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]

May I see your papers? Please.

I am beginning to wonder whether the enemy outside or the enemy within is the more dangerous to our liberty. The al Qaeda can kill me… but DHS can enslave me. Here is the latest loathsome attack on private property and our rights as free citizens, courtesy of Downsize DC:

The same one-size-fits-all regulations will apply to both passenger airliners and non-commercial, business-owned jets that are used to move cargo and personnel. For instance, the “no-fly” list and Air Marshall provisions will apply to business planes even though the pilots usually know everyone on board personally. The definition of “large aircraft” is arbitrary, applying both to planes as small as 12,500 pounds and to 747’s ten times that weight. Items that are prohibited in passenger jets will also be banned to employees in these smaller business planes, even if they are needed for their work. (Just think of what that will do to business
efficiency in this time of recession.) Airplane owners will be forced to pay, at their own expense, for audits of their safety compliance. The audits won’t even be done by government inspectors, but by private consultants. These rules can potentially expand to all aircraft and all airports.

There is more here.

Crazed Islamic fundamentalists cannot destroy our country. No one in the world, nor any alliance of enemies or ‘friends’ can destroy the United States.

Only we can do that… and ‘we’ are racing to see how quickly we can snuff the light of Liberty.

Opportunities as parts of the left turn against the Greens

I have felt for some time now that for all its many faults – and there were many – the UK’s traditional Labour movement, with its desire to see prosperity for all, was likely to be deeply at odds with the Greens. Yes, the former, with its foolish confidence in central planning, redistributive taxes and the rest, had some shockingly silly ideas, but at least it wanted people to be better off, to be materially richer, for there to be more stuff about to enjoy. Indeed, having a good time was part of the idea.

As for the Greens, or at least those taking a more ‘Deep Green’ approach in ideological terms, their agenda was and is very different. It cannot be stressed too often that parts of the Green movement are profoundly reactionary. Well, it seems that some leftist commentators have joined in the voices of environmental skepticism about things such as man-made climate change. In this case, the commentator is justifiably irritated that Greens such as George “Moonbat” Monbiot have welcomed the onset of a recession, a fact that is hardly likely to go down well with traditional Labour voters scrabbling to pay a mortgage.

I think that libertarian free marketeers such as ourselves should see this as an opportunity for a spot of intellectual, friendly outreach to the more moderate, still-post Enlightenment bits of the left. There are surely fissures to be exploited. For as Paul Marks has noted below, part of the far-left has hooked up with radical Islam much in the same way as it has hooked up with the radical Greens, and for a similar purpose: a hatred of science, rationality, individualism, progress, enjoyment of this life and Man’s ability to reshape it. Islam means submission; the Greens want Man to submit to their static view of the Earth.

So, is it really very surprising that those parts of the Left that still cling to a tradition that goes back to the Enlightenment are getting irritated by all this? Or, to pick up on a theme occasionally mentioned by Samizdata commenter Ian B, this can be framed as a class issue: the deep Greens and their far-left/far-right friends are part of the ‘posh establishment’ that want to keep the nice views to themselves and bugger the unwashed.

In fact, if there is an upside to this period of economic turmoil, is that it might, just might do serious damage to part of the Green cause. Well, it’s Monday and one might as well kick off the week on an optimistic note.

Possibly the most dangerous race in the world

In these days of modern motoring safety features, racing – either F1 or other genres – is not as dangerous as it used to be, when fatalities were common and some racers, such as the Austrian racer Niki Lauda, suffered terrible burns. I am glad the sport has got safer because the close racing of last year, when Lewis Hamilton famously won by a whisker in Brazil, can be just as exciting even when you know that the cars are so well made, the circuits so well designed, that death is not such a close presence on the track. The idea that we need the risk of death to spice up a sport is not a view I share.

One sport that remains bloody dangerous, in my view, is downhill ski racing. Anyone who has skied on a difficult, icy slope in Europe or North America, say, will know what I mean. I have tried to imagine what it must be like to ski at 90mph or more down an icy race track such as the famous one at Kitzbuhel, Austria. It frightens me just to think about it. Here is a story showing what I mean.

