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Statists of the world unite!

Monbiot sounds like a cross between Chairman Mao and a 17th century Puritan, banning anything that doesn’t fit his world view. The really weird thing is that the authoritarian Left are making alliances with authoritarian Right. The above-mentioned covidfaq website is run by Sam Bowman who used to take his shilling from the right-leaning Adam Smith Institute, one of the many so-called “think tanks” out there. At this point it’s worth mentioning – in line with documentary maker Adam Curtis – that think tanks don’t actually do any thinking. They are in effect PR operations for ideologies. And were previously sworn enemies of the Masons and Monbiots of this world.

In a similar vein, Mason has called for Boris Johnson to silence (or at least mock) the dissidents. He tweeted: “I don’t just want Johnson to say “Stay home, save lives” etc. I want him to call out and ridicule the bull**** anti-maskers, lockdown skeptics and denialists in his own party – and order social media platforms to suppress/label Covid disinformation. That’s leadership.”

No Paul, that’s tyranny. As I said, it’s sad to see a formerly radical thinker abjectly submitting to authority in this way. And we’re perhaps lucky that, for all his faults, Boris is not actually a tyrant; at least, not yet. The problem for the Left is that it’s been the contrarian Tories like Toby Young and James Delingpole who have led the questioning of government policy on lockdowns. So, almost instinctively, people like Mason recoil against lockdown scepticism simply because Young, Delingpole and their shock-jock ilk are lockdown sceptics.

Tom Hodgkinson

Hodgkinson is a left-statist with a tenuous grip on economic reality and an equally poor grasp of the inevitable civil liberties implications of his world view. Nevertheless, as many on my side of the fence have long known, one should never just read people you always agree with. We are far more likely to have read Communist Manifesto, Capital, Mao’s Little Red Book, Revolt against the Modern World etc. than the other side is to have read Fatal Conceit, Human Action or Wealth of Nations.

The linked article makes many good points, and he is certainly on-the-money about Sam Bowman, who was always an authoritarian; I think the ASI is well shot of him. In a similar vein, I need to also write an article about the not unrelated reason I also stopped giving a token monthly pittance to the Institute of Economic Affairs. These days I give substantially more to Lockdown Sceptics than I ever did to the IEA.

But I think the “touchingly naïve disappointment” also applies to Hodgkinson, who failed to see long ago that George Monbiot and Paul Mason were always up the Orwellian INGSOC end of the political spectrum. In many ways Monbiot and Mason are just more consistently applying the ideology they share with Hodgkinson.

But hey, if Hodgkinson and his ilk are starting to see the light, the war we are well and truly in today is such I for one care little who is in the trench next to me, just so long as they are pointing their weapon of choice at the enemies we share. A great many things are realigning on oh so many levels.

26 comments to Statists of the world unite!

  • Stonyground

    “I want him to call out and ridicule the bull**** anti-maskers…”

    Presumably, back when the government’s line was that masks were a bad idea he would want him to call out and ridicule the bull**** pro-maskers.

  • Old Jack Tar

    Amazingly IEA had some pro-liberty anti-lockdown articles on their site last year and then suddenly pooof, they disappeared & the links 404’ed. Seems they had a change of internal opinion that they never explained. I hate to sound like a “fundie” but I can’t help wondering of some large donor who’s doing rather well out of endless lockdown had a word with them.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not think that Sam Bowman can be called “on the right” – I think I remember, at a conference, going to hear a talk by him at a conference that was billed as defence of libertarianism from-the-LEFT, it was certainly a leftist talk (filled, I seem to remember, with false attacks on people who were not there to defend themselves – and facts that were not facts), but it was not libertarian (at least I do not think so – full disclosure, I got into a conflict with a young chap and was later asked to leave the conference, so I was a little distracted).

    Still it is depressing to hear that Mr Bowman has come out in support of lockdowns – I did not know that and, I must confess, I am a bit shaken by the news. I do not see how anyone, after a year of this, can still support the line the international establishment are pushing. The international polices have done such terrible harm and, it is now clear, have NOT reduced the Death Rate of Covid 19.

    Paul Mason and George Monibot always hated liberty – but Sam Bowman claimed to be in support of it. Still a man has to make a living – perhaps this is the only way he can find to make a living. We must be careful not to condemn other people without fully understanding the terrible situation they may find themselves in.

