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

If you go back to the Arab Spring and the Green Revolution there was generally a sense of triumphalism. Back then, the CEO of Twitter said that we are the free speech wing of the free speech party. That’s how Silicon Valley saw itself. Ten years later, you have the widespread view that Silicon Valley needs to restrict and regulate disinformation and prevent free speech on its platform. You’d have to say that the turning point was 2016, when Trump got elected against the wishes of pretty much everyone in Silicon Valley. That was a little too much populism for them. And they saw social media as being complicit in Trump’s election.

David Sacks

8 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • The elite are happy to tell the plebs about the value of free speech right up to the point that they stop doing what the elite want. After that it’s censorship and cancellation by the bucketload.

    This just goes to show that although government censorship is AND MUST be strictly limited to the bare minimum, there is also a strong argument for equivalent controls on the private sector, especially where a corporation has sufficient market share to effect monopoly (or near monopoly) control.

    Looking at you Apple, Facebook/Meta and Google/Alphabet.

    As for the specifics, either the above organisations are infrastructure, in which they cannot be liable for content AND MUST STOP INTERFERING WITH IT, or they are content providers and have liability and therefore LIMITED editorial rights.

    The Schrödinger’s choice they currently adopt, where they attempt to be both at the same time is completely unacceptable and is having a massive “Chilling Effect” on free speech across the world.

    Silencing people, especially elected officials and news outlets because they do not agree with what they are saying, especially the current approach of declaring anything which goes against their narrative as “Fake News” is both divisive AND offensive in the extreme and has to stop.

  • bobby b

    Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act in the US served a valid and important purpose when it was enacted. Without it, the internet could never have become the force that it has now.

    It worked. The internet was developed with huge sums of money that would have been scared away lacking such protection. But the state of the internet has progressed well past the point where the dangers that 230 guarded against are truly dangers any longer.

    We now need to delete the artificial and arbitrary awarding of the title of “neutral platform” to people who truly are “content masters.” There are ways to retain the kiddie-porn and libel protections in the law without simply whitewashing all website influence.

  • Paul Marks

    Part of this is the getting into Corporate America (not just Silicon Valley) of people educated in anti Free Speech doctrines.

    Back in the 1960s people who followed the Herbert Marcuse (Frankfurt School – although he never actually had a post in the centre in Frankfurt Germany) that Freedom of Speech was “Repressive Tolerance” that should be crushed in the interests of “oppressed groups” were a lunatic fridge in the United States.

    Indeed I would say that it was not till the Obama Administration (as recently as that) that the desire to crush Freedom of Speech became mainstream in American schools and universities – under the new “interpretation” of Civil Rights rules that it was the duty of such places to be “safe spaces” or “a safe environment” where leftist ideas were NOT to be challenged.

    But there is also a specific event in 2016 – the election of President Trump has been mentioned, but NOT the full context.

    In 2016 the leftist “Woke” media and social media companies (everything from Disney ABC to Facebook) WANTED Donald John Trump to be the Republican candidate (everyone who supported rival Republican candidates, such as Senator Ted Cruz, knows this only too well) – they wanted Mr Trump (as he then was) to be the Republican candidate because they mistakenly thought that this would mean that the Republicans would LOSE IN A LANDSLIDE to Hillary Clinton (who leftist Corporate America had already anointed as the Democrat candidate, regardless of who ordinary Democrats voted for, just as in 2020 leftist Corporate American anointed Joseph Biden as the candidate – regardless of who ordinary Democrats voted for) – but then in November 2016…..

    In November 2016 Donald John Trump WON THE ELECTION – the Democrats had not bothered to rig the election (as they did in 1960 and did, incredibly blatantly, in 2020) – why bother to rig the election, the candidate was “Trump” he-was-going-to-lose-in-a-landslide, they had pushed him as the Republican candidate for precisely that reason.

    It was not “Putin” or “Russia” who had helped Donald John Trump become the Republican candidate – it was the American media and social media companies, and now their carefully laid plan had blown up in their faces.

