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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Random thoughts about our predicament

With the virus encouraging more people and businesses to develop online, remote working models, it is going to put a premium on things like high-speed, reliable internet, video, two-way video, etc. And paradoxically, that means digital viruses are even more a threat (and often come from the same places as the biological ones, such as China). So I expect that spending on cyber-security, as well as developing more resilient business models (diversified supply chains, closer-to-home manufacturing of essentials such as medicines), and leaner, more scalable medical services, will increase. That should happen as a free market response, rather than because the State wills it.

This virus will be used to bash free trade, encourage protectionism, and so on. But the verities about the division of labour and comparative advantage remain. Complete self-sufficiency cannot be squared with a high standard of living; autarky means a cramped, sclerotic world. There is a reason that the 1970s sitcom, The Good Life, was indeed a comedy because it took the piss out of the idea of freeing oneself of a complex division of labour. It brings enormous costs.

Protectionism, like its twin, anti-trust, are often the playthings of sore losers in business, and hit the consumer or smaller-scale entrepreneur. We should not lose sight of the enormous gains made since the end of the Berlin Wall and wider expansion of trade.

The current disruption should encourage a more clear-eyed understanding of the risks of doing business with dictatorships and closed societies such as China, and a need to find alternatives where possible. Wholesale theft of intellectual property can no longer be tolerated as easily as in the past. How to deal with that remains a difficult question.

On the need to avoid undue risk, it is worth pondering the following: According to the US broadcaster Tucker Carlson, 95 per cent of generic drugs used in the US are imported from China, although I am not sure what he uses as a data source for this. Most good investors understand the need for good portfolio diversification, so the same surely will apply to supply chains after this virus episode.

The developments might also encourage, or they should, a more self-reliance culture (people should learn first aid, store more non-perishable foods at home and other necessities), and in countries where people have not become too sheeplike, encourage a more robust approach to self-defence and respect for property. Imagine what happens if looting breaks out in certain situations.

Another takeway: this horrible episode has put certain rather silly (at least they are to me) concerns into perspective: PC pronouns for certain genders, “woke” remakes of action films like the much-delayed Bond film, “cancel culture”, etc. It might even remind people that screaming that the world is coming to an end unless we switch off industrial civilisation RIGHT NOW is so silly, and so monstrous, that it blunts the public to legitimate worries out there. Greta needs to put a sock in it, and go back to school and hit the books. And the man formerly known as Prince Harry simply must, for our sanity, fuck off.

52 comments to Random thoughts about our predicament

  • JohnK

    Agreed about the Harry formerly known as Prince.

    The man got two A levels at grades B and D after an Eton education. He is plainly thick. The only reason his views had any traction is because he was HRH Prince Harry. His woke wife has put an end to that. Now he is s shlub living in a cabin in British Columbia. I can only hope he finds honest work as an ice road trucker, and we never hear about him or her ever again.

    But I am not really that optimistic.

  • a more robust approach to self-defence and respect for property

    One could always stand in front of the looter pointedly coughing and wheezing like you’re at death’s door. 🙂

    I can only hope he finds honest work as an ice road trucker, and we never hear about him or her ever again.

    I rather enjoyed ‘Ice Road Truckers’. Harry chatting over the radio with his fellow-trucking, not-so-PC types might have comic possibilities – or even reclamation possibiities, as it would take him away from Megan’s influence for long periods. You may unwittingly have invented the next TV reality show. 🙂

  • Peter MacFarlane

    Harry will be fine after the divorce.

    Chastened, perhaps, but fine.

    We might even welcome him back.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    We might even welcome him back.

    Possibly, as a tour guide for Saga holidays.

  • Mr Ed

    My wish for 2021? Harry dumps Meghan for Greta, as long as his child is happy.

  • JohnK

    Niall:

    I will share the copyright with you. Let’s make it happen!

  • William H. Stoddard

    “It must be three-quarters of a generation since any house or city faced a food shortage. Yet is there house or city on the Planet today that has not half a year’s provisions laid in? We are like the shipwrecked seamen in the old books, who, having once nearly starved to death, ever afterwards hide away bits of food and biscuit. Truly we trust no Crowds, nor system based on Crowds!”

    Rudyard Kipling, “As Easy as A.B.C.”

  • llamas

    It’s easy to be (relatively) light-hearted about the current crisis. But I think it’s a mistake to underestimate the potential negatives. After all, we are – mostly – well-educated, well-informed people with plenty of resources and options for when everything goes pear-shaped.

