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 post-terror cultivation of passivity speaks to a profound crisis of – and fear of – the active citizen. It diminishes us as citizens to reduce us to hashtaggers and candle-holders in the wake of serious, disorientating acts of violence against our society. It decommissions the hard thinking and deep feeling citizens ought to pursue after terror attacks. Indeed, in some ways this official post-terror narrative is the unwitting cousin of the terror attack itself. Where terrorism pursues a war of attrition against our social fabric, seeking to rip away bit by bit our confidence and openness and sense of ourselves as free citizens, officialdom and the media diminish our individuality and our social role, through instructing us on what we may feel and think and say about national atrocities and discouraging us from taking responsibility for confronting these atrocities and the ideological and violent rot behind them. The terrorist seeks to weaken our resolve, the powers-that-be want to sedate our emotions, retire our anger, reduce us to wet-eyed performers in their post-terror play. It’s a dual assault on the individual and society.

Brendan O’Neill

39 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • bobby b

    Already there are calls to label that essay as hate speech.

    I hope Mr. O’Neill is discreet in his habits and living arrangements. The Religion Of Peace brooks no such disrespect.

    My understanding is that Spiked rose from the bankruptcy ashes of its predecessor magazine “Living Marxism” in 2000. Does this make O’Neill a Libertarian Marxist?

  • rxc

    Unity of victimhood.

  • George Atkisson

    A passive and emotionally stunted populace is much easier to rule. Our self anointed and frequently childless masters are aging and have no reason to look beyond their own lifespans of wealth, privilege and moral superiority. An angry and active response to terror and Islam would destroy them in the process.

    Europe is collapsing economically and demographically, taking Catholicism with it. So the Pope gives the new President of the only country which might help Europe to survive in a recognizable form, a written lecture on Cimate Change. After yet another murderous terrorist attack from an entity bent on the total destruction of the Church in any form. QED.

  • Alisa

    What an excellent piece.

  • The easiest decision for any (unbribed and unpressured) politician is to say “no”. Thus nothing significant happened here, and you shouldn’t say it did, because we aren’t going to do anything.

    Except, perhaps, investigate the people who say something did happen. Them, we’ll punish.

  • Cal Ford

    >Does this make O’Neill a Libertarian Marxist?

    Actually, that is pretty close to how O’Neill and his lot describe themselves (or how they used to). Although there hasn’t been anything very recognizably Marxist in any of their writings for a long time.

  • CaptDMO

    It seems the worst kept secret among “politicians” is “How can we reduce the rolls , now that we’ve legislated “free Stuff”, and “redistribution” to quell the contra-corruption riots”?
    Sending a good chunk of males, in the best shape to violently revolt, off to wars of attrition is the standby. “Allowing” the institutionalized to emigrate was a pretty good one Mr. Castro pulled off.
    The Vichy folks sure helped in elimination of undesirables in THEIR appeasement.
    I say “Make them afraid”….The Judicial, Executive, And legislative,… Sub Rosa of course.

  • Johnnydub

    Check this out:


    They’re bloody laughing at us.

  • staghounds

    One of these days, the Unitarians will murder the wrong child or old lady and it will be out of the politicians’ hands.

    The children of submarine captains and nuclear rocket operators go to concerts too.

  • bobby b

    “One of these days, the Unitarians will murder the wrong child or old lady and it will be out of the politicians’ hands.”

    The most likely outcome will be reprisals done by our armed forces while fighting/supervising in the ME.

    This is exactly what Daesh wants as a reaction to their acts. This will result in more anti-West young males in the ME, willing to fight and die for their god.

    This is why there is no middle-outcome reaction that can do any good between Islam and non-Islam. It will have to be all or nothing. A complete and impenetrable wall might delay things, once everyone is on their proper side of it, but Islam exists only to grow Islam, and we have the only remaining fertile fields.

  • Deep Lurker

    The cultivation of passivity has increased recently, but it has been there for a long time now. In the pre-9/11 days, the official line was “In the event of a hijacking, stay in your seats, with your hands folded in your laps, and wait for the Official Authorized Experts to deal with the situation.” Today, the elites mourn that they can no longer use this line, but they are still desperate to do anything – anything at all – that will let them avoid admitting that at least sometimes the best response to a hijacking attempt is for ordinary people to spontaneously rise up and apply violence to the hijackers.

    This is why (here in the US) we have the TSA. Its purpose is not to actually prevent further terrorist acts, nor is it’s purpose security theater. Instead, its purpose is to remove both the ability and the will of the ordinary person to resist hijackings (and by extension other terrorist acts). Because, in the minds of the elite, self-defense is the more serious crime. The terrorists are Aggrieved People who have a legitimate gripe, but the ordinary folk who would act to stop them are just nasty hateful barbarians. So if a terrorist slips through the official measures, well, that’s a security failure. Bad, but unavoidable. But if a terrorist slips through and is brought down by the passengers, that’s two security failures – an outcome even worse than if the terrorist succeeded.

