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]

A period of silence would be welcome

A protester against a possible war against Iraq is urging fellow-minded people to observe a 24-hour period of total silence as a way of registering their views.

It is tempting to mock, but this writer cannot help feeling that if 99 percent of so-called peace activists took a Trappist monk-like vow of silence, the rest of us who do think there is a case for ridding the world of Saddam would be grateful. Come on you Ted Ralls, Robert Fisks, Michael Moores – shut your traps.

Liberty == Personal Choice

I’ve decided to reply to the responses on my previous article “in-line”. Issues of personal choice and personal liberty are at the very heart of libertarianism. It is not a matter of whether you agree with a behavior or not. A libertarian society removes from you the “right” to use force and coercion, whether by self or by state proxy, against acts you do not like. You may either mind your own business or you may spend your own time and money to advertise and campaign to change people’s minds one at a time. If you are Bill Gates or Ted Turner and spend every last pence you have to make people stop being part of Group X and all but one person does – that one person may still freely go about their business as before and there is nothing you can do about it.

You could be an Imam convincing everyone to accept Shari’a, and if one person doesn’t you are stuffed1. Tough. They can shoot back if you annoy them too much, and likely large numbers of others who agreed with your initial ideas will turn on you for breaking the Meta-rule of non-coercion.

There is no libertarian argument which could support the status quo of the Drug War. Drug usage – THC, Ethanol, Nicotine or stronger – are issues of personal choice. The results of those personal choices are personal responsibilities. If someone drinks themselves into a gutter, it is not the State’s responsibility to pull them out. If someone injects heroin into their veins and kills themself it is likewise not a public issue.

The minimal libertarian position is the Minarchist state. One which is responsible for Defense, Police and the Courts – killing terrorists, shooting down nuclear missiles, rescuing hostages where possible… and finding, trying and locking up snipers.

There is no room in that description for “outlawing a behavior of Group X that Group Y does not like or that Group Z thinks is unhealthy”.

In a free society, you do what you want so long as you don’t directly harm others… and the consequences of those actions are fully your own to deal with, whether it be getting laid and having a great time or morphine addiction, lung cancer and liver cirrhosis.

T’ain’t nobodies business but your own.

1 = For some Imams in certain Medieval nations, the very ideas expressed here are a heresy. That’s why we leave the Minimal State with Defense. So we can get them first if they try to “Kill Infidels in the Name of Allah”. A liberal society assumes everyone accepts a very minimal social pact of non-coercion.

The case for ‘War on Chirac’

Readers will have noted my opposition to a British war against Iraq.
The war of words between the British Prime Minister and the French President is another matter.

One of the simple rules I have in life is that, on any issue, before knowing the facts, if there is a dispute between Jacques Chirac and anyone else (Al Gore, Pol Pot, Lady Thatcher, Satan or even Bill Clinton), I know who is in the wrong and lying through his teeth, and lacking in diplomatic finesse.

In 27 years I have yet to be wrong even once.

In 1975, Jacques Chirac presided over France’s worst ever budget deficit, trade deficit, social security deficit, unemployment rise and tax increases. He proudly announced that the economic crisis was over. It was soon over for him as he was sacked as Prime Minister.

In 1981, when the Socialist government actually managed to equal Mr Chirac’s earlier disastrous economic performance, he described it as “an un-precedented idiocy”…

In 1986, Jacques Chirac won an election to become prime minister on a platform of Thatcherite reforms. Within weeks he was describing Mrs Thatcher in public as “une c******”, a description that was extremely vulgar and biologically impossible for a woman.

In 1991, Jacques Chirac promised to fight against the Maastricht Treaty by campaigning for the “No” campaign. Within days he had declared himself first neutral, then thrown his enthusiastic support for the “Yes” campaign, claiming that he would be more important if the referendum was narrowly won with his support, then if it was defeated massively with his opposition.

In 1992 on the bicentenary of the execution of King Louis XVI, a group of royalists asked for permission to lay a wreath in the place de la Concorde. Mayor of Paris Jacques Chirac tried (but failed) to prevent them from doing so. Having antagonised the royalists, Mr Chirac made no comment about the violent anti-royalists who attacked police and passers-by at the event.

In 1995, Jacques Chirac (now President) asked the mayor of Le Havre (a party colleague) not to play the Marseillaise at the opening of a new memorial. The mayor promptly cancelled the president’s invitation.

In 2002, Mr Chirac made 97 promises as part of his presidential re-election campaign. It will come as no surprise to learn that over 90% of them were calls for higher state spending or political correctness, or more eco-fascism.

Even the small steps being made in the right direction by Mr Chirac’s new prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin have either been in contradiction with Mr Chirac’s promises, or been the object public doubts expressed by the President.

Finally, on those areas where there has been some sense made by the French government this year: crackdown on terror networks, better security at the Channel tunnel, closing the Sangatte refugee camp, Mr Chirac hasn’t said a word.

