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]

An infirm hand on the tiller has its advantages

I have been reading Derek Wilson’s book about The Plantagenets, which is a succinct, blow-by-blow history of England’s monarchs from the beginning of the reign of Henry II in 1154 to the death of Richard III at Bosworth in 1485 at the hands of Henry Tudor. It’s good. All the various blows are briskly and engagingly described. If that’s the sort of book you are looking for, look no further.

In 1471, it seemed at the time as if the fighting had ended. The chapter covering 1471-1485 begins thus (on page 259 of my paperback edition):

After half a century of governmental breakdown, baronial strife and dynastic uncertainty the country needed internal and external peace and a firm hand on the tiller, and Edward IV certainly settled things down for a dozen years. …

But as anyone familiar with Medieval English history knows, and as Wilson then of course immediately relates, the fighting wasn’t quite done. This same paragraph then continues:

… However, following his death at the age of 41 his family managed to tear itself apart, provoke fresh conflicts and pave the way for a challenge from a minor branch of the Lancastrian dynasty, something which had up to that moment seemed inconceivable.

But then, Wilson switches in his immediately following paragraph to a different story:

Beyond central politics profound changes were taking place in these years. Commerce – especially the trade in woollen cloth – flourished, and a wealthy capitalist, mercantile class emerged. Renaissance influences from the continent began to affect cultural life and provoke new patterns of thought. But most revolutionary of all was the appearance of cheap books from the new print shops, which brought the world of ideas within the reach of many more people.

Now I want to make it clear that I have no major complaint to make about Derek Wilson, or his book. His aim with it was to tell the story of the Plantagenet kings, and he succeeds very satisfactorily. What I am here regretting is the absence of a point which he might have made here, maybe in a mere couple of phrases. I am not accusing Wilson of failing to understand the point I am about to make. I am merely noting that, for whatever reason, this is a point that he does not, at this highly relevant moment in his story, make himself.

Wilson could have connected the two paragraphs above, with half a sentence which added something along the lines of: “Perhaps partly because the aristocracy were consuming their energies fighting each other rather by meddling with commerce …”, and then noted that commerce at this time flourished.

For my point is that this royal “hand on the tiller” that Wilson says the country so much needed can sometimes be rather too firm.

→ Continue reading: An infirm hand on the tiller has its advantages

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Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

The following content was posted by Radley Balko to Facebook — I claim no credit for it. I would normally have just linked to it, but links to Facebook content are often a bit fragile, and this is perhaps one of the most spectacular things I’ve seen for a while and deserves wider viewing.

Now improved! Edited to add headlines from March through July!

Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

As Gene Healy put it, “Never before have so many been so intimidated by so few with so little political power.”

[New articles up to July 2015]

Libertarianism is for white men

What Rand Paul’s libertarian hypocrisy reveals about the GOP’s giant race problem

America’s libertarian freakshow: Inside the free-market fetish of Rand Paul & Ted Cruz

Rise of the techno-Libertarians: The 5 most socially destructive aspects of Silicon Valley

Big Data’s big libertarian lie: Facebook, Google and the Silicon Valley ethical overhaul we need

Elon Musk will not save us: Why libertarians waiting for a superman are wasting everyone’s time

Beware the Silicon Valley elite: Ayn Rand, Google libertarianism and Indiana’s “religious freedom”

I was a troll on the white dude-bro Internet: The dark side of gaming, libertarianism, and guns

Rand Paul’s civil rights fiasco: How Jon Stewart just unmasked him — and exposed libertarians’ perverted view of freedom

Rand Paul’s dystopian America: 6 things to know about the war-mongering, faux libertarian

5 Worst Things About the Techno-Libertarians Solidifying Their Grasp on Our Economy and Culture

Liberland: Hundreds of Thousands Apply to Live in the World’s Newest—Very Tiny—Libertarian ‘Country’

Rand Paul, Doofus: The Libertarian’s Embarrassing “Racial Outreach”

Will War Between the Religious Right and Libertarians Tear the Tea Party Apart?

