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

“Excuse me. Would you like to defend the NHS?”

“No. I’d like to abolish it.”



People in this country have no conception of how good they have it. Except with respect to healthcare, when they have no conception as to how bad they have it.

(Both these quotations supplied by the same anonymous donor.)

Samizdata quote of the day

If it’s “weird” that a politician should ever act on principle against party interest then we are not in a post-truth but a post-ethics world. Sure, I cynically assume most will often do the wrong thing if torn between the right thing and self-serving but surely it’s going too far to assume the right thing is beyond reach all the time for everyone!

– ‘Tom Paine

Jacob Rees-Mogg

I do not agree with everything Jacob Rees-Mogg says, but he is saying some things that I am very happy to hear being said by a prominent British politician. He is saying them on the BBC, no less, and sometimes to audiences who applaud him on BBC Question Time.

On the subject of trade after Brexit, emphasis mine: “Trade will continue because the British people want to carry on buying German cars, and the Germans want to carry on using UK financial services, and that’s done by individuals not by states.”

On the subject of foreign aid, on Question Time, to applause:

Sponsoring the Ethiopian Spice Girls and the various other things where money has gone are not money well spent. And I think that should be done by, ladies and gentlemen, your private charity. All of you, I expect, give to charity and you can choose. It’s not for politicians to take your money in general taxation and give it to charitable causes.

He then goes on to point out that the best way to help developing nations is to trade with them, and that the EU is an impediment to that.

I have also seen him on more than one occasion make the point that there is a limit to how much money can be raised by taxation and that we are near to it.

Here he is in parliament talking in terms of limits to the role of the state, which is not a discussion that happens very prominently in the UK: “I don’t think it’s the job of the government to tell me how much sugar to give to my children. […] The tax system is not there to tell us how to live our lives.”

I know he very much annoys people on the left, and it helps that he is an engaging and entertaining speaker who I think has an ability to talk to ordinary people without pretence or condescension, something the Guardianista class fails at.

Update: I wrote this before I knew #MoggMentum was a hashtag, I swear! Delingpole makes one of the points I was trying to make, perhaps with better words: “Judging by their applause and cheers they were elated that, perhaps for the first time in Question Time’s recent history, a politician on the panel was prepared to talk to them straight, credit them with a degree of intelligence, and forebear from the usual virtue-signalling platitudes.”

Samizdata quote of the day

Sharpen the pitchforks, fan the flames: a politician has misspoken.

Yes, another day, another Twitch-hunt. Another live-tweeted expulsion from polite society. Another roll-up-roll-up real-time destruction of a person’s reputation for the crime of having said something stupid.

The victim this time is Anne Marie Morris, the Tory MP for Newton Abbot. She was recorded dumbly using the outdated phrase ‘nigger in the woodpile’ at a gathering of Eurosceptic Tories at the East India Club in London. Ms Morris said ‘the real nigger in the woodpile’ in the Brexit issue is what happens if we get two years down the line and there’s still no deal between Britain and the EU. So she was clearly using the phrase in its classic sense to mean an issue of great importance that isn’t being openly or sufficiently discussed. She wasn’t being racist, just old-fashioned. Phew. We can call off the Twitterhounds, put back the tomatoes.

Don’t be daft. The small matter of intention, of what someone means, counts for literally nothing in the Kafkaesque world of 21st-century speech-policing.

Brendan O’Neill

Samizdata quote of the day

One of the biggest mistakes people make when dealing with Trump is thinking it is all about him. This is understandable given Trump thinks everything is about him and so did his predecessor. But even Trump would probably acknowledge that on this issue, and several others, he is simply representing the interests of the people who elected him. That is his job after all, but Merkel, Macron, and the rest don’t seem to understand this: they talk of changing Trump’s mind as if he’s decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement just for the fun of it, instead of it being something he was specifically elected to do. I genuinely doubt they realise that the commitments they’re demanding must first be approved by the senate. The way Macron has kicked off his presidential career, he probably thinks everyone at the G20 can do anything they like, as if they’re medieval kings.

Tim Newman

Samizdata quote of the day

As I pointed out two decades ago, the Serious Fraud Office’s primary weapons, common law conspiracy to defraud, and the second limb of false accounting, if construed as the courts appear to understand them and universally applied would make all commerce impossible. It is an early example of the modern trend in antijurisprudence whereby everything is illegal just in case and ‘the proper authorities’ are trusted to pick on Bad People.