Anyway, considering my work commitments and the low value of sterling, I cannot really afford to hit the slopes this year. Next year, maybe…..

Is it really any more ridiculous than…

A large number of people, certainly the majority of the political looter class, think the best way to deal with the rapidly deepening economic crisis is via ‘stimulus packages’ with money plucked off the magic money tree… which is to say, by trying to re-inflate the credit bubble that actually caused the crisis. This is a bit like treating alcoholics by urging them to buy more whiskey.

So is this actually any more daft? Frankly I do not think so and it is at least a whole hell of a lot more funny.


The whole point of tolerance is to tolerate things you find repugnant. Tolerance does not mean acceptance however, so just because you tolerate something ignorant or repugnant, that does not mean you need to refrain from heartfelt criticism of it. However tolerance needs to be conditional: tolerance of intolerance is irrational when that the aim of that intolerance is to deny tolerance to you.

And so whilst I am ambivalent at best about bullfighting, and I did watched a few in my younger years, I found myself shouting “¡Olé!” after reading these remarks by an 11 year old matador Michelito Lagravere Peniche:

“The bullfighting opponents shouldn’t stick their nose in things they don’t like,” he said ahead of his record attempt. “No-one is forcing them to watch bullfights or to keep informed about them. It’s as if I told a boy who does motocross not to do it, it’s very bothersome.”

I would not mind if all bullfighting opponents did was to be vocal critics, but the moment they started to try and use the law to ban this ancient Mithraic sport, they crossed the line from being critics to being thugs.

Pakistan is in trouble

I am sure my title is no surprise to most of you, however the scale of the trouble is even worse than I had believed.

Unlike the fringe tribal areas, Swat, which has 1.3 million residents and a rich cultural history, is part of Pakistan proper, within 160 kilometers of Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the capital.

After more than a year of fighting, virtually all of it is now under Taliban control, marking the militants’ farthest advance eastward into Pakistan’s so-called settled areas, residents and government officials from the region say.

I very much hope there are contingency plans in place to blow the &$#^& out of Pakistan’s nuclear capability should worst come to worst. The alternative is a nuclear war against India in the name of Allah, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of millions in the region.

Barak and Iran

I ran across this interesting article a few minutes ago.

The educated conclusion right across the Middle East is that Iran is determined to become a nuclear power. How to deal with this conclusion is far more controversial.

“Indeed”, as our good friend Glenn is wont to say.

Powdered milk from America

Our mother having made her final exit from it twelve days ago, the Visigothic sacking of her house by her children process has now gone into overdrive, and all sorts of odd objects have come to light.

My favourite discovery so far is this:


We wondered just how old that might be. Late forties? Maybe earlier? We quickly found a big clue on the lid:


Nothing says World War quite like a rusty tin of powdered milk, with a note on it from the government about metal conservation, not for reasons of environmental holiness but to make weapons! Truly, a vivid reminder of the ordeals that Mum’s generation endured. At that time, she was raising two young children. By 1947 she had four.

Are we now being plunged by our current idiot government into a similar state of austerity, and will more powdered milk from across the Atlantic soon be needed? If so, will America be either willing or able to provide it?

Narrative narcosis

If there is anyone out there who still harbours doubts about the narcotic power of narrative, then I urge them to critically examine recent British history. This will confirm that such is the hallucinogenic power of narrative (or ‘discourse’ if you prefer) that it can capture an entire society in its analgesic embrace while being, not just divorced from the reality, but the demonstrably diametric opposite of the reality.

Since the late 1990’s everybody outside of us hardy but microscopic band of ideologues (and I do mean ‘everybody’ including his brother, mother, plumber and household pets) has been tub-thumpingly convinced that we have endured “the most right-wing government in history”. Oh my Lord, how right-wing it was! Uber-right-wing, ultra-rightist, extreme-uber-ultra-babyeatingly-sealcubbashingly-right-wing. Lord deliver us! Good people everywhere rolled their eyes heavenward and wondered just what was to become of us all in the new, ultra-neo-liberal, so-called-free-market, wild-west-uber-rampant-capitalist free-for-all.

