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]

Make companies product-focused again

Coinbase Inc Chief Executive Officer Brian Armstrong has offered a severance package to employees unwilling to cope with the cryptocurrency exchange’s new policy of not entertaining discussions on societal and political issues.

Armstrong’s email, which a source said was sent on Tuesday, follows an earlier blog post published on Sunday, where he said the company would not engage in issues unrelated to its core mission.

The firm would not advocate for any political causes unrelated to its mission, he said.

In the email to employees, the CEO detailed packages which include four months’ severance pay for those who have been at the exchange for less than three years, with long-term employees receiving six months severance pay.



I would love to see every company do this. When I go to a coffee shop or a bank, I am not interesting in their views about politics or social issues, indeed, I actively do not want to know. I just want a fucking coffee or to arrange something financial (hopefully not confusing the two). If they want to tell me about how yummy their products are because their beans are lovingly rubbed with civet poo, or how well they are looking after their depositors’ money, that is fine.

But pretty much anything else… please just STFU unless it is directly related to the business. I get that certain ‘life style’ brands might want their logo in a Formula One car or on Eddie Izzard’s frock. But I am not interested in how inclusive the local bookstore is, nor do I want to hear that an auto-parts shop is proud of the blasted NHS.

I do not even want any companies declaiming how much they support causes I like, let alone ones that I either oppose or which just make me roll my eyes at the sheer presumption of their marketing department. For me, this is negative marketing. I already avoid certain shops and restaurants that prominently display their ‘social awareness’ to me: they are actually doing the opposite, emphasising that I am not their target market. So I take them at their word and if I can easily get what they sell elsewhere from someone who doesn’t, that is what I always do.

Make companies product-focused again.

Samizdata quote of the day

Trump is a streetfighter waging asymmetric warfare against a traditional foe who is reviewing the rules of engagement and consulting the lawyers back at headquarters before doing anything. And all the while he’s getting pummelled. Idealists will say that it wasn’t very presidential, that they didn’t dig into policy and educate the American people, where was the dignity?

Welcome to electoral politics. It’s always been thus. Founding Father John Adams delighted in calling fellow Founder Alexander Hamilton, “the bastard brat of a Scotch peddler.” Adams himself came in for similar treatment during the election of 1800 when he was called an hermaphrodite reportedly at the behest of Thomas Jefferson.

We didn’t get any of that last night. But there’s another debate next week so keep your fingers crossed.

Chris Buskirk

2020 like it ought to be

Jet suit paramedic

Samizdata quote of the day

Perish the thought that we may allow those pesky Africans to export food to the UK without tariffs. If we allow that they might not need our charity, then how would we feel superior to them?

Sandy Wallace

Sadiq Khan will not be displeased that Uber has won its appeal

The BBC reports,

Uber spared from London ban despite ‘historical failings’

Uber has secured its right to continue operating in London after a judge upheld its appeal against Transport for London (TfL).

The ride-hailing giant has been granted a new licence to work in the capital, nearly a year after TfL rejected its application over safety concerns.

It ends uncertainty for the 45,000 drivers who use the taxi app in London.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court said Uber was now a “fit and proper” operator “despite historical failings”.


Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said TfL was “absolutely right” not to renew Uber licence last year but acknowledged the company had “made improvements”.

However, he added: “I can assure Londoners that TfL will continue to closely monitor Uber and will not hesitate to take swift action should they fail to meet the strict standards required to protect passengers.”

Remember this from 2017?

Sadiq Khan is accused of ‘capitulating’ to black cab drivers’ union that bankrolled his London Mayor’s election campaign as petition to save taxi app reaches 600,000 signatures

The Mayor’s previous two attempts to ban Uber from London were unpopular with Londoners in general, and particularly unpopular with groups that normally vote Labour. Uber is a godsend for people living in non-posh places where black cabs do not venture, and for people who cannot afford the fares they charge. Uber drivers are very often from ethnic minorities and/or relatively recent immigrants. (All over the developed world taxi drivers tend to be immigrants for very good reasons – unless restrictive practices keep them out.)

