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]

The Tories are not the solution to anything

“If you don’t vote Tory, then Labour might get in” is the main argument I hear from people when I tell them I live in a very marginal Tory constituency and have no intention of voting Tory again. But frankly the Tories are just Labour with a better wine list, as is made clear in this ghastly article in CrapX by Damian Collins, the ‘Conservative’ MP for Folkestone and Hythe.

Proper regulation won’t suppress freedom of speech online – it will protect it […] Making sure the Online Safety Bill is not a ‘Censor’s Charter’ was also our priority.

Because nothing says “the state will not censor the internet” quite like a bill that enables the state to censor what you can say on online. I seem to be developing a Pavlovian condition that every time Damian Collins opens his mouth, I send a thousand pounds or so to Reform UK.

How to end poverty

A new article by Max Roser, founder of Our World in Data, spells out exactly how to end poverty.

I calculated that at a minimum the world economy needs to increase five-fold for global poverty to substantially decline. This is in a scenario in which the world would also achieve a massive reduction in inequality: inequality between all the world’s countries would disappear entirely in this scenario. It should therefore be seen as a calculation of the minimum necessary growth for an end of poverty.

Anyone arguing that economic growth is in any way bad, or needs to be reduced, is saying that they have enough and they do not care about anyone else.

Taking a hammer to the narrative

You slandered colleagues who did not surrender to you, you turned the people against each other, divided society and polarised the discourse. You branded, without any scientific basis, people who chose not to get vaccinated as enemies of the public and as spreaders of disease. You promote, in an unprecedented way, a draconian policy of discrimination, denial of rights and selection of people, including children, for their medical choice. A selection that lacks any epidemiological justification.

When you compare the destructive policies you are pursuing with the sane policies of some other countries – you can clearly see that the destruction you have caused has only added victims beyond the vulnerable to the virus. The economy you ruined, the unemployment you caused, and the children whose education you destroyed are the surplus victims as a result of your own actions only.

– Professor Ehud Qimron, Head of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Tel Aviv University (original text here)

Samizdata quote of the day

“Emails exchanged between them after a conference call on 1 February 2020, and only now forced into the public domain by Republicans in the US Congress, show that they not only thought the virus might have leaked from a lab, but they also went much further in private. They thought the genome sequence of the new virus showed a strong likelihood of having been deliberately manipulated or accidentally mutated in the lab. Yet later they drafted an article for a scientific journal arguing that the suggestion not just of a manipulated virus, but even of an accidental spill, could be confidently dismissed and was a crackpot conspiracy theory.”

Matt Ridley

Why I am against most Covid restrictions if not all of them

  1. Because freedom matters. 
  2. Because freedom is nice in itself. 
  3. Because freedom makes for richer people. 
  4. Because freedom makes for happier people. 
  5. Because freedom makes for a more interesting life.
  6. Because freedom makes for a better life even for lazy so-and-sos like myself.
  7. Because once you lose your freedoms it can take ages to get them back if at all.
  8. Because I disagree with the apparent (i.e. never stated but always assumed) belief that the only thing that matters is reducing death and hospitalisation as a result of Covid.
  9. Because I disagree with the apparent belief that living as long as possible is the sole purpose of life. [I say that and then think, “Well, actually, freedom tends to make for longer lives, in the long run.”]
  10. Because freedom makes for longer lives.
  11. Because I doubt that the restrictions have worked even on their own terms. Or if they have worked on their own terms they haven’t worked that much.
  12. Because it is going to take years to pay for this.
  13. Because in addition to all the ways the government has already buggered up the lives of the young (housing, education, minimum wages etc (probably)) this just makes things worse.

Update 13/1/22

I notice that the subject of “early treatment” has come up. First of all, what constitutes “early treatment”? Secondly, what do we know about their effectiveness? I guess we’re talking about hydroxychloriquine, ivermectin and zinc. Are there any studies pointing to their effectiveness? Any studies saying the opposite. Whatever the case may be you would have thought that if the government genuinely wanted a quick resolution to the [I was going to say “crisis” but that’s controversial] problem they would have said, “Well, that’s interesting let’s do some studies as quickly as possible.” Instead – if memory serves – they said, “Move along, nothing to see here, conspiracy theory.” Which is kind of suspicious.

