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

“We are about to start reaping the fruits of the 2012 election. They’ll be bitter. I think we’re about to see a full and overt assault on the Bill of Rights and on those who support individual liberty. I hope I’m entirely wrong. But don’t bet on it.”

Charles Steele

Read the whole thing: it is packed with links to discussions about these issues. I don’t think he is exaggerating.

20 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • I’m afraid we are already reaping.

  • lucklucky

    The election of 2012 only accelerated, with Republicans the path would have been in same direction. Not only because of many of them, but because the State and its Bureaucracy is already above the law. And it is Leftist.

    It is increasingly clear that were in path to Totalitarian Democracy.

  • Paul Marks

    Accept that is will not be democracy.

    For all its faults democracy is not bad enough for the left.

    The only flaw in their plan is that there “new society” will not work.

    Economic law is not just some fantasy of us evil “reactionaries”.

  • Rich Rostrom

    1) Freedom of religion: the Obama Justice Department position in Hosanna Tabor Lutheran Church v EEOC was so hostile to church autonomy that it prompted amicus filings from 60 religious groups, ranging from the Council of Catholic Bishops and the Southern Baptist Convention to the American Islamic Congress, United Sikhs, and Templo Yoruba Omo Orisha.

    2) The right to bear arms: Obama was a board member of the Joyce Foundation, the chief funder of gun prohibition activism and “scholarship” in the U.S.

    3) Freedom of political speech: Obama supports restrictions on when and how citizens may speak or publish about politicians, restrictions that were struck down by the Supreme Court by only 5-4, and which if re-enacted would be upheld by any Obama appointee to the Court.

  • Paul Marks

    Rich Rostrom.

    Quite so.

  • Tedd

    Maybe I’m off base on this, but it seems to me that the notion of political freedom is almost exclusively the product of Britain and the U.S. Other nations have been concerned about freedom from foreign rule, or freedom from monarchical or despotic rule, but not with freedom from politics itself. What will happen to the idea now that neither of these nations champions it? Will either of them recover the idea? I don’t mean these as rhetorical questions, I’m genuinely interested in what other commenters think about them.

  • Paul Marks

    Tedd – in terms of thinkers you are off base.

    For example the French “Liberal School” of the 19th and early 20th century in economics was better than the mainstream of English econonists.

    The main American free market economist of the 19th century (A.L. Perry) was a follower of the French School – of the Say family and Bastiat and so on.

    Later we have the Austrian School – of Carl Menger and so on (to Ludwig Von Mises and so on).

    The main free market economist in the United States in the early 20th century Frank Fetter (the person who refuted Henry George on land and Irving Fisher on monetary policy) was a follower of the Austrian School.

    “But Paul is there not a difference between some good thinkers – and the general attitude of the country…..”

    Errr, yes there is.

  • Tedd


    I see what you’re saying, but surely Bastiat, et al, can be traced back to earlier British and American enlightenment-era thinkers, can they not?

  • Tedd

    Just to clarify, I don’t mean to suggest that no important ideas about political freedom ever came from anywhere else. Only that those ideas that did are themselves rooted in the British or American philosophical traditions.

  • Paul Marks

    Actually (as Rothbard – an ass in many ways, but NOT on intellectual history, was fond of pointing out) they can all be traced back to the School of Salamanca and the other Scholastics – going back into the Middle Ages (and before).

    On how rooted pro freedom ideas are in the population…….

    Yes you have a point Tedd.

    But pro freedom ideas are certainly well rooted in British people any more.

    And how well rooted are they in Americans?

    The rise of state education (other than in Mass – mostly a late 19th century thing) had some nasty long term effects.

    Franklin Roosevelt wiped his backside on the Consitution of the United States – and the people reelected him by 60%

    That does not seem like well rooted pro freedom traditions to me.

    Still I hope that the populations of some States show some pro freedom backbone – and show it soon.

    For time is running out.

  • Tedd

    That does not seem like well rooted pro freedom traditions to me.

    That’s more or less my point. With neither British nor American culture strongly supportive of freedom anymore, what next?

