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Samizdata quote of the day

I’m surprised – I didn’t think we would see these calls for more unchecked government surveillance until the start of the new week. But hats off to Dan Hodges – by publicly freaking out in his newspaper column and calling for the Investigatory Powers Bill to be passed, he has opened the door for Theresa May, David Cameron and a parade of GCHQ ex-chiefs to hit the TV studios and make the same demands.

Of course, what Dan does not do is explain how new government surveillance powers would a) have prevented the Paris attacks of 13 November, or b) might realistically prevent any future attacks. And if you pushed him, I doubt that he could explain the scope of current surveillance laws in any detail, or describe the ways that the British security services currently do or do not make use of those powers.

Samuel Hooper

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68 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Phil B

    Tut tut! You’ll never be a politician!

    Don’t you know you should NEVER let a crisis go to waste without introducing a new law?

    This is a perfect excuse to introduce new surveillance powers to monitor the law abiding, increase the number of “intelligence” Officers and further restrict the liberties of the population?

  • Mr Ed

    I’ve just read that one of the Paris suspects was a known concern, and was let out of France through a frontier checkpoint into Belgium, and now the ‘Wanted’ posts are out. And I am not surprised, are you? This is a war that the state does not want to win. But it wants the powers to fight the war as it sees fit, and against those it dislikes.

    I am reminded of the mentality shown in a press release from the RAF last year which took delight in annoucing that they had

    ‘once again prevented casualties on both sides during a life or death firefight in Afghanistan ‘.

    A situation I would distinguish from the chivalrous conduct of the RN X-craft officers who gave the Tirpitz 1 hour’s warning of the mines under her hull, just long enough to try and fail to move the beast, but time to get crew out of harm’s way.

    We’ll know things are bad if the smoke detectors in the Bundestag start playing up…

  • Veryretired

    It took you guys two days to put a post up about Paris and this lame-o is the best you can do?

    Pathetic.

    I was expecting, at the least, another lengthy prose poem praising the wonders of open borders.

    Well, you got ’em now. Enjoy!

  • Russtovich

    “It took you guys two days to put a post up about Paris and this lame-o is the best you can do?

    Pathetic.”

    Indeed.

    Who cares how well the NHS does or does not work when you’re more likely to die from an AK-47 (or grenade) whilst walking to work?
    (a bit of hyperbole there but seriously… fretting over surveillance powers when closing the borders would get rid of 90% of this shite?)*

    Sheesh

    *and nuking the ME the other 10% 🙂

  • Roue le Jour

    A question that should be put to politicians is this: do you consider a few hundred of us being raped and murdered a fair price to pay for those Muslim votes? Because you sure act like it is.

  • Julie near Chicago

    RlJ, now that was a right punch in the gut!

    Well said.

  • Laird

    The article to which the linked piece responds is an entirely predictable, if foolish, knee-jerk reaction to an horrific attack such as the one in Paris. The US experienced such a thoughtless paroxysm of fear following the attacks on 9-11, and among the unfortunate results was the risibly-named “USA Patriot Act” under which we suffer to this day. Expanding the surveillance powers of the government is not a solution to the risk of another terrorist attack; it is merely one more ratchet in the continued growth of leviathan. Those who would expand the powers of the state will seize upon any excuse to do so; witness the tiresome and inevitable calls for “gun control”* in the US following every murder spree by some psychopath. Articles such as the referenced one merely play into the hands of the statists.

    The discussion in Britain (or in Europe) should not be about expanding the already unreasonably broad powers of the Surveillance State; it should be about closing the borders to new Muslim immigrants (including those labeled, truthfully or otherwise, as “refugees”), closely monitoring those already there, and expelling all known extremists and their advocates (notably radical Imams). In a perfect world we would have free travel and open borders, but we do not live in a perfect world. The unfortunate fact is that radical Islam is the source of almost all of the problems in the world today. Closing your eyes to objective reality and pretending otherwise is foolish in the extreme, and permitting the continued immigration of Muslims (the carriers of that pathology) is suicidal. The problem is Islam, and it will have to be dealt with or it will deal with you.

    * The emphasis is always on “control”.

  • Bruce

    Perhaps this extract from “The Gulag Archaepelago” is timely:

    “And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you’d be cracking the skull of a cutthroat.”
    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

    Or, maybe, this one:

    “Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others’ eyes, so that he won’t hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.”
    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

    He certainly “got it”.

  • Phil B

    @Roue Le Jour “A few hundred”? The Rochdale Muslim grooming report I read identified 1400 young girls from that one towwn alone.

