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

What is funny is to watch the media try to interpret [Trump] through their prism of politics. It is like trying to understand the workings of a nuclear reactor through the prism of deconstructionist feminist semiotics.

Fraser Orr

29 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • RRS

    Great! Though it does seem more a kaleidoscope than a prism.

  • Jacob

    The Media (the lefties) isn’t wrong (we hope).
    They sense, and are afraid, that Trump is going to overturn and reverse every policy that they cherish and support. It is well possible that their interpretation of Trump is correct. Let’s hope so.

  • CaptDMO

    Once upon a time, five blind “experts” came upon an elephant….
    “Well, that’s what I would do…”
    “Nobody I know says they voted for that…”
    And of course,
    “We have to pass it, just to see what’s IN it…”

  • Runcie Balspune

    The surprising thing about Trump, and what many on the liberal left and common mass media cannot grasp, is that he is anti-establishment in a different way than they have come to expect, and one they should actually admire, in that he is not a career politician that has been living in the bubble of government, but rather an outsider who was dabbled around the edges of the ruling classes, who has finally given the clique a swift kick up the backside.

    In that sense he is closer to ordinary people despite having vast inherited wealth, and having money that was earned through work and risk rather than an equally extortionate fortune amassed though dubious backhanders via largess, Trump still fits the “American dream” model better than any of the Democrat nominees despite his flaws, corruption, behavior and disposition, and that plays well in his favour.

    The consistent complaint about modern politics is that the establishment are out of touch, and here is a man who demonstrates what many would feel are sentiments that chime well with popular attitudes rather than endless castigation by those who think they know better. He has stolen the “populist” title from the left, who are now considered the elite and cast scorn on the ordinary voter.

  • NickM

    I had a girlfriend who was a very liberal American. She majored in English at Cornell. She was something in Latin in it. She showed me an essay in which she coined the term “feacal dialectics”. I have no idea. Neither did the tutor nor my girlf – got an A so who cares? I just did astrofizz.

  • “Feacal dialectics” is when you have to judge the aesthetics of a post-curry poop vs. a post-steak-with-foie-gras poop. Simples. Can I has A+?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    Perry de Havilland (London)
    December 9, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    “Feacal dialectics” is when you have to judge the aesthetics of a post-curry poop vs. a post-steak-with-foie-gras poop. Simples. Can I has A+?

    You can have an A-; foie gras is not eaten at Cornell. :mrgreen:

  • NickM

    She was a vegetarian.

    Oddly enough I introduced her to Borges who I regard (with JRRT) as the finest writer of the C20th.

    Here is something about the Utterly Brilliant Argentine.

  • Thailover

    “…workings of a nuclear reactor through the prism of deconstructionist feminist semiotics.”

    Well, that’s a bit more convoluted that I would have put it, but…yeah.

  • Thailover

    NickM wrote,
    “feacal dialectics”

    Maybe you’re referring to Diuretics, by L. Ron Nutjob.

  • RRS

    Runcie says:

    The consistent complaint about modern politics is that the establishment are out of touch,

    “Establishment” (in politics and “government-speak”) is the word for oligarchies.

    There once (even during the early part of my adulthood) was an “Elite” from which the predominant members of those oligarchies were drawn. By the late 1980s (approximately) those “Elites,” were displaced, or exhausted and their predominance in the oligarchies was in decline resulting in the substitution of political functionaries (career politicians) as predominant in the oligarchies (of parties and states). For the past 30 years or so, those now predominant in the oligarchies, have been trying, through processes of “self-anointment,” to raise themselves to elite status, reversing what had been the natural course of “social selection.”

    It seems likely we are observing a wide-scale sense throughout the populations (U.S., UK, and elsewhere) of those political units* based on delegated authority that the oligarchies directing the delegated authorities are deficient (in some case fake and false) and have been (and are) the source of much of the economic and social distress of those societies; those deficiencies are sensed as rooted in the sources and aspirations of the memberships in the oligarchies.

    The tendencies to frame what is transpiring within certain past labels of public actions: “populism,” “nationalism,” and other euphemisms (none clearly defined) avoids history which has brought us here, and from which we might very well learn some useful things.

    often mistakenly called “representative” government

  • Thailover

    One of the things I’m lovin’ about Trump right now (other than Goddess Ivanka) is that he’s finding people brilliant at hating X government department…and puts them in charge of it.

    “He has stolen the “populist” title from the left, who are now considered the elite and cast scorn on the ordinary voter.”

