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

If you want to wear a poppy, then do so. If you do not, then again, so be it. If liberty is to mean anything, then it means the right not to wear a poppy and the dead of two world wars doubtless wouldn’t have cared overmuch either way – being somewhat more mature than their descendants.


25 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Patrick Crozier

    Remember: wearing a poppy indicates – or ought to – that you have made a donation to what used to be known as the “Haig Fund”, a charity that helps ex-servicemen. That’s all.

  • Flubber

    The alphabet people [(C) Dave Chappelle] of course have produced a rainbow poppy cos those wankers need to polarise everything.

  • JohnK

    Nobody is or should be forced to wear a poppy.

    However, left wing virtue signallers, such as left wing Jon Snow of left wing Channel 4, who makes a very public show of not wearing a poppy, and denounces what he calls “poppy fascism””, are, by any reasonable standard, twats.

  • Runcie Balspune

    I wear a poppy and my Amazon Smile setting is for the British Legion, I ain’t makin’ no mock o’ uniforms that guard me while I sleep

  • Thank you to the brave men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

  • Christopher, you’re talking about the people behind the rainbow poppy, right?

  • Albion's Blue Front Door

    I take Longrider’s point that one can if one wishes wear a poppy or choose not to wear one. I opt for wearing.

    But while I don’t admire the need for a ‘rainbow’ poppy (though I am sure many LGbTQs, etc, died in the conflicts) I do not get the white poppy. If any enlightened readers here can illuminate my darkness, I’d be grateful.

    (PS, when will we see a Green poppy for all the plants destroyed in the wars?)

  • Wearing a poppy is more of a British Commonwealth custom, but here in the States the local chapters of the Veteran’s of Foreign Wars (VFW) often sell them.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    I donate to the RAF Benevolent Fund, looking after ex-air force personnel and their families. Excellent organisation.

  • Christopher, you’re talking about the people behind the rainbow poppy, right?

    Not in this lifetime.

  • bobby b

    “If liberty is to mean anything, then it means the right not to wear a poppy and the dead of two world wars doubtless wouldn’t have cared overmuch either way”

    Liberty also means that we have the right to burn our national flag.

    That doesn’t mean I won’t dislike you if you do.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes people should have the right to decide whether or not they wear a poppy.

    Just as other people have the right to make a moral judgement about people on this basis – and act accordingly.

    In “On Liberty” J.S. Mill said that people do not have the right to “parade” their disapproval of conduct (I suspect he was thinking of the people who turned their back when Mr Mill and Mrs Taylor appeared together) – Mr Mill was mistaken, people do have the right to “parade” their disapproval, this in no way violates the rights of the person being disapproved of.

    Of course different people disapprove of different things – so people naturally gravitate to people who have the same view of what should, and what should not, be disapproved of.

  • Fraser Orr

    To be controversial: isn’t wearing a poppy a form of virtue signalling?

    For sure, donate and support veterans, they deserve it, but why does one have to wear a badge saying that you do? The phrase “virtue signal” has a kind of underlying idea that the virtue isn’t actually virtuous, and that is obviously not the case here. But it is still virtue signalling.

    I hate these “I voted” stickers they give out at polling booths here.

  • Julie near Chicago


    There’s nothing wrong in principle in “virtue-signalling” — there are different reasons for it, and some of them are benign and downright healthy. It’s why you do it and how you go about doing it, and what those who get the signal make of it.

    Bragging is out-in-the-open virtue-signalling, at least sometimes. A little quiet bragging in a circle of like-minded folks is often good for us. We have something we did that we’re proud of, and it feels good when other people go Attaboy! (Of course we ought not to brag that we more-or-less vivisected Brett Kavanaugh, but that’s because the acts of those *bleeps* were nasty in the extreme to begin with. Bragging about that would be signalling evil done proudly.)

    It’s virtue-signalling that’s adopted so as to be In with the Right Crowd and not be blackballed from said bunch or exorcised from it that we look upon suspiciously. What provokes suspicion is that some people are being downright dishonest about the reasons why they’re signalling their virtue (generally, out of hypocrisy) and likely enough are out to intimidate the rest of us into following their foul program.

