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

The consensus on Ukraine has only been held together because the country’s plight speaks to different traditions within the Left and Right. Yet on matters of peace, the hawks and the doves will not agree: the age-old mistakes of appeasement and compromise are already rearing their heads, and, in my view, are likely to win again.

The hawks will be outmanoeuvred by the looming economic catastrophe, caused partly by the financial burden of the West adopting China’s autocratic solutions to Covid. Steered by the kingpins of Germany and France, the EU will eventually ease sanctions against Russia. In so doing it will go against the collective wisdom of the peoples of Europe. But globalisation and appeasement will win untampered, and the liberal consensus will resume.

The concord between great powers carved at Vienna lasted 99 years. Versailles lasted less than 20 years, Potsdam just 18 months. If the new elites get their way with a future settlement over Ukraine, peace may be even more short-lived. In our democratic age, we should do better than rely on compromise, appeasement, and financial entanglement to try and preserve peace, which in reality may only delay a far worse confrontation.

Francis Dearnley (£)

14 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Jacob

    The “West” will compromise because it is unable to survive without the oil, gas, grain, fertilizers and minerals produced in Russia. And because the question who rules the Donbas and the Crimea is of no importance to it.
    The “west” will compromise because it is lazy and impotent and unwilling to fight and suffer, and in my opinion – correctly so, because the question of Ukraine’s borders is unimportant.
    But mainly – it’s impotence. Industrial impotence, military impotence. It is dominated by a suicide culture (zero emissions) and other nonsense (correct pronouns).

  • Snorri Godhi

    Not every nation in the EU is onboard with the Franco-German agenda. Some are quite outspoken against it.

    We are living in interesting times.

  • Mark Steven Dobed

    Let’s see what actually happens.

    Several years of being told that leaving toytown Austria-Hungary would lead to (in this sceptered isle at least) starvation, economic collapse, shortages of everything down to the very air we breath etc etc. And wasn’t it going to (somehow) kick off WW3?

    Childish hyperbole of course, but it does make one somewhat sanguine about cataclysmic predictions.

    That said, for anybody much under, say, 35 all they have known is cheap credit and low inflation. 8% inflation and 1% interest rates probably does sound like the end of the world.

    I’m old enough (I was at school at the time) to remember the three day week and regular power cuts. A bit later 26% or so inflation in the late 70s and I believe it hit almost 20% in the early 80s (if you’re wondering where the belief that house prices can only go up came from). It gave me a healthy regard for debt and a profound reluctance to borrow more than was absolutely necessary. And I have always saved.

    We do indeed live in interesting times but I do believe we will be the better for it in a few years.

  • Fortunately I think Jacob is entirely incorrect, but we will see.

  • Kirk

    The proposition that we can’t live without Russian grain and fertilizer has yet to be proven. For long years, the Soviet Union was a net importer of both products due to the inimical effects of Socialist thought. The rest of the world got along fine.

    The real question is, can the world get along with a nation that does things like Russia has been doing under Putin? At what point do people begin to take his histrionics about “Russian security” as a serious threat? When he’s planting a Russian flag on the shores of Portugal?

    Russia has always been its own worst enemy, and the trick to dealing with them is to ensure that they’re safely compartmentalized and staying out of the impact area of their own incompetent actions. They’d be a clown show if nation-states were entertainment enterprises; never once have they been able to do anything at all on their own, for themselves. Each “Russian accomplishment” down the years has only been achieved with foreign help, and if the rest of the world would simply cease enabling them, they’d be less of a threat to anyone. Pipe in the vodka, let them drink themselves to death. So long as enablers like FDR are feeding them weapons and resources, they’re a menace. Today it’s Thales, whose products have been discovered with post-2014 dates inside Russian military vehicles. If it weren’t for the sanction-breakers, odds are that Putin and his fellow kleptocrats would be forced to focus on minding their own business.

  • bobby b

    May 29, 2022 at 11:04 pm

    “The proposition that we can’t live without Russian grain and fertilizer has yet to be proven.”

    Who’s “we”? Seems to make a big difference here, as some of us could easily adapt, while others really won’t be able to live nearly as well without. So I don’t think we get to move on to question 2 quite so easily.

  • NickM

    After I read the SQOTD but before I read Kirk’s comment the one flaw I saw in the SQOTD was it’s assumption that Russia is a “Great Power”. It is not. It is a threadbare shitehole (certainly outside of Moscow or Peterburgh) – just endless tracts of nothing or trees interspersed with shite towns where everyone with a will or a way just wants out and those that lack those attributes are just drinking themselves to death on hooch.

    You think I’m making this up? You think this is predjudice? I know people who have lived in Russia (I am married to one) and I have Russian friends who “chose” not to live in Russia. I can’t give details for obvious reasons.

    Whilst I think Kirk’s comment is absolutely on the money in its entirety I would like to draw particular attention to one thing he said. That is the idea that Russia is its own worst enemy. This is so very true. They seem to almost delight in self-pity – try reading their literary big-hitters. They don’t so much celebrate their greatest victory (over the NAZIs) as much in terms of strategic genius but in terms of the seas of their own blood they spent. They positively wallow in it.

