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]

Nostalgia break

In today’s Times Daniel Finkelstein reminisces.

There used to be a free-market libertarian bookshop in Covent Garden. It sold pamphlets on things such as how to cut crime by giving criminals tradeable vouchers. Or you could buy a T-shirt with a Warhol-style print of Friedrich von Hayek. You should have gone while you still could. It has closed down now — supply exceeded demand.

Little does he know where a new supply can be found, bwa-ha-ha-ha….

What’s wrong with tradeable vouchers for criminals anyway? Works for Ankh-Morpork.

14 comments to Nostalgia break

  • Chris Harper

    Got a variation of the Ankh-Morpork system here too, although it doesn’t work quite as well. It is called insurance.

  • It’s amazing how people continue to remember that shop. “Now” closed indeed. It closed in 1986, nearly twenty years ago.

    And the moral is, I think, that things like that, and things like THIS (i.e. Samizdata in particular and blogs in general), last. In people’s minds.

  • Julian Taylor

    They had insurance there as well, just that it was called ‘in-sewer-ants’ ..

  • I used to buy the great lapel badges to wear to school and discomfit teachers.

  • Verity

    Kevin Marks – God, what a chippy country! Your need to feel superior to someone is pathetic.

  • guy herbert

    Mark Rogers still has a bookshop. It is called Ferringtons, and was on Great Ormond Street. It has moved to the vicinity of Lambs Conduit Street, but I couldn’t find it when I looked just before Christmas. If anyone can supply exact directions, I’d be grateful.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I used to go to the shop quite regularly, which is where I met the likes of fellow Samizdatista Brian, Paul Marks, not to mention Chris Tame, Sean Gabb and many other fine fellows and ladies. The place did have an effect.

    The Finkelstein article is a joke. This man slags off the “nuttiness” of the people involved, but then concedes how fruitful were the ideas spun off by the cluster of think tanks and places like that bookstore. One should never forget that this man used to be a policy wonk in the days of, er, oh dear, John Major.

    As they say in the Old Bailey, no further questions, m’lud.

  • It was a nice location in an arty area. I always used to think that the cause of capitalism might get a few converts from people who had wondered in by mistake under the impression it sold New Age books.

    One of the disadvantages of blogs is that you don’t get so many people wondering in by mistake. Or do you?

  • Harry Powell

    If Tony Hollick’s account of window smashing and firbombings is to be believed then the staff of the Alternative Bookshop must have taken their lives in their hands. Who’d have guessed running a second-hand bookshop could be such a dangerous occupation.

  • Chris Harper

    Well, I remember the shop. I still have some of the pamphlets I picked up there. Couldn’t afford to actually buy anything there of course, a bit broke back then. My cadging free pamphlets probably helped them close down. Just goes to show, as Heinlein didn’t say – There ain’t no such thing as a free pamphlet.

  • I would VERY much like to have a Warholesque Hayek tshirt. A google search suggests that there are none to be had. Alas, only images of a certain Latina actress with the same surname were available– but that is really not what I wanted. Anyone have any idea where such a groovy F. Hayek tshirt may be had?

  • Tim

    A couple of years ago I tried to find the Covent Garden shop but couldn’t, unsurprisingly. I emailed Ken Macleod himself to ask him for directions and he was kind enough to reply and inform me that it had closed down, but he pointed me in the direction of the LA website and from there I found discovered this blog.

    So thanks are due to Ken; but I have recently deleted his own blog’s URL from my ‘favourites’ list because of the disappointingly unlibertarian, Old Labour tone his thinking has started to take.

  • Living and working at the Alternative Bookshop from ’78 to
    ’80 with my much-loved pet cat Beeper was a fascinating experience — every shade of the political spectrum came through our doors. The place was hopelessly under-funded, which limited the stock we could carry, but it served as a great meeting-point for individualists of all kinds to call in and share a coffee, news and gossip. It would have been great to have a cafe, as GreenLeaf Books does in Bristol (where I now live). Murray Rothbard described us as “probably the finest Libertarian Bookstore in the world”; while Time Out imagined us to be “probably a CIA front.” >:-}


    Tony Hollick

  • Howard R Gray

    Sorry to disapoint, Ferringtons bookshop closed earlier this week.

    I am reliably told something will emerge from the ashes phoenixlike, but nowhere near that place in Arizona.