    Will the ideas rally? At first I thought that might be the eventual outcome of the Tea Party movement, and perhaps it yet will. But I’m doubtful that a movement closely tied to conservatism can get the job done. Political freedom is an essentially liberal idea. Perhaps Perry is right (if I’m interpreting him correctly) that progressivism has to follow its course to its inevitable demise, the way communism did, before any real change can occur. Then perhaps there will be room for true liberalism to return.

    I generally avoid speculating about future outcomes, but I’m interesting in other people’s ideas.

  • Paul Marks

    One of your points I certainly do not agree with Tedd.

    I agree with all the Founders (even Jefferson) that liberty can ONLY flourish if the traditional virtues are maintained – in modern language if people are “conservative”.

    Why do you think the left (the Fabians, the Progressives and so on) spend so much time and energy (and have for more than a century) trying to undermine those virtues? To make objects of ridicule and contempt?

    The Frankfurt School (Herbert Marcuse and so on) were actually late commers to the idea that the way to undermine (and destroy) economic liberty (what they call “capitalism”) is to make people despise work – make them regard paid labour as “slavery”, make them hate their own employers and…….

    After all Rousseau (and others) were doing that in the 1700s.

    And Rousseau and co were not exactly exactly liked by John Adams and co.

    For example, when someone tells you that United States Consitution is a charter for the power of “Plutocrats” they are saying that Benjamin Franklin and so on were “Plutocrats”.

    And OF COURSE such “down with the plutocrats” types also denounce tradtional ideas of the (Aristotelian) virtues and traditional ideas of religion (a BEING called God – human BEINGS created with the God given ability to understand the difference between good and evil, and to choose good).

    Of course atheists can be pro liberty (pro civil society – pro the private property rights non aggression principle) – for example the Randian Objectivists show this.

    However, the Randian Objectivists are actually MORE committed to tradtional virtues (the Aristotelian virtues) than many religious people are.

    They are actually MORE conservative than many religious people..

    No surprise that Randian Objectivists have been involved in the Tea Party movement from the start.

  • Tedd


    I agree completely with your last comment. But it’s also true that, at least in some contemporary liberal circles, there’s a renewed interest in virtue. Rasmussen and Den Uyl’s “Norms of Liberty,” for example, spends quite a bit of time on the subject. There is an important (if small) sub-set of liberals (using the contemporary American meaning of the word) who are beginning to recognize that left-liberalism and progressivism are flawed, and are looking for something closer to classical liberalism.

    I also note, with some satisfaction, that all those you named as sources or defenders of liberty were British or American, while all those you named that worked against it were not.

    But, at some point, I’d like to return the discussion to my original question: Since we seem to be in agreement that British and U.S. society no longer enjoy majority support for political liberty, what happens now?

    (By the way, is it even legitimate to use the expression “British society?” Ever since the name United Kingdom was adopted I’ve been confused about the use of the term “British.” Does it have a use anymore?)

  • Jaded Voluntaryist

    It’s not the word “British” I’d take issue with, it’s the word “society”. There’s no such thing.

    The concept of the corporate man has been used to justify untold evils. “Society” is of course composed of individuals. If for example those individuals were able to go down the street and legally buy weed they would by definition be more free since they were not forced to act according to the will of an outside agency. And yet by preventing many men from acting according to their own conscience, we are told “Society” becomes more free.

    By making all of the individuals which compose this imaginary compound being less free, we are supposed to believe the whole becomes more free.

    There’s an idea even more horrible and blasphemous than Hobbes leviathan by a long shot.

  • Tedd

    It’s not the word “British” I’d take issue with, it’s the word “society”. There’s no such thing.

    Okay, fair enough. I’ve made the same argument myself many times. Substitute whatever term suits you better — culture, zeitgeist, prevailing attitude, majority opinion, whatever. The issue remains: If broad support for political liberty no longer comes from the places (and, no, I do not mean just geographical places) it once came from, what next?

  • Paul Marks

    Civil society is the network (web) of voluntary interactions between human beings (individuals and voluntary associations – clubs, churches, fraterinties, companies and so on).

