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

“We joke about Victorian prudery, but in fact we are quite as prudish in different directions, and no less given to euphemisms or circumlocutions. There is even a distinct parallel in our reasons for adopting them. The Victorians saw themselves as having overcome animal instincts and were therefore prudish about sex: on the other hand they had yet to invent orthopaedic surgery, so someone who had lost a couple of limbs in an industrial accident was called a cripple. Our society recognises it has not overcome animal instincts and therefore has few inhibitions about sex, but has endless faith in its surgeons, so that words like `cripple’ are embargoed in favour of euphemisms like `differently abled’ which are quite as absurd as anything applied to sex in Victorian times. We are not expressionally crippled they were were: we are just differently hibited.”

– Samuel Smiles and the Construction of Victorian Values, page 144-5, by Adrian Jarvis.

(The whole book, despite a few touches of lefty determination to imply that Smiles would have disliked rail privatisation, is a fine study of Samuel Smiles, author of such tomes as Self Help and Lives of the Engineers. Smiles was a remarkable man: one of prodigious output, living to the ripe age of 92, which was some feat in his time.)

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The mistaken legal philosophy of Mr Damian Green and the incorrectly named ‘Great Repeal Bill’

The de facto Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Mr Damian Green, has been doing the rounds of the television studios explaining why, in his opinion, all European Union laws should be “incorporated” en bloc into British law.

In a wonderful example of missing-the-point, the opposition (the BBC and so on) are complaining about everything – apart from what they should be complaining about. The ‘Great Repeal Bill’ does not actually repeal any regulations – it turns European Union regulations into British regulations, but it does not repeal them. It does not make them ‘void’ as the regulations of Cromwell (for example banning Christmas and punishing adultery by death) were declared ‘void’ en bloc in 1660.

But why does Mr Green (and the Prime Minister – and others) think that European Union regulations have to be ‘incorporated’ into British law – why not allow them to become void in March 2019 and return to the Common Law? The question is not really an administrative one, as Mr Green would claim, it actually goes to the heart of legal philosophy.

To someone like Mr Green ‘the law’ means detailed regulations governing every aspect of economic life – to him the only alternative to this is chaos (people eating each other – or whatever). Mr Green has indeed heard of the Common Law (most certainly he has) – but the term ‘Common Law’ to a legal mind such as that of Mr Green means ‘the judgements of judges’, the Rule of Judges rather than the Rule of Law.

I am reminded of a ‘Dialogue Between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Laws of England‘ by Thomas Hobbes. The ‘philosopher’ is, of course, Mr Hobbes himself – and the defender of the Common Law is a made up character who is written by Mr Hobbes to lose the ‘dialogue’.

To Mr Hobbes, as to Mr Green, ‘the law’ is just the ‘commands’ of someone (a legislature, or an official. or a judge), there is no sense in Mr Hobbes that ‘the law’ is a set of PRINCIPLES of natural justice that one tires to apply in everyday life (in individual cases).

→ Continue reading: The mistaken legal philosophy of Mr Damian Green and the incorrectly named ‘Great Repeal Bill’

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Samizdata cobbled together quote of the day

It’s official: every cyclone or hurricane these days is the worst, strongest, most powerful [insert hyperbolic untruth of your choice] EVER!

Hurricane Irma has been no different.

Of course, the reality is far less sexy…

…when it comes to 1-minute sustained wind speed, Irma ranks tied for second place (with four others) when it comes to North Atlantic hurricanes. In terms of intensity (the lower the air pressure the higher the intensity), Irma doesn’t even crack the top 10 in the North Atlantic (it’s 12th).

How does the mainstream media get away with this?

– Marcus over on Catallaxy Files.

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Globalisation is very weird.

