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

We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

— Ronald Reagan, June 12, 1987, speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate.

Reagan’s speech was exactly thirty years ago today.

The crossings between the East and West Germany were finally opened two years later on November 9th, 1989.

[Edited: Apologies for the error, this post originally indicated the wall fell in 1987.]

(The quote starts at 10:46, but the whole speech is generally quite good.)

28 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Dan

    The wall came down not the same year, but two years later, in 1989.

  • bobby b

    “. . . for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace.”

    I read what you quoted, and my reaction surprised me.

    It was sadness.

    I don’t know that enough people believe these things anymore to make a difference. In the USA, Donald Trump was the best answer we could come up with in order to merely slow our decay into . . . something quite opposite of that quote. Britain almost elected a Corbyn. The shining lights of liberty and freedom barely hang on, while the rest of the world (and half of our own population) yearn for a Chavez to lead them to safety. And Brotherlove. Or something.

    I have no personal worries. I can survive anything. My kids are safe, and set. Maybe I should stop stressing and just watch in semi-amusement as it all descends. I doubt that the path can be deflected much at this point anyway.

    But Eddie Willers was always one of my favorite characters . . .

  • Spruance

    “The crossings between the East and West Germany were finally opened on November 9th of that same year.”

    I regret to have to correct the date: It was the 9th of November 1989 when the crossings were opened.

  • bobby b (June 12, 2017 at 3:40 am): “Britain almost elected a Corbyn.”

    The problem is that May believes the exact opposite of Reagan’s quote: she believes that freedom and security are enemies. This is related to your words above. If no-one offers freedom, the only thing to vote on is ‘how much free stuff?’ When its just panem et circenses from both parties, the biggest circus in town wins.

    As Alisa said in an earlier thread, political correctness is like HIV. Once you’ve caught it, a bug as pathetic as Corbyn can kill you.

    As Churchill said, “For myself, I am an optimist. There does not seem to be much point in being anything else.” We do not know how this will all turn out in the end.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Yes, of course, the wall fell two years later, 1989. I wrote that while distracted, but it has been corrected.

  • Alisa

    Niall, I’m glad that my metaphor is finally catching on 🙂

  • Johnathan Pearce

    30 years ago. And many of those voting in the GE last week in the UK weren’t even born; therein lies an issue of political memory. Those who spun the wheel for Corbyn don’t remember the Cold War, Communism, and the process that led to its end. They have taken the current broadly pro-market, liberal order for granted, and now they come to despise it and put their faith in a man whom I bet is upset that the Soviet Union collapsed.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “30 years ago…many of those voting in the GE last week in the UK weren’t even born.”

    And of course, it was ten years longer ago still, that we finally – temporarily – saw the back of socialism in this country.

    Sadly, it seems that every generation has to learn the lesson anew.

  • Laird

    Perhaps freedom and security can go together, but if so we haven’t figured out how. Certainly the US government is more than willing to sacrifice the freedom of its citizens for the illusion of security.* Personally, I would reject that Faustian bargain, and would prefer freedom to security, but clearly I appear to be in the minority.

    * Allegedly. I suspect that there are large elements within the government which don’t give a fig about “security” for individuals, and only care about expending their power over us.

  • Gene

    I have no personal worries. I can survive anything. My kids are safe, and set.

    bobby b, I think this explains a lot. Many, many people probably feel the way you do, and as long as they really believe that “my kids are safe, and set,” there will always appear to be good reason to limit their activity to voting and worrying. Please note, I offer no opinion on the accuracy of your belief about the outlook of your children as I cannot predict the future and can only guess at how things might play out under a Corbyn. I would say, however, that your statement implies a belief that a Corbyn could only ruin a lot of lives slowly, but not quickly.

  • Runcie Balspune

    @Laird, “security” is such a divisive word, therein lies the problem, what you need is security from those who seek to limit your freedom, but our current overlords, in varying degrees, think that security means keeping us from harming ourselves through silly thoughts and deeds, like opposing those who seek to limit our freedom.