    And I know that at least another 10 towns in the UK will have similar numbers.

    And that is the ones they know about. I am certain that many of the girls “disappeared” and more probably have not come forward because of shame, drug dependency or other reasons.

    No – the elites don’t care about the hoi polloi. Whatever led you to believe they did?

  • Roue le Jour

    I notice in passing that the IRA had no difficulty killing without mobile phones or the internet. I suspect that likewise ISIS would find the loss of electronic communication no more than an inconvenience.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    @Roue Le Jour “A few hundred”? The Rochdale Muslim grooming report I read identified 1400 young girls from that one towwn alone.

    And I know that at least another 10 towns in the UK will have similar numbers.

    And that is the ones they know about. I am certain that many of the girls “disappeared” and more probably have not come forward because of shame, drug dependency or other reasons.

    No – the elites don’t care about the hoi polloi. Whatever led you to believe they did?

    This is exactly correct. There’s no reason to believe that the politicians care at all about the welfare of those they rule.

    And it must be said: people tend (in aggregate) to get the government they deserve. Generally.

  • Martha

    Bloodthirsty armchair warriors thumping keyboards.

  • Ljh

    It is by reinforcing our freedoms that the hostile colonists will be encouraged to leave:
    Equality before the law: no concessions for their sensitivities whether dietary or artistic or concerning pets. No tax breaks for mosques, schools or organisations that preach the shariah’s superiority to the law of the land.
    Restoring the link between society and welfare: nothing for ghetto dwellers who don’t speak the language, confine their women, disrupt the working day with prayers(btw islam allows you to catch up in your own time), pour hate against other citizens for being gay/ apostate/ military/not muslim
    Freedom of speech: saying Mo was a paedophile treacherous warlord is not slander as it can be justified from his book. The police should protect anyone’s right to say, write or publish that and stop wasting resources on the offendotrons.
    No civilised society should allow the production or consumption of halaal meat on the grounds of animal cruelty.
    A clean sweep of all government employees who are not prepared to stand by these values.

  • Ljh

    Also: a return of government to its core function ie upholding the law within the country and protection of its citizenry and their property from internal and external threat, not social engineering.

  • James Hargrave

    It is because government is not very good at even (especially? – I mean, protecting property comes about as low as possible on the list of police forces busily hunting expressions of ‘incorrect’ sentiments on the internet) its core functions that it seeks to divert us by spreading into other things. It is almost a surprise that the unworkable non-ban on fox hunting was not somehow linked to (anti) terrorism by A.C.L. Blair and his gang of imbeciles. In practical terms, we can be certain of legislation that achieves the maximum inconvenience for everyone for the minimum practical outcome(indeed, may well make worse any situation it seeks to make better).

  • Roue le Jour

    Phil B
    I don’t believe the elites do care about the people. What I want is for someone to put them on the spot to extract a John Major “if it isn’t hurting it isn’t working” “a price worth paying” quote.

  • Johnnydub

    I’m literally on Twitter right now arguing with Dan Hodges about his position. The point I’m making is that he’s filling the boat far faster than it can be emptied. And that it gives MI5 an impossible job.

    He really is a cunt. He loved Blair, not for his politics but because he gave the Labour party access to power. And look what they’ve done with it. Ensured that we are going to be fighting for our civilisation for the next hundred plus years. All so he can virtue signal and feel good about himself. As I said, the man’s a cunt.

    As regards Paris. This will simply keep happening. And as people have pointed out, the government will curtail our security more and more. Which was exactly the point. The government is not there to help us. We are simply in their way.

  • Johnnydub

    Brendan O’Neil of Spiked has written a great article here:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/after-paris/17631#.VkmqNXbhAgv

  • Alisa

    Expanding the surveillance powers of the government is not a solution to the risk of another terrorist attack; it is merely one more ratchet in the continued growth of leviathan.

    Indeed.

    The discussion in Britain (or in Europe) should not be about expanding the already unreasonably broad powers of the Surveillance State; it should be about closing the borders to new Muslim immigrants (including those labeled, truthfully or otherwise, as “refugees”), closely monitoring those already there, and expelling all known extremists and their advocates (notably radical Imams).

    But how do you go about it without using surveillance, presumably carried out by the state?

  • Mr Ed

    The response of most Western governments to these attacks is rather like that of Rimmer in Red Dwarf when the ship is attacked by a chameleonic life form that steals the emotions from the members of the crew, and robs Rimmer of his anger and Lister of his fear, the result is the Meeting.

