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]


Having read the article based on the observations of Marian Tupy it has occured to me that Jean-Marie Le Pen could be the next President of France.

Now before anybody goes getting their shorts in a knot, please note that I said ‘could’ not ‘will’ because Marian reminds us that an alarmingly high percentage of the electorate voted not just for Le Pen or his fellow traveller Bruno Megret, but also for Soviet-worshipping loop-de-loos like Jean-Pierre Chevenement and Arlette Legullier. Altogther, more than 30% of those who voted, voted for totalitarian government.

It is widely assumed in the press and elsewhere that the hard left will throw its weight and numbers behind Jacques Chirac out of disgust at Le Pen but Marian points out that this is a dangerously flawed assumption. In fact, they are just as likely to throw in their lot with Le Pen and, if they do, then Chirac is struggling.

It is equally assumed that the 28% or so who failed to turn out will turn out this time for fear of a Le Pen victory. But, again, this could be quite wrong. What if a lot of those abstainers are Le Pen sympathisers who failed to register their vote because they felt that he had no chance of winning? Now that he does have a chance, will then weigh-in? If they do, then Le Pen will win.

Of course, this is all just speculation and, on balance, the odds probably do favour Chirac but I think it unwise to regard his victory as a foregone conclusion, because it isn’t.

Another Britblog!!! – “Freedom and Whisky”

The epidemic spread of Britblogging is definitely this weekend’s Britblogging story. Perry says he doesn’t want too much blogging about blogging, because, well, even to explain would be to break the rule, nevertheless …

… posted on the Libertarian Alliance Forum at 4.54 pm today, by long time Libertarian Alliance supporter David Farrer: “My new blog is now up and running.”

The first posting was last Wednesday, thus:

Welcome to this new blog. The title Freedom and Whisky links the two themes of this blog: libertarianism and Scotland. The libertarianism will, however, sometimes extend beyond events in Scotland and I shall also be covering non-political news of interest to me north of the border. I have therefore included links to a variety of Scottish sites which I often use.

Not really a slogan – more like a description of how life goes

On Constable Potter’s face was that hard, keen look which comes into the faces of policemen when they intend to do their duty pitilessly and crush a criminal like a snake beneath the heel. It was the look which Constable Potter’s face wore when he was waiting beneath a tree to apprehend a small boy who was up in its branches stealing apples, the merciless expression that turned to flint when he called at a house to serve a summons on somebody for moving pigs without a permit.
-P.G.Wodehouse (Uncle Dynamite, 1948, quoted in Wodehouse Nuggets, selected by Richard Usborne, 1983)

Chris Cooper’s Blog

Last Friday was the last Friday of the month, and that meant a meeting at my place. Libertarian Samizdata supremo Perry de Havilland talked about blogging, and many of those present were either blog bosses (Perry, Patrick Crozier of UK Transport, Andrew Dodge of Dodgeblog) or blog contributors (such as Samizdatans Tom Burroughes, David Carr and me).

The dark horse in the herd was Chris Cooper. He has written a number of things for the Libertarian Alliance over the years. One of my favorites of his was the first Personal Perspectives piece we ever published called Mere Anarchy, and he was writing about why Free Market Broadcasting would be a good idea long before most people realised that such a thing was possible, let along desirable. But he has been too busy working, raising a family, etc., to do as much libertarian writing since then as we’d all have liked. An ideal blogger, in other words. So I was especially glad when he showed up on Friday. And, it turns out that for the last month Chris Cooper has been doing Chris Cooper’s Blog (CCB from now on). Having glanced through CCB in amazement on Friday night, I gave it a proper read on Saturday.

Perry made a distinction in his talk between “mezines” and “pundit” blogs. CCB, rather like Natalie Solent‘s Blog, looks to be both. Like Natalie, Chris is an uncompromising libertarian but he doesn’t hit you over the head with it all the time. And when he does it can take a few seconds to register, such a tabby cat does he usually seem, what with writing about other things besides libertarianism.