“Woke” and “Anti-Woke” isn’t the only ideological game in town

For some time it has been one of those views that acquire the status of conventional wisdom that our politics has gone through a period of “re-alignment” and people don’t really divide on whether they are for a small State versus a Big State any more. For example, Stephen Davies at the UK’s Institute of Economic Affairs has been arguing that the divisions over Brexit, for example, have driven a 10-ton lorry through old divisions that have been in place for decades. I have heard Dr Davies make this argument many times.

It seems quite persuasive, although even when I first heard it I wondered how it will fit with issues such as Net Zero. All those “Red Wall” voters in the North and Midlands who shifted from Labour to the Conservatives did not seem all down with the idea of being forced to buy electric cars, install expensive heat pumps, and all the rest. Economics, in other words, still seems to count for quite a lot in framing political allegiance. The pandemic and the lockdowns reinforced how there are those who do very well out of Statist controls of lives, and those who don’t. While not always mapping along conventional party lines, Covid has again reminded us that economics is a big deal (which is all the more reason why it is appalling that the UK government has paid so little heed to it until relatively late.)

Anyway, I thought of these points when reading the daily CapX roundup of articles today, including this excellent item by Kristian Niemietz, also of the IEA and a colleague of Dr Davies:

It is a commonly held view that ‘socialism vs capitalism’ was yesteryear’s divide, while ‘woke vs unwoke’ is where the action is now: pronouns are the new tax rates, and cancellation is the new nationalisation.

The problem with this argument is that it is only true on one side of that divide, namely, the ‘un-woke’ or ‘anti-woke’ side. The opponents of Wokeness do indeed tend to get far more animated about the latest Culture War shenanigans than by the latest economic policy announcements. They also find it easy to form loose coalitions over a shared cultural outlook with people with whom they disagree on economic issues. (For example, a left-wing critic of Cancel Culture can easily get a piece published in a centre-right publication.)

But it would be a huge mistake to assume that something similar must be true on the other side of that divide, i.e. that on the progressive Left, woke identity politics has somehow crowded out socialist economics. Quite the opposite is true. It is hard to think of a prominent woke culture warrior who is not also a committed anti-capitalist.

This makes sense to me. I have noticed quite a few cases of people on the “right” almost sighing with joy at finding “un-woke” lefties with whom to hang out, seeing them as converts. Up to a point, Lord Copper. A person who has subscribed to Big Government views all their lives, but who has a nasty experience of being attacked for views on, say, transgender rights (JK Rowling comes to mind), does not therefore suddenly become a champion of classical liberalism, individual liberty and capitalism. Of course, their being bullied by advocates of Critical Race Theory or whatever might make them stop to reflect on whether some of their ideas on other subjects were also mistaken, but in all the recent jousting that has gone on, I haven’t come across many examples of socialists who have abandoned socialism, possibly apart from US personality Dave Rubin.

Samizdata quote of the day

The hold of mass psychosis on individuals in a crowd is not through logic or private incentives but through an emotional narrative. Therefore, it is through undermining that unifying narrative in the eyes of an individual that one loosens the bond between individual and group. It can be done through mockery or by persuading an individual to consume less (or no) mass-media messaging. The less propaganda is consumed, the easier one builds distinct communities and follows personal goals. The values of the crowd are often barbaric and contrary to those of individuals who join it; by encouraging the individual to return to acting as a moral agent, the individual will come to distinguish himself from the mass. However hackneyed and largely unexamined an individual’s personal ethics, they are at least different from those of the masses. Differentiation is done by making the individual aware of conflict between his/her morality and what the mass believes. It is possible to point out exceptions, especially relating to close relatives or friends or even inconsistencies in his/her own actions.