    Rimmer, with the glasses and quiche T-shirt starts to plan T-shirts and car stickers, and a leaflet campaign and proposes forming a Committee for the Liberation and Integration of Terrifying Organisms and their Rehabilitation Into Society.

    David Lister reacts like most people I seem to come across in response to this threat with an urge to destroy it.

    We are led by Rimmers.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What Laird said. We don’t need more data – we need to act on the information already available. For those libertarians who are not anarchists and who recognise that some government laws are required, there are a few minimum requirements now:

    No more Muslim immigration to the West for the forseeable future; those who are here must be integrated and the sheer volume of them is an issue; with refugees, if they are genuine, it makes more sense to protect them in places relatively close to their homelands; to eventually encourage refugees to return home and rebuild these countries along better lines. From a crude cost/benefit pov, it also makes more sense.

    Removal of all radical preachers and their like immediately. If they were born here, they should be placed under house arrest or suchlike. They should be subject to the same controls as in wars before. We are in a war, like it or not. Mosques known as places for such ideas should be shut down.

    Border controls must be brought back; note to the worriers – this isn’t the same as preventing travel or commerce. Nor is it about being anti-immigrant.

    Open borders and the like are lovely, but as the Ayn Rand folk like to say, we must always consider the context.

    We also need to rethink rules about possession of firearms, other forms of self-defence. The persons in Paris had no way of defending themselves. Of course, massacres have happened elswhere, but they seem always to be in “gun-free” environments.

  • Veryretired & Russtovich, closing the borders will do jack shit unless you close them a la East/West Berlin. Somehow the IRA managed to blow up pubs & hotels in mainland Britain when they wanted to long before Schengen. To stop the flood of Muslims heading into the west, just stop all social security payments & state funded encouragements.

  • Alisa

    I find myself addressing the question I asked Laird to Jonathan as well – namely, how do you implement any of these suggestions without using surveillance? How do you tell good Muslims from bad Muslims (or, for that matter, someone merely Middle Eastern or Arab from a Muslim)? Who decides, and how, which preachers/mosques are OK, and which are radical?

  • Ljh

    Alisa: a lot of them are publicity seekers propagandising for shariah, so no need for expanded powers of surveillance to get their names, that of their followers and close the places they hang out. A mass wellplanned swoop and internment should be planned although the police and local govt are so full of quislings, surprise might be hard to maintain. Another step would be to do handson heavy policing in their nogo ghettoes.

  • Thus far, these atrocities in Paris appear be an excuse for various countries to demonstrate the lighting systems on their national monuments. Hopefully we’re going to see something a little more substantial than this.

  • Laird

    Alisa, that’s a fair question. But the answer is that I’m not opposed to all surveillance, merely to the indiscriminate surveillance of all citizens rather than targeting persons as to whom there is reasonable grounds for suspicion. And that includes virtually all Muslims, since they are the sole disease vector here. Police surveillance has its place, even in a (more or less) free society, provided that it is properly directed and narrowly focused on legitimate persons of interest.

    Merely expanding the Panoptican State does nothing to increase security; when you’re looking for a few needles it is counterproductive to pointlessly increase the size of the haystack. Unless, of course, your objective isn’t really increasing security, but rather expanding your control over all of society. But that’s another discussion entirely.

  • Rob Fisher

    Alisa, you wait for them to open fire and you shoot back. I don’t see the tactic used in Paris working so well in Jerusalem, where people are used to taking their defense into their own hands.

  • Patrick Crozier

    At the time of the Troubles there was a common travel area between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. Plus a lot of the IRA were from the North anyway do wouldn’t have been subject to border controls anyway.

    Having said that under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, certain NI-based people could be prevented from travelling to GB.

  • One thing people forget about the Patriot Act. It’s main objective was to extend to terrorists the same surveillance rules that were already in place for drug dealers.

    This may be ass backward or just another good argument against the war on drugs, but it was not a major extension of state intrusion in our private lives. That horse had already left the barn.

  • Alisa

    I agree, Rob, to an extent. Contrary to what many outside of Israel think, we are not allowed to arm ourselves, and getting a gun permit is just as difficult as it is in Europe, maybe even more so. Only a year or so ago there was an attack on a yeshiva in Jerusalem not dissimilar to the one in that rock concert in Paris. Many casualties, none of whom was armed.

