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]

Am I the last one to get the joke?

Whaddya think? Are either of these two articles from the Guardian Comment Network (i.e. lefty blogs to which the Guardian gives a larger audience) for real, or are they magnificent satire?

From SE Smith, a writer who “lives and works in northern California, covering social justice issues”: ‘The people are so beautiful!’ That’s enough of the colonial tourism

While you’re drooling over Indian women in saris at the produce market, are you paying attention to the women organising against mining companies and western intrusions in India? Are you paying attention to the women opposing tourism and fighting objectifying activities in their communities?

From Tom Whyman, a well-named PhD Philosophy student: Beware of cupcake fascism

…this has an effect on our culture that we can understand as being a sort of gentrification. The cupcake has always itself been a gentrifying force: after all, the “pop-​up cupcake shop” is the paradigmatic pop-​up shop. But what all these things do is assert the infantilised values of an increasingly infantilised middle-​class world on general society. This is how the passive-​aggressive violence of the infantilised twee fascist manifests itself: moving across the world with a cupcake as a cowcatcher, shunting out everything that does not correspond to the values manifested within it; a much more effective way of sweeping up the sort of (poor, working-​class, black) forces that informed the 2011 London riots than any broom.

39 comments to Am I the last one to get the joke?

  • Paul Marks

    “lives in northern California covering Social Justice issues”.

    That is all people need to know.

    “Social Justice” is what is destroying California and most of the rest of the world.

    As for what the person writes – a fairly normal product of the university system.

  • Mr Ed

    Poor old William of Ockham ‘Entities are not to be multiplied unnecessarily’, does anyone get taught his maxim?

    Mr Whyman asserts (whilst to my eyes, it seems, impugning black people) that cupcakes can remove rioters, presumably in the long-term. Does he ever stop to consider how long this daisy chain of causation might be, and what else might be involved, such as individual choices, fiat money etc.?

    I suppose of you wake up full of resentment and have an axe to grind, sooner or later you find an explanation of sorts, unchecked by reason.

  • AndrewZ

    The online edition of any newspaper that isn’t behind a paywall relies on advertising to generate income and this depends on maximising the number of page views. The simplest way to do that is to publish outrageous and provocative opinions that will attract links from elsewhere and start a blazing row among the regular commenters. The great liberal newspaper of old is now little more than a group blog that trolls its own readers for advertising revenue.

  • Can someone please translate the second quote into regular English?…

  • The cupcake has always itself been a gentrifying force:

    Actually, I haven’t noticed, even though I have spent much of the last decade travelling the world and observing gentrifying forces.

    This may be because I don’t especially like cupcakes.

  • Paul Marks

    Alisa – the second paragraph means that non rioters are evil, and sell cupcakes (which is the sign of the evil of non rioters – rioters being good because they riot).

    I suppose the argument is that it is hard to loot-and-burn whilst (at the same time) sitting down and having tea and cake (the ultimate capitalist evil).

    There is an evil capitalist plot to turn noble rioters into evil cup cake eaters – thus undermining all the noble Social Justice doctrines they were taught at university.

    It all makes perfect sense – if you are Guardian reader.

    There readers are,in their fantasy life, poor and black – in real life they a rich and white.

    As for “middle class” and “working class” – I have been in “working class” jobs for many years, I have yet to meet any Guardian readers in these jobs.

  • It is essential to prevent anything that decreases the places that the ‘socially aware’ can go to feel good about themselves, thus tourism and the money it generates must be stopped. It must be replaced with tax transfers of course, sent directly to the Swiss Bank Accounts of the Mercedes Benz riding local ruling elite.

    It should be clear that if poor brown skinned people start thinking they can lift themselves out of poverty via free exchange with willing visitors, they might start concluding they do not actually need the wise councils of the decaf latte drinking western bourgeois left and their NGOs, or even the bourgeois left’s associated third world auxiliaries.

    This must not be permitted to occur. Bad things happen when the uppity lumpen proletariat (also known as ‘cashed up bogans’) are permitted to take high carbon cheap flight holidays away from the supervising catchment areas of their Guardian recruited social working betters. Take your eyes of them for a second and they start admiring the local crumpet, not for their picket line organising skills but rather for their agreeable curves! That will never do!

    Let that happen and the next thing you know, they start intermarrying and miscegenating, greatly complicating the whole carefully constructed ‘identity politics’ balancing act that keeps statists of both left and right in power in oh so many places.

  • bloke in spain

    I’m sorry. I don’t understand the article. I thought the Guardian had it, the London riots were a peaceful protest by the black community against police brutality highjacked by white fascist youth looting shops. Black youth was only there attempting to tidy-up. Removing valuable goods from the depredations of broken glass & fire for safe-keeping. So the black community & the cup-cake & tea consuming community are the same “law & order” embracing thing.
    Or did I miss something?

