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

Yet perhaps the most critical difference between traditional socialism and its new form relates to growth. The New Socialism’s emphasis on climate change necessarily removes economic growth as a priority. Quite the opposite, in fact: the Green agenda looks instead towards a shrinking economy and lowered living standards, seeking to elevate favoured groups within a stagnant economy rather than generating opportunities for the general population.

Joel Kotkin, in an article riddled with laughable notions mixed with on-the-money observations.

45 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • eb

    This article is like the curate’s egg, good in parts.
    He’s got the problems right, but has no idea that the left needs to be totally demolished for his ideal to be even close to realised.

  • Stonyground

    “…seeking to elevate favoured groups within a stagnant economy rather than generating opportunities for the general population.”

    Who remembers Comrade Corbyn’s pithy slogan “For the many not for the few”? A perfect example of Orwellian speech where everything is the opposite of what it states.

  • Paul Marks

    In some ways the “new” Green agenda harks back to older forms of Collectivism – such as that of Plato or Rousseau.

    High Tech Collectivism appears to have been invented by Sir Francis Bacon (“The New Atlantis”) with scientists (not real scientists, as they would even deny that the Earth went round the Sun – but the sort of “tech priests” that Bacon pretends are scientists, much like the people we see on television now) controlling society and pushing humanity upwards. This was developed by the French Collectivist Saint-Simon and his followers in the 19th century, then there was the massive Marxist (named after Dr Karl Marx 1818 – 1883) movement (which still continues), then the modern Corporate and Government United Nations and World Economic Forum (“Davos”) hi tech Collectivist movement of “Build Back Better” “Great Reset” “Agenda 21, Agenda 2030” associated with Dr Klaus Schwab (see his book “Stakeholder Capitalism” in 1971, and his more recent book “Great Reset”).

    Under High Tech Collectivism, humans are to be “nudged” into “smart cities” and every aspect of life is to be controlled by governments and pet corporations – but (somehow) science and technology are to advance life is going to get better and better. “You will own nothing and you will be happy” – as Dr Schwab, Bill Gates (and all the rest) put it.

    But there is also another form of Collectivism – no claims of endless scientific and technological advance and life getting better and better (not that Dr Schwab, Mr Gates, and the rest, actually explain how this can happen under Collectivism), but rather a sort of “steady state” of unchanging rural communities.

    Plato describes in what we call “The Republic” and “The Laws” such an unchanging community. And, in some ways, the “Utopia” of Sir Thomas Moore is rather like that.

    But it is Rousseau who modern hard core Greens really look back to – the “Noble Savage”, the rejection of modern civilisation and industry and the support for an unchanging rural community under the control of a “Lawgiver” – who would prevent people going down the wrong path, the path of economic development.

    That one of the largest and most advanced countries in the world, France, was captured by the followers of Rousseau after 1789 is bizarre – it is also contradictory that France was governed (by the Revolutionaries) from the largest city – Paris. Indeed elements of this remained till Napoleon – who returned industry to private ownership and restored gold money.

    There was a similar uprising of madness in 1968 – with students in Paris wanting to create a new Collectivist society and rejecting the complex civilisation of 20th century France.

    What do we face now?

    Do we face the high tech Collectivism of Sir Francis Bacon, Saint-Simon and Dr Klaus Schwab, or do we face the primitive “Noble Savage” stuff of Rousseau and the students of 1968?

    I think we face BOTH – in a weird and contradictory mixture.

    And, please do not forget, the ideas of Klaus Schwab, “Bill” Gates and the rest (which they mistakenly think would help high tech civilisation) would actually DESTROY modern civilisation – their Collectivism is not compatible with scientific advance or industrial civilisation.

    So the one leads to the other – the high tech Collectivism of Klaus Schwab, William Gates and-so-on would collapse into the primitive savagery of the other sort of Collectivism. And as the survivors fled the collapsing “smart cities” they would produce primitive communities of hunter-gatherers and subsistence farmers.

    A small fraction of the population would survive – in conditions of grinding poverty and ignorance.

  • As Dementia Joe has made quite clear

    “You must lower your expectations”.

    Less for thee and more for me being the general theme.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Can’t say that i spotted any notion which is truly laughable in the article.

    What i found problematic is Kotkin’s terminology, specifically the terms ‘socialism’, ‘feudalism’, and ‘Thatcherism’. But i think it is easy to figure out what Kotkin *thinks* these words mean. And if i understand him correctly, then what he says makes sense. Kind of.

    Popper has taught me that debating about the meaning of words is an exercise in futility. (He first realized this after such a debate with his own father.)

    Look at the policies that Kotkin credits to the Republicans:

    Meanwhile, the Republicans are redoubling efforts to forge a social democratic agenda, crafting an aggressive programme of tax breaks for working families, upholding educational choice in states such as Virginia, and committing to aggressive re-shoring for industry. Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio has even called for a “divorce” with the financial and corporate elite.

    Tax breaks and school choice are “social democratic” policies? who knew?

    But i approve of all 4 policies, including re-shoring and a divorce with the financial+corporate elite. The latter elite are not always, necessarily, enemies of the middle+working classes; but at this particular moment in time, they are.

    Kotkin, like the recently deceased Angelo Codevilla and the very much alive Glenn Reynolds (and, i am told, Tucker Carlson) is an American thinker who seems to have identified the central class conflict in xxi century America: the conflict between the establishment and the (private-sector) middle+working classes.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Snorri – if “Social Democrat” means anything it means someone who thinks that government should do more to help-the-people but has some reservations about the state controlling everything. As an American Republican, at least in theory, believes government should do LESS (rather than MORE) they should not be “Social Democrats” (sadly a lot of them really are – but there we go).

    As for the Democrats – how many are Social Democrats and how many are full blown Collectivists, supporting government control from the cradle to the grave?

    In the recent vote on the “Build Back Better” Bill in the United States (an openly build-full-Collectivism measure) there was some Democrat dissent – but not much.

