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]

Samizdata quote of the day

And that is called paying the Dane-geld; but we’ve proved it again and again, that if once you have paid him the Dane-geld you never get rid of the Dane.

– Rudyard Kipling

31 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    A good point – as so often with Ridyard Kipling.

    And, again as so often with the wisdom of Rudyard Kipling, it is often ignored.

    “Conceding what it is safe to concede” (Walter Bagehot “The English Constitution”) is not wisdom – it is folly and leads to utter destruction. This is the sort of thinking that R.K. was trying to expose.

    One should do what is RIGHT – and that includes change (if the change is to something better). One should never act simply to please enemies – for they simply return with fresh demands.

    The forces of evil become stronger with every concession made to them, and one grows weaker. Allies betrayed, followers dismayed, strength rotted from within by one’s own corruption.

  • Totally spot on, Paul.

    You will be unsurprised to know, if you don’t already, that RK is not only not taught at all in the English “national(ised) curriculum”, but knowing anything about him is positively discouraged in State schools: except that he “sent his only son to the trenches to be killed”.

    And, in the last couple of weeks (guess why) most young people I know have heard of King George VI for the very first time in their lives.

    (Sorry, that was a bit off topic, but sort of goes with the erasing of Kipling from our national consciousness.)

  • 'Nuke' Gray

    Does this mean that governments, like the Danes, will never go away? Once you pay taxes to them, they are here forever?

  • Alasdair

    Fear not his passing, O Ye Nervous Ones …
    With Jungle Book in regular re-runs …

    (I’m too long out of practice, or I would have Kipl’ed more gracefully)

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Most moderns would be surprised at Kipling’s later work: “Mary Postgate” or “Elspeth, a Girl of the Hills” don’t jibe very well with his popular image as Colonel Blimp’s press agent.

    And the Bandar-log were inspired: Ayn Rand later wrote a longish book about them, but RK skewered the breed in a few pages.

  • Jaded Libertarian

    At the university at which I work there are often events held by “The Islamic Society & our Christian friends”.

    The Muslims in this arrangement stick wholeheartedly to their doctrine of domination and superiority having sacrificed nothing, while the “Christians” have sacrificed every last facet of their beliefs in order to seem conciliatory.

    I have a hard time respecting those who would disregard everything that makes their faith what it is in an attempt to “reach out”. The Muslims are happy to respond to this by turning the lilly-livered christians of the university into their own personal lap dog and roping them into their increasingly belligerent “anti-zionist” campaigns.

    Pretty soon your just a footnote in the islamic society’s events page.

  • Ian F4

    The Muslims in this arrangement stick wholeheartedly to their doctrine of domination and superiority having sacrificed nothing

    In another era this was called fascism.

  • Interesting; here is where to find the the whole poem.

    Given the context (minimal outside of Dane-Geld), it will be interesting to see how others manage to extend the quotation to cover their particular view.

    For myself, it seems wrong to equate the different, which I suspect will be the case in many cases on this thread: accepting something that is intrinsically wrong (blackmail) with more normal relations (compromise, on say a border dispute).

    Mostly, life is judged in shades of grey, though sometimes in black and white. Where the boundary is narrow and has a high gradient, those are the most difficult cases to recognise. However, it is the wide and shallow gradients that are the most difficult to negotiate.

    Best regards

  • Johnathan Pearce

    And of course let’s not forget “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”, which ought to be re-read and memorized by central bankers, finance ministers and the public in general.

  • Paul Marks

    Nigel Sedgwick – I am not extending the poem to cover MY world view, I was pointing to Rudyard Kipling’s world view.

    A world view I happen to know something about – and, in part (not totally), share.

    As for the rest of your comments – the most charitable view would be that you fundementally misunderstood both Kiplig and the comments.

    “Best Regards”.

    Nuke Gray – Kipling was not an anarchist (not even a Tory Anarchist – although he had his moments), however YES he was talking about domestic tyranny as well as external threats.

    The more concessions you make the weaker your position is – and the stronger the position of the foe is.

    Particularly as government intervention leads to bad developments that give rise to calls for MORE government intervention,

    The story of American health care is a classic example – it is so expensive because of many decades of government interventions, piled on top of each other.

    On each occasion people said “well it is just…..” and that had led to position where even if “Obamacare” (which would lead to the final liquidation of REAL private care for most people, due to the extra mandates and so on, and its replacement by government financed “private” care).

    So even if the Supreme Court finally voids Obamacare – the present situation really is “unsustainable” the statists are actually telling the TRUTH about that.

    But it is unsustainable – because of all the past concessions.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes J.P. – The Gods of the Copybook Headings.

    I suspect that even Nigel would admit that this poem is not really about children practicing their penmanship.

