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]

Comments that deserve better

I really like comments, both here and elsewhere. I especially like the comments on Little Missy, because unlike the regular stuff on Little Missy I can actually read them because – and this is very odd – they’re in bigger writing. The comments on LM are usually just LM’s friends chitchatting amongst themselves, but since I don’t know what they chatting about I don’t know what they’re chatting about, if you get my drift. There’s no harm in friendly chitchat of course, but often comments jump out at you as deserving more than just to be forever buried away as number 17 of 24, or whatever. Consider this:

The puzzle of why brilliant people (and I’m talking G. B. Shaw and Sartre here, not Starfish) are often so stupid politically has interested me for a while. My theory is that artistic types have long despised the middle class (despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of them are born into the middle class). This disdain for the boring old sods who become bankers and lawyers and businessmen, along with the tendency to romanticize either the aristocracy or the lower classes predates communism, but with the rise of communism, those old feelings of dislike and contempt became politicized.

I think that’s one reason why the left has never come to grips with the horrors of communism or wanted to admit that capitalism, with all its faults, offers more freedom and opportunity to ordinary people than any other system. Admitting that would mean changing one’s attitude toward the dull, plodding middle classes and that’s too strongly ingrained in Western culture for intellectuals to easily give up.

I think that’s good. Also, there is no mention of guns or killing apart from the inevitable reference to communism itself, which for Samizdata just now is a plus, I think. That was comment number 32 (you have to scroll down for it) by “Donna V”, concerning comment number 21 by “Mookie Wilson”, both apropos of a piece in Little Green Footballs about some arts people who have signed an anti-GW2 internet petition.

Or, for those more bloodthirsty readers who want a more immediate body count in the foreground of the picture, I also think that this comment deserves more attention than maybe it has so far got:

We will know that President Bush and co. are serious about the war against the Islamofascists, not when they bomb cities full of women and children, but rather when we start reading on the back pages of the papers about mysterious deaths (falling in front of street cars, say) happening with suspicious frequency to men rumored to be supporters of radical Islam (including spokesman, apologists and financiers along with the gunmen). We should take a leaf from Mossad – that exploding telephone yesterday was genius (not that the CIA has either the intelligence or ops capacity to pull something like that off). This may not be as immediately gratifying as nuking the SOBs, but the time is not ripe for that. Mr. Islamiya would be a good start.

That comment was posted by Doug Levene on October 15, 2002 03:57 AM, and was one of 28 (so far) on this, here at Samizdata. Do fellow Samizdata writers have other comments to offer? – by other people I mean, which they think deserve to be elevated into actual postings? Has His Holiness Instapundit ever linked to or quoted from a mere comment?

6 comments to Comments that deserve better

  • Ian


    As no one else has commented, I thought I’d let you know I appreciated that first comment as well. The puzzle applies to less brilliant people, too, like me, who’ve also aspired to the economics-despising clerisy. That’s why universities are so left-wing, perhaps more so than the old vocational polys. It comes from complete ignorance of how the world works, how wealth is created (to my shame I must admit I always thought it was just there) and so on.

    Thank God I was always socially libertarian, though (unlike the left). All it took was a good friend to get me to apply my arguments about state interference to the market, and everything makes sense now.

    It is a hard lesson when one eventually learns that trade, not literature, is what makes a country free and prosperous. And trade (along with the free movement of people) spreads the ideals of Western civilisation better than books.

    But books are fun, and trade is hard work. Guess people who never liked books had the head start.

  • Looks like I’ll be moving to Movable Type sooner than I thought. (Note to self: hurry up you lazy-butt). I’ve noticed that in Netscape my site is much more difficult to read than in IE.

  • John

    Along the lines of mysterious deaths… Those have already been happening, at least in Saudi Arabia. If you remember the spat of dying princes….. I’d wager most others go under the radar.

  • A_t

    Neither trade nor literature => freedom.

    Certainly however without trade, prosperity would be a tricky one.

    But freedom, as we understand it now, sprung from the ideas of well-read men, not from trade; plenty of oppressive empires & regimes, which certainly didn’t encourage freedom, or only allowed freedom for a small minority of their population, were prolific traders.

  • Ian

    Sure, I take your point. But I was hoping to imply that trade was a more efficient vehicle than books, over centuries, for the spread of ideas. Trade by itself was not the source. After all, the Roman and British empires spread their values – however you view them – more through trade than through books. Though books themselves are a form of exchange, provided one engages with their ideas.

    Anyway, it was just a speculative generalisation that might not stand the light, the idea being that it was better to have a totalitarian society which had contact with the West than to have a totalitarian society which had only a few samizdat presses. Apples and oranges, maybe.

    I also made the assumption that trade = (free) trade, disregarding VAT etc.

  • myron

    My theory is that artists, especially actors, are like anyone else; they have skills. There is a commercial with sean connery selling us on some high-tech company on tele. He doesn’t know what he is taking about, (and neither do I) he merely acts as if he does. And probably inspires real confidence in the product.