    Only one (yes ONE) Democrat Member of the House of Representatives voted against “Build Back Better” – and, please remember the massive wild spending “infrastructure” Bill had already past – only someone who wanted Collectivism for-its-own-sake could have voted for the “Build Back Better” Bill, it was not a question of “vote for this Bill – or you do not get all the corrupt Pork spending” because the corrupt Pork spending (which will destroy the economy) had-already-past. “Build Back Better” is on-top-of the endless Covid bailouts and the “Infrastructure” obscenity – the “Build Back Better” Bill might as well be called the “Hail Satan” Bill.

    It seems the more “paranoid” view of the Democratic Party is correct – all but one Democrats in the House of Representatives voted for Collectivism.

    We shall now see what the position is in the Senate.

    The logical end of thinking that government spending and edicts (regulations) “help the people” is to hold that the government should control everything – so one could say that most Democrats are now logically consistent.

  • Lee Moore

    Popper has taught me that debating about the meaning of words is an exercise in futility.

    Yes and no. The problem is that t’other side has an active programme to redefine all the words you would like to use in debating the actual substance. It is not that you cannot think the necessary thoughts when the words have been taken away, for you can invent new ones. It’s that most of the persuadable audience is still at least partly tethered to the old meaning of the word, and so it gets increasingly difficult to make your point in a way that people can follow.

    So if you concede the semantic turf, such that, eg, a trans woman is a kind of woman rather than a kind of man, then whenever you want to refer to an actual woman, you are stuck with the clunky circumlocution {cis woman or trans man} ; or {biological woman} – as if there’s some other kind.

    So yes debating the meaning of words is futile – and a favourite dark side tactic to avoid engaging with the substance – but not debating the meaning of words amounts to surrender.

    It is vexing, but that’s the price you pay for losing your toehold in the wordsmithing industries – press, media, publishing, dictionaries, academia.

  • Eric Tavenner

    a shrinking economy and lowered living standards, seeking to elevate favoured groups within a stagnant economy rather than generating opportunities for the general population

    That’s what socialism has always accomplished.

    Of course they are happy. If they aren’t they get liquidated as wreckers.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    It is vexing, but that’s the price you pay for losing your toehold in the wordsmithing industries – press, media, publishing, dictionaries, academia

    Yes, and why is this?

    What I’m about to say will be unpopular here. I can already hear Paul Marks saying derisive comments about Plato haha 🙂

    The Left is fundamentally about communication. This is inherently so. There are many ways to deduce this truth.

    Lets try one.

    In reality, a political system with a stable Schelling Point is impossible to entirely achieve, but is possible to achieve to a degree.

    The extent to which a political system appears to revolve around a stable Schelling Point is the extent to which communication is superfluous. We see in highly unstable systems (like democracies) that communication is quite the opposite of superfluous (for both Right and Left).

    Thus, and by the same token, the rate at which the Left prevails in a political system is generally proportional to how important and, thus, prevalent communication is.

    The Right and the Left hold different assumptions. One assumption of the Right is that the world is chaotic and one assumption of the Left is that the world is random.

    Actions matter in a reality that is chaotic and actions also matter in a reality that is random. However, actions matter in more ways in a chaotic system than in a random system.

    The truth is that Aristotle is of the Left and Plato is of the Right.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    It is true that defense of political rights is more closely associated with Aristotle than with Plato.

    It is also true that, especially these days, political rights are more associated with the Right than with the Left.

    So why is it that Aristotle is of the Left and Plato is of the Right?

    It’s an excellent question and the real answer evades most people, particularly these days.

    How individual rights are OBTAINED is not by defending them by using communication. Repeat after me: how individual rights are OBTAINED is NOT BY DEFENDING THEM USING COMMUNICATION.

    Only rights that are threatened need to be defended via communication. Individual rights are, at least to an extent, PRESERVED by defending them using communication – yes. But individual rights are not obtained by defending them via communication.

    In democracies we see people, particularly those who call themselves conservatives and libertarians, defending their rights using communication. This is worthy and right and good and must be done. Why? To preserve our political individual rights.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    My perspective is, it is true, highly pessimistic and dark… as I am basically arguing that the Left inevitably prevails – and the Left does inevitably prevail, though the speed at which this occurs does, in fact, vary. In our chaotic world, actions do matter, though this does not mean that the Left can be defeated – the Left can be slowed and SHOULD BE slowed.

    We can win battles, but we cannot win the war, since the source of the Left is flawed humanity. In fact, the Left is the flaw of humanity – disobedience. And even this does not mean that good people should never be disobedient. Like any rule of conduct, there are exceptions and exceptions do not falsify the rule.

    Anyway, back to my perspective. Yes, it is true that the Left does inevitably prevail, though the speed at which this happens does vary. Our actions do matter. History does generally support my perspective, notwithstanding certain examples to the contrary. Like any rule of human affairs, there are exceptions and exceptions do not falsify the rule.

    History is experimental politics. Examining and assessing history accurately requires a highly discerning eye and nuanced understanding of human affairs. Why? Because of confounding variables.

    I will say that we should not mistake the liberating consequences of technological innovation for anything but.

    Confounding variables are the demons that haunt any analysis of facts.

    So I say again that we should not mistake the liberating consequences of technological innovation for anything but.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Paul Marks in his comment at November 25, 2021 at 1:58 pm.

    Paul Marks and I do have many disagreements. There is no way to summarize all of our disagreements succinctly, but there are ways to summarize most of our disagreements succinctly. Here is one such way.

    I believe that the extent to which political power is centralized, secure, and stable is proportional to the degree to which de facto liberty is experienced by humans. This is not something Paul Marks agrees with.

    Now, are there exceptions to the general rule stated above? Yes and like any rule of human affairs, there are exceptions and exceptions do not falsify the rule.

    The above I believe has been true throughout all of human history, notwithstanding certain exceptions to the general rule. However, as I said August 21, 2021 at 5:43 pm in “The era of COVID-totalitarianism” thread:

    We are seeing something quite extraordinary happening in the world right now.

    Many factors are causing what we are seeing.

    One of those factors may be a tectonic shift in the relationship between political leadership and labor.

    If this is actually true, then to say that this is worrisome is a preposterous understatement of epic proportions.

    The incentives of political leadership with respect to what shapes the life experiences of ordinary humans may have been either fundamentally altered or even inverted as a result of certain extraordinary technological innovations.

