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]

The Prince of Prosperity and Secession

Here is a fascinating YT documentary on Liechtenstein, that remote Elysium high on the young Rhine, with a long interview with the Prince himself, starting just before 6 minutes in, and running mostly to the end, in all 38 minutes. Some fascinating commentary from him on his policies and his country’s history, including the slightly farcical Nazi ‘March on Vaduz’ of 1938. Having started as a ‘rotten borough’ in the Holy Roman Empire, the first Prince to live there moved in as late as 1938. He is a fan of being in the EEA, unlike the Swiss, but he got it through via direct democracy. Every village has the right to leave the nation. He found inspiration for local democracy from Switzerland and the United States (at the State level one can infer).

They have a system where 11 municipalities (villages) engage in tax and regulatory competition with each other. He says that he is trying to make government work. (He’s not done badly). He wants them to deliver services with low cost and therefore low taxation.

Are you listening Mrs May, or are you changing your slogan to ‘Brexit means Anschluß’?

There is direct democracy, where you have to explain your policies. That actually means that people discuss government proposals and it provides stability despite the low threshold for proposing changes. He also has his royal veto power, last used in 1961 for a hunting law. The only law he can’t veto would be the abolition of the monarchy. Some less ‘royalist’ politicians note with almost heart-breaking sadness in their faces that by popular vote, the royal veto was retained, so they cannot prevail.

“…One kept taxation as low as possible so as to attract business…”

He asks why should taxes support banks. He notes that people are getting detached from governments, and states can get over-centralised.

GDP per capita: $139,000 (USA $59,000).

Of course, the people and what they do are what make Liechtenstein what it is. By God, it looks like a decent place.

Samizdata quote of the day

Recent acts of manly valour have all come from men from traditional cultures where they’ve never heard of sexual politics. We recently watched online as Mamoudou Gassama, an illegal migrant from Mali, scaled a tower block in a Paris suburb to save a child about to fall to his death. ‘Luckily, there was someone who was physically fit and who had the courage to go and get the child,’ a firefighter told a French news agency. We can’t call them firemen, although that is what they were. No French man or woman came forward to save the child. In 2015 a migrant from Tunisia rescued two children from a burning building near Paris.

Jane Kelly

You have to wonder when, not if, Obama is arrested

This story, via that well-known extreme rightwing news outlet, Associated Press (sarcasm alert) ought, given the enormity of what is stated, surely lead to former President Barack Obama having his collar felt by the Feds. But he won’t of course because he was “hope and change”:

WASHINGTON (AP) — After striking an elusive nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration found itself in a quandary in early 2016: Iran had been promised access to its long-frozen overseas reserves, including $5.7 billion stuck in an Omani bank.

To spend it, Iran wanted to convert the money into U.S. dollars and then euros, but top U.S. officials had repeatedly promised Congress that Iran would never gain access to America’s financial system.

Those assurances notwithstanding, the Obama administration secretly issued a license to let Iran sidestep U.S. sanctions for the brief moment required to convert the funds through an American bank, an investigation by Senate Republicans released Wednesday showed. The plan failed when two U.S. banks refused to participate.

Yet two years later, the revelation is re-igniting the bitter debate over the nuclear deal and whether former President Barack Obama was too eager to grant concessions to Tehran.

All those friends of mine on the libertarian side who rightly get annoyed by Donald Trump will, I trust, be equally oxidised about what the Obama administration has got up to. The situation is shocking because, in recent years, dozens of foreign banks have been punished by US authorities for breaching sanctions against countries including Iran. The most egregious breach was by French banking group BNP Paribas, paying a fine to the US totaling $8.9 billion. (One wonders if President Macron of France will lobby Donald Trump to refund some of this cash to France, if the previous administration was crapping on its own rules about sanctions.)

Here is Ben Shapiro going into the increasingly unhinged one-sided media coverage of US public affairs.

Back to the original article, it seems important to me that it is AP, not just a blog or some YouTube commentator, that has spelled out in devastating detail the dishonesty of the Obama administration over Iran. I recall (yes, I am that old), how White House shenanigans over Iran (the 1986 Iran-Contra scandal) nearly brought down Ronald Reagan and led to multiple hearings, firings and resignations. Obama may now hope that, as a former POTUS, he can relax, do his netflix thing, play golf, give socialist speeches for big bucks, and occasionally vent on how terrible it is that Biff is reversing some of his policies.

But I do wonder. What powers, exactly, exist to bring a former Prez. to book for what appear to be lies on an epic scale, on matters affecting national security? OK, I do doubt that it could happen against the first non-white man to be elected to the office, but if there is any justice in this world, Obama should be contemplating life behind bars or at least, being made to sweat under intense questioning. The man is a snake and yet far too many intelligent people treat him as a sort of secular saint. It is nauseating.

Aunt Agatha is in roaring non-diet extra added salt form today!