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray

    Alisa, good luck in claiming copyright, or credit! Some of my neologisms have been taken, and I didn’t get a red cent from them! ‘Euniformity’, and ‘Europeon’, are now part of the Anglosphere, but I don’t get feted anywhere, or recognized…

  • Nicholas (Unlicenced Joker) Gray (June 13, 2017 at 2:26 am), if you coined ‘Europeon’, well done. Perhaps you could now apply for your joker’s licence and submit it as evidence – or do libertarian principles forbid your applying for the licence? 🙂

    However I think Alisa is saying she’s happy to see her PC = HIV point being more widely used – and well aware that few will recall whence it came if it breaks out into the wider world, as we would all be glad to see it do. To assist its spread, I will take the chance to mention it when and where doing so can have effect – and of course will not impede that effect by always adding an “as Alisa said”.

    AFAIK, I’m the first to write, “Labour spent like there was no tomorrow. Today is the tomorrow Labour spent like there wasn’t.” I’d by happy if that thought gained wider currency before the next election – and aware that insisting every echoer of it append “(in the wise words of Niall Kilmartin, samizdatan)” to it would not assist that spread. 🙂

  • Alisa

    Niall, in fact I was about to nominate “Labour spent like there was no tomorrow. Today is the tomorrow Labour spent like there wasn’t.” for SQotD, but then realized it could get lost in the sea of all the other SQotDs… However, maybe there is room for a SQotY category?

    As to my own contribution and contrary to Nick’s implication, I was not hoping for personal credit, but for a wider use of the contribution itself.

  • lmda

    These days, ‘no borders’ enthusiasts like to quote the “Tear down this wall!” part – to embarrass those who can still see the use of national boundaries – but they never quote the “if” clauses that preceded it.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    “Imda”: The “if” clauses that precede it seem to apply to essentially any reasonable situation. What reasonable person would not seek peace, prosperity, and freedom?

    I will point out a telling indicator: I often ask those who oppose open borders whether they would accept a law that opened the borders but which prohibited immigrants from receiving state benefits for some period (say ten years*). I get two flavors of response: those who ignore my question, and those who dismiss it without seriously addressing it.

    Note that such a change is hardly unrealistic — it is difficult to imagine (say) the United States congress successfully passing a law opening immigration without some compromise with anti-immigration forces, so such a compromise does not seem like a fantasy if it is one that most people who oppose immigration would be okay with.

    I think, however, that the truth is that the professed rationale most people have for opposing immigration is not the same as the actual reason they hold their position.

    (*As I oppose all forms of state benefits, I’d be happy with any arbitrarily long period that people preferred. If you think it needs to be 15 years, or 20 years, that seems fine by me — how could I argue when I don’t want anyone at all getting such benefits?)

  • Laird

    Perry M, your proposal is a fantasy not merely because Congress would never pass such a law, but because the Supreme Court would not permit it. It has long held that social services and benefits (schooling, medical care, food stamps, etc.) cannot be denied even to illegal aliens; how would it react to such a restriction applied to legal ones? To ask the question is to answer it.

    Anyway, even if somehow your proposal should be possible, it’s nothing more than a good start. A nation should be able to exclude anyone whom it considers “undesirable”, for any reason it deems adequate. Obviously that would include convicted criminals, but could also include those carrying infectious diseases, those whose culture is antithetical to our own, even those who support abhorrent political causes or religions.

    So no, I would not support open borders even with your (fantastical) hypothetical. I would, however, support a more liberal immigration policy, with larger numbers admitted.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    It has long held that social services and benefits (schooling, medical care, food stamps, etc.) cannot be denied even to illegal aliens

    No such supreme court precedent exists. You’ve invented it.

    Anyway, even if somehow your proposal should be possible, it’s nothing more than a good start. A nation should be able to exclude anyone whom it considers “undesirable”

    The trick of language here is pretending that “a nation” is a living organism that makes decisions, when of course it is nothing of the kind. There is no such being as “a nation”. “The Nation” owns no property, has no feelings, has no rights, does not reason or feel or care. What we have is a political process, and one that tends to favor demagogues who play on human fears.

