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 readies its people for war

Over the last few days (this is 1914 we’re talking about just in case anyone was in any doubt) a large number of articles have appeared in the German press on the threat posed by Russia. And still they come:

There is, if anything, an increase to-day in the Press discussion of present and future and possible and probable Russo-German relations. The Berlin Bourse, which was troubled last week by the beginning of the campaign in the Cologne Gazette, was disturbed again to-day – chiefly by the spreading of the infection to the Radical and “pacific” Berliner Tageblatt. This journal published this morning an anonymous article by somebody who is described as distinguished and experienced in all branches of international politics, which, without indeed advocating war, advocates the adoption of a very firm policy towards Russia.

This is co-ordinated and there’s only one body that would be doing the co-ordination: the German government. They are preparing the population for war. The argument being used is precisely the argument being used in the corridors of power: the Russians are building up their forces and in a few years they will be too strong and it will be too late. In other words: it’s now or never.

The Times 10 March 1914 p5

The Times 10 March 1914 p5

It is not just the Russians the Germans are worried about. The Russians on their own would be fairly harmless (as indeed they proved to be) but they are in alliance with France. This leads to Germany’s worst nightmare: the prospect of a war on two fronts. This in turn leads to the development of the Schlieffen Plan with its aim to eliminate one of those fronts before the other one got going.

There is an alternative. Germany could return Alsace-Lorraine to France. At a stroke they would eliminate the one and only bone of contention in the Franco-German relationship and as a consequence break up the Franco-Russian alliance. But no.

There are good reasons why the German government isn’t so keen on such a move. By accepting self-determination in Alsace-Lorraine they would be accepting the principle of democracy. This is hardly the sort of thing that a monarchy can do. There would also be the element of losing face that weak regimes are very reluctant to do.

As I mentioned earlier the claim is that Germany must go to war soon or else it will be too late. The odd thing is that they were even wrong about this. The Russians were utterly incompetent in the First World War and there is no reason to think they would have fought much better even after their arms build up.

What is interesting is that even the Socialists appear to be unnerved by the Russian threat. This might explain why after the war broke out and despite the fact they had been left out of the loop, they were so willing to vote the government the funds to carry on the war.

There’s more:

To-day the Pan-German Press is advocating German claims of all sorts, especially in Asia Minor, “which is still to be had, but only if Germany does not shrink from the extreme test and is ready to risk war against Russia and France as well as England.”

This is fascinating. They have clearly made up their minds that if war means war with England then so be it. It is suicidal but that’s the point the German High Command has reached in 1914.

It was Fritz Fischer, writing in the 1950s who claimed that the outbreak of war in 1914 was no accident. He traced it back to what has become known as the War Council of December 1912. From there, Germany abandoned the naval arms race with Britain so that it could build up its army. Shortly afterwards it launched this campaign. Everything is ready. Now all they need is a pretext.

There is also the claim that the Russians are running riot in the Balkans:

The writer insists that “pretences” shall be dropped and that both Berlin and Vienna shall recognize that they have step by step been retreating before Russian pretensions with lamentable results.

This is absolute nonsense. The people who are winning are the Austrians. They have annexed Bosnia, created the state of Albania to deny the Serbs a port, faced the Russians down in the mobilisations of 1912 and made an ally of the Bulgarians – a country hitherto in the Russian sphere. Meanwhile, a German, Liman von Sanders, has more or less been put in charge of the Turkish army, completely putting the kibosh on (the admittedly somewhat far-fetched) Russian ambitions to control the Bosphorus.

Incidentally, it is one of the claims of Christopher Clark’s book The Sleepwalkers (p330) that the German government did not embark on a campaign to ready its people for war. This, he felt, showed that the so-called War Council was not quite as decisive as others have claimed. What this article (and others) show is that this claim is nonsense.

Kim Jong-il looking at not very much fruit

NickM has a nice piece up today at Cats about a website called Kim Jong-il looking at things. He picks out a picture of Kim looking at some fruit:

What fascinates me about that image in particular is that whilst the side of the fruit stand facing Kim is laden with produce the side facing us looks a bit sparse. The Russians might have had Potemkin villages but it takes the true Juche lunacy of North Korea to have created the Potemkin fruit stand.

What fascinates me about these pictures is what often fascinates me about Potemkinity of all kinds, which is how it so often achieves the opposite of the desired effect. It presents what its presenters, now themselves probably living quite close to starvation (never mind all the regular people of this wretched country), imagine to be a miracle. But when the rest of us, out here in non-Kim world, look at their sad little picture, we merely shrug and note that capitalism of the most feeble and emaciated sort can do that with one arm tied behind its back, on a wet Thursday morning in an economically depressed inner suburb of a city that has been in relative decline for a century. We look at it, and we say: is that the best you can do?

For me, the obvious thing about Kim’s faked up fruit stand is that there is so very little fruit on it, compared to what there is room for. My local market, just the other side of Vauxhall Bridge Road from me, is a cornucopia by comparison.