    Laird, thanks. That of course makes sense, and is also how it more or less works here. Still, from that experience, the surveillance powers police or other security organs have with regard to a specific group within a population eventually will be used against other groups as well – and there is no telling ahead of time which ones, only that such decisions are always political, and that their main purpose is always to protect the government before anyone else. So I am taking your point about specific targeting, but I don’t see this limitation as a strong-enough guard against possible rise of a police state. It only works when the enemy of the people and the enemy of the government is the same group – and such cases are relatively rare.

  • Mr Ed

    We know that the French are not serious about striking back at IS as they have not used the Force de Frappe. There was a one-liner going round at the time of the Tehran US Embassy hostage crisis as the Carter presidency was in its lame duck phase:

    Q:’What’s black, flat and glows in the dark?’

    A: ‘Iran after Reagan becomes President.’

    Not true of course, but the hostages were released sharpish as Reagan took the oath of office, the Left’s black propaganda about him backfiring. And Reagan’s later bombing of Libya was symbolic rather then a rubble-bouncing exercise, and Gaddafi carried on for years afterwards at his evil games.

    The Guardian is wondering out loud if French bombing of Raqqa is lawful because IS is not a State, I am sure that the armorers could chalk ‘Je vous reconnais‘ on the ordnance just in case.

  • Laird

    Mr Ed, the question raised by the Guardian is a legitimate one, and indeed one which all civilized states should ask themselves before embarking upon military adventures. Nonetheless, we’re already past that point. The Paris atrocities didn’t raise any new questions, merely elevated the stakes (and, one hopes, the sense of urgency). And the old questions have already been answered.

    International law* does indeed frown upon the use of military force in foreign nations. However, that limitation accrues solely to the benefit of the target nation itself, and to no other. France (and the US and other allies) is conducting bombing raids against ISIS in Iraq and Syria. If either of those nations was to complain, we should listen. But the bleatings of editors in London or, worse yet, bureaucrats in Brussels, are of no consequence; they have no standing in the matter.

    Fighting against a non-state aggressor does raise certain legal issues, and those waters can be quite murky. But it also presents enormous opportunities not available in a conventional conflict. For example, the Geneva Convention simply does not apply. Under international law ISIS fighters are “enemy combatants”, but they are not state actors and there is no legal obligation to afford them treatment as such. We do not have to treat them as prisoners of war with all that entails; in fact, there is no obligation to take prisoners at all. It is perfectly legal to simply shoot them all on the battlefield, even if they are attempting to surrender. We can also deputize mercenary forces to kill them; Letters of Marque and Reprisal were issued to great effect during the US’s “war” against the Barbary Pirates early in the nineteenth century. That ancient doctrine should be dusted off are restored to common use.

    ISIS fighters are “outlaws” in the old common law sense: they have rejected the laws of society and so have no claim to the protection of those laws. Such persons can be killed by anyone, anywhere, at any time, with impunity. And they should be.

    * It must not be forgotten that “international law” is a legal fiction, trotted out whenever someone finds it advantageous to do so. It only applies when a country chooses to subject itself to it. At best it is a series of norms to which countries which would like to be perceived as “civilized” generally adhere. But such adherence is always optional, and there is no tribunal which can issue rulings with any truly binding effect. The International Court is utterly toothless, as all who appear before it well know.

  • veryretired

    Perry, as much as I respect your intelligence, in this case you have become a prisoner of your ideology every bit as much as the progs whose multi-culti cultural equivalence renders them impotent in any clash between western civilization and any other.

    This is not immigration, these are not refugees, and this is not a case of defending the free movement of individuals. The current mass movement of uncounted thousands of young islamic men into Europe, and, apparently, many thousands into the US, is an invasion, in every sense of that term.

    Dismissing the idea of taking considered measures to prevent an invasion of a hostile population with a complaint that it wouldn’t be perfect is sophistry, and you know it.

    The idea that the decades long project of voter education and structural reform that the dismantling of the welfare state would require is somehow a pre-requisite for any meaningful control of national borders is not a credible reason to allow the current mass movement to continue unabated.

    The unfortunate fact is that doctrinaire ideologues in both the prog and libertarian camps have converged on this issue to unleash a perfect storm of hostile populations moving into morally and psychologically disarmed countries who can no longer generate the political or cultural will to defend themselves against a force that will result in either the submersion of their culture into an alien ethos, or a violent response that will bring untold destruction to their own and other places.

    It is, unfortunately, no surprise to see both sides using the same dismissive arguments to defend these suicidal rationales for allowing the cultural entity that is western culture to be overwhelmed by a hostile invading force.