    At that point (when the election results came in November 2016) they “lost their shit” – never again was there to be any Freedom of Speech – they would crush “right wingers” by any means necessary, even if it lost (say) YouTube lots of views. And there would do anything (anything at all) to win the 2020 election – even if it meant millions of “mail-in ballots” with no proof they came from actual voters, and spending half a Billion Dollars (and that was just the contribution of Mark Z) not on political advertising – but, rather, on the voting process and the counting of votes.

    No country on Earth, other than the United States in 2020, allows private bodies to finance voting and the counting of votes in key areas – and the American media were not only fine with it, they thought it was WONDERFUL (Time magazine boasted how a noble “Cabal”, their word, of Big Business leftists had “fortified” the election).

    So much for denouncing other countries for being controlled by “Oligarchs” – if any country on this planet is controlled by “Oligarchs” it is not Russia (where, for example, the largest oil company was nationalised and its owner thrown in prison on fake charges) it is AMERICA – where Blackrock, State Street, Vanguard and the banks openly boast of their political Social and Economic Governance (SEG) system, and their DIE (Diversity, Inclusion and Equity) Frankfurt School doctrines.

    Larry Fink, the head of Blackrock (which has TRILLIONS of Dollars of investments under its control and is backed by the endless Credit Money of the Federal Reserve – so much for “free market capitalism”, Blackrock openly stands for the Corporate State “Stakeholder Capitalism” of Mussolini and Klaus Schwab) is a native Californian.

    Think about that – Larry Fink has watched how more than 50 years (yes more than half a century) of Democrat control of the State Legislature in California has systematically ruined the State.

    What has he done to stop that? “Stop it”? Silly me – Larry Fink has SUPPORTED IT, he thinks this “Progressive” ever bigger government is wonderful, and it is – FOR HIM, backed as he is by the Federal Reserve – why should he care about high government spending, taxes and regulations (it will not effect his wealth – which is created by the the Cantillon Effect of creating money from NOTHING).

    Larry Fink and co do not have to lectured about “Oligarchs” “crushing Freedom of Speech” (say making people give degrading apologies for expressing “reactionary” beliefs – before firing them anyway), they do not have to be lectured about this (in the context of Russia or anywhere else) because Larry Fink and the rest of “Woke” Corporate America ARE “Oligarchs” “crushing Freedom of Speech”.

    That is what Blackrock, State Street, Vanguard and the banks (not just Social Media companies such as Facebook and Twitter) are all about.

    Woke Corporate America has made it very clear that it despises Civil Liberties – such things as Freedom of Speech are “reactionary” and are to be exterminated. But they also do not care about economic liberty, limiting government, either.

    Why should they care? Their wealth comes from the Federal Reserve (via the Cantillon Effect) – “reactionary” things like serving customers are not for the great Corporations (for example Disney is quite open about its fanatical hatred and contempt for customers – who are, in their view, scum fit only to be slaves) – only silly “Mom and Pop stores” care about customers (a small business person would not be welcome at the Fed Discount Window and would not get “Cheap Money” from the Credit Bubble banks) – how “reactionary”, clearly these small business enterprises need to be wiped out, especially if they are family owned (as traditional families are inherently evil – ask Disney, or any of the vast Corporations).

    The future is to be a Saint-Simom or Klaus Schwab vision of vast banks and other corporations in “partnership” with governments – with ordinary people (what used to be called paying customers) being controlled in every aspect of their lives – slaves or serfs, even if these words are not officially used.

    Tyranny is “science” you see – and you must obey “the science”. For the good of “the children” – even if that “good” involves the sexual mutilation of children.

    Hard work, Real Savings, producing goods and services that people want to buy at a price they can afford? Oh you “reactionary running dog”, that is not what the Credit Bubble banks and the “Woke” Corporations are about these days.

  • just a lurker

    Paul Marks
    March 31, 2022 at 10:22 am

    In November 2016 Donald John Trump WON THE ELECTION – the Democrats had not bothered to rig the election (as they did in 1960 and did, incredibly blatantly, in 2020) – why bother to rig the election, the candidate was “Trump” he-was-going-to-lose-in-a-landslide, they had pushed him as the Republican candidate for precisely that reason.

    well, if this clever plan was real, it nearly worked


    Of the more than 120 million votes cast in the 2016 election, 107,000 votes in three states effectively decided the election.

    if Dems were not so lazy, if they counted votes harder and Hillary did few more rallies in these states, it would be enough to turn the tide

  • if Dems were not so lazy, if they counted votes harder and Hillary did few more rallies in these states, it would be enough to turn the tide

    I don’t think it’s even a case of laziness or whatever. The Dems never imagined the possibility that Hillary would lose to Trump in 2016.