    I’ll be brutal – part of my preparation for this growing epidemic has been the purchase of a second AR-15, for the exclusive use of mrs llamas, and a thousand rounds of M855 to go with it. The gift that shows you care. And we are both going everywhere armed, no exceptions.

    Remember – the crisis likely isn’t nearly as serious as all the wailing heads on the TV say it is. It doesn’t have to be. It doesn’t matter how serious it really is – what matters is how serious people think it is. And when enough poorly-informed, poorly-resourced people start thinking that the world really is going to fall apart, and they find themselves without food, or gas, or TP, or Netflix, or any one of 1,000 other things that they have had at their disposal as-of-right – then the potential for things to go very bad indeed, very quickly, becomes quite significant.

    llater,

    llamas

  • JohnK

    Llamas:

    Are you sure you don’t mean AR14? Anyway, enjoy it while you can, Creepy Uncle Joe plans to take your AR14/15 and sniff your wife’s hair, if you’ll let him.

    On this side of the pond there are no AR14s or 15s, but you can have a nice Baikal shotgun, a very decent gun for the money, and something you are not allowed to have over there. How does that feel?

  • llamas

    I bought my second AR-15 from a dealer who has promised me that, the day that Uncle Joe announces his plans, there’s going to be an unfortunate fire at his shop, and all of his 4473 forms and Bound Books are going to be consumed. Such a shame. What a pity.

    Or, as he sometimes jokes, what he should really do is turn them all in to the ATF voluntarily, as you can do. That way, he’s sure that, Raiders of the Lost Ark-style, they will go into some government warehouse in Boise or Tucumcari, never to be seen again.

    Regarding Baikal shotguns, I’m fine with the import ban. If I need another fencepost, my local Tractor Supply has plenty in stock. 😛

    llater,

    llamas

  • Mr Ed

    It is not the coronavirus outbreak that concerns me, it is part of the ecosystem, we always have to keep up the struggle for existence. What concerns me is that the State will break the surly bonds of Law placed on it and it will destroy economic life and with it, the vestiges of civilisation. This seems to be happening in Italy as we speak, when an entire nation has become a pound for the populace, as if they were fevered dogs. I hope that San Marino retains its senses.

  • bob sykes

    There is no such thing as an AR-14. There is an M-14, but that is a select fire (auto/semiauto) miltary rifle in 7.62 NATO.

    Everyone should have whatever gun you are allowed, plus some contraband

  • Wonky Moral Compass

    JohnK, there are plenty of legally held AR15s on this side of the pond though they’re modified straight pull rifles. The reason being that the authorities take a dim view of automatic and semi-automatic weapons in civilian hands. They do allow semi-automatic .22 and, surprisingly, shotguns on section one firearms certificates.

  • Patrick Crozier

    Perhaps one thing that is worth mentioning is public transport. Is there a better way to get CommieFlu than travelling on a packed train?

  • bobby

    I’m down in the Florida Keys for an annual gathering of like-minded people for kayak fishing and heavy drinking. We’re all mostly from Northern states, and we all made the decision independently to drive here for 26 hours instead of flying.

    It can’t be too long before we see flights being cancelled, and (fun as it sounds) we couldn’t afford to get caught down here with no transportation.

    Consensus is, we all ought to find someone with the virus and infect ourselves now, while the health care system is still mostly gearing up and isn’t flooded with patients. It’s not going to be the virus that kills – it’ll be getting the virus during a period when health care is completely overwhelmed and cannot provide respiratory aid.

    (Not wishing to be crossing state lines with an AR, I limited my packing to two pistols. I feel naked!)

  • Snorri Godhi

    One could always stand in front of the looter pointedly coughing and wheezing like you’re at death’s door.

    Or the looter could stand in front of the lootee, spitting on his hand and trying to touch the lootee.

    That is what happens in a memorable scene from the Flemish TV series Cordon, which you can watch here with English subtitles.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “There is no such thing as an AR-14.”

    There was, actually, briefly an AR-14. It was a prototype sporting rifle created by Armalite. I’ve heard it was used in Vietnam, but was nowhere near as popular as the subsequent AR-15. Certainly not the gun Biden was talking about.

    Here’s an armalite advert for one.
    http://i.imgur.com/DtVjKK1.jpg

    Pedantry is the soul of the internet.

  • Flubber

    Re:Pedantry is the soul of the internet.