    You argue that borders are meaningless because nations are themselves meaningless. Those kinds of grandiose statements always sound so good over a glass of wine at some restaurant, or at the student union between classes, but here, in the real world, there is a difference between Britain and Pakistan, between the US and Mexico, and between Paris and Tehran.

    And those differences are qualitative, and meaningful.

    That quality won’t be maintained by glib dismissals or sophistry, but with a dedication to cultural autonomy, and a determination not to surrender one’s place in the world, no matter how imperfect it may be, to a hostile theocracy which has no respect for the fundamental principles upon which life as a free person rests.

    As I said above, you have the open borders you claim to desire. Enjoy it while you can.

  • Myno

    The fastest meaningful in-situ response to Paris is to encourage gun ownership and open carry. There will be tragic misfires as a direct consequence, but mostly in the short term, and these must be seen as tragic but part of the cost of freedom. As are the inevitable casualties of terrorist attacks. There might arise gun battles between armed groups in the cities, which awaken the Muslim youth to full warfare, but we still outnumber them, if only we would take up arms, individually. If we are to preserve the freedom that is the soul of Western Civilization, we must reject the surveillance state, and take upon ourselves the individual responsibility for response to attack on a “soft target” at which we happen to be an unwilling participant. The state can harrass and raise the risks for terrorists, but they cannot solve the problem with surveillance, except by locking us down. Until we can say out loud that freedom is more important than the lives lost to terrorists, and accept all the consequences thereof, we cannot be free. Ultimately, this battle cannot be won by governments. The battlefield is fractalizing, and the army cannot be everywhere at once, even if they can listen everywhere at once.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    veryretired,

    This is not immigration, these are not refugees, and this is not a case of defending the free movement of individuals.

    Yes it is.

    The current mass movement of uncounted thousands of young islamic men into Europe, and, apparently, many thousands into the US, is an invasion, in every sense of that term.

    Yes, it is an invasion as well.

    The unfortunate fact is that doctrinaire ideologues in both the prog and libertarian camps have converged on this issue to unleash a perfect storm of hostile populations moving into morally and psychologically disarmed countries who can no longer generate the political or cultural will to defend themselves against a force that will result in either the submersion of their culture into an alien ethos, or a violent response that will bring untold destruction to their own and other places.

    Precisely. That Progressives and Libertarians have – as you rightly note – converged on this issue should be of no surprise, as both of those political camps extend primarily from the philosophical stream of thought of Porphyry, Peter Abelard, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, etc. As I have said before, implicit egalitarianism inform both Libertarianism and Progressivism, albeit in different ways.

    I’d add three points:
    1. For a wide variety of rational and irrational reasons, a very substantial portion of the refugees currently settling in Europe have considerable sympathy for the ends towards which Islamic Jihadists strive, even if they publicly & privately condemn the means used.
    2. The fact that most Muslim terrorists to have struck Europe in recent years are homegrown and not refugees themselves should be of little comfort to those favoring continued open borders. How many of these terrorists are the children or grandchildren of immigrants to Europe? How many Muslims lived in Europe a century ago? Three centuries ago? The unborn children of current migrants pose a far greater threat to Europe’s cultural mores and societal stability than the current migrants themselves.
    3. Arguments against immigration on grounds of protecting the host culture’s traditions, heritage, and customs are not accepted as valid by the mainstream of the Western world. This reality, combined with the pathetically low Western fertility rate caused primarily by rampant feminism, spells the demographic doom of the Western world.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    And the demographic doom of the Western world might mean nothing if the world operated by the principles to which Libertarians ascribe such high esteem.

    But the world does not so operate.

    And the sword (like the ballot) is far mightier than the pen.

  • Martha

    There are some 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. If Islam was at war with “Occident”, the facades of every building in Europe would be riddled with bullet holes.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    The apt intro of an article that’s well worth reading:

    I am not going to repeat what you have already read or heard. I am not going to say that what happened in Paris on Friday night was unprecedented horror, for it was not. I am not going to say that the world stands with France, for it is a hollow phrase. Nor am I going to applaud President Hollande’s pledge of “pitiless” vengeance, for I do not believe it. I am, instead, going to tell you that this is exactly how civilizations fall.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2015/11/16/paris-and-fall-rome/ErlRjkQMGXhvDarTIxXpdK/story.html

  • Shlomo Maistre

    There are some 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. If Islam was at war with “Occident”, the facades of every building in Europe would be riddled with bullet holes.