    And, if we were to accept your claim that “the nation” should be able to exclude those it hates, why would “a nation” stop at punishing without trial or crime merely those who live outside its borders? Why not continue on to declaring various people undesirable even if they live within? Why not declare libertarians or socialists or homosexuals or straight people or catholics any other group anathema at the casting of an ostracon? Why not rip them out of their homes and throw them out of the country because of the whims of the booboisie?

    So no, I would not support open borders even with your (fantastical) hypothetical

    So I’m going to be blunt and claim that you clearly have an agenda here you are not making explicit. What particular religions or peoples would you like to exclude? Dare you be more specific? Can you tell us what groups you think are inherently criminal and dangerous merely because of their membership in some group?

    (I’m not referring here to congressmen or members of parliament, of course — as Mark Twain once observed, these certainly constitute a natural criminal class.)

  • Laird

    Come on, Perry, now you’re being silly. If you can’t understand a distinction between citizens / lawful resident aliens and foreigners, and why the rules might be different for those two groups, I can’t help you. As to a “nation” being some sort of artificial construct, it is, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. It is a collection of people living in a defined geographic area under a common government. And the (lawful) residents of that nation have every right to decide who to permit to join them there and who to exclude. Apparently you disagree, and think that anyone who wants to can just unilaterally decide to settle there, whatever his merits (or lack of them). News flash: most people disagree with you. Most of us think that the concept of a “nation” has meaning, and that meaning includes deciding collectively on the local rules, which who to admit into membership in the club. If you really think that a “nation” is a null concept, you’ll find very few people who agree with you.

    I most certainly did not “invent” those Supreme Court precedents. Why else do you think local schools are forced to admit all children in the district, even the children of illegals? And even to provide translators and English tutors for them? Why do you think hospital emergency rooms are so over-stressed? A large part of that is due to illegal aliens who lack health insurance or any means of paying but are required by law to be treated. And that illegals are on food stamps and housing assistance? None of that is because the local citizens desired it; it’s all because of Supreme Court decisions. I can’t be bothered to look up the citations, but they’re there. And I think you know it.

    As to excluding particular religious groups, I named none because I was speaking of general rules. Israel could (properly) decide to exclude non-Jews; Saudi Arabia non-Muslims; Ireland Protestants. Their country, their rules. But for me, personally, I would exclude Muslims and I have never made any secret about that. I think they are a cancer on society, and wouldn’t admit any more to my country. It’s not my decision to make, of course, but if made I would support it. Satisfied?

  • bobby b

    Perry, google Plyler v. Doe. Laird invented nothing. The Supreme Court may have.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Plyler v. Doe was 5-4 and only covered public education. It would probably be reversed if reheard now — the court has shifted heavily the US system does not follow strict stare decisis. I’m unaware of any other such precedents in spite of Laird’s insistence. None, for example, guarantee food stamps or welfare payments to undocumented immigrants. Indeed, Plyler v. Doe is an odd one in so far as nothing under it prevents a jurisdiction from simply trying to have the child seeking public education deported.

  • bobby b

    Well, I was just trying to address one subject at a time.

    As a result of Plyler, in every state, “illegal alien” kids are automatically admitted to public school. In many states, they are also granted in-state tuition to public colleges. Plyler’s been cited by federal courts hundreds of times now, which makes an overturn unlikely.

    Not saying this is a bad thing. If they’re going to be here, the kids ought to get an education.

    You might also look at the history of California’s Proposition 187 – a referendum passed by the voters by a large margin back in 1994, which would have denied state welfare benefits to illegal aliens. The federal courts – the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, specifically – overturned the law, ruling that it violated the U.S. Constitution. Never made it to the Supreme Court – Governor Davis, an opponent of the Proposition, ordered his state attorneys to drop the appeal – but it would have likely been upheld, given the court’s makeup at the time.

    As for medical care, take a look at the “Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act” (EMTALA), a federal statute which mandates that any med facility which receives Medicare funding (all of them, basically) must receive and treat any patient with an emergency condition, regardless of immigration status. They failed to define “emergency condition”, which is why the emergency room is now the family physician of choice for illegals. The cost of this care is very heavy in southwestern states.