I note that unlike Saddam Hussein, Mr Chirac actually has a sizable nuclear arsenal (the third largest in the world). He is certainly a bigger threat to free trade. I’m more optimistic that Chirac’s successor would be an improvement than that Saddam’s would be. And the best bit of all is that once removed there’s bound to be some pretext for locking Chirac up for a long time… and I haven’t even mentioned the corruption.

Leave Iraq to the US Mr Blair, liberate France now!
“Vive la France libre!”

Hallow’een in France

Hallow’een is bigger in Paris than London. To prove the point, I’m off to Paris for this year’s event. To save money on a hotel and because of my extra late booking, I’m taking the overnight coach.

Whilst buying my make-up, (yes I do need some make-up to look like Uncle Fester) I realised why the party is more popular in Frace than the Uk and it illustrates perfectly the law of unintended consequences.

France is notionally a Catholic country, so All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) is a public holiday. The night before is Hallow’een, a celebration of the night when all the fiends of hell rise up.

The UK is not a Catholic country, so All Saints’ Day is not a day off work, so partying late on Hallow’een doesn’t work as well. So if the Christian supremacists hadn’t got the day off and forced it on everyone else, hedonistic party-goers wouldn’t have the opportunity to dance naked around sacrificial chickens.

Oh dear! How tragic.

Democrat dementia

It is not often that I pass comment upon US partisan politics. Yes I have, in the past, railed against American socialists who insist on referring to themselves as ‘liberals’, but, that aside, I tend to avoid analysis of the political battleground in the US if only because our American contributors are so much better disposed to do that than I am or ever could be.

However, once in a while I am prepared to set aside my customary reluctance and grasp that big, American bull by the horns.

On my travels around cyber-space, I happened upon a website called ‘Bartcop’. I have no idea who Mr.Bartcop is, but he is clearly a socialist and a very long way from being anything even resembling a happy man.

Mr.Bartcop also hosts a forum wherein those of a similar disposition are invited to share their thoughts and views and where I found this woefully pathetic thread.

Of course, this may not be representative of the American left in general; merely a reflection of the company that Mr.Bartcop likes to keep. But, if it is a fair cross-section, then I suggest that US Republicans have very little to worry about in the foreseeable future because these people are going, quite literally, out of their minds.

Court slaps authoritarian wrists

A US court has ruled Ashcroft’s storm troopers can no longer hound doctors and threaten license revocation if they prescribe weed for pain.

Grass is legal for medical purposes in a number of States – notably California -and effectively decriminalized in several. Unfortunately the Feds believe they can override state laws at will.

Libertarians long have played a prominent role in legalization campaigns. One former National Chair also spent time as a major player within NORML.

“Come the Revolution”, the DEA will be one of the first organizations to go. I’d suggest they all keep their CV’s current, but I’m not sure what sort of productive jobs they could get. There’s not a lot of call for their skillset in a Civil society, and I don’t believe Saddam will be hiring after this winter.

Beware of non-whites

I can’t quite remember when it was that my sense of outrage at HMG obscenities gave way to grim resignation. I don’t believe it was any single defining event, nor any specific date. Rather, I think it was a gradual and cumulative process.

Whatever the causes, though, I am rather glad I went through that transition because now I can confront news like this and still keep my blood pressure at tolerable levels:

“Under plans to be published by the Home Office in the next fortnight, the Race Relations Act is expected to be tightened to include private householders as part of sweeping changes expected to trigger a flood of new tribunal cases. Householders could be taken to tribunals if they behave in a racist manner towards domestic help, for example, by refusing to hire a black carer for children.”

Now, all anti-discrimination laws are misconceived and for so many reason that I would almost be required to start a new blog in order to list them all. They are intolerable enough in the workplace but by their extension to the home, HMG is making it clear that the distinction between the private and the public is the thing that they find intolerable. Surely I am not alone in regarding the matter of who one does and does not allow in one’s home to be a matter requiring the utmost discrimination?

Still, there is a get-out clause (of sorts):

“The only exemption would be if they can show a ‘genuine occupational requirement’ to hire someone of a particular racial group – such as an elderly Muslim woman who wanted a home help who was also a Muslim.”

And, naturally, by extension an elderly Catholic woman, say, will be able to insist on a Catholic home-help. Yes? Well, I have this nagging feeling that the answer to that will, in practice if not theory, be ‘no’. → Continue reading: Beware of non-whites

Ooh, we do like a bit of a ‘vigorous exchange’!

If only I got all my wishes fulfilled as fast as this one. Last Thursday I wished for a good internal row within the EU as the most satisfying (and possibly most entertaining) way to their demise.

And voilà, Tony Blair has been banned from a summit between Britain and France as a result of a ‘heated discussion’ with Jacques Chirac at the European summit in Brussels last week. Blair was furious at a deal made behind his back by Chirac and Schroeder and announced on the eve of the talks. The deal would leave payments to French farmers untouched until 2013 as part of the EU’s controversial Common Agricultural Policy, aka the benchmark of the EU’s stupidity and fiscal mis-management.

Blair managed to push through his own plan for regular reviews of payments, but the ‘vigorous exchange’ culminated in the French leader saying to the British one:

“You have been very rude and I have never been spoken to like this.”

