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]

Heatstreet represents… er… not sure really

I was looking an article by Louise Mensch over on Heatstreet in which she mentions “being hacked by Russia” and I was a bit surprised to see some dyspepsia on display. Why? In spite of the many nice anti-Putin remarks, a great many sidebar “news feeds” off Heatstreet lead to Sputnik News, a Putin-fetishist Russian state propaganda site, which has always made me very suspicious. So maybe the boys at 55 Savushkina Street have been told she has finally gone too far off the reservation by supporting Hillary Clinton in spite of the friendly feeds 😛 I admit that Louise Mensch reminds me far too much of Arianna Huffington (but with way better legs) for me to ever really trust her.

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Headline states: ‘Labour Party not doing enough on anti-Semitism’

I find this headline bizarre as clearly the Labour Party has been working tirelessly on the subject of anti-Semitism, so much so that they have moved support for anti-Semitism into the mainstream (sometimes under the guise of ‘anti-Zionism’ but increasingly Labourites are not even bothering with that fig-leaf). In my opinion the last thing we need is the Labour Party doing even more on anti-Semitism! 😉

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Book review: Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent: Inside British Islam by Innes Bowen

In the book Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent: Inside British Islam, the author – a BBC radio producer (boo, hiss) – attempts to provide an overview of the various strands of Islam in the UK. Her aim is not to tell us what to think but simply to provide the facts – what are they called? how many of them are there? where so they come from? what do they believe? etc. It is up to us, the readers, to draw conclusions.

Along the way there are a number of surprises. One of them is how different Islam is from Christianity. You would expect them to be rather similar given that they are both book-based, mono-theistic religions that revere both Abraham and Christ. Not a bit of it.

For example, in Christianity there is usually a close relationship between denomination and building. In Islam (at least in the UK) it is far more vague. A sect might be said to be “in control” of a mosque, the implication being that that control is temporary and could be lost. Many influential Muslim organisations such as Tablighi Jamaat and Jamaat-e-Islami have no mosques at all or very few.

Another is that the largest two sects in the UK are the Deobandis and Barelwis. No, I’d never heard of them either. For the record they are both Sunni (one definitely Sufi the other arguably so) and both originated in British India. It is worth pointing out that for the most part Bowen focuses on Sunni Islam but that is hardly surprising given that Sunnis vastly outnumber Shi’ites both globally and in the UK.

Another is that interest in Islam seems to be a second-generation thing. The first generation brought their Islam with them but seem to have regarded it as something they did rather than thought about. The second generation are much more inclined to read the Koran, take it seriously and ask questions. Even so, the most influential Islamic thinkers still tend to be based abroad.

I said earlier that it is left up to the reader to draw his own conclusions. So what does this reader conclude? Well, my biggest takeaway was that despite there being many strands of Islam and many weird and wonderful doctrinal disputes within Islam, there is no “good” Islam. The best you get is “less awful” Islam.

We are all well aware of the religion’s major dos and don’ts: praying, fasting (which includes liquids in case you didn’t already know), pork, alcohol, Halal etc. But there are others. The Deobandis, for instance, deprecate watching TV and listening to music. Almost all sects oppose celebrating the birthday of Muhammed which I assume gets extended to birthdays in general. There isn’t even the avenue of creativity in the service of the religion. Christianity has inspired great art, great songs and great buildings. But Islam has nothing to show for itself – at least not recently. The fact is that to be Muslim is to be miserable.

Of course, people are free to be miserable in private. What we really want to know about is whether they are going to blow us up or not. The news is not good. Islamic thought – of whatever strand – has little time for infidels and their institutions. Almost all sects are inward looking and wish to isolate themselves from the surrounding society. In this, they are helped by the welfare state and an ideology of political correctness. There seems to be no inquiry as to why it is that the followers of the one true God have ended up so poor while the non-believers and wrong believers are so rich. At best infidels are to be tolerated. At worst, to be eliminated. As such, Islamic terrorism is a bit like a genetic disease. Millions of Muslims by their faith can carry the disease without ever showing the symptoms but every so often it becomes virulent and people die. Islam and violence are inseparable.

This even has an impact on language. In the West words like “scholar” and “pious” tend to have positive connotations. But when they are applied to Islam – as Bowen does from time to time – they imply something altogether more sinister.

The only real challenge to Islam and violence comes from Ismaili doctrine which allows women to go around unveiled and for alcohol to be drunk in moderation and whose adherents do not appear to have got mixed up in terrorism. Ismailis have never had political power (at least not recently) and have a long tradition of trading. It is a general rule that the more trading that goes on in an Islamic community the less likely it is to produce terrorists. Even so the very small amount of tolerance that the (Nazari) Ismailis permit is largely – if not entirely – due to the influence of the Aga Khan. A different Aga Khan could easily change things.

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Samizdata quote of the day

It’s the big fact of American life now, isn’t it? That we are patronized by our inferiors.

– Peggy Noonan, behind the Wall Street Journal paywall, but quoted by Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.

America’s political division now, in one sentence.

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950 years ago today…

950 years ago today in 1066, after arriving in England a few days earlier, my ‘migrant’ ancestors rode up Senlac Hill to introduce themselves to the waiting locals 😀

I say chaps will you be voting IN or OUT?