    That reminds me of Britain after the Battle of Hastings, Bill the Conqueror, (aka Bill the Bastard, lol) and all that…the french “ruling class” ruled the Anglo-Saxon descended English speaking “commoners”. The English asked ‘what are these French fucks doing ruling us?’ (Bloodlines was supposed to mean something in those days). So, as a means of propaganda, some guy was paid to assemble all the King Arthur legends, write and exaggerate the stories and play them up big. The French then said that some of the native Celts fled to the Northern Country (“North men” = Normans, i.e. Normandy) fleeing from the attacking Angles & Saxons. And of course this Celtic warrior king hero who united the Britons and shoved off the invaders for a bit (the invaders who became the English) was Arthur. So the French claimed that THEY are the descended true natives of England, descendents of King Arthur, and have the blood right to rule it, and the commoners were the ones who didn’t belong there. As you say in comparison, “cast scorn on the ordinary voter”.

  • Thailover

    I heard that Nancy Pelosi was out, celebrating (with other fellow mummies) the fact that she’s remaining the minority leader of the house of reps, when she came across something she didn’t quite recognizes as food. It could have been food, or poison or explosives, or elephant droppings. She forced herself to swallow the whole thing, saying that she needs to pass it in order to find out what’s in it.

  • CaptDMO

    Kind of a long row to hoe.
    In the US….we have an “affordable” (cheep) burger franchise called Whataburger that I first discovered in a Mexican neighborhood in Texas.
    “Ms. Pelosi picked up a Jalapeno cheeseburger and said…”

    Let me tell ya, in my personal experience, Americans know that one of THOSE will
    1. Give you a harsh boost for the final push to get home.
    2. Wake anybody RIGHT up after the next morning’s assured constitutional.
    In fairness: Damn they’re good. (at 3 AM)

  • bloke in spain

    I’d say the defining thing about Trump is that he’s not in the slightest way an intellectual. Although I’ve no doubt if he needed one, he’d rent one by the hour. They’re pretty cheap. Vast oversupply in the market.

  • llamas

    Like Thailover, I’m liking Trump’s ‘devil’s advocate’ approach to his cabinet – appointing people with a known history of disliking the agency they are to head.

    A large part of the DC ‘swamp’ problem is entrenched agencies that have vastly exceeded their original purpose and have in many cases become unelected arms of the legislature. USDA, Commerce, HUD, Education, EPA, Labor and like that. They all need highly-critical heads to pare them back a lot. Trump will earn mucho points with me the day he announces the termination of one of these leviathans. I’d start with Agriculture.



  • Alisa

    I’d start with Education.

  • Kevin B

    If this 74 question memo, (as discussed by Willis at WUWT), sent by Trump’s transition team to the Department of Energy is anything to go by, a lot of Government Departments are in for a rude awakening.

    Of course the kicking and screaming has already started but here’s hoping the Trump team stick to their guns.

  • Paul Marks

    There may be some deregulation (regulations that send production to China do NOT help the world environment – so the new head of EPA is a good choice, but-see-later-on-in-this-comment) and some reduction in tax rates.

    However, Mr Trump is not going to reduce government spending and he has a Progressive Pragmatist faith in “new management” (it never occurs to him to get rid of any government departments – just put new people at the top).

    The United States of America is still on course for bankruptcy – de facto if not legal bankruptcy.

    Mr Trump does not deserve the blame – he is no worse than any other President in my lifetime, indeed he is less bad than most of them. But he is likely to get the blame – as will “the right” generally.

    And that means us to folks – we will get the blame. The establishment elite collectivists left will blame “laissez faire” – just as they did in 1929 and then the 1930s. The establishment elite collectivists will be lying (just as they did in the “low dishonest 30s”) – but lying tends to work for them.

  • Laird

    Thailover, I am so stealing that!

  • NickM

    China as environmental saviour! They make wind turbines you know! Why? They are the only country in the world with the tech and the lax environmental laws to refine some of the very toxic metals involved. Of course we could go nuclear…

  • rxc

    “…workings of a nuclear reactor through the prism of deconstructionist feminist semiotics.”

    There are actually people working on this sort of thing. They want to change the STEM curricula(?) to make them more relevant to women and people of color. I don’t have the link, but one of our esteemed universities has recently awarded a PhD in education to a women for her thesis on this subject. She claims that the current curricula are too male centered, and that women and people of color cannot relate to them or understand them, which is why there are few engineers. I haven’t seen any example of how this principle would apply to the design of a bridge or an airplane, but I imagine that a computer built on the logic principles of feminism would work quite differently from one done by tradiitonal engineers.

  • Bod

    Feminist javascript ….

    do {
    {var T = 1/0;}
    {console.log(“misogynist cis-het shitlord! I bathe in your salty tears!”);}
    {console.log(“that’s not funny!”);}
    } while (true);

  • PersonFromPorlock

    December 10, 2016 at 3:32 am

    Maybe you’re referring to Diuretics, by L. Ron Nutjob.

    Ably (and very enjoyably) burlesqued by L. Sprague deCamp in “The Pixilated Peeress”.

  • Julie near Chicago

    It seems to me the “populists” and the “elites” are necessarily inimical.

