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 concepts that we need to grasp here are folk marxism, oikophobia and conservatism by proxy.

Most modern leftists haven’t read a line of Marx. But his odious creed has passed down to them in a diluted form in which people are to be divided onto groups and all relationships are to seen as being between oppressor and oppressed. Needless to say that the oppressed are always noble and the oppressors all evil. This gives us identitarian politics.

Oikophobia then comes into play, as the leftists see their own culture as an oppressor culture.

Another symptom of leftist thinking since the time of that scoundrel Rousseau is the admiration of the noble savage which I call ‘conservatism by proxy’. This has a religious element in that it is often given voice by those tiresome people who’d never go near a church in their own countries, but will wax lyrical about the ‘spirituality’ of monks in Cambodia, Laos or some God-forsaken place like that. In Australia the modern leftist’s conservatism by proxy is usually satisfied by the simple expedient of admiring Aboriginal culture because: “It has been around for 40,000 years.”

Thus do lefties satisfy their need to admire tradition and obtain the joy that conservatism brings, without suffering the awful fate of having to be labelled ‘conservative.’

Add to these three, the zero sum fallacy view of the economy, the inability to understand the distinction between speech and deed or between ought and is and you have a good summary of the neuroses and intellectual bigotries of many leftists.

Peter from Oz

This is a comment I saw on Sp!ked that I thought was right on the money (reproduced with a few typos corrected).

30 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • PapayaSF

    I find it amusing that “Progressives” would admire a culture that’s been largely stagnant for 40,000 years. Heaven help you if you express an interest in preserving some part of Western culture that has been around for hundreds of years. We must change immediately!

  • Thailover

    What I find to be a load of fun is to do a bait and switch. To start out talking to leftists about right (correct) and wrong, which they’re only too happy to talk about, (you can’t have injustice is there is no right and wrong), and then switch the topic of which cultures are “better” than others.

    After all, isn’t accepting homosexuality instead of murdering them “better”? Isn’t freedom for women, the right to decide what to do with their bodies (like not wearing a burka) “better” than beating them to death for going outside where they are visible to “strange” men? Aren’t cultures that don’t practice honor killing one’s daughter over mild offenses “better” and “more civilized” than those that do?

    The “Noble Savage” is another one that I find humorous. Did the settlers often perform inhumanities against native americans? Yes, most assuredly. And Native Americans often did the same in return. But the leftist narrative is that “white people” (Settlers weren’t all white BTW) “stole the native american’s land”. What they miss is that (a) most of their tribes were *not* non-violent agrarian farmers. Most had a warrior tribe culture long before European settlers came to their shores. And these warrior cultures preyed upon one another, committing all sorts of atrocities and crimes against humanity. And most also had no concept of land ownership. They were migratory, following migrating animals which they hunted. You can’t steal land from nomads with no concept of land ownership.

    But what is the narrative of the left. The narrative is that white people are bad, and brown/red/yellow (olive) people are good and noble.

    What about the rape of nanking, one may ask? Oh, let’s pretend that didn’t happen. No white devils were involved. What about the “noble” Nepalese people who were trashed by the Chinese, “gentle, enlightened” people who had a Dahlia Lama? Well, these people were barbaric too. they had punishments like ripping out people’s eyeballs for slight offenses.

  • Nepalese people who were trashed by the Chinese

    They were? Might you mean “Tibetan people”? Not convinced occupation by China is a splendid thing.

  • Phil B

    In a sense, I can agree that the naive “let’s go to Africa and help the Africans” sentiment of the students is counterproductive but only because they attempt to use first world solutions to third world problems.

    An example – I have on file a booklet by the Hesperian organisation (link HERE) intended to educate 3rd world people about the dangers of improper sewage disposal and safeguarding water supplies.

    One of the things I recall from the booklet was an example of using LOCAL solutions to the problems. The water supply for the houses was also used by cattle for their drinking water with the inevitable contamination. The initial response “use a barbed wire fence” was met with disinterest because the fence would be stolen within 2 minutes. Valuable material such as wire would be too much of a temptation to others. The educator stepped back and explained why it was important to stop cows crapping into the water, that the barbed wire fence would keep them out and a feed to a trough for them to provide an alternative drinking supply would be the way to go. The locals, once they understood the why, came up with a locla solution – they planted cactus and thorny bushes to substitute for barbed wire with the same result.