You’ll probably need a longer attention span for CCB than for your average blog. It’s more like a nineteenth century gentleman’s diary, kept as much for its author’s pleasure, now and in later decades, as for anyone else’s benefit. If you want to read CCB over Chris’ shoulder you’re very welcome, but he’s not begging. But just like those nineteenth century gentleman he can write, I promise you.

CCB has not so far been strong on links, but this may merely be because Chris has yet to master the technicalities of that. I know the feeling. If that’s so, the fact that Patrick Crozier was deep into technical confabulation with Chris over my computer on Friday night could prove significant. In particular, CCB‘s left hand bit, now decidedly blank, should soon come alive.

I shan’t organise my life around Chris Cooper’s Blog, not yet. But I will be giving it a look every few days.

The gun did good

You know those “what I’ve always said” things, which actually thousands of others have been saying for even longer. Well I’ve always said that we, the forces of enlightenment, the good guys, need to get our hands on more stories where the gun hasn’t been in evil hands and done harm, but in good hands and done good. And when we do get our hands on such stories we should spread them in all directions.

So here is just such a story (“Woman shoots, kills armed intruder in West Seattle”) from the Seattle Times, picked up by a very promising blogger fellow named Glenn Reynolds, on a little thing he calls Instapundit. This Reynolds chappie has a definite future as a blogger. The Instapundit hit rate will now explode …

Ivan, that’s terrible!

Deputies sitting in the Russian Duma are proposing a law that would re-criminalise homosexuality.

However, according to the BBC:

“At a time when President Putin is concerned about Russia’s image abroad, it is inconceivable that the proposed gay ban could be put on the statute book.

Yes, well, I do recall that it was the same BBC that assured everyone that Jean-Marie Le Pen had not a cat in hell’s chance of getting past the first round of the French presidential elections.

Samizdata slogan of the day

Capitalism is the unequal distribution of wealth, socialism the equal distribution of misery

French town changes communist rule for a fascist one

Marian Tupy of St Andrews Liberty Club has some observation about the reality of just who are Jean-Marie Le Pen’s supporters in France

Hitler used to say that Communists make the best Nazis. This was true in Nazi Germany where many Nazis including Hitler, flirted with Communism when they were young. There is a little known photo of Hitler in the procession carrying the coffin of a deceased Communist leader and wearing Communist insignia. Similarly, Ribbentrop reported from Moscow where he signed the pact of Russo-German non-aggression (known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact) that he felt very much at home. Same is true of a little French town of Douai, close to Lille, where the Communists have been traditionally in charge and where Le Pen did spectacularly well.

The town has been a subject to the recent Channel 4 report, were the reporter wondered why was it that the same people who elected Communists could also elect Le Pen. To this journalist, the two were polar opposites. Clearly, he has not read his Mein Kampf and knows little of philosophy and history. Communism and Fascism/Nazism appeal to the same mind set, which believes that the state is there to provide all the answers to life’s problems – especially job security. This was exemplified by the answers, which many of the questioned Le Pen supporters provided. “Foreigners are taking our jobs” was the most usual of responses. “If Le Pen had power for 6 months, France would change beyond recognition” said others. Clearly, if one believes that the state can provide a good life, then it does not matter whether it is the Communists or the Fascists who are in charge. What matters is who promises more and who seems more plausible to deliver the results.

Gotta love those Saudis

Inspired by a call in Saudi Arabia for Jewish women to be enslaved, my very good friend in the USA, Ed Collins sent me this e-mail:

“I see on Instapundit and Damian Penny’s sites that a Saudi preacher has advocated enslaving Jewish women. I’m all for it. Since I read the articles, I’ve had visions of Rachel Weiss and Natalie Portman in harem costumes”.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hubba hubba!!