    I think you’ll find its pendantry.

  • Eric

    According to the US broadcaster Tucker Carlson, 95 per cent of generic drugs used in the US are imported from China, although I am not sure what he uses as a data source for this.

    As I understand it the problem isn’t the drugs themselves, but rather precursors drug companies use to manufacture the final product. This isn’t a new problem – in 1994 an explosion and fire at a Sumitomo Chemical plant virtually eliminated the entire world’s production capability of epoxy resin for microchip package manufacture.

  • APL

    JP: “This virus will be used to bash free trade, encourage protectionism, and so on. But the verities about the division of labour and comparative advantage remain.”

    We should take a step back and a long hard look at the role the Chinese authorities have played in the scenario.

    This CV outbreak burst into the western media on or around the 20th January, when the Chinese government quarantined fifteen of its own cities.

    An action like that, didn’t suddenly happen overnight. They knew they had a problem in December, probably in November. Yet, they did nothing.

    I did wonder why the outbreak in Italy has been so severe. It turns out the Italian government has agreed to take part in China’s Belt and Road initiative, and there is something like 150,000 Chinese nationals travelling between Italy and China.

    Yet.

    The Chinese government issued no warnings to foreign governments. Even though they knew there was an established problem in December. Probably before.
    The Chinese government did not restrict their own nationals from travel abroad. Even though they knew there was a problem in December.

    So trade between governments and peoples that hold similar attitudes is a beneficial good for those peoples.

    But between the West and a government that holds a million of its own citizens in concentration camps, refused to declare it has a contagious disease running rampant in its own population, refuses to provide clear information about the contagion. And takes actions that are guaranteed to spread the contagion into those countries that, so far have been foolish enough to ‘trust’ the Chinese government.

    The Chinese government is not a government we should be working with. Regardless that the financiers can make a filthy killing putting Westerners out of work.

    Then there is the abysmal record the Chinese government on intellectual property, they are more than happy to steal anything that isn’t bolted down.

    This is not a aberration, this is an established pattern of behaviour.

    It there is a hacking scandal, six times out of ten you can be sure it originates either from China, or from a Chinese national in one or other of our universities,or government research establishments.

    But none of this much get in the way of the multinational conglomerates and financiers.

    Well, frankly guys. Fuck you!

  • We need to all start calling this Winnie the Flu just to annoy the CCP 😆

  • Mr Ed

    H/T to Guido, the UK’s Electoral Commission are recommending that local government elections are postponed until the Autumn, not to give the new Labour Party leader a chance to boost the party’s fortunes (obviously) but to protect the ‘electoral community’ etc.

  • Mr Ed

    Patrick C,

    Perhaps one thing that is worth mentioning is public transport. Is there a better way to get CommieFlu than travelling on a packed train?

    Yes there is a ‘better’ way, the Commie Kiss.

  • Eddie Willers

    “Don’t Bring Harry”, sang The Stranglers…all the way back in ’79. Spookily prescient.

  • JohnK

    Llamas:

    The Baikal is fine as a utility shotgun. They are well made, and will do everything a Beretta or a Browning will, except display your wealth. Trouble is, they now retail for about £600, which seems mad. I remember when they were about £200, but then I always did prefer the 80s.

    Nullus:

    As you say, Creepy Uncle Joe was not thinking of that AR14, the mush he has instead of a brain just forgot the term for the most common rifle in the USA, and the sort he wants to ban. I believe seniors with dementia should be treated with kindness, but not elected to the presidency.

  • mickc

    Baikal..haha!

  • Paul Marks

    The economic arguments for free trade are sound. There should be free trade with Japan, Taiwan, Germany and so on (many nations – no dependence on one trading partner).

    However, nations must NOT become dependent for vital goods and services on a hostile power – such as the People’s Republic of China Communist Party Dictatorship.

    Not only is borrowing hundreds of billions of Dollars every year to fund imports of consumption goods not sustainable economically, in the case of trading with a hostile dictatorship it is strategic madness.

    Becoming dependent on the PRC Communist Party dictatorship for vital goods and services puts their fist on our throats in the West. And “storing goods” is not enough. The capacity to make goods (like the capacity to farm food) can not be created over night – it must already be there, and must not be allowed to decay away (to a wasteland of towns with empty factories and people on welfare or employed in nonproductive “jobs” in government and private administrative and service structures – watching the towns and cities, and rural areas, fall apart around them).