“I say, chaps! Will you be voting IN or OUT today?”

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Deserts of vast eternitea

John Stuart Mill, 1848:

“Hitherto it is questionable if all the mechanical inventions yet made have lightened the day’s toil of any human being. They have enabled a greater population to live the same life of drudgery and imprisonment, and an increased number of manufacturers and others to make fortunes. They have increased the comforts of the middle classes. But they have not yet begun to effect those great changes in human destiny, which it is in their nature and in their futurity to accomplish.”

The Guardian, 2016:

“English man spends 11 hours trying to make cup of tea with Wi-Fi kettle.”

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Encryption, terrorism, privacy and security

Ars Technica ran a story about a man in Cardiff charged with using encryption to aid terrorism. A VPN provider wrote about it on their blog. Scotland Yard supplied more details about the charges.

Count 3: Preparation for terrorism. Between 31 December 2015 and 22 September 2016 Samata Ullah, with the intention of assisting another or others to commit acts of terrorism, engaged in conduct in preparation for giving effect to his intention namely, by researching an encryption programme, developing an encrypted version of his blog site and publishing the instructions around the use of programme on his blog site. Contrary to section 5 Terrorism Act 2006.

It appears the charges include that he used encryption (probably HTTPS) to secure his blog, and that he had a USB stick with an operating system on it (probably Tails). This is just silly. Use of encryption is not related to terrorism. We use exactly the same encryption to protect our communication with shopping sites and banks as we do share our family photos with other members of our families. Learning about encryption or teaching others about encryption is not a crime, so why is doing these things in relation to terrorism listed as a separate charge? Terrorists might eat eggs for breakfast but they are not charged with eating an egg in connection with terrorism. If there is evidence he was doing terrorism, charge him with that. There is no need to bring encryption into it at all.

There is a risk in connecting such things with crime in the public psyche. People need to be encouraged to make use of privacy tools, not be afraid of them. They need to use these tools to protect themselves from crime. It is not helpful if encryption becomes to be seen simply as a tool of terrorists and criminals.

It is a short step from there to demands for the state to Do Something About It. The state will inevitably do silly things, like insisting on back doors in encryption systems. As our own Perry Metzger pointed out on Fox Business, it is impossible to weaken encryption used by terrorists to communicate without also putting people at risk from fraudsters attempting to manipulate their bank accounts.

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A television show about what happens to ex-Muslims

I just spotted, in the Radio Times, this:


I seem to recall reading not that long ago about this TV show, at Mick Hartley’s blog. Yes, in this posting. The show goes out on ITV, this coming Thursday, at 10.40pm. I love my Gogglebox (see above right) and will be watching this show, and recording it. I may even, although I promise nothing, have more to say about the show here, after I have actually seen it.

Judging by the blurb about this programme that I just read here, it deals with a quite wide range of nastinesses that ex-Muslims get subjected to by Muslims, nastinesses both legal and illegal, from merely nasty to downright evil.

Although this show will describe and criticise the merely nasty things that ex-Muslims are subjected to (being ostracised by their families, for instance), I doubt if it will go as far as saying that nastiness of that sort should be illegal, any more than I would. On the other hand, the programme will also be noting that many Muslims favour doing things which in Britain are illegal and which elsewhere ought to be illegal if they now aren’t. I refer to things like murder, incitement to murder, assault and the forcible denial of the right of ex-Muslims to express ex-Muslim opinions in public. For that I applaud this programme, and its maker, Deeyah Khan.

I focus on the illegal and thoroughly wicked things that are done by Muslims to ex-Muslims because this particular issue strikes me as one that ought particularly to be focussed on, by all who dislike either the general influence of Islam (as I do – I believe in being nasty to Islam), or by those who merely wish Muslims to stop doing uncontroversially terrible and terror-inducing things to ex-Muslims, and to infidels generally. Me, I think that the content of Islamic doctrine leads pretty directly to Muslims doing terrible things, but that is a different argument, and one that divides those who merely want “Islamic extremism” to abate.

The matter of what is divisive, and for whom, is important. When engaged in an ideological war, it can help to focus particularly on issues which will unite the people on your side, while dividing your opponents. Whatever your opinions about the nastiness of Islam in general (I think it very nasty), you will surely agree with me (even as you perhaps denounce me for telling all Muslims that their religion is nasty and thereby uniting them all against all infidels) that murdering ex-Muslims merely for being ex-Muslims is wrong and should be cracked down on with the full force of the law. So, the illegally evil things that happen to ex-Muslims are an issue that should be focussed on with particular enthusiasm. Hence my particular enthusiasm about this televlsion show.

I recently heard about how a quite prominent British Muslim, of the sort who argues that Western Civilisation, and Islam in approximately its present large and very influential form (just somewhat nicer), are capable of getting along amicably, and even in a state of mutual creativity. I think something like this may one day happen also, but only after Islam has at least been put on the ideological defensive (hence my belief in criticising Islam in general), in other words not for a longish while.

