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

The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU has thrown many things into sharp relief. It has made more visible the fraying of the Tory Party that has been brewing for a few decades now. It has demonstrated that the politics of fear is everywhere, being peddled by both the Leave and Stay campaigns, and even being openly celebrated by one pro-EU columnist on the basis that ‘fear alone has a purity you can trust’. But most strikingly, the referendum campaign has confirmed the death, or at least utter exhaustion, of a left that believes in democracy, in change, in people. In throwing its weight behind the Stay campaign, having historically been suspicious of the EU, the left has completed its journey from demanding democracy to supporting technocracy.

Brendan O’Neill

Samizdata quote of the day

King is aware that monetary policy has been used to provide short-term gains at the cost of long-term pain – what he calls the “paradox of policy”. Despite extremely low rates, the global economy remains out of kilter. It’s a pity that King never considers Friedrich Hayek’s early work which suggests that economies become unbalanced when central bankers impose an inappropriate interest rate. But as King buys into the “savings glut” story, he doesn’t believe that monetary policymakers are to blame. For the man in charge of the Bank of England when UK bank Northern Rock went down, this is a convenient if not quite satisfactory conclusion.

Edward Chancellor

Samizdata quote of the day

Where did Mises stand on the issue of discrimination? He distinguished two kinds: that extending from choice and that imposed by law. He favored the former and opposed the latter. He went even further. He said that a policy that forces people against their will creates the very conditions that lead to legal discrimination. In his view, even speaking as someone victimized by invidious discrimination, it is better to retain freedom than build a bureaucracy that overrides human choice.

“In an unhampered market society there is no legal discrimination against anybody,” he wrote. “Everyone has the right to obtain the place within the social system in which he can successfully work and make a living. The consumer is free to discriminate, provided that he is ready to pay the cost.”

– Jeffrey Tucker quoting and discussing Von Mises in an article called Must a Jewish Baker make a Nazi cake?

Nigeria’s ‘War Against Indiscipline’

The other day, driving around Liverpool (a fine but faded city), I heard on the radio a short item looking back on the experiment of a 1980s military government in Nigeria, whereby the General in charge, President Buhari (later to become a civilian, elected President, but only after being overthrown and jailed in another coup) had got his deputy to launch a ‘War Against Indiscipline‘ or ‘WAI‘ (why?) in March 1984.

One of the visible objectives of WAI was the encouragement of customers and citizens to line up to board buses and mostly line up or queue for high demand services.

This was, like most government ‘wars’ these days, directed against its own populace. But it was one with immodest objectives such as to get officials not to take bribes (rather than getting rid of officials’ jobs), stopping students cheating in exams, and getting people to learn the national anthem, not merely to get people not to fight for a place on a bus. I wonder what government’s programme inspired it? It seems to have a touch of a Lenin Saturday.

Some elements had a slightly comical aspect, such as making civil servants turn up for work on time (anyone see that as a good idea?) with soldiers making them do star jumps in front of colleagues if they were late for work. Someone also named an album after the WAI, so it has some resonance in popular culture.

There were others programmes too, a ‘clean-up’ campaign to improve hygiene, which I’m told persists to this day. I had not heard about this ‘war’ previously, in the 1980s a military government in Nigeria seemed to be about as regular as the US Congress hiking the Federal debt limit, it was more ‘when’ not ‘if’. Nigerian acquaintances and a family member doing business there had told me plenty of grim stories about the behaviour of police and soldiers in Nigeria as it was, I had not realised that a whole new justification for State thuggery had been dreamt up.

Of course, there was the implementation, the basic idea seems to have been that the common soldiery would go around the country and would ensure that the civilian population ‘behaved themselves’. What, might you think, could possibly go wrong?

The program was criticized by some for poor planning and engaging in draconian and unreasonable punishments such as public flogging and long sentences for minor offenses. A student above 17 years of age caught cheating could get close to 21 years in prison while counterfeiting, arson and illegal oil bunkering could lead to the death penalty. (3) Some analysts also allege that some of WAI’s patriotic objectives such as reciting the national anthem and national pledge had little do to with order or corruption.

So was patriotism the first resort of a scoundrel? The radio programme reports beatings being handed out by soldiers. The ‘war’ ended when another faction in the military overthrew Buhari, and the effort at expressly changing popular behaviours by force was more or less at an end.

One might hope that the example of this dirigiste thinking, which I now see faintly echoed in old Labour Party proposals for yobs to be marched to cash machines by police in order to pay an on-the-spot fine, might be enough to make those who seek to change behaviour (other than aggression) by force think again.

But there will be no use of Prime Minister Tony Blair’s idea, floated in July, that police should be given powers to take drunken louts to a cash machine and pay £100 on-the-spot fines.

That proposal was rejected by the police as impractical.

Impractical, is it not also tyrannical? Is living with other people’s annoying behaviour (when not affecting you or your property) that hard for people? Let people be, if they see a harmony of rightly-understood interests in queueing and civil behaviour, then fine. If not, then that is how they are. A government ‘war’ isn’t going to be the right answer, unless your end is war itself. And of course, there are the Nudge Nazis.

But there’s nothing like nostalgia, and some are calling for the President to re-start this war.