The above picture is the most commonplace thing in the world. There is a gift wrapped car in a shopping mall. Obviously, this is a prize in a competition, designed to encourage people to visit the shopping mall and spend money in the shops. The car is first generation Daewoo Matiz – later known as the Chevrolet Spark – an old design now but one of the cheapest cars in production in the world. It’s an utterly awful car to drive, but it is A NEW CAR!. If you are a shopping centre owner, then the main thing is that it is a new car. That it is the cheapest new car in existence is not the point. The point is that the prize in our competition is A NEW CAR! It’s a city car, also. If you are in a place where the traffic is bad enough, a lack of acceleration and an inability to drive above 80km/h matters less, anyway.

Well, yes. And no.

There is, of course a story.

I live in London by myself. My family are in Australia. London is cold, dark, and deserted between Christmas and New Year, and it can be depressing to be here by yourself. Although I don’t need much of an excuse to go travelling at the best of times, I particularly try to get out of town, ideally to somewhere where there is no Christmas. Last year this led to my finding myself in Tehran, Iran. I didn’t quite entirely escape Christmas – there was still a Christmas tree in the lobby of my hotel – but I mostly escaped Christmas. Certainly, the traffic gridlock on December 25 was horrendous, as indeed the traffic gridlock is horrendous in Tehran on most days. There is a metro in Tehran, but Tehran is a sprawling city which makes it only so useful, a little like the metro in Los Angeles. Tehran is a sprawling city of multi-lane freeways and horrendous traffic in a basin surrounded by mountains, a little like Los Angeles. In the expensive suburbs of north Tehran, it’s not especially hard to find yourself in achingly hip cafes that might almost be in Silver Lake, too, but let’s go there some other time.

The whole “enormous, car-centric sprawl with an immense freeway system” makes Los Angeles a polluted city by American standards, but in all honesty it is much less polluted than it used to be. Modern cars are more efficient and have more advanced emissions control systems than was the case even a few years ago, and like all developed world cities, the air in Los Angeles is much cleaner than it once was.

In Tehran, though, imagine a rapidly growing city, that despite sanctions is getting richer. Demand for cars is high, but due to those sanctions Iran is unable to import cars from many industrial countries. Cars stay on the road longer, which means the pollution will remain worse for longer than in many other cities of similar levels of development. Sanctions are uneven, so it is much easier to do business with carmakers in certain other countries than others. When you look around, you find that most of the cars are Korean, or French, or will be oddly familiar things or brands you haven’t heard of.

This gets us back to the overtly Korean car in the shopping mall.

→ Continue reading: Globalisation is very weird.

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Samizdata quote of the day

Hayek had a profound personal interest in the outcome of the great ideological struggles of his time and understood them very well. He too was driven out of his home by the Nazi threat and landed in London where the academic scene was dominated by Fabian-style socialists who imagined themselves to be great fighters of fascism. Hayek shocked them all by calling them out: the system you want to manage society will actually bring about the very thing you claim to oppose. In other words, the book is not as much about the reds as it is about the browns and the threat that this way of thinking poses even to England and America.

Jeffrey Tucker

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Samizdata quote of the day

I should have though feminists have more to worry about this film than everyone else. The point of Golding’s book is that, freed from societal restraints, the boys descend into savagery.

If gender is a social construct then, freed from societal restraints, girls should also descend into savagery because the only difference between boys and girls is how society shapes their behaviour.

But this contradicts feminst doublethink that tells if that although gender is a social construct, girls are actually more caring and empathetic, even without social conditioning.

If the film follows the plot of the book then it isn’t going to show a feminist utopia; it’s going to be more like Heathers or Mean Girls.

– ‘Shatterface’

This is an interesting comment by ‘Shatterface‘ on a Spiked article about an all-female remake of Lord of the Flies.

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I have proof

Victoria, British Columbia. August 2017.

The Jews. And the Freemasons. In a conspiracy. Working together. Dear God. It’s all real…

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Samizdata quote of the day

Mrs May is like a self-inflicted bullet lodged near the heart of the Conservative Party after a botched political suicide – Cameron’s resignation. Leaving it there for now or operating are the options. The risks of the general anaesthetic, cutting open the chest and infection seem rather unattractive to the patient, who has a mountain to climb, but leaving the bullet in risks fatal damage upon any exertion.