    It is about basic logical principles (what should be Common Sense).

    The most mighty civilization (in spite of all its achievements) will be destroyed if these principles are violated.

  • RW

    For Kipling against the petty bureaucrats, try this.

    And yes, he had a good point about Danegeld. Would that our leaders learnt from history.

  • I know Kipling mainly from “Plain Tales from the Hills”. Excellent stuff. I found the Kipling I read very difficult to reconcile with the myth of Kipling as an evil racist. I suspect folk who draw-up curricula just look at a late Victorian bloke with a ‘tash and a tweed jacket and think he wrote all his stuff with a wog for a foot-stool automatically. They don’t actually read him. In “Plain Tales…” more than anything Kipling mocks the attitude of wet behind the ears colonial administrators who just pitch up in India and think whatever whiz-bang scheme will work despite umpteen centuries of Indian civilization saying otherwise. “Pig” is a classic of that genre. But it was written by a Victorian gent so it cannot compute in the leftie mind! Frankly the leftie mind rarely goes further than just looking at someone and thinking he looks like a Victorian gent and concluding he must be the worst form of racist, sexist, Islamophobic whatnot…

    Much the same can be said about Mark Twain in the US. It is the shallowness I despise. Nobody can really read Huck Finn and conclude it is a racist book. Indeed quite the reverse but Huck says, “nigger” a few times so it must be burned. Interestingly Twain doesn’t get the stick here that Kipling does and that is because he is a Yank and therefore obviously racist and just can’t help it. Probably owns guns and all. The problem with this is that the UK left will hurl you under the bus for saying anything against dusky folk or gays or whatever but will applaud till the rafters shake anything bad said about Americans.

    Their approach to Americans is very similar to their approach to books. I have never heard as much pig-ignorant invective against anything as you get from UK lefties on the subject of Americans. What amazes me is that when I counter with, “Have you actually been?” the response I get is like I’d asked if they’d booked two weeks with Thomas Cook in Mordor. “Oh, no, ghastly place!” It is the bald assumption and the stereotyping that does me in. Because isn’t that what the left is allegedly against?

    I mean really. If I said all gays sounded like Alan Carr (who ought to be shot for his and our own good) and had AIDS then I would be persona non-grata. But Septics… Anything fucking goes. When I was dating a lass from Atlanta… It was all, “So does her Dad have a gun?” Well, yeah he did. I have no idea what they thought Georgia was like except I do. They thought it was like the movie “Deliverance” and that I was going to be married at gunpoint for despoiling a fine Southern Flower and then gang-buggered by toothless good ole boys amidst much firing in the air and country music…

    Do I have to you say to you folks this never happened? I doubt it but I did have to say it to various leftie pals.

    As to the death of Kipling’s son. He never got over it.

  • Kevin B

    On the subject of Kipling’s ‘relevance’, (horrid concept), to today, I think the only thing missing from this poem (Link) is the absolute contempt the Sons of Mary have for The Sons of Martha. Perhaps in Kipling’s day it was less noticable.

  • Millie Woods

    FYI – Kipling lived in Vermont near the delightful village of Grafton (Well aren’t almost all Vermont villages delightful?) He used to frequent the Grafton Inn which has a Kipling room in his honour. And BTW Grafton cheddar is pretty spectacular too.

  • Ian F4

    I’m, a bit slow, I’ve only just clocked the irony of the Danish flag on the left of the website, even the Danes are paying the Dane-geld !

  • Bod

    No, RW, the point is that our ‘leaders’ ARE the Danes.

  • I think you’ve been misinformed, Bod. Here in England at least they’re generally the Scots.

  • Winger

    Our leaders have learnt from history. They learned they have to get the Kiplings out of schools. Otherwise, the common folk might start thinking on their own.

  • Alasdair

    Ian B – as I understand it, the expression getting off scot-free relates to a dane-geld equivalent … someone was considered to have gotten off scot-free if they hadn’t had to pay their “scot” – a long-ago protection racket fee to ensure that Scots raiding across the border into England would smite others’ properties and leave the folk that had paid their “scot” alone …

  • Alasdair: the wise men on the internets beg to differ.

  • M. Thompson

    Having read Kipling on my own in the past few years, I found him to be enormously perceptive on the foibles of humanity, yet appreciative of the best parts of it.

  • Paul Marks

    I suspect the Percy family were not in the habit of paying protection money to the Scots.

    Nor did they have much time for domestic tyranny in England itself – even from Kings.

    “Percy what a silly name”.

    Only believed by those who never faced the Dukes of Northumberland in battle – certainly the lost (and died) sometimes, but they were not people to be taken lightly.

    Where is all this gone?

