fell over themselves to proclaim their free-spirited devotion to “edgy”, “transgressive”, “brave” comedy clutching their smelling-salts now that they are the bourgeoisie being épaté.

BBC to strike? Hurrah!

Yet another arm of the establishment is going to go on strike.

Please guys, go out and stay out. Never ever come back, that’ll show ‘em!

You know you want me to . . .

… give you this week’s most valiant attempts by Guardian writers to contrive a link, any link, between a news story of the last few days and their own ongoing obsessions.

From Lindsay Beyerstein, an article very approximately about a recent attempted murder in Wisconsin allegedly motivated by an internet meme: “Slender Man is a convenient target for our fears. Misogyny and racism aren’t.”

My favourite comment came from doshermanos_III:

It’s really quite amazing.
Two girls stab another girl 19 times. But misogyny.

Another quintessential Guardian take on current events came from Giles Fraser. (I should explain for overseas readers that the Michael Gove mentioned is the current British representative of SPECTRE, Witchfinder-General, and Secretary of State for Education.) It seems this here Gove goes in for a bit of kulcha and likes his Handel and his Saints-Saens. Fraser does not hesitate to draw the obvious conclusion: “Samson was like a suicide bomber. So why do you love the opera, Mr Gove?”

The comments section for this article fizzed with good ‘uns. To choose but one, robjmac quoted Fraser asking,

But isn’t this also a version of Gove’s religious extremism, too?

and replied,

No. Next?

Antoine Clarke on the boom and bust in French private investment in pre-revolutionary Russia

About a month ago, I was at the Institute of Economic Affairs to hear a talk given by Antoine Clarke to the End of the World Club. The audience was larger than usual, and of a very high quality. It listened, fascinated and engrossed, and with some rueful laughter at the intense relevance of a seemingly rather obscure slice of history to our own times.

The talk was about French investment, private but egged on by French politicians for their own foreign policy reasons, in pre-revolutionary Russia. This investment was huge, and for a while it provided a healthy income to French savers, by French standards. But then, because of events which the French media of the time somehow neglected to inform their readers about, it all started to go wrong, and wronger and wronger, and then of course very wrong indeed. Collusion and corruption on a huge scale among and between politicians, bankers and journalists is not, said Antoine, anything new.

Antoine has now gathered his spoken thoughts from that night into a blog posting at the Cobden Centre.

Quote:

The first Russian bonds sold in France were in 1867 to finance a railroad. Others followed, notably in 1888. At this point the French government decided on a policy of alliance with Russia and the encouragement of French savers to invest in Russian infrastructure. From 1887 to 1913, 3.5% of the French Gross National Product is invested in Russia alone. This amounted to a quarter of all foreign investment by French private citizens. That’s a savings ratio (14% in external investment alone) we wouldn’t mind seeing in the UK today!

A massive media campaign promoting Russia as a future economic giant (a bit like China in recent years) was pushed by politicians. Meanwhile French banks found they could make enormous amounts of commission from Russian bonds: in this period, the Credit Lyonnais makes 30% of its profits from its commission for selling the bonds.

In 1897, the ruble is linked to gold. The French government guarantees its citizens against any default. The Paris Stock Exchange takes listings for, among others: Banque russo-asiatique, la Banque de commerce de Sibérie, les usines Stoll, les Wagons de Petrograd.

The first signs of trouble come in 1905, with the post-Russo-Japanese War revolution. A provisional government announced a default of foreign bonds, but this isn’t reported in the French mainstream media or the French banks that continue to sell (mis-sell?).

During the First World War, the French government issued zero interest bonds to cover the Russian government’s loan repayment, with an agreement to sort out the problem after the war. However, in December 1917, Lenin announced the repudiation of Tsarist debts.

Boom, bust. And surprise surprise, French governments of the twentieth century were neither willing nor able to provide anything like the kind of compensation for disappointed French savers that had earlier been promised.

Antoine Clarke is fluently English thanks to his English father and fluently French thanks to his French mother, and he has lived and worked in both countries. As long as I have known him I have urged him to make maximum use of this bilingualism, in connecting us Anglo libertarians to French stories and writings, and vice versa. This talk and his subsequent written version of it is a perfect example of the sort of thing I had in mind, and I thank and congratulate him for it. How many non-French libertarians already knew this story? Some, certainly, a bit, but certainly not me.

Astonishing news!

In London today, the BBC has revealed a remarkable revelation:

Windows work in both directions! Not only can a person in a hotel room see out of a window, it is possible for people to also see in from the outside!

Truly we live in an age of marvels! Ah that such a cognitive breakthrough could have happened here, it make me proud to be English! Article like this are why I often send the BBC twice the licence fee they actually demand from me (under threat of jail if I do not pay up) because how can anyone doubt they provide such inestimable value. No, seriously, for the life of me, I cannot estimate how much value they provide. I truly cannot.

‘Reason’ nails it

There is a very funny article by Reason, titled The stupidest pseudo-story of the week, about a Daily Mail article about halal food. Reason likens the hysteria to criticising kosher food with a headline:

RABBIS ARE PUTTING SOME WEIRD JEW-SPELL ON YOUR MEALS!

I LOL’ed. But then again, it is often said I am famously easy to amuse :-P

Guardian quote of the day

And black people, as always, are left to clean up the shit that drops from the imperial anus of white corporate America into the ghettoized toilets of terror

- Nyle Fort

Am I the last one to get the joke?

Whaddya think? Are either of these two articles from the Guardian Comment Network (i.e. lefty blogs to which the Guardian gives a larger audience) for real, or are they magnificent satire?

From SE Smith, a writer who “lives and works in northern California, covering social justice issues”: ‘The people are so beautiful!’ That’s enough of the colonial tourism

While you’re drooling over Indian women in saris at the produce market, are you paying attention to the women organising against mining companies and western intrusions in India? Are you paying attention to the women opposing tourism and fighting objectifying activities in their communities?

From Tom Whyman, a well-named PhD Philosophy student: Beware of cupcake fascism

…this has an effect on our culture that we can understand as being a sort of gentrification. The cupcake has always itself been a gentrifying force: after all, the “pop-​up cupcake shop” is the paradigmatic pop-​up shop. But what all these things do is assert the infantilised values of an increasingly infantilised middle-​class world on general society. This is how the passive-​aggressive violence of the infantilised twee fascist manifests itself: moving across the world with a cupcake as a cowcatcher, shunting out everything that does not correspond to the values manifested within it; a much more effective way of sweeping up the sort of (poor, working-​class, black) forces that informed the 2011 London riots than any broom.