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]

Those cowardly Soviets bailed out on them

I judge that the greenslime must be growing in confidence, since they are no longer going to the bother of trying to disguise their true colours:

Thirty-eight campaigners have been arrested during a “mass day of action” against carbon emissions at Britain’s largest coal-fired power station.

Hundreds of demonstrators were hoping to disrupt operations at Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire.

Offences included criminal damage, aggravated trespass and possession of offensive weapons.

One is obliged these days to read BBC reports in the same manner as Cold War warriors read Pravda. Hence we know that the term “campaigners” means a marxoid rent-a-mob of the Great Unwashed and the term “lively protests” (which appears elsewhere on the page) means rioting.

The “campaigners” have pitched tents (quite literally) in a muddy field next to the power station which, despite the sanctimonious rejection of all things modern, does have a website here. If you can be bothered to wade waist-deep through all the turgid, infantile agitprop, there are one or two chortles to be had, such as from this semi-literate gem:

Commercial policy- basically no activity that is primarily about profit, though there is NGOs there who is happy to get new members/subscriptions.

Anyway, it is all for the good I say. Let’s face it we all know who they are, we all know what they are and we all know what they really, really want. If battle is to be joined then it is best joined sooner rather than later.

Like ferrets in a sack

Fanatical ideologies contain within them the seeds of their own destruction for the members of the vanguard must continually prove their own purity of thought and fidelity to the cause. In doing so, they end up turning on each other:

London’s mayor has accused the head of the UK’s race watchdog of “pandering to the right” so much that “soon he’ll be joining the BNP”.

Ken Livingstone said Trevor Phillips had “an absolutely disgraceful record” at the Commission for Racial Equality.

He accused Mr Philips of trying to “move the race agenda away from a celebration of multiculturalism”.

The CRE said Mr Phillips’ views on multiculturalism had been “well-documented” and “well-supported”.

Revolutions eat their own children and ruling classes feast on themselves.

Postmodern statism is eating itself

Samizdata quote of the day

It is the duty of the local authority looking after a child to advise, assist and befriend him with a view to promoting his welfare when they have ceased to look after him.

Section 19A in Part II of Schedule 2 to the Children Act 1989 – as inserted by the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000

But this is the Sunshine State!

They would probably be better off just unplugging Hollywood but:

California is set to introduce tough new legislation to cut greenhouse gas emissions under a deal reached by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It would make California the first US state to impose a cap on expulsion of carbon dioxide and other gases.

And when their energy bills start to climb, Californians will blame (a) George Bush and (b) the “so-called free market” while demanding state intervention and subsidies.

Okay, what about a snort of cocaine?

Keith Richards to Manager: “Hey, man, I want a bathtub full of tequila, a bevy of teenage groupie nymphos, a month’s supply of uncut Turkish smack and….no, better leave it at that“.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards may have flouted Scotland’s smoking ban when he played to thousands of fans at Glasgow’s Hampden Park.

The city council confirmed it was investigating reports that he smoked on stage throughout the gig on Friday.

Neil Rafferty, from the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest), said: “This is yet another way in which the smoking ban makes Scotland look ridiculous”.

A spokesman for the Scottish Parliament strongly refuted claims that Scotland was looking ridiculous but did announce that, henceforth, Scottish smoked salmon would have to be sold as Scottish ‘treated’ salmon in order to avoid sending out the wrong message.

Things get interesting on the Korean peninsula

For several days now, there has been speculation that North Korea is about to test one of the nuclear devices it claims to possess. This Guardian article states that

satellites have tracked a special North Korean train, the usual form of transport for Mr Kim, entering Chinese territory.

It does not surprise me at all that China would expeditiously summon Kim in such circumstances; China has the most to lose if North Korea tests a nuclear device.

In many ways, China has profited handsomely from its enduring ‘special relationship’ with North Korea; Beijing’s rapprochement with the West meant it was an ideal conduit between the US and the so-called Hermit Kingdom. Consequently, China has acquired a fair slice of diplomatic prestige from its mediating role in such a critical conflict. However, this cachet is predicated on the assumption that China has a powerful hand in North Korea’s internal affairs – a reasonable assumption, considering North Korea’s reliance on Chinese energy.

However, if Kim Jong-il goes against the express wishes of his Chinese patrons and conducts a nuclear weapons trial, Chinese diplomatic credibility will take a severe blow. This would be bad enough for a leadership obsessed with symbolism. For Chinese planners, an even more serious consequence of North Korea exploding an atomic device would be the reaction of its neighbours.

A probable response to such a grave threat would be to increase military spending markedly. If the threat of a conventional arms race in the region is enough to keep Chinese strategists awake at night, consider the most distasteful consequence of such noisy bellicosity; both Japan and South Korea operate a number of nuclear power stations. They too might decide to go nuclear. Certainly Japan has the materials and technical know-how to assemble a nuclear weapon quickly. It may even possess such devices now, on the (very) quiet. China would be aghast at any new declared nuclear states in the region – such entities would dilute China’s hard-power influence in the region considerably. To say that it is in China’s interest that her technically capable neighbours do not reach their full military potential is extreme understatement.