  • Laird

    Whether there is a specific Supreme Court decision mandating that illegals receive food stamps (or whatever) is irrelevant. (There probably is, but I can’t be bothered to look it up.) But regardless, there are plenty of other precedents which nonetheless make that mandatory. The Court has clearly ruled that illegals are entitled to “equal protection” under the Constitution, which is why they receive all social services and welfare benefits; it is unconstitutional to “discriminate” against them merely because of their illegal status. An idiotic conclusion, but there it is. And I don’t see it changing, even in a Trump court.

  • Perry Metzger (New York, USA)

    Whether there is a specific Supreme Court decision mandating that illegals receive food stamps (or whatever) is irrelevant. (There probably is, but I can’t be bothered to look it up.)

    There isn’t one.

  • the other rob

    There seems to be some confusion over whether foreigners can receive benefits in the USA, so I asked somebody who works in the field. Here’s what I learned (with any errors being due to my faulty recollection).

    Illegals can not directly receive benefits at all, with one exception: there are limited medical benefits for pregnant women and new mothers. The rational for that is that the unborn child / new baby is (or is about to be) a US citizen and the medical care is for its benefit, not the mother’s.

    Illegals can indirectly receive SNAP (AKA food stamps) on behalf of their US citizen children. There are complex fomulae used to figure out who in the household is counted, what proportions of who’s income is counted, etc. No money is provided for any illegal but, assuming the household is eligible, money is provided for each eligible person in that household (including legal non-citizens, under certain circumstances, see below).

    The above is what most people are referring to when they talk about illegals getting benefits.

    Legal immigrants, AKA Lawful Permanent Residents or Green Card holders are barred from receiving benefits, at first. Indeed, when I came to the US as an LPR there were documents to the effect that I was not eligible for benefits and that any that I was given in error must be repaid, with such conditions applying until I either became a citizen or some other condition was met (maybe that I had earned 40 quarters of social security payments, I forget).

    After that period, adult LPRs become eligible for SNAP, while LPRs under the age of 18 may be eligible at any time. So, in a mixed household, we again have a scenario where money is provided for some but not others.

    Then there are the exceptions, for certain classes of lawfully present alien, including asylum seekers, refugees, LPRs who are veterans of the US military, etc. In those cases, more generous rules typically apply.

    Of course there are a host of other government benefit programs and the whole stinking edifice is far too complex to address here, but the above gives the gist of it.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes indeed human personhood, Free Will (agency), is a vital principle – and collectivism violates this principle for it treats humans as not beings, it treats us as if our actions are predetermined (as if we had no Free Will – as if we were not people at all).

    This clearly means that people who have committed no crime (who are free people – moral persons with Free Will to decide things for themselves), must be allowed to leave one’s country, just as they must be allowed to leave one’s house. But does it mean they must be allowed to ENTER one’s country? Well if everyone has the right to enter your house (and stay there without your consent) then the answer is “yes”, if not the answer is “no”. And people have been building defences to keep intruders out of their towns and villages (for example in Southern Italy) for many centuries.

    The farce of the United States with illegals receiving state education (thanks to a Supreme Court decision of 1982 against Texas) and “Food Stamps” (thanks to Jack Kennedy and co back in 1961) and “motor voter” illegal immigrants voting, and “emergency” health care (thanks to the demented ER Act under Reagan) so on – need not keep us long, as there are other examples.

    If European nations allow “free migration” from the Middle East and Africa then those European nations that allow it will be destroyed – just as Israel would be destroyed if it took down its defences and allowed “Free Migration” from the Islamic world, and Australia would be destroyed if it allowed “Free Migration” from Indonesia and the rest of Asia.

    Some matters are complicated and some matters are not complicated – and this matter is not complicated. If people are not prepared to defend their country – they lose their country.

  • Paul Marks

    There is a belief in some libertarian circles that if something does not have a private owner it has no owner – for example that the city wall and gates, as they have no private owner, have no owner and anyone can demolish them (“homestead the materials”) as they wish.

