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

“Extinction Rebellion is a menace to reason and progress. It is reliant on the politics of fear. It uses exaggeration and hyperbole and emotion to try to convince us that End Times are around the corner. It demonises as a ‘denier’ anyone who questions this depressing, anti-human script. And it campaigns, tirelessly, for less — less production, less consumption, less meat, less travel, less joy.”

Brendan O’Neill.

I looked at the folk of ER last night as I walked to a drinks reception at the gloriously pro-capitalist Adam Smith Institute. The ER people seemed to be mostly quite elderly. It is a gut feeling, but I don’t think they are connecting with more than a small sliver of public opinion.

59 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fraser Orr

    You know something that struck me about ER and similar types of group… The very same people who have been furiously demanding the end of government austerity programs and now furiously demanding the institution of green austerity programs.

  • James Hargrave

    Surely the best they can do to help the planet is by availing themselves of carbon-neutral suicide kits a.s.a.p

  • Stonyground

    Surely it would be more entertaining for them to off themselves by giving up everything that is produced by the use of fossil fuels. By freezing and starving themselves to death basically.

  • Mr Ed

    Some of these types are being arrested on charges of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance, which carries a maximum life sentence. Every person on an unlawful demo, every donor, every volunteer, should face such a charge.

    And if we have too many to fit in our jails, fly them out to Belarus and farm them out to their penal system and get a cheaper rate and bulk discount.

    What’s not to like?

  • Fraser Orr

    What is wrong with you people? You think that because some group is protesting, demanding political change, and for sure causing a nuisance that you think they should die or be shipped off to a penal labor camp?

    Don’t get me wrong, blocking roads and making loud disturbing noises, or in some cases offending decency should be dealt with, but they are minor offenses, like $100 ticket, or in the worst case a night in jail where they can all bother the jailers by singing kumbaya, and get a great story to tell in their poetry and dramatic street art.

    But the vitriol and violence (such as a life sentence or proposing they kill themselves?) represents everything that is wrong with our modern political system. People should be able to say things you hate, demand political changes you think horrifying, and cause a big stink that you find reprehensible.

    If the state and democracy offer anything of value it is a process for having vehement disagreements while keeping one’s sword firmly in the scabbard.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Fraser

    Blocking central London and access to places such as hospitals and people’s place of business is crossing a line.

    A stiff fine suffices.

  • Fraser Orr

    @Johnathan Pearce
    A stiff fine suffices.

    I totally agree. Maybe, as I said, even a night or two in the pokey. Send them to die in the Belarusian labor camps? Encourage them to kill themselves? Might be a bit of an over reaction. But my bigger point is that it is part of this transformation in politics from “We disagree” to “You are evil” and now, the latest “you are evil and deserve to die”. It is deeply disturbing.

    Not to be too cliched, but whatever happened to “I detest what you say but will defend to death your right to say it.” I thought we who comment here believed that principle.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I totally agree. Maybe, as I said, even a night or two in the pokey.”

    It’s worth noting that getting arrested is part of the plan. Their idea is to arouse public sympathy as martyrs, and getting arrested is part of that.

    By far the most devastating thing you could do to them is to make it clear to them that the public don’t sympathise, don’t care, and are not rallying to their cause. We just think they’re ignorant, annoying, and wrong. And the best bit about that it that we can do that entirely legally without sending anyone to the Gulag, or even requiring intervention by the agents of the State.

  • Mr Ed

    The scum of the Earth had the run of the place in Russia in the years running up to the later 1917 Revolution, when they got power, they started the slaughter in earnest. It’s the same types here, it is only their current weakness that stops them doing more harm. In a few years, murderers like the Montoneros will emerge.

    All I ask is that the law be applied to them.

  • Fraser Orr

    Mr Ed
    All I ask is that the law be applied to them.

    You think their behavior deserves life in prison? I don’t. And FWIW NIV, they may well want the honor badge of a criminal record, but that is because they are stupid. A criminal record will really screw up your life in the future.

  • Mr Ed

    FO

    You think their behavior deserves life in prison?

    Why do you ask? That query as to what I think is not a necessary inference from what I wrote.

  • It’s worth noting that getting arrested is part of the plan. (Nullius in Verba, October 10, 2019 at 6:32 pm)

    I agree, which may be why Mr Ed is suggesting the kind of penalty that is not part of their plan. Whatever punishment is applied, it had better not be part of their plan.

  • bobby b

    “Whatever punishment is applied, it had better not be part of their plan.”

    There is nothing so crippling as the concept of “proportional response.”

    Dedicate yourself to it, and you allow someone to look at each forbidden act and know in advance what he will suffer if he commits it, and make a reasoned decision that you have undervalued the badness in some act, and then he can perform that act and suffer an underpowered punishment – which means his rational decision is going to be to commit that act.