Undoubtedly you are a prima donna, but this is a good thing. Imagine if we had to depend for harmless entertainment on the likes of your mates, Nicola Sturgeon, Anna Soubry, and other pompous assholes. At least you are unashamedly a figure of much merriment. My advice is that you should trade on this. Start dressing up as some of the cartoon characters you want banned from cereal boxes. And imagine the fun if you burst into a Parliamentary Committee Room dressed appropriately and shouting, “The Milky Bars are on me!”

Agatha Antigone

Not enough people to exploit too much

Thanks to Brexit fruit is going to be left to rot in the fields. How can we cope without a reliable supply of cheap foreign labour and zero-hours contracts to cover the seasonal summer work? All this will push the cost onto society in the form of more expensive grocery bills.

Meanwhile, those evil Capitalists at Amazon are exploiting cheap labour and forcing people to work zero-hours contracts to cover the seasonal winter work, pushing the cost onto society in the form of tax credits.

Listening to Patrik Schumacher

Podcasts don’t suit everyone. Simply, for many, they tend to take too long to make their points. They have an additional drawback for me, which is that I love to listen to classical music, i.e. the sort of music which can also demand a lot of time to make its various musical points.

This morning, for instance, I was happily listening to one of the very longest symphonies of all, Mahler 3.

But, I paused it. I paused it because my Twitter feed had told me about a podcast. I am listening to this podcast now. The guy asking the questions is someone American whose name I didn’t catch from the Centre for Innovative Governance Research, and the Podcastee, so to speak, the man answering the American guy’s questions, is Patrik Schumacher. Patrik Schumacher is the boss of one of the world’s most formidable architectural practices, the one founded and bossed, until she recently died, by the formidable Zaha Hadid.

Like classical music, the design of architecture, and especially of urban environments on a larger scale, seems to encourage dirigiste habits of mind and of action, politically as well as aesthetically. City planners tend to assume that cities have, so to speak, to be conducted (the German word for conductor being dirigent). Conducted, that is, by them. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Schumacher challenges these kinds of assumptions.

The American guy asking the questions has been very badly recorded. But it’s mostly Schumacher, and Schumacher, thank goodness, mostly sounds somewhat better. I am learning a lot about how Schumacher thinks and about what he does. You might too. The podcast lasts a bit over an hour.

Mahler 3 will have to wait.

What Neema Parvini thinks and what Neema Parvini does

Instapundit’s Charles Glasser calls this Quillette article “nail on the head stuff”, which it is. It’s very good. But, you know: very good in a way I am now fairly used to. If, like me, you are one of the many and extremely varied persons whom the left calls “extreme right”, and if you have been reading both inside and beyond your various internet bubbles for quite a few years now, this article will probably tell you little that you don’t already know.

Sample quote:

One side effect of dealing with political opponents in this manner is that the left has become increasingly accepting of straw man fallacies created out of their own righteous bigotry and refusal to respectfully address counterpoints. They have no concept of Jonah Goldberg’s philosophical world of Burkeans, Straussians, Hayekians and so on, because many of these people are so ignorant that they genuinely believe that Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher sit closely on a political continuum with Adolf Hitler. Hence, here in the UK, Labour activists burned effigies of Thatcher when she died and also draped a sign saying “HANG THE TORIES” over a bridge in Manchester, without any of their moralistic cheerleaders batting an eyelid. The left generally revels in its own distasteful behaviour not only without critique but also as still further confirmation of their righteousness. When you see your enemies as pure evil as opposed to trying to understand the merit of their ideas, bigotry becomes inevitable.

My main doubt about this piece is that its author, Neema Parvini, maybe attributes to “the left” rather too much of the same ignorant unanimity of thought that he accuses “the left” of attributing to “the right”. I agree that “the left” is more unanimous than “the right”, but there are still distinctions to be made within “the left” which are worth acknowledging.

But, Parvini makes many good points, especially in the small spreadsheet he offers, where he describes leftist definition hopping with words and phrases like “outmoded”, “here to stay”, and (a particular unfavourite of mine) “progress”.

But now for the really interesting bit, the bit where I was both very surprised and where I learned something seriously new to me. It comes right at the bottom of the article:

Neema Parvini is Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Surrey. He is the author of five books, the most recent being Shakespeare and New Historicism Theory (2017) and Shakespeare’s Moral Compass (forthcoming 2018). He also presents a popular podcast series called Shakespeare and Contemporary Theory.

And there was me thinking that the literature departments of all the Anglosphere’s universities are now just swamps of leftist unanimity and sub-Marxist, post-modernist obfuscation, with all seriously dissenting voices silenced. Not quite so, it would seem.

Neema Parvini is clearly a man worth attending to. Especially by me, because I have long been a Shakespeare fan.

Samizdata quote of the day

The Turkish cab drivers aren’t opposing Uber because it is bent. But because it is honest.

– ‘Chester Draws’ commenting on the Continental Telegraph.

Either justice is blind or it is not justice at all

I am not entirely out of sympathy with the Francis Turner view of Tommy Robinson ‘doing a Gandhi’, but not entirely convinced either (in that Gandhi never denied he was indeed breaking the law, whereas Robinson seemed rather surprised when he was arrested). And like Francis Turner, I agree that even if Robinson is a ‘racist’ these days (and I have no deeply held views on that, but suspect he is not), it does not in and of itself mean many of the points he has raised are wrong.