    The idea that economic reform would lead to political reform in China has been trotted out for more than 40 years – that theory has now been shown to be utterly FALSE. The PRC Communist Party Dictatorship remains committed to world domination and the utter destruction of the principles of liberty embodied in the Bill of Rights.

    Depending on the PRC for vital goods and services is, I repeat, madness.

    “Defence is more important than opulence” (Adam Smith) – especially when the “opulence” turns out to be confined to a small group of people in the West who the PRC Communist Party Dictatorship has essentially PAID OFF.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Let me add another argument to those presented by APL and Paul Marks.
    Given that the Chinese nomenklatura effectively controls, if not owns, all Chinese industry, a trade deficit of country A with China implies state ownership of part of country A’s assets — Chinese state ownership, that is.

    I understand that the ChiComs also own a lot of US Treasuries, which means that they can also cause a US debt default any time they want.

    Independently of the above, while reading the OP i was amused by the contrast between the following statements:

    But the verities about the division of labour and comparative advantage remain. Complete self-sufficiency cannot be squared with a high standard of living; autarky means a cramped, sclerotic world.

    And, a couple of paragraphs later:

    The developments might also encourage, or they should, a more self-reliance culture

    Presumably that is why Johnathan wrote “complete self-sufficiency”: to avoid a contradiction.

  • Julie near Chicago

    APL, Paul, Snorri: Agreed.

    Paul: Doubleplusgood. :>))

  • Kipling was a wise man, and I thought “The Peace of Dives” one of his wiser poems. The events of recent days have shown that poem to have feet of clay, as it were. The peace might hold better if everything had a second source, and maybe a third …

    https://poetandpoem.com/Rudyard-Kipling/The-Peace-of-Dives

  • APL

    And, as if by magic

    Snorri Godhi: “I understand that the ChiComs also own a lot of US Treasuries, ..”

    The US Treasury should just revoke all US treasury instruments held by China. That would probably do more damage to China than the US.

  • MadRocketSci

    This is sort of why I’m an off-libertarian these days. Empirically speaking, mercantilism seems to have done wonders for China. It seems to have done wonders for the British empire back when they pursued the policy. Making a national point of protecting *substantive* sectors of the economy, like manufacturing, from sectors of the economy that in the end are chicanery, smoke-and-mirrors and predatory rent seeking, ensures that things remain healthy and vast sections of the population don’t end up disposessed surplus “unnecessariat” deplorables in the ruins of their once prosperous towns.

    Alvin Toffler was full of shit. “Symbol manipulation” doesn’t sustain a country. We can’t all sell each other foreign-investment backed securities for a living. Once the MBAs have outsourced everything, no one has a place in society anymore but the aristocrats and the dockworkers.

    Education and hustling your ass off the top of the sinking ship in some coastal hive-city doesn’t help either. If you don’t have factories, you don’t need engineers. If you don’t have real-world activity, you don’t need scientists to understand the world. If you don’t have the need for robots, you don’t need the programmers to control the robots. Right now, we’re the pacific island cargo cult, and the cargo just stopped being delivered. We’ve got cargo-cult science, cargo-cult engineering, and cargo-cult industry that can’t do anything anymore, even though they ape the structure of the industrial turn-of-the-century west as hard as they can.

  • MadRocketSci

    The US Treasury should just revoke all US treasury instruments held by China. That would probably do more damage to China than the US.

    PS: When it comes to a showdown between our paper money and their industry, we’ll see who’s really holding the cards. Somehow I don’t see our unbacked “demand” as being of primary importance when pitted against their ability to produce tangible goods. Factories and experienced engineers don’t disappear in a puff of bookkeeping.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    I got almost straight As for my A levels (the terribly difficult Singapore edition), but so what?

    Props to the man if he can continue playing off his notoriety and fame. Despite being taken for a ride and still trying to save face on top of it.

  • Empirically speaking, mercantilism seems to have done wonders for China. It seems to have done wonders for the British empire back when they pursued the policy. (MadRocketSci, March 15, 2020 at 9:25 pm)

    There’s no evidence to suggest its absence would not have done better for both.

    The UK was mercantilist (and arguably not very) when no-one consciously wasn’t. The UK begins to move away from mercantilism after the American revolution and is well out of it long before the rest of the world starts catching up – by copying the industrial revolution, which it was bound to do anyway.