    Most importantly, so-called “virtue-signalling” often demonstrates that the virtue you’re signalling is an important virtue. As in the case of the poppy-wearers. “I think we should remember and respect those who fell in the fight to keep us free of German rule.” That is the message to the crowd, and I for one applaud it. (At least I’ve always taken that to be the meaning of the U.K.’s Remembrance Day.)

    For those who wear the poppy for those reasons, it’s almost perverse to accuse them of “virtue-signalling.” Because for many, their virtue isn’t the point.


    And sure, “I voted” can be taken as signalling virtue, but it can also be a reminder to passersby that the right to vote is an important right if you support our system (admittedly falling short of intentions, desires, objectives) and that they might care to do likewise. And again, if worn in that spirit and if you believe that voting really is virtuous, there’s nothing wrong with a little bragging about it.


    Which prompts me to observe that bragging isn’t necessarily about “sticking on side.”

  • Fraser Orr

    Interesting analysis, you make some good points. Thanks JnC.

    I think what chokes me most about the “I voted” sticker is that it is part of a big manipulation. It is kind of like saying “I’m powerful, I made a difference” and the politicians patting us on the head saying, “yes you did, you are powerful, you did make a difference”. When in truth you aren’t (not by voting) and you didn’t make a difference. To me it is part of a mass delusion associated with voting.

    When I became a US Citizen one of the questions I was asked is “what is the most important right Americans have”. Now I think we here on Samizdata could debate that at quite some length. The right to free speech? The right to self defense? The right to petition the government? Freedom of the press? However, the BCIS wasn’t looking for the right answer, they were looking for the official answer “the right to vote”. Because the right to vote is the thing that gives politicians an illusion of a mandate to do all the terrible things that they do.

    In a sense the right to vote is the opposite of the most important right, in fact the opposite of rights in general. The right to vote is the right to join with others, form a majority and use that power to steal, cheat and oppress the minority who they don’t like. The other rights are the rights of the minority to, for example, say the unpopular, or get a fair trial even if they are loathsome, or publish a newspaper opposing government policies.

    Which isn’t to say that the right to vote is disposable. It is a natural backstop against the most extreme forms of tyranny. But I live in Illinois. When I see “I voted today” I instead read “you got together with your buddies and doubled my income tax because your elected representatives have been robbing you blind and eventually ran out of other people’s money.”

  • James Strong

    I wear the poppy. I do it to honour better men and women than me who fought and died for my freedom.

    And I do want people to see that I wear it because I want to keep that sacrifice in the public memory, and I want ordinary people to see that other ordinary people like me will not forget those men and women,

    I always go into the voting booth on Polling Day. As well as helping to choose my representatives if I put my X against one of them it is also a way of honouring those men and women who are better than me and better than my representatives.

  • bobby b

    Virtue signaling can be a great thing.

    Every August, on Purple Heart Day, I help sell Military Order of Purple Hearts violas – flowers just like poppies, but different (I imagine for trademark reasons.)

    You shoot for hitting a critical mass of flowers sold in a shopping area. Once enough people see enough people wearing them, they all start looking to find you so that they can be virtuous too. You can tell when that happens – you go from feeling like the bell-ringer at Christmastime with everyone shuffling past and averting their eyes to not being able to hand them out fast enough.

    Money for programs, and lots of people feeling authentically and properly virtuous. Win/win.

    So – what Julie said.

  • Tedd

    To be controversial: isn’t wearing a poppy a form of virtue signalling?

    I regard wearing the poppy on days other than Remembrance Day as virtue signalling and I don’t do it. (Where I live some people starting wearing it right after Halloween on Oct. 31, as though it were Remembrance Season.) Wearing it on the 11th could also be virtue signalling, if that’s your intent. But I don’t see any reason to automatically regard it as virtue signalling any more than any other statement of sentiment.

