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

Remember that the goal of politicians and civil servants is to get re-elected and to grow the power and budgets of their department. That is what their core goal is, and let’s be clear, they are very, very successful by that measure.

The thing that most politicians fear the most is that we realize how little we actually need them. We might, you know, get on with our lives and not think about these self absorbed narcists.

Fraser Orr

23 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • The thing that most politicians fear the most is that we realize how little we actually need them. (Fraser Orr)

    This is true of some but not of all of our foes. (A longwinded defence of that statement follows.)

    Many politicians know they have secrets (ranging from leveraged benefits to out-and-out corruption) that will not well bear the light, and some go much further (I interpret some behaviour in the US today as meaning that those who stole the election know well they need to be pro-active in keeping the lid on that).

    That said, I think many manage to be pretty ignorant of their fundamental pointlessness. At the start of my commercial-work career, a firm I worked for went through several foolish years of cooperating with an EU project that looked, on paper, like a great financial deal for them. I worked on that project.

    – In time, the firm realised (balance sheets of simple numbers are educative) that the practical overhead costs that EU administrators imposed on collaborative projects managed to eat up all and more of the profits of what on paper had at first seemed like a very profitable deal indeed.

    – We, the researchers doing the actual work, took longer (an embarrassing thing to admit, but true), to realise that the work we were doing was not merely pointless but would have been actively (if trivially) harmful to any in the industry who had been foolish enough to adopt it, had it been completed.

    – The utter and extraordinary incompetence of EUrocrats was at times demonstrated in scenes where ‘laugh (not to cry)’ was the only response, but though I once had an enjoyable chat with an Irish low-level EU functionary who confirmed to me that what I was seeing was just their normal level of (mal)performance, even he did not seem to get that not only were they comically dreadful at doing their self-assigned tasks (we were almost literally in ‘failing to organise a drinks party in a distillery’ territory at the time) but that (unlike a drinks party in a distillery), what they were trying to organise would have been worse than useless if they had manage to organise it.

    All of which is a long-winded way of saying that while many pols may have a some deep-down (or not so deep-down) fear that we will find out how slovenly or even corrupt they personally are, I think the pretty fantasy of the wise political leader, showered with plaudits for doing great things for his people, which maybe led them into politics in the first place, lives on in their minds as the way the world should work, even as they are aware that they themselves do not confirm to it as well as they hope the voters think.

    Remember the climategate guy (Mann, was it?) who said he hoped global warming happened so we’d be sorry we had not listened to them. He dimly realised they were losing credibility now some of their ‘exaggerate to make those common idiots pay attention’ lies were being revealed, but he did not connect that with any idea that we didn’t need them.

  • Roué le Jour

    Disagree slightly. It is the goal of politicians to get into a position to become seriously rich, as Boris will undoubtedly become after he leaves office, and the goal of civil servants to head vast departments with unlimited power and huge budgets. Civil servants also “advise” prime ministers as to which politicians would be a “good fit” for which ministries, which is why politicians toady to the civil servants. If a beyond the pale party ever were to gain power, the civil servants would just ignore them, as the US bureaucrats did Trump.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Yes, well, the goal of businessmen is to earn profits and increase the balance sheet value of their enterprises. That’s also a self-regarding goal. But somehow the self-regard of businessmen often leads to general benefit, in a way that is less often true for politicians. I tend to attribute this not to the superior virtue of businessmen, but to the ability of their customers to turn their backs and walk away, in a way that the constituents of politicians are hardly able to do. So far as businessmen are able to get monopolies, or to get support from politicians, they produce worse results; and when politicians produce better results, it’s generally a result of their constituents exiting, either as individuals (as when Americans move to a different state) or as entire polities (as when the UK left the EU).

  • Stonyground

    I’ve gradually come to the belief that politicians are worse than useless, their contribution to the workings of the world is negative. Mr. Kilmartin’s story of EU bureaucratic incompetence omits to mention that the whole farce would have had to have been paid for with taxpayers’ money. Money that would have made those tax payers better off if they had got to keep it and would have fed into the productive parts of the economy as well.

