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

The referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU has thrown many things into sharp relief. It has made more visible the fraying of the Tory Party that has been brewing for a few decades now. It has demonstrated that the politics of fear is everywhere, being peddled by both the Leave and Stay campaigns, and even being openly celebrated by one pro-EU columnist on the basis that ‘fear alone has a purity you can trust’. But most strikingly, the referendum campaign has confirmed the death, or at least utter exhaustion, of a left that believes in democracy, in change, in people. In throwing its weight behind the Stay campaign, having historically been suspicious of the EU, the left has completed its journey from demanding democracy to supporting technocracy.

Brendan O’Neill

18 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    I also do not believe in ‘Democracy’, as it is currently practiced. I would limit it to local governments, and even then only on public roads and lands. I do not think that a technocracy would really work- look at the mess Europe is making over refugees, or do we blame that on Merkel? (If only these elected leaders would just let the experts get on with it, we would have been fine-tuned into paradise by now! Where are re-education camps when you really need them?) Europe might be called a Demotechnocracy, mix of both.

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    Oh, and a happy ninety to Mrs. Windsor! If she reaches 100, will she send herself a telegram of congratulations?
    I sometimes think that Britain’s muddled arrangements are the least-worst systems to be found anywhere. Perhaps you should try hoisting them on Europe? Your Queen has a better claim to be Queen of Europe than anyone else I might think of….

  • Mr Ed

    I shall toast the 90th birthday today of the Duke of Normandy, with a glass of pink French fizz, a distant echo of lost but now unwanted realms.

  • Paul Marks

    Good point – Mr O’Neil is correct.

    As for democracy – there must be a way peacefully getting rid of those who rule.

    The E.U. offers no such safety valve in its system.

    An elite of administrators make the laws and local politicians say “there is nothing we can do – it is an E.U. rule”.

    Thus making elections a farce.

  • 1) The politics of fear have been with us for a long time (see (2) below). For me, what is revealing is the near total abandonment by the ‘stay’ camp of the EU’s old politics of hope. As recently as a decade ago, the euro was still spoken of as going to achieve great things in the mouths of believers, but a long ago as five years, these same people were instead explaining that the mere mechanics of leaving would be too hard, that we were condemned to trying to survive the now-visible problems. Must I go as far back as a year to find politicians explaining how an influx of hard-working easily-assimilable refugees would revitalise Germany and the EU generally. How easy would it be now to find any of these same people _not_ basing their case on the great difficulty of sending the migrants home (or anywhere else) rather than any cost-outweighing benefits of them? Labour seems to be saying that the social chapter is pretty well their sole EU hope: as Brendan notes, that they appear to value the EU for its ability to prevent the UK choosing for ourselves whether to have it (or not!) is in fact all about their fear.

    2) The politics of fear have been with us for a long time; rational fears and irrational fears

    – To those who know that government is not good in itself, is at best medicine but never food, a rational fear that anarchy is worse is the only case for government – which should then be feared lest it become worse than the evils it cures. Such rational fears are sometimes opposed by absurd promises of what government will do for us if we only let it, but at least as often, wild fears of what we will do if not more governed are used to justify its growth.

    – In the years before WWII, Churchill told people to fear the growing power of Hitler – and was opposed by those made fearful by the very thought of war.

    3) All these thoughts are a bit depressing, so, instead of thinking Nicholas off-topic, I too shall wish Her Majesty a happy 90th birthday, and thus think of something more cheerful for a few minutes. (Of course, maybe it is the monarch’s ancestral right never to be off-topic on a British blog 🙂 ).

  • Somewhat relevant to Brendan O’Neill’s topic, another country also seems to be suffering political/democratic disassociation (if not disintegration).

    Here is some good advice on how they might put off their problems for a bit longer; its entitled Thanks For The EU Referendum Advice, Mr. President. America Should Give Supra-National Political Union A Try

    The theme is set in an early paragraph.

    Mr. President, it is time for the United States of America to admit that the age of the nation state is over, to let go of excessive pride and patriotism, and form a political Union of the Americas. Don’t waste another moment. Assemble the heads of state from North, Central and South America and immediately sign and ratify a Treaty of Tijuana creating a political and customs union between your respective countries. For this is the only way that the great prosperity which Americans have known in the twentieth century can possibly be preserved in the twenty-first.

    I am sure Brendan, along with Mr President, will fully appreciate the author’s careful analysis of the strengths and advantages that the EU brings to us on this side of the pond. What a wonderful example it sets.

    Best regards

  • Mr Ed

    America is a ‘supra-national’ political Union, it has Texas in it for starters. It is just an EU with almost a quarter of a millennium behind it.

  • Cal

    … and there’s no way that the United States will still be together in another quarter of a millenium.

  • Cal

    So why is the Left now, somewhat reluctantly, supporting staying in the EU? The reason seems to me to be this.

    There are two aspects to the EU. The first is the free market (or somewhat free market) part. The second is the endless avalanche of laws, rules and regulations, and general meddling, which the EU engages in. The Left dislikes the first part, but approves of the second part as the second part is to a large degree aimed at SJW-type outcomes.

    But the Left knows that if the UK left the EU then we still end up in a similar free market as before (either in the EEA, or something similar). But we would no longer be subject to all the regulations the EU issues. So, from their point of view, the best thing about the EU would disappear, while the worst thing would effectively continue. That’s why it now supports staying in. (And that’s why small government types, who have the opposite values, want to get out.)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nigel, why oh why were you so inconsiderate as to post that excerpt without even warning us to have our kidney basins in place before reading? *severe frown*

  • Julie near Chicago

    PS. Although, of course, one suspected that the writer was being at the very least tongue-in-cheek. Following the link, one was comforted to find a distinctly sarcastic piece.

    Forsooth, the present Incumbent is a jackass. (Samizdata is not in Germany, nor am I, so I think it’s OK for me to say that.)

  • Andrew Duffin

    The linked article is wonderful. To quote a Peanuts cartoon from long, long ago, “one rarely gets a chance to see such carefully-prepared sarcasm”.

  • Rob

    What happened to “hope and change”, I wonder?

  • John B

    “…as confirmed the death, or at least utter exhaustion, of a left that believes in democracy, in change, in people.”

    Democracy is bottom up voluntary, evolutionary change by individuals, cooperating out of self interest to live together in peace and prosperity. This spreads the power among the people.

    The Left believes in top down imposition (where persuasion fails, force is used) of change, and determination of what prosperity and order should be. This puts the power into the hands of the elite few.

    That Brendan O’Neill, or indeed anyone, believes that the Left does or did stand for democracy when its whole ideology is the opposite, tells us all we need to know about how we arrived at the sorry mess in which we find ourselves, and why Left and Right are indistinguishable since neither either understand what democracy actually is, nor care for it.

  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    John, of course the left stands for Democracy- it’s individuals that they hate! Socialism is all about numbers, and monopolizing power in the center. Democracy is only safe for individuals if there are restraints like Bills of rights.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Democracy is only safe for individuals if there are restraints like Bills of rights.


  • Nicholas (Excentrality!) Gray

    You’re not trying to be cynical, Shlomo, are you? Doesn’t the Bill of Rights swoop in and protect innocent citizens from abuses of justice by evil politicians and police? Did Maggie Carta die in vain?

  • San Franciscan

    Anyone know how a poor, deprived American can obtain official VOTE LEAVE swag? Their online store seems not to ship here.
    I treasure the idea of showing up at a nonprofit meeting with an incandescent red VOTE LEAVE coffee mug.
    Love from the People’s Republic of SF