    So the students, by spending little time to understand the local situation are likely to import and impose a good solution FOR THEIR COUNTRY but be unsuited for whatever reason to their host country which is why such projects almost inevitably fail.

  • Phil B

    Oops! The booklet describing the catus substitute is THIS one … damn memory playing tricks!

  • Paul Marks

    Good post – I agree with all of it apart from the implied criticism of Buddhist monasteries, Not my religion – but if people find that it clears their minds and helps them think (most people only stay in such monasteries for a short time) good for them. Of course Christian monasteries were the heart of Western Culture for a thousand years – and memory of Classical Civilisation would not have survived without them.

    Even anti Christians should honour monasteries – after all the anti Christian attacks of X, Y, Z in the Classical World were painstakingly copied and recopied by monks. “They only saved a fraction of Classical Literature” – a fragment is better than naught.

    Still back to the post…

    Rousseau pushed a lot of the stuff that Karl Marx later pushed – as for their differences, the modern left is (in some ways – and without really knowing it) closer to Rousseau than to Marx. Although they were both vile – they were vile in slightly different ways.

    As for my own position – I am a conservative and pro liberty (both a philosophical and a political libertarian – indeed I would argue that it makes no sense to be a political libertarian if one is a philosophical determinist or “compatiblist”). Pro science and pro culture (although, alas, I am NOT a cultured man).

    I can stand in awe of the buildings of such people as the Third Marquis of Bute – whilst being PROUD (not ashamed) of the coal mines, ports and factories that made them possible.

    Lord Salisbury (the Prime Minister) was not ashamed of his interest (commercial and intellectual) in railways and industry – nor did he think it made him any less of a Conservative (politically or culturally). And he was right.

  • Rich Rostrom

    The left is deeply enamored of “authenticity” in other cultures. And of passionate rebellion against “the dead hand of tradition” in our culture.

    Few of them ever realize that being an “authentic” Navajo or Maori can be just as imprisoning as being a WASP.

    There is an SF novel by Mike Resnick, Kirinyaga, about a traditional Kikuyu society recreated in a large orbital habitat. The organizers are fanatically determined that The Kikuyu Way Shall Be Preserved – up to and including the ritual killing of babies born at the wrong time. It becomes clear that the people in the habitat are their prisoners and puppets.

    Another point: many leftist decry the “tragic fate” of “white Comanche” Cynthia Ann Parker, who as a child was adopted into their society and married an Indian, and then was “rescued” by the Texas Rangers. Cut off from her family and kin, she was miserable and died.

    Right. Meanwhile, they decry the offensive practice of “imposing white culture on ‘indigenous’ children” through reservation boarding schools, mission schools, adoption by white parents, and so on. Maybe if the children’s families were slaughtered first (as the Comanches did to Parker’s family), it would be OK.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Very interesting analysis. I have a couple of quibbles:

    the leftists see their own culture as an oppressor culture.

    I should think that “leftists” in Greece or Latin America see their own culture as an oppressed culture.

    WRT “noble savages”:
    * monks are not savages, not even in “God-forsaken places”;
    * there seems to be general agreement that barbarians were healthier and longer lived, not to mention more free, than most civilized people — until a few centuries ago. There is no inconsistency in feeling more affinity for barbarians than for non-modern civilizations, without bashing modern Western civilization.

  • Darin

    The fact is that Marx was hard core Eurocentric racist and imperialist, who celebrated the crushing of all “traditional cultures” as a step forward. If there is any justice in afterlife, he is now in hell, forced to listen to modern “cultural left” all day and night 😈

  • Watchman


    Barbarians lived longer because they did not live in cities would be the basic point – the definition of barbarianism almost always being opposed to an urban-dwelling self-identity from the Greeks (who attached the word to it) and the Hebrews through the Romans, the Christian and Islamic states to the modern day.

