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

Everyone should be uncomfortable taking about ‘race’ rather than ‘people’

– Perry de Havilland.

– – –

This was in response to a message from a friend:

Work email with feedback from some diversity survey. “There were lots of comments about white colleagues being uncomfortable when talking about race.”

No shit.

“Say BLM not ALM” is a performance bond

And why, you may be asking, do I think it is like a ‘performance bond’ (whatever that may be)? Here is a historical analogy:

The symbolic gesture of obeisance to Germany, made by Hungary [in winter 1938-9] but refused by Poland, was adherence to the Anti-Comintern Pact. … It was, of course, known in Berlin that the Hungarian, like the Polish, leaders of the time were vehemently, even violently, anti-communist; adherence to a German-sponsored Anti-Comintern Pact could not make them any more so. It could however be recognised as a sign of willingness to take orders from Berlin – and it was so regarded at the time. … this pact had become for the Germans a sort of performance bond to be exacted as a test of distance from the Western Powers and subordination to herself. (‘A World At Arms’, Gerhard L. Weinberg)

The Dean of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Dr Leslie Neal-Boylan, has been fired for this:

I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER,

If she’d stopped there, she’d still have her job – but she persisted:

but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS. No one should have to live in fear that they will be targeted for how they look or what they believe.

It is, of course, known in the University that the ex-Dean is vehemently (though not violently) anti-racist (when she was hired a few months ago, a now deleted University website page praised her ‘visonary’ advocacy of diversity and inclusivity, especially of the disabled in the nursing field). Making her say ‘black lives matter’ and not say ‘all lives matter’ could not make her any more so. On the contrary, just as signing the anti-comintern pact meant the signers would acquiese in Hitler’s alliance with Stalin a few months later (only the Japanese, ignorant of European mores, protested against Germany’s “outrageous violation of the pact” in August 1939), so demanding the Dean say “black lives matter” but not “all lives matter” was precisely to assure her acquiescence in theories that discriminate by race and in deeds that cost black (and other) lives.

Discussion point – current events show why universal basic income would be a terrible idea

There are lots of reasons in my mind why UBI would be a bad idea. I know that some libertarians/classical liberals, such as the late Milton Friedman, favoured a form of it in the form of “negative income tax”, but largely because they wanted to sweep together existing welfare benefits into a single payment, and for that payment to be cut fairly low so as not to kill incentives. More recently, I have seen folk such as some (not all) “transhumanists” claim that in our marvellous tech future where there is no scarcity, we can have all these goodies for “free” (no more of that stuff about “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”), and that therefore UBI will be affordable and that it will be needed, as conventional “work” no longer exists. This sort of argument is bound to be made more and more because of how work practices have been hammered by the lockdowns, among other forces.

Apart from the implausibility of the idea that scarcity will be overcome – as seen by this critique of a Charles Stross book, another reason why I distrust UBI is that it is going to create a whole class of entitled brats if UBI were to not just replace existing welfare, but be added to them in significant ways. We have had a recent demonstration of what happens when lots of people are paid for doing nothing, with only a few diversions to amuse them, and the results aren’t pretty.

Do we want to scale that issue of people living in prolonged adolescence even more? The cultural/economic consequences of a world in which a handful of evil capitalists are paying all the taxes while the rest of the population loll around on UBI, updating blogs and being generally bored out of their minds is not one I look forward to. It could end up as Ray Bradbury-meets-George Orwell-meets Aldous Huxley. Here is a good case against UBI from David Henderson.

UBI is a terrible idea, at least in terms of somehow covering a vast chunk of the population and funded by a small group who, apparently, are happy to do so without conditions. If people think I misrepresent what UBI is, and can achieve, by all means come back to me in the comments. So far, all too often it appears to be sold as some sort of utopian replacement for work. I am not buying it.

A contribution to debate

The Right Wing Dictionary – Here’s what the words and phrases conservatives use REALLY mean.

They’re not sending their best. However I must admit that “arse-badger” is a nifty little insult which I shall save for future use.

If you do not have the time or energy to follow such an intellectual analysis of the true meaning of terms used in political debate, try this for light relief:

‘Defund the police’ is not nonsense. Here’s what it really means

Samizdata quote of the century

In a hotly contested race, this side of fusion power, Net Zero is a real contender for mankind’s stupidest idea since 1648.

– Perry de Havilland