    You need to make perfect pricing decisions, which is hard to do.

    (Of course, there’s a good argument that that crippling (of the power of enforcing civil order only) might not be such a bad thing. Just don’t ever apply it – P.R., I mean – in war.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “And FWIW NIV, they may well want the honor badge of a criminal record, but that is because they are stupid. A criminal record will really screw up your life in the future.”

    They’re willing to put up with that for the sake of becoming Nelson Mandela.

  • Fraser Orr

    @bobby b
    There is nothing so crippling as the concept of “proportional response.”

    What are you suggesting? A disproportionate response?

    and you allow someone to look at each forbidden act and know in advance what he will suffer if he commits it, and make a reasoned decision that you have undervalued the badness in some act

    So what exactly are you proposing as an alternative? In England they used to hang you for stealing a few shillings. Should we give judge complete discretion over punishments? Better hope you don’t get Judge Jeffreys. It is a basic principle that the criminal code should be clear (much though it isn’t), and it seems perfectly reasonable to set out the “pricing” ahead of the act. Are some people going to be over punished and some under punished? Of course, but at least it is transparent. That is, after all, the very nature of pricing.

    Certainly it is hard to price perfectly, but Walmart prices all the time. Are all their prices optimal? Of course not, but they give it their best shot, and hopefully use feedback loops to improve it over time.

    It’d be interesting to have a discussion with you about the nature of criminal punishment and the various different components to it (deterrent, restorative, proxy vengeance, reformation and so forth). I think you’d have a lot of interesting things to say. But perhaps this isn’t the right forum.

    What I am sure of is that the people on this thread seem to be of the view of “hang ’em high” for a fairly minor crime, as if we lived in the land of Oliver Twist. I think that is ridiculous, and quite frankly extremely dangerous, as I stated above.

  • bobby b

    “So what exactly are you proposing as an alternative?”

    Well, keep in mind that I ended with this:

    “Of course, there’s a good argument that that crippling (of the power of enforcing civil order only) might not be such a bad thing.”

    Proportional Response cripples the powerful. In this case, the state is “the powerful.” Judging from the responses to the very light penalties given for these demonstrators, the state has underpriced the “badness” of certain acts, and ought to review those prices.

    “Proportional Response” became a watchword in criminal law sentencing some time back. At essence, it meant determining the cost to society of violations, combined with the likely gain to someone doing the violating, and then setting the penalty for that violation at the level that equaled the costs and wrongful gains.

    Which, again, makes it a very rational decision in about 50% of the instances for someone to violate a law and then accept the penalty. It’s like crime arbitrage – you work the percentages, and if you choose the correct 50% of possible instances, you come out ahead.

    So I’ve always felt that we need to tack on a penalty surcharge that makes violations a losing proposition more often. If our response isn’t at least a bit out of proportion, we’re just offering neutrally-priced bargains to criminals.

    It also goes back to my unformed ideas of how it has cost us as a society to lose the pressure of social shame. Decades ago, the shame of being a convicted criminal WAS the added surcharge that made crime arbitrage into a losing bet. Shame – feeling bad for having violated the social compact – is no longer extracted from people for much of anything. Once shame disappeared, the calculations became easier, and the penalties extracted became lighter, and so here we are.

    (Besides (look, he’s back On Topic!), it’s my impression that people here aren’t seriously advocating for the death penalty for civil disobedience, but are instead reacting to the SJW CAGW outlook that promises to wipe out many lives if ever followed, and are simply throwing out hyperbolic irony. “They want to kill others for Gaia? Let them go first!”)

  • Julie near Chicago

    FWIW, I agree with your last para, bobby. We let off steam like this, as we would if we got together in the back yard on Saturday night, drinking beer over the remains of the fire. (In this nice little daydream, the neighbors aren’t near enough to get upset if we get to whoopin’ & hollerin’.)

    The difference (well, one of them) between us and some segment of the alt-right (whatever that is), is that we don’t indulge our disgust or frustration or even downright fury except here, in the back yard with our friends.

    Again FWIW, I’m really torn about the shame thing. But…maybe some other time.

    Your argument about “proportional response” — it’s best that the Bad Guy be made to give somewhat more than he gets — sounds reasonable. I’d never thought of analyzing this issue as one would a question in econ. If extended, what are the implications for Just War theory, American or Augustinian? From what I’ve read, if you’re in a war with a serious enemy who really does intend to either conquer you or kill you, then you really do have to end the war with a declaration of total surrender from the bad guy. I’ve forgotten what modern Catholic J.W. theory says and I’m not clear on what our theory says.