    China was bound to stride forward after replacing Maoist policies with anything less silly. The argument is reasonable that the party’s decision to farm the productive sector instead of forbidding it, though far less damaging, is still a negative.

    Taking actions you could call mercantilist in relation to cold-war-like enemies and/or rogue states (i.e. China) is defensible. The question is: do you think of it as medicine or food (and, importantly, does a government’s innate tendencies mean it will treat it as food, not medicine, whatever their words say).

    BTW, while I think I know what you mean, the ‘mercantilism’ of the 18th century (e.g. demanding that colonies produce only raw materials and the mother countries does all the manufacturing) is only debatably the word for China today.

  • neonsnake

    Another takeway: this horrible episode has put certain rather silly (at least they are to me) concerns into perspective: PC pronouns for certain genders

    Those calls are probably not silly for the people they affect. While we’re all here doing nothing than refreshing Facebook, I hate to think how the people that are gender-confused are feeling, since “we” have just thrown them under the bus for the sake of “it’s not urgent”, even while we’re doing nothing urgent ourselves.

    Now is the time to respect their wishes, not deny them, and to understand how not “silly” they truly are, while they’re reading a whole lot of hateful opinions online from the types that are not libertarian, but instead are attempting to control our *culture* (we used to have a word for those guys. I mean, sure, uniforms to die for, but everything else…not so much)

    I think that anyone supporting such a statement might need a little look at themselves, and their definition of “liberty”. I suspect it means liberty for a very closed group, and no-one else.

  • neonsnake

    Concurrently, Niall has suggested that we might roll back hate speech laws.

    I don’t *think* Niall is racist, by calling for hate-speech laws to be repealed.

    I might be wrong, and maybe he is. I do hope not.

    But there’s a really easy criticism “right-libs use this to ask for permission to be racist”, and well, presumably you see how this this looks to yer average Mark from Purchase Ledger.

    We, as defenders or Liberty, have come down on the side of Terfs and racists.

    Yay! That’ll win them over.

  • Mr Ed

    Those calls are probably not silly for the people they affect.

    But that is just relativism, is it not? What a(e)ffect is there? Is it to embolden those whose primary drive is to wallow in whingeing self-pity? Compare their plight to someone like this gentleman, and pray tell me how hard done by they are. I am interested.

  • bobby b

    But, Mr. Ed, what if what drives that self-pity is the way they are treated by . . . us? How fair is it to treat someone abominably, and then, when they complain, tell them that their plight is better off than some we could name?

    I’m no fan of enforced pronoun orders, certainly, but a public crisis provides no excuse for incivility. “I can treat you badly because worse things are out here now”?

    We’re always free to accept a poorer life for ourselves in the name of general sacrifice, but it is unseemly to demand that others do it instead.

  • neonsnake

    I’m sure you think you’ve made a point.

    You haven’t. It’s not relativism, except for those it doesn’t affect.

    As I just said “Those calls are probably not silly for the people they affect.”

    It’s only relativistic for those it doesn’t affect.

    For those it does, kinda not.

    As I just said

  • neonsnake (March 26, 2020 at 8:16 pm), as my poem points out, to say free-speech is racist is to say racism is true.

    Pot, kettle, black, neonsnake.

  • neonsnake

    I’m no fan of enforced pronoun orders, certainly, but a public crisis provides no excuse for incivility. “I can treat you badly because worse things are out here now”?

    Ding ding ding! Winner!

    We’re sitting here coughing our fucking lungs up, isolated from our loved ones, and the best we “lovers of liberty” can come up with is something that can be easily read as “I think we should probably be allowed to be shitty to trans kids and brown people, given these exceptional circumstances.”

    Brilliant!

    I cannot for the life of me understand why people aren’t falling in right behind us…

  • Mr Ed

    ns,

    For the final time:

    I’m sure you think you’ve made a point.

    You haven’t. It’s not relativism, except for those it doesn’t affect.

    I posed a question, ending

    ‘pray tell me how hard done by they are’.

    which you did not answer, clearly the natural conclusion would be that have no meaningful answer. Fin.

  • Mr Ed

    bobby b (if that be you)

    I’m no fan of enforced pronoun orders, certainly, but a public crisis provides no excuse for incivility. “I can treat you badly because worse things are out here now”?

    I fail to see the point of this, as ‘enforced’ pronoun orders are by definition, an aggression, whereas incivility is not. It is not treating badly to refuse to use particular pronouns, it is ignoring what is at best whinging self-pity. Call me a ‘she’ for all I care, I will find you bizarre or comical, and that is the end of it.