  • the other rob

    I read the article this morning and agree that it’s very good. I don’t know O’Neill, but I knew one of his journos a decade or two ago, when Spiked was just getting started. I began by being mistrustful – LM, after all, but over time I became impressed by the quality of their work.

    I called the “dual assault” thing back in 2002 or thenabouts. I had received an email, inviting me to a briefing on the new DHS and how it would affect my dealings with the former USCS. At first, I took it for a spoof – “Homeland”, I thought, “Doesn’t that sound a bit German?”

    Sadly, it all turned out to be true. We had a few glorious years of freedom, I lamented, before they found a new bogey man to replace the USSR. Of course, at the time, I never imagined that Islamic terror would ever rise to be a threat on a par with the USSR.

    I was naive. I thought that the establishment would be content with a fictitious bogey man and never expected them to proactively elevate those losers* to an existential threat.

    * Nod to Pres DJT. I was a Cruz man but he, at least, seems to be making an effort at dealing with this shit.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    The governing classes will continue to wring their hands helplessly and encourage the teddybears-and-tealights response as long as Islamist atrocities affect only the ordinary taxpaying plebians. #OrdinaryLivesDon’tMatter

    The only thing that might change their minds and persuade them to re-evaluate their Islamophilia is if Islamists targeted them directly: for example, an attack resulting in a similar body-count of children at an exclusive school favoured by the governing classes such as Eton or Wetherby Prep.

  • Somehow I’m reminded of Cavafy’s brilliant poem “Waitng for the Barbarians”:


  • Roué le Jour

    First the injury and then the insult.

  • Julie near Chicago


    Yes. That’s been one of my favorite poems since I first read it, more than 50 years ago I think.

    And by the way, thanks mucho mucho for the link. :>))

  • Julie near Chicago

    As best I recall, Mr. Thompson or somebody tells Dagny that after all her predictions of doom [NOT Miss R.’s words!], everything is peachy, the world hasn’t come to an end after all, so they should worry [about their present course, against her statements of what should be done].

    She replies, “Because I saved you, you damn fools!”


    For some reason, when people say things like this:

    They found a new bogey man to replace the USSR.

    I think of Dagny’s reaction.

    Is there any possibility that the depredations of the USSR during the Cold War were no worse than they were partly because of such (mostly half-hearted) efforts as we were able to muster?


    Speaking of Miss R, she condemned the V-N partly on the grounds that the Soviets were too incompetent to be able to defeat us. I don’t think she understood that there needed to be a Big Dog to face off against the USSR. That was the good — the excellent — reason (as opposed to wrong reasons, which there certainly were) why we were in V-N. If we had met the challenge properly, and a lot sooner, we might have saved the Russians, the Chinese, the Cubans, the Vietnamese, and many more* a good deal of death and pain and grief over the years….

    The USSR was a real and terrible threat, not at all “a bogey-man,” whenever and wherever it went inadequately challenged. Military actions to provide “containment” were far from the only weapon against it, but they were a necessary weapon. (There’s an analogy here with unduly cautious cancer surgery.) And the U.S. and the South Vietnamese ARVN did win, militarily … and the U.S. abandoned V-N unnecessarily, against our sworn word of continued non-combat support, and history proceeded as it did.

    *Yes, the regimes had backing from the USSR.

    I do’t mean to fault rob.

  • bobby b

    Cavafy ends with this:

    “And now, what’s going to happen to us without barbarians?
    They were, those people, a kind of solution.”

    Our problem is more a surfeit of barbarians.

    Conservatives are the lefts’ barbarians.

    Muslims are the conservatives’ barbarians.

    Humorously enough, the left are truly the Muslims’ barbarians.

    It’s the Circle of Life. Or the Circle of Barbarians, I guess.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Heh … witty and apropos, though it’s not entirely funny-ha-ha.

    However, insofar as the Right (here, meaning the non-Left & non-librul) has its head on straight, I hope there’s agreement that the Left/librul bien-pensant crew are also Barbarians.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    A minor quibble, JnC. I think you will find that it was Hank Rearden who was talking to Mr. Thompson, and others, at a meeting to discuss the ‘current crisis’. (Crisis rhymes with Isis! Fancy that.) If you can’t remember every single line of ‘Atlas Shrugged’, then what sort of Objectivist are you?

  • spidly

    Someday we’ll find out that the things most offensive to Islam are candles in cups and teddy bears holding bouquets. They violently express their displeasure and are immediately mocked with these abominations.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oh lordy, massah NUJG, don’ embarrass li’l ol’ me in front of my Samizdatista friends! I’ve had Dagny saying that line for at least 50 years, but as it happens I just reread the magnum opus a few months ago, and I do believe I remember being surprised by exactly the fact you claim.

    …I GOTS to find those marbles! 😥


    One slight correction: I don’ be an O’ist, nor claim to be one. I tried for nearly 20 years, but I just couldn’t make the grade. It became clear to me, and it still is (whether anyone agrees with me or not), that there’s at least one major flaw in logic at the foundation of accepted versions of Objectivism.

    But I do consider myself a fellow-traveller, and though I have disagreements with her, I admire Miss R. very much for her work.

    Besides, she could conjugate the verb to shrink.