    An inversion of incentive for political leadership with respect to labor, particularly, would imply that greater human liberty (for the first time in human history) is no longer a consequence of the extent to which political authority is absolute, centralized, and/or secure.

    This may indeed be something that is happening.

    Paul Marks and I have significant differences (and also some similarities) when it comes to our views of sovereignty, government, centralized power, history etc. Paul Marks and I have different understandings of how Klaus Schwab’s governing philosophy relates to historical figures such as Plato.

    But I’m 100% with Paul Marks in vociferously and unequivocally opposing Klaus Schwab, the globalists and their totalitarian approach to governance. We must oppose Schwab and his ilk all the way to the gates of hell. And through those gates as well.

  • Paul Marks

    I do indeed OPPOSE the centralisation of political power – and I also oppose making it “secure”, i.e. making the ruler or rulers unremovable.

    If political power is centralised then there is no where to run to – the logical conclusion of the centralisation of political power is “World Governance” by various “agreements”.

    And making political power “secure” means the bureaucracy – so one can have elections, but they do NOT mean different policies (because the bureaucracy, the “experts”, remain in power).

    In the United States government spending, taxes and regulations should be decided at State and local level NOT Federal level because then people can “vote with their feet” – and the same is true internationally, which is why I OPPOSE the “agreements” setting out taxation and government spending and regulation policies – a line of international policy that goes back to the time of George Herbert Walker Bush and John Major – indeed all the way back to the dreams of President Woodrow Wilson with such things has desire that “labor policy” be decided internationally (by officials and “experts”).

    The Confederacy was wrong – but it was not secession that made it wrong, it was SLAVERY that made it wrong. Because the point of local rule is giving people the freedom to move to places of lower government spending and so on – and SLAVES ARE NOT FREE TO LEAVE.

  • Paul Marks

    As for monarchy – I have no objective to hereditary monarchy being part of a system of government as it is (for example) in Liechtenstein.

    But PART – not ALL.

    If the monarch has absolute power then you have despotism – as in the Roman Empire or Eastern Despotism generally.

    The basic point of Western monarchy was its LIMITED nature – the King was UNDER (not above) the law.

    This was accepted by Charles the Bald as far back as 877 AD. But it has to be ENFORCED against Kings who break their oath to rule UNDER the law.

    Sir Francis Bacon, with his effort to put Kings ABOVE the law, betrayed the Common Law – as did Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and the rest of them.

    The “Old Whigs” such Chief Justice Sir Hohn Holt were correct – both King AND Parliament must be limited, they must be under (not above) the principles of law, government must be LIMITED not absolute.

    I was going down to London today – but I feel like death-warmed-up. And not warmed up very much.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The truth is that Aristotle is of the Left and Plato is of the Right.

    There is much to comment about, but for today let me start by saying that Shlomo is on to something here.

    Plato was a pessimist: he thought that things almost inevitably get worse. (See 2nd Law of Thermodynamics.) He was a reactionary.

    Aristotle was an optimist: he though that the natural order is for things to get better. He was a progressive — although a cautious progressive.

    As for myself, i am a Darwinist: i believe that almost all change is for the worse, but only change for the better survives.

    Let me note, however, that one does not necessarily have to identify “the right” with reaction, and “the left” with progressivism.

  • Shlomo Maistre

    Snorri Godhi,

    Let me note, however, that one does not necessarily have to identify “the right” with reaction, and “the left” with progressivism.

    I mean, we can define words in any way. But on what basis would you identify progressivism with the right? And on what basis would you identify reaction with the left?

  • Paul Marks

    If “Plato is of the right” politically then so was Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot. Plato’s cultural and artistic ideas are different to theirs – but he agrees with them (even in the arts) that the VIOLENCE (the state) should control everything. From art to agriculture.

    The society described in what we call “The Republic” and “The Laws” is a Collectivist one. There are no individual rights AGAINST the Collective in these works, and not even a right to leave.

    In the Confederacy slaves were not allowed to leave (other people could leave the high Progressive income taxes, endless paper money, and general state control of the Confederacy) – in “The Republic” no one is allowed to leave (without permission) and Plato even describes how people would be sent out on spying missions to find out what inventions had been created in other societies.

    In short Plato tacitly admits that Collectivist society he outlines would not invent anything – and would have to spy on less Collectivist societies in order to gain new developments (shades of Marxist activities in modern times).

    As for Aristotle – a mixed thinker.

    Aristotle comes out against Lycophron – who, correctly, argued that the law was about protecting people from robbery and attack.

    No says Aristotle – the laws of the Polis are about moulding people – to make them “just and good” (this he gets from his teacher Plato).

    The idea that the state can or should mould people, produce a certain sort of person, is indeed of the “left” – one can find it in Rousseau and in the French Revolution and in the various Revolutionary movements of our time. But it would be mistake to think that Aristotle is just a leftist.

    After all it is Aristotle who quotes the old line (old even in his own day) that to the state to give the “the people” money (money taken from the rich) is like pouring liquid in a container with no bottom on it.

    The free stuff policy – handed out by Pericles and others in the decline of Athens or by the late Roman Republic – has no friend in Aristotle.

    Indeed even Plato mentions (again something that had been known long BEFORE his time) that the way a democracy transforms into a tyranny is when the ruler or rulers starts to promise the masses the goods of the rich – in order to achieve that legal robbery a certain sort of state must be created (in modern language a Police State) – and such a state eventually attacks the poor (not “just” the rich).

    The difference today is that the wealth of the elite comes-from-the-state.

    This is due to to something that neither Plato or Aristotle had any experience of – Credit Money.

    Richard Cantillon, some three centuries ago, was the first thinker to grasp that Credit Money expansion benefits a tiny rich elite at the expense of everyone else – hence we call this the “Cantillon Effect”.

    What is happening now (via the major Credit Bubble banking centres) is something that no Classical thinker had any experience of – the closest they came to it is “debasement of the coinage” but that does NOT really cover it.

    Richard Cantillon was really the first man who could have recognised what is happening in our time – but he would have shocked (and horrified) by the SCALE on which it is now happening.