  • neonsnake

    I’ll buy my (Red! Rainbow poppy? ffs, there’s a time and a place) poppy tomorrow, and wear it until the 11th.

    I get Fraser’s point, and there is an element of it – the OP supports Fraser’s point. I’ll wear it out and about, because I enjoy a number of freedoms that I wouldn’t have if people hadn’t died in wars to protect them, and because I value the people who serve in our military; so if serving men and women see a poppy on my lapel, and others’, and even a little bit feel that they are appreciated, then I think that’s a Very Good Thing, and a good reason to wear it for a few days before the 11th

    I also wear it, especially in work, because I’m precisely not the sort to virtue signal with it. There’s a little bit of inverted snobbery about the poppy, that it’s looked down upon a little bit, and me wearing one provokes a “oh, I didn’t think you were the type to wear a poppy” conversation, which gives me the opportunity to explain why I wear one. And maybe change a few minds about it.

  • Just as other people have the right to make a moral judgement about people on this basis – and act accordingly.

    That rather depends upon what form that act takes. Turning one’s back is harmless enough, but the latest expression of disapproval to hit the news has taken the form of haranguing blind people for using guide dogs. Sure they have the right to their opinion, but does that right to express it extend as far as getting in someone’s face and forcing it upon them? I’d say that this is harassment and therefore not.

    If someone disapproves of my life choices and feels that I need to be told, then they have to take the consequences. At the very least, I’ll see no reason to be polite about advising them which orifice is best suited for that opinion.

  • On the Kohima memorial to the fallen of what was understandably called “the forgotten 14th army” is the text

    When you go home,
    Tell them of us and say,
    “For your tomorrow,
    we gave our today.”

    Wearing the poppy is (in ordinary circumstances) almost the opposite of virtue signalling – more like earning the right to virtue-signal. Some people gave their lives so that National Socialism and the WWII Bushido code would not rule our lives. Suppose someone decides not to remember them, not to honour them by sporting a very inexpensive item of attire for one week every year (or in some other quiet, non-virtue-signalling way that has meaning for them). What does that say about any virtue-signalling the ignorer displays on any other subject?

    JohnK (November 7, 2019 at 11:28 am) ridicules left-wing virtue-signallers who complain of “poppy fascism”.

    – His particular example, John Snow, does work for the BBC whom we are compelled to fund, so as a mere technical point I think Snow could be required, while presenting, to wear one. If I can be required to pay the licence fee then Snow can be required to wear a poppy. In general, however, I agree with JohnK and others that there should be no law.

    – However, as even Mussolini’s forces managed to kill some Brits, I think there’s a much more fundamental logical problem with Snow’s withholding the signal of honouring those who died fighting actual fascism while virtue-signalling his opposition to what he pretends is fascism. And when the virtue-signaller accuses something of being nazi, or a symptom of an old fashioned attitude (that victims of the brutal Japanese WWII warrior code would have been very grateful to experience instead), then even more does the position stink logically as well as morally.

  • rosenquist

    I am all for remembering the war dead but wearing a poppy does indeed seem like a cheap virtue signalling.

  • CaptDMO

    Rainbow poppies? Really?
    Co-opting (yellow)lapel ribbons, after all the heavy lifting was done, wasn’t enough?
    No, I suppose it’s NEVER enough, now is it.
    Virtue signaling? Artificial Poppies? “I voted”, aerial fireworks on the 4th of July? (results may vary in England)
    Gosh, why poppies?

    I wonder how many disposable cups of Starbucks coffee it would take to equal the “expense”of a year round, 24 hour, 5’X9′ National flag (eg) actually made in the US?

    Isn’t there some sort of “Hyphen…because it’s complicated!” logo I can wear around my neck for all to see?

  • As usual in this day and age, the issue turns out to be not whether one should wear a poppy or not but whether one may safely express an opinion on that point. It would appear my comment above would get me fired if I said it on air in Canada.

    Given time, the woke may yet rescue the wearing of a poppy from any possible reproach of being ‘cheap virtue signalling’ by making it instead an act of some civil courage in itself.