Here are some angles of persuasion that will help deprogramme the Covidian. Often, success rests on reminding people of their core values. Those mantras held up to March 2020 may have been unexamined and faulty but they were not worthless and their old shapes remain in the psyches of those currently under the sway of mass psychosis. Appeal to a person’s core values rather than presenting statistics, unless statistics are used to back up a moral argument.

– Alexander Adams, Deprogramming Covidian mass psychosis

A most excellent development

An English anaesthetist has developed a statistical method to spot indications of fraud in medical research.

I fully expect official attempt to unperson this man 😀

Samizdata quote of the day

“Stay safe” and the little things we could do for each other were like linguistic pacifiers, offering us a reprieve from the endless media reminder that we were in ‘unprecedented’ and ‘uncertain times’ and that, despite this, we were ‘all in this together‘.

I started to think about the other phrases that encapsulate an overabundance of caution which masquerades as compassion. And at what point does overemphasising caution become its own form of harassment? Certainly, we are seeing rising incidents of shunning and neuroticism since the start of the pandemic. These are notions favoured by the laptop-class: people who want to live in March 2020 in perpetuity, clamouring for more lockdowns and ‘stimulus’. Some people in the United States seem convinced – quite literally – that they are going to die. This is a problem. They perceive themselves as being in great danger when they aren’t, and view others as a threat in an overstated way. This is dangerous. I noticed that they also seem to take a strange sort of glee in telling others what to do – adult hallway monitors run amok. There was something fundamentally pathological about the sheer pleasure people – usually women and men who seemed off the deep end into over-socialisation – took in events being cancelled for ‘the greater good’. When LCD Soundsystem announced, due to public pressure, that they were abruptly cancelling the last three shows of their reunion performance here in NYC everyone started talking about ‘the greater good’. Those who voiced their disappointment in various comment sections were ostracised, while those who were sanctimoniously, righteously having their ‘concern for safety’ met seemed pleased to have their virtue reaffirmed. To be clear, I don’t necessarily think they enjoy the ongoing restrictions: I think they enjoy the righteousness of their perceived sacrifice.

Nick Comilla

Bob Moran saying it like it is

Full interview can be found here on Media Scum.

Samizdata quote of the day

If it wasn’t so serious, we could just laugh. But green activists have been so successful over the last 30 years with their “settled” science propaganda that they have persuaded a Conservative Government in the U.K. to embrace the Net Zero agenda. A Marxist-inspired, control and rule agenda complete with reduced mass personal transport, higher energy costs, restricted diets and all the loss of personal freedoms that these entail. The Covid pandemic has shown just how many freedoms can be snatched away in a modern connected society by the spread of widespread fear, fuelled by selective state-sponsored science and, of course, made up models.


Meanwhile back in the real world, it is obvious that many green extremists are starting to think the unthinkable. Democracy is all very well but is falling short when decisions have to be made by self-proclaimed experts going about their important work of saving the planet. Writing in the American Political Science Review last month, Ross Mittiga, Assistant Professor at the Catholic University of Chile, noted that as the climate crisis deepens, “one can find a cautious but growing chorus of praise for ‘authoritarian environmentalism’”.

Chris Morrison

Another reason for de-covidification otherwise the current totalitarianism will serve as a model for other ones.

The work is ongoing

“Daily we work to remove that content online which is both harmful and – particularly when it comes to Covid-19 and vaccinations – which is harmful and provides misinformation and disinformation – Daily, we have those contacts with the online providers, and the work is ongoing.”

Big Brother Watch provided this video clip of Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (no, I did not miss out a word after “Digital” and, yes, she often is that incoherent) defending the Conservative government against Labour concerns that the government might not be doing enough censorship.

That is what depresses me most. Not that this semi-secret “Disinformation and Misinformation Unit” that was mentioned in no manifesto and which nobody voted for exists, nor that it it was not euthanised soon after birth as it should have been. Both of those facts are depressing in the way that January weather is depressing, or governments. That part that is extraordinarily depressing is that one cannot look to the Opposition for even the weak disincentive for this behaviour that a hypocritical denunciation would provide. The incentive is in the other direction. Labour and the Conservatives are competing over which of them can be most repressive.