But I also have grave objections to how this whole thing has been reported by people on the ‘Right’, usually the same people who keep telling me (an actual resident of London, and someone who contrary to rumours does venture out of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, into the trackless wastes of North End Road, Camden, Bermondsey & Hackney, all without encountering burqua-police), that London is Londonistan & women are fearful of going out in short skirts these days… and not just in Salafist blighted Tower Hamlets, but pretty much everywhere. It is quite simply, a steaming pile of arrant nonsense that anyone wandering around London on a sunny day can see for themselves.

My reaction to the reporting on L’Affaire Tommy Robinson on many sites was part of my journey from being a Mark Steyn fanboy to someone who thinks he & several others like him who I once widely admired, have become people I am not willing to automatically trust anymore. When they are right they are right, and when they are not, they are not.

Yes, my reactions to the mass rapes in certain working-class areas like Rotherham (to name but one) and the utterly not-fit-for-purpose police & political establishment was in many ways like their reactions, but my notions of how to make sure it does not keep happening again and again is different. I do not think the ‘Right’ should become like a mirror image of the SJW Left, inventing their own facts. I do not think the ‘solution’ to identity politics & institutions being rotted from the inside by political correctness, is a different set of identity politics ostensibly pushing the other way, but rather an attack on all identity politics.

So, the reason I am unsympathetic to undeniably ghastly rapists going unpunished due to the establishment’s fear of being accused of ‘racism’ & ‘Islamophobia’, is the same reason I am not very sympathetic to Tommy Robinson, the designated ‘good guy’, getting a free pass for possibly prejudicial shenanigans around a courthouse. Might a character more sympathetic to the establishment sensibilities have merely been warned away instead? Possibly so, but that would just be another example of the system not working, rather than a good thing. Either justice is blind or it is not justice at all.

Yes, Islam (and indeed everything else) must not be beyond criticism. But that does not mean everyone who engages in much needed criticism of Islam should themselves be immune to criticism if they also make unwise choices.

Politically correct v. formally correct v. actually correct: distant thoughts on the Tommy Robinson affair

Prime Minister George Grenville was the author of the 1765 stamp act – which led, in time, to the creation of the United States, but that was very far from his intent. In terms of mere formal law, Grenville had a good case for believing he could do what he did. In an obituary, Edmund Burke explained how a well-meaning man of some ability could cause so much trouble. After studying law, Grenville

did not go very largely into the world but plunged into … the business of office, and the limited and fixed methods and forms established there.

Men who only know the world of government administration are dangerously limited:

habits of office are apt to give them a turn to think the substance of business not to be much more important than the forms in which it is conducted. These forms are adapted to ordinary occasions and therefore persons who are nurtured in office do admirably well, as long as things go on in their common order, but when the high roads are broken up, and the waters out, when a new and troubled scene is opened, and the file affords no precedent, then it is that a greater knowledge of mankind, and a far more comprehensive understanding of things, is requisite than office ever gave, or than office can ever give.

As regards Tommy Robinson:

– Sending him to jail for 13 months was ever so politically correct.

– As discussed in the comment threads of a couple of posts below, it may well also be formally correct – not in terms of some new-minted ‘hate speech’ law but in terms of established UK trial precedents. We will not know for absolute certain till we hear more (including what – if anything – Mr Robinson can say for himself), but between those who wonder if he engaged in deliberate Gandhi-style law-breaking, those who wonder if he had a layman’s (mis)understanding of the law, and those who think he’s an idiot or worse, there is ample scope for it.

– Who thinks it is actually correct to send Mr Robinson to jail for 13 months while we have yet to hear of the Rotherham councillors (or any of their imitators elsewhere) serving 13 days? (Being ordered to apologise for what they did to whistleblowers does not quite compare.)

As Burke told the MPs who voted to tax the north american colonies,

All we have a right to do is not always wise to be done.

It seems that Sinn Fein & the DUP are in a state of furious agreement…

I found this amusing…

Sinn Fein also pushed back against Mrs Foster’s claims their supporters could turn to the DUP over the issue of abortion. A [Sinn Fein] spokesman told Sky News: “The issue of abortion is not a Unionist versus Nationalist issue.”

So as the DUP have said anti-abotion Catholics who usually support Sinn Fein might vote DUP due to the issue of abortion, it would appear that the DUP and the Sinn Fein spokeman both agree with the contention that “The issue of abortion is not a Unionist versus Nationalist issue.” 🤣

Longrider does not react awfully well to virtue signalling

Fuck off! Seriously, just fuck off. We are not responsible for what happened before we were born. My own family, for example, comes from a mix of poor Irish, French and Scottish stock. One died destitute in a workhouse. So, sure, we did well out of the transatlantic slave trade. I do not feel guilty, I will not feel guilty and I’ll be damned if I apologise or give money to people as a consequence of something that happened hundreds of years before my birth and for which I have no responsibility. Whitten can go fuck himself with a pineapple wrapped in razor-wire, the vile little creep.

Longrider