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.

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Samizdata quote of the day

OK, you’re angry. But ignore the vote and tanks could be on the streets.

If you wanted to convulse the country with rioting on a revolutionary scale, to cause a lethal rupture between the governing class and the governed and even to provide the conditions for the rise of 21st-century fascism across Europe, here’s what you do.

After a referendum in which an unprecedented number of voters took part, and in which well over a million more people voted for change than for the status quo on our membership of the EU, you declare that the decision cannot be allowed to stand, chiefly on the grounds that the people were too stupid.

Dominic Lawson (article behind Times pay wall unfortunately).

41 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Gosh, not just Brexit, but Civil War 2! What exciting times the Brits are going through! It might be painful now, but think of all the great movies that will be made about these times!

  • PhilB

    There is an interesting book called the War of the Flea by Robert Taber about revolutionary guerrilla warfare. It was published a while ago in the 1960s and the CIA bought up the entire first printing – not because it was so dangerous that the Public couldn’t be allowed access to it but it was so good it was issued as a standard text to their operatives. I often used to see it in second hand bookshops in the UK.

    One of the questions he asked was “Why do people, when the risks and dangers are so great, both to themselves and their families, resort to armed revolution?” His answer was quite simple – they cannot get any redress to their grievances either through the ballot box or through the Courts. Think of such topics as law and order, taxation, immigration, loss of liberties, ID cards, etc. etc. And now, the vote on leaving the EU.

    Any redress through the ballot box? Nope. It looks like the topic will be kicked around until lost in the long grass. All political parties are singing from the same hymn sheet. Any chance of the Law Courts siding with the people of the country and reversing the Governments policies and enforce the law and uphold the result of the referendum? Again, not a chance. Rather they uphold stupid and malicious legislation. And any situation where it costs you more to obey the law than to disregard it is a dangerous situation …

    Does that seem an accurate picture of Britain, right now? If the grudging answer is yes, then the inevitable conclusion is that there will be a revolution, sooner or later. And when it happens it will be something to see from afar.

    I learned that to avoid trouble, don’t be there when it kicks off and I believe that Britain is heading for a revolution of one form or another because the pressures and change in society are so great that it is at breaking point. What will replace this particular version of society is anyone’s guess but I can guarantee it will be a less benign, harsher and more impoverished existence. Revolutions destroy wealth and stability and I’m getting too old to start from scratch again. That is why I’m in New Zealand, having emigrated here 7 1/2 years ago.

  • gongcult

    Unfortiuonately this seems to apply to the US right now. Will it be the the SJWs ,clintonistas and idoit Bernie supporters engaged with the Trumpers and assorted anti -globalist conservative -libertarians in a war – can’t say. BUT IT DOES NOT LOOK PROMISING FOR LIBERTY !

  • Paul Marks

    Let us remember what this means.

    The European Union is a collectivist enterprise by which a group of unelected people (the Commission) get to impose any regulation they like – to control most aspects of life.

    The only defence for supporters of the European Union is that they DO NOT KNOW the above.

    Their reaction to their referendum defeat, essentially that the voters should be ignored, indicates that the key supporters of the European Union DO KNOW that the E.U. is an undemocratic enterprise seeking to control every aspect of ordinary life – like the France of Louis XIV and Colbert seeking to stamp out freedom in France and in the rest of Europe. For Britain was offered “trade” with France – as long as we accepted all of Colbert’s regulations and so on………

    The “unity” of the E.U. is essentially the same offer of “European unity” offered by Philip II of Spain, Louis XIV of France, the French Revolutionary regimes, Imperial Germany and National Socialist Germany – all efforts to restore the utter tyranny of the late Roman Empire, the Emperor Diocletian and all that.

    The defence of supporters of the E.U. is that they DO NOT KNOW this.

    Now it is clear that they key supporters of the E.U. DO KNOW this.

    Hence their reaction to their referendum defeat.

  • Paul Marks

    On the United States – agreed with the above comments.

    Neither the key supporters (in all these things we need to consider the key supporters – of course many good people are tricked) of Mrs Clinton or Mr Trump are interested in reducing the size and scope of government, or in the basic concept of the Rule of Law.

    Indeed both Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump define “law” in the way that Thomas Hobbes or his spiritual children the Nazis did – i.e. they are “Legal Positivists” who regard “law” as simply the COMMANDS of the ruler or rulers. They reject the natural law – natural justice tradition.

    The idea that the principles of law bind the rulers and defend individuals and voluntary associations (the “small platoons”) in Civil Society, is utterly alien to both Mrs Clinton and Mr Trump.

