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]

Wise words regarding children and firearms

Finally some common sense regarding firearms and children!

crew_served_weapons

Via Knuckledraggin

Scotsmen struggling to regain their freedom

Iain Connell and Robert Florence make a break for freedom here.

Samizdata quote of the day

The only ‘cross’ most westerners care about is the little cross hair in a laser guided bomb aiming unit used to send a 500kg cultural critique in your direction, from our technologically advanced culture to your dark ages one.

Perry de Havilland

Are these people stupid or do they think other people are?

So John Kerry says the Islamic State has “nothing to do with Islam“. And presumably the USSR had nothing to do with Communism and Nazi Germany had nothing to do with National Socialism and the Vatican has nothing to do with Catholicism.

I have linked before to an article from a Middle Eastern writer laughing at such claims before, but seriously: how can Salafist Islam not be described as Islam? Feel free to presage comments about Salafists by noting there are non-toxic forms of Islam such as Sufi or whatever, but please stop these preposterous claims that the Islamic State is not Islamic.

It is as if John Kerry thinks that by repeating this manifest nonsense that somehow it will become true. Could this be some sort of warped world view in which people must be ‘goodies’ or ‘badies’? Therefore if (say) the Kurdish Peshmerga, who are pretty much accepted as being ‘goodies’ happen to be made up mostly of Muslims, OMG we must therefore pretend the Islamic State is not Islamic as our tiny minds cannot accept a nuanced world view that maybe, just maybe, the Peshmerga might see themselves as Kurds first and who have very little interest in political Salafist Islam?

Or could it be that Salafist Islam is actually the same as Saudi Wahhabi Islam, minus a dynastic Royal government and plus a Caliph? An embarrassing and politically inconvenient little factoid that one.

As of late I have taken to exchanging e-mails with a Kurdish couple who live near Kirkuk and they have no problem describing the Islamic State as, er, Islamic. But they way they see it, describing someone as ‘Islamic’ does not actually tell you very much about a person’s views… whereas saying someone is ‘Salafist’, for example, tells you a great deal.

But unlike the jackasses in the White House with their notions of imaginary Disney-Islam, people in the Middle East understand perfectly that Salafist ideology has a great deal to do with ‘Islam’. And so what? You think that will stop a Kurd who might or might not be a Sunni Muslim, from shooting a Salafist Islamic State soldier deader than dead? Clearly that is not the case.

By all means hyphenate the version if you want, but enough of “the Salafist Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam” crap.

German Barbarism

The Times from 12 September 1914. A vicar passes on a letter from his son, an officer in the British Expeditionary Force:

Another poor girl has just come in, having had both her breasts cut off. Luckily, I caught the Uhlan [German cavalryman] in the act, and with rifle at 300 yards killed him. And now whe is with us, but, poor girl, I am afraid she will die. She is very pretty, and only about 19, and only has her skirt on.

The article continues in a similar vein with this and other letters from the front telling tales of rape, the use of civilians as human shields and other forms of German treachery.

But what is one to think? I suppose the first question is, is it true? And then, was it intentional (on the part of the Uhlan)? Are there any mitigating factors? And are the British any better?

On that last one I am inclined to think yes, simply because they are amongst friends.

And on the first one, I see little reason why an officer or a vicar would make it up. But someone else might. And The Times which backs the war effort might not be that keen on checking up. Or maybe the officer was suffering hallucinations through lack of sleep.

But on the other hand, the Kaiser’s men did raze Louvain to the ground, and massacre civilians at Dinant and use the ones they hadn’t massacred as human shields.

Ultimately, I am inclined to believe this. And I am shocked. And if I am shocked a hundred years later it is not difficult to imagine what people must have been thinking at the time.

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“This referendum is about power … we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks”

The Scotsman reports (emphasis added):

FORMER SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has claimed there will be a “day of reckoning” for major Scottish employers such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Standard Life after a Yes vote.

Speaking from his campaign vehicle the “Margo Mobile”, Mr Sillars insisted that employers are “subverting Scotland’s democratic process” and vowed that oil giant BP would be nationalised in an independent Scotland.

Earlier this week, a number of banks, including Lloyds Banking Group and RBS, said they would look to move their headquarters south of the border in the event of a Yes vote.

Mr Sillars, who earlier this week claimed he and First Minister Alex Salmond had put their long-held personal differences behind them to campaign together for independence, also revealed that he would not retire from politics on 19 September but said he would be “staying in” if Scotland became independent.

He claimed there is talk of a “boycott” of John Lewis, banks to be split up, and new law to force Ryder Cup sponsor Standard Life to explain to unions its reasons for moving outside Scotland.