    Straw man argument.

    Just because millions of Muslims are invading Europe and many millions more sympathize with fundamentalist Islamic Jihad does not mean that the West/Occident is at war with all Muslims; nobody in this comment thread has advanced such an argument as far as I can tell.

    In any case – and on a deeper level – there are many forms of war (depending on how one defines it, granted). Politics, for example, is merely war by other means.

  • Dismissing the idea of taking considered measures to prevent an invasion of a hostile population with a complaint that it wouldn’t be perfect is sophistry, and you know it.

    To put it bluntly, bullshit. The only ‘considered measures’ various states need to take is to stop INVITING people to come over and partake of government largess. Do you think these people would be turning up in droves if they did not know they would get a ‘free’ house and services care of the hapless European taxpayer? Denmark has (belatedly & partially) done just that and low and behold, the waves of new arrivals seem strangely unwilling to go to Denmark rather than Germany or Sweden.

    Look, to be frank I do not care of ‘border controls’ are introduced & Schengen allowed to die, as that can be done without actually preventing (say) Poles from working in the UK (something that has enormously helped the UK economy). But the notion that borders needs to be locked down rather than just ‘controlled’ is just crazy. Until the deranged Merkel intentionally chummed the waters, for reasons I still cannot fathom, this was just a normal refugee problem.

  • And the demographic doom of the Western world might mean nothing if the world operated by the principles to which Libertarians ascribe such high esteem. But the world does not so operate. And the sword (like the ballot) is far mightier than the pen.

    Now that is a straw man argument. Very few libertarians are pacifists and certainly most of the ilk that hangs out here are not averse to notions of a state military and the judicious use of organised violence.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    The only ‘considered measures’ various states need to take is to stop INVITING people to come over and partake of government largess.

    There is no means to achieve such an end in a democracy so this is not a viable strategy.

    Do you think these people would be turning up in droves if they did not know they would get a ‘free’ house and services care of the hapless European taxpayer?

    Yes for several reasons. Public roads and other public goods are of much higher quality in Europe than in, say, Syria. Additionally, rates of per capita crime are lower in most of Europe than in much of the greater Middle East (with some notable exceptions, granted). Also, there is much more societal stability in European nations than in much of the Middle East & northern Africa.

    But the notion that borders needs to be locked down rather than just ‘controlled’ is just crazy.

    The idea that the Right will get genuinely controlled borders by asking for them is crazy. By asking for locked down borders, there’s a chance (granted a very slim one) that borders will be genuinely controlled once the fervor over these Paris attacks dies down in a few months – and remains so for years after that. But I’m not holding my breath.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Perry,

    And the demographic doom of the Western world might mean nothing if the world operated by the principles to which Libertarians ascribe such high esteem. But the world does not so operate. And the sword (like the ballot) is far mightier than the pen.

    Now that is a straw man argument. Very few libertarians are pacifists and certainly most of the ilk that hangs out here are not averse to notions of a state military and the judicious use of organised violence.

    You missed my main point.

    There are a plethora of phenomena immune to organized state violence that may (and, in my opinion, will) arise in the West by virtue of the world not operating according to libertarian principles. Some examples of what is coming for Europe via an internal, “peaceful” revolution:
    1. Passing laws to elevate Islamic cultural traditions above secular and/or Christian cultural traditions.
    2. Passing laws to protect the religious preferences of Muslims in ways not afforded to those subscribing to other religions.
    3. Passing laws to persecute those that subscribe to religions antithetical to Islam.
    4. Passing laws to institutionalize Islam as the de facto religion of certain European countries.

    These are not things that could happen in a world that operated according to libertarian principles, since Libertarianism precludes such state-sponsored legislation.

    But, as I said, the ballot is mightier than the pen.

    And the future belongs to those who show up for it.

  • Laird

    I don’t accept the facile claim that “the ballot is mightier than the pen.” It’s not, because (as Stalin famously said) “it doesn’t matter how the votes are cast, but how they’re counted.” In this day of electronic voting it’s a trivial matter to hijack an election and no one would ever be the wiser. The pen, on the other hand, shapes opinion, notably the opinions of the intelligentsia and, through them, our political masters. Voting is irrelevant.

