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

The management and communication during the epidemic has been plagued by misleading statistics, the cherry-picking of the worst data, alarmist language, horror-film-style advertising, one-sided media coverage and coercive language and tactics, all of which I wrote about in my new book, A State of Fear.

Bludgeoning people with ‘nudge’ (behavioural psychology), weaponising fear, and tightly controlling the narrative risk undermining the public’s trust in government, public-health messaging and the media. This is the third time I have reported on anti-lockdown protests for spiked, and the third time I have been slack-jawed by the lack of honesty in how the media misrepresents the scale and purpose of these protests. This mistrust can be read clearly in the placards.

Laura Dodsworth

Anti-lockdown protest in London

My prediction: BBC will highlight the vastly smaller anti-Israel protest elsewhere in London rather than this anti-lockdown protest (assuming they even report it at all).

→ Continue reading: Anti-lockdown protest in London

A Cambridge education

“Cambridge professors fight plan to let students file secret racism denunciations”, reports the Times.

For David Abulafia, a distinguished professor of Mediterranean history at Cambridge, the launch of a university “reporting tool” encouraging students to denounce people for “micro-aggressions” was particularly sinister.

An ancestor, Samuel Abulafia, was arrested in the 15th century during the Spanish Inquisition for maintaining Jewish practices after Jews had been expelled from the country. The man eventually changed his name to Lopez so that no one would recognise his origins. Another Abulafia was one of the first to be burnt by the Inquisition for the same crime.

Today Abulafia, a bestselling author and historian, believes that the new tool allowing students anonymously to accuse members of faculty of “racism, discrimination and micro-aggressions” draws from the same well that gave birth to the barbaric Inquisition.

The list provided by the university of transgressions includes “raising eyebrows when a black member of staff or student is speaking” and making “backhanded compliments”

Professor Abulafia also makes the following point:

“As for reporting someone if you feel they have committed a micro-aggression against you, this may actually hinder minorities as lecturers could be apprehensive about providing them with one-to-one tuition in case they make a perceived transgression.

For the Woke, that is not a bug but a feature. The last thing they want is for minority students to flourish at Cambridge or any other British university. Where would the cadre come from then? The plan is for minority students to emerge angry and embittered at the way their tutors and lecturers never seemed to quite trust them.

Samizdata quote of the day

Whether it is Nigeria’s government brutalising its citizens, China herding Uighur Muslims into “re-education camps” or Libyan slave markets actually auctioning black people like cattle in the 21st-century, injustices elsewhere often provoke muted responses from Western progressives — certainly, nowhere near the outrage that accompanies even much lesser injustices in the West. This from the same people who profess to care about all of humanity, not just those living within their borders.

Remi Adekoya

BBC quote of the pandemic

What’s changed is not the evidence – of which there is none so far to prove either scenario – but the politics. The lab-leak theory, born into an environment poisoned by disinformation, was undermined not so much by China’s denials, but by the fact it was being pumped by former US President Donald Trump.

Media organisations everywhere gave it the cold shoulder. My own attempts to look seriously at the lab-leak theory in May last year ran into long and fraught editorial discussions before it finally made it to publication.

Thus says the BBC’s China correspondent in a story linked from the BBC’s front page today. When Trump raised it, it was poisonous disinformation. Now Biden is raising it, the BBC is treating it with more respect.

What the Bashir story revealed about how far the BBC would go should not have surprised me – but did. By contrast, the only surprising thing about this revelation is that they admit it. (So give a little credit where a very little credit is due. Others in the MSM will pretend that “new evidence now indicates what only an absurdist like Trump would believe last year”, or take the even easier line, already much used with masks, of silently implying that Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia.)

Meanwhile, of course, ‘our’ BBC will continue to insist that just because they forge bank statements to pretend their fake news is true, that doesn’t mean that we can forge bank statements to pretend we’ve paid their licence fee. And while the beeb take the lab-leak theory seriously now that Biden does, I think that even if Biden were to come out with another gaffe-boast about having

“the most extensive and inclusive voter fraud organisation in the history of US politics”

the BBC would not become a jot less derisive of Trump’s theory about that. No experience of the failure of their reporting seems to shake the BBC’s faith in its essential excellence.

Samizdata quote of the day

Not that I’d want to make this a hard diagnosis but much of the vague lefty wibble that used to infest economics has moved over into anthropology. I assume because economists have had to actually accept the real world evidence of the world out there getting richer, of lives getting better. You know, all those pretensions to being a science and thus testing hypotheses.

