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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

I visited the Soviet Union forty years ago and was heartened to find that the Russians I met all assumed the government was lying about everything. I do find it very depressing how many people today seem to believe the western governments.

– Commenter Roué le Jour

27 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    The Russians also had some good comedy. “Under Capitalism, man exploited man. Under Communism, this is reversed.”
    Q. How many comedians would it take to change a light-bulb?
    A. None- we deal with light relief, not light-bulbs!

  • Joke told to me by a former Soviet Aerospace Engineer (worked on the ‘Caspian Sea Monster Project’)…

    Soviet Aerospace Engineer: I have applied for a visa to visit the West to attend a technology conference.
    Soviet Official: Your application has been denied.
    Soviet Aerospace Engineer: Why? Our technology is so far behind the West, I have no secrets they could possibly get from me!
    Soviet Official: Yes, we know. That’s the secret.

  • Odd, is it not, that prior to December 2019 the people who complained loudly that Boris Johnson was a serial liar and dictator in waiting were the first to believe what he said about covid and embraced the subsequent restrictions on our liberties?

  • pete

    Many people find it easy to believe that dealing with a virus crisis must be very difficult and that the government will make mistakes along the way.

    There are always people who will believe conspiracy theories, or who constantly criticise the mistakes of others while they are never required to make such difficult decisions themselves.

    With all their talk of lies, deliberate deceit, fascist plots and a forthcoming Orwellian nightmare many previously sober commentators seem to have descended to the level of the lefty ‘liberal’ chattering classes who give us that kind of rubbish all the time.

  • itellyounothing

    And some people buy into fear sold by a man in a suit on telly.

  • But that’s the thing, Pete, I want to be able to make the difficult decisions myself, not have the state make them for me.

  • Non Emus.

    Pete: the main mistake is assuming that the you can make other people’s risk decisions for them. Each one of us has a completely different risk tolerance and risk profile when engaging with a new threat to our health. And, because of this, we should all be allowed to assess said risk/reward on our own.
    This leads to absurdities like the “rule of six” and the government telling us that we shalt not commit adultery. When you try to micromanage human existence to such a degree that you are mandating that food must be purchase with alcohol… it isn’t possible to fail to make a mistake. Maybe the mistake is trying to have that level of micromanagement…

  • Pravda (Russian for ‘truth’) and Izvestia (Russian for ‘news’) lied so much and so consistently for decades that eventually everyone heard the joke that “there’s no news in ‘Truth’ and no truth in ‘News’ (or you could say it the other way round).

    In the west, the woke are still moving the goal posts.

    – To take one example of many, a US-based friend of mine, aware of the bias of CNN and suchlike news outlets but unwilling to read ‘pro-Trump’ news, read the Christian Science Monitor in hopes to get a balanced view. Only a few years earlier, Instapundit would sometimes link to the CSM for unbiased information too – but more recently, Glenn noticed it was joining the trend. Anyone relying on it for news in the run up to the 2020 election would have found (I looked) just one story (a fortnight after the NYPost broke it) alluding to Biden’s laptop in so cryptic a way that whoever did not already know that story would have been left very effectively uninformed – and then just one more hint on the day before the poll. (Their post-election coverage was worse.)

    – In the UK, many people know the BBC’s attitude is biased in spades, yet still assume that if a sizeable protest had happened in London then the BBC would have covered it, with bias no doubt but at appropriate length. Less than 20 years ago, a fictional BBC series like ‘The Archers’ might ruthlessly ignore the largest UK march for many decades, on a topic highly relevant to that show, in order to wrap their story around a tiny Gay Pride parade happening on the same day, but the BBC news treated the 400,000 strong countryside march as the main story, even if much of their coverage was of Labour ministers’ responses (promising stronger controls on such unwanted public speech and etc.). That was then, this is now. It has not been an unwavering straight-line descent between the two – Greg Dyke’s early noughties BBC was itself a noticeable change for the worse – but some people will be a while yet upgrading their comprehension of BBC (and the beeb may have moved on again by the time they do).