    The old structional limitations on the power of government (such as the great familes – wary both of each other and, far more, of the King in London) are faided away into the grass.

    Even the memory of the old traditions is dying – although they were living not so long ago.

    After all even in 1914 there were two million people in the British National Rifle Association – and a vast network of “Constitutional Clubs”.

    Now I doubt that one person in a hundred has even heard of such things.

  • Alasdair

    Alisa and Paul Marks – the citation and the supporting prose may well be accurate … since I am going from memory during adolescence, I do not have alternate sources to hand (or to cite) … that is both one of the good things about the Internet and one of the bad things … one can find answers to almost any questions (good) and yet not have any easy way to corroborate/verify the answer(s) found (bad) …

    It may well be that both are based in truth and history …

    By the time of the Dukes of Northumberland, I have to suspect that most of the cross-border raiding was dying out …

    Go back farther to the times of Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall, and you get the Romans invading and conquering England and Wales, and invading Scotland until they found that, even with Roman Roads, their supply lines were stretched too far, so they built the 40-mile Wall from Glasgow to Edinburgh and declared all Britannia conquered … and the Picts/Scots back then would just go round the ends and raid south to a bit south of the modern border between Scotland and England …

    So the Romans strategically advanced southwards, about as far south as the Scots/Picts traditionally tended to raid, and built a second 110-120-mile Wall from coast to coast, and declared Britannia still conquered … and, quelle surprise (mirabile dictu, the Roman settlements south of the new Wall were no longer being raided … (grin)

    (Can you tell that I miss my copy of “1066 and all that” ?)

  • I have no idea myself, Alasdair – I was just curious and so went to see what would come up. Have I mentioned that I am an etymology buff?:-)

  • Alasdair

    Alisa – somehow, I had envisioned you as more of an etymology svelte …

    (douce smile)

    With that uttered, are we actually discussing etymology ? Or is it more idiom ? Or what is the technical term for something like “futtock shroud” or “ground futtock” ?

    (Hmmm – does that last paragraph constitute thread-piracy ?)

  • are we actually discussing etymology ? Or is it more idiom


    I’ll have to google the rest tomorrow:-)

  • Oh my, I see I still left a lot of sailing terminology to learn (which I doubt I ever will)…

  • Paul is right about the power of the Dukes of Northumberland. Seriously powerful guys. You should see their castles such as Bamburgh or Alnwick.

    Alasdair the Dukedom goes way back. There were dukes in Northumberland for centuries during which the Scots caused mayhem when allowed. Further to the south of course were the Prince Bishops of Durham also not by and large to be messed with.

    You do know why (one theory) we are called Geordies?

  • Alasdair

    NickM – usually, someone is called “Geordie” because, when he/she speaks, only people from close to the Tyne (river) can understand said person … sorta like the Aberdonian dialect being one of the hardest to understand in Scotland … (grin) …

    Either (or even both) of the InterNet-accessible definitions could be correct … tho I am entertained to see just how many of the Geordie dialect words are broad Scots … (prior to the rise of the Wardens of the Nothern Marches, the north-east of England regularly changed hands (between Scotland and England) – Berwick, in particular) …

  • Paul Marks

    Robert the Bruce introduced formal tribute taking from the English – that is part of how, in part, he financed his war of independence. By the way – I SUPPORT the Scottish position against Edward I (and therefore against Edward II) the actions of Edward (both in Scotland and in Wales) were vile.

    Only a bigoted nationalist (not a patriot) defends, in historical debate, the actions of any ruler – Edward the first waged wars of aggression, and he waged them in a dishonourable way.

    Turning to other matters….. “blackmail” is something the Scots (at least the Highland Scots) practiced among themselves.

    “black” as in the black cattle.

    The various Scottish clans would raid each other for cattle – and threaten to keep them unless money was paid.

    This carried on into the 1700’s.

    Border Scots tended to not raid each other – just the English.

    And the defence (and counter raiding) on the English side was the province of families such as the Percy family.

    By the way the regimental museum of the Northumberland Fusiliers is in Alnwick (nice town – as well as good castle).

    People forget how big the influence of the traditional families was in the army – even as late as the 19th century.

    And, unlike the Prussian Army, it was not really possible for an officer to make a living in the 19th century army (the main army – not the Indian army) as mess bills would take up too much of pay.

    This land had a rather Republican Monarchy (or “mixed monarchy”) in that the Crown depended on the landed families – even for its army (and till quite recently, as late as the 19th century).

    More the Rome of the Republic than the Rome of the Empire – where soldiers were not even recruited (normally) south of the Po river, and even the most wealthy family could be robbed and murdered (on trumped up charges) at the whim of an Emperor.