    Depending on how you are self-defining, it may or may not be inconsistent to feel affinity for barbarians. As most left-wingers believe in an equal society, to then promote hierarchical, generally paternalistic if not mysogynistic, societies, where law is frequently still determined by strength and support does seem inconsistent. But if you are looking for something that is not our society then you have to pick something I suppose; pity that western society is generally the most equal and safest society on the planet, but still…

  • hennesli

    Most modern leftists haven’t read a line of Marx. But his odious creed has passed down to them in a diluted form in which people are to be divided onto groups and all relationships are to seen as being between oppressor and oppressed. Needless to say that the oppressed are always noble and the oppressors all evil.

    All post enlightenment political thought makes appeals to victimhood and divides society into groups marked ‘oppressed’ and ‘oppressor’; if one is of a right wing persuasion the oppressor is more likely to be the government with its laws, taxes and regulations or a media-academic- cultural complex dominated by political correctness (the so called alt right is built around a perceived victimisation by the latter group).

  • Thailover, October 2, 2016 at 7:05 pm: “You can’t steal land from nomads with no concept of land ownership.”

    You can buy it – the large majority of the acreage of the US was legally bought from native american tribes – or receive it from them in peace treaties after wars, many of which the tribes started, or joined (they had a knack for picking the losing side in inter-european disputes).

    Nomads do usually have a concept of land domination: just one that leaves much more fluid boundaries, with huge areas of debatable land that noone owns or dare use. Wars between the native american tribes were often to dominate hunting ranges, with displacement the penalty for losing.

    After the settlers arrived, other wars were often caused by the adjacent tribe trying to monopolise trade with them and be the reseller to other tribes, causing those others to attack to try to punch through and trade with the whites directly. In Avatar, the Pandorans are utterly uninterested in buying anything from the despicable US-representing ‘sky people’. The Pandorans are aliens and can be what the script wants, but in real life the native americans on whom they are so obviously based were avid for trade with whites – which is one of several reasons they were so ready to sell title to piece after piece of their hunting ranges.

  • Deep Lurker

    A quibble about the economics: I agree that the naive, intuitive view of economics is dangerously wrong, but I don’t agree that “zero sum” describes that economic view very well. Rather the trouble comes from (1) taking the natural illusion that big piles of stuff look bigger than they really are as true, and (2) the idea that “economic coercion” exists as a real thing, morally equivalent to fraud and physical coercion.

    The first leads modern leftists to grossly overestimate the amount of wealth that “the rich” have, and therefore to discount and disparage warnings about “running out of other people’s money.” It also leads them to greatly overestimate the ability of government (with it’s big piles of taxpayer money) to provide people with nice things.

    The second leads modern leftists into feeling that large government interventions into the economy are entirely justified. Preventing large corporations and “the rich” from inflicting economic coercion on the rest of us is, after all, just as important as stopping bank robbers or embezzlers.

    And we wacky free-market types, who claim to see only voluntary exchange when there’s “obviously” economic coercion going on, are either dangerously naive (if we’re telling the truth about what we see) or actively malicious (if we’re lying about it).

  • Gene

    Deep Lurker, building on your comment about “piles of stuff”: The U.S. Internal Revenue Service has data on the net worth of Americans. Unfortunately the latest data I found is from 2007 (pre-crash!), but it is nonetheless instructive.

    If I’m reading the IRS tables correctly, the combined net worth of all Americans who had at least $20 million in 2007 was $3.96 trillion.

    If we had Mao Tse Tunged all of those people and seized every penny they owned, $4 trillion would eliminate the federal deficit at its current level for 8 years (and at the levels we saw circa 2012 it would suffice for only 4 years).

    And of course, that use of the money wouldn’t make a dent in the existing national debt, currently $19.5 trillion. In addition, having impoverished all those rich people, we could never go back for more and the investment and wealth creation those people would have been responsible for would cease to exist as well.

    Unfortunately too many current world leaders would view such a course of action as an intriguing possibility.

  • Snorri Godhi

    In view of Watchman’s comment, i had another look at my comment and now feel the need to clarify it, by rewriting the last sentence:
    There is no inconsistency in valuing modern Western society more than any other form of society, while at the same time feeling more affinity for barbarians than for some or all non-modern civilizations (including early Western civilization).