  • Paul Marks

    I have now read the article. It is a good article – Mr Hogkinson has done well.

    I was unaware of the 1909 story he cites – the others I know of.

    As for the individual (or few individuals) who are destroyed in a desperate effort to destroy the system.

    Do not be downhearted about that – remember we are all going to age (indeed are aging) and die anyway. What better death than in opposing tyranny? It is humiliation and abuse that should be avoided, if possible, certainly (for example) being taken alive by the American Federal “Justice” system (the FBI and so on) is not a fate that one would wish on anyone.

    As for defeat – as Kipling says in “If” we must treat these two “imposters”, defeat and victory, just-the-same.

  • Paul Marks

    There is HOPE – and it is touched on by Perry, when he talks of Mr Hogkinson economic lack of knowledge.

    That is the great flaw in all Collectivist thinking – they think that the systems that we see in “Brave New World” or “1984” are morally bad (which they are), but they do not grasp that he ECONOMICS of Collectivism does not work.

    The various Western governments that are pushing insane Collectivist policies are not “just” destroying Civil Liberties – they are digging their own graves (not just ours).

    Note the word “insane” – Collectivist policies are irrational, they are against reason. They will not last – they will have to be dropped or they will destroy the countries that follow them.

    Klaus Schwab and his Collectivist “Stakeholder Capitalism” for “Sustainable Development” (“Build Back BETTER”, my stress, for the “Great Reset”) is destructive – it is not a system that can just carry on and on.

    The end may be terrible – but it least it will be the end.

  • Phil B

    So, I presume that the world envisioned by Moonbat would be something like this one:


    The push for a cashless society, microchipped ID and the Government mandating rules to make us safe would NEVER turn out like this, eh?

    A world run by Karens.

  • Mr Ed

    All the sneering, shouting, bawling, screaming and violence of the Left is best understood as being indignation that they, or those they approve of, are not in charge and in a position to dictate, harass and kill with impunity according to their taste.

  • Snorri Godhi

    We are far more likely to have read Communist Manifesto, Capital, Mao’s Little Red Book, Revolt against the Modern World etc. than the other side is to have read Fatal Conceit, Human Action or Wealth of Nations.

    I admit that the Commie Manifesto is the only text of the above that i have read.
    I submit that it is very helpful in understanding the current dynamics.
    Just ponder this quote from Hodgkinson:

    You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to recognise that the pandemic has suited certain interests very well indeed. As pubs close and musicians lose all their income, the big tech businesses like Amazon, Facebook, Apple and Google have got bigger and richer.

    The way i make sense of this is as follows.
    Marx predicted that capital would concentrate into increasingly fewer hands, due to the logic of the free market.

    That did not happen. (Whether because the free market does not work as Marx thought, or because there is no true free market anymore, is a matter for debate.)

    So the oligarchs have turned to other methods to concentrate wealth and power into their own hands: not only lockdowns, also BLM riots, open borders, Uighur slave labor, etc.

  • The really weird thing is that the authoritarian Left are making alliances with authoritarian Right.

    That’s not weird.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    P.S. A warning. Some very early texts of The Book of Revelations say that the number of the Beast is 616, not 666. So when the microchipping begins, look for either number, just in case.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Here is a suggestion to the samizdata board. Maybe you could put a link to Extinction clock in the Arts, Tech and Culture column?

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    My apologies! I see it is in the Specialist section!

  • Jacob

    Lockdowns: they were first imposed by the Chinese in Wuhan (severe, total lockdown). Not surprising – it is in step with Chines totalitarian ideology and historic traditions.

    Then they were COPIED by all Western countries… the motives were complex – IMHO – first of all hysteria … caused by a very real pandemic and threat, second: envy of the “efficient” Chinese… and third – by totalitarian instincts or wishes.

    What was absent in the West was any thought or consideration of liberal principles or the respect of individual rights. The totalitarian instinct is much stronger than the libertarian one – if there is any libertarian instinct left at all.