Mr Khan knew all that, of course, but he could not afford to refuse the cab drivers’ union.

Now a nice judge has got him off the hook.

An Australian senator is summoned by the Equal Opportunities Commission

This is an excerpt from Hansard Australia recording a debate that took place in the Parliament of Australia on the 3rd September 2020:

Chamber Senateon 3/09/2020

Item ADJOURNMENT – Freedom of Speech

Senator CHANDLER (Tasmania) (17:45): Last week in the Senate I spoke about World Rugby’s efforts to defend the integrity and safety of women’s sport by ensuring women’s rugby is for female players. At the end of my speech, I referenced the recent case of a woman being fired from her job for speaking about the reality of biological sex. I posed the question:

How do Australians know that they are able to speak freely about women’s rights and the reality of biological sex without being censured or fired by their employer?

Well, it didn’t take long to get the answer to that question. The answer is that Australians are not free to acknowledge the realities of sex or to defend the integrity of women’s sport.

Today I received a letter from the Tasmanian equal opportunity commission, summoning me to attend a conciliation conference to answer for my statements on free speech and sex based rights. The complaint, made under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, is in relation to an op-ed I had published in The Mercury earlier this year about, quite ironically, free speech. My op-ed started:

The recent publication of an open letter signed by 150 writers and academics in defence of free speech offers a glimmer of hope that we can put a stop to the anti-democratic cancel culture which has taken root in many corners of society.

Well, I’m not so sure about there being a glimmer of hope for free speech now. The complaint letter I received today says, in referencing my actions: ‘It is clear or can be inferred from her comments that she considers people who are born male and seek to live as a female should not have access to female toilets, facilities or sports. This is problematic because excluding someone who is designated male at birth and currently expresses their gender as female from single-sex facilities or sport may be direct discrimination on the basis of gender identity.’ It is open to the commissioner to dismiss the complaint as vexatious but without substance, but she has chosen instead to pursue it and to compel me to attend a compulsory mediation with the complainant.

Many democracies have a system whereby parliamentary committees or their equivalent demand the attendance of citizens so that questions can be put to them by the MPs. These sessions almost invariably display elected lawmakers at their most arrogant. I cheered when Dominic Cummings refused to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK Parliament. But I have found one thing I hate more than elected politicians summoning members of the public for (theoretically) compulsory questioning: unelected bureaucrats summoning elected politicians for actually compulsory “conciliation”.

“Compulsory Conciliation” was the title of the post in the pro Scottish Independence blog “Wings Over Scotland” where I saw this illustration of how fast once-cherished notions of free speech can fall. It would have surprised me in 2014 to know that in 2020 I would be grateful to Stuart Campbell for the good work he is doing to protect civil liberties in Scotland. But that is the sort of thing that happens when a Bill allows as much scope for abuse as does the Hate Crime Bill (Scotland). People from all quarters of politics have seen the danger and come together to oppose it. And do not think for a moment that what happens in Scotland or Australia can be ignored elsewhere.

By the way, I was not particularly interested in Senator Claire Chandler’s exact views about the transgender issue, only in the fact that an “equalities” official can summon a Senator of the Parliament of Australia for questioning over her “problematic” opinions.

Samizdata practical advice of the day

If you find yourself moved to attend a public protest in the UK, but are not a member of a group that your local Plod choose to kneel in support of, might I suggest you protect yourself, because it is likely violent thugs may decide your protest is unwanted.

A good way to do this is by attending future protests with a good (but generic) motorbike helmet (which also means you are wearing a ‘face covering’, for Covid-19, you understand) and stout boots to protect your feet. Full biker leathers (also generic and unadorned) are optional but also have much to commend them, and these can be armoured and reinforced in all sorts of way.

Modern slavery

At CapX, James Bloodworth writes,

And yet, left-wing politicians and activists still flock to anything emitting a whiff of revolution “like bluebottles to a dead cat”, as George Orwell once put it.