Not us, of course. We could see the ugly truth that we were actually being sovietised. We told them all too. In fact, we shouted it from the blogtops. But was anybody listening? Were they hell. No, they were far too engaged in the generally agreed business of guffing on interminably about the rampant-wild-west-unregulated-greedy-so-called-laissez-faire-out-of-control-cowboy-shoot-’em-up-neo-liberal-free-for-all-unrestrained capitalist nightmare that was destined to reduce our once great nation to a dissipated radiation burst of lonely, atomised wage slaves chanting ‘greed is good’ as we are flung out to the frozen corners of an uncaring, Thatcherite universe.

So, do you think this incongruent moment of flying-piggery in today’s Times is going to incite a re-think?

PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found.

The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere….

The state now looms far larger in many parts of Britain than it did in former Soviet satellite states such as Hungary and Slovakia as they emerged from communism in the 1990s, when state spending accounted for about 60% of their economies.

Not a bit of it. By this evening, these stark truths will have disppeared down the memory-hole and, by tomorrow morning, everyone will be getting on with the urgent business of finding a strategy for bringing all this rampant, wild-west, cowboy capitalism back under control.

Does anybody have a truth serum?

Meathead Conservatism

There is a fascinating article in the Los Angeles Times written by Mickey Edwards, a Republican Party apparatchik of many years standing, called Reagan wouldn’t recognize this GOP. This was the ‘money quote’ for me:

Over the last several years, conservatives have turned themselves inside out: They have come to worship small government and have turned their backs on limited government. They have turned to a politics of exclusion, division and nastiness. Today, they wonder what went wrong, why Americans have turned on them, why they lose, or barely win, even in places such as Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina.

So George W. Bush and John “I support the Bailout” McCain represented the worship of… small government??? So presumably this ‘small’ government must have consumed a smaller portion of the national wealth when it left office compared to when it took office, right? I mean is that not surely the most direct and uncontroversial measure of the size of a government? Ok, 9/11 happened… so if we were to factor out all military spending, would that give us a smaller state at the end of the Bush presidency than at the start? I will leave you to guess the answer to that very simple question. And are there more regulations governing, well, almost everything, now compared when Bush took power? If there are more, then how is that either small or limited?

In America, government is … us. What is “exceptional” about America is the depth of its commitment to the principle of self-government; we elect the government, we replace it or its members when they displease us, and by our threats or support, we help steer what government does.

Of course this ‘us’ of whom he speaks are in reality the political activists who gain the support of a plurality to sanctify the latest looting schedules. His contempt for ‘ Joe the Plumber’ says it all. Joe was indeed one of ‘us’, one of the great unwashed who dared to fart loudly during the chorus of media hosannas surrounding Obama’s stately progress across The Blessed Land. Mickey Edwards on the other hand was a career politician who now lectures on Legislative Politics and International Affairs… in other words, he is about as much one of ‘them’ as you can get.

And there is nothing particularly ‘exceptional’ about his description of American government unless Mickey Edwards thinks most of the rest of the ‘first world’ are organised as feudal states. The ‘limits’ to government expressed in the sainted US Constitution may be still be a viable tool for securing thing like freedom of expression and the right to defend yourself, well at least somewhat, but they do less than nothing to make anyone secure in their property or in any way less vulnerable to the political looter class (whom Mickey Edward could identify by simply looking in a mirror) from using the political system to help themselves to other people’s money.

And that, my chums across the ocean, is exactly why you are just as totally fucked as the rest of us.

Ponzi economics

[E]verything the government is doing now is going to make the situation much, much worse. They’re trying to reflate this bubble. All along I knew that what would potentially be fatal wasn’t the recession itself but the government’s response. But what they’ve already done exceeds even my worst-case imagination.

Peter Schiff

I know it is only January but this is a real contender for ‘Samizdata quote of the year’.

Then again…

Our migration to the new CMS will not happen until next weekend, so you can enjoy your fix of spleenic rants and pro-liberty disgruntlements throughout the weekend uninterrupted.

We felt it was better to get it right than do it fast… plus I am told the stars will be more favourably aligned next weekend.