    It’s like inflation – whoever gets to print the money can keep unloading it, and so profiting, until things have gone quite far.

  • Mr Ed

    Here’s Reagan telling Soviet jokes.

    The comments have some good ones too.

  • Stonyground

    I read it on the internet has long been a term of derision for people claiming to know something as a fact. In fact, bloggers are often very well informed, especially when they are writing about their own specialities. For many years I have been fascinated by the radio news breaking a story that I had read on the internet months ago. It has now got to the point that even the most mental tin foil hat wearing nutter is a more reliable source of information than the BBC.

  • Flubber

    Pete, its not a conspiracy theory that effective covid treatments like HCQ and Invermectin have been suppressed and / or banned in the West to enable an untested gene therapy to be forced on the general population.

    We ain’t the ones in denial son.

  • Jon Eds

    Pete, no conspiracy theories are required. People are poor at statistics, highly risk averse, lack intellectual curiosity are and subject to group think. Most of us had not yet had the misfortune to live through an episode such as this, that’s all. The War on Terror gets an honourable mention perhaps.

    That said, that the British state should be quite so shit has come as a surprise, and the virtually complete disregard for liberty has been depressing. ‘The government making mistakes along the way’ is what Sweden did. That moment passed for Britain 9 months ago at best.

  • Sam Duncan

    I read it on the internet has long been a term of derision for people claiming to know something as a fact.

    Good comment, Stony. I long ago came to the realisation that such derision mainly comes from people whose only contact with the internet is through corporate websites and celebrity Twitter feeds. Of course they think it’s a den of morons.

  • Tammly

    Pete, no conspiracy theories are required. People are poor at statistics, highly risk averse, lack intellectual curiosity are and subject to group think.

    You earn my regard for the most accurate statement on the ‘Covid Crisis’ made since March 2020.

  • John B

    @Pete. Conspiracy theories: the ‘conspiracies’ are often coalitions of economic and moral/ideological interests that want to achieve a common goal. This happens even when the ‘conspirators’ are normally antagonistic, such as environmentalists and fossil fuel companies which back in the 60s and 70s ‘conspired’ to kill off nuclear energy – successfully. Both had different reasons which were met by the same goal.

    Farmers, vegans, animal-welfare activists, environmentalists/climate changers, anti-Brexiters, health police, all ‘conspired’ against imports of US chicken into the UK. Plenty of antagonism between conspirators there.

    The ‘conspiracy’ doesn’t have to be a sinister committee in a dark backroom somewhere plotting and planning, but a natural confederation of intersecting and interdependent interests.

    This ensures cheap politics for the politicians who can support an issue knowing they will score points across a wide range of people.

    It is why we are now ruled by a tyranny of minorities.

  • Paul Marks

    The United States government bureaucracy and the Corporate and media bureaucracy (all “educated” in the same far left schools and far left universities – at vast expense) do indeed lie endlessly.

    They lie about historic temperature data (see Tony Heller, realclimatescience.com, on that).

    They lie about Early Treatment for Covid 19, thus condemning to death many people who could have been saved.

    They lied about the election of November 2020 – and they are still lying about Election Fraud, and measures taken to prevent it, even now.

    The moral and intellectual corruption did NOT start with Marxism – it started with American “Pragmatist” philosophy – a School of Thought that basically said that objective truth did-not-exist, and that any tactics were legitimate in pushing “Progressive reform” – defined as undermining traditional society, and pushing ever greater power for all layers of government.

    Even in the early 1900s the Harvard Law School no longer really believed in the philosophy of the United States Bill of Rights (stop and think how terrible that is – the leader Law School no longer believed in the intellectual foundations of the country), economics was being undermined by such figures as Richard Ely (friend to both “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson), and powerful members of the establishment were writing semi totalitarian books – such as “Philip Dru: Administrator” the sick fantasy of “Colonel” House, the leading adviser to Woodrow Wilson.