  • decnine

    It’s possible that Johnson isn’t a tyrant. But the apparatus of which he is the figurehead certainly has tyranical elements, the most prominent of which is The Police – and the NHS.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What strikes me as interesting is how, at the IEA (I think the Adam Smith Institute is more hostile to lockdowns) what we see is a sort of utilitarianism in play, and where the case for free markets is very much about “what works” rather than on ideas about natural rights, liberty, etc. Stephen Davies, for instance, appears to be fully supportive of the lockdowns on the basis that track and trace got overwhelmed and that the alternative was too horrifying to contemplate. And he’s also tended to be dismissive of “shielding” – although arguably that’s what vaccines of the old/vulnerable do. In fairness to him, he has also argued that lockdowns must end once vaccine rollouts reach a critical stage, rather than continue for months or whatever, much as rationining did after 1945 (only finally abolished in 1953).

    Bowman’s website – he writes with others – seems to be an attempt to rebut the Lockdown Sceptic website of Toby Young. I suppose it is just about possible that you can be a genuine classical liberal while also arguing that some collective restrictions are justified as a potentially fatal virus is a “negative externality”. That said, I also note that Sam B. regards the economic and other costs of lockdowns as not being as high as some others say. I think he has even argued that the official data doesn’t show that things like suicide rates have risen, or not much, during the past year. I hope for his sake that he is correct.

  • Jacob

    It also depends what kind of lockdowns. For example: despite my libertarian leanings I think that canceling or banning public gatherings such as theaters or sports was fully justified. Maybe even restrictions to travel. As to schools: since Government runs them it had the duty to decide what to do about them – in case they were kept open you had to permit students and teachers to stay home (if they preferred to keep safe)… so it would have been a very partial opening.
    Shopping and restaurants should not have been locked down, the decision should have been left to the people.
    It is not an either-or case.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What Jacob said.

  • pete

    Jacob, locking down shops and restaurants was left to the people.

    The parliament they elected decided to do it.

    In my opinion a lot of the people who claim that the virus crisis has been used as an an excuse for totalitarianism don’t really understand how democracy works.

    I suspect they are mostly moderately affluent types who ordinarily do as they like as they have the money to do so, and restrictions on their normal lives of frequent travel, holidaymaking, restaurant and theatre going etc are unlike anything they usually experience.

    They fail to understand that many people can’t afford these things in normal times, and so they don’t complain as much.

  • Shlomo Maistre


    We are far more likely to have read Communist Manifesto, Capital, Mao’s Little Red Book, Revolt against the Modern World etc. than the other side is to have read Fatal Conceit, Human Action or Wealth of Nations.

    On what basis can you possibly lump Revolt Against the Modern World into the same category as The Communist Manifesto, Mao’s Little Red Book, and Capital? Even if you find nothing in Julius Evola’s work to agree with, most of his ideas are the polar opposite of The Communist Manifesto, Capital, and the Little Red Book….

    Very misguided to have that book in the same category as Communist books.

  • Snorri Godhi

    What Jacob said, with qualifications.

    Restrictions to travel are not ‘maybe’. They are the first thing to do when a pandemic comes up.
    Not just restrictions on foreign travel: also on domestic travel, if there are hot spots, like there were in Italy.
    And don’t wait for the WHO to declare a pandemic!

    Shops and restaurants were and are left open over here, with the exception of some shops in shopping malls only. But you have to keep 2 meters away from strangers, and wear a mask. In practice, it seems that wearing a mask makes people neglect the 2-meter rule.

    Making people wear masks outdoors is stupid in my opinion. I would wear one at a BLM protest, though, should i be insane enough to attend one.

    The really important thing, though, is to enact these measures EARLY.
    If you are as slow as Boris, then you are going to panic into a lockdown for sure.

  • Paul Marks

    J.P. – so Dr Stephen Davies is also a lockdown person (I had heard that – but now you have confirmed it), he was the one who asked me to leave that conference all those years ago. But then he was a “left libertarian” – involved with CND and bleep knows what else. Perhaps I should have made a “utilitarian calculation” and removed him from this world on the grounds that “general utility” would be raised by him not being alive – JUST KIDDING. By the way utilitarianism is based on a confusion – good as in pleasure and good as in moral (the English language is not good like that). Many people get pleasure from many bad things – rape, murder and so on, that does not make these pleasurable acts moral (they are NOT morally good because they are fun). Using the same word “good” to mean two wildly different things (pleasure and what is morally right) is a language problem that seems to have led to a philosophical problem.