In light of the way the situation is unfolding over the longer term, it looks as though the American effort to involve China so deeply in the conflict resolution process on the Korean peninsula was a masterstroke. Pyongyang can sabre-rattle all it likes; Chinese interests are the best insurance against Kim Jong-il’s rash impulses becoming outright belligerence. Even if Chinese influence in Pyongyang proves to be less convincing than widely thought, the probable result of this will be Western allies in the region growing militarily stronger to deter a North Korean attack. From an American perspective, this has two attractive benefits. Firstly, it can afford to militarily disengage from the region somewhat, as its allies take up the slack. Secondly, these allies will grow militarily stronger relative to Chinese military power. The latter consequence becomes a useful hedge if China develops into a strategic rival in the future. Chinese involvement in this affair is increasingly looking like a win-any-which-way for the Americans, regardless of the outcome – barring North Korea actually bombing someone, that is.

Samizdata quote of the day

Libertarians should not be denying scientific fact. We should instead spend our time combatting the religious impulse of people to think the modern world is evil and that we must repent for our sins by living cruddy lives and waiting for (in their minds) our inevitable and justified doom at the hands of a wronged Gaia.
– Perry E. Metzger

The Church of Global Warming

How can you tell who someone’s god is? You look to see whose name they invoke as the cause of all things, good or bad. By that standard, the god of the devout Left is Global Warming; here is the Psalm of Al, from which the faithful constantly quote (King James Version):

  1. Great storms ravage our cities, and the wise man saith: Global Warming hath done this.
  2. Drought keepeth all storms at bay, and the wise man saith: This also hath Global Warming done.
  3. Global Warming maketh the oceans rise; it maketh deep snow to fall;
  4. Flood and fire, feast and famine, typhoon and tornado, hail and lightning, all things good and bad that come from sky or sea, Global Warming hath made them all.
  5. And when our homes are beneath the waves, we shall know that Global Warming in its wrath hath seen our sins.
  6. For our vehicles that glut themselves on oil, for the trees we cut and land we clear,
  7. For the cooling and heating of our houses, for the plowing and harvesting of our fields, we are punished.
  8. Whenever we burn carbon and release it into the air, we shall know that Global Warming seeth it, and is wroth.
  9. O man! Thou hast flouted the great god of the sky, and by three degrees of temperature we shall be burned,
  10. For Global Warming is a jealous god, and small and annoying is man.

Orson Scott Card, via Tim Blair.

Natalie Portman – not just famous but admirable

In the past I have lambasted famous actors, singers and sporting ‘heroes’ who have allowed the (frankly remote) threat of terrorism involved in a long distance flight to cause them to change their travel plans. You do not have to be a great warrior to do something to help defeat Islamic terrorism… you just have to refuse to let yourself be terrorised.

And so it is nice to see a Hollywood A-lister made of sterner stuff than some that could be mentioned. The precarious state of things in the Middle East has not stopped Natalie Portman going to Israel to visit friends and family. Bravo, Ms. Portman, good for you.


Tougher than Schwartzenegger, harder than Willis, only a little larger than a well-fed wombat

Banks and North Korea

This headline took me a bit by surprise:

Treasury Department Official Says Banks Cutting Ties With North Korea

I did not realise that international banks had many ties with one of the last remaining Stalinist totalitarian countries in the world to start with. Live and learn, I guess.

No freedom of speech for local councillors in Britain

Mr Christopher Booker, of the Sunday Telegraph newspaper, has been writing articles for the last year or so showing that there is no freedom of speech for local councillors in Britain.

Under the regulations introduced by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott a local councillor can be tossed out of the council and disqualified from being a councillor for years (in defiance of the voters) for such crimes as being “rude and demeaning to a senior officer”, “bringing the council into disrepute” (by attacking it – not by being involved in corrupt activities), trying to “reopen closed issues” (closed by the powers-that-be of course) and being “generally malicious”.

This is all on top of the Prescott principle that a councillor should not be allowed to speak about an issue he has an ‘interest’ in. This is not a matter of saying “I have a financial interest in such and such a judgement being made by the council…” A person may not be allowed to speak even if he clearly states what his financial interest is – or even if he has no financial interest at all. This is because an interest has been defined as including previous campaigns against a project or policy of the council.

Oddly enough only councilors who are against local government judgements that are in line with national government policy tend to get hit by these regulations. If one has campaigned against a government project one can be barred from speaking against it as a councillor, but if one has supported the project (or even been involved in drawing it up – for example in one of the government’s ‘Regional’ structures) one is rather less likely to be barred from speaking. The cases are decided by the ‘Standards Board for England’ – no judgement by a jury of one’s peers of course. Any councillor who tries to expose how local government officers and national government directives make ‘local democracy’ a farce can simply be removed from the council and barred for standing for election for X number of years.

The Prescott regulations are clearly not something that John Prescott happened to think of – they are an experiment that will later be more widely applied (already our old friends in the European Union are thinking about how to exclude from elections people who do not accept their ‘values and principles’).

When I have touched on all this in the past, some people have said “take the rascals to court!” → Continue reading: No freedom of speech for local councillors in Britain

Samizdata quote of the day

I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.
– Will Rogers