    I spent this evening designing a poster to be put up in my area inviting Ukrainian refugees to use the gardens of the building I’m a warden of for recreation.

  • I spent this evening designing a poster to be put up in my area inviting Ukrainian refugees to use the gardens of the building I’m a warden of for recreation.

    Thus do the tributaries of the Dnieper cascade upon the uttermost reaches of deepest, darkest Cheshire. Here there be dragons.

    Glad we’re doing our bit for people from a far-away country of whom we know nothing.*

    * – Zero apologies to Neville “Appeaser-in-chief” Chamberlin.

  • They don’t so much celebrate their greatest victory (over the NAZIs) as much in terms of strategic genius but in terms of the seas of their own blood they spent. They positively wallow in it. (NickM, May 30, 2022 at 1:24 am)

    Thanks to Stalin, the strategic genius was late to appear and rather secondary, whereas the seas of blood were very real. The 1944 battle called “The Destruction of Army Group Centre” was indeed well planned and fooled the Germans comprehensively, but a lot of the victory came from the ability to find yet more troops to replace the vast numbers Stalin and his purge-surviving generals managed to lose. So while I think NickM has a point in general, I’m not sure being modest about how skilfully the STAKVA fought WWII is the strongest evidence of it. My impression is that where Russian historians (the ones that are not pure propagandists) can make any boasts about outwitting the Germans (Stalingrad, summer 1944), they do.

    That said, at one point during the war, Russian propagandists told their people they had lost 4.5 million men and the Germans 750,000 and said that that ratio meant Russia was winning! So NickM does have a point.

  • Mark

    @Niall Kilmartin


    When the allied armies in Normandy were fighting their way through the bocage (fields separated by high earth banks topped with thick hedgerows) which wasn’t easy, one German officer commented (paraphrasing) “If the Americans used their infantry the same way the Russians did they would be in Paris by now”

    The soviet forces certainly suffered high casualties and their casualties remained very high right to the end against German armies that had been severely bashed about and when they had massive superiorities in artillery, armour and air power.

    Did soviet casualties need to be SO high?

    (Operation Bagration, there are a number of good videos about it on youtube)

  • NickM

    Well, let’s face it, If it wasn’t for Zhukov and the Il-2 Shturmovik then…

    … but there is also geography to consider. As you go East from Poland Russia widens so the front widens and as losses mount and supply lines get stetched then every step gets tougher with ever fewer troops over an ever extending front line. That is why Russia can defend essentially via attrition. They just soak it up. Happened to Napolean as well.

  • Did soviet casualties need to be SO high? (Mark, May 30, 2022 at 12:49 pm)


    From the start of the Eastern campaign, German commanders were astonished at the Russian commanders’ profligacy with the lives of their men. This tendency remained in evidence till late in the war. Speaking of a battle some years into the war, when the Russians retook ground in Ukraine, then conscripted the men still in the area and, after quick training, threw them into battle, a historian wrote that

    “As combat troops, they did not amount to much, but their mere numbers were creating an ammunition shortage on the German side.”

    The increasing skill that Russian officers attained as the war went on (including their being allowed a little more discretion, no longer having to answer to unit commissars for tactical decisions, etc.) eventually – very late in the war – began to translate into (relative) caution in expending their infantry (even at quite high levels of command, when they noticed that, after their earlier profligacy, it no longer seemed an infinitely-tappable resource).

    Given the nature of the war and the numbers involved, Russian casualties were always going to be sizeable – you can’t fight an experienced force of more than three million men and not lose many men. However, given the relative population sizes, Germany’s having other enemies to attend to, etc., etc., the relative losses say much about the position Stalin had put them in, the surprise the Germans attained, the purge effects on Russian officer competence and initiative, etc., etc.

  • lucklucky

    Ukraine allows us see once more how bad is journalism. Not only the left ones, but in this case specially journalism of those in the right, supposedly those that would be interested in telling a story of how Capitalism is great to combat famines. We now take knowledge that they did not tell us for years that ex.USSR is now a crucial grain exporter.
    The USSR that in Cold War had to go to USA to feed itself.

    This is another piece of News, a relevant Story that Journalists failed to tell. Another failure for the most dishonest profession.

  • Snorri Godhi

    For me, the most inspiring war stories are those in which an outnumbered, outgunned force fights in self-defense against fearful odds, and wins.
    The more outnumbered, the better.

    Beginning with Marathon and Salamis, i can think of many historical examples.
    (Not including the Red Army in ww2.)

    Some of the most relevant in the present context are the Estonian War of Independence, the Battle of Warsaw (1920), and the Winter War in Finland.
    Hopefully, the current Ukrainian War of Effective Independence will be remembered as another example.

    Raymond Ibrahim at PJMedia recently offered another example.

    –Also inspiring are stories in which an outnumbered, outgunned force fights in self-defense against fearful odds, and loses — but not without inflicting disproportionate pain of the enemy.

    Beginning with Thermopylae.

    Raymond Ibrahim offered an example of this, even more recently.