  • Paul Marks

    Neither Plato or Aristotle really understood economics – even in the context of their own time.

    This can be seen in their assumption that if someone increased their wealth someone else must be getting worse of – even in the age of slavery that was NOT true.

    Even Aristotle assumes that people exchange equal values – and that is quite WRONG.

    When someone exchanges (say) apples for carrots (or either for gold or silver) they do NOT exchange equal values. The person who gives apples for carrots values the carrots more than the apples – and the person who gives the carrots for apples vales the apples more.

    BOTH PARTIES GAIN FROM THE EXCHANGE – this is because economic value (not moral value – economic value) is subjective. Something that even Adam Smith and David Ricardo DENIED – the Labour Theory of Value of Smith and Ricardo was a disaster (a terrible mess), as were many other aspects of their thought (and the thought of those who followed them – such as James and J.S. Mill).

    Did any Classical thinkers understand economics?

    We just do not know – as about 99% of Classical literature is lost. There may have great economists in Classical times, but (if so) their works are lost.

  • Paul Marks

    Why did “Radical” liberals in the 19th century hate both individual factory owners and big private landowners? Large scale individual private property owners – the very people the “Old Whigs” had supported against the state.

    Partly (partly) this was due to the Labour Theory of Value and the false teaching on LAND – pushed by both Adam Smith and David Ricardo – as interpreted by such thinkers as John Stuart Mill.

    By the way – there used to be a practice in universities of “balancing” the teaching of Karl Marx with the “alternative” of John Stuart Mill. As both were opposed to large scale individual owners of the means-of-production this “choice” was a false one.

  • Snorri Godhi


    I mean, we can define words in any way. But on what basis would you identify progressivism with the right? And on what basis would you identify reaction with the left?

    You are missing the point, which is related to what Lee Moore wrote.
    For a couple of centuries, people on “the continent” appear to have used “the right” to refer to the establishment and their supporters, and “the left” to refer to the party of the people (middle+working class).

    This dichotomy is orthogonal to that between conservatism and progressivism.

    See also what i write about GB Shaw in my reply to Paul Marks below.

  • Snorri Godhi


    If “Plato is of the right” politically then so was Lenin, Mao and Pol Pot. Plato […] agrees with them (even in the arts) that the VIOLENCE (the state) should control everything. From art to agriculture.

    As a matter of fact, Lenin did write a book titled Left Wing Communism: An Infantile disorder.
    And Mussolini explicitly identified with “the right”.

    Tocqueville, as early as 1848, claimed in a speech to the French Parliament that socialism has nothing in common with democracy, except the word “equality”; but while democracy seeks equality in freedom, socialism seeks equality in slavery. (Quoting from memory.)
    Obviously, Tocqueville did not think of socialism as a movement of the Left.

    G.B. Shaw, later an admirer of Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin (anticipating Jonah Goldberg in seeing the obvious similarities) claimed in 1921 that the Bolsheviks were the true heirs of Toryism. (Let me remind you that, in 1921, the terms “left” and “right” were not used in their political sense in Britain.)

    Note also the first line in the essay at the link:

    It is still widely assumed that socialism was always thought of as left-wing

    The essay goes on to review other people who thought of socialism as Tocqueville and Shaw did.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – the establishment in Britain and the United States are very much on the left and have been for a very long time indeed.

    If someone like President Woodrow Wilson (an ardent leftist) was not the part of the establishment who is? Woodrow Wilson wrote the standard textbook that young members of the establishment were taught from, and the other one was written by Richard Ely (another leftist).

    In Britain “Social Reform” (leftism) has been the default position of the establishment since at least the 1870s.

    George Bernard Shaw was very much a leftist – as were Bolsheviks.

    Things may be different in the Netherlands – fair enough.

    By the way “Toryism” was not an economic philosophy at all (it just meant support for Church and King – not any particular line of policy, a bigger state or a smaller state). Disraeli pretended it was (and used that as a justification for his own statism) – but Disraeli was not a honest man. After all he called his Two Nations statism (his pretence that “the rich” and “the poor” have different long term interests) “One Nation” – which is exactly what it was not.

    Today “the rich” get most of their wealth from the Credit Money expansion – but that was not true in the time of Disraeli.

    “Socialism seeks equality in slavery” – yes, the obvious definition of the LEFT (equality in slavery – as with the Jacobins and the even more extreme “Society of Equals” during the French Revolution).

    It is true that some supporters of liberty sat on the left hand side of the French National Assembly – most notably Frederic Bastiat – but he was surrounded by socialists.

    As for the origin of these terms – it goes back long before the French Revolution. The right hand path (the hard and stony road – which takes such difficulty to climb) is the path of the righteous, the left hand path is much easier – we all have the left hand path within us (indeed it is the DEFAULT if we do not struggle against within ourselves – every day), it is the smooth and easy path – with leads to Hell.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the Netherlands – the Prime Minister of the Netherlands describes himself as a Classical Liberal, yet he is a supporter of the European Union (i.e. he does not believe in the self government of the people of the Netherlands), and he is a Covid restriction supporter – which makes him about as much as Classical Liberal as Mr Johnson. I rather doubt that Mr Gladstone would regard either of these people as “Classical Liberals” – they are the reverse of Classical Liberals.

    But then Snorri you are CORRECT in holding that I do not understand how words are used on the Continent. For example, the state take over of the Catholic Church in France in 1905 (with its nationalisation of church property – even the churches themselves), is described as the “Separation of Church and State”.

    This baffles me – how can a take over of church property be a “separation”. Something is being lost (indeed reversed) in translation.

    However, words are also horribly misused in the United Kingdom as well – for example the vast increase in taxation in Ireland in the 1840s is described as a “laissez faire” policy, which is the exact opposite of what it was.

    How can the statist policies of Sir Charles Trevelyan be described as “leave alone” – the misuse of language is total.

  • Paul Marks

    Given the latest behaviour of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland – I am not in a tolerant mood. I apologise if this leads me to be too harsh to other people – punishing them unjustly (punishing them for things they have not done). I will try and resist that.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Snorri – the establishment in Britain and the United States are very much on the left and have been for a very long time indeed.

