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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

I have never understood why it is ‘greed’ to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else’s money.

Thomas Sowell

23 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Because the doctrine of “Social Justice” is both wrong and evil – that is why we get the absurd position that wanting to keep your own money is presented as evil (when it is not) and wanting to take the money of other people by force is presented as good (when it is evil).

    Tragically it is not just the Marxist atheists who teach this – many mainstream religious people (of various religions) teach this “Social Justice” doctrine – that it is morally good to to take, by force, the money and goods of some people and give this stuff to other people.

    This doctrine is not compatible with civilisation – and, if not opposed in terms of PRINCIPLES, will destroy civilisation.

    What people believe matters – cultures (contra to Hume-Hayek) depend, in part, on conscious beliefs. Upon human CHOICES.

    In the end what is the difference between, say, Texas and Venezuela?

    What people BELIEVE is the difference.

    And sadly many of the Opposition in Venezuela have some of the “Social Justice” beliefs of the government people – as it is not just the Marxist atheists who teach this stuff.

    How do you change a country for the better?

    Persuade people to reject false beliefs and adopt true beliefs – that is the only real way to do it.

    And the tactics of the Collectivists (the tactics of “Rules for Radicals” and so on) can NOT work in reverse – they can not (generally) be used for good, only for evil.

    The only way for good to win in the long term is human reason (in each of us) to defeat the passions – the beast-like desires we all have. Of course we do not win all the time – but civilisation depends on us winning (on us resisting evil) most of the time.

    Reason must NOT be just the “slave of the passions” (someone who says that reason is a slave of the passions may just be in despair – but someone who also says “and should be” a slave of the passions has embraced evil, has made a CHOICE to do so) a tactical thing one uses as a weapon – for example “how can I trick this girl to go up the dark ally so I can rape her”, there must be a moral reason.

    See Kipling’s poem “The Gods of the Copybook Headings”. This sort of “Victorian” was actually right about this.

  • Paul Marks

    “No Paul – he meant a “passion” for the moral good”.

    Oh pull the other one – it has got bells on.

  • Lee Moore

    I think the SJWs would claim that they don’t want other people’s stuff for themselves, they want it to hand to other folk. So their “greed” is that they would rather not spend all they have to ‘help the poor”, they would rather you chipped in too, so they can hang on to most of their stuff. Rhetorically this provides a bit of insulation from the charge of greed. But no defence from the charge of theft.

  • Y. Knott

    It’s pretty obvious, Thomas – basic human nature in action:

    “Rules for THEE, but not for ME;

    Money for ME, but not for THEE!”


  • staghounds

    The difference is that the property they take isn’t FOR them- it’s to be given freely to those in desperate need.

    Of course, being above greed, they will have to decide whose need is most desperate.

    And because only they can be trusted, they will have to do the actual taking and distributing.

    And of course that is a full time job that requires special expertise, so of course they will have to be paid.

    And since they will constantly be the targets of the greedy and corrupt, that pay will have to be significant.

    See the difference?

  • PersonFromPorlock

    September 12, 2017 at 12:52 pm


  • Thomas Sowell is without doubt our greatest living public intellectual.

    One of the best things I’ve ever seen on TV was watching him politely and carefully tear into
    a flustered and angry Charlie Rose.

    Long may he wave.

  • Alisa

    Taylor, you sent me a-googling.

  • Chip

    Once these meaningless memes enter the popular culture they’re hard to erase. I can’t count how many times I’ve had to explain that profit isn’t an epithet but instead the difference between cost and revenue, and a measure of viability. Same for greed. A businessman is greedy but a politician or bureaucrat is a public servant. Whatever.

    Here’s a meme I’d like to propagate.

    “Power attracts pathological personalities. It is not that power corrupts but that it is magnetic to the corruptible.” – Frank Herbert

    The people who seek office are really the last people we should trust with our vote. We need much more contempt for politicians.

  • Watchman

    It’s about power isn’t it – if you’ve got money you’ve got power, so your money needs to be redistributed to equalise power…

    That’s pretty well my understanding of the underlying thinking (Paul might have a deeper philosophical understanding, but most of the followers of this sort of idiotic view tend not to actually read up on things that I’ve noticed).