    This would be like a situation where some B.G. or gang start shooting at you, and you have to drop every darn one of ’em in order to ensure your continued existence. Wouldn’t it?

  • TomJ

    Under current terrorism legislation, the definition includes:
    ≺blockquote≻the use or threat of action where:

    (a) the action falls within subsection (2),
    (b) the use or threat is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public and
    (c) the use or threat is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause.

    (2) Action falls within this subsection if it:

    (c) endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action,
    (d) creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public ≺/blockquote≻
    XR’s action clearly meets 2 of the 3 conditions, (1)(b) and (c). By severely hindering access to hospitals it is not difficult to argue it meets the third, (1)(a), by virtue of meeting one or both of (2)(c) and (d).

    It would not, in my opinion, be unreasonable or disproportionate to apply this to people obstructing roads around hospitals and the organisers of such blockades. Whether it would play into their hands propagandawise is a separate concern.

  • Penseivat

    In a real world, the Gretel Thunderbox acolytes can’t be sent to penal colonies or bumped off. However, those kept in Police cells should able to continue their sense of ecological ethics. No heating or light, in the cells, as the use of electricity leaves a carbon footprint; only cold food and drink be given as the use of electricity to heat it up will leave a carbon footprint; a metal bucket of water with a ladle be provided as the provision of single use plastic cups is something they are fighting against. A recording of Gretel’s speech to the UN be played on a continual loop to remind them why they are where they are. They will have no cause for complaint as, after all, she is the reason they are protesting against (the fallacy of) climate change.
    Just a thought.

  • TomJ

    A thought occurs: there are hundreds, if not thousands of people Obstructing the Highway. Can each organiser not be charged with conspiracy and/or incitement for each individual offence? Sure, the fine is only £50, which is why the protesters are willing to wear it, but if every ER organiser gets hit with a £(overall number of protesters x 50) fine it might make a dent in the costs of policing and clearing up this fiasco.

  • The Pedant-General

    “It is a gut feeling, but I don’t think they are connecting with more than a small sliver of public opinion.”

    But the darling Beeb still put one of their big loons on QT last night…

  • I commend bobby b’s “50%” critique (bobby b, October 11, 2019 at 6:27 am). It has points of overlap with the discussion of professional fouls on the recent Brexit thread.

    In England they used to hang you for stealing a few shillings. (Fraser Orr, October 11, 2019 at 4:01 am)

    In the 1700s, burglary from a dwelling house carried the death penalty if the assessed value of the stolen goods reached 40 shillings or more. Sensibly, the law gave the jury ultimate authority over assessing the value. I know of Old Bailey cases where taking assessed values of 39 shillings seriously would give you an exaggerated impression of how much inflation there has been since then.

  • Stonyground

    “They want to kill others for Gaia? Let them go first!”

    That was my point. If they were actually carried out, the ideas that they are advocating would lead to death from hunger or exposure for almost everyone. If they think that it is so important, let them demonstrate to the rest of us how it’s done.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Which, again, makes it a very rational decision in about 50% of the instances for someone to violate a law and then accept the penalty. It’s like crime arbitrage – you work the percentages, and if you choose the correct 50% of possible instances, you come out ahead.”

    Yes, there are a couple of arguments for that. One is that it makes allowances for cases where the law is wrong or incomplete. Someone is faced with two course of action: one is a minor injustice and a criminal offence, the other is a major injustice but not covered by law. By setting the cost of crime at a finite level, you make it possible for people to ‘pay the price’ to avoid the major injustice. Setting a high price means that people won’t do it lightly, but sometimes the world needs people like Rosa Parks to break bad laws if we are ever to make better ones.

    The second (related) argument is the markets principle – that the point of punishing crime is not simply to absolutely prevent crime, but to maximise social welfare. This includes the welfare of the criminal. So this is the “starving kids steal a loaf of bread” argument. On the one hand, loss of a loaf of bread is a social cost, imposed on members of society (bakers). We’d like to prevent it. But on the other hand, dying of starvation is also a social cost imposed on members of society. Which is worse?

    If you want to stop starving kids stealing bread, and given that the alternative to stealing is death, you’re going to have to impose a pretty harsh penalty on them for theft if you want absolutely to stop it. But punishments for crimes also detract from the collective social welfare of society. (Could I have fitted any more trigger words into one sentence?) To maximise the welfare of society as a whole, we can put up with a bit of shoplifting to avoid living in the alternative society where kids starve or are executed, but bakers profits are safe. You set the price high enough to deter most crime, and low enough to avoid a police state.