    States where the principles of liberty are not quite dead, such as Texas, may have to look to other alternatives than the present United States of America.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Not so, Paul! Anyone who looks at European history might wonder if any form of Nationalism will lead to war, and thus restraining nationalism might seem a higher duty than letting nations have their sovereignty. How do you propose to keep Europe at peace, Paul? Another solution may simply not have occurred to them.

  • Mr Ed


    We have nukes now, Germany does not. Russia does. Modern economies are so well connected and trade and travel so easy, that war within western Europe is off the agenda (apart from Spain over Gibraltar and that is bluster).

    Russia remains an existential threat to the Baltic States and the Ukraine, but NATO is there. It is not nationalism that leads to war but statism. War is exporting statism.

  • Watchman

    I think the fact statism exports war can be easily substantiated by the surprising lack of wars between democracies (however they are constiuted, these tend to be less statist than statist governments). The fact this is ignored is simply because statists of a left-wing internationalist bent declare this to be a result of nationalism (never noting for example the agressions of the Soviet government), rather than noting extreme nationalist governments need to be statist.

  • Mr Ed

    Wars between democracies are rare, one example that springs to mind is the declarations of war by the UK, Australia and New Zealand against Finland in 1941, the USA did not join in and I can’t remember if Canada did or not. IIRC apart from the sanctions involved, the RAF did mount a half-hearted bombing raid on Turbo/Åbo to show to Stalin that we were at war, but I read that they dumped the bombs in the harbour.

    At least New Zealand did not despatch Charles Upham to the Finnish front.

  • Derek Buxton

    My take on the Referendum is that at last, the People got a look in! And not before time. The politicians, all of them, have to be brought to heel. Parliament is supposed to do just that and has sadly failed on almost every occasion it was wanted. MPs and the Executive are not more important than the People, after all they are people but sadly seem ill educated for the task they have assumed. Should we be rejected by the remainers, I cannot imagine what could happen. We have already been stalled and it is still dragging on with little attempt to put things to right.

  • Andrew Duffin

    Calm down everyone.

    It’s still entirely possible that a malign alliance of the political class and its dags will overturn the will of the people and enter a “nolle prosequi” on Brexit.

    But the result of that would absolutely NOT be a revolution, a riot, or a Civil War.

    We Brits are just not like that any more.

    Others may be more excitable, I don’t know.

  • bob sykes

    An ambitious monarch might use the current brouhaha in the UK to reassert royal privilege and reset the British Constitution to Runnymede.

  • As long as it is not pre-Runnymede, Bob. But I think her Maj should just set her corgis (and perhaps Phil the Greek) on HMG and tell them to pop Article 50 and stop faffing around.

  • Mr Ed

    When, exactly is the post-Referendum, pre-triggering of Article 50 uncertainty going to end? If this decision is so momentous, why are not the markets in a state of disarray over the ‘uncertainty’ around the triggering of Article 50.

    It may be that there is no uncertainty, as it won’t be triggered at all.

    It may be that there is uncertainty as to when it will be triggered, but this does not seem to fit the narrative.

    It may be that there is uncertainty but it is already factored in, and it doesn’t matter.

    I suspect that ‘the plan’ is to bore everyone out and quietly ‘forget’ that there was a referendum at all until a General Election intervenes.

  • Watchman

    Mr Ed,

    Although technically the declaration of war on Finland by the Commonwealth countries was a war between democracies, that was really a result of democracies fighting statist regimes and being in alliance with other statist regimes, as Finland’s involvement was basically a result of USSR agression. It might also be questioned quite how democratic any of the countries were involved were at that point (I would argue that the UK was more statist than democratic during the 1940-47 period, for all their was a democratic election and change of government).

    There has never been a declaration of war between European democracies without other players being involved that I know about anyway.

  • Stonyground

    “When, exactly is the post-Referendum, pre-triggering of Article 50 uncertainty going to end?”

    If it doesn’t end promptly after the new PM has been appointed I shall start to become very concerned.

  • Laird

    @ Mr Ed: My vote would be for “It may be that there is uncertainty but it is already factored in, and it doesn’t matter.” Markets aren’t completely efficient (witness the gross over-reaction on the first two days after 6/23), but given a reasonable amount of time they are very good at internalizing and pricing for both news and uncertainty.

    Re PM’s comment at 5:45 AM: There is actually a paragraph with two complete sentences in it. Did you forget to hit the “enter” key? 🙂

  • We Brits are just not like that any more.

    I beg to differ.

  • Laird

    “We Brits are just not like that any more.”