  • Peter MacFarlane

    Parkinson’s Law should be a compulsory text in all secondary schools.

    Though I suppose the poor dears would be unable to read it these days.

  • Quite so, Niall. But some actually do know what they are doing is ‘questionable’ (I am being charitable) but do it anyway. Working for the European Investment Bank is what turned me from a supporter of the whole ‘European project’ into what would eventually be called a ‘Brexiteer’.

  • Rudolph Hucker

    “Parkinson’s Law should be a compulsory text in all secondary schools”

    Ah yes, but what about all the Trigger Warnings our little snowflakes would have to endure first?

  • William H. Stoddard

    I have read that if you raise animals in a sterile environment, they grow up with underdeveloped immune systems and will become gravely ill or even die from what would be minor illnesses or infections for less protected animals. I’ve long thought that one of the advantages of being a libertarian is that you run into so much disagreement that your mental immune system gains the ability to cope with it robustly. It rather seems to me that many younger people have never had their mental immune systems tested by any disagreements.

  • I’ve long thought that one of the advantages of being a libertarian is that you run into so much disagreement that your mental immune system gains the ability to cope with it robustly.

    I would have agreed with you entirely two years ago; now I still agree but with many caveats and qualifications.

  • Snorri Godhi

    One way of re-phrasing what Niall wrote would be:
    Most politicians and “civil” “servants” end up believing their own propaganda.
    I agree.

    BTW, in a previous discussion Niall disagreed with me, that there was stagflation in the UK by the time Thatcher was forced out of Downing St. It should be easy to check figures for GDP growth and inflation in 1989 and 1990, if you know where to look … but i don’t. But perhaps i know where to find the growth figures.

  • john in cheshire

    Add to the list of reasons to be a politician these days – increasing the size of their bank balance.
    That’s why just about all of them fall into one or more of 4 categories:

  • Paul Marks

    Most politicians do (or rubber stamp) what they are advised is for the public good – this is very different than a fanatical desire to be re-elected.

    Note that it is “what they are advised is for the public good” – NOT “what the people want”. Politicians are taught (in university and so on) that what the people want is often BAD (“racist”, “sexist”, “homophobic” and so on) and so should not be done – that the people should be “educated” to change their wicked beliefs. For example, in 1968 when John Enoch Powell made the so called “Rivers of Blood” speech arguing that importing American style racial conflicts into Britain would be a bad idea, the vast majority of the British people agreed with him – but the Times newspaper (then the newspaper of the establishment) called the speech “evil” and Mr Powell was sacked from his job. Governments pretended to take the concerns of the people seriously and Acts of Parliament were passed (Acts the Guardian newspaper now denounces as racist), but there was no serious effort to prevent Britain being transformed (the Immigration Acts were window dressing) – on the contrary, transformation was policy at least from the 1960s (as can be seen from the 1965 Race Relations Act – if one does not intend to transform the country, then why make it a criminal offense for people to oppose the transformation either via “discrimination” or, even, by speech – and there have been later Acts reinforcing this, someone today could not legally say what Mr Powell said in 1968). This is all water under the bridge now – after two generations of education public attitudes have been transformed, but the fact remains that government policy was about doing what was considered to be correct – NOT about pleasing the voters (ordinary people being seen as scum – “that bigoted woman” as Prime Minister Brown was to put it).

    As for Civil Servants – they also do what they have been educated is for the good of the people. Again not what the people may want – but what is for their good. The “General Will” (as decided by the Law Giver) NOT the “Will of All” – to use the language of Rousseau (who, like Thomas Hobbes before him, turned words upside down – transforming the meaning of words). Now this may mean following Frankfurt School Marxist advisers, as the Home Office was doing from at least the 1970s (oh yes – “Woke” Marxism is nothing new), or it may mean more government spending and economic regulations – but it is no crude as “I want to grow my department”, it is a sincere belief that doing XYZ will be for the public good.

    After all we live in a country (the United Kingdom) where even in the 19th century – Prime Minister Liverpool was regarded with contempt by the “educated” and Prime Minister Disraeli was highly regarded.