    Given this starting paragraph, i do not need to read anything else.

    Because of the petitio principii.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri as you have previously claimed that George Bernard Shaw (a classic equality in slavery type), one of the most famous leftists in history, was somehow not a leftist – it is hard to know what to make of you.

    As for the British and American establishments having been dominated by the left (in Britain the Fabians, the Bloomsbury set, and the more moderate “Social Reformers”, – in the United States academia and the education of the political and corporate elite) for a very long time – that is a fact, if you do not like the truth that-is-not-my-problem, it is your problem Sir.

    By the way – it is rather clear that the left also dominate the establishment in the Netherlands, especially in academia and the education system. I believe you have worked in this area Snorri.

    The education system, the media, the Catholic Church, most establishment institutions in the Netherlands have been dominated by the left for many years.

    If you have not noticed that about your own country Snorri, it is hardly a surprise that you are so utterly ill informed about the United Kingdom and the United States.

    What next? David Hume as a supporter of self government (rather than the “euthanasia of the constitution” that he really supported) and individual rights against the state?

    Why not? Academics, the children of Plato and his “Noble Lie”, seem to have no limit to their dishonesty – so why not pretend that David Hume was a supporter of self government and individual rights against the state.

    Black is white, wet is dry, fire is cold – this is the line of the leftist establishment which dominates so many countries, and has done for a very long time.

  • Paul Marks

    I am not exaggerating – I have come upon people who present Sir Francis Bacon, Sir William Petty (who wanted to mathematically plan Ireland, and everyone in it), Thomas Hobbes, David Hume and Jeremy Bentham as key thinkers of the liberty tradition.

    They can use words from other languages as much as they like – they are still lying. Indeed reversing the truth. As these were key attackers of the tradition of liberty – not defenders, attackers.

    Black is white, wet is dry, fire is cold – that is what the academics are doing.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Snorri as you have previously claimed that George Bernard Shaw (a classic equality in slavery type), one of the most famous leftists in history, was somehow not a leftist – it is hard to know what to make of you.

    You see, Paul, why i am convinced that your reading comprehension is close to zero?

    I said that GB Shaw SAID OF HIMSELF AND OF LENIN that they were Tories. Is it any clearer for you in all-caps?

    Specifically, Shaw said:

    The Tory is a man who believes that those who are qualified by nature and training for public work, and who are naturally a minority, have to govern the mass of the people. That is Toryism. That is also Bolshevism. The Russian masses elected a National Assembly: Lenin and the Bolshevists ruthlessly shoved it out of the way, and indeed shot it out of the way as far as it refused to be shoved (p. 31).

    So, he was not saying that Bolshevism is conservative: he was saying that Bolshevism is authoritarian and undemocratic. Which might or might not also be conservative.

    Meanwhile, you completely ignore that Lenin seemed to agree with Shaw, and that Mussolini declared himself of the “right”. You also ignore those on the other side, such as Tocqueville, arguably Hayek, and certainly George Watson, who thought of the left/right dichotomy the way Shaw, Lenin, and Mussolini did.

    And what’s that about the British establishment being dominated by the “left” “for a very long time indeed”? Are you saying that Jim Callaghan was as much of a tyrant as Lenin or Mussolini? Because these are the people who define “the left” FOR YOU, by your own words.

    Here is my rule, Paul: if in the 1st paragraph of your replies you do not show understanding of what i wrote, then i am not going to read further.

  • Paul Marks

    O.K. then Snorri – you think my reading competence is close to zero, well I do not love you either Sir.

    As for the establishment being leftist – of course they are, including the Corporate establishment. Ever heard of Disney-Marvel? The other corporations are much the same. These Corporations have gone from being sort of Social Democratic a few decades ago (they all backed Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society stuff) to being full on “Critical Theory” now – and if Frankfurt School Marxism is not leftist it is hard to think of what is.

    This was not always so – at least outwardly most large corporations were fairly “socially conservative” (in a good way back in (say) the 1950s – indeed they were Classically Liberal. Comics and films and television shows of the time did NOT push “racism” and “Fascism” as the establishment elite now pretend they did – on the contrary they were generally racially tolerant and stressed individual moral responsibility and moral choice (yes Free Will – Moral Agency, the principle David Hume denied even existed).

    As for G.B. Shaw – hard to be more “authoritarian and undemocratic” than him and his friends H.G. Wells, Mr and Mrs Webb (Lord and Lady P.) and the rest.

    These were people who mused about the murder of millions – they were utterly vile leftists, as anyone who has seen the “Fabian Window” (the stained glass window) knows. It is not a “joke” – because, under the seeming jest, it was meant quite seriously. Just as Mr Shaw might talk about everyone having to justify their existence before a government board or be executed, with a twinkle in his eye and a nice Irish accent – but HE MEANT IT. He would have executed anyone who was not of used to him – or rather he would have had other people MURDER those who were of no use to him (no use to Mr Shaw).

    What they (the Fabians and the rest of these establishment left types) wanted was simple enough – their boots on the face of everyone else. And surely that is “authoritarian and undemocratic”.

    I would say “have a nice day” – but I do not actually want you to have nice day.

    You keep boasting about how you do NOT read what I write – but you still attack and mock and sneer (mock and sneer at what you claim NOT to have read). And lecturing me about David Hume and other people when you fail to grasp the most important aspects of the positions of these thinkers.

    O.K. then Snorri – fair enough. You do not like me, and I most certainly do care for you Sir. Do not comment on what I write (which you claim NOT to read) and I will not comment on what you write (unless it mentions what I have written). Let us go our separate ways in peace Sir.

  • Paul Marks

    On the original article – Joel Kotkin does throw around the word “socialism” a bit too much.

    For example, Sweden has never been socialist (the state has never controlled the means of production, distribution and exchange in Sweden) – even the sort of state control of industry that Britain had in the 1940s (both during the 2md World War and during the Atlee Government after the war, has never been seen in Sweden.