And in Benin, if this report is believed, a woman motorist lashed out at their own, newer, better WAI officials.

According to the woman,one of the officials hit her in the face while the others ran away when the arguement between the woman and the WAI officials got intense.However,she was able to hold the official that hit her in the face.The official was beaten mercilessly by the woman.

Eyewitnesses made no attempt to help the man as they were not happy with the WAI officials. One of the eyewitnesses said:

“WAI officials and Oshiomole boys should be called to order.They always harass people unnecessarily….especially women.It is not advisable for any woman to drive alone in Edo State again. You should have someone in the car with you, specifically, a man unless they could pounce on you….guilty or not.”

Back in Liverpool, this facade on the oddly-named State House caught my eye; the motto ‘Trade and Navigation‘, the State playing the biggest role in that city now. State House

Samizdata quote of the day

For America, and indeed the rest of the world, Clinton versus Trump will be like being on a bus being driven at high speed towards a cliff by a psychopath, where there’s a chance that a chimpanzee might grab control of the steering wheel. It’s not a question of whether this will make things better or worse, it’s more that the whole idea of “better” may be gradually ceasing to exist.

Frankie Boyle. The rest of the article is flatulent Guardianista stream-of-consciousness gibberish but that bit made me laugh. I read this shit so you don’t have to.

And I do agree with this:

“It’s not a question of whether this will make things better or worse, it’s more that the whole idea of “better” may be gradually ceasing to exist”

… it is highly unlikely Frankie Boyle and I have the same notions in mind about what “better” looks like (indeed his “better” is almost certainly my very much “worse”), but that phrase does a good job of describing my view on the folly of decade after decade of voting for whoever is ever so slightly less evil. Things never get better unless you support, well, better, rather than “less worse”. Unless you are willing to punish “your side” by not pulling that lever, eventually it stops being your side because you will vote for it anyway. And in evidence of that, I present the G.O.P.

Samizdata quote of the day

Well I heard a terrible April Fool’s trick today on BBC Radio 4, some economist chap talking about a hike in the UK’s minimum wage, saying that raising the minimum wage boosts the economy as there will be more money to spend in retail etc.

– Mr. Ed

Samizdata quote of the day

Did the rebels intend to take power in Ireland by force of arms, or was the entire exercise a form of sacrifice in which a small group of idealists offered themselves up to inspire a larger number? “What happened on Easter Monday in Dublin is open to interpretation,” writes Tóibín. “As a military event, it makes almost no sense. Taking St Stephen’s Green, rather than Dublin Castle, suggests poor planning and lack of strategic thinking.” Indeed. Instead of capturing the city’s arsenal or barracks, the rebels occupied a post office, a bakery and a public park. This was revolution as performance art.

Eamonn Fitzgerald

Samizdata quote of the day

It is manifestly clear that the idea that the EU equals security and Brexit equals isolation (splendid or otherwise) for Britain is complete bunkum. It should be perfectly possible for the major players to cooperate against ISIS as national governments, within or outwith the European Union, and to work together closely, without the need for an ever-expanding and self-serving EU superstructure.

Iain Martin

Samizdata quote of the day

“Labour does indeed have a problem with Jews. It can acknowledge that problem’s existence, confront it and deal with it. Or it can shrug, mutter something about UN Security Council resolutions and continue to court the support of those on the far Left who are the source of the problem. Jewish members of the party have scant reason for optimism about which course will be pursued.”

Tom Harris

As is said about certain behaviours, such as drug addiction, to deal with a situation it is first necessary to acknowledge that you have a problem. The Labour Party has a problem in that a number of its members hate not just Israel, but they hate Jews as well. (Without accurate data, it is difficult to know what the percentages of such bigots there are in the party as a whole.) With Jeremy Corbyn in charge, a man who seems to find it easy to hang out with guttersnipes of various stripes, a solution to this situation is not yet in hand.

I can recommend this bracingly-written book by George Gilder, the Israel Test, by the way.

Samizdata quote of the day

Whatever one thinks about Trump, and I certainly don’t always agree with him, he is the first major American politician (something he clearly is now) to name directly the entity that seeks to destroy Western civilization. He didn’t even cloak it in “radical Islam.”

The assumption of the “good people” is this will only make things worse, alarm the Muslim world and stir it up (as if it could be any more stirred up). Perhaps, however, it’s the contrary. Perhaps people are sitting in the Islamic world and privately sighing in relief. At last America has a leader (a “strong horse” in their parlance) who isn’t a fool, who is willing to stand up and say what so many already think.

Roger L. Simon

Samizdata quote of the day

Russia’s main problem is that no one smart or rich wants to live there. Their talent has been drained for 80 years. Their chief export now is herpes and orphans.

– Commenter ‘Solidar’ on an article over on Reuters called ‘Do you suffer from Russophobia? The Kremlin thinks you might‘.

Samizdata quote of the day

The problem of poverty is not a shortage of experts; it’s a shortage of rights.

– On December 6th 2015, William Easterly gave the most recent Hayek Memorial Lecture, on the subject of “The Tyranny of Experts: Foreign Aid versus Freedom for the World’s Poor”.

Just after 13 minutes and 40 seconds into his lecture, Easterly said the above words, twice.