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

In recent times, the common courtesy of trying to avoid wantonly stepping on people’s toes has developed into an editorial phobia of almost psychotic intensity.

This exaggerated concern for the tender toe has, of course, been vociferously encouraged by every sort of hypersensitive minority. The most frantic form of it is displayed by movie producers, who are more sensitive to the tinkle of the cash register than any other species of artistic entrepreneur, and who also know they are catering for a more infantile audience than any other medium other than television.

…Even on the domestic scene, Negroes, Chinese, Jews, Catholics, Baptists or Holy Rollers, can only be depicted as lovable paragons. It has reached the point where the only villain who can be safely used to-day is a white American or British agnostic, preferably named Smith.

– Leslie Charteris, The Second Saint Omnibus, Hodder & Stoughton: London, 1952, p55. No I don’t know what a Holy Roller is either. This volume came into my possession as a result of the Plunder Party on Friday night in which a number of us gathered at the late Brian Micklethwait’s flat to pillage and loot his book and CD collection. Judging by the rather full shelves when I left, libertarians are unlikely to make good Vikings. Mind you, I am told there were some 5,200 books to choose from.

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Chert

    Holy Rollers – charismatics, pentecostalists, enthusiasts: being only six years younger than the book I am old enough to remember the expression.

  • I wonder what other gems will be unearthed through the process of plunder, rehoming and rejuvenation? Must we wait until every timorous viking reads every volume plundered?

    Which volumes might be worth scouring first? Which new literary directions would you encourage people to explore? I suppose that process must start with knowing what literature was there in the first place.


    Perhaps this is what was on Brian’s mind when when he left explicit instructions for his friends to plunder his collections? In any case, thanks Brian.

  • Heh, must be an age thing. I recall my folks using the term Holy Roller to refer to evangelicals.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    “It has reached the point where the only villain who can be safely used to-day is a white American or British agnostic, preferably named Smith.”

    In the early 1980s when my sister and I were in our teens we used to watch on TV a likeable American husband-and-wife detective show called Hart to Hart. While still enjoying the programme, we couldn’t help noticing that a statistically improbable proportion of the murderers turned out to be British. We actually wrote down a list of these Evil Brits in a little notebook, which I still possess. I am not complaining: as any actor knows, the villain is often the best role in the play. And young as I was I figured out that it was a sort of compliment. British residents of the United States were portrayed as often turning to crime precisely because so few of them did in real life.

  • bobby b

    Holy Rollers? Just spoke to a couple of them. Still out there. They become ecstatic in a state of grace and roll on the floor during services, and speak in tongues. Christianity’s whirling dervishes.

  • Stonyground

    Hart to Hart was just one of the cheesy eighties detective shows that my daughter was watching while writing a spoof detective drama for her uni drama society. It was called Rich Hyde Homicide and was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe.

  • bob sykes

    “No I don’t know what a Holy Roller is either”

    Good grief! In England yet! Lest ye forget!!

    From Mark 16 (KJV): 17-And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak in new tongues; 18-They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lays hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

  • Patrick Crozier

    …but nothing about rolling around on the floor.

    @Simon. I certainly hope that Brian’s books (at least a good portion of them) will be read and will in some way be publicised. It occurs to me that seeing as you know who has what this could be the beginnings of a rather good lending library. Anyway, I was delighted to find that quote, not least because it was is such an unexpected place. That Leslie Charteris could write.

  • Flubber

    “The most frantic form of it is displayed by movie producers, who are more sensitive to the tinkle of the cash register than any other species of artistic entrepreneur,”

    Well this certainly isn’t true any more, as any perusal in the last few years of the woke garbage coming out of Hollywood.

    Now they’re prepared to set billions of dollars of IP on fire, just as long as they get to lecture you about your toxic masculinity, white privilege etc.

  • Stephen Fox

    Startling that Charteris wrote this in 1952 already, but it’s noticeable that westerns by the 1950s were generally obsessed with the brutal white invaders who were wholly responsible for conflict with the Commanche, Apache, Sioux etc, even though violence between tribes was quite normal and part of life for them.
    It’s one of the reasons the 1956 Searchers is such a standout masterpiece. Ford was not fooled by the new obsequiousness, and more to the point nor was Alan le May, the author of the (excellent) book which is the source. Le May’s parents were settlers, and his criticism of the Quaker type attitudes of the time is withering. Commanches in Texas were fed and cared for all winter, and spent the summers in murderous rampages. The search for Debbie is unrelenting and Ethan is a soul damaged by his own rage, but it takes two to tango…

  • John

    No Nazareth fans on here then.