    As for measuring the pleasure (“utility”) of one person or a group of people (say a group of men gang raping a women) against the pain (“disutility”) of their victim – that is again a category mistake, the action is not morally wrong because the pain of the victim is greater than the pleasure of the rapists. Nor is this saved by moving from “act utilitarianism” to “rule utilitarianism” – the basic confusion (good as in pleasure and good as in moral – totally different things for which, at least in English, the same word is mistakenly used) remains.

    Oh well best to have all the enemies of liberty, Sam Bowman, Dr Davies, and so on, in front of the guns – rather than in the ranks. I actually have more (not less) respect for them now. I have no problem respecting open enemies – it is people pretending to be pro liberty when they are not, that can lead to me becoming a bit irritated with them.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Pete’s comments ignore that restaurants, theatres, hotels and so on employ a great many people, such as young adults. So it’s not just about relatively affluent middle class people having a grumble when these place are shut for months on end.

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed recently reminded me that he knew before I did that the lockdown had nothing to do with a disease – and everything to do with a political agenda. The BIKE SHOPS were left open – when nearly every other sort of shop was closed and people were supposed to be staying in their homes. In short the agenda was “Woke” – not about stopping a virus.

    It is like someone claiming to be against C02 emissions (trotting out the refuted predictions and falsified data of NASA Hanson, Michael Mann and so on) and then finding out they are ANTI nuclear power. Someone can sincerely (honestly) believe in the human emissions of C02 cause Global Warming theory – but if a person says they believe in the theory and then turn out to be ANTI nuclear power, then one can be REASONABLY sure that one is in the presence of a bad person.

  • bobby b

    It’s been my experience that the more affluent you are – the more resources you can fall back upon, the less you depend on showing up to make a daily wage, the more comfortable your personal surroundings in which you can spend time, whether you have an intelligence-based job that doesn’t depend upon showing up physically – the more likely you are to be a fully committed lockdowner.

    The upper classes have not acquitted themselves well through this crisis.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri masks did not stop the spread of the virus at BLM events in Houston and elsewhere – they may effective as a political gesture, but that is about it.

    The first mask mandate country was the Czech Republic, also a very early Lockdown country – other than tiny San Marino, the Czech Republic has the HIGHEST Covid death rate on the planet.

    You make an excellent point about POLICIES leading to what the Marxists predicted.

    Concentration of Wealth, impoverishment of most people, what Karl Marx predicted – but NOT the result of “economic forces” (the free market), but rather the result of POLICIES pushed by the World Economic Forum and other international establishment bodies.

    And it goes back long before the lockdowns (political, NOT medical, though these were) – it is the core of the Credit Money system, of finance that is based on Credit Money expansion rather than Real Savings of Cash Money. Richard Cantillon worked this out three centuries ago – but the modern world suffers from a Cantillon effect on a scale vastly greater than he experienced.

    World Economic Forum reports are sometimes written as if false theories, such as the Labour Theory of Value and the Ricardian theory of land, are actually true – these false theories are assumed (almost in passing) and then the reports go on to their (false) conclusions.

    It is astonishing that the Corporations and governmental bureaucracies go along with theories that were refuted one or two CENTURIES ago.

    Samuel Bailey wrote the first full length refutation of the labour theory of value in 1825 (almost two centuries ago) – and some non English economists had refuted the theory years before.

    Frank Fetter refuted the Ricardian theory of land – more than a century ago.

    And yet the plans of the powerful assume these theories to be true.


  • Snorri Godhi


    Snorri masks did not stop the spread of the virus at BLM events in Houston and elsewhere

    Masks are not supposed to STOP the spread of the virus: they are supposed to SLOW it.

    The first mask mandate country was the Czech Republic, also a very early Lockdown country – other than tiny San Marino, the Czech Republic has the HIGHEST Covid death rate on the planet.

    I am sorry, but that is bullshit.
    Czechia enacted the mask mandate before last summer, in the first wave; and, in the first wave, Czechia had a much lower death rate than Italy, the UK, or Sweden.

    That Czechia had a much higher death rate after the summer, cannot logically have anything to do with how early their mask mandate was before the summer.

    I note in passim that i have read a whole load of bullshit about masks.
    What i find most disturbing, however, is not the bullshitting, but the fact that some people seem to think that mask mandates are the worst abuse of government power since the Killing Fields.