    But I also don’t agree that merely denying social services to Muslim immigrants (if that were even possible, which I doubt; our “enlightened” courts would never permit it) would stem their influx. Oh, it might deter a few, but not many. Some are truly economic migrants seeking a better life, not welfare; some are political refugees for whom there is simply no better alternative. But a large number are invaders, as previous commenters here have noted. They are not coming for the welfare benefits; they are coming to remake your society into an Islamic theocracy. This is a war which has been going on, with varying degrees of intensity, for over 1300 years. It started long before there were generous social services and doesn’t depend upon their existence, although those intruders are certainly more than happy to have you subsidize their invasion. This is truly an existential conflict, but almost no one in the West will admit it.

    It was nearly 500 years ago that the Ottoman Empire was defeated at Vienna and finally expelled from Europe. They’re back again, this time employing a different and somewhat more subtle strategy. It remains to be seen whether Europe has the will to repel them again. My bet is no. My hope is that, after witnessing the destruction of Europe by barbarian hordes, the US won’t be quite as stupid.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I don’t accept the facile claim that “the ballot is mightier than the pen.” It’s not, because (as Stalin famously said) “it doesn’t matter how the votes are cast, but how they’re counted.” In this day of electronic voting it’s a trivial matter to hijack an election and no one would ever be the wiser.

    It’s actually not a trivial matter to hijack an election. Declaring one who received fewer votes in an election the winner is perhaps possible to do on occasion, but doing it consistently on a grand scale in important national elections is not a tenable solution to a demographics crisis, especially in the West that has a plethora of massive and independent polling agencies obsessively analyzing every tiny fluctuation of polling in political races.

    Furthermore, if you think Muslims are going to be brainwashed by the likes of Paul Krugman like most Americans are then you are in for a rude awakening.

    The only (or at least primary) reason the pen has any power in a democracy is because the pen commands ballots.

    The pen, on the other hand, shapes opinion, notably the opinions of the intelligentsia and, through them, our political masters.

    Indeed. And opinion matters primarily because it channels votes. The ballot is what accords value to the pen – not vice versa. Which is one reason why voting, sadly, matters.

  • Martha

    One point six billion Muslims are the difference between fact and opinion.

  • guy herbert

    “.. or describe the ways that the British security services currently do or do not make use of those powers.”

    – Actually nobody can. What oversight there is is purely procedural: are they checking the right boxes when they issue requests to themselves for data or surveillance? And there are dozens of organisations, not just the intelligence services, using the powers.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    One point six billion Muslims are the difference between fact and opinion.

    Not sure what this comment means; I’ll count that as conceding the point.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    This might be a very good time for Britain to re-build its’ navy and army, as defence is going to become a much bigger issue than anyone thought it would. The break-up of the old European Union seems much more likely now, so national defence will take the place of collective security.

  • Shlomo Maistre writes in response to Martha:

    Not sure what this comment means; I’ll count that as conceding the point.

    I’m quite sure that is an invalid argument; I’ll count it as meaningless waffle.

    Whether his other 8 contributions to this thread are better is, IMHO, still an open question.

    Best regards

  • Shlomo Maistre

    I’m quite sure that is an invalid argument; I’ll count it as meaningless waffle.

    It’s not intended to be an argument. I genuinely don’t understand what Martha means by what she said. I even googled the phrase she used to see if I could better understand it.

    Whether his other 8 contributions to this thread are better is, IMHO, still an open question.

    Thanks.

  • Cristina

    “Indeed. And opinion matters primarily because it channels votes. The ballot is what accords value to the pen – not vice versa. Which is one reason why voting, sadly, matters.”

    “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Cristina,

    “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

    Frankly, I suspect Hillary Clinton is very intelligent and even quite wise (these are two separate traits) – but that the public square makes fools of us all.

    The more democratic a nation’s government is, the more (seemingly) incompetent, disingenuous, and irresponsible its political leaders likely are.

    Modern western nations rely on propaganda through the media and educational institutions to render not only most of what obedience there is to the modern state’s policies, but also most of what support there is to the ideology behind said policies. But this is not how it has to be. Many nations and empires have been governed in the past without relying on such patently absurd and rampant propaganda. In such polities, state policies can be implemented in spite of public opinion on the matter – and this is a sign of stable political leadership.

    Eliminate the ballot and the pen becomes far less valuable. Insofar as the pen is valuable by virtue of its command of ballots as opposed to its command of wisdom, so will public leadership appear incompetent, disingenuous, and irresponsible.

    But wisdom isn’t popular.

  • Eliminate the ballot and the pen becomes far less valuable. Insofar as the pen is valuable by virtue of its command of ballots as opposed to its command of wisdom, so will public leadership appear incompetent, disingenuous, and irresponsible.