    This sort of thinking led to the alliance between some libertarians and the Marxists in the 1960s – of course the Marxists (the Marxist influenced education system and the media – especially the entertainment media) did not really believe that if something did have a private owner it had no owner (far from it), but they found it useful to pretend that they did – so they could push the “rights” of vagrants (from about the 1960s onwards described in different language – with “the homeless” becoming the standard language pushed by the education system and media) – the Marxist assumption has always been that for their own (supposedly perfect) society to be established the existing society must be destroyed.

    What better way to encourage the collapse of society than to allow (indeed push) the takeover of the streets and public places (parks, libraries and so on) by people who make it very difficult and dangerous for ordinary people to live in these towns and cities. That many of the homeless were actually mentally ill was also a good thing, from the Marxist point of view, and any effort to send these people to mental institutions was to be smashed. Sadly some libertarians cheered on the attack on the vagrancy laws in the 1960s (culminating in the Supreme Court judgement of 1972 which essentially declared that centuries of law was void – because the far left judges wanted to destroy society, or wanted to be friends with people at elite social events – if the judges do not want to destroy “capitalism” their friends do) just as some libertarians cheered on “care in the community” (i.e. “care” in the gutter) for the mentally ill.

    As Christopher Wren is supposed to have said “if you seek my monument, look around you” – those who seek the results of the above policies need only visit so many American cities and see for themselves. However, (even with such thins as rent control and “slum removal”, and zoning – policies also DESIGNED, at least by some of their designers, to increase the number of homeless) the numbers of people on the streets has not proved sufficient to achieve the conscious and deliberate aim of destroying Civil Society – opening up to the entire Third World (via “Free Migration”) means that enough people will be available for the objective. Although, it must be stressed, only the Marxists (via their influence on the education system and mass media – especially the entertainment media) have this a deliberate objective – those libertarians who tag along with the left do not know what the policy of “Free Migration” would lead to (just as they did not know what undermining the vagrancy laws and the laws about mental illness would lead to).

    However, there is a way that restrictions can be squared with this form of libertarian philosophy – the anarcho-capitalist position. In this position a town or city or country would be privately owned (by an individual or by a company) and that private owner would decide who walked on their streets – if they wanted to ban vagrants, or wanted to ban people of certain religions or races (or whatever) this would be up to the owner. Historically people have objected to a single person or private business owning an entire country (the bad results of the East India Company, mass starvation in Bengal and so on, spring to mind), but it would seem to be a way of squaring restrictions on entry with this form of libertarian thinking.

    Basically the position appears to be that nations, cultures (societies), either do not exist or are the “creation of the state” – so there is no such thing as “the public” (the people) with their own culture (life) to defend from other groups. That nations (peoples) do not exist, or are “just a creation of the state”, and that everyone can live happily together with no dominant culture would have astonished just about everyone (for thousands of years) before the 1960s – but there we go. Before the 1960s it was assumed that a peaceful immigrant (as opposed to an invader) was someone who wished to leave one nation (people, culture) and join another – and it had always been understood that some such people existed (people who had fallen out with their tribe, as it were, and wished to join another people – cultural group), assimilation was known to be difficult but possible. And small minorities of people who never fully assimilated were also known – but as long as their numbers were not very large, and they had no HOSTILE (rather than just different) beliefs, this was fine. A community (culture, people) can withstand a few families that are not really part of it – who speak a different language and so on, as long as the numbers of such people are not too great. And as long as their was a common basic loyalty – allowing in people who are actually hostile in their beliefs (for example those Latin Americans who come to the United States believing that Americans “stole the land” in such wars as that of 1836 and 1848) is clearly folly (unless it is a deliberate policy to destroy society).