    Absolutists for the law don’t like the idea that a certain level of crime is tolerable. When their rules and enforcement don’t get them the perfect society they want, their natural reaction is to make more rules, increase the effectiveness and pervasiveness of enforcement, and make the punishments harsher. We all know exactly where *that* road goes!

    But if you’ve imposed a penalty and people are still doing it, there must be a reason. What is so very wrong in their life, that they’d rather go to jail than live the life the law requires them to? Is there another way of fixing it, of reducing crime, besides piling on more rules and more monitoring and more policemen and harsher punishments? That’s not to say that because there may be reasons, we shouldn’t have laws, or that we should simply tolerate criminality.

    It’s like some of us say about the socialist call for relieving global poverty – we agree with the aim, we disagree with their methods. Their methods of state intervention and rule making and enforced redistribution don’t work. Harnessing people’s self-interest and using market forces to balance competing needs and capabilities does. It’s like we say about the Protectionist’s desire to make their own society wealthier – we agree with the aim, but think their methods of building barriers and walls and rules and penalties, to wall out the competition, is self-destructive. By trying to impose their ideal solution by force, they make themselves poorer. It’s the problem of that which is seen and that which is not seen. We can see the immediate effects. We can see the crime. We can see our own wage packet. We can see people starving in the gutter while the rich walk by. What we don’t see are all the hidden causes and connections that link these behind the scenes. So when we push on those bits of the world we don’t like to fix things, those forces move the machinery behind the scenery so we end up kicking ourselves in the butt. And the angrier we get that our efforts are not fixing things and the harder we push on those same bits, the harder we get kicked by reality. We need to stop and think.

    Yes, punishments set a Pigouvian price on crime, and it’s a market subject to economic forces, like any other.

  • neonsnake

    The difference (well, one of them) between us and some segment of the alt-right (whatever that is), is that we don’t indulge our disgust or frustration or even downright fury except here, in the back yard with our friends.

    That, and the last para from bobby b above yours, are worth thinking about.

    I share many of Fraser Orr’s concerns – some of the sentiments expressed set my teeth on edge, whether it’s about climate protesters or Remainiac traitors that need a good hanging.

    On the other hand, I’ve indulged a desire to go full Bruce Lee on certain segments of society, in the hopeful knowledge that people here know I don’t really mean it.

    As for Extinction Rebellion, my feelings are a grudging admiration that they’re willing to go to jail, along with a slight sense of hypocrisy when we compare them to the kids in Hong Kong, with a mild whiff of annoyance at being lectured by them.

    I’m environmental as fuck, me, without needing to be told, thankyew.

    (I am, too. Except that I’m currently in a bar in Stockholm, having decided earlier this week to take The Lady away for a weekend, before travel possibly gets difficult post 31st October. Stockholm was where my air miles had vacancies. I suspect the £2 I paid didn’t offset my carbon footprint)

    By trying to impose their ideal solution by force, they make themselves poorer.

    Here’s a poser for you then. If it could be proved that giving poor people money instead of *ahem* “police attention” (ie. Court cases, prison, processing etc) reduced crime rates, could it count as legitimate use of police funds?

  • neonsnake

    Again FWIW, I’m really torn about the shame thing. But…maybe some other time.

    Strikes me that things that we’re “torn” about make for the best discussions.

    My gut is with bobby b that “shame”, and it’s good friend “pride”, have been forgotten.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Here’s a poser for you then. If it could be proved that giving poor people money instead of *ahem* “police attention” (ie. Court cases, prison, processing etc) reduced crime rates, could it count as legitimate use of police funds?”

    If lack of money is the problem, then yes. (To the extent that state welfare can ever be described as “legitimate”.) I doubt it’s quite that simple, though.

    It’s widely observed that wealthier areas have less crime than poor areas. Why? Is it because the causes of poverty (mental illness, illiteracy, innumeracy, etc.) are also causes of crime? If so, simply giving them money doesn’t solve the problem. Is it a purely economic rational risk/reward decision, based on having less to lose, relatively speaking? If so, then welfare might help. Is it about the work ethic, self-discipline, moral conformity, experience of a loving family, being friends with the neighbours, religious fervour, fear of hellfire and damnation? Aspects of character and culture? If so, giving them money might make it worse. But punishing them won’t help, either.

    There’s clearly an answer, or crime wouldn’t drop when communities got richer. But we shouldn’t leap to the conclusion that money is all there is to it. Criminology has spent decades researching the subject, and so far as I know, has come to no clear answer.

    However, I’d assert that the first step towards finding an actual answer that works is to try to ask the right questions, rather than keep on pushing levers that clearly don’t work. Why do some communities have dramatically lower crime rates than others? What’s the mechanism?