  • neonsnake

    Pot, kettle, black, neonsnake.

    Yes, yes, it’s very, well, how can I put this..twee…bless you.

    And full of whataboutisms. Well done.

  • Nullius in Verba

    It appears that people of every form and hue of politics are taking the crisis as a reason to ask that their enemies lay down their weapons, so that they may advance unopposed.

    If the claim that fighting *for* gender pronouns are not as important as the coronavirus, then is it not equally true that fighting *against* gender pronouns is equally unimportant? So would you therefore like being asked to shut up about it? What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander…

    On the assumption that you *wouldn’t* like to be told to shut up about it, then the same goes for people who care about pronouns and bullying, right? There’s no more reason they should stop campaigning on it now than that you should.

    As a rule, people who try to extract advantage for their pet political campaigns from an unrelated crisis/disaster lose public respect for their politics. It’s seen as disrespectful…

  • neonsnake

    pray tell me how hard done by they are

    You’ve got this bunch of kids, each of whom we *by definition as libertarians* we hold as having the right to self-determination, sitting on twitter or facebook, being *cough* hard done by.

    And you don’t see this as a problem? As a libertarian?

    Really?

  • Mr Ed

    ns

    You’ve got this bunch of kids, each of whom we *by definition as libertarians* we hold as having the right to self-determination, sitting on twitter or facebook, being *cough* hard done by.

    And you don’t see this as a problem? As a libertarian?

    It seems to me that you don’t use the term ‘self-determination’ in the sense that I do. Perhaps we are at cross-purposes? Being hard-done by on Facebook is by its very nature going somewhere for voluntary interaction, and that is no more an issue than being offended by a crossword puzzle in a free newspaper. As a (tends to) libertarian, I see the law as a shield, not a sword. And the state as a sword. In the UK, the State determines the law under our current system.

    And you see laws in Canada penalising ‘pronoun use’ as what?

  • neonsnake

    Perhaps we are at cross-purposes?

    Quite possibly.

    I view liberty as this: “The greatest amount of individual liberty compatible with the equality of liberty”, what with me being an actual libertarian and such. Evidently. you do not.

  • Mr Ed

    ns,

    I see you as seeing the law as, if not a sword, a dagger, whereas the law is to me a shield, and only that, in pursuit and defence of liberty.

    Perhaps that is why I differ from you so often.

  • bobby b

    Mr Ed
    March 26, 2020 at 10:23 pm

    bobby b (if that be you)

    Indeed it be I!

    I fail to see the point of this, as ‘enforced’ pronoun orders are by definition, an aggression, whereas incivility is not. It is not treating badly to refuse to use particular pronouns, it is ignoring what is at best whinging self-pity. Call me a ‘she’ for all I care, I will find you bizarre or comical, and that is the end of it.

    That’s your position, and it’s been your position all along. I won’t argue that. But we’re discussing, I think, what changes are warranted in our civility specifically because of the Covid-19 fun. And I’m not seeing that this warrants anything beyond what was warranted before.

    I’m here to take issue with JP’s OP line about “another takeaway”, not to thrash out pre-existing beliefs.

  • it’s very, well, how can I put this..twee… (neonsnake, March 26, 2020 at 10:31 pm)

    I self-identify as a gifted poet, neonsnake! To you, my preferred pronoun is “the bard”. (It works equally well in nominative and accusative case.) Anticipate occasional attempts at dry humour (another area in which I self-identify as talented) should you explicitly neglect this in future comments.

    🙂

    On a more relevant note, you allege ‘whataboutisms’ but avoid what the poem is actually about.

    – In old English law there was the offence of criminal libel, whose rule was: “the greater the truth, the greater the libel”.

    – Then and now, English civil libel law treated truth as a defence. In a nod to the idea that truth could arise from debate, it also treated “fair comment on a matter of public interest” as a defence.

    Accusations of racism are cheap as chips in the modern western world – something you yourself occasionally demonstrate in your comments. Obviously, there would be no point discussing whether a particular accusation were valid or not if one disputant thought they faced a civil-libel-style charge, so “it’s true/fair comment – and I said it because I honestly thought that” was a full and sufficient defence (legal and moral), but the other intended a criminal libel charge, where telling an unwelcome-to-some truth from love of truth, not from desire to offend, was not only no defence but the very essence of the crime.

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