    Think about that – Prime Minister Liverpool won the Napoleonic Wars, prevented national bankruptcy (the national debt was crippling when he too over) by controlling government spending, restored gold money (rather the tyranny of Credit Money he inherited – and has come back a thousand fold in modern times), hard action against would-be Revolutionaries did indeed happen – but the alternative (a Revolution) would have been vastly more violent, and the criminal justice system was reformed – removing the death penalty from many offences, and (last but not least) the Income Tax was abolished – yes the old line “the Income Tax came as an emergency measure in the Napoleonic Wars, but never went away” is FALSE – the Income Tax was abolished (it did not come back till the 1840s).

    Now Prime Minister Disraeli – he failed to get rid of the Income Tax (having promised to do so) because he NEVER WANTED TO GET RID OF THE INCOME TAX, he understood how the tax was “needed” to finance his policy of Social Reform – and NO this was not about “getting votes”, like Bismarck in Prussia-Germany Disraeli sincerely believed in more active government. Just as he believed that his 1875 Trade Union Act was a good thing – the Act which helped undermine the free labour market leading to structural unemployment and the gradual relative decline of British Industry – a move made vastly worse by the Act of 1906.

    And what if the voters of a local area did not want “Social Reform”? Well they must have it anyway. Hence Disraeli’s local government Act of 1875 – about 40 things that local councils MUST do, even if the local people wanted to vote against these services.

    I repeat – even in the 19th century Prime Minister Liverpool was condemned and Prime Minister Disraeli was praised, by the “educated”.

    Naught about “wanting to win elections” (as Douglas Carswell is fond of pointing out – the people do NOT ask for major “Social Reforms”, the educated elite think these things up and push them on the people, whether the people want them or not) or “Empire building Civil Servants” – on the contrary the people who created the Civil Service, such as Sir Charles Trevelyan (people round here know what I think about him) sincerely believed they were doing good – because they had been “educated” to believe so.

    Politics is about IDEAS – it is not, in the main, about “interests”. Politicians and Civil Servants act on what they have been told (educated to believe) is for the public good – NOT all the time, but most of the time. It is the IDEAS (what they have been taught) that are the problem.

  • Paul Marks

    In short the lines are mistaken – politicians are not (in the main) motivated by a desire to be re-elected, and Civil Servants are not just growing their departments for the sake of growing their departments – both sincerely believe they are doing good, because they have been “educated” to believe so.

    For example, Mr Biden (or whoever controls this senile puppet) issued a record number of “Executive Orders” in his first few days in office – none of them was about becoming more popular with the voters, they were all about doing harm. Because the educated believe that doing harm (pushing “Progressive” policies) is doing good. Their good is our evil – and vice versa.

    Now one can say that Mr Biden (or, again, whoever controls this senile puppet) does not care about how unpopular his policies make him, because his “81 million votes” did not come from 81 million voters – and that is true, the Presidential Election of 2020 was blatantly rigged, which is why the establishment (government and corporate) is so fanatically determined to crush the truth that the Presidential Election of 2020 was rigged – if the suggestions of Election Fraud were mistaken, the establishment would not be in such a panic and would not have behaved so viciously.


    Let us say that Mr Biden and co were democrats with a small “d” – let us suppose (for the sake of argument) that they did NOT rig the last election and do not intend to rig future elections – would they then concentrate on delivering policies that the people want?


    As “educated” people the establishment elite (including the Civil Service) concentrate on delivering policies that they sincerely believe are for the public good – NOT what the public want.

    “But Paul the Democrats steal money and take bribes” – yes they do, but they justify this to themselves by holding that that is a tiny proportion of the money they spend on “Social Reform”.

    And it is a tiny proportion of the money they spend on Social Reform.

  • Tim C

    @ Paul Marks
    Brilliant, thanks for posting.
    Using your ideas set out there you can apply that to things that the public want but can’t have. Like long prison sentences for rapists and murderers and the death penalty for some crimes.

  • William H. Stoddard

    I have to partially disagree with Paul. It’s not evident to me, for example, that Biden ever had any particular political convictions; he has gone from being