    Of course, it’s not about the power of being in a position to control the wealth of others for those who want to do so, in any way…

  • jamesg

    If I had the time I’d like to put together a collection of all the double-thinks and logical inconsistencies of the left.

    A good quote I heard the other day in response to feminist demands for equal political representation was:

    Marriage is the only institution that gets the gender balance right.

  • Sigivald

    Why, because they’re “taking” your ill-gotten gains for “the benefit of society”, naturally.

    (Society, as a mere abstraction, conveniently benefits from whatever people assert it does. And your harm in the process is irrelevant.)

  • rxc

    Social Justice is an extension of Christianity beyond the spiritual realm, into economics and politics. This is one of the reasons the SJWs hate Christian religions – they are in direct competition for minds and souls. The left is currently in the same stage of evolution as the Church was about 600 years ago – “Kill them all. God will know his own.”

  • Laird

    People who believe that keeping one’s own honestly-earned property is greedy and immoral, but taking it (by force) to distribute to those who didn’t earn it is virtuous, have an inverted moral sense. Theirs is the morality of theft.

  • Snag

    Marriage is the only institution that gets the gender balance right.

    Not any more…

  • Fred the Fourth

    The Sowell / Rose video was certainly a half hour well spent. I thought Rose’s blood pressure was going to spray out of his ears.

  • JohnW

    Watch this and see who pops up at the very end – you’ll laugh.

  • Alisa

    That’s because Rose knows that Sowell is right, Fred. He is certainly a tribal leftist, and as such he is compelled to toe the party line for the sake of his audience and his employers. To do so effectively he must be intellectually and emotionally invested in those positions at least to some extent. But, he is open-minded and intelligent enough to understand the logic behind Sowell’s arguments (and he was well-familiar with them by the time of that interview). So his act there was at least partially one of devil’s advocacy. And yes, I imagine such intellectual acrobatics must be a taxing experience.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    September 12, 2017 at 8:01 pm

    Social Justice is an extension of Christianity beyond the spiritual realm, into economics and politics.

    Yup. “Immanantizing the Eschaton”, as William F. Buckley called it. The SJWs miss the rather important Christian point that perfection is humanly impossible, which is why efforts in that direction always go sour.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Alisa, I have the same impression that I gather you did, based on your use of the word “act.” :>)

    By the way, Peter Robinson in his interviews for Uncommon Knowledge also expresses shock and horror at the more outré statements of his interviewees. But he doesn’t go as far as to seem ruffled and (pseudo?)-combative about it.

    So, a good time was had by all. Or at least by me.

  • Alisa

    It is always an act, Julie – interviewers are performance artists, among other things, and this is not necessarily a bad thing. FWIW, I have been watching and enjoying Rose’ interviews for years, and I dare say that if everyone in the MSM was as professional as he is (his or their politics notwithstanding), that industry would be held in much higher regard than it has been for years now.

  • Paul Marks

    Plato (of all people) explains how a demagogue becomes a tyrant.

    “The rich are plotting against me, because of the good I am doing for THE PEOPLE (at the expense of the rich) – that is why I need a bodyguard and the ability to make certain decisions in private with expert advice, without the explicit consent of the people, although everything I will do is for the people”.

    Concede that and you have tyranny.

    As will come as no-surprise-at-all to Staghounds or others here.

  • Runcie Balspune

    for “the benefit of society”

    This has probably got to be the most irreverent phrase in the leftist lexicon, as “society” is thought to be made up of all individuals and if you take from one and give to another, there is no net benefit. The only way to square this circle is to decide those unwilling contributors are suddenly expelled from “society” for the period of the theft, and the “us vs them” tribal mentality kicks in. Eventually “society” takes on an almost deity-like appearance and consists of no-one at all, the people being its servants, willing or unwilling, and the decisions of “society” determined by our great and good, self-appointed, pseudo-priest-leaders.

    And they have the arrogance to call themselves “progressive”.