So anyway, this “good Muslim” was asked whether he condemned the murdering of ex-Muslims. He equivocated. I say that people like this should be faced again and again with this question, and made to pick their team. Is he so terrified of offending the many Muslims who, although not themselves murderers, nevertheless side with those who do murder ex-Muslims, that he is instead willing to offend all of the rest of us, including those Muslims who vehemently oppose such murders? Make up your damn mind, mate. In the not inconceivable event that he reads this, he may recognise himself. Good.

And Muslims who do pick their team, by unequivocally and publicly supporting such murders, should be confronted even more severely, in ways that perhaps include them being prosecuted for incitement to murder:

The programme finds that a number of senior British Bangladeshi imams, mainstream figures in society, have called for the execution of atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, claiming they have insulted Islam, and making a number of anti-atheist statements.

Making “anti-atheist statements” is fine, from the strictly legal point of view, provided no incitement to murder or to violence is involved. Just calling atheists wicked and mistaken shouldn’t be illegal. But nor should “insulting Islam”. However, calling for the murder of ex-Muslims is utterly vile, and it is a very good idea to make such Imams either squirm and equivocate in front of television cameras, or else show their true and vile colours, whichever they choose to go with, and for the rest of us to sneer at them for the morally and intellectually vacuous individuals that they are.

More importantly, we should be supplying moral and practical support to all those ex-Muslims who speak out about their beliefs. We should all try to make this an easier path to follow than it is now. This most definitely includes making, and watching and blogging about, television shows about ex-Muslims, full of admiration for them and for their courage and their wisdom, and full of contempt and denunciation of those who want them to shut up.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Because it’s being made very clear to us that the Single Market is Brexit. We are being told that if we want membership of that trading area then we’ve got to accept free movement of people (not in itself a bad idea but not really what people voted for), all of the regulation of the economy which the EU imposes, must pay into the EU budget and so on and on. Essentially, it is being made very clear that membership of the Single Market comes with all of the costs and responsibilities of full EU membership.

That is, single market membership is a denial of Brexit itself.

We do all know that a majority of MPs are against the very idea of leaving. Which is exactly why they shouldn’t have a vote on the matter. For accepting single market membership is tantamount to not leaving, it would be a reversal of the referendum by the back door.

Tim Worstall

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Commoditizing citizenship: an idea whose time has come…

Ok, maybe the time as not quite arrived just yet but it is an idea I have long liked, and it seems I am not the only one:

You could open up futures markets in passports, you could have derivatives.
– David Card, professor of economics, U.C. Berkeley

The notion gives me the giggles and it has much to commend it. Yes, I used to be a futures trader 😉

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In which I have an argument with myself about economics… and lose

What do you think is going to happen with the economy?


What do you mean by disaster?

Depression, unemployment, reduction in living standards, banks going bust, hundreds of thousands not being able to pay their mortgages. Perhaps even the breakdown of the state.


Just about everywhere in the Western/developed world.

Why do you think that?

Because of government deficits, government debts, private debts and money printing.

And why should that lead to disaster?

Because eventually people will stop lending to the government. At which point the government will be unable to pay it’s bills. At which point it will have to stop spending money on things like pensions, health, education, defence. At which point you’re going to get riots.

What from old people, sickies and children?

More from people who thought they might need the state at some point in the future.

Anyway, can’t they just print the money they need?

Well, they’re already doing that. But money printing eventually leads to inflation. Inflation dislocates the economy. It becomes impossible to plan because you no longer know how much you can buy for and how much you can sell for. At that point you no longer know what activities are profitable and what unprofitable.

But there’s been plenty of printing in the last few years and very little inflation. Hey, look at Japan.

Maybe. There’s been plenty of inflation in assets such as houses, shares and precious metals. Indeed, according to Jesse Columbo there’s hardly an asset class out there that isn’t currently in a bubble. And bubbles eventually pop.

Do they? I give you Japan again.

Yes, they’ve been printing money and keeping it all together for 25 years. But there’s been no growth.

And anyway they are getting ever more desperate. At time of writing they are considering helicopter money. This is part of a progression from low interest rates to no interest rates to negative interest rates.

So, they will have negative interest rates and then they will have ever-more negative interest rates and where Japan goes we will follow.

Yes, but… oh I don’t know. It just doesn’t sound right.

Where the Japanese lead we follow. Perhaps not so neatly.

Where the Japanese lead we follow. Perhaps not so neatly.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Bouattia argues that a ‘Eurocentric’ curriculum is problematic because BME students ‘don’t see themselves in what they’re studying, and can’t relate to it’. According to her, any body of knowledge produced solely by white people is inaccessible to BME students. Presumably, this includes the plays of Shakespeare; the ancient literature of Suetonius, Tacitus and Plutarch; the political economy of Adam Smith and Karl Marx; and the science of Pythagoras, Archimedes, Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein.

BME students cannot relate to these classical authors, she says. But there would be no point in BME students going to university if they refused to learn anything that didn’t relate to their immediate lived experience. If it were applied, Bouattia’s approach to education would limit the potential aspirations of BME students, leaving them without access to the necessary historical, philosophical and intellectual grounding they need to develop as thinkers.

Courtney Hamilton

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