The much-vaunted Cuban healthcare system is a case in point. Throughout the six months of the Covid pandemic, we’ve seen various stories emerge that have highlighted Cuba’s so-called medical diplomacy. Jeremy Corbyn himself has praised the “inspirational” efforts of Cuban doctors who have been sent by their government to help other countries treat coronavirus patients.

And yet this week it was reported that 622 doctors have joined a case against the Cuban government at the International Criminal Court, accusing their overseas medical program of being a form of slavery. Hundreds of Cuban doctors have testified that the dictatorship has forced them to live abroad without knowing where they are going, has confiscated their passports, controlled their movements and expropriated most of their wages. Yet none of this widely available information seems to have filtered through to left-wing politicians and activists who continue to bovinely sing the praises of Cuba’s “health internationalism”.

An article from last year written by Maria D. Garcia and Hugo Acha and published in the the Miami Herald tells an individual’s story:

Dr. Rodriguez recounts how she and her medical colleagues were forced to sign contracts giving the Cuban Ministry of Health power of attorney over their actions in Brazil. She was required to use a special Physical Person Card instead of her passport, and she was prohibited from going anywhere without permission of “advisors.”

She also explained that she was ordered to act as a support echelon for paramilitary operations, if and when necessary.

After many months considering the terrifying risks of escape, Dr. Rodriguez decided to take action. She drove 12 hours from a small town in the Amazon to Brasilia in 2014 with Cuban intelligence officials at her heels. After arriving safely at the U.S. Embassy, she applied for asylum under a special parole program that was terminated in 2016 under President Obama.

To put it plainly, Rodriguez was the victim of a human trafficking enterprise.

The dam breaks: the New York Times reports on intimidation by BLM

On the 21st September, to my surprise, the New York Times carried this report by Nellie Bowles: “Some Protests Against Police Brutality Take a More Confrontational Approach”.

Both the writer of the headline and Ms Bowles herself in the article made some attempt to keep the dam plugged with the euphemistic reference to “a more confrontational approach”. But the facts themselves are reported honestly enough:

PORTLAND, Ore. — Terrance Moses was watching protesters against police brutality march down his quiet residential street one recent evening when some in the group of a few hundred suddenly stopped and started yelling.

Mr. Moses was initially not sure what the protesters were upset about, but as he got closer, he saw it: His neighbors had an American flag on display.

“It went from a peaceful march, calling out the names, to all of a sudden, bang, ‘How dare you fly the American flag?’” said Mr. Moses, who is Black and runs a nonprofit group in the Portland, Ore., area. “They said take it down. They wouldn’t leave. They said they’re going to come back and burn the house down.”


Nearly four months after the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police, some protesters against police brutality are taking a more confrontational — and personal — approach. The marches in Portland are increasingly moving to residential and largely white neighborhoods, where demonstrators with bullhorns shout for people to come “out of your house and into the street” and demonstrate their support.

These more aggressive protests target ordinary people going about their lives, especially those who decline to demonstrate allegiance to the cause. That includes a diner in Washington who refused to raise her fist to show support for Black Lives Matter, or, in several cities, confused drivers who happened upon the protests.


The American flag that generated controversy is displayed in Kenton, a neighborhood of Portland with small bungalows, lush front gardens and ripe fruit trees. Weeks after the confrontation, the husband and wife who fly the flag said they were fearful of retaliation from the roving protesters, who had found their phone number.

But they say they will not be intimidated into removing the flag.

I think that couple are wise as well as brave. Submission did not help this man:

But around 9:30, the group [“an autonomously organized direct action march” listed on the Black Lives Matter Portland Events page] was in some organizational chaos. They had decided that the neighborhood close by was too racially diverse for them to protest in. They needed to go somewhere whiter.

So the protesters caravaned 20 minutes away to Alberta, a more affluent neighborhood that began being gentrified in the 1990s. They reassembled and marched through the streets.