  • But if you’ve imposed a penalty and people are still doing it, there must be a reason. What is so very wrong in their life, that they’d rather go to jail than live the life the law requires them to? (Nullius in Verba, October 11, 2019 at 1:17 pm)

    Let’s make this a little more concrete: But if you’ve imposed a penalty on sexual assault and people are still doing it, there must be a reason. What is so very wrong in their life, that they’d rather go to jail than live the life the law requires them to?

    People are people – capable of treating their own convenience as more important than the well-being of others. Some people who come to the law’s attention in the persona of criminals may have, or have had, something wrong in their lives – maybe even ‘very’ wrong. Others not.

  • Fraser Orr

    Niall Kilmartin (Stirling)
    I commend bobby b’s “50%” critique (bobby b, October 11, 2019 at 6:27 am). It has points of overlap with the discussion of professional fouls on the recent Brexit thread.

    I guess I do too. On the one hand it seems only reasonable to demand compensation for the specific damaged done (in terms of costs to others, and things like the cost of policing and court actions that their choices demanded), and I suppose you could justify an additional tariff based on something like “causing costs on society because their actions increased the general level of criminality”, but there are limits. We can surely argue about what the correct punishment should be, but surely we can agree that blocking the roads and yelling in an offensive way is not a capital offense or one demanding transportation to Russian labor camps.

    In some ways I think some criminals get away with fairly light punishment, but other people are punished horrendously much. You see this going on with some of the people around Trump who are tossed in solitary for a million years for doing little more that is common practice in political realms. (Which isn’t to say the common shouldn’t be prosecuted, but it does demand an even hand, and anyone who thinks the hand there is even is either not paying attention, a narrow minded demagogue or just plain nuts.)

    But I guess I had made my point until I came across this doozy:

    @TomJ
    Under current terrorism legislation, the definition includes:

    You have to be f**king kidding me. You think what these people are doing is terrorism? One of the worst outcomes of the 9/11 attacks is this word terrorism that is now applied whenever we want to say how bad something really is, and, perhaps more importantly, when we want to suspend many normal criminal procedures and protections. This isn’t terrorism. Nobody was terrified. They were perhaps kind of miffed, and perhaps in some cases somewhat peeved. But nobody was hurt.

    The word “terrorism” should be reserved for the special circumstances that warrant it. It isn’t an intensifier to be added to any criminal behavior, no matter how serious. And this thing in London? It was freaking traffic violation. A big one for sure. But just a whole lot of jaywalking.

    I don’t know about you but I don’t think it is deserving on Guantanamo or waterboarding.

    And to lighten the mood, this reminded me of this little piece by John Cleese:

    https://me.me/i/from-the-bbc-by-john-cleese-announcement-the-english-are-19608298

  • Julie near Chicago

    Fraser,

    I do think Mr. Cleese has got a good perspective on things. Thanks! 😆

    The rest of your comment ain’t bad neither. :>)

    .

    Although — surely “blocking the roads and yelling in an offensive way” is simply Freedom of Expression.

    *pokes tongue right through cheek*

  • neonsnake

    It’s widely observed that wealthier areas have less crime than poor areas. Why? Is it because the causes of poverty (mental illness, illiteracy, innumeracy, etc.) are also causes of crime? If so, simply giving them money doesn’t solve the problem. Is it a purely economic rational risk/reward decision, based on having less to lose, relatively speaking? If so, then welfare might help. Is it about the work ethic, self-discipline, moral conformity, experience of a loving family, being friends with the neighbours, religious fervour, fear of hellfire and damnation? Aspects of character and culture? If so, giving them money might make it worse. But punishing them won’t help, either.

    And I would guess it’s a muddy mixture of all of it.

    But a couple of things stand out.

    Firstly, that if crime is concentrated in poor areas, then it follows that the wealthy are paying more taxes in order to send police into poor areas. In best case, I’m paying more than my fair share in order to protect the poor from crime, since I evidently don’t need as much “police”, living (hypothetically) in a wealthy area.

    So, that’s redistribution from Rich to Poor, even in a night-watchman state.

    Then, there is some evidence that mental illness and illiteracy are symptoms of poverty, not causes (I suspect that’s a bit muddy as well, tbf). And poverty leads to crime.

    In the case of your hypothetical bread-stealer, it seems clear that the cold, unemotional decision should be to give him some bread, thereby saving money on police (which I’m paying a disproportionate amount towards), and hopefully, creating a healthy member of the future workforce.