  • Thank you so much, Paul (and, equally, Perry) for enlightening me. And here I was thinking myself as proficient in Progressivese – live and learn…

  • Mr Ed


    In summary, I think what he is saying, but perhaps he does not realise quite, is this:

    Middle-class people buy cupcakes, and neither middle-class people, nor cupcakes are ‘edgy’, and in so doing middle-class people allow a shop to open for a short period of time, and this will drive up property prices. Which means that poor black people are driven out of areas where previously they had lived (and been in riots). The cupcake works far better than eminent domain at clearing neighbourhoods.

    He might as well lament that if only someone had told Milosevic about cupcakes, a lot of misery in Yugoslavia could have been averted had a Serbian cupcake shop chain been opened in the Krajina and parts of Bosnia, the ‘undesirables’ could have been ‘ethnically cleansed’ by the pure economics of Serbs buying cupcakes, with no need for war.

    Of course, as a Ph.D Philosophy student blogging with a link to the Guardian, the writer is presumably a working-class hero.

  • From the cupcake article:

    you could get a huge mass of people to par­ti­cipate in a re­ac­tionary endeavour if you dressed it up in nice, twee, cup­cakey im­agery, and per­suaded everyone that the bru­tality of your ideo­logy was in fact a form of nice­ness.

    I think this pretty much sums up Guardian-style socialism.

  • Btw, that was inspired, Perry.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    A shame about this really. I rather like Northern California.

  • Mr Ed


    The great liberal newspaper of old is now little more than a group blog that trolls its own readers for advertising revenue.

    I have endeavoured to explain to the Sage of Kettering that in going to the website of a certain weekly magazine that is entirely not what it purports to be, he is in fact, most likely debating with spambots or lunatics and boosting their click-rate and hence revenue. The less that we look at these sites in general the better. It is like throwing entrails to sharks off the coast, it only boosts their chances of survival and increases the hazards for innocent swimmers. We may safely permit ourselves to throw the odd tidbit, with the odd bout of ridicule, just to remind ourselves that the sharks are out there.

  • RAB

    And what of Black Forest Gateau? Surely Fascist Imperialism of the most blatent and gross kind?

  • Current

    The cupcake article is brilliant. I’ve shared it on my facebook page with my cupcake baking lefty friends. Later on he has a go at tea, at gin, at coca-cola and at high-fiving cats. The hipsters won’t stand for this sort of thing.

    I thought it was clever satire first, but then I noticed he was using Marxism correctly. He even links the “contradictions in capitalism” to dialectic materialism. This is “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon” updated for the 21st century.

    The author’s last tweet was “Will people please stop saying that my article is ‘peak Guardian’. The Guardian usually publishes pieces nothing like it.” How can we beat that? satire has become irrelevant.

  • Mark Green

    I don’t know if this has any bearing but cupcakes seem to be something of a bête noir at the Guardian.

  • Btw, that was inspired, Perry.


    Mr. Ed: quite so, but then what would the Sage get upset about? :-O Seriously though, I have for a while now made it a matter of personal policy to refrain from clicking certain websites – unless I am fairly certain that the article in question is totally out of line.

  • Laird

    The only useful thing in the cupcake article is that I’ve now learned a new word: twee. Apparently another Britishism I hadn’t before seen. Live and learn, as Alisa said.

    I did find it mildly ironic that someone who is obviously a perennial student should pontificate on what it means to be “a fully cognitive adult.” And of course his peculiar definition of “fascism” (“In bourgeois society, thus, fascism will always mean the assertion of middle-​class values in the face of a crisis. *** [I]t will always involve a sort of violence, although this violence can of course be merely passive-​aggressive.”) is itself remarkably “twee” (as well as being completely wrong, but never mind that).

    I think both authors are being serious, not satirical, and it is entertaining to see them working themselves up into such high dudgeon over trivialities. But in the end I think AndrewZ has it right: the Guardian is merely seeking to stir up controversy for its own sake, to attract page views.

  • Scott

    “The Guardian: wrong about everything, all the time” proudly worn on a T-shirt, by me

  • Surellin

    The stupid, it burns.

  • Mr Ed

    I suppose this naked Lefty lunacy is to the Guardian what boobs are to tabloid newspapers,

  • dfwmtx

    Anytime I see a writer/speaker refer to something without violence as ‘fascism’, I wish for a time machine to drop them back in the midst of Germany between 1933 and 1945, so they can get a look at some real fascism. Fascism doesn’t wield cupcakes and money; fascism wields clubs and guns.

    And what a life it must be, to see a beautiful woman in a sari and instead of appreciating a beautiful woman you have to construct some socialistic critique to punish yourself for appreciating a beautiful woman in a sari.