    The whole point of a Constitutional Republic is to limit the scope for popular politics by placing certain things beyond the whims of feckless and wicked voters. The extent to which that succeeds varies of course.

  • Cristina

    “But wisdom isn’t popular.”
    Very true.

    “The whole point of a Constitutional Republic is to limit the scope for popular politics by placing certain things beyond the whims of feckless and wicked voters”
    Could you name some of them, Perry?

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Congress isn’t supposed to infringe on State prerogatives- Congress isn’t allowed to just print money, etc. Just because Congress IS doing those things doesn’t mean that it should, and I’m sure they’ll all be very embarrassed when they realise how much they’ve done wrong.

  • Cristina

    “Congress isn’t supposed to infringe on State prerogatives- Congress isn’t allowed to just print money, etc. Just because Congress IS doing those things doesn’t mean that it should, and I’m sure they’ll all be very embarrassed when they realise how much they’ve done wrong.”

    Nicholas, are you implying they are not even aware of the things they are doing? Is it your tender heart speaking?

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    Nobody would do wrong if given a stern talking-to, would they? Why, I’ll bet they couldn’t even recite the whole Constitution by memory, if quizzed. I can’t, but I’m an Australian, and I wouldn’t recognise my own constitution.
    And, speaking cyNickly, if Jefferson and Washington could sign the Declaration of Independence (all men are created equal), and still own slaves for years afterwards, why should we expect Congressives to do better?

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Nobody would do wrong if given a stern talking-to, would they? Why, I’ll bet they couldn’t even recite the whole Constitution by memory, if quizzed. I can’t, but I’m an Australian, and I wouldn’t recognise my own constitution.
    And, speaking cyNickly, if Jefferson and Washington could sign the Declaration of Independence (all men are created equal), and still own slaves for years afterwards, why should we expect Congressives to do better?

    In other words, Cristina, it was his tender heart speaking.

  • Cristina

    I knew that already 🙂

  • JohnK

    Nicholas:

    I think you will find that both Washington and Jefferson were acutely aware of the contradiction between their enlightened views on freedom and their ownership of slaves. Like all politicians, they had to make unwelcome compromises, and there was no way to abolish slavery in the new United States. Like poiticians before and since, they made the best of a bad job.

    What happened in 1861-5 was that the US managed to abolish slavery in the most destructive way imaginable. Every other slave owning society in the 19th century managed to do it peacefully by paying compensation to slave owners, and then allowing the basic economic model of plantation slavery to continue, only with a nominally free workforce.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    They could have set a good example, by freeing their own slaves. That would have embarrassed others into doing the same, I think.
    Because the example of Declarations without deeds behind them- isn’t that how most politicians do business today?
    (And as for that peaceful change- aren’t some nations trying to get Western European nations to pay them money over historic guilt? Why aren’t they trying to do that to the richer Arab countries, which could certainly afford it?)

  • Jan Hards

    Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray:

    They could have set a good example, by freeing their own slaves. That would have embarrassed others into doing the same, I think.

    It’s highly unlikely that the dominant social class in the southern half of the new United States could have been prevailed upon to cease the economic activity (plantations manned by slave labour) which formed the very basis of their wealth and power. See the lengths their grandchildren were prepared to go to between 1861-65 to oppose the abolition of slavery if you doubt this.

  • Nicholas (Andy.royd) Gray

    You must have got that completely wrong! Southern historians assure us that it was all about state rights, and nothing to do with slavery, so there!

  • Jan Hards

    The right of the states to maintain, inter alia, slavery?

  • JohnK

    Nicholas:

    Washington did free his slaves in his will, and during his life did not sell his slaves, as he did not want to break up families, and this meant he had more slaves than his farm could economically maintain. Both Washington and Jefferson acted to stop the African slave trade, and I do think it is fair to say that if it had been up to them they would have dismantled slavery. They were well aware of the contradictions between liberty for all men and an economy based on slavery. In fact I believe Jefferson was keen for the sort of government compensation scheme for slave oweners which was successful in other countries, but he could not get enough support for it.

    Neither man had dictatorial powers, for they were not 21st century Presidents, with a massive national security state at their beck and call. They had to live with the political realities of the time, but I am sure that if they could have phased out slavery in a peaceful way, they would have done so.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-women-of-islamic-state-1447912860

    If even women can be lured by the siren call of Islamic fundamentalism, it really demonstrates the futility of hoping our current hedonistic lifestyles can be any form of counter to Islamism.