    Sweden did indeed have high taxes (although only higher taxes than Britain for a period) to fund Welfare State. health-education-and-welfare spending – which started to be higher than Britain (as a proportion of the economy) in, I think, the 1970s – Britain went de facto bankrupt in 1976 (although only old people such as me seem to remember this) and there were real cuts under IMF demands (the actual spending cuts came before Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister – Mrs T. did NOT cut Welfare State spending).

    But I know what he means – he means that government was trying to make the lives of people better by tax-and-spend.

    I do not think it was about helping “families” – the left have never keen on the traditional family (certainly not in Scandinavia or Britain – the various leftist thinkers were rather in agreement with Plato on the traditional family, i.e. they do not like it – the family being seen as a barrier between the individual and the collective, some of the French Revolutionaries had the same view, they hated anything that was a barrier between the individual and the Collective, very Rousseau). But they did want people to live better – I think that is fair.

    That may well be true of the MODERATE left in Britain and the United States as well in past decades.

    Someone like President Johnson or Prime Harold Wilson may have sincerely believed that more government spending helped-the-people made their lives better.

    And I think that Joel Kotkin is CORRECT that the modern left do NOT care to make lives better – not the lives of most people. Indeed the people who pull the strings of the pathetic Joseph Biden actually want to make the lives of most people WORSE – they WANT most people to live in grinding poverty.

    They (the string or wire pullers) want most people to live in grinding poverty – think about that.

    Where I would differ from Joel Kotkin is in his belief that “libertarians” have controlled the Republican Party for the last few decades.

    “Would that have been so, oh man of Princeton!” Sadly it is not so.

    President Reagan had actually read some libertarian books (I have seen some of the annotations in the margins that he made) – but neither President Bush did that, and libertarian thought had no impression upon them.

    President Donald John Trump, in his more humble moments (even the New York salesman did have humble moments) admitted that he was not as well read as he wished he was – he was open to ideas, but to say he was familiar with libertarian thought, well I do not think he rearly was (hopefully he has been catching up with his reading – but his main stress seems to have been improving his physical condition over the last ten months, and he has done much better than me on that). He was a much better President than I thought he would be (I was utterly WRONG about Donald John Trump in 2016) – but he relied more on gut instinct than book learning.

    Then there is the central claim in the Gentleman of Princeton’s article – this implied claim that runs through the article that the interests of Wall Street are libertarian.

    I agree with J.K. that the interests of Wall Street are CONTRARY to the interests of Main Street – but I do not agree that this is a natural class conflict. On the contrary it is due to the massive flow of Credit Money – flowing into the banks and Corporations. This is NOT capitalism.

    As normal I cite Ricard Cantillon – but I would also cite DAVID HUME. Yes I disagree with this Gentleman on history and political philosophy – but his economics is basically O.K.

    David Hume was no friend of Credit Money, Credit Bubble Banks, and Corporations. I do not care for his writing style – but then I prefer “let your yea be your yea, and your nay be your nay – and be prepared to die for your words”, and that was not his style of writing or speaking. But that does NOT mean his economics was fundamentally wrong. I would have found conversing with the man torture – as he would not speak-plain (all this dancing about language to protect himself would have enraged me – as it did Dr Johnson), but I doubt we would have disagreed much on ECONOMIC policy.

    As a Scottish person of the time (although he some of his life in France – well the weather was better) he had a more realistic view of Scottish banks than some misty eyed “Free Banking” supporters in our time.

    You could put gold and silver INTO a Scottish bank – most certainly, and with great ease. But when you wanted to get that gold or silver OUT of the bank (when you needed it most), well there might be problems, and the courts tended to side with the bankers.

    But I must not exaggerate this – the worst (the very worst) banks and other such of the 18th and 19th centuries were absolute saints compared to what we have today.

    What we have today is no way “capitalism” – because it is not based on capital (on Real Savings) – essentially what we have today is an abomination.

    In short JK thinks that opposing the Credit Bubble people means breaking with the libertarians – whereas I think that opposing the Credit Bubble people is exactly what libertarians would support.

    I have nothing against money lending – but the money lender must not have “created” the “money” he is lending out (no book keeping tricks credit expansion) and after the money lender has lent out the money he does NOT have that money any more (because he has lent it out), till when and IF he is repaid.

    In short the “Iron Bank of Braavos” – but they are engaged in the wrong-sort-of-lending.

    They lend out actual Real Savings (cash money – physical gold), but NOT for productive investment. They lend it out for endless wars and general wild living – all of that reduces (rather than increases) the productive capacity of the land over time.

    Not good – not good at all.

    British country banks (English and Scottish) basically lent out Real Savings (although there was always credit money abuse on-top – although minor compared to the abomination that is today) in the 18th and 19th centuries – and, just as important, they lent it out for productive investment. Investments that at least had a decent chance of paying them back in an expanding economy over time.

    We desperately need to get back to that – get back to Real Savings and productive investment in domestic manufacturing.

    This “finance economy” (this CREDIT BUBBLE economy) is despicable – David Hume would have against it, and rightly so. It is destructive – and it is doomed. And it is NOT capitalism.

  • Paul Marks

    It looks like the Conservatives and Liberals have split the vote in Honduras – letting the Socialist candidate win the Presidency (there is only a single round of voting in Honduras). But do Conservatives, “Tories”, lead to socialism – indeed to Marxism, the (mocking) claim of George Bernard Shaw?

    One can argue that the leftist “Social Reform” agenda of Balfour and (even more) Disraeli does, if-taken-to-its-logical-extreme, lead to socialism – if not “Lenin” and his “Bolsheviks”. Indeed Disraeli, when he was a novelist, claimed there were “two nations – the rich and the poor” and that only government spending and regulations could deal with this – YES an argument of the left (bizarrely the utterly false position of Disraeli is called the “One Nation” position, when its central thesis is that there are Two Nations, and it is warmly endorsed by Prime Minister Johnson).

    But, I think, it is mistaken to claim that all Tories were leftists – that leftism is inherent in the Tory position. One could not claim that of say Prime Minister Lord Salisbury, or Lord Liverpool (there is a good book out this year arguing Lord Liverpool was the greatest Prime Minister this country has ever had, and certainly he was the opposite of Disraeli – who despised Lord Liverpool), or Dr Johnson and-so-on.