    (Of course, that needs to be balanced against Niall’s commiter of sexual assault – by no means I’m a condoning a similar approach there…)

  • TomJ

    @Fraser

    I included the definition of terrorism in UK law (albeit buggering up the formatting) to show how it could be used. They are doing things that endanger life, viz blockading roads around hospitals, in order to try to change Government policy. As and when an ambulance can’t reach a trauma case or can’t get them back to a hospital because these people have blockaded the roads and the victim or victims die, is that more or less terrorism than the bloke who plants a bomb designed to cause mass panic but not kill? I mean, there is video of one of the movement’s leaders making a speech in which he says Governments must accept the XR agenda or be replaced and that “some people may die” in the process, so this has crossed the minds of the organisers.

    If a definition of terrorism as a “use or threat of action which endangers a person’s life, other than that of the person committing the action, or which creates a serious risk to the health or safety of the public or a section of the public, which is designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public or a section of the public and which is for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause ” is a reasonable one, does it have to be an instantaneous, spectacular, localised act to qualify? What, if anything, is the problem with the definition? And what, if anything, about the XR actions make them fall outside the definition? While what any one “rebel” is doing may be trivial, should they not be judged by the cumulative effect; it is, after all, the cumulative effect they are aiming for.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Let’s make this a little more concrete: But if you’ve imposed a penalty on sexual assault and people are still doing it, there must be a reason. What is so very wrong in their life, that they’d rather go to jail than live the life the law requires them to?”

    Exactly the same point applies. Is it due to mental illness? Psychopathy? The autistic spectrum? Is it due to some problem in a child’s early years developing social skills? Is it due to lack of proper sex education at school and home, teaching not just the mechanics but how to initiate and maintain a proper relationship? Is it due to differing cultural attitudes and protocols regarding human mating rituals? Has the economic situation of women changed, meaning they don’t have to put up with as much to get a bread-winning husband? Has the economic situation for men changed, with traditional male roles like bread-winning or physical protection no longer as attractive to women? Has the definition changed recently? Have gender roles and stereotypes changed recently? Has the use of internet dating changed things? I could go on.

    It’s a valid question for sexual assault, too.

    “You have to be f**king kidding me. You think what these people are doing is terrorism?”

    It’s a very mild form of it.

    It’s like comparing shoplifting a chocolate bar to armed robbers shooting five security guards and making off with 50 million in diamonds. They’re both cases of ‘theft’. But they’re on very different scales.

    “So, that’s redistribution from Rich to Poor, even in a night-watchman state.”

    Yes. One of the better arguments for finding a better way of reducing crime is to reduce the public cost of dealing with it.

    “Then, there is some evidence that mental illness and illiteracy are symptoms of poverty, not causes (I suspect that’s a bit muddy as well, tbf).”

    I’d say they were *both* symptoms *and* causes. The two are not mutually exclusive.

    “In the case of your hypothetical bread-stealer, it seems clear that the cold, unemotional decision should be to give him some bread, thereby saving money on police”

    In the first instance, yes. But when word gets around that the police are handing out free bread…

    My proposal instead would be to teach the kids a trade, so they can bake or buy their *own* bread.

    There are more than two possible solutions to most problems. But people locked into tribal battles over this stuff commonly think that if you’re not in favour of Tribe A’s solution, you must be supporting that of Tribe B. The idea that I’m not in either tribe simply does not compute.

  • neonsnake

    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Agreed. When evidence for *both* is easily available, it’s time to say “It’s probably not clear cut.”

    But when word gets around that the police are handing out free bread…

    Also agreed, if word gets round that the punishment for stealing is free bread…

    My proposal instead would be to teach the kids a trade, so they can bake or buy their *own* bread.

    XD

    Mine would be to trial this: give the kids some money, so that they can learn a trade they want, or just buy bread. Or, screw it, buy cider and fags.

    Let’s find out.

    And test, empirically, what actually happens.

    Emphasis for now on “trial”.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “And test, empirically, what actually happens.”

    Oh, well. If you’re going to go all empirical on me…

    We split the kids up randomly, one group we jail, another group we beat with a stick, a third group we give bread, a fourth we pay money to, a fifth we enrol in school, ….

    And then we see what works.

  • bobby b

    neonsnake
    October 12, 2019 at 5:11 pm

    “Mine would be to trial this: give the kids some money, so that they can learn a trade they want, or just buy bread. Or, screw it, buy cider and fags.

    Let’s find out.

    And test, empirically, what actually happens.”

    Google “welfare fail” and see how we in the US tried exactly what you’re saying, and the resulting statistics. It’s not even a close question.

  • neonsnake

    We split the kids up randomly, one group we jail, another group we beat with a stick, a third group we give bread, a fourth we pay money to, a fifth we enrol in school, ….

    Sure. I mean, I’m certainly open to alternative suggestions to mine, especially ones that don’t involve beating children with a stick or jailing them.

    Or we can just carry on how we are and condescend any alternative suggestion.