– Guy Herbert

Samizdata quote of the day

Double-standards – more double-standards: do you remember Stephen Fry and a whole bunch of others railing about the winter Olympics being held in Sochi, in Russia, because of Vladimir Putin’s supposed homophobia? I’ve never taken much of an interest in the Winter Olympics, nor has most of Britain actually, it’s not a hugely popular event. And at the very moment he was ranting about Russia, the cricket world cup, a game we do play a lot of, was getting under way in Bangladesh, where the penalty for same-sex relationships is life imprisonment. In Russia, it’s legal.

The Bangladesh escape censure because it’s an Islamic country, and the lefties never wish to be nasty about Islamic countries. More recently, you will have heard them all screeching about the horrible Democratic Unionist Party and their homophobia and how utterly ghastly they are. But again they make no comment whatsoever about the approach to homosexuality in the Islamic world and within the Muslim communities. That is never mentioned.

Rod Liddle

Samizdata quote of the day

Free-marketeers, even at the more purist end of the spectrum, usually accept imperfect approximations of their ideals. (I have met exceptions to this, but not many.) We are comfortable embracing second-best, even third-best and fourth-best solutions. Browse through the IEA’s publications section, and you will find IEA authors endorsing the Chilean pension system, the Swiss healthcare system, the Icelandic system of tradable fishing quotas, Sweden’s approach to labour migration, and many other such examples. None of these endorsements come without qualifications: the authors are saying “This is not real X. Real X has never been tried”. But unlike socialists, they can identify X-approximations that they consider quite good.

That is because free-marketeers generally believe in a positive dose-response relationship. A little bit of liberalisation does a little bit of good (think of the difference between Mao’s China and Deng Xiaoping’s China), quite a bit of liberalisation does quite a bit of good (think Chile before and after the Chicago Boys), and a lot of liberalisation does a lot of good (think Hong Kong and Singapore). That’s an oversimplification. There are reform bottlenecks: When an economy gets the basics wrong (the rule of law, independent courts, enforceable contracts and property rights etc), measures like trade liberalisations or privatisations count for little. Also, most free-marketeers accept some role for the state, so they do not strive for absolute purity.

Kristian Niemietz

Samizdata quote of the day

Socialism is tribal economics.

Guy Herbert

(These four words suddenly clarified something I’ve been trying to explain for years with mixed success.)

Samizdata quote of the day

I was speaking with a friend the other night, and I made the point that the meta-narrative of the 2016 election is learned helplessness as a political value.  We’re no longer a country that believes in human agency, and as a formerly poor person, I find it incredibly insulting.  To hear Trump or Clinton talk about the poor, one would draw the conclusion that they have no power to affect their own lives.  Things have been done to them, from bad trade deals to Chinese labor competition, and they need help.  And without that help, they’re doomed to lives of misery they didn’t choose.  

Rod Dreher . He is quoting JD Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture In Crisis

Samizdata quote of the day

ProTip to wannabe dictators: If you’re a tyrant who wants to centralize power over an industry, first frighten large businesses into your cartel protection racket. Then, eliminate local sovereignty over markets while imposing your own regulations and taxes. But call it “drawing into a common market” and “improving transparency to protect them.” Works every time. The final step is to prosecute non-compliance using men with guns.

– ‘Tyler Durden‘, not a source I would usually quote but this pretty much hits the nail on the head.

Samizdata quote of the day

How can an idea that has been tried and tested so many times, and that has always ended in failure, still be so popular?

A big part of the reason has to be that socialists have long been very effective at distancing themselves from real-world examples of socialism in action. Mention the Soviet Union or Mao’s China, and inevitably, socialists will roll their eyes, and say: “Oh come on! Now you’re just being silly.” Holding the failure of such experiments against a self-described socialist is considered a rhetorical cheap shot, not an intellectually respectable argument. It is considered a lazy straw man, deployed by people who are still mentally stuck in the Cold War.

However, while socialists insist that ‘their’ brand of socialism is so fundamentally different from anything that has been tried in the past that it makes all comparisons meaningless, they usually struggle to explain what exactly they would do differently. The best they can do is become evasive, and talk about lofty ambitions rather than tangible institutional characteristics.

Kristian Niemietz