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

I’ve just been reading the twitter feed of a senior journalist and also of a well-known philosopher. They seem to me to be preposterous figures. One of the extraordinary effects of digital is that it reveals the hollowness and mediocrity of those we’d once have lauded.

Douglas Carswell

13 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Flubber

    The most significant group on the global stage to completely disintegrate are the Neocons.

    20 years ago they led the US into unwinnable wars in the ME costing millions of lives; nowadays they’re bitter hysterical morons claiming that true conservatism means voting for Bernie Sanders.

  • Charlie

    I’m barely a third of the way through “A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East” by David Fromkin. As with similar books read over the years (Imperial Life in the Emerald City, etc) it’s full of the depressing reminders of all the ignorance, bungling and hubris of those “at the top”. Very hard to shake the feeling that the world would have been better off with people making their decisions by flipping a coin.

    As with observations about the mendacity/inaccuracy of the press etc, the common response to all of this is “Yeah, but Charlie it’s always been this way”. As if that somehow explains it all away.

    But as Carswell points out, now we have it arrayed in front of us in real time, as opposed to having to wait years (decades) to find out the truth. Whether enough of us have eyes to see and ears to hear and the meagre IQ required to connect the dots and compensate accordingly … Ooh, look, a baby squirrel!

  • Fraser Orr

    Not that I am one to defend either philosophers (who I think are mostly full of hot air) or journalists (who I think are generally agenda driven activists, and often not particularly smart), but in all fairness, Twitter does not show the best of people. If you have to comment in 140 characters ten times a day one should not wonder that the level of discourse is lacking depth. After all, the best people probably have a dozen good ideas in their lifetimes, that is about a day and a half of twittering.

    As I have said before, Twitter is the cesspool of human thought. Anyone who tries to judge anything at all from twitter traffic or content is on a fool’s errand.

    The smartest and most interesting people put their ideas through a filter of criticism, evaluation, review and revision. No idea pops out of the head fully formed. Good or interesting ideas are not the currency of the verbal diarrhea that we find on train of thought media such as twitter.

  • In the twitter thread of the OP tweet, someone retweets Chris Lockwood, writer for The Economist:

    This is not someone who was at death’s door a few days ago. Something incredibly fishy about the whole business.

    I’m unsurprised that Boris’ recovery is not going down well with that rag – its readers’ bizarre beliefs hinted at how its writers ‘think’. But the contrast of its “Pretend you are God” house style with that tweet really illustrates Carswell’s point. Does Chris think Jenny from New Zealand and Luis from Portugal were well paid, or never existed, or did pretend-God tweet without thinking about either of these two ‘common people’? 🙂

  • Mr Ecks

    Much as I despise the left–what DID the NHS do that Johnson is so fulsome with praise?

    They have no cure. So they did what? Tea & sympathy? Oxy shots–you can buy Oxy cylinders via mail order catalogues. Have a ventil handy–even tho most who go on aren’t coming off again.

    Or did they give him chloro etc–even tho’ Dame May Whitty says the rest of us can die first.

  • CaptDMO

    Never meet your heroes….
    Ever watch a sitcom, WITHOUT the laugh track? (Full Disclosure: I like “Mom”)
    Ever read a transcript of a speech, WITHOUT hearing the speaker choking back their tears, and watching them making wild gestures?
    Ever imagine an infomercial delivered by your in-laws, rather than a “pretty” celebrity?

  • “I once sent a dozen of my friends a telegram saying ‘flee at once – all is discovered.’ They all left town immediately.” — Mark Twain

    That’s what is happening to the Great and Good with digital. Unfortunately, it sometimes happens to the rest of us too. But with luck, we won’t have as many people looking.

  • The OP’s twitter thread has several speculations for who the journalist might be, but A.C. Grayling easily leads the guesses for who the philosopher is. Since Brexit, one quite sees why. The transformation from smug, urbanity to ranting fruitcake was rapid – and not just on twitter.

    I assume Carswell is being coy about their names precisely to invite twitterers to suggest other candidates.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    Given the timing, I suggest Carswell’s tweet may have been prompted by this piece on the Guido Fawkes website which features journalist Chris Lockwood from ‘The Economist’ and the increasingly self-caricaturing philosopher A C Grayling.

    As one comment underneath the story puts it: “Is Grayling nursing a particular grudge because Boris closed down all the hairdressing salons?”

  • Paul Marks

    Sometimes “intellectuals in power” do a good job – for example the scholars who influenced the Prussian State in the early 19th century. Ironically they are virtually unknown now – whereas 18th century Frederick the Great (whose statism they reversed) and Bismark (the late 19th century statist) are cheered to the skies.

    Getting rid of serfdom and getting rid of the vast and detailed control of the economy by the state (which reached its peak under Frederick the Great – a man celebrated by the ignorant) was a good thing – and made Prussia the most powerful economy in Germany (although that economic strength was used for terrible purposes by the menace Bismark).

    But “intellectuals” these days? Both in Britain and the United States to call them shits would be an insult to human excrement.

  • To paraphrase: “It is better to delay publication until the topic is resolved and be thought a genius for getting it right than to opine early and be seen a fool.”

  • Rob

    What astonishes me is the careless, even reckless disregard they have for their credibility when they post something like this. You would think an editor at the Economist would consider himself a serious person, and would not want his work to be considered the acts of a frivolous loony, so why demolish said credibility by posting this?

    Whenever I see something by him now my first thought will be “oh, that bloke who thought there was some sort of conspiracy over Johnson’s Illness”.

    Oh, and another thing: his conspiracy theory was terrible even on its own terms. It would require NHS staff to conspire with a Tory Prime Minister. It is so ludicrous that even the 5G virus nonsense sounds more plausible in comparison.

  • mikee

    Laurence Sterne, 18th Century English author, wrote of his disappointment upon meeting the boorish creator of his favorite hymn, which had inspired countless thousands with its spirituality.

    Most creation is best considered separately from its creator.
    Thus ever has it been, thus ever shall it be.

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