  • Laird

    Gene, a couple of observations on your comment at 5:20 PM:

    1) That IRS data isn’t very reliable. It’s merely based on extrapolations and interpretations (based on the “Estate Multiplier technique”, whatever that is) drawn from Estate Tax returns. I wouldn’t put much stock in it. We don’t (yet) have a wealth tax in this country, so the IRS really has no good idea of our personal wealth, not even for the richest of us.

    2) Assuming that $4T figure is even close to accurate, it reflects current values in an orderly market. Were the government to seize it all and try to liquidate it, the actual prices of those assets would plummet (as, in fact, would the values of everyone else’s assets, too). After all, who are you going to sell all those mansions and yachts to except other wealthy individuals? But there are none, since you’ve stolen all their wealth, too. (Of course, the reality is that if such a thing were ever to happen here they’d be “selling” those assets to the politicians and politically-connected, at bargain-basement prices. And that wouldn’t help the deficit one bit, but at that point I don’t think anyone would much care.)

  • Gene

    Thanks Laird, I appreciate your comments. And re your second point, I do recognize that the very act of seizure would create effects that would change the world into something very, very different.

    I think of my point as a thought experiment that could do its part to derail many “soak the rich” arguments.

    When you say you wouldn’t put stock in that data, may I assume you think those figures are certainly too low as opposed to too high?

  • Phil B

    Bill Whittle made a rebuttal to Hillary’s “soak the rich” theme (link HERE). IF his figures are correct then he stated that the top 1% paid 45% of the tax take and the bottom 35% paid nothing.

    To put it in figures, suppose that there were 100 people in the USA and the Government required $100 in tax. Then:

    1 person would pay $45

    The remaining 64 taxpayers would pay $55 between them or slightly under 86 cents.

    Put in figures like that, then yeah, those rich 1% are surely not paying enough …

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Phil B. – both “the rich” and “Big Business” are generally very HIGHLY taxed in the United States (and in such States as California on top of Federal taxes). However, the population is fed a Hollywood film view of the world – as much by the education system (the schools and universities) as the entertainment and other media. People are taught that “the rich” and “Big Business” do not pay their “fair share”.

    The public are also taught that most government spending is on “Corporate Welfare” (in reality about 1% of it is – if that) and “the military” (in reality a tiny fraction of the budget – and in decline for some 60 years) Both the left and some of the “right” (including many of our libertarian brothers and sisters) go along with these myths – because the truth, that most poor people pay little or nothing in Federal taxes and get lots of Federal benefits and “public services”, is not flattering to the public.

    What can be done to counter the brainwashing that has given the public a view of reality that is not just wrong but is actually the reverse of the truth? I do not know what can be done – I wish I did know, but I do not know.

    As for the left on culture……

    It is simple – the left (the people who control the media and the education system) hate WESTERN culture, which they call “capitalism”. All the policies of the left are designed to destroy WESTERN culture.

  • Paul Marks

    “Paul free market people are not to blame in all this” – YES SOME OF THEM ARE.

    The “television station that does not matter” (Mr Putin’s RT) – I have just turned off DAVID STOCKMAN (Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director) who was talking on Max Keiser’s show. Why did I turn off Mr Stockman? Who is so “respected” and “well respected”?

    “30 years of war”, “the warfare state”, “the military industrial complex” “NATO not necessary”, “Imperial City”, “redistribution to the top 1%” – all against the actual truth of an American military that has been in DECLINE for many decades. It is the America WELFARE State (not the “Warfare State”)) that is out of control but that is not what the young are being taught.

    Listening to David Stockman was like listening to Sean Gabb or Max Keiser – it is just vicious anti American lies, and ignoring of the actual issue (the out of control WELFARE State).

    And, no, talking about my misuse of “paragraphs” or other grammar, or saying “no one watches RT” is no answer to this.

    The young are being taught LIES – and not just by the left, but by many of our libertarian brothers and sisters as well.

  • Darin

    Paul Marks

    I have just turned off DAVID STOCKMAN (Ronald Reagan’s Budget Director)

    Paul Craig Roberts, and now David Stockman – why so many Reagan’s people turned to the dark side? 😈

  • Darin

    all against the actual truth of an American military that has been in DECLINE for many decades.

    US military budget is 37% of all world’s military spending, and 16% of federal budget. What exactly is US military missing? What shall be enough for you?


