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

[Sweden] appear[s] to have stumbled on the concept that a low-tech economy in which consumers have fewer choices produces fewer greenhouse gases. Now they want to move to such an economy, which is in the precise opposite direction everyone else is moving. We have the developed world. We also have the developing world. Sweden wants to kick-start the undeveloping world.

Tim Newman

23 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • William H. Stoddard

    I’m remembering the character in Atlas Shrugged who says, “Well, I guess this is the anti-industrial revolution.”

    I suppose it would be too much to hope that Sweden’s move to lower tech will result in their withdrawing from the Internet.

  • Veryretired

    Good for Sweden!

    I hope they go for it with a true burning passion to successfully return to the 18th century before all this Ishey technology and medicine and electricity and stuff made the earth such a terrible place to live.

    That is, after all, the logical conclusion to the observance of all the climate and evil technology alarmism.

    They say it—let them live it.

  • CaptDMO

    I’m sure it will work out fine. As LONG as they
    eliminate HALF of their centralized population.
    I can only hope for a “reverse” in technology, back to a Saab 900 (turbo), or even something with a manual choke.

  • Kevin B

    But this is the whole point of environmentalism in general and the Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming scare in particular.

    If you go back to the beginings of the CAGW scare you will find that the political drivers were all members of or believers in the Club of Rome nonsense, as well as avid followers of the failed prophet Ehrlich.

    Maurice Strong who set up the Rio Earth Summit, Crispin Tickell who advised Magaret Thatcher, John Holdren in the US, Schellenhuber in Germany, (who is currently advising the Pope); all of them are big believers in the idea that we are raapidly running out of resources, (we’re not), and that the Earth is grossly over-populated, (it’s not), and that human beings are a plague on our lovely planet and should be severely culled if not totally extirpated. Nice people.

    They seized on CAGW as a way to de-industrialize the developed world and to prevent the undeveloped world from developing and they had, (have), sufficient fellow travellers and useful idiots in governments and public services to actually implement their plan. It appears that Sweden is taking a big step along that route but the reest of Europe will soon follow.

    It is of course a religious belief system in which the planet, Gaia, is placed above humanity and people need to be managed by the priesthood in case they make a mess and is in direct opposition to the previous belief system under which man was placed above the planet, (and people needed to be managed by the priesthood in case they make a mess.)

  • bobby b

    If Swedes want to shrink their carbon footprint, they all need to move south about 1000 miles.

    Look at their energy requirements just for baseline living:
    – heating their homes and businesses
    – plowing and deicing their roads
    – building roads far more sturdily than everywhere else due to frost heave, which takes lots of petro-products)
    – producing and distributing petrochem-based warm clothes
    – the significant loss of efficiency of motors and engines due to cold
    – the more-frequent replacement of vehicles necessitated in cold climates
    – the higher caloric input needed by both human and livestock bodies in cold weather
    – and the increase in volume of CO2-rich cattle farts due to the “harder” wheat and hay products used as feed in cold climates.

    There is simply no way you can live in a northern clime and not generate a relatively huge carbon footprint. If they have any actual concern about global warming, they all need to move south.

    (As I type this in my snug Minnesota home, it’s 25 degrees (F) and snowing. We pray for global warming here. Sadly, it’s crap.)

  • NickM

    Well, the grossest lie as Kevin B points out is overpopulation. Almost all the projections point to population stabilizing at 10-11 billion and these are oddly accurate in the Enrico Fermi sense.

    It is “religious” as well and that is the problem. The population thing is just one of the “noble lies” these philosopher kings have as an article of faith. As such it is inviolable in much the same way as offering a Rabbi a pork pie is pointless.

    It constantly amazes me that Green as a “religion” has any traction in the UK. We are a totally artificial country. Take the “unspoilt” Lake District. Did Gaia build those dry stone walls? Fucking poets.

  • Thailover

    It seems that Sweden is on a suicide mission. All the best too them. Good luck on that endeavor. They’ve been too happy, too stagnant, too apathetic, too uninvolved, too blonde and too beautiful for their liking. Time to pay penitence by arranging to be raped into the stone age by drooling savages. What’s it like to feel so much “white guilt” over one’s largess that one arranges for ones daughters to be violently raped by gangs of brutal foreign savage street thugs and then to lie to oneself to assuage one’s guilt?

    I can honestly say I don’t know.