    You aren’t until you are. No telling where the tipping point is.

  • That is exactly correct, Laird. These things are only clear in retrospect.

  • Sam Duncan

    “Anyone who looks at European history might wonder if any form of Nationalism will lead to war, and thus restraining nationalism might seem a higher duty than letting nations have their sovereignty.”

    The trouble with that argument is that the EU’s idea of “restraining nationalism” is simply to replace it with a greater European nationalism. Brussels concentrates power from the states at the centre and talks openly of creating a “European identity” and a “European consciousness”. The Colleagues don’t exactly demur when it’s suggested that the Construction is simply an expansion of German and Italian unification. And those really killed nationalism stone dead.

    The problem is that people don’t really know what nationalism is. It’s not simply patriotism or the natural belief that one’s own nation’s interests should come before others’. Nationalism is a form of statism: the belief that a nation is incomplete (at the extreme, oppressed) without a state of its own, the conflation of the nation with that state, and the placing of the state, masquerading as “the nation”, at the centre of public life. This is exactly what we see in the European Union. The EU is conflated in the public mind with “Europe”, Europe is incomplete without its state, and thus the EU is in the process of grabbing all governmental power from the member states while simultaneously regulating everything that moves.

    The nation doesn’t really exist, but the forces and language (e.g., “the European family”) are basically the same as any other nationalist movement.

  • Adam Maas


    In fact there have been several

    The Polish-Lithuanian War of 1920 and the First Balkan War both come to mind.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Nazi comes from the German for National Socialist, so Nationalism gets the blame.
    Just before WW1 erupted, an Englishman wrote a book in which he claimed that the economies of Europe were so intertwined that war was not rationally possible. People are not just calculating machines, and their emotions overrode their reasoning powers, as we know, so arguments based only on reason have a poor track record. After all, it would be reasonable for Canadian provinces to join the USA, but the emotional attachment of Canadians to being different won’t allow it.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Laird. That is raw. Very raw. *g*

  • Julie near Chicago

    By the way, lest anyone mistake my joking for criticism, I would remind one & all that in fact I enjoy PM’s style very much. :>)

  • Julie near Chicago

    PhilB, speaking of clicking on unintroduced UT’s (much discussed the other day), I have to say that your subject series is already, alone and by itself, enough to make a girl proud to call Britain the Mother Country.

    It amazes me how dead accurate the various episodes are. I keep thinking, But how could they have known?!!!

    (Yes yes, I know, ‘Twas ever thus, Plus ça change…, so forth.)

  • Watchman

    Adam Maas,

    I won’t take the Polish-Lithuanian war as a war between democracies, since it is not clear whether Lithuania was actually a country when the Poles attacked the territory (in their war with the Soviets – not here again the direct involvement of a statist power), and the Lithuanians sought to reclaim the territory after they made an effective alliance with the Soviets. It also seems to have started (at least the Polish invasion of the area) before Poland first elected a government. I would accept a proviso on established democracies though since you could possibly legitimately argue the war proper was between two democracies (assuming Lithuania had elected a government by this point), both of less than two-years’ standing.

    The First Balkan War involved the Ottoman Empire on one side, so I think I can safely rule that out. The second Balkan war is a better case, but still featured a new constiutional monarch (Bulgaria) on one side. It should be noted that almost all the players in this war (other than the Ottomans perhaps…) were also following collectivist philosophies around national unity, rather than existing within defined borders.

    So if I say that no established European democracy with properly defined and accepted boundaries has declared war on another European democracy directly am I OK? I doubt this would be a major shock – voters tend not to send themselves to war except in exceptional circumstances (which would include protecting the new democracy and a newly-asserted national identity). I doubt the Balkan countries are likely to go to war any more for example.

  • Paul Marks

    N.G. – the EU had nothing (nothing what-so-ever) to do with keeping the peace.

    The idea that the E.U. (not NATO – i.e. the British and American armed forces) kept the peace was a lie, a filthy lie, the Remainers used.

    Do not let them deceive you.

    Let us apply their doctrine to Australia.

    “Australia has some differences with Indonesia and may, in future, have some differences with China”.

    “So let us combine Indonesia (and perhaps China also) with Australia under a common government – do not worry Australians, you will have representation in a “United Asia” Parliament in line with your population”.

    Do you think this would be a good idea?

    How about just “free migration” from your neighbour Indonesia into Australia.

    That would be “freedom” would it not?

    If one calls genocide freedom.

  • Watchman


    Not sure how “free migration” to “freedom” to “genocide” works? Whilst I can see lots of reasons for not having free movement from Indonesia to Australia (although none trumps my actual belief in free movement), I don’t think anyone is threatening to wipe out the Australians?