He said: “This referendum is about power, and when we get a Yes majority, we will use that power for a day of reckoning with BP and the banks.

“The heads of these companies are rich men, in cahoots with a rich English Tory Prime Minister, to keep Scotland’s poor, poorer through lies and distortions. The power they have now to subvert our democracy will come to an end with a Yes.”

He added: “BP, in an independent Scotland, will need to learn the meaning of nationalisation, in part or in whole, as it has in other countries who have not been as soft as we have forced to be. We will be the masters of the oil fields, not BP or any other of the majors.”

The most recommended comment on the Scotsman website is from someone called “Common Sensei”:

Who would want to live in a post Yes Scotland run by these scarey people?
Academics who cross them get phone calls to their employer.
Companies scared to speak out against them.
Business leaders scared to sign a No letter for fear of retribution.
Media outlets who tell the truth get vitriol thrown at them.
No campaigners shouted down and mobbed.
No campaigners scared to put No signs in their window.

Yesterday Salmond attacks the BBC about telling the truth about companies moving south, and today Ex SNP Deputy Leader Sillars (who shared a stage with Salmond this week) threatens companies who have dared to tell the truth about what would happen in a separate Scotland.

“a day of reckoning”.

It’s genuinely scary stuff, the SNP and yes camp makes Scotland appear like a wannabe soviet state or banana republic.

No wonder Salmond admires Putin…

It is perfectly possible to be in favour of Scottish independence and have views very unlike those of Mr Sillars. But, as Common Sensei said, this is not some random cybernat talking; it is the former deputy leader of the SNP.

I think Common Sensei is also right to say that No campaigners have some reason to be scared to put up signs. A few days ago the Times columnist Melanie Reid, herself a Scot living in Stirlingshire whatever the commenters denouncing her plain speech may think, wrote,

“Every roadside No poster in fields between my home and Glasgow has been vandalised, an unpleasant message of violence and denial of democracy.”

Such behaviour is certainly a common and bitter complaint in the comment threads of Scottish newspapers. My friend Niall Kilmartin, who up until a couple of days ago was happy to let Twitter pass him by, signed up simply to express his anger at the way that so many No posters in his area had been vandalised. He posted some pictures he took of smashed signs (all of them on private property) under the hashtag #vandalnats .

Samizdata quote of the day

What’s the difference between Jim Davidson and Frankie Boyle?

One is reviled as a right-wing Tory and thus an obvious racist whilst the other is an ardent far-lefist whose jokes about black mentally handicapped babies are not racist but absolutely hilarious and the sign of comic genius.

BOOM BOOM!!

– Samizdata commenter Lee

There should be further action – against false accusers and tyrannical police

The comedian Jim Davidson has been described as a “throwback”. Criticisms that his style of humour cynically courts outrage are not confined to the politically correct. It takes a lot for me to feel sympathy for someone who jokes about rape victims.

I think what happened to him in 2013 qualifies as “a lot”. In fact a better description might be “kafkaesque”. Daniel Finkelstein writes in the Times (paywalled), regarding Davidson’s book No Further Action:

Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book was to read detailed accusations put to Davidson that couldn’t possibly be true: someone who claimed to have been assaulted in an upstairs bar of a place that doesn’t have an upstairs bar, or to have travelled with him in a gold-coloured Bentley that Davidson didn’t possess. Someone who said that they were assaulted at the London Palladium stage door and then, when that was disproved, said it was at the Slough Pavilion, which couldn’t have been right either.

And

Yet I think the most important aspect of the Davidson case is just how long the whole thing took. He spent the best part of a year waiting for the allegations to be dismissed.

It is hard not to warm to him as he tells of the strain he was under. The whole thing cost him hundreds of thousands of pounds in lost income and more in legal fees.

So we return to the justice of the Devil’s Mark and the extra teat.

Samizdata quote of the day

But when we look around in Europe today, we see that not only is Europe not whole and free, we see the ghosts from the painful 20th century returning to our midst. Ghosts that we thought we’d never see again, that we had buried deep in history’s trashbin.

Today, when we look around us, we see it all again. The annexation of territory, the violation of borders, religious conservativism pairing with political authoritarianism and imperialist bravado. 80% of Russians support annexation through military aggression in Crimea, where the Anschluss – and I use that term most seriously here – the Anschluss of territory was justified by the presence of co-ethnics. Moreover, there is widespread support for an anti-liberal attack against decadent Western “permissiveness,” be it in freedom of speech or choice of life-partners. Indeed, we see that liberal democracy has not only failed to win the battle of ideas against authoritarianism, it has failed even to prevent the resurrection of that once vanquished demon, fascism. The nationalist fervor east of us is expressed in arts in a way that makes Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will look like a liberal programme – I suggest you look at the video of the so-called “biker show” staged on August 8 this year in Sevastopol. It is on You Tube. It is a genuine Gesamtkunstwerk. Everything is there – music, art, ballet, motorcycle gangs, it’s all there.