    As far as world “over”-population, simple math tells us that the entire world population of humans on earth can fit into a landmass the size of Texas and have LESS population density than modern-day New York City.

    We are not overpopulating the earth, but it’s easy for most people to think we are, because most people are bumping shoulders with other most people. Duh. It’s called localized pockets of dense population. That’s the sort of fallacy that arises when WE are the data points. Consider the colleges that boast that most classes are smaller than 20 students, but most students end up finding themselves in mega-classes of 100 students or larger. Thats because most students find themselves occupying classes occupied by and comprised of…most students.

    In truth, the earth has huge mountain ranges, vast plains and innumerable forests full of “nothing”, nada, nobody. Cities are, relatively speaking, efficient. But if you’re concerned with there being too many people, then perhaps cities are not your cup of tea, nor are they average or typical representative samples of the earth’s surface and man’s place on it.

    “Global warming” is GOOD, whether man is playing a significant part or not. Warmer is good. We are, after all, still coming out of the last Ice Age. These same genius climatologists tell us that for most of earth’s history there were no ice caps. Ice caps are an ice age anomaly.

    GREEN plants are loving the fact that atmospheric CO2 is becoming LESS of a trace gas. It’s currently about 4/100 of 1%. The poor green plants have been gasping to breathe a gas that’s almost not there at all. Warmer is better. And any graduated weather student (that hasn’t been brainwashed…yet) can tell you that the warming of the planet will lessen the temperature difference between the poles and equator, resulting in LESS tropical storms, not more.

    What will REALLY happen is that the planet will become greener with “happier” green plants, northern USA and southern Canada and more land in Russia and China will be more suitable for farming for a growing population.

    In fact, THIS IS ALREADY HAPPENING (Matt Ridley on youtube).

    There seems to be a self-loathing aspect of the human psyche that wants to scream that the end is nigh, as things tend to get better and better whilst we tend to think that “modern times” are getting worse and worse. The tremendous drop in world poverty over the past decade is one example of this. The fact is, one must become more acutely aware of a problem before one can solve it. Becoming more acutely aware of a problem doesn’t mean that there’s more of it than in the past, just as the advent of the internet made us more aware of international problems than was broadcast by Walter Cronkite.

  • Thailover

    William H. Stoddard,
    Ayn Rand said that in her view, mankind is a hero, human endeavor and productivity is a rational goal and a necessary aspect of life itself, and that those who suggest that human life should be viewed as an agony and that suffering is proper, are wrong-minded.

    For this she was rewarded by people HATING her, misrepresenting her ample works, and calling her a Nazi.

    I suspect that what her detractors (mostly the Left) REALLY hate about Rand is that she IDENTIFIED them, exposing them and their motives to the world.

    In light of this just past election, Rand’s views and observations could not be more relevant and contemporaneous.

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Be careful, everyone.

    I suspect people elsewhere are watching Sweden’s experiment with interest, not only as a possible way of saving the environment, but also as a way of saving jobs. Much as I hate to say it, it looks like high-tech is creating unemployment. Frequently, a factory closes somewhere, with the loss of thousands of jobs and, in its place, comes a high-tech company employing perhaps a dozen.

    Donald Trump talks of getting manufacturing to return to the United States but, even if he succeeds, how many jobs for people is that going to create, versus how many jobs for industrial robots? One solution might be for governments to ban certain technologies perceived to be job-destroying, as well as implement policies to use up excess labour. Presumably this would have to be co-ordinated internationally, with treaties, similar to those for arms control and for similar reasons – to ensure no nation cheats and gains an unfair advantage.

  • NickM

    Ah, the Swedes,
    So, lovely and rational and humanitarian. There was a Swedish lad in my class at school always extolling the virtues of neutral, nice, humanist Sweden compared to Thatcher’s Britain.

    Yes, Sweden! During WWII they were big exporters of stuff like ball-bearings to the NAZIs*. Yes, the Sweden of Raul Wallenberg also had a list of all Jews “just in case” because they thought Hitler would appreciate it and go easier on them if he decided the Third Reich needed flatpack furniture for it’s Lebensraum. But why be surprised? They were forcibly sterilising the “mentally defective” into the ’70s.

    I told all this to Jesper and he couldn’t/wouldn’t believe it. But then he was a world-class pissweasel and his brian (yes, “brian”) had clearly been addled with porn and saunas. He started it. He accussed me of being a “colonialist” because I was conceived in Zambia! I was but “The White Man’s Burden” starting in utero is really pushing it. Anyway my parents were teaching there courtesy of the FCO aid program and not whipping slaves on a plantation.

