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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

Society is something emergent that occurs when people interact with each other, you cannot point at it and you cannot owe it anything. When any politician says the word ‘society’, you can be damn sure what he really means is ‘the state’.
– Perry de Havilland

20 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Chris Harper

    About five years ago I read an article in the Evening Standard in which Prince Charles stated that he would like to see the private sector cooperating more with society.


  • Old Jack Tar

    THANK YOU! I have been grappling with that in my head for a while and have been looking for a simple way to put it into words. You have just done that for me quite succinctly.

    When Maggie said “there is no such thing as society” I sensed she was on to something but that was not quite right, but I was unsure why. There is such a thing as society but it does not mean what so many people think it does.

    Yes, that is a useful encapsulated way of explaining this.

  • Pete_London

    Old Jack Tar

    Of course, the left has picked up that one quote and toss it round as proof of Thatcher’s vileness. It’s as if she popped up in front of a microphone, screeched “There is no such thing as society!” and then promptly disappeared.

    The quote, full passage and context are here.

  • Pete – since when did we care what the socialist think?

  • Verity

    Pete_London – I wonder why it is that the left cannot see how absurd and anti-human and anti-contentment and self-fulfillment they are. Why are they always so negative? It’s like a sickness.

  • ernest young

    I have heard socialism described as a ‘mental illness’, and they, (the socialists), keep on proving that it is so.

  • Verity

    Yes, it is a mental illness. It is against the human norm. And yet, wanting something for nothing, which is what socialism is, is very much the human norm.

  • Stevey

    Then I guess that the luncatics have indeed taken over the asylum.

  • Personally I believe society is a collective economic contract where we refrain from hobbesian selfish anarchy for the benefit of shared prosperity. Of course institutions such as law and education define the nature of society. As society is organic we should limit any deliberate ’shaping’ of it, as we can never really know the impact of unnatural influence. Society should be allowed to reach its own equilibrium through the economic and democratic choices of the many – not through ideological social engineering of the few.

  • mark

    What about David Cameron? “There is such a thing as society. It’s just not the same thing as the state”

  • Personally I believe society is a collective economic contract where we refrain from hobbesian selfish anarchy for the benefit of shared prosperity

    I cannot ever recall having signed any contract, Aaron, or even given implicit consent from a position of un-coerced choice. It is more than just economics at work as well: I do not want to have to live in a fortified armed camp for self-defence because of fear of my neighbours.

    The reason rational people do not act in an anti-social manner is actually quite ‘selfish’: social norms develop because they enable profitable and safe interactions and conforming is enlightened self-interest (i.e. selfish) and far safer than acting in an anti-social way. Also, I suspect you mean ‘chaos’ when you say ‘anarchy’. Order is in fact the natural way of things as chaos is self-defeating and unsupportable in the log run, and that includes under a state of anarchy (by which I mean a state in which coercion is only applied with prior consent or in self-defence).

    No, I am not an ‘anarchist’ (cue Paul Coulam to argue from that position), I am a minarchist (limited government/small state), but I hate to see the anarchist position misrepresented as a hobbesian struggle of all against all. It ain’t no such thing.

  • Mark: the samizdata comment section supports hyperlinking, so please link to such a statement or there is little point in mentioning it.

    Actually it would not surprise me in the slightest if he did indeed say that, but I would LOVE to see what concrete policy proposals he has to actaully make those words flesh.

    How exactly does he intend to roll back the state if he actually believes that if it is not just empty words of Blair-Lite?

  • We are viewing an emerging struggle, a clash between two societies while attempting to fight a war against another.

    In America, we see the struggle of the truth against the established, politically correct society of lies and delusions. At the same time, a political murder-cult has declared war on America that our established, politically correct society refuses to acknowledge.

    The truth demands action; the politically correct entrenched establishment wants to ignore and “respect.”

    Only the truth can win this war. Unfortunately, none of our politician media-whores have the guts to join the side of truth. CAIR is there to sue anyone who does.

    “Inactivity is death.” – Benito Mussolini

  • “I want my Party to be one that says, loudly and proudly, that there is such a thing as society – it’s just not the same thing as the state.”

    David Cameron

  • Luniversal

    Now he’s quoting himself.

  • If I was quoting myself I would have my name on the byline.

  • I noticed that Cameron quote in the Guardian. The piece was obviously designed to try and make readers hate him, but I ended up liking the walking idea-free-zone more at the end than at the beginning.

  • S. Weasel

    If I was quoting myself I would have my name on the byline.

    P’raps. But Luniversal isn’t the first to notice that Samizdata Illuminatus has a pronounced taste for de Havilland quotes, and doesn’t sound much like Massachusetts, fictional or otherwise.

  • I have gleaned some quotes from this thread and added them to the left-hand column on THIS page. (You have to scroll down some to find Perry’s.)

  • I have no hang ups about quoting myself and when I do (and I have) I use my own name as you may have noticed that I am not the self-deprecating type. I am a blogger after all.

    SI is used by several folks who, by virtue of their jobs, wisely do not use their own names. I am not one of those folks.