Keeping the bloodline pure

One of the more attractive elements of the Libertarian Alliance conferences is the enjoyable lunches, often served by attractive totty from Eastern Europe. After second-guessing the blackmailed royal, our conversation veered towards the compulsory testing of genetic material on the part of individuals.

After all, they are the Royal Family and if we are to be subjects, I do want to be sure that they are descended from the Queen. Without indulging in tittle-tattle on the unorthodox descent of facial features in the Windsor opera, we do have a right to ensure that the line remains pure. My own take was that this would involve a minor amendment to the Act of Settlement, alongside the abolition of the papist prohibition.

This does beg the question of how far back we should go if the present line proves to be a collection of interlopers and carpetbaggers descended from a priapic Keeper of the Privy Purse. My personal preference is for Alfred and a clear line of descent from Wessex and the Heptarchy. I would go back to Cunobelin if I could. Others prefer the continental certainties of the Normans.

Ensuring the demand that the heir to the throne is a lineal descendant of their father or mother seems a useful task for our new technologies.

Well, even the Queen is using podcasting

Signs of technical advancement from Britain’s own constitutional monarchy.

The naming of Royals is a difficult matter

The Christmas season often brings forth stories that act as an ‘Indian summer’ for the silly season, reminding us of warm August evenings, listening to the closing overs of a test (rain permitting), and a time when you can sit outside a pub drinking Ordinary in any London green. Summer nostalgia aside, this year’s theme revolves around name changes.

In Manhattan, Jorge Luis Espinal sent a reporter to new heights of expression with his legal petition for the Second Coming:

A Manhattan man’s holiday spirits soared to celestial heights today when a judge gave him permission to change his name to Jesus Christ.

Jose Luis Espinal, 42, said he was “happy” and “grateful” that the judge approved the change, effective immediately.

Espinal said he was moved to seek the name change about a year ago when it dawned on him: “I am the person that is that name.”

The article provides some further information on the legal framework governing legal name changes. You can be a name but not a number in South Dakota. You can be Jesus Christ so long as your intention is not to defraud others by your actions or avoid an obligation. Jose has more chance of changing his name than a convicted conman, or possibly, a politician such as Tony Blair, if the latter wished to change his name to that of the Christian Messiah.

The judge said she held a hearing in which Espinal, who also uses the last name Tejeda, testified. She said he was aware of the “common law right to assume another name without legal proceedings so long as the change is not made to deceive or perpetrate a fraud or to avoid an obligation” but wanted to go the formal route anyway.

The judge said Espinal’s “reasons were primarily those applicable to his own private religious beliefs and he stated no desire to use his proposed name to secure publicity, to proselytise, to fund-raise or advise others that he had been cloaked by the courts or government with a religious authority”.

Jose’s example has been followed by that closet nominalist Prince Charles who is reported to be seeking coronation as King George VII. Changing the name of the Prince or Princess on accession to the throne is quite common and the Royal Family supposedly views the name Charles as jinxed, due to associations with decapitating Puritans and rebellious Jacobite pretenders.

Patrick Cracroft-Brennan, a genealogist from Cracroft’s Peerage, said: “There has been a tradition over the last century for the regnal title to be different to the christian name. The change would make sense.

“Monarchs called Charles have not had much luck. One was beheaded, one was in exile, and one was a pretender to the throne.

While the Prince of Wales is known throughout the world as Charles, there is enormous goodwill to the name George. George VI was an outstanding and popular king who took over in the aftermath of the abdication crisis and rallied his people during World War II, Mr Cracroft-Brennan said.

“King George and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother were wonderful. I think George VII and Queen Camilla sound wonderful, too.”

A swift name-change to airbrush the excesses and eccentricities of unfortunate heirs seems all too common with the Hanoverians. If our heir to the throne will adopt a name off Rainbow, surely Zippy or the more accurate Bungle would prove just as gracious and popular.

Bill Gates, you will be assimilated

For some reason, the decision by Bill Gates to become an honorary British knight makes me sad. Has the founder of Microsoft finally, and completely, sold out to the “establishment”? Has his bruising encounter with the looters, whoops, I meant U.S. Justice Dept and EU Commission made him yearn for a respectable, quieter life?

Somehow, I cannot see Steve Jobs wanting a gong.

Nice one, ‘arry

So hapless Prince Harry takes a swing at some paparazzo who bashes him in the face with a camera, and the British press have apoplexy tut-tutting over his behaviour.

To use internet parlance, WTF? If some pushy bastard negligently clips you in the mouth with a camera whilst in search of a few quid, the correct response is to return the favour with interest. That is not ill-advised or thuggish or incorrect, it is an entirely appropriate means of male-to-male comminication at such a time. I am glad to see that there is a member of the royal family who actually has personality traits that approach those of the Crown’s normal everyday subjects.

It seem quite appropriate that not only should he not apologise for his reaction to the incident, he should be advising Christopher Uncle that if there is a next time, there should be some expectations of a royal boot in the bollocks as well.

Murder at the palace!