My Personal Libertarian Hell: How I Enraged the Movement and Paid the Price

How Big Business Invented the Theology of ‘Christian Libertarianism’ and the Gospel of Free Markets

Welcome to ‘Libertarian Island': Inside the Frightening Economic Dreams of Silicon Valley’s Super Rich

It’s Bizarre: Libertarians Are Clueless About the ‘Free Market’ That They Worship

The True History of Libertarianism in America: A Phony Ideology to Promote a Corporate Agenda

[New articles up to March 2015]

Libertarianism is for petulant children: Ayn Rand, Rand Paul and the movement’s sad “rebellion”

The atheist libertarian lie: Ayn Rand, income inequality and the fantasy of the “free market”

Nightmare libertarian project turns country into the murder capital of the world

21 Rand Paul quotes that expose libertarianism for the con job it is

Ann Coulter: Libertarian voters are “idiots” who deserve to “drown”

My unusual libertarian journey: How a former outlaw broke the political mold

Libertarian Sham: Using the L Word to Hide Even Worse Politics

Ayn Rand’s capitalist paradise lost: The inside story of a libertarian scam

The sharing economy is a lie: Uber, Ayn Rand and the truth about tech and libertarians

→ Continue reading: Portrait of an obsession: Every Alternet and/or Salon headline about libertarians from the last two years.

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Watching the Greek drama unfold is fascinating

People in Greece are rioting against ‘austerity’ (which is the term used to describe the state spending less of other people’s money).

Troika. IMF. Democracy. blah blah blah…

Yet what is all really boils down to is this…

Greeks-vote-not-to-pay

Hardly surprising so many Latvians, Lithuanians and Slovaks are utterly unmoved by the ‘plight’ of Greece.

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A “popular capitalism” blog defends state regulation of pay – eh?

“A good economist is one who can understand both the “seen” and the “unseen” consequences of policy. It is the proponents of this policy who are ignoring the complexities of the issue. `Britain deserves a pay rise, let’s give it one’ is hardly the height of sophistication when it comes to economic and political analysis.”

Philip Booth, who was unimpressed by how Iain Martin, of the “popular capitalist” blog CapX, wrote in defence of George Osborne’s atrociously-conceived “living wage” idea.

When you have a writer of an allegedly pro-free market blog such as Martin arguing for state fiat control of wage levels, and who belittles those who argue against such things as ideological nit-pickers, there is a problem. What also gets me is that this foolish idea was introduced by a government that does not need to pander to leftist economic illiteracy. The Tories don’t even have the feeble excuse of having to placate coalition partners after having won power outright in May.

There may be some good features of Osborne’s recent Budget (the upward rise in inheritance tax thresholds was welcome, although the system remains unnecessarily complicated) but there is far too much political gamesmanship from Osborne for anyone who supports free markets to take him all that seriously as a friend of capitalism and freedom. If or when the costs of a far higher statutory minimum wage start to really hit small and medium-sized firms – as they will – will he have the balls to admit this has been a foolish mistake? I am not betting on it – he’ll probably have moved on by then.

 

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Someone who has not adapted to modern society

A journalist called Catherine Porter took her nine year old daughter to a “Jobs, Justice and Climate” march in Toronto. While there the child had a conversation with Ezra Levant. Ms Porter gave her account of that conversation here: My daughter’s run-in with Ezra Levant at her first protest. She made Levant out to be a big bad bully. Her account appeared in a respected newspaper, the Toronto Star, and although Levant’s reply giving his own, very different account of his dialogue with the little girl was published, by the time it appeared the narrative had been settled and it was only his word against hers anyway.