  • I beg to differ, dfwmtx: there is certainly such a thing as “soft” fascism – whether an average lefty can tell it if it hits him in the face, that’s a separate question.

    I do heartily concur with your second point.

  • Fraser Orr

    I am confused. I didn’t think they had cup cakes in London, aren’t they called fairy cakes? Or is that offensive to homosexuals? (Or is my meta comment offensive to homosexuals? Or is my comment on my meta comment offensive? God this is confusing, someone get me a cupcake.)

    Either way, evidently gentrification guy is being culturally parochial, which is a capital crime among the Grauniad set, isn’t it?

  • Mr Ed

    Fraser, indeed the British term is ‘fairy cake’, referred to in the Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy as the basis of the Total Perspective Vortex, ‘cupcake’ is an American term for essentially the same type of cake.

    Perhaps the author missed a spitting opportunity to alliterate and refer to ‘fascist fairy cakes’, and make himself look even sillier.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    That second one sounds like one of those automated recursive grammar postmodern essay things.

  • Kevin B

    Natalie, these articles are a sign that the evil, right-wing, Koch brothers inspired march through the institutions by the forces of capitalist roaderism is almost complete.

    Cunningly though, instead of switching to spouting right-wing propaganda all the time, they use ridicule to mock the decent, hard-working dialecticians of the proletariat by mimicing their style but going totally over the top into farce.

    Once these articles are published, coded messages, (RSS feeds), are sent out to certain capitalist roaders, (Samizdata, David Thompson et al) and the mockery starts.

    A similar ploy is being used to discredit CAGW… “The kids wont know what snow is”… “Global warming caused the great North American freeze of winter 2013/2014.. and so on.

    Before we know it, the whole great edifice of progressivism will be rent asunder by these evil tactics and we shall be back to those dark days when an Englishman’s home was his castle and he could smoke and drink and eat cupcakes in front of his children.

  • Tedd

    Can someone please translate the second quote into regular English?…

    “I hated my childhood, growing up in the suburbs.”

  • ns

    Mr. Jennings,
    Cupcakes ARE an insidious gentrifying force, as i can personally attest. I have eaten cupcakes all my life and I am now, at this moment, older than I have ever been before!! I have also never rioted. Scary, isn’t it? 😛

  • PersonFromPorlock

    April 15, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Can someone please translate the second quote into regular English?…

    There is a fine old tradition in Academe of writing things that can only be translated into Nineteenth-Century academic German or Sanskrit. English-to-English just isn’t in it.

  • Paul Marks

    For examples of Fascist thought (which need not involve racialism – it may, but it may not) see J. Goldberg’s “Liberal Fascism” (on the history of totalitarian thought in American Progressivism) or just see any issue of the Guardian newspaper.

  • Jason

    Lemon drizzle cake is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions.

    It is the opium of the people.

  • Mary Contrary

    In the middle of his rather silly and strained cupcake metaphor the author makes a serious point:

    Fascism is, if nothing else, necessarily majoritarian, and nowadays racism is very niche-​appeal (just look at how laughable every EDL march is, where the anti-​fascists outnumber the alleged fascists by a ratio of more than two to one). But you could get a huge mass of people to participate in a reactionary endeavour if you dressed it up in nice, twee, cupcakey imagery, and persuaded everyone that the brutality of your ideology was in fact a form of niceness.

    I rather agree with this, and find many examples of such “bland fascism” masquerading as a “form of niceness” in the pages of the Guardian. Key indicators you’re encountering this phenomenon include use of the terms “diversity”, “sustainability”, or “social justice”.

  • Tedd

    Key indicators you’re encountering this phenomenon include use of the terms “diversity”, “sustainability”, or “social justice”.

    The cupcakes of academia!

  • My experience of the Third World is that the locals, when presented with the choice of a cupcake or their local delicacy, will stab their mothers to get the cupcake. And yes, you could probably read that as an analogy for local anything vs. its Western equivalent.

    Those women I saw in southern India who make such a picturesque tableau as they wash their family’s clothing in the local river would gladly cook S.E. Smith in boiling oil in exchange for the chance of a functioning washing machine.

    The only people who want to maintain the status quo in developing countries are those who either don’t live there, or else those who profit from the status quo.

  • Current

    It’s worth reading the comments on other sites about these articles.

    “The cupcake is vintagey and twee.”

    I seem to have misplaced my Britanistanian Homo dictionary. Any one know what this means?

    BL@KBIRD on April 14, 2014 at 10:30 PM

    After reading the article I found myself saying the author’s last name out loud.

    TaraMaclay on April 14, 2014 at 10:36 PM

    Someone on twitter wrote:

    I’ve just eaten a piece of normal cake the same size as a cupcake. Now I understand dialectic materialism.