    The Tory position was best summed up by King Charles the First in his speech before his execution (by the way the power of that speech is why Louis XVI was drowned out by trumpets and drums at his execution – the French Revolutionaries did not want their victim to strike back at them with his words, as Charles had).

    King Charles the First (before the word “Tory” was used in politics – but his words were taken up by those who later became called Tories) defined liberty as that state of affairs by which the lives and goods of people are most their own (no “Two Nations” nonsense) – and he goes on to say that this liberty should not be confused with control of the government, as the liberty of the subject and control of the government are different things.

    Actually this position of Charles the First is libertarian – but the Whig (or rather the people who were later called Whigs) has an answer.

    Yes it would be a very good if the government respected the liberty of persons – but what happens if it does NOT?

    What if the government is bad? It there is no way of GETTING RID of the government – why should they not be bad, if there is no way to remove the government (regardless of what they do)?

    This is my answer to Shlomo Maistre – and it is why I am a Whig not a Tory.

    Lastly – Bertrand Russell (the socialist – who supported de facto surrender to the Nazis in the 1930s, and supported de facto surrender to the Soviet Union after World War II – CND and all that) sometimes called himself a “Whig” – which is just as bizarre as G.B. Shaw claiming that Marxists were the heirs of the the Tories.

    The political philosophy of Bertrand Russell was just about the OPPOSITE of that of the Whigs – rather than being about protecting large scale private property against the state, Bertrand Russell was AGAINST large scale private property – he was a socialist, the opposite of a Whig. He did not want to roll back the state – make the state smaller in size and scope, he wanted to make the state bigger indeed make the state all-in-all.

    As for philosophy – Bertrand Russell openly admired THOMAS HOBBES (the philosopher that the Whigs had hated – hated more than they hated any other philosopher), indeed it was the ideas of Hobbes (that one should submit to the strongest power – and that power should be centralised, secure and total) that led Bertrand Russell to argue for de facto submission to first Nazi Germany and later to the Soviet Union.

    Karl Popper may have argued that it is foolish to argue over the meaning of words – but if a socialist gets away with calling themselves a Whig (especially as the supporters of Collectivism have already stolen the word “liberal”) then human language breaks down totally.

    We are off in the world were black is white, hot is cold, up is down – and so on.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Kotkin’s books and articles are well worth reading, even though he is a blinkered big government lefty on economics, with a rather naive hankering for the post-war era (50s and 60s) when labour unions dominated whole industries (to their eventual detriment) and when many sectors such as airlines, trucking, TV and radio and liquor were heavily regulated (to their detriment). His analysis appears to be class-based, and it has its uses and value. But he misses, as far as I can see, the damaging role of the Federal Reserve in its endless money printing and how this has bent the capital structure of the country out of shape.

    What Kotkin and others seem to miss is that if the post-war mixed economy model was so wonderful, how come it imploded in the early 70s, and so badly? There are reasons why there was a partial turn to more free market policies in the late 70s and through the 80s, and this was not just some demonic “neo-liberal” plan. It was because the Keynesian policy mix had comprehensively failed.

  • Paul Marks

    Johnathan Peace – the United States was much more free enterprise in the 1950s than it is now, most of the vast government programs of today did not even exist in 1950s America. If J. Kotkin is claiming that today is more free market than the 1950s – his history is just wrong.

    The same is true (to a lesser extent) in Britain. Government was much smaller in, say, 1963 than it is now in the United Kingdom.

    And J. Kotkin’s point about the massive Credit Bubble “Finance Capital” economy is both correct and not correct. He is correct that it exists and that it is vastly bigger and, therefore, more damaging than in the past – where he is WRONG is in associating this with the free market.

    The Credit Bubble antics of “The City” and “Wall Street” (in the United States there are several cities dominated by these antics – for example San Francisco) are nothing with free market capitalism – they are propped up by government (the drip feed of endless hidden subsidies from the Federal Reserve) and UNDERMINE free market capitalism.

    I am afraid it has gone beyond “abuses” (I accept that there were always abuses) – now the monetary and financial system is itself an abuse. I keep “banging on” about this – because it is very important and people such as Joel Kotkin wrongly associate this obscenity with free market capitalism – which is totally mistaken (it is the reverse of the truth).

    On the labour market – you are quite correct J.P.

    As W.H. Hutt (and so many other economists) spent his life showing – unions and “Collective Bargaining” do not help “the workers”, quite the contrary – it is an machine for creating UNEMPLOYMENT.

    The efforts of the Biden Administration to undermine “Right to Work” (the right not to be in a union) laws, and spread “Collective Bargaining” – are NOT really Marxist.

    Karl Marx got many things wrong – but he was no fan of unions and Collective Bargaining. This is really from other 19th century fallacies.

    For example, the “Social Teaching” which is the only bit of theology (yes – theology) that Mr Biden has ever cared about.

    The problem with the economic ideas taught by the churches (not just the Catholic Church – many other Churches) under such slogans as “Social Justice” or the “Social Gospel” is that they are wrong.

    It is as simple as that – what is taught is wrong, it does HARM not good.

    It is not religious bigotry to say, correctly, that Popes such as Leo XIII and Pope Francis get basic matters of history and basic matters of economics – WRONG. They, and other religious leaders (from various Churches), insist on discussing matters of history and economics – so when they get things WRONG it needs to be pointed out.

    Ditto with Joel Kotkin – he lives in New Jersey, high government spending, high tax, lots of regulations, and pro unions and Collective Bargaining.

    He should look around him (go beyond Princeton – which is a nice town, but dominated by the university) – does Joel Kotkin think that New Jersey or New York State is a success?

    Does he really think that if it had even more Collective Bargaining and other such it would be less of a disaster? Of course, it would be more of a disaster.

  • Paul Marks

    There really does seem to be a weird myth that today is more free market than (say) 60 years ago.

    In most Western countries that is not just wrong – it is the opposite of the truth. Today, in most Western countries, is much LESS free market than (say) 60 years ago. Government is not smaller now than it was 60 years ago – it is much bigger.

    The countries where this is NOT true are the former Marxist countries – Eastern Europe and (yes) China, which is still ruled by a Communist Party dictatorship, but does not have a Marxist economy.