Well, not quite. The Royal family’s horrible little dogs have been fighting each other to the death, is all. Not for cash bets, which would be much more exciting, if less hilarious: just because that’s what animals sometimes do if you let them. Sometimes animals kill people too. We sentimentalise them at our peril.

We British folk, especially the upper classes, have long been renowned for our perverse attachments to four-legged creatures over normal human beings. Personally, I can’t see the point. They can’t think, they cost money, you have to clean them, take them for walks, pay vet’s fees, if you go away for a couple of months they destroy the house and/or die and make a mess, and all this for nothing other than the proximity of a creature that can’t do anything except perform basic bodily functions. Why? On second thoughts, don’t tell me: I don’t care.

What I do care about is people getting attacked by other people’s vicious animals in public places. Why this crime which Anne was found guilty of last time only merited a £500 fine, I have no idea. But there’s a definite poetic justice to this seasonal next chapter of the story, in my view.

Jokes about pets, life and Christmas, anyone…?

Aboriginal get original

The most absurd intellectual property rights claim ever?

With their earthy tones and lizard motifs, Prince Harry’s paintings won admiration at home and last week earned him a grade B at A-level. But his work has stirred anger in Western Australia, where he is accused of stealing Aboriginal themes.

The moral pygmies claiming ‘ownership’ of the images drawn by artists who died hundreds of years ago must be the world’s biggest losers. Inacapable of artistic expression themselves, they demand the unearned greatness of their remote ancestors.

How sad that genuine aboriginal achievements are drowned out by the moochers!

The first foreign cricket team to visit England (in 1868) was comprised entirely of aboriginal players. Subsequently, Australian cricket authorities tried to forget about this as more than a century passed without a non-white player. Are they excluded from clubs, does the welfare system turn an entire race into a dependent underclass?

I don’t suppose that the professional racial-awareness poverty pimps are demanding that aborigines stop getting welfare and solve their problems by economic means.

For the record, one of my French ancestors wore the Crusaders’ red cross on white background in Palestine. Does this mean I should sue England soccer supporters for ‘violating’ my heritage, after all their king only went on the Third Crusade?

The Prince of Fools

The dependably clueless Prince Charles wants the state to require tax funded institutions like Britain’s nationalised public health service and state schools to add insult to injury by not even attempting to get ‘best value for your stolen money’… which is to say he wants such arms of the state to be required to buy British farm products even if foreign products are cheaper/better… not only does he say they ‘should’ buy British, but that the government should force them to.

Like most people with socialist & fascist understandings of economics, producers are all and consumers are nothing to Charles. Why will people like him not be more honest and just admit directly that they want productive taxpayers to be compelled by force to prop-up less efficient areas of the economy and they should not be given any choice in the matter.

The Royal Family usefully occupy the same seriocomical niche as the Flag and ‘Hand-on-heart’ pledge of allegiance do in the USA… and like that inanimate object and rote chant, are largely empty of real meaning beyond their warm-fuzzy-glow value. If only we could devise some means of permanently depriving Charles of speech, leaving him only with earnest looks and poses, then the British monarchy could have another couple centuries of seriocomical semi-usefulness ahead of them.

A true British Scandal!

The British newspapers are agog at rape allegations inside the Royal Household.

Yawn.

The British state daily rapes million of people of billions of pounds to pay for ‘services’ that fail to deliver whilst blighting the economy and distorting civil society… yet the idiot media concentrates of the trivial antics of House of Windsor, who are little more than a bunch of national tourist attractions who at least generate more money than they cost the hapless taxpayer. Now that is the true scandal, not who might or might not have buggered whom in some drafty palace.

The trouble with Prince Charles

How can I count the ways! Well first, let me say what is right with him… namely that as a future constitutional figurehead monarch, he is in fact powerless to do jack shit to impose his world view on the rest of us and his ideas are in reality no more significant than John Bull the Greengrocer. That is a very good thing indeed because unlike members of the government, we are free to ignore his bleating if we wish.

The thing that annoys me however is that when Charles opines in some issues, such as hunting, people misunderstand his underpinning philosophy. People think of him as advocating liberties against the encroachment of the state because he supports the right of hunters to hunt in Britain, but this is utterly incorrect. Prince Charles is in fact an advocate of big interventionist redistributive government: for example see his calls for taxpayers to be forced to subsidise organic farms (which overwhelmingly sell to higher income members of the public). Most significantly he has no problem whatsoever with the philosophical position that rights exist collectively, which is the underpinning of every tyranny imaginable. In a letter to Downing Street, the Prince wrote:

The Human Rights Act is only about the rights of individuals. This betrays a fundamental distortion in social and legal thinking

So when Charles says:

Our lives are becoming ruled by a truly absurd degree of politically correct interference

He is not arguing against the morality of the state interfering in people’s lives, just the fact that it is not being done in a way he approves of. Like so many paleo-conservatives, he thinks the state telling you how to live your life is just fine, provided ‘sensible chaps from Eton’ are the ones in control of that state.