    Jesper went on to Hull University where he studied… Swedish. Yes, he did a language degree in his own native tongue. At Hull. And he got a Geoff.

    I’m not going to pretend to tell Samizdata how to run things but… if I’d posted this excellent quote from Tim I’d have included this video…


    *Without which nothing goes. The USAAF in particular expended much blood and treasure taking out German ball-bearing factories and damn near did it but dear, lovely Sweden kept Hitler rolling.

  • Thailover

    Schrodinger’s Dog,
    High Tech isn’t causing unemployment, rather gov regulations and restrictions (and the Dole) are. Technology causes greatly increased productivity per cost overhead, which results in lower prices and more jobs in below-the-line totals. It results in an increase in a nation’s Total Economic Surplus. If an increase in technological levels put a nation in the poor house, then modernity itself would make a nation poorer, not richer. It’s simply a fact that the USA today has more real wealth than existed in the entire planet just a few centuries ago, and it’s NOT from hunting and gathering natural resources. It’s from taking a few cents worth of raw materials, adding brilliance and know-how and creating a smartphone worth upwards of $300.00-$600.00

    Here’s a quick example. Let’s say that Obama bans the use of backhoes, resulting in “20 more jobs per banned backhoe” of men with hand shovels. However, this causes labor costs of construction to increase dramatically and slows the rate of construction, resulting in less construction contracts and most of these manual diggers are laid off. Now lets pretend that Obama is actually capable of learning from his mistakes and lifts the ban, resulting in more affordable contracts, more contracts being made, and those 20 men can find construction jobs in the construction boom…but doing something other than digging holes by hand. The technology of backhoes and the technology of computer check-out machines in grocery stores, say, occupy the same argument.

    The Luddite Fallacy is indeed a true fallacy.

  • bobby b

    “Presumably this would have to be co-ordinated internationally, with treaties, similar to those for arms control and for similar reasons – to ensure no nation cheats and gains an unfair advantage.”

    Cool. They could call it – let’s see – maybe the Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule.

  • CaptDMO

    Ooooo…industrial robots!
    Oh sure, I can live without a gas/electric stove, microwave oven, dish washer, clothes washer/drier, water pump.
    Security in partnership? Procreation?
    Sure, but guess what your job ALSO entails sweetie.
    Be SURE to check the firewood for bugs, BEFORE you bring it inside to maintain the cauldron fire, and clean those diapers with “the laundry rocks”.
    NO? OK, I heard Pajama Boy is “looking”. Oh, he’s pretty good with poetry and flower arrangement, but not much of a hunter/blacksmith/carpenter/tinkerer/wheelwright/violent”honor”defender.
    Oh sure, you can be a whore, but you better be a GOOD one. The competition is pretty tough among THOSE boys and girls!

  • Greg

    At first, I misread the opening quote of the article, thinking they were talking about consumers doing (at least some of) the repairs. This sounded like moving to “Reduce. Reuse. Repair. Recycle”, something my grandmother knew and understood. It wasn’t “green” back then, it was just common sense for someone who’d lived through the Depression.

    Getting more folks to do repairs, even if it only extends the useful life of something 10%, would be good. Even if the economic impact is minimal, it’s a good life skill and perspective on the use of things (be a good steward). Of course, it’s not clear any government can do anything to achieve it, other than maybe include basic mechanical skills (“shop classes”) in primary education. Grandfathers and grandmothers could teach their grandkids (not clear that today’s parents have much skill to pass on) at least a little of this.

    Things used to be easier to repair and most people had tools and knowledge about how to make simple repairs. Teaching our kids which end of a wrench does what or that screwdrivers come in “+” and “-” versions would be a nice step toward adding the “repair’ “R” to the other three “Rs”. There used to be trade schools in the US (my high school had students take four shop classes in their first two years; we learn machining, sheet metal fabrication, electronics, fluid power, welding, etc.). All gone.

    As for over-crowding, it’s probably true that based on NYC population density, the entire planet’s inhabitants could “fit” into Texas [“fit” in quotes because I don’t think they could live happily like that!, just a physical calculation based on 1m^2 per person or somesuch], but how much more land is needed to feed, clothe, shelter, entertain, etc them? That would be an interesting calculation which I’m sure Thailover understands. I’m sure it doesn’t change the answer; there’s plenty of room for more people, especially if the Earth does warm up as others here pointed out, correctly I think.