    Of course there is no such ENITY as society – but when people try and explain that they get smeared as “atomistic individualists” (as Mrs Thatcher got smeared). Many people believe (or pretend to believe) that the only kind of order is what the Greeks called “taxis” (centrally planned order) and the order that emerges via the web of voluntary interactions (“cosmos” – hat tip to Hayek) is something they can understand (or at least pretend not to understand).

    Ironically it is actually the people who argue that everything must be planned and enforced are the real deniers of the existance of CIVIL society.


    We do not need everyone to agree with us.

    But we do need a majority in given geographical space – and one large enough to be defendable (sorry but a little Galt’s Gulch somewhere will not do).

    I am not one of nature’s democrats – but most people are, most people (even people who believe in smaller government) believe that if they are outvoted that gives the majority the “right” to take their property and order them about (Rousseau and co seem to have done a good job of brainwashing on this point).

    So we need an area of population where most people (not all people – just most people) are in favour of FUNDEMENTAL freedoms (freedom to keep and bear and arms, freedom of speech…) and believe that there should be a limit on taxes and government SPENDING.

    Texas is the largest such place.

    The most able (or least unable) to stand outside the collectivist “international community” and so on.

    Of course it is NOT the lowest tax place – it is number 45 of the States, which means there are five better States.

    But it is the lowest taxed BIG State (ditoo government SPENDING), and it is the least regulated BIG State also.

    I would love the United States (as a whole) to be saveable.

    I really would.

    The United States has, generally, been a great force for good (or rather against evil) in the world.

    It is just that I do not think the United States is savable.

    I wish it was – but I do not think it is.

    Most people in Texas are certainly NOT libertarians (far from it) – but they do what a somewhat smaller government. Whatever they say (to judge by deeds – not just words) that is NOT true on a United States level.

    Hence my thinking above. Texas may be savable (MAY be – perhaps). The United States? I do not believe so.

  • Paul Marks

    Small places do not have to be invaded – pressure can be put on them without formal invasion (pressure it is very hard to resist).

  • Tedd

    I think we’re all agreed that, for liberty to be defended, there needs to be some critical mass of people understanding it and defending it. Exactly what that critical mass is depends on how it’s distributed. As Paul says, a solid majority in one reasonably autonomous jurisdiction is probably necessary for liberty to be maintained in that jurisdiction.

    But I’m also interested in a wider context. It seems to me that the predominant political ideas throughout the world began to spread during 18th century (with, as Paul pointed out, roots that go back much further). Fukayama’s idea, more or less. Did western liberal-democratic ideas (using the term very broadly) spread only because they were popular in the hegemonic powers of the 19th and 20th century? Or did they spread at least partly because of the value of the ideas themselves? If the former, then for liberty to gain momentum we might have to wait for a new hegemon, which could be a very long wait. But if the latter is an important factor, then perhaps the ideals of liberty can spread behind the scenes and eventually have some influence.

    If Samizdata has a purpose other than just the enjoyment of intelligent conversation, surely that’s part of it.

  • Paul Marks

    They spread (in so far as they did spread) because of the ideas themselves – partly because they were interesting ideas (although they had fatal flaws in them – for example the belief, of so many otherwise free market people, in government education).

    Also the ideas of private property (in the full sense – secure possession and civil use) WORKED.

    They produced astonishing results in Japan and other places – just as they had in Europe and North America.

    It is just so tragic that it all may pass away.

    Replaced by the “morality” of the hunter-gatherer pack – Social Justice.

    Take the new Egyption Constitution (or the old one – come to that).

    The opposition denounce it for not having “economic and social rights” but actually it is full of the terrible things.

    Free this – regulated that.

    All in it – and the “liberal” opposition say the Islamists are not statist ENOUGH.

    This sort of thinking we drag us all back into the slime.

    Unless, somehow, large places can break with – really break with it.

    Then the achievements of people in such places might (again) astonish the world.

    And perhaps more than one world – for there is a universe to be won.

  • mose jefferson

    A plurality, somehow and somewhere, must come to understand the injustices of social justice. I hope it will be in the english speaking world in which I live, but I fear we will be but the example to a more successful world. Either way, due to the longevity of Ideas, Samizdata will be influential.