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.

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Samizdata quote of the day

And so it was written. Nothing is now unthinkable. The difference between China’s bureaucratic totalitarianism and our own is now a matter of degree, not kind. The future is a bleak vista. Scientists claim that lockdown cycles will continue for years, and regular reviews of personal freedom look set to become as quotidian as changes in interest rates. Even if Covid-19 does disappear, it will be a brave politician who, in a future NHS winter crisis caused by traditional common-or-garden influenza, refuses to impose restrictions that scientists promise will save thousands of lives. Civil liberties safeguarded during two world wars are now, as they are in China, gifts of the state.

Jacob Williams

21 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • George Atkisson

    Except for our globalist oligarchs, of course. The Enlightened ones, guided by an army of like-minded experts and a supporting media, will save us all. In return for massive wealth and exemptions from the draconian rules imposed on the serfs for their own good. They expect our adoration for saving everyone from themselves. Enjoy the consequences of the power that we, the people, have given them.

  • bobby b

    “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

    B. Franklin

    Williams’ article is entitled “Why did we all copy China?”

    “We” did so because more of us valued safety than valued liberty. We get what “we” democratically request. And deserve.

  • Whilst I usually also subscribe to Mencken’s observation about democracy; when you state…

    We get what “we” democratically request. And deserve.

    I do not recall being asked to vote on the state being able to simply abolish civil society & rule by edict for a year.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The New Feudalism, as Joel Kotkin puts it. It never ends well.

  • pete

    Unlike in China Jacob Williams and his allies can stand for election and propose their own ways of dealing with the virus.

    If enough people agree with them they can implement their policies.

    That’s a matter of kind, not degree.

    The UK is democratic, China is not.

  • The UK is democratic, China is not.

    I guess you slept through the last year where the government effectively ruled by edict & simply shutting down civil society. And if the democratic institutions did not provide the needed checks & balances, then they are not fit for purpose & it does not actually matter who you vote for.

  • Stonyground

    I’m so glad that I live in a democracy where there is a clear choice between a high spending high taxing authoritarian party with a raft of batshit crazy green policies and an even more high spending high taxing authoritarian party with a raft of batshit crazy green policies.

  • APL

    pete: “The UK is democratic, China is not.”

    PdH: “I guess you slept through the last year where the government effectively ruled by edict & simply shutting down civil society.”

    If Democracy means governing with the consent of the majority, I am afraid I have to agree with Pete. That the majority ‘consensus’ was achieved through domestic terror (BBC), bribery with you own money ( Government furlow ) is neither here nor there. Only this morning in conversation with a work colleague, he asserted that the anti COVID-19 vaccine had been in development for years, and over 100,000 people had been through COVID-19 vaccine trials.

    The problem for the UK is that while it may be a democracy, we have no longer any constitutional restraints on the action of the government.

    Having said that, even in the USA which did, the organs of the State pretty much elected to ignore the constitutional restraints placed upon their freedom to be despotic.

  • pete

    I don’t mind being ruled by the edicts of elected people during a fast moving health emergency.

    China is ruled by the edicts of unelected people all the time.

  • Deep Lurker

    And if the democratic institutions did not provide the needed checks & balances, then they are not fit for purpose & it does not actually matter who you vote for.

    Bureaucracies interpret checks and balances on their exercise of power as damage, and route around them.

  • Plamus


    I don’t mind being ruled by the edicts of elected people during a fast moving health emergency.

    The emergency was over in June. The dry tinder burned. Since then you have been bolting, nailing, and welding the barn door shut.

  • John B

    @ Pete

    ‘The UK is democratic, China is not.’

    Neither are. The sole function of democracy is to prevent power (kratos) being concentrated in one place, by distributing it throughout the people (demos).

    No Country is then democratic. The more concentrated power is, the less democratic. The UK became more democratic with the move to constitutional monarchy with Parliament, but decreasingly democratic as Parliament took to itself more and more power, taken from the demos, to control more and more aspects of life. The welfare state accelerated that process, so now the people serve the State… the people have a duty to ‘save’ and ‘protect’ a State institution – the NHS – from themselves. Sacrifice to preserve the State and like little excited puppies,obey.

    The UK is not democratic… no longer even sane.

  • APL

    Plamus: “The emergency was over in June.”

    Even that ’emergency’ was mostly caused by the bureaucratic class ( let’s meet our targets and get our bonuses ) shoving the ill and contagious into ‘care homes’ with insufficient medical care ( Care homes are not hospitals ) to deal with the resulting mass of infections.

    We’ve also learned that in the US, Cuomo knew exactly what he was doing when he did much the same thing.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    There are likely to be future pandemics and they could be genuinely worse than this (a pandemic that largely hits the elderly and infirm, while leaving children more or less untouched). At some point there will be one which hits kids. And the problem is that so many people have become understandably cynical about warnings that the fund of trust on which liberal orders rest has run dry.

