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


– More about Wicked Campers and their vans (copiously illustrated and with further links) at BrianMicklethwaitDotCom. Click on the middle picture at the bottom of that posting to see where I found the above sign.

4 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    It is a good principle “Thou shall not steal”.

    And the harsh language following it is justified.

    However, the principle of “Thou shall not steal” is in clear contradiction with “Social Justice” (that all income and wealth belongs to the collective and must be “distributed”) – and the latter principle is sacred to the international elite.

    Although for some reason the principle of “Social Justice” does not apply to the Trust (based in tax haven) that owns the Guardian newspaper – nor to the highly paid senior staff of the Guardian (and the rest of the international elite).

    As someone who is poor I could try applying their principle of “Social Justice” by taking some of their money and stuff for myself.

    However, if I did this, I suspect they would be converted to the principle of “Thou shall not steal” (at least in regards to themselves) quite quickly.

  • John Galt III

    “Thou shalt not steal – The government hates competition”

    Very popular here in Montana

  • Regional

    It’s ironic that politicians enact laws to jail thieves.

  • Paul Marks

    And I think they were mistaken Regional – although the below may be used against me in some future election.

    In the British case first the King-in-Parliament (centuries ago) went from non fines and other punishments (which were the old Common Law punishments for theft) to DEATH (for all but petty theft) and I think that is too harsh a punishment for non violent theft

    Then in the 1820s Sir Robert Peel did indeed move to imprisonment – which YES I think was a good move (as the previous punishment was death – other than for petty theft). And prisons were being radically reformed at the time – a move to the one person per cell, and strict discipline that we associate with later Victorian prisons.

    And, believe Regional, if you ever go to prison you want a prison with strict discipline – the “liberalism” of the late 20th century has turned prisons (especially in the United States) into Hellholes – of endless torture and rape (which is what happens when strict discipline breaks down and the prisoners take over the prison).

    In the United States things were slightly different.

    In New York State hanging was less common than in England and “transportation” (sending criminals to distant colonies) was not available punishment – as America did not have distant colonies (send someone West – what is to stop them riding straight back again, or joining up with some band of nomadic savages [I mean a noble a civilised Indian nation] and preying upon settlers – I mean evil-stealers-of-the-land-and-enemies-of-Gaia).

    The normal punishment for theft in New York was a flogging (Corporal Punishment – used in such places as the Isle of Man till recently, and still used in Singapore).

    However, John Jay the Governor moved to a system of imprisonment.

    Governor Jay was an idealist (very different from the man presented in the history books – who present him as narrow minded and reactionary, if they mention him at all, a man more like ME than who he actually was).

    Governor Jay (who was also the First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court – and held other posts) had managed to get the Legislature to pass the end of slavery in New York (this was in the days before the Executive branch thought it could just make up “the law” on its own whims) – freeing the slaves, including his own.

    And, as mentioned above, got the legislature to end hanging for non violent theft (long before England and Wales) – but…..

    Governor Jay believed that government could “reform” or “enlighten” people. A false dream as old as Plato (indeed far older) – and held to by Francis Bacon, Sir William Petty, Frederik the Great and other statists.

    This was behind his support for supporting the creation of a State School system in New York – although the system was not actually established till after he had gone, and there was no compulsory attendance law till much later.

    Indeed I think I am right in saying that only Massachusetts had a Compulsory Attendance law – and that was in 1852.

    The growth of Prussian style compulsory state education was slow in the United States – and in other lands. For example it is myth that Scotland has always had a state education system (there were statutes certainly – but the actual schools were under the control of the local CHURCH the Kirk and no one would be punished for not sending their children to them) – the state system in Scotland only actually emerged after 1872 (compulsory Poor Rates were also unknown for most of Scotland till 1845 – most of what people are taught as “history” is a series of lies and nonsense).

    Governor Jay also thought that PRISONS could reform people – hence the names used for American prisons (such as “Correction” establishments or “Reformatories” for the young).

    This is clearly nonsense – people do not tend to come out of a prison better than they went in (rather the reverse).

    However, at the time it seems a plausible idea.

    Just as someone supporting State SCHOOLS in the early 19th century – could not reasonably be expected to predict the savage places of ignorance and violence that are schools in New York City (and so on) today.

    If I could take John Jay to see and hear a modern American prison.

    Yes “hear” – hear the screams. And see the remains of prisoners raped and abused by other prisoners.

    I think I could convince him that the Singapore (or old Isle of Man) way of giving a non murderer a flogging and letting them go is a less bad alternative, than the nightmare of a modern American prison.

    Just as if I could take John Jay to see a modern government school – I think I could convince him that Church (even Catholic Church – John Jay did not like the Roman Catholic Church) and other schools were a better alternative.

    However, modern people do not favour these things (prisons and schools) for rational reasons – they favour them because “that is what we do”.

    The “person in Kent” (Dr Gabb) holds that “that is what we do” – habit and custom is a good guide to policy, and many great men (such as David Hume and F.A. Hayek) have also held this position.

    I disagree.

    I hold that ordinary people are capable of reasoning and have a moral duty to reason (even if it is very painful – takes terrible effort) rather than saying “this is what we do here” (a terrible “copout” – at least I hold it to be so).

    Yes reasoning is a process on which we draw on tradition – centuries of other people reasoning.

    But we still have to reason ourselves.

    Even Chief Justice Sir Edward Coke did not just follow every old case – he picked cases that showed the PRINCIPLES OF NATURAL JUSTICE (natural reasoning) in action, that were examples of MORAL REASONING.

    Now David Hume (and many other great man) may say that moral reasoning is impossible – and we could not really CHOOSE to act on the results of moral reasoning even if it was possible.

    But it is possible – we can look at the world around us and decide to change it for the better, on the basis of proper reasoning (not the false “reasoning” of the French Revolutionaries – Edmund Burke did not oppose them because they were reasoning, he opposed them because they were not following the basic principles of reasoning, as such men as Richard Hooker has shown it centuries before, they were just making emotional positions, such as ENVY, and then acting on their emotions – not their “right reason”).

    We must try to understand basic principle – partly by looking at experience over centuries.

    What works and what does not work – and WHY it does not work (just “experience” will not do – it must be experience and RIGHT REASON).

    But this is enough for now.