  • Patrick Crozier

    “Startling that Charteris wrote this in 1952…” I suspect the Holocaust may have had something to do with it.

  • Paul Marks

    I remember when I got into trouble for suggesting that it was a bad thing for a Islamist to take a truck and kill lots of people in Nice.

    Only a few days ago a Black RACIST deliberately ran over many white people in Wisconsin – killing six of them. There will be no “White Lives Matter” campaign by the media, and no demands that black people “take a knee” (by the way I would be AGAINST all that).

    As for the origins of the ideas that Freedom of Speech is evil “repressive tolerance” that “harms disadvantaged groups” – I make no apology for saying (yet again) that this is Frankfurt School Marxism which comes from Herbert Marcuse and others.

    “But how can the largest Corporations on the planet push Marxism?”

    Ask them – not me. The Corporations clearly ARE doing it – and I am going to carry on pointing out the Corporations are pushing Frankfurt School Marxism – as for WHY they are doing it, that is for them to answer (I do not expect an honest answer from them).

  • @Patrick. I do not know who has what. This was a conscious decision.

  • Paul Marks

    Stephen Fox – excellent comment.

    American institutions (including Hollywood) are indeed filled with hatred for the origins of the United States – they history they present, far from being the “flag waving propaganda” that the left pretends it is, is actually filled with ANTI American lies and distortions – and these are found just as much in school and university textbooks as Hollywood films.

    A nation that hates its self will not survive – and the left know this very well. Hence their intense campaign to get people to hate the United States, the United Kingdom (especially England) and other Western nations.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the situation in 1952 – there were a lot of Marxists in Hollywood even then, and it was not Senator McCarthy that pointed the finger at them (contrary to recent movies, he was not that interested in Hollywood) – the “House UnAmerican Activities Committee” did not include Senator McCarthy or any Senators – it was a HOUSE committee (and its membership did not include well meaning, but hard drinking – and short tempered, Irish-American Senators, although YES I know both his drinking and his temper have been exaggerated). For the situation in Hollywood from the 1930s onwards (the Communist efforts there) see “Red Star Over Hollywood” and other books

    However, in the 1950s there was such things as “Marvel Anti Communist Comics” (for those people used to Disney-Marvel producing endless PRO Marxist comics, some of the comics of the 1950s would come as a shock).

    And many films of the 1950s were more liberal (in the good sense of the word “liberal”) than Marxist – they just wanted to be nice to people who were seen as losers in history. For example, they knew little or nothing about the Indian tribes or the Mexicans – and just knew these people as the losers they were in the mid 20th century (not the real and present danger they had been in the 19th century – for example in the 1840s Mexico was a military dictatorship which was at least as aggressive and expansionist as the United States). When dealing with people who, in the mid 20th century, seemed harmless losers – it was natural to feel sorry for them, and to present them in the best possible light.

    Was there a Jewish factor? Yes there was – but many of the Jews involved back in the 1950s were Republicans. The founders of the big Hollywood film companies tended to be Jews with quite conservative opinions (often first generation immigrants with little brainwashing “education”).

    Would that these men were still alive and still in control in Hollywood.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the rich leftists in control of California, and so much else of the United States, today – they laugh as stores are looted by mobs, and large numbers of people are murdered. They think it is excellent – they revel in the robbing and murdering of other people.

    And as some of the looters and murderers are from certain demographic groups, the leftist elite can scream RACIST at anyone who opposes the looting and murdering – and “cancel” the person who complains about looting and murdering. People who complain are driven from their jobs and-so-on.

    However, the looters will come for their rich “friends” – after all the rich leftists in control of California are RICH, they have lots of nice things.

    When the mob comes for them the words of the Oscar Wilde about the death scene of Little Nell (written by Dickens) come to mind – “you would have to have a heart of stone – not to LAUGH”.

    “Paul the leftist establishment elite enjoy the suffering of others and you enjoy the thought of their future suffering – that makes you as bad as they are”.

    Perhaps I am. Perhaps that is why I understand them – and can predict their actions.

    Tolkien wrote that Manwe, chief of the Valar, was free of evil – and, therefore, could not understand it, which led to his mistakes concerning Morgoth.