This would all be jolly good fun apart from the fact that it means that the attitude of the EU federalists is so arrogant, despotic and obvious that they managed to upset someone as wet as Tony Blair. And that does scare me a bit.

Peter Hain, the former Europe minister made Welsh Secretary last week denied the row was being exaggerated by Downing Street to cover up the fact that Mr Blair had been outmanoeuvred by France and Germany. Of course, nothing gives news a ring of truth more than an official denial…


Many a true word said in anger

Sometimes politicians blurt out the pure unvarnished truth even against their devious instincts. I cannot beat this gem from French farm minister Herve Gaymard, who on Tuesday brushed aside British complaints over farm subsidies, saying the Brits only wanted the EU to be a free trade zone.

As the saying goes, I do believe he’s got it!

Ratmailing versus blogging

Everything I ever say about blogging, the internet, emails, email chatrooms, etc., has to be prefaced by the caveat that I’m a ludicrously late comer to all this stuff, and what do I really know? But one thing I do know is that I prefer being a blogger to being an emailer in an email chatroom.

The thing I hate about “chat” rooms is how you seem to get these constant eruptions of abuse. It’s like being a rat in one of those horrible experiments which prove that rats can’t live like that. Every so often fights break out and with every fight that’s fought more fur falls out, more immune system damage is suffered, more rats abandon procreation as a life goal, and each rat is one fight nearer to just laying down and dying of a broken heart at the sheer horribleness of it all.

Blogging often gets frisky, especially in the comments sections (which seem to me to be a lot like the nicest of the chatrooms) but basically, I’m convinced, blogging is not like that. → Continue reading: Ratmailing versus blogging

Big Brother is watching: a follow up

There has been enormous interest regarding the Samizdata.net article last Wedneday about the bizarre poster appearing across London. The large number of comments and e-mails that people have left present a wide range of fascinating views and a few rather odd theories.

    This is a spoof, a cultural hack! No one in authority could be so daft as to use such obvious 1984’ish imagery.
      No, it is entirely true. As mentioned by Brian Micklethwait in the previous Samizdata.net article, here is the appropriate link to the London Transport website.
  • Whoa! There is a UFO up in the corner! This is creeping me out!
    • Relax! I went out and looked at the poster again and it is just a reflection of a lighting fixture from the bus shelter… the imagery is sinister enough without any UFO references!
  • What is wrong with trying to make buses safer?
    • Nothing at all. However the point I was making is the 1940’s imagery and choice of words in the poster suggests far more than keeping Granny safe on the bus. It is a propaganda poster in the most literal 1940’s sense of the word, and what it is advocating is ‘Safety through Panopticon‘ : nothing less than a surveillance state.
  • Totally Cool! What great graphics! I want one!
    • Yes, I agree. Although I may be an arch-capitalists libertarian individual rights advocate who hates the message and sub-text these posters convey, I also have a nifty Communist Chinese poster on my wall and would love to add one of these babies next to it. However they are enormous and I do not think they are available for sale yet.

    However, we at Samizdata.net think our often used slogan ‘When the state watches you, dare to stare back’ (which we have on our coffee mugs and tee-shirts) suggests some alternative poster designs:

    Samizdata-ized images by Alan K. Henderson

Good links and a creepy link

About a week ago I posted a brand-X piece about armed citizenry (wisdom and virtue of), but included a not quite brand-X question: does anyone know of any website/blog/compendium of links to individual stories of guns used successfully for self-defence? There were a few comments, including this from themic:

The best way to find regular stories about guns saving lives of good guys is to rely on the abilities of thousands of bored people who are connected to the internet and have a common interest.

So, I recommend checking out Packing, a website dedicated to keeping track of concealed permit laws here in the US. Click on “Gun Talk” and scour the headlines that people post throughout the day… you can usually find at least a couple per day, that were actually referenced in the media somewhere (!).

Here in the US, it’s generally thought that guns are used defensively 2 – 2.5 millions times per year (but rarely actually fired).

I can point you to some more links if you want. I keep track of this stuff because I’m often bored and on the internet.

To my shame I didn’t email any encouragement back to him, and that was that, until today, when themic came back with a further comment:

I have doubts that anyone will read this anymore, as it come a bit late … but i stumbled upon the absolute best place website that tracks firearms used defensively.

I share these doubts, which is why I’ve rescued the comment and its link from the oblivion of being attached to a week-old posting and put it here.

Changing the subject somewhat, on his own blog themic also supplies a link to this – as he rightly calls it – creepy website, that backs up that creepy poster first encountered and photographed by Perry, and copied ever since by bloggers everywhere.

UPDATE. Quote from keepandbeararms.com:

What We Do

We seek and find current news stories recounting true events of lawful, decent citizens using firearms to defend themselves, their loved ones, others and property — and channel it back to this central location to assure maximum exposure of these events in a timely and efficient manner.

That’s exactly what I was asking someone to be doing. (How nice it would be if some Americans actually heard about this site for the first time from here. Usually all the information and explanation flows in the other direction.)