    If the polls had been closer during the campaign then I have no doubt they would have pulled out all the stops as they did in 2020 to drag the corpse of Pedo Joe Biden over the line.

  • Thomas Sowell has a good discussion (in ‘Race and Economics’ IIRC, maybe also in other books) of how culture means “what you prioritise”. Everyone is always for everything, provided it costs them nothing. King Frederick the Great of Prussia is recorded as saying:

    “The people should say what they like and I should do what I like.”

    but Freddie would not have tolerated the first a day after it began to look like it could threaten the second.

    Silicon valley utterly disbelieved in Trump’s election until it happened, after which, to paraphrase Marx (Groucho):

    These are my principles. If I don’t like their effects, I will find others.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Niall – the people who admire Frederick the Great (such as the historian N. Ferguson) really do not grasp what it was like to be ruled by him, the terrible conditions in Prussia, and the terrible things he did in other countries as well.

    For example, British visitors to Prussia said that there were few crippled soldiers on the streets – unlike nasty-old-Britain. What they failed to realise is that if a soldier has a wound that would make them militarily useless (say they would lose a leg or an arm) the Prussian military “medical” authorities had a de facto policy of LEAVING THEM TO DIE – that is why crippled soldiers were rarely seen on the streets of Berlin.

    As for Freedom of Speech – people who really opposed the regime of Frederick the Great certainly did not have Freedom of Speech.

    As for the Arab Spring and the Green Revolution…..

    Like the Silicon Valley Corporations (and the Corporations generally) the new regimes in the Middle East had no better grasp of basic ECONOMICS than the old regimes.

    Just as the Corporations push ever bigger government in California and New York (and everywhere else) – so the new regimes in the Middle East carried on the policies of subsidies and regulations (such as occupational licensing regulations – the curse of Tunisia and California, which are similar places in other ways as well) of the old regimes.

    Screaming “democracy” and “the rights of the people” means nothing if those in power do not grasp fundamental political economy.

    I am reminded of that old Yankee Puritan Roger Sherman saying that the talk of liberty and rights in America would prove to be empty air – if the currency was not physical gold or silver (not the fiat of governments and the Credit Bubble tricks of bankers), and if government spending was not kept DOWN.

    Roger Sherman was correct.

    “But what about in an emergency?” cried his opponents at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia – well the voiding of the gold clauses in private and public contracts under Emergency Rule happened in 1933 – it is now 2022.

    89 years is not an “Emergency” – it is a SYSTEM. A totally corrupt system. And the roots of this systematic corruption go well into the 19th century.

  • “But what about in an emergency?”

    Salmon Chase was President Lincoln’s Secretary of the Treasury 1861 – 1864. He established the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in 1862 to print the US Government’s first currency (called greenbacks because of the colour), legal tender notes not backed by specie.

    Chase disapproved in principle of the legal tender notes – with no requirement for specie backing they could be printed in unlimited quantities and were therefore inflationary – but decided they were necessary in a time of emergency. (The Confederacy was not in a position to criticise the practice. 🙂 )

    In 1864, Lincoln skilfully torpedoed a boomlet in the idea of Chase being the Republican candidate for the 1864 election by nominating him for the Supreme Court. In the first of the post-war greenback cases Chase (then Chief Justice) ruled the greenback notes unconstitutional – that is to say, as Chief Justice he convicted himself of an unconstitutional act as Secretary of the Treasury.

    Compared to the rubbish that today is presented as a crisis (that it is a terrible thing to waste), the civil war has a genuine claim to be called ‘an emergency’. But (unlike the Weimar constitution that Hitler ‘interpreted’), the US constitution does not have “unless in an emergency” exception clauses written all over it.