Yes, of course I made that last bit up. This is the twenty-first century, you know. You know even if Catherine Porter does not. Naturally Ezra Levant made sure to get the whole thing on video and was able to conclusively – and amusingly – demonstrate that Catherine Porter’s account deviated from the truth in numerous ways. The weird thing is that she cannot have been unaware of the camera. Levant is a lawyer who has had numerous run-ins with leftists and he insisted on getting Ms Porter to state to camera that she gave permission for Levant to speak to her daughter. Incidentally, one of the details her account obscured was that it was Ms Porter who called Levant over to talk to her daughter and she who asked for the encounter to be filmed. He was initially quite reluctant to debate with a child, rightly fearing that Ms Porter Senior intended to set him up for propaganda purposes.

Why on earth did she write as she did in the Toronto Star? Good grief, it’s not as if potentially embarrassing encounters routinely being filmed at rallies as a defence against misreporting is something that only came in last month. Did she think Levant would just accept being slimed like it was 1999?

Hat tip: Bishop Hill

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The best way to reform the BBC should be obvious…

… burn this statist anachronism down and salt the earth upon which it stood.

At least the Stupid Party currently governing the UK seems willing to clip the BBC’s wings, but that really is not even nearly enough. In this age of the internet, the whole notion of a state owned media enterprise is redundant. Moreover it is absurd for the nominally conservative Tory party to sustain a tax funded media organisation that is run overwhelmingly by partisan Labour and Green party supporters.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Greece became what it is today through the tireless efforts of Andreas Papandreou, the anti-Pinochet, who helped create a second Greek lost decade, ran up the national debt, raised the natural rate of unemployment, and kept inflation sky-high. Today, Greece, relative to the E.U. 15, is in the same place in RGDP per capita terms as it was in the early 1960s, before the economic boom under the Junta. Greek convergence with the rest of Europe ended in the late 1970s, and it actively fell behind in the 1980s. Clearly, as Andreas was the anti-Pinochet, blaming neoliberalism for the post-1980 economic stagnation in various countries (including Communist ones!) is simply being unconscionable.

E. Harding, commenting here. The main article itself by Scott Sumner is also well worth reading.

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GamerGate explained in one easy graphic

By request…

gamergate-explained

via someone on twitter.

Getting drunk on good wine and BBQ’ing yummy animals tonight, ciao for now.

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GamerGate ain’t going away any time soon

When Forbes writers say there is something very wrong with the games press, highlighting the very same points the gaming community has been arguing for many years, you sit up and listen. These pernicious and – contrary to what the average video game reviewer would have you believe – systemic problems were beautifully summarized in Kain’s article.

James Fenner

Mass-Effect-3-IGN-review-score

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Samizdata quote of the day

A notionally free-market party is endorsing a policy which will see a fifth of the wage distribution’s hourly rates determined by a government QUANGO – targeting not a basic wage floor to alleviate exploitation, but a measure of inequality.

Ryan Bourne.

The key word in that sentence is “notionally”.

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Mussolini admired “Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book”

Interestingly, Mussolini found much of John Maynard Keynes’s economic theories consistent with fascism, writing: “Fascism entirely agrees with Mr. Maynard Keynes, despite the latter’s prominent position as a Liberal. In fact, Mr. Keynes’ excellent little book, The End of Laissez-Faire (l926) might, so far as it goes, serve as a useful introduction to fascist economics. There is scarcely anything to object to in it and there is much to applaud.”

After the worldwide Great Depression, Mussolini became more vocal in his claims that fascism explicitly rejected the capitalist elements of economic individualism and laissez-faire liberalism. In his “Doctrine of Fascism,” Mussolini wrote: “The Fascist conception of life accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. . . . Fascism reasserts the rights of the state. If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government.” In his 1928 autobiography, Mussolini made clear his dislike for liberal capitalism: “The citizen in the Fascist State is no longer a selfish individual who has the anti-social right of rebelling against any law of the Collectivity.”

– Lawrence K. Samuels, The Socialist Economics of Italian Fascism

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London Tube drivers should not have to work unsocial hours at all…

… because they should be replaced by driverless trains sooner rather than later.

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