That one’s difficult to explain by the idea that socialism makes the people rich for example.

So, the woo is relegated to anthropology, where actual facts aren’t quite so important.

Tim Worstall

The point is that anyone can do this to anyone

Don’t like what someone says on social media? Don’t worry, with just one phone call you can arrange for whoever said it to have to tell their autistic kids that mummy has to go away and doesn’t know when she’ll be allowed to come back.

“I can’t sleep, says accountant Marion Millar in trans tweet row”, reports the Times.

Marion Millar, an accountant from Airdrie, North Lanarkshire, was told to report to a police station over allegations that she had posted “homophobic and transphobic” tweets.

Her account of her ordeal has been viewed by millions of people on social media. Millar, who works for For Women Scotland (FWS), a feminist group, wrote: “On April 28 I received a call from a PC Laura Daley from Police Scotland requesting I attend an interview under the malicious communications act. She told me I had to attend East Kilbride police station so I could be then transported to Cathcart station in a police car because I would have to go to a station where there are holding cells.”

Millar was told that social workers would be sent to look after her young twin boys, who are autistic, while she was questioned.

“This nonsense has been hanging over my head for a month,” she said. “I still don’t know what the offending tweet is. Anyone who knows me knows I am not homophobic or transphobic. ”

A spokeswoman for Police Scotland said: “We received two complaints regarding comments made on social media, enquiries into this are ongoing.”

To comply with human rights legislation interviews have to take place at a station with custody suites, which East Kilbride does not have.

I cannot but admire the elegance of using the supposed protections offered by human rights legislation into a vehicle for twisting the knife a little more. Shame if you aren’t allowed to return home, love. But don’t worry, we have a nice custody suite.

Some of you might think this is an example of what a oppressive place Scotland is becoming now that the Hate Crime (Scotland) Bill has been passed. If so, you are wrong. It is an example of what an oppressive place Scotland already is under existing law. Ms Millar was summoned for offences under the Malicious Communications Act. And before English, Welsh or Northern Irish readers feel superior, let me say that as far as I know that same 1988 Act applies to the whole of the UK. As I said in a post from 2012 called “The kraken wakes”, despite its obvious potential for oppression, for the first twenty years or so of its existence the Malicious Communications Act 1988 did not seem to do much harm … but you are not safe just because a monster sleeps.

Who funds the IEA?

It is a perennial question:

The answer has been unearthed, in a long-lost document from 1990.

You’re a socially quite well connected sort of a fellow, with lots of rich acquaintances, and with the energy to cultivate plenty more. What do you do if your rich supporters demand immediate results for their money, while you know that this is impossible and that the job must start with academics and intellectuals, rather than with mass publicity and instant policy transformations? There being no mass market for liberty, how do you find the money, now, instantly, to start financing the creation of such a market? Are you bright enought to get instantly wealthy, and yet bright enough in a quite different way to realise that liberty is a lifetime project, and more?

What do you do about rich people who say they believe in freedom but who, to an appalling degree, don’t? Do you somehow magic their money out of their wallets anyway, and, despite having the poor taste to be willing to sacrifice the only life you have consorting with such people, do you nevertheless have the brains to team up with somebody else, deeply unfoolish, who does your editing and supervises your publishing? And does your editor have the brain and the brawn to publish everything sensible that the rich people will permit, nothing sensible that they won’t, and nothing senseless? It’s asking a hell of a lot. It is called the Institute of Economic Affairs.

Thoughts provoked by a photo of Lenin

Earlier today, at the Historic Photos Twitter feed, I encountered this photo, of Lenin:

Here is how Historic Photos describes the state Lenin had arrived at, when this photo was taken:

What is believed to be the last photograph of Vladimir Lenin, taken in 1923 by which stage he had suffered three strokes and was paralyzed and completely mute. Next to him are his sister and his doctor. He died on January 21st 1924 aged 53.

I have read many things, including many books, about Lenin and his sayings and doings, yet I have never come across this photo until now. That could be me, just not having noticed it. But I think there’s a reason why this particular piece of Lenin imagery has not done much circulating.

There is still fierce disagreement about Lenin and his impact upon history. Many still revere him, as the man who set in motion the most serious attempt to overthrow capitalism that has so far happened on this planet, and many others detest the man for the same reason, and for the disgusting brutality with which he set about doing this. Some think Lenin (good) was “betrayed” by Stalin (bad). Others, such as I, think that Lenin (bad) started what Stalin (bad) carried on doing. But what all of us, on all sides of such debates, agree about is that Lenin was a very important and very consequential figure, who had a lot to say for himself and who did a lot to shape the course of history, for good or for bad.

