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]

Kevin Dowd tells it like it is

Earlier this evening I attended a talk given by Kevin Dowd, organised by the Adam Smith Institute. It was being videoed, and although it may be of rather dubious technical quality (an air conditioning machine was making very strange noises), a video will, I was assured, be appearing on line. [LATER: Now available, here.]

In the past I have suspected Dowd of failing to do justice to the gravity of the world’s financial circumstances, by being a little too precise in his reform proposals, but there was not even that sort of optimism in Dowd’s speech this evening, which spelt out in some detail the truly horrible scale of the catastrophe. There was a bit at the end about rejigging the banks, but there was no suggestion that this on its own would suffice. Dowd’s central message was that the economic life of the West is now well and truly eff you sea kayed. Currencies tanking, banks bust, governments bust, current policies hastening the stampede towards the abyss. (Our own Johnathan Pearce was also present, so maybe he will tell us a bit more of the details of the doom we are all staring at.)

The odd thing was that Dowd’s speech made me strangely happy, and judging by the mood of the gratifyingly considerable throng that had gathered to hear Dowd’s prophecies of doom, I wasn’t the only one who was cheered up. Dowd himself understands this link between facing the truth in all its ghastliness and the strange elation that this can provoke. He even quoted a Noel Coward song which immortalises this sentiment: “There are bad times just around the corner. … Hurray! Hurray! Hurray!”

The thing is, when your world is staring catastrophe in the face, the people you want to listen to, because you want them to exist, are people who seem to have a serious and really quite detailed understanding of the nature of the catastrophe in question, all of it. You don’t want to be told that things are fine and will sort themselves out with only a little bit of grief, because you know that’s nonsense and who wants to waste time listening to an idiot saying things like that?

It is also necessary, if their audiences are to be made truly happy, for prophets of doom of the Dowd variety not to be total nutters, in the sense of being entirely disconnected from anything resembling polite society. Prophets of doom need at least some influence on events. Someone who is someone needs to be listening.

Steve Baker MP has already been chosen by the fickle finger of fate, by history, or by whatever else you want to call it, as one of the tiny handful of British public figures who are going to tell Britain what the true nature of the problem now is, and what Britain must do about it, rather in the way that Winston Churchill warned Britain about Hitler in the 1930s. And guess what, Steve Baker MP was present in Dowd’s audience this evening. He even asked a couple of questions.

After Dowd’s talk had finished I asked Dowd: Are you in fairly regular personal contact with Steve Baker MP? Is he getting his head around all this stuff, in the way that you already have? Yes, Dowd replied. We have had several meetings, Cobden Centre, de dum de dum. This made me even happier.

LATER (Tuesday morning): More from me, with a photo, about Dowd and his performance last night here.

4 comments to Kevin Dowd tells it like it is

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I don’t think I will add anything here for the moment. It was a great talk.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes a talk that says “X, Y, Z, have happened – but everything will be fine if we change the colour of the paper clips” leaves me in despair.

    Whereas a full on “we are all going to get it hard, no matter what we do, – but here is how we can try and survive and rebuild afterwards…” speech gives me hope.

    You do not give people hope by soft soaping them (in their hearts they just know you are not being straight) – you give people hope by telling the truth – no matter how bad it is.

    And by giving the best ideas you can in how to deal with the consequences of the truth.

    I am glad that Keven Dowd understands.

  • Myno

    Please be so kind as to alert us (on Samizdata) when the talk is available on the web. I’m a complete fan of Schlichter, and would love to hear Dowd’s talk.