    Being “free of evil” is certainly not something I can say about myself – there is a great deal of evil in me.

    Men like “Kit” Carson created American California (look up his actions, such as the ride that almost killed him, during the war – a little over a century before the 1952 quotation) – he was NOT the “racist” the left claim he was, he was a friend of many Indians and married both Indians and a Mexican lady. But he was a KILLER – and could use very ruthless methods.

    “Rednecks” like Kit Carson are not welcome in America any more – they are hated and despised by the leftists who control just about everything. But that same establishment elite will scream for men like Kit Carson to save them – when their “friends” come for them and come for their families.

  • A holy roller is rather like a dervish, but horizontal.

  • Bill

    I remember a US TV commercial (copied and shown online) to encourage parents to educate their children and assist them studying for high school and beyond. Of course you can’t depict a white family encouraging their child to learn because that might antagonise those who say that whites don’t need extra encouragement to study but minorities do. You can’t use a black family who are really the target demographic, as this ad would imply that black families need to stop procrastinating and help their children. So who do you choose as your representative child that needs help studying?

    A Chinese girl, of course!

    A representative of the particular group of people that is in least need of encouragement to study as both their performance and study hours are in excess of any other group you can easily depict. “Chinese parents, you need to make your children study even harder to ensure the performance gap between your children and everyone’s else remains intact and even widens.”

    One of the few times the Chinese was depicted as a group of people who need to do better.

  • Bill (November 30, 2021 at 10:46 pm), in Ye Goode Olde Days of Merrie Englande, depictions of St Anne teaching a young St Mary to read were a favoured subject for statues and wall-paintings in churches, especially in the 13th/14th century. (Earlier this year, in beautiful Kersey church, I happened to come across an example of this mediaeval fashion that had survived the two Cromwells.)

    While showing a Jewish mother teaching her Jewish daughter would face the same immediate issue as Bill notes about the Chinese girl, it might be that showing a Christian saint teaching her saintly daughter could be worked into the attention-catching start of an ad that would appeal to an appreciable portion of the target demographic, indeed might even end by focussing on them all the more effectively for not starting with them.

    However I don’t suppose this kind of out-of-the-box thinking would be any more acceptable to the woke constrainers of the don’t-mention-it effort that Bill reports.

    There is also the issue that, recently, woke educators have rather gone off the idea of parents being involved in their children’s education.

  • Paul Marks

    An obvious difference between now and 1952 is that now Hollywood films are filled with hatred for traditional Christians – Catholic or Protestant.

    This hatred comes from the schools and universities – the people “educated” in Frankfurt School doctrines do not just forget everything when they go out into the “real world”. They remain filled with evil (for it is evil) as they climb the ladder of Government and Corporate bureaucracy – including Hollywood. Indeed the left are experts at “Office Politics” (it is their natural environment) – once they are in an organisation they soon take it over, with everyone else scared of speaking against them (scared of being “cancelled” – losing their jobs and their homes).

  • JJM

    As a Catholic myself, I was rather surprised we were on that list. In Britain, and certainly in the Fifties, we were frequently the butt of many jokes, particularly because we were often also Irish! Mind you, we cheerfully made fun of ourselves too. I give you Dave Allen and Spike Milligan.

    Surprised to see Baptists there and not lumped in with the “Holy Rollers”. I never took them to be a significant entity in the UK (in the US, certainly).

  • Flubber

    Not trying to be deliberately antagonistic, but Paul, given the ethnic makeup of Hollywood, especially the Executive level, why would it be that

    “An obvious difference between now and 1952 is that now Hollywood films are filled with hatred for traditional Christians – Catholic or Protestant.”

  • Paul Marks

    JJM – I am not a Roman Catholic, but I recognise the beauty of the traditional Catholic service and of Catholic music and churches and so on. And I also understand that the outward beauty was a reflection of the wisdom of the natural law teaching of so many Catholic theologians and philosophers. I am very sorry indeed about what happened from the late 1960s onwards.

    Flubber – Hollywood was a lot more Jewish in 1952 than it is now.

    And traditional Jewish themes such as Free Will – individual moral responsibility (a central doctrine of Judaism – indeed denying individual moral agency was one of the two reasons that Spinoza was kicked out – the other reason was his denial of God-as-an-individual) are not exactly popular in modern Hollywood. To put the matter mildly.