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]

Samizdata quote of the day

“My father used to say, ‘Eternal paranoia is the price of liberty. Vigilance is not enough’.”

Berlin Game, by Len Deighton, page 57.

Samizdata quote of the day

Politically-correct academia has all the essential features of a cult. It’s a small group of people who reject mainstream society and believe that they alone know the truth. It is authoritarian and dogmatic and demands unquestioning obedience to nonsensical doctrines. Conformity is maintained through shaming, intimidation and the expulsion of unbelievers. But young acolytes must pay a fortune to reach even the lowest rank with little chance of progressing any further, while a few people at the top grant themselves ever more lavish rewards. It’s Gramscientology.

– Samizdata commenter AndrewZ

Samizdata quote of the day

If your go-to image of a student is someone who’s free-spirited and open-minded, who loves having a pop at orthodoxies, then you urgently need to update your mind’s picture bank. Students are now pretty much the opposite of that. It’s hard to think of any other section of society that has undergone as epic a transformation as students have. From freewheelin’ to ban-happy, from askers of awkward questions to suppressors of offensive speech, in the space of a generation. My showdown with the debate-banning Stepfords at Oxford and the pre-crime promoters at Cambridge echoed other recent run-ins I’ve had with the intolerant students of the 21st century. I’ve been jeered at by students at the University of Cork for criticising gay marriage; cornered and branded a ‘denier’ by students at University College London for suggesting industrial development in Africa should take precedence over combating climate change; lambasted by students at Cambridge (again) for saying it’s bad to boycott Israeli goods. In each case, it wasn’t the fact the students disagreed with me that I found alarming — disagreement is great! – it was that they were so plainly shocked that I could have uttered such things, that I had failed to conform to what they assume to be right, that I had sought to contaminate their campuses and their fragile grey matter with offensive ideas.

Brendan O’Neill

Samizdata quote of the day

But the reality of Chakrabarti’s On Liberty, an awkward amalgam of the semi-personal and the mainstream political, never even comes close to realising the promise. Instead, it turns out to be a desperately dull encomium to the human-rights industry, a verveless trudge down Good Cause lane, with every battle against New Labour anti-terror legislation, each scuffle with the ASBO-happy authorities, eventually turning into a victory for the indispensable European Court of Human Rights. Hooray for Strasbourg! If John Stuart Mill wasn’t so liberal (and dead), he’d be within his rights to sue Chakrabarti for calumny.

Tim Black

Samizdata quote of the day

This, I think, is my main objection to Band Aid 30: it is all predicated on a belief that the British public are mean-spirited and uncharitable, when in actual fact nothing could be further from the truth. It’s time the likes of Geldof stopped asking us to give money, and like Adele, started donating some themselves. Charity, after all, begins at home.

Bryony Gordon

The whole article is a magnificent demolition of celebrity “charity culture” and the cant that is associated with it. Given how some people, such as that now-dead monster, Jimmy Savile, used charity as a shield to ward off questions about his behaviour, and given that at a less odious level, people with interesting personal tax affairs like to go on with charity efforts to get good PR, this sort of analysis is overdue. “Sir” Bob Geldof should perhaps tend rather more to his personal family affairs, which appear to be in a bad way, than making sneering remarks about someone who wants to get on with developing her career as a singer. How selfish of her!

Samizdata quote of the day

President Vladimir Putin sees his country in an “information war” with the West. The underlying assumption is that Western media organizations are linked in a vast conspiracy to defame and undermine Russia, so the Kremlin has no choice but to reply in kind. Since the beginning of the month, Russia’s state media holding Rossiya Segodnya has launched an international news agency, called Sputnik, as well as RT Deutsch, a German-language version of broadcaster Russia Today.

The purpose of the media offensive isn’t so much to present an alternative point of view as to create a parallel reality where crackpots become experts and conspiracy theories offer explanations for the injustices of the world. The target audience is Western citizens skeptical of their own system of government. The goal is obfuscation.

Lucian Kim

Samizdata quote of the day

I love the idea that prosperity can be decreed by a G20 communiqué. World leaders in Brisbane have airily committed themselves to two per cent growth. (Why only two per cent? Why not 20 per cent? Or 200 per cent? Who knew it was so easy?) Meanwhile, in the real world, the divergence between Continental Europe and the rest of the planet accelerates.

Daniel Hannan

Samizdata quote of the day

This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass….Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.

– Professor Jonathan Gruber, “one of the key figures in constructing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare”, via Reason, via David Thomson.

Samizdata quote of the day

What is amazing is how the “Stab in the back” myth got going.

I’m watching a similar narrative unfold in Russia. The myth being propagated, and lapped up, is that Russia was strong and respected in the days of the USSR and then suddenly a handful of people (who naturally were nothing to do with Russia, really) gave it all up and surrendered unnecessarily. The West rushed in, led by the Americans, with the sole purpose of grinding Russians’ noses into the dirt and dismantling their country. They very nearly succeeded, but fortunately Putin descended from the clouds to save the nation, and is setting about restoring Russia’s place in the world and thanks to him Russia is strong again and will never again be subject to humiliation at the hands of the Americans.

Of course, the reality is that Russia persisted with an idiotic system of economic and political management despite the West telling them not to, and it inevitably collapsed around their ears. Rather than take the women and children as slaves, shoot all the men, and plough salt into the earth the West took pity on their former sworn enemies and offered them well-intended but hopelessly naive advice on how to build a market economy – naive because it failed to take into account the fact that far too many Russians would rather kill each other in order to get filthy rich than do some work and add some value. Having contributed to the almighty mess that Russia became, certain state-backed thugs rose to the top and accepted Putin as their leader who spent about 7-8 years providing some much-needed stability before the oil price rose, stoked his ego, and sent him into the delusion that he is some kind of Peter the Great figure who is destined to restore Russia’s place at the global top-table. Which is a fine aim, but thus far he’s managed to shoot down an airliner, ban the import of Lithuanian cheese, help himself to a peninsular he can only access in summer, and the traffic lights in most Russian towns still don’t work.

As with Germany, the second time around, the West might not be so charitable.

Jake Barnes commenting on a Samizdata article.

Samizdata quote of the day

Yeah and so when I left (the USA) for good 5 years ago, I said fuck that. I had been living in NZ for 10 years and then moved to Costa Rica. And after some business travel to various places, I finally got sick of the bullshit, having banks and financial services company (initially) and increasingly any company everywhere in the world going “OMFG you are American!” as if I was radioactive, all because of the bullshit compliance costs I represented.

– Samizdata commenter Megan

Samizdata quote of the day

Being happy is really just an ability to accept survival as success.

Robert Stacy McCain

Samizdata quote of the day

The EU sticks us with a bill. Ministers double it, apply the rebate, return to the original figure and claim victory. We’re meant to cheer?

Daniel Hannan MEP