Rushdie piles on France

Author Salman Rushdie would have gotten a lot more attention for his comments in today’s Washington Post, but for the fact that his piece lay side-by-side with a scathing indictment of European anti-Semitism by Charles Krauthammer. Krauthammer’s piece was the hot item in the Blogosphere all day; of course Glenn Reynolds was all over it early in the day, and Tony Adragna of QuasiPundit ran with it too — but Rushdie’s comments deserve their time in the spotlight.

While Rushdie can’t help but take a few irrelevant and somewhat distracting sideswipes at Dubya and at Lady Thatcher, his skewering of the French is priceless — throwing Voltaire right in their faces! Rather than confront the rising tide of economic nationalists (or whatever the favored euphemism for “fascism” is now), they tend to their gardens, while insisting that fascism engages only the fringes and not the heart of French politics. And when anti-Semitism and fascism start percolating through their politics, why, who left those things lying around?

The voters blame the parties for not offering better choices; the incumbent Left blames the electorate for not being smart enough to continue voting for them. But in either case, the French have been far too busy casting judgment on the rest of the globe to take a critical look at themselves. Yes, Chirac will almost certainly beat Le Pen, but Rushdie is right to criticize the French, who for so long insisted that candidates like Le Pen only appealed to a tiny fringe element.

Yes, it can get worse

I seem to recall that one the tasks undertaken by our Cold War fighters was the smuggling of Bibles into the former Soviet Union. Looks like their services may be required again before too long.

A British EU judge has warned that distribution of Bibles could violate proposed EU Anti-Racism Laws.

Unfortunately, subscription is required in order to read the article in full but this is the opinion of Lord Scott of Foscote:

“The proposed offense would include ‘public dissemination or distribution of tracts, pictures, or other material containing expressions of racism or xenophobia. So distribution of, for example, literature containing expressions of belief in race, color, national origins, etc. as a factor determining aversion to individuals or groups would be a criminal offense.

Among the literature that could fall foul of this definition, according to Lord Scott, is the Bible and also ‘Biggles’, novels about a fictional WWII fighter pilot.

Looks like Perry was rather prescient when he decided to call this blog ‘the Samizdata’.

VAT on Norwegian tattoos – where do you draw the line?

My Norwegian libertarian friend Kristine Lowe has a personal interest in tattoos, and in their tax status, see above. (“Lowe” is Norwegian for “lion”, hence the nature of her magnificent adornment.) Thus alerted to any tattoo-related media item, she sent me the following report, based on a longer piece in the Norwegian Aftenposten:

Is a tattoo a creative work or simply a reproduction? This is a question Norwegian tax officers have to consider carefully when they come to implement last year’s VAT (Value Added Tax) reform. Tattoos, crosswords and fireworks may be exempted from VAT – as long as they have creative value.

The eight page long tax office guidelines document, Art, culture and sport – an orientation, says that creating an image for a tattoo is indeed a creative work. But to burn it into the skin of someone fooled into the tattoo shop by his mates is “only a reproduction of a creative work protected by copyright”. Hail to the Norwegian authorities’ profound respect for artistic and intellectual property rights.

A concert which is just a concert is also exempted from VAT. A concert venue where people can dance, on the other hand, is logically not. Ballet and traditional dances are exempted from VAT. Disco is not. One could be led to believe that only boring culture is exempted from VAT, but the rules are not that coherent. Stand-up comedians don’t have to pay VAT – but lecturers, presenters and commentators do.

At least we finally have an explanation for why it’s so difficult to get through to the tax office in Norway – they are busy reading crosswords, hanging out in tattoo shops, checking concert venues for dancing space and so on and so forth.

Kristine has also had trouble with her legs. Now me, I’ve never had trouble with Kristine’s legs – see below. But she had a bad accident several years ago, and the original doctors didn’t catch everything. So soon she’s off back to Norway to get everything finally fixed. I and the rest of the libertarian movement wish her all the best.