However, in the above photo, we see Lenin in a state of utter impotence, looking downright comical.

And that’s surely why this photo doesn’t get out much. Either Lenin had immense power and did hugely important and noble things or he had immense power and did monstrously evil things, but whatever he was he was certainly not a joke. If those of us with things to say about Lenin, one way or the other or yet another, wish to decorate our judgments about Lenin with a photo of the man, the above photo is not going to be the one that any of us would choose.

To generalise, images of historic figures get circulated a lot, or not, depending on whether they illustrate how we already think of them. The world’s cameras spit out a daily torrent of portraits of the great, the good and the bad, and it is in the editorialising process, when the “best” images are selected and the rest put aside, that the camera is made to tell a particular sort of story. This is surely an important way that cameras lie, or at the very least mislead, although there are of course others.

Image googling confirmed my hunch. If you go here and keep scrolling down, you will scroll down in vain if you wish to see the above “historic” photo, or any others resembling it. No, all you will get are pictures and graphic recreations of Lenin being anything but “paralyzed and completely mute”.

I thought it was only the other lot who suffered from cognitive dissonance


  1. Naomi Wolf is a loony feminist.
  2. James Delingpole is a heroic leader of the resistance.
  3. The heroic leader of the resistance has recorded and published a podcast with the loony feminist.
  4. The loony feminist comes across as sane. I mean really sane. Thoughtful, informed, careful to stick to what she knows and prepared to be honest about what she doesn’t know.

My head hurts. Is this a weird departure from reality? Will the universe will right itself before too long? I hope so, but maybe it isn’t a departure. I am having dark thoughts here, but what if Naomi Wolf has other opinions that are worth listening to? What if other loony feminists have opinions worth listening to? What if some of them are sane? What if a majority are sane? Have I spent a large part of my life being… yernow… wrong?

Samizdata quote of the day

It feels weird to be explaining the perils of censorship to Americans. It was they who taught me about the absolute value of free speech. It was their readiness—so cool, so confident—to entertain the most heterodox ideas that had made me understand why the Soviet Union never stood a chance against their country. Do I really need to be telling Americans that censorship makes us dumb? That it limits our ability to assess reality and to make the decisions that are best for us, both as individuals and as a society? Do I really need to be telling progressives that progress is impossible without the freedom to think, speak and argue? And do I really need to be telling social justice warriors that social justice is a mere pipe dream in any society that hews to a single, rigid ideological narrative—or that unfreedom of expression oppresses the oppressed and empowers the powerful?

Of course, America is not the Soviet Union, and American governmental bodies aren’t the ones doing the censoring. Nor have the clampdowns on dissent been all-encompassing. But they are still enormously effective, partly because so many groups and individuals now depend heavily on privately owned internet platforms to reach their audiences. The conservative social media platform Parler was effectively silenced when Big Tech wiped it off the internet. The New York Post’s audience was massively curtailed when Twitter froze its account in response to its publication of a damaging story about Hunter Biden on the eve of the US presidential election. (Twitter then tagged the story as “harmful” and joined Facebook in preventing people from sharing it.) For a year and a half, people were ridiculed and kicked out of polite company for suggesting that Covid-19 may have originated in a lab in Wuhan as social media muzzled debate on this crucial subject. Today we are learning that this is a highly realistic hypothesis.

Izabella Tabarovksy

Samizdata quote of the day

It has been a well-known fact for the past hundred years that masks are useless against viral transmission. All one has to do is contrast the moon-suits used in virology labs with the “bandana across the face” to understand how actual protection works. I’ve designed military NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical) filtration systems (that I still cannot discuss) and the difference between those and the relatively simple gas turbine filter systems is enormous.

And yet the discussions in the lame-stream media all center on “when can we take our masks off”, rather than the central question of, “do masks perform any positive function in preventing or slowing the spread of viral diseases”. The Danish study alone (more than 6,000 people) of the ‘rona puts the lie to the latter. Every single study done has shown that non-rated cloth and paper masks have no positive effect, and have many negative effects. Hypoxia is only one of them; the negative effects also include higher rates of other infections, including bacterial and fungal. Major dental issues are also now arising from chronic mask use. Despite that, many of the government-funded studies conclude that, “masks should be worn anyway, mostly for the psychological benefit”. I guess that’s now considered “sciencey”.

This despite the fact that places that underwent lockdowns and mask mandates suffered higher infection rates and death rates than those without mandates.

– Commenter Blackwing1