– Estonian President Toomas Hendrik

Another post about Scotland

Janet Daley, the expat US lady who has spent the past few decades writing about Britain, is none too keen on the idea of what is on offer from the Scottish National Party:

What Scotland would become is a kind of East Germany, sitting smack up against its prosperous English neighbour. There would be another flood of migrants heading South to escape the dead-end last redoubt of Old Labour, draining the Scottish economy of youthful talent and ambition. How long before they build a wall along the border?

Judging by the reaction of the City to the possibility of Scottish independence (falls in sterling, etc), people are getting worried. It should be noted, though, that for some time any Scot with a lot of ambition has tended to go abroad, given that the place is not a big country and smaller nations will often see their best and brightest, for a while anyway, head overseas for fame and fortune. My wife, who is from Malta, is an example (she hasn’t yet found a lot of fame and I am most annoyed she is not a billionaire yet).

Until this matter is resolved, and even for some  time if it is, no major business will be comfortable about investing north of the border. Consider what happens if you have heavy borrowing in sterling, or have issued sterling-denominated shares and there is a risk of a big change, such as eventual euro membership. And look at the sort of people in the SNP with their leftist politics. Not a happy prospect. There is a free market tradition in Scotland, but it is nowadays very hard to find it.

Samizdata quote of the day

The day after James Foley’s beheading, President Obama paused his Martha’s Vineyard vacation—to express his condolences to the Foley family and inform Americans of the threat posed by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Listening to him as a Kurd, I had no reason to doubt his sincerity when he said, “Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”

What troubled me was the way he qualified ISIS or failed to do. The man who hails from the “happiest” state, Hawaii, declared ISIS—the “angriest” wannabe state in the world — without a “religion.”

That’s like calling Hitler an internationalist or Lenin a capitalist!

Posing as an authority on Islam, he said, “No faith teaches people to massacre innocents.” Speaking for the 21st century, he went on, ISIS doesn’t belong to it.

And then this gem by way of reducing the threat to an understandable sound bite: ISIS is at war with the West “out of expediency,” but it really is at war with its neighbors and offers “nothing but an endless slavery to [its] empty vision.”

I will admit to my immediate reaction: my hand involuntarily went to scratch my head.

Kani Xulam

Thoughts about possible Scottish independence

I might as well add my two penny-worth on this issue (or whatever currency the Scots might end up using, Ed). Scottish independence is now a very real prospect, not just a distant one. There is a flurry of commentary in the media at the moment about how any divorce could be painful and bitter: rows about how to divide up responsibility for the National Debt; relocation of defence forces from Scotland; North Sea oil rights; EU and Nato membership (Scotland could arguably be kicked out of both and might not be able to reapply soon), etc. Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, has a bit of a weepie on the subject.

The classical liberal in me says that so long as Scottish people who want to be fully self-governining do so for broadly pro-freedom reasons, that is not at my expense and I wish the new, separate nation luck. I will, however, take a far less benign view if there is any nonsense from Edinburgh about how the evil South must pay it off, by shouldering all accumulated debts, or demanding continued financial disbursements from the rest of the UK, or controls over matters not in its purview any more. I feel no very great emotional attachment to Scotland these days (I am about one-fifth Scottish through my mother’s family), although I certainly do respect and admire the great contributions to human civilisation from Scotland, as demonstrated in this excellent book published a few years ago by Arthur Herman.

It is perhaps naive to think that an independent Scotland would take its cue from the pro-market traditions most gloriously established by the likes of Adam Smith and other figures in the Scottish Enlightenment. (The Adam Smith Institute has had smart things to say about an independent Scotland, by the way.)  There is no reason in principle why that cannot happen, of course, but looking at the sort of political figures who are prominent in Scotland these days, the picture is not encouraging. Perhaps the Scots, free of the ability to blame London for their ills and forced to rely on their own resources, might experience independence as a bracing learning experience and an understanding of the need to be pre-enterprise will take hold. As long as SNP leader Alex Salmond is around, the prospects don’t look good. He comes across as a bit of a thug and a bit too pleased with himself.

A final thought: if the Scots do break free (will that mean lots of visa queues at the border? Ed) it could galvanise separatist movements in other parts of the world, such as in EU member states such as Italy (Lombardy) and Spain (Catalonia). And even in the US, Scottish-influenced parts of the country will take a closer look. When countries break up, it raises possibilities. The Scottish independence vote is not just a private matter for these islands.