The bullet seems to think that it has a mandate to go on and dig deeper, like a Nazgûl knife blade fragment going for Frodo’s heart.

Mr. Ed of this parish

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Samizdata quote of the day

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.

– George Carlin, as quoted by the Cobden Centre.

Ok, here is the ‘real’ SQOTD 😀

If investors were rational, they would choose their investments on the basis of valuation. Cheap assets good, expensive assets bad. Markets are tricky things and tough to beat or even match, so it helps to have an edge. No other characteristic has more bearing on the likelihood of an investment’s long term success than its starting valuation. That tiny word “if” carries an awful lot of freight, though. The reality for many is that, consciously or otherwise, they favour financial assets that have self-evidently “worked”, in that their prices have risen strongly in the recent past. Human beings are nothing if not straightforward extrapolation engines. This is not to denigrate price momentum, which is a perfectly respectable trading strategy, but it is to denigrate the animal spirits of the average investor, who has an unerring tendency to conduct investment strategy by way of the rear view mirror.

Tim Price

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Because they are not called the ‘Stupid Party’ for nothing…

Why would Conservatives want to ape Momentum? The “grassroots” Labour movement responds to any political question with “more power for Corbyn, and more of your money”, which it couples with social gatherings (real and virtual) that remind me of the Planet People in 1970s Quatermass. The Planet People threw over the old social order to build a better life but were, of course, eventually harvested for food by the aliens whose revolution they worshipped. Insert your own Momentum analogy here.

Graeme Archer.

It is a tragedy that the only alternative in Britain to the Corbyn’s ‘Evil Party’ is May’s ‘Stupid Party’. And the sooner is not not Theresa May’s party, the better.

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Samizdata quote of the day

We also want to increase supply, though, and being able to sell in Houston for $99 something bought for $9.99 in Beaumont (again, just to invent an example) might well get a few boats carrying loads in – although quite possibly not from Beaumont. Thus, by allowing prices to rise, we’ve at least potentially increased supply.

Our price system, operating without constraint, is thus achieving the two things we desire, a curtailing of demand through rationing to only truly important uses, and a rise in supply.

“But,” goes the cry, “this isn’t fair!”

Indeed it isn’t, and ain’t that a shame, fairness not being a notable feature of this universe we’re struggling to inhabit. All we can do is the best we can. Which is, again, why I insist that there should be variable prices, why there should be no laws against price-gouging. Because this really is a disaster, there really are significant shortages in Houston right now, we really do want to solve them. Which means that we should be using all of the tools at our disposal.

Tim Worstall

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Samizdata quote of the day

There is some debate as to whether we can conceivably talk about the ‘alt-left’. Does the term have any meaning? Is it but a sly invention of the alt-right in order to reduce its opponents to a level moral footing – as if to say ‘you’re no better than us’?

The term certainly enrages those on the activist left, who regard themselves as championing the poor, marginalised, women and ethnic minorities against the behemoths of ravaging neoliberalist economics and white privilege. There could be no possible moral equivalence between such noble characters and the creepy, brutal voices of neo-Nazism, elitism and white nationalism. Surely?

Surely indeed. Events this summer suggest that the term ‘alt-left’ is justified – that is to say, if the prefix ‘alt’ denotes sulky, rancorous, childish thuggery. This is the year that some sections of the left lost all pretence to holding the moral high ground. The alt-left has become ideologically fanatic, with its lust for instability now clear to behold.

The most obvious manifestation of its evolution into a febrile cult is its new mania for iconoclasm. Remember at the beginning of the 2000s, when we were horrified at the Taliban for blowing up ancient statues? Yet 16th-century-style statue-smashing has become mainstream in the US, as the alt-left has cultivated a craze for pulling down inanimate representations of people.

Patrick West

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