Neighbors in impressive Craftsman-style homes pulled down their shades and turned off their lights, though many could be seen peering out of dark windows. One woman stepped out of an expansive home looking angry; upon seeing the crowd, she quickly retreated indoors. A few young couples stood in their doorways. A Black woman driving past honked and cheered.

One white man stepped onto his patio clapping and hollering in support of the passing march. The group called for him to join. He smiled and waved them on, still clapping. They began to chant that he was spineless. He looked worried. But the march moved along, and he went back into his house.

“You’ll never sleep tight, we do this every night,” the protesters chanted.

There are 992 comments. When I spoke of a dam breaking at the New York Times, I was referring as much to the comments as to the article itself. Here are the top seven “Reader Picks” from the NYT’s overwhelmingly liberal readership:

Juliana James
Portland, Oregon | Sept. 21

I have had enough of the arrogance, self righteousness and selfish attitude of these kind of do or die protesters, they’re bullies bullying good people. To say being nice does not work, neither does being a violent threatening bully. Grow up and use your civil voice as a citizen to work long term for change within organizations that do not advocate shaming or blaming marches such as yours. You are feeding FOX news and helping Trump win, admit that and you will actually have made some progress.

15 Replies 1247 Recommend

John Zotto
Ischia | Sept. 21

These same tactics were used in Germany during the 1930s and the communist in Russia after the revolution. You are never pure enough and any deviation from the party line means trouble.

6 Replies 937 Recommend

Bronx | Sept. 21

…and this is how Trump gets re-elected.

5 Replies 921 Recommend

Dave BX
Goshen NY | Sept. 21

I would have a hard time imagining a NY Times article bending over backwards as this article does to try to explain violent tactics and harassments if the subjects were right wing protesters. They would be excoriated and rightfully so.

These tactics are unjustifiable and cannot be tolerated and only serve to get more votes for Trump.

4 Replies 908 Recommend

NYC | Sept. 21

Threatening to come back and burn someone’s house down because they refuse to take an American flag down? And people wonder why people are buying firearms across the political spectrum?

2 Replies 881 Recommend

PA | Sept. 21

Force me to pick a side? Well heck that’s easy; I choose to oppose anyone who threatens me. So go ahead and threaten me, and watch me side with the people who don’t.

Lesson: Don’t make enemies of your allies.

1 Reply 838 Recommend

NW | Sept. 21

I subscribed to WSJ when reporting in this paper described the protests as peaceful despite what I could see with my own eyes. I sincerely recommend subscribing to both papers for some much needed perspective. I’m deeply confused by the phrase “mostly peaceful” when events routinely include projectiles and fireworks thrown at police.

20 Replies 585 Recommend

Unwitting Comedy Quote of the Day

Local Anarchists Miffed By Trump’s Designation Of NYC As Anarchist Jurisdiction

… The Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, an active NYC-based anarchist group, condemned the move … The group … said NYC had a long way to go before it could claim the mantel of full anarchism. (h/t instapundit)

I sure hope they are right about that.

I guess they might concede that New York City has less far to go now than, say, the year before de Blasio became its mayor.

I suppose anarchism is like socialism: in hindsight (but never in foresight), the kind that happened was never the ‘real’ kind – unlike the death and destruction it left behind.

(I appreciate that for any reader in New York, the comedy of this may be a bit on the grim side.)

Samizdata quote of the day

Throw whatever resources are required at protecting people actually at high risk (obese, diabetic, over 70, various known co-factors) rather than strangling civil society when vast majority have only a tiny risk of dying. Lock-down will end up killing far more (not to mention impoverishing vast numbers)

– Perry de Havilland, in answer to the question “what would you have done?”

Samizdata quote of the day

The “Human Rights” Conventions and Declarations are cleverly written to appear to be about liberty – whilst really offering no protection against the expansion of government at all (indeed actually encouraging the expansion of government power)

Paul Marks