    The intellectual decline of the United States (the rise of dishonest Collectivist doctrines) did not start yesterday, or even in the “low, dishonest 1930s”, it has been going on a very long time indeed. There has been “push back” from time to time – but not enough, and the decline continues.

  • Paul Marks

    The United States economy is undergoing a “dead cat bounce” at the moment – but from 2022 onwards it will go into a terrible decline. The Establishment know this very well (after all it is their wild government spending and endless regulations that have caused the mess), but they are telling the public that all is well.

    Again the government, media and corporate bureaucracy (and the education system that produces them all) is lying – lying on a vast scale.

  • Jacob

    Pete: good comment. Still – the West Governments when facing this crisis didn’t give a second’s thought or a gram’s weight to considerations of Human Rights. It wasn’t within their frame of thought. Unlike Sweden, which decided to impose less restrictions – citing human rights guaranteed in their Constitution.

  • Jacob

    “the Russians I met all assumed the government was lying about everything”

    Not entirely correct. They knew that EVERYBODY was lying about everything – and they were absolutely correct. In Communist regimes there is a speech code: you NEVER tell the truth, never pronounce your thoughts – it might land you in the Gulag in ways you can’t even guess. So, everyone knew, from age four, that it was best to say nothing except bland slogans approved by the party and other trivial nonsense (it’s raining today).
    Only rarely and within the most intimate circle of family and friends did people dare say something off-code. Off the universal lying code.
    The brutal and wide spread repression of Communist regimes is now somewhat understood in the West. The universal lying code – much less.

    And – they did not need “assume” the Government was lying. It was lying. like everybody. They knew it, didn’t have to assume nothing.

  • Jacob

    “I do find it very depressing how many people today seem to believe the western governments.”
    I also find it depressing how many people believe the Main Stream Media (NY Times, Guardian, BBC…). They are lying not one iota less than the Governments.

  • Penseivat

    When Jimmy Carter was US President, he made a State visit to Moscow where he met President Brezhnev. During a private conversation, the differences in the quality of life, health, and social care were discussed. President Brezhnev claimed that the Soviet Union was better than the USA and challenged Jimmy Carter to a race around Red Square and the result would be published in Pravda for everyone to see. Now, Jimmy Carter was well known for his daily jogging routine while President Brezhnev was overweight. The race took place, with a foreseeable result. Pravda did indeed publish the result “In the race around Red Square, President Brezhnev came second, while President Carter came next to last.”

  • Paul Marks

    Pete – many of the “conspiracy theories” have been now been shown to be correct.

    For example, even the redacted version of the e.mail conversations of Dr Fauci show that he had been told that Early Treatment of Covid 19 (with a combination of well established medications) was effective in most cases – even whilst he was going on television and denying that.

    Think about that Pete – Dr Fauci, and the establishment he is part of, were killing vast numbers of people – hundreds of thousands of people. They knew that Early Treatment would work in most cases – and they said that it would NOT work.

    So much for “conspiracy theory”.

    Now that it has been established that he establishment are mass killers (telling people NOT to seek Early Treatment when you know that will save most of them – is acting in a way that intentionally leads to mass death), the next obvious question is WHY?

    Why did they kill all these people by telling them that Early Treatment was no good, when they knew it would be effective in most cases? Did they just do that for FUN? Or did they have a political reason?

    Surely it is more logical to assume that the establishment had a political reason for what they did, rather than leading hundreds of thousands of people to their deaths just for kicks?

  • Paul Marks

    Another “conspiracy theory” was that the virus came from a lab in Wuhan – which-it-did.

    The establishment repeatedly denied that – they lied and lied and lied.

    Again the next question is – WHY did they lie?

    Do they just enjoy lying? Or did they have reasons for lying?

  • phwest

    There are plenty of reasons for the CDC to downplay the China origins, off the top of my head –

    1) At the time, it would have distracted from the CDC’s immediate focus of responding to the epidemic
    2) It would have infuriated the Chinese at a time when we were still trying to get information on the virus from them.
    3) Fears that it would have provoked assaults on American citizens of Asian ethnicity.
    4) Fears that it would have led to public demands for “extreme” sanctions against China.
    5) Desire to avoid giving unscrupulous politicians a tool to distract from their own responsibility by stoking 3 & 4.