    One of the things I find utterly baffling about, for example, Peter Hitchens – is that he seems to sometimes imply that people were better off economically under Marxism than they are today.

    As John O’Sullivan (who lives in Hungary) points out – that position is just wrong.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Paul, tax rates on the wealthy were very high in the 1950s and early 60s, although corp. executives could and did deduct a lot as “expenses” – hence the executive account lifestyle celebrated in retro-dramas such as Mad Men. I recall George Gilder in his book Wealth and Poverty pointing out how much capital was misallocated due to the tax “tail” wagging the corporate “dog” in this era. The case for supply-side tax cuts was partly to remove the absurd distortions of the tax code. A broader problem, which Kotkin and others like him don’t address (because he is a Big Government leftie) is that government spending did not fall during the Reagan years, only the rate of increase did.

    Yes in some ways America was freer in the 50s than today, but remember as I said that a lot of industries (airlines, trucking, TV, liquor, banking) were full of restrictions. One of the few good things of the Carter presidency was that some of these regs were removed.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Johnathan: I agree with all what you wrote @1:15pm, except for this:

    Kotkin […] is a blinkered big government lefty on economics

    Please explain to me:
    In which way are tax breaks for working families a”big government” policy?
    And in which way is school choice a “big government” policy?

    If you claimed that Kotkin is muddle-headed, i’d cheerfully agree with you.
    But don’t expect me to agree that Kotkin is “a blinkered big government leftie”.

  • Rich Rostrom

    Paul Marks – November 27, 2021 at 11:00 am:

    Why did “Radical” liberals in the 19th century hate both individual factory owners and big private landowners? Large scale individual private property owners – the very people the “Old Whigs” had supported against the state.

    Because they viewed such people as holding vast wealth acquired through state favor.

    How did the big landowners become big landowners? They inherited land from feudal ancestors, who were political figures, ruling by the sword.

    Factory owners were less obviously problematic, but they often relied on the state to “regulate” competition and keep the labor force under control.

    The socialist mindset feels most reasonable when contemplating piles of unearned wealth. And it collapses when facing genuine private enterprise success.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Snorri: he’s constantly critical of “neo-liberalism”, free trade etc. He’s certainly far better than many on the Left but I don’t see him pointing to the size and growth of the modern State as any kind of problem.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul: since you are still here, let me thank you for sparing me the trouble of reading your comments, by establishing in the 1st paragraph @9:51 that either you did not understand what i wrote, or did not want me to read any further.

    But let me ask you: did you read my comment about the similarity between you and my mother?

    Not that i expect you to understand that comment.
    My mother wouldn’t.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Johnathan: there was a previous post of yours where several commenters (including your truly) criticized free-trade dogmatism.

    As for “neo-liberalism”: iirc i am on the record on this site saying that anybody who uses the term (w/o scare quotes) is a charlatan.

    But i am revising my view: if “neo-liberalism” means the Bush/Blair/Clinton/Obama consensus, then THE HELL WITH IT.

  • A broader problem, which Kotkin and others like him don’t address (because he is a Big Government leftie) is that government spending did not fall during the Reagan years, only the rate of increase did. (Johnathan Pearce, November 29, 2021 at 8:03 pm)

    What fell in Reagan’s time was tax rates. What rose – as Reagan predicted with his Laffer-curve argument – was the tax amounts received by the US treasury from those lower rates.

    This also happened in the UK. Towards the end of her rule, Margaret Thatcher used the surplus to pay off one-third of the UK’s national debt at the time (i.e. one third of the much inflation-diminished national debt). She did this precisely because the treasury received so much in tax that year that the only alternative would have been to increase government spending dramatically, which she genuinely did not wish to do.

    IIRC, paying down the debt was not attempted in the US.
    Given how much more and worse government financial idiocy has been perpetrated on both sides of the pond in the last three decades, I cannot be bothered to excoriate Reagan for that in this comment.

    The Laffer curve was superficially ridiculed by the left in Reagan’s time because deeply unacceptable to their way of thinking then (and now). Hence they never noticed that it had in fact worked as expected. If Kotkin is one of those doing the not-noticing, then Johnathan’s description of him as a big-government leftie is strongly reinforced – he’s in that bubble.

  • Fraser Orr

    Niall Kilmartin
    IIRC, paying down the debt was not attempted in the US.

    One way to “pay down the debt” is by inflating the currency so much that the debt is worth less. This is a way to pay down the debt with a stealth tax on all the money in the country which disproportionately falls on the poor. I just did this myself by taking a mortgage. Within a few years the mortgage debt will be worth a lot less because the dollar on which it is denominated is worth a lot less. I want to thank all the poor of America for helping fund my housing needs.

    Of course you can offset the devaluation of the debt by the government spending bucket loads of money on pointless nonsense. For example, Biden just set out to spend two trillion dollars. I remember a time when a trillion dollars was considered a lot of money. What is curious about this “infrastructure bill” is that, as far as I can see, it doesn’t actually build or fix any roads or bridges or ports. It is all politically motivated crap. Trillions of dollars worth.

  • Snorri Godhi


    IIRC, paying down the debt was not attempted in the US.
    Given how much more and worse government financial idiocy has been perpetrated on both sides of the pond in the last three decades, I cannot be bothered to excoriate Reagan for that in this comment.

    There is also the fact that Reagan did not have as much power over tax+spending as Thatcher did. (And in general, a POTUS has less power over economic policy than a UK PM.)

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – I offered not to mention you if you did not mention me. You have turned down that offer.

    So – go jump in the nearest fire.

    As you do not read my comments, this will in no way offend you.

    As for you attacking your own mother. I can not say I am astonished by that – as you are clearly an utterly despicable excuse for a human being.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Paul: to Hell with you!
    I have been gaslighted by my own mother for decades, and i still submit to her gaslighting when i could cut off contacts; and when i write that it’s not her fault, you accuse me of “attacking” her.
    This, after yourself gaslight me for years.
    Have you no decency left?

    Paul, over the last decade you have undergone a serious cognitive and moral decline.
    It’s what you eat.