  • Snorri Godhi

    US military budget is 37% of all world’s military spending, and 16% of federal budget. What exactly is US military missing?

    You are neglecting 2nd order effects. People, even in government, respond to incentives. Right now, there is little incentive to spend on the military, because nobody can challenge the US directly; if the US cuts military spending, then the rest of the world will increase it (Obama has already provoked an increase), and then the US will have to spend at least 37% of the INCREASED total to intimidate rogue states.

    Anyway, Paul was talking about military spending relative to welfare spending, not relative to the rest of the world. Even if the US could afford to cut military spending, nothing would be gained by it: the savings would quickly be gobbled up by welfare spending, with no improvement in actual welfare.

  • Stephen Houghton

    Wow 16 percent of the federal budget, the number I found is even higher 21 percent. That sounds like a lot out of context but now consider the following, in the first year for which I found records 1794, the Federal government spent 68% of its budget on defense. Now consider defense spending in the following largely peacetime years.

    1800 55%
    1810 47%
    1820 53%
    1830 55%
    1840 54%
    1850 43%
    1860 37%
    1870 32%
    1880 36%
    1890 45%
    1900 53%
    1910 46%
    1920 69%
    1930 37%
    1940 21%
    1950 54%
    1960 55%
    1970 48%
    1980 28%
    1990 27%
    2000 20%
    2010 25%

    Ave 42.7%

    And that is (with the exception of 1970 & 2010) in peace time. Now let us look at war time years.

    1812 76%
    1862 90%
    1898 55%
    1918 92%
    1944 86%
    1951 60%
    1968 53%

    Ave 73%

    Now even if you believe that the US is at peace, the federal government is spending at HALF the normal peacetime rate or less than a THIRD of the war time rate as calculated above. How it that supposed to be reassuring? Also note that from 1945-1990 the United States had a huge reserve fleet of hundreds of Battleships, Aircraft Carriers, Cruisers, Destroyers, support ships etc. This fleet has now been scrapped and the navy has not replaced them with newer ships retired from service, choosing to scrap them as well. The ideas that we spend to much on defense spending is not supported by the facts.

  • Alisa

    It’s not that the US is not spending enough on the military (I have no idea what is enough), it’s that it spends too much on everything else. And yet, when the Left even mentions spending, it’s always about the spending on military – which is funny, because that is the only constitutionally legitimate spending.

  • Alisa

    that is the only constitutionally legitimate spending

    Should read ‘the only constitutionally legitimate spending of such proportion‘ – as there are some other provisions in the Constitution which are not cost-free, albeit insignificant compared to defense. Sorry about the sloppy thinking.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Really, the sin of Progressives isn’t that they have crank theories, or even crank facts, it’s that they argue like children; conclusion first, then reasons to fit, and if that doesn’t carry the day, a lot of whining.

    All those children back in the ’50s, whose parents were so proud of their Sunday School attendance, never escaped from the world of Sunday School morality.

    Hey, this edit function is great! 🙂 But the smilies need to be incorporated into the edit box, too.

  • Snorri Godhi, October 4, 2016 at 2:40 pm: “US military budget is 37% of all world’s military spending”

    Kim pays his soldiers rather less than the US does. The same goes for the Chinese, the Russians – in fact, for pretty well everyone. At the high-tech end, this percentage spend may FAIK resemble its percentage of the world’s military power. At the low tech end – infantry, say – the US does not have 37% of the world’s military potential.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Stephen Houghton:

    1900: The Philippine Insurrection, and other follow-up to the Spanish-American War.

    1920: Follow-up to WW I. For various reasons, including politics, a lot of the wartime procurement kept running after the Armistice. I happen to know that the big wartime naval construction program ran on for two years. The U.S. Navy built so many destroyers in 1918-1920 that they didn’t build any for the next fourteen years.

    1950: Korean War (started end of June)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall Kilmartin
    October 3, 2016 at 1:01 pm,

    Thanks for the points about nomads and property, and in particular about the American Indians and their various understandings of and attitudes toward property.

    I wish there could be generally more common-sensical attitudes on the part of the various parties who debate, or at least give forth, upon the topic.