    It is quite likely that the CDC was under pressure from both the State and Justice departments to discourage speculation as to China’s role in this (and that’s all it would have been early on – a hypotheses).
    That this also served other interests, such as avoiding questions about Fauci’s role with the Wuhan Institute of Virology, protecting the vast corporate investments in China, etc., doesn’t mean that these more “honest” issues weren’t foremost in their minds at the time. This is supported by the fact that the issue is being acknowledged seriously now – after the first two concerns in particular are no longer relevant.

    The American media and government elite have always been willing to bury issues like this that could provoke what they see as an undesirable public backlash. This is really no different that the American media’s widespread downplaying of certain racial and/or ethnic characteristics of perpetrators when reporting on crimes. Or the refusal to publicly acknowledge Iran’s supplying insurgents in Iraq with the IEDs that killed and maimed thousands of American servicemen. To wield power effectively in a modern mass democracy you must manage public opinion to some extent. This sentiment goes back to America’s founding after all, that’s why the founders wanted a republic, not a democracy.

  • Paul Marks

    phwest.

    If the CDC cared about saving lives why did they and the rest of the establishment SMEAR EARLY TREATMENT.

    They knew very well that Early Treatment with a combination of long standing medications would have saved about 80% of the people who died – but that is NOT what they said. They lied, and lied, and lied – and people died, vast numbers of people died.

    As for why they covered up the origins of the virus – they did that because the American bureaucracy were up to the necks with the Chinese bureaucracy in the Wuhan lab.

    They were covering their own backsides.

  • Paul Marks

    phwest – will the establishment be punished for the hundreds of thousands of deaths they caused with their endless lies?

    I suspect not – as the system is corrupt, especially the “Justice” Department you mention (who are scum – including the FBI). Oh they may send Tony Fauci to prison – but he is just the tip of the iceberg.

    The corruption of the education system (the “elite” schools and the universities) has worked its way through the “justice” system – which is now corrupted, as are security and intelligence agencies. The ideological corruption is now working in the MILITARY.

    Already people in the military loyal the Constitution (including the Bill of Rights) are being purged. And people who go along with totalitarian “Critical Theory” (an Orwellian name as there is nothing “critical” about the slavish devotion to this Frankfurt School totalitarianism) promoted to positions of command.

    Traditionally American conservatives (Constitutionalists) have looked on the military as friends – but that is changing (as the military is transformed by ideological training and the purging of Constitutionalists – as “extremists” or “white supremacists”, they are “white supremacists” even if they are BLACK – because they are not “really” black according to the totalitarians).

    Those founding fathers who warned against a Standing Army may yet be proved correct – it depends how much push-back there is in the military against such things as “Critical Race Theory” and the rest of the Frankfurt School indoctrination.

  • Paul Marks

    Look how the magic word “Covid” was used as an excuse to crush Constitutional liberties.

    The Constitution of the United States forbids government from violating existing private contracts – but such things as “rent moratoriums” were imposed – undermining basic private property rights (which are the foundation of society). Where did the Constitutional power to do this come from? “Covid” is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution of the United States and much more severe plagues were common when it was written.

    In many States most independent business enterprises were closed – for months. Again the magic word “Covid” being used to “justify” the objective of handing over the economy to vast government and a few “pet” corporations such as Amazon and Google.

    If anyone really believes what was done in many American States was about “saving lives” then I have a nice bridge to sell them. The same people who smeared Early Treatment (and made it as hard as possible to get) interested in “saving lives”? Pull the other one – it has got bells on.

    Remember “Pragmatist” philosophy, the basis of the Progressive movement even in the early 1900s, denies the existence of objective truth – and also believes that the ends (Collectivism) justify any means – including endless lying.

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