  • neonsnake

    It’s not even a close question.

    If that’s so, then cool. But it doesn’t alter my desire to find a way that works “better”, and is still within the realms of “votability”, as it were.

  • bobby b

    “But it doesn’t alter my desire to find a way that works “better”, and is still within the realms of “votability”, as it were.”

    Agree. My first idea:

    Stop treating different, separate cultures as divisions to be treasured, work to build one national culture with shared values and no sense of war between the separate cultures. You cannot protect the insularity of cultures and encourage them to think of themselves as “others” without maintaining hostility and hatred between cultures. We have entire huge urban communities which intentionally teach their kids that hard work and honesty and community are evil tools of the oppressor. They will always be losers – and criminals, and non-productive – if they hold to such values.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Stop treating different, separate cultures as divisions to be treasured, work to build one national culture with shared values and no sense of war between the separate cultures.”

    Ah. So no more conservatism, everyone gets woke. Everyone shares woke values. We win the peace of total victory/defeat.

    Or was that not what you meant? 😉

    Well, we’re in the process of trying it. We’ll have to see how it pans out.

  • bobby b

    Argh. “Woke.” I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

  • Nullius in Verba

    And their command of grammar is pretty appalling, too. 🙂

  • neonsnake

    Argh. “Woke.” I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

    What do we think it means?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nullius:

    Comes from reading professional best-selling writers published by the famous, oldest, biggest & best publishing houses, with not an editor in the entire bunch who knows how to conjugate an English verb. Nor much else about English grammar either. 😡

    Now, I read, the American education establishment has decided not to waste any more time even pretending to try to teach the subject.

  • neonsnake

    I don’t think that word means what they think it means

    As best as I can understand, it just means an understanding that it’s not always the fault of an individual, an understanding of systemic bias.

    No more than that.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “As best as I can understand, it just means an understanding that it’s not always the fault of an individual, an understanding of systemic bias.”

    It’s the Marxist concept of ‘Class Consciousness’ adapted first to the issue of anti-black racism in the USA, and then further extended in popular left-wing culture to other idelogically supported minorities.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Woke

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_consciousness

    I’m guessing that bobby was referring to the common definition as ‘awareness of minority oppression’, which is ironic because it is itself used to oppress opposing minority viewpoints. But of course that’s how authoritarian cultural hegemonisation always goes.

  • neonsnake

    which is ironic because it is itself used to oppress opposing minority viewpoints. But of course that’s how authoritarian cultural hegemonisation always goes.

    I rather think it’s a warning not to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • Nullius in Verba

    Unavoidable, really. One person’s baby is another person’s bathwater…

  • bobby b

    “What do we think it means?”

    I would guess that you think it means the same as what I would term “a decent human being.” Someone who treats all people well, values goodness and merit, feeds small stray dogs, etc. I would also guess that that’s what the term was originally coined to invoke.

    I’ve learned a different meaning.

    I was at dinner with some friends Thursday night. They live in a condo in the warehouse district of Minneapolis – about a block from the Trump rally. (Yeah, we timed that poorly.) One of our friends – a sweet older woman who is retired and now spends her days helping manage the foodshelf close by – left. We later discovered that, on her way to her car, she had been knocked down, spat on, and reviled loudly from about four inches away as a racist and a fascist by a mob of the “woke”, presumably because she was white, older, and had a decent coat. Fuck the woke.

    Antifa pr*cks are woke. Extinction Whatever people are woke. The people causing untold permanent harm to little kids confused about gender issues by leading them into false transgenderism because that’s their social cause are woke. The people who want to cripple half of the third world now that their own security is established – to “save the earth” – are woke.

    Everything I know about you makes me think “decent human being”, and it really grates to read you referring to yourself in “woke” terms, because, to me, “woke” is an epithet.

    You might guess I’m still very angry about Thursday night. So don’t take this personally.

  • bobby b

    ” . . . what the term was originally coined to invoke . . . “

    Or maybe “evoke”? Julie, I need a ruling . . .

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby,

    Do you think I have nothing better to do than to spend my life rooting around in the cyberstacks trying to nail down the skinny (is that a mixed metaphor? or am I running a tannery?) on such arcane points as the distinction between invoke, obviously “to call in,” and evoke, which ought obviously to mean “to call out.”

    Well … “to call out” would cause me to think of “to call forth.” As in, “Call forth the spirits of the heroes!”
    But then again, I cry, “I invoke the power of Greyskull!”

    [I checked with the Young Miss. She says it was really, “By the power of Greyskull!” But that’s beside the point.]

    So what’s the diff?