    I haven’t been surprised at how the UK has moved the grounds of argument for lockdowns from “saving the NHS” to trying to squash the virus. That speaks to the sort of mission creep that you get in crises (“never let a crisis go to waste”), as well as a failure to understand how to make health resources more quickly scalable. The UK’s socialist system of healthcare is treated as a sacred body, not a very flawed and mixed system requiring major reform. Added to that, the UK public, and those in many other supposedly developed countries, have bought into a form of the Precautionary Principle and a general fear of any type of risk. We see the results, not least in a kind of bullying of anyone who dares to go against the grain.

  • bobby b

    “I do not recall being asked to vote on the state being able to simply abolish civil society & rule by edict for a year.”

    Representatives were elected who made such decisions on our behalves. “We” elected them. I was never asked what the new mill rate should be in our property tax system, but I voted in the election of the representative who was part of that decision-making process.

  • Dr. Caligari

    The lockdown is a good test case for more, I belive.

    There are the first writer who open discuss a new and even greater lockdown for the clima.

  • Zerren Yeoville

    As foreshadowed by an old Garfield cartoon strip…

  • Paul Marks

    I watched the reception that “President” Xi (he is no more the legitimately elected President of China than that absurd puppet Joseph Biden, who had trouble getting a dozen people to attend his events, is the legitimately elected President of the United States), got at the World Economic Forum.

    Klaus Schwab and the business and and political leaders in this “virtual conference” did not react to Xi as an enemy – on the contrary it was obvious that they AGREED with his world wide totalitarian agenda. He gave them a talk on how “democracy” and “freedom” should be interpreted – and they AGREED.

    China may never really have “locked down” (at least not for long – and even Wuhan is up and running now), but this is not about a virus.

    This is about an agenda (call it “Technocracy” or “Fascism” or “Sustainable Development” – whatever you want to call it) that has been in the works for a very long time. Agenda 21 (legally “nonbinding” so if you even mention it you are guilty of a “Conspiracy Theory” – unless you SUPPORT it, in which case it is fine to talk about it and how everyone must obey it (for the general good), lots of it have been put into national and State “policies” anyway (and they are legally binding – because they are laws).

    bobby b – have you ever served on local council?

    It does not work quite how you think it does.

    Much policy (in the United Kingdom or the United States) is not decided by the “elected representatives” – it is handed down from above and from officials, and if you oppose it, that is self-destruction politically – “it is POLICY – this has-to-be-done”. Because of the law – or some other reason.

    That includes a lot of tax and spending decisions.

    It does NOT cover everything – but it covers a lot more than you might think.

  • Paul Marks

    Still there is, for the moment, a bit more democracy in the United States – some States choose to NOT lockdown.

    And elected County Sheriffs are the chief law enforces in many rural areas.

    When he was Vice President Mr Joseph Biden took a special interest in changing that – he wanted to make it clear that State and especially the FEDERAL law enforcement officials (unelected bureaucrats – with GUNS) were senior to locally elected sheriffs.

    I think that will come back – ditto States blackmailed into accepting Agenda 21 – Agenda 2030 land use policy – the end of real private ownership, Mr Obama tried to use WATER for that purpose.

    If you have water on your property then it comes under Federal regulation – for the general good. That was the Obama plan.

    President Trump stood in the way of full totalitarianism.

    But there is no President Trump any more.

  • Paul Marks

    I forget to mention my dear friends the Economist magazine.

    Now they claim to be great ENEMIES of the Chinese Communist Party dictatorship.

    But Business and Government must “work together” (Corporate State Fascism) – because Bill Gates says so (a man who has no qualifications in anything – but presents himself as both a medical and a climate expert). Of course the Economist magazine will express some doubts about what some aspects of what Mr Gates as to say (his Collectivism, for that is what it is, is a bit blatant for their taste – he should cover it up a bit more with fake talk about freedom and markets), but they are on board with his basic objectives – which are the objectives of totalitarian “Woke” Big Business and Big Government generally.

    Mr Gates has lots of money (due to the connections of his parents – which got him the IBM for the computer operating system that he did not develop) – but I believe the Economist magazine would be like this anyway.

    The freezing of Texas does not make them doubt their ideology – on the contrary it proves that their ideology is correct (and if it was hot in Texas – this would also prove their ideology was correct).

    The freezing of the wind turbines proves that there should be MORE wind turbines, the covering of the solar cells with snow proves there should be MORE solar cells, and oil, gas and coal should be totally eliminated (no mention of nuclear power – but the Biden people have always been HOSTILE to it as well).

    100 million dead Americans – and countless millions of dead people in other countries (if they follow the policy of the Economist magazine).

    World government? Of course – but the term “world government” must NOT be used, it must be international governance via agreements and international Corporate State organisations.

    It is all for-our-own-good.

    And if you are disagree with any of it – you are a “Conspiracy Theorist” who must be sent somewhere – a nice place where you will be helped.

  • I don’t mind being ruled by the edicts of elected people during a fast moving health emergency.

    How very trusting of you pete. Yes, thank goodness for the state’s reaction (locking down civil society) in a ‘fast moving health emergency’ due to a disease with an infection death rate of about 0.05%

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