  • PhilB

    @Julie near Chicago,

    The two writers, Antony jay and Jonathan Lynn, were interviewed about the yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister series. They said that they discussed the plot lines with various MP’s and asked if they were too far fetched to be believed. The MP’s all responded along the lines of “Well, I can’t say if THAT actually happened but I’ll tell you about …” and the tale was even MORE bizarre than the episode plot under discussion.

    Incidentally it was a firm favourite with Margaret Thatcher (FWIW!). >};o)

  • RobAnzac

    Thanks PhilB – just picked up a copy of War of the Flea on Trademe

  • Julie near Chicago

    Hah! Cribbing! And leaking State Secrets!! (LOL)

    Last Fall I was so lucky as to find both series on DVD at eBay, at a less-than-astronomical price, and they are already nearly worn out. The thing is, I’m pretty sure our own governments and bureaucracy have been using them as an A-V training manual.

    I mean, who needs newspapers, news shows, and James O’Keefe when you’ve got Appleby & Hacker. And my favorite of them all — Sir Arnold. Their record in clairvoyance is truly astonishing.

    For my money, it (grouping them together) is the classiest TV comedy series I have ever seen. And since it is also so very droll *g*, I have to think it’s altogether the best comedy series I’ve ever seen.

    So thanks, PhilB, for the inside info. :>))

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker!) Gray

    Paul, we have not suffered a devastating war with either Indonesia or China, so nobody would believe someone who made such claims. Europe had just emerged from two world wars, so everyone could see that things needed to change.
    I agree that the EU is now a nightmare, but it didn’t start that way, and it can go back to what it could have been, a free-trade agreement. People are not now as wary of Germany as they once were, but I don’t think people would be happy about Nationalism rising in Germany, so they try to tie everything down, or limit the scope of governments to govern. I, from here in Australia, don’t think that Germany is any sort of threat, but I can under stand the fear of those who live much closer to Germany, and that is why some people are happy to dilute sovereignty.

  • Nicholas, for many of us who live closer to Germany, it is their lack of nationalism that is alarming. Martin Luther compared mankind to a drunkard on a donkey. He falls off on one side; after he gets on again, he is careful not to fall off on that side – so presently falls off on the other side. The EU is not merely solving yesterday’s problem; it is causing today’s. The Germans are currently falling off on the other side of the donkey. The point of my poem is that the effect on their victims may be distressingly reminiscent of when they fell off on the original side less than a century ago.

  • PhilB

    @Julie near Chicago

    Three books about Yes Minister/Yes Prime Minister – two on the Minister, one on the PM – were published around the time of the series. They were based on the plots of the shows but with additional material supposed to come from the diaries and private correspondence of Hacker, Sir Humphrey and Bernard Wooley. Well worth searching out … they are the Machiavelli for the 20th (and 21st) centuries. (Though I doubt even Machiavelli would have grocked the byzantine complexity of the British Civil Service). >};o)

  • PhilB

    @RobANZAC, Trademe,eh? You must be in NZ too! >};o)

  • Julie near Chicago

    PhilB, got it! I shall search. Sound like a treasure trove indeed.

    BUT, Sssst! We must be careful they don’t fall into the hands of the Federal bureaucracy. Or of the Democrats. :>((

  • Julie, in some cases minor improvements – putting in lines that time constraints or accident lost – occurs in the books. For example, if my memory is right, in the episode where Bernard warns Sir Humphrey that “There has been movement – on a subject where the civil service wishes there should be no movement”, Sir Humphrey makes two wrong guesses, to which Bernard replies “No” and then says, “Not – THE CIVIL SERVICE PAY RISE!”. In the TV episode, Bernard then gives the tiniest nod of his head while making an indistinct noise. In the script, he replies, “I can neither confirm nor deny that”, which I think wittier.

    If you’ve seen the episodes, you know 95% or 99% of the content of the books, but I did not regret the time it took me to read them.

  • Thailover

    I know a lot of British Ex-Pats in Thailand who jumped ship for similar reasons. Of course, there are other good reasons to live in Thailand than in the western world, but that subject is perhaps more salacious than the usual topics dealt with in Samizdata. 😉

  • Thailover

    Nicholas Gray said,
    “I agree that the EU is now a nightmare, but it didn’t start that way, and it can go back to what it could have been, a free-trade agreement.”

    Ah, but that’s the facade. Free-trade agreements are free-trade agreements. I can agree to trade with my butcher and baker without marrying them.