    I dunno, but I’ve been thinking about this off & on for awhile myself. So I went to Onelook.com, being too lazy to forklift Vol. 1 of the Compact OED (1933 Ed., printed w/errata & some updates in 1971). Findings:

    First choice is still to consult Webster’s 1828, where there is still an entry at Onelook.com. I did so and found myself not much wiser. Hard to explain the difference, though there definitely seems to be some.

    So try the second choice, Merriam. I copy the meat:

    evoke or invoke?

    Don’t feel bad if you have difficulty remembering the difference between evoke and invoke, as the words are quite similar in many ways and have considerable overlap in meaning. However, the words do differ, and you would not want to substitute one for the other. Invoke is used of putting into effect or calling upon such things as laws, authority, or privilege (“the principal invoked a rule forbidding students from asking questions”). Evoke is primarily used in the sense “to call forth or up” and is often found in connection with such things as memories, emotions, or sympathy.

    It seems to me this is sort of the reverse of my seculations above. Oh well…I see that even Ty Cobb’s batting average was only .3662.

    You should really consult the main definitions of both dictionaries. Or check the real OED (1933, print) if you’re lucky enough to be within snatching distance of one.

  • Julie near Chicago

    And bobby, all I can say is, you shouldn’t go dangling raw steak in the face of a bulldog with no impulse control. 😉

  • neonsnake

    You might guess I’m still very angry about Thursday night.

    Understandably so.

    Is she okay now, your friend?

    Antifa fit well within my “certain segment of society” that my darker nature has no sympathy for.

    As to the rest, I’m nursing a severe glögg hangover, so won’t say too much, other than to note that your fellow Swedes are very nice and hospitable folks 😉

  • bobby b

    Neonsnake: She’s good now. 65-year-old ex-elementary-school teacher, so she’s used to moronic behavior, but you still worry. And I’m guessing that “woke” now has all of the partisan ambiguity of “alt-right”, or “liberal.”

    Julie: “You should really consult the main definitions of both dictionaries.”

    I’m a firm believer in efficient effort. I’d rather just ask an expert who’s likely to know exactly what’s what. Like. . . um . . . you! Thanks!

  • Julie near Chicago

    bobby, my own hangover is the result of overdoing the bedtime milk. Other than that, What Neon Said. And that I’m sad, worried, and angry that this stuff has come so close to you.

    Julie
    PS. YVW. :>)

  • bobby b

    Julie: In fairness, it didn’t come to me – through poor planning, I went to it. You can see the Target Center entrance from the condo, and it didn’t occur to any of us adults that we might want to reschedule. Dumb.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I would also guess that that’s what the term was originally coined to invoke.”

    On ‘invoke’ vs ‘evoke’ – you probably meant ‘evoke’ in the sense of bringing those ideas to mind, but it could also be used as ‘invoke’ if bringing those ideas to mind is part of a tactic to gain a political or rhetorical advantage. Invocation is more active – you bring it up specifically for it to achieve something by means of its own powers.

    Although as the Wikipedia article I linked explains, it wasn’t originally intended that way.

    As for Antifa, some history is relevant to understanding where they’re coming from. Note that their definition of ‘fascist’ isn’t the same as everyone else’s.

    But talking about ‘reds under the bed’ this way evokes the spirit of the late Senator Joe McCarthy, and thus allows opponents to invoke the spectre of McCarthyism, which carries plenty of baggage in American political history. I’m not sure if it’s a good idea in these times of historical ignorance.

  • neonsnake

    And I’m guessing that “woke” now has all of the partisan ambiguity of “alt-right”, or “liberal.”

    Looks that way. I’ll chalk it up as another one of the words I’ve lost, and refrain from using it in the future.

  • if crime is concentrated in poor areas, then it follows that the wealthy are paying more taxes in order to send police into poor areas. In best case, I’m paying more than my fair share in order to protect the poor from crime (neonsnake, October 12, 2019 at 8:24 am)

    There are countervailing effects. “The poor pay more” is complained of by lefties. The crime-ridden pay more is – more accurately – observed by economists. Stores in high-crime areas must cover the higher costs of security, thefts, etc. in higher prices, poorer services or whatever. A school whose area and/or students mean much must be spent on security can have the same budget as a well-disciplined school yet spend less money on teacher salaries, books, etc., and less time on actually educating anyone. And while more overall police resource may go to a high-crime area, the attention paid to each crime – the quality of service received by each citizen who is a victim of crime – can be better in a low-crime area.

    Crime causes poverty much as kleptocracy (e.g. socialism) causes poverty. The politicians who claim they will “reduce crime by reducing the causes of crime, i.e. poverty” are often the same ones who are trying to reduce poverty by introducing socialism, but even without that, the idea reverses cause and effect. If you would reduce poverty, fight kleptocracy and fight crime.

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