  • Laird

    Excellent article. Thanks for the link.

  • “Let him wallow in it. … Let him do anything except act. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

    C.S. Lewis.’The Screwtape letters’ (quoted from memory).

  • Fen Tiger

    I like the Cavafy, which I didn’t know: thanks for that.

    Auden’s The Fall of Rome is apposite.

  • pete

    Spiked obviously doesn’t want any outbursts of anger about Manchester on its own website as comments are closed on that article.

    That is very unusual for Spiked.

  • Alisa

    Pete, comments seem open to me.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall, an excellent and quite astute observation from Prof. Lewis. (Except, in the interest of accuracy, I’m not quite sure about the universal truth of “in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.” Sometimes with the passage of time the guilt, or shame, becomes worse.)

    Thank you.

  • Julie

    I have serious doubts about Miss R’s philosophy, but her ability to imagine truly foul bad guys was superb. Her experience in Lenin’s Russia gave her a nearly perfect insight into the mentality of her (and our) foes. For that we should be grateful

  • Julie near Chicago

    Taylor, the philosophy aside, I absolutely agree with you. Well said.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fen Tiger, the Auden is new to me; I agree, it is apposite. Very good, thanks.

  • Julie near Chicago (May 25, 2017 at 3:38 pm): “Sometimes with the passage of time the guilt, or shame, becomes worse.”

    That can indeed happen, but I think it represents a new thing entering the scenario. The ‘natural’ progression of the indolent feeling and the absent (or displacement) activity is to become more and more superficial, to feel less and less – to get used to it. Guilt and shame, if they ever come, come to fight this natural tendency. For those of us who can recall a time before – before we lost free speech, for example – there is always a chance we will recall it, that we will look at what we’ve become while remembering what we were, and be shocked. Long-term memories of the more distant past can confront recently-acquired habits of acceptance and compromise. But I think C.S. Lewis is right about the natural day-to-day progression, until something larger arises in the mind.

  • Phil B

    Kim Du Toit has said what I think should, nay, MUST be done in an blog posting here:


    The only problem I foresee are the useful idiots that will march and rally in solidarity with the Religion of Peace if the suggestions were implemented. But as Kim points out, they can be dealt with in the same manner …

  • Paul Marks

    One can not have an Active Citizen if people are afraid to speak their opinions – and most Western countries have the “Hate Speech” doctrine legally limiting Freedom of Speech (Britain certainly has it).

    Even the United States, with the First Amendment, has a vile P.C. elite (with their imported German “Cultural Marxist” ideas) who seek to drive anyone who says anything they do not like to ruin. One can not be very active if one is has to be fearful of speaking or writing. The more I think about it, the more election of Donald Trump seems not to be in spite of his verbal gaffes (which I found very irritating), but BECAUSE of them – Donald Trump struck voters as a MAN WITHOUT FEAR, and ordinary people are full of fear (any chance word can lead to persecution and ruin.

    Want Active Citizens? Then, for a start, get rid of the “Politically Correct”, “Critical Theory”, “Social Justice Warrior” tyranny – restore Freedom of Speech.

  • pst314

    In his 1941 review titled “No, Not One” of Alex Comfort’s novel No Such Liberty, George Orwell explains that the protagonist of the story is put before a tribunal because he has “declared that he will not fight against the Nazis, thinking it better to ‘overcome Hitler by love.’


  • Richard Aubrey

    You are probably aware that many in the US think the UK government’s call for increased vigilance on the part of the citizens is designed to find and punish citizens who demonstrate increased vigilance.

  • Richard Aubrey

    For those who consider deploying soldiers a bad idea, an overreaction, a militarization of society, consider whose training in first aid is designed for the kinds of wounds terrorism yields. IOW, a reaction to terror, not a prevention.

  • Richard

    I have a question. US troops and others I presume, are given basic first aid training of various degrees. Medics are given extensive training that is sometimes of a very high level. One extreme example, US Special Forces Medics are extraordinarily competent. In between these levels of training the US Army has developed the Combat Lifesaver program which trains a group of selected soldiers to a lesser standard than a combat medic but does give them better than basic medical training.

    Do the British armed forces have anything like that ? It would seem useful in these circumstances/

  • Richard Aubrey

    The Orlando shooting resulted in 49 dead, many, according to reports, because they bled out in the three hours of negotiation.
    By contrast, despite horrific injuries, the Boston bombing left only three dead because there were lots of people who knew what to do, were on the scene to do it instantly, and there was unhindered transport to first-rate hospitals.
    If you don’t get a round in the heart or brain, your risk is bleeding out. And that can be dealt with in many cases with the right kind of first aid training, which isn’t that complex. A man’s handkerchief can function as a pressure bandage, if you’re keeping the pressure, or a tournequet.
    Twenty-five years ago,, I came on an accident which, strangely, included a sucking chest wound. I did my thing, as the drill instructors had taught me decades before. According to the cops, the EMT guys said I saved the victim’s life. Stayed awake in Basic. That’s all it took. Informal survey of vets…they all knew what to do if they hadn’t done it since 1943.