    Since about the 1960s the position has been that no dominant culture (people – nation) is needed, indeed that such things are just “creations of the state”. Do people really believe this position? Well the libertarians who endorse it certainly do (I certainly do not doubt their sincerity) – the Frankfurt School Marxists who have such influence in the education system and the media (especially the entertainment media) clearly do not believe it, their belief is that there should be “free migration” BECAUSE it will do harm (that is their intention). The traditional view that a peaceful immigrant (as opposed to an invader) was someone who, at the very least, was someone who wished (who had exercised their Free Will) to reject their former loyalty (people – nation) and take up a new loyalty (people – nation) is now denounced as “racism” even though it has nothing to do with biological race.

    I doubt that any nation can survive in the long term if most of its education system (its schools and universities and so on) and media (especially entertainment media – Hollywood and so on) are under the influence of its enemies. So perhaps the key defeats that will lead to the destruction of Western Civilisation were really before the 1960s – when the “Progressive forces” gained the influence in the education system and media (especially the entertainment media) that they have used with such ruthlessness in their desire to destroy the West.

    They (the Frankfurt School Marxists – under such names as “liberals” and “progressives”) sincerely that they will create a perfect society by destroying the “Capitalist West” – actually all they will create is ashes and dried blood, a new Dark Age.

  • Paul Marks

    The professional politician must not be forgotten. Not the Marxist seeking to destroy the West (not the academics or the Hollywood crowd – Hollywood films and network television entertainment shows being essentially “Marxism for dummies”) but rather the politician seeking votes.

    One way to seek votes is to make everything as bad as possible – yes I did say bad (not good).

    This is known in local government as the “Curley Effect” – named after Mayor Curley of Boston a century ago. Mayor Curley played the ethnic takeover of Boston in the United States (basically Catholic Irish against Protestants British descendants) in the years running up the First World War (one thing that made Senator Kerry’s claims that when his grandfather came to Boston there were “No Irish need apply” signs false – in the 1920s, when Senator Kerry’s grandfather came to Boston the Irish already ran the city, and Senator Kerry’s grandfather was not Irish anyway, John Kerry lied about that as well) – but that was not all Mayor Curley did – he worked hard to drive business and employment out of the city (with taxes and regulation abuse – demands for bribes and so on).

    But why should the Mayor do that? And would not the people vote against him when the results of his policies, in terms of higher poverty and unemployment?

    No – because the worse things got the more dependent people would be on city government employment and on welfare and “public services” from the city, provided by the generous Mayor Curley – to whom the people would give their votes (and their admiration).

    Sometimes destroyers (such as Mayor Curley of Boston of the, vastly worse, Mayor Wagner of New York from the start of the 1950s onwards) are not Marxist theorists dreaming of creating a perfect society – they are just vote grubbers, seeking to make everything bad (but not actually collapse things) so “the masses” turn to them for aid, and reward them with votes and admiration.

    In Chicago the Marxists (such as a young Barack Obama) came to understand that the Chicago Democrat “Machine” (which had fought the Marxists on the streets in 1968) was not really their enemy – that, on the contrary, they should join it.

    After all the Democrat Machine wanted to loot and abuse people a bit, and the Marxists (such as the young Mr Obama) wanted to abuse and loot far more (so that Western “capitalism” would eventually collapse and be replaced by the perfect society), but for many years the interests of the Marxists and the Democrat machine would not diverge – as both wanted more and more poor people dependent on government.

    The average Democrat Ward Boss in some city is not interested in “Free Migration” as part of a grand plan to destroy Western Civilisation – he just wants more and more poor people dependent on government welfare and “public services” – who will reward him with their votes and their admiration.

    Not so much “Death to the West!” (although that is what the elite “educated” Democrats such as Barack Obama think – ditto much of the education system and the media), as “Death to the Republican Party!”. The same alliance can be seen between cynical Labour party hacks and Marxist theorists in Britain – the average Labour Party politician does not want unlimited immigration as a way of destroying the West (although that is the reason that such people as Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell support it) – they just want more and more poor people, dependent on government welfare and “public services” who will reward the Labour Party with their votes.

    Basically not so much Marxist theory as Herbert Morrison “we will build the Tories out of London” – with death trap government housing and so on.

    Cynical political corruption (free stuff for votes – offered to the entire population of the Third World) rather than a grand plan to destroy the West – although it will have the latter effect eventually.