  • Stonyground

    Surely if Sweden is serious about this and actually goes through with it, then other countries looking on will quickly know what a stupid idea it is as the inevitable train crash unfolds.

    As an aside, I really love my old Saab 93 estate, 120,000 miles and counting.

  • Presumably this would have to be co-ordinated internationally, with treaties

    You have clearly missed your calling as a stand-up comedian 😆

  • Runcie Balspune

    Isn’t Sweden busy importing a medieval culture? It seems appropriate it should have the tech to match.

  • Chester Draws

    I don’t think one bad economic policy is quite the same as deindustrialization. Calm down!

    One thing the Swedes are good at is changing course. They avoided the doubling down on the socialism that sank Venezuela. They’ll try it in good faith, then scrap it when it doesn’t work.

    I, myself, am far more worried by anti-free-trade politicians. Their shenanigans are hard to undo.

  • Paul Marks

    Well I can remember when shoe repairers and so on were common in Britain (and I am not that old) – what changed was not “we became a richer country”, it was just that leather soles and heals became less common (there are still two shoe repairers in Kettering – but they are both shops rather than men in private houses). But other repairs still make more sense – or such things as lawn mowers are so badly built(and badly DESIGNED) now they normally do not work for very long at all – and are essentially unrepairable, because they are so badly designed (structurally weak). But other things can be repaired.

    However, a “tax break” will not work for simple repairs. If someone has to “register for VAT” (and fill in all those forms and so on) it really is not worth doing – too bureaucratic. What should be done is to END VAT on repairs – including HOUSE repairs. It is absurd (utterly absurd) to force people to pay VAT on house repairs – thus pushing endless new houses (with decaying unrepaired houses near by).

    “But Paul this all part of Sweden’s evil Social Justice Warrior ideology – trying to turn the place into a Third World country” – that may well be so, but lower taxes are lowers taxes and I welcome lower taxes.

  • Paul Marks

    Of course many people who are interested in repairing things never do “register for VAT” and so on – but they are committing a “criminal offence”.

    So if Sweden really wants to make repairing what it is sensible to repair common – they need to END taxation of repairs, not “reduce the tax” END the tax or repairs.

    That is the way to end the “Black Economy” as well. Instead the Swedish elite wants to “end cash” – the opposite of going back, they want to go “forward” to a Science Fiction distopia (a high tech totalitarian state – with “Federation Credits” and so on).

  • the other rob

    I’ll just mention “Stand on Zanzibar”, because somebody should. 😀

    That aside, I already repair thinks like valve (tube) amps and radios. But even though the most common failure mode of a modern TV involves one or two bad capacitors costing under $1, it’s not worth fixing them because they are designed to be so difficult to get in to that the cost in time is more than the cost of a new TV.

  • Derek Buxtont

    Yes, I could get along if repairs on anything did not have 20% for Brussels added on. It is a major problem, as one gets older household appliances also get older and need replacing. But then having found a replacement at an affordable price it is killed for many people by the extra VAT.

  • Runcie Balspune

    The whole principle of repair not replace is flawed, because of the basic economics. It might be good in some cases (say a car) not not in others (say a coathanger).

    There must be a point where making an item modular so parts can be repaired is less efficient than making it complete and easily replaceable, this is probably a mixture of how often the part fails and the manufacturing costs (in terms of energy and materials). There is a sliding scale within this where even though an item can be made repairable, the actual part that is replaced could be quite large. I had a Dyson vacuum cleaner repaired once because a small spindle had broken off at the base, the engineer replaced the entire plastic part (having a new spindle) but it constituted a good 25% of the entire device, obviously lots of bit remains (motor, etc) but there must be a point where that plastic part cannot be made smaller (and it could be quite big).

    The real answer is to move to having 3D printers (a.k.a. replicator machines) and manufacturing spares in the home, the modularity and “repairability” would probably require a balance between size, durability, ease of replacement, and economy (energy and materials) and the best designs would win out. However, you’ll never reach replicator technology by dumbing down your existing industry.

    consumers have fewer choices

    This is the money quote, that shows what is quintessential of most socialist societies, the reason we have 20 types/brands of the same item is because we have 20 or more people with 20+ difference ideas. Restricting choice is a simple way of forcing people to conform to one choice, i.e. the one decided by whoever is in charge, i.e. stamping your authority.