    I take “populism” to be the position that “what most ‘everyday’ or ‘average Joe’ people want is what should be done,” and since the “elites” are by definition not Average Joes nor Everyday People, the populist is not in favor of giving power to them. Furthermore, the populist is deeply suspicious of the morals, aims, and agendas of the elite.

    Likewise, the Elites know (or pretend to themselves) that they are “better,” being richer, better educated, smarter, of higher social status, or of a more distinguished lineage than mere mortals, er, Everyday People. It follows at once that they should rule (just as the populist suspects). Furthermore, just as one might have a real friendship with a mildly retarded person without respecting him as one would a real human possessed of a properly functioning mentality, so one might even admire a particular non-Elite person, without granting him the respect due a person who is clearly superior in some important way.

    (I hope it goes without saying that a person can be generally inclined to a populist view as above, and still love and honor a particular person whom he nevertheless considers to be among the “elite.” And vice-versa, of course.)

    Please note that I don’t claim that my descriptions of the two types are correct; still less, definitive. But it seems to me that those are the attitudes common within each of the two types.

    Then again, I’ve been known to add 2 and 2 and get 37 5/8, although if you say I said so I’ll call you a liar to your face. ;>)

  • Paul Marks

    Julie – as you know “Populist” has a pretty clear historical meaning. Trying to get the votes of “the poor” by blaming “the rich” and “big business” for everything.

    Weirdly the elites now play the Populist game – Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both did this shamelessly.

    Telling the truth – telling the people that most government spending does NOT go to “rich special interests”, it goes to “the masses” giving them stuff that can not possibly be afforded over time.

  • Julie near Chicago

    I just came across a piece by Myron Magnet, from this past Spring, entitled “The End of Democracy in America,” in which he applies de Tocqueville’s observations to the present state of affairs here. It seems to me that he might well have said “populism” rather than “majoritarianism” in opposition to Elitism, which is why I quote from and link to the article; toward the end, he moves away from that distinction to focus on the evils of Agency Government and what is in fact governmental compulsion of individuals’ conduct.

    For instance, from the article, quoting de Tocqueville:

    ‘That same majoritarian tyranny explains why America’s elected officials are so mediocre. To win votes, they have to flatter public opinion with the obsequiousness of Louis XIV’s most sycophantic courtiers. Andrew Jackson is Tocqueville’s Exhibit A. He “is the slave of the majority,” Tocqueville sneers…. “'[Snip]

    Magnet continues:

    However, the modest scrap of elitism that remains in America does the country much good, Tocqueville judges. By contrast with the House of Representatives, where you see local lawyers or businessmen “of vulgar appearance”—or even Tennessee congressman “David Crockett, who had received no education, could read only with difficulty,” and “spent his time hunting, selling his game for a living, and spending his whole life in the woods”—the Senate throngs with “eloquent attorneys, distinguished generals, clever magistrates, and well-known statesmen. Every word uttered in this assembly would do honor to Europe’s greatest parliamentary debates.” Why the difference? The people directly elect their congressmen, while the popularly elected state legislatures elect the senators, a two-step process that refines and ennobles the choice and that Tocqueville recommends for democracies everywhere.


    He liked America’s administrative decentralization—in the 1830s, there were only 12,000-odd U.S. officials, as against France’s 138,000—for its political and cultural effects…. Matters are different today, now that the federal government has more than 2.7 million employees….


    As happened in France, a gigantic modern state grew up inside the shell of America’s Founding-era institutions, with few Americans even noticing and most unaware of the magnitude of the revolution even today. We created a giant administrative regime, just as Tocqueville feared….


    Mr Magnet proceeds with a generous roundhouse to the Agency/Expert view of government espoused by Wilson, FDR, and many other Usual Suspects. The result:

    And today’s sovereign does force men to act as well as suppressing action, so that nuns must provide their employees with birth control that their religion holds to be sinful, bakers must make cakes celebrating homosexual marriages that their religious beliefs abominate, private colleges must regulate their students’ sex lives, banks must lend to deadbeats. The immense tutelary power has turned private charities into government contractors, so that Catholic Charities or Jewish Social Services are neither Catholic nor Jewish—though most public welfare comes direct from the state, from babies’ milk to old people’s health care and pensions, for which only a minority has paid.


    Such oppression is “less degrading” in democracies because, since the citizens elect the sovereign, “each citizen, hobbled and reduced to impotence though he may be, can still imagine that in obeying he is only submitting to himself.” Moreover, democratic citizens love equality more than liberty, and the love of equality grows as equality itself expands. Don’t let him have or be more than me. “The only necessary condition for centralizing public power in a democratic society is to love equality or to make a show of loving it. Thus the science of despotism,” Tocqueville despairingly concluded, “can be reduced . . . to a single principle.”

    But, wonders Tocqueville, is this what human life is for?



  • Julie near Chicago

    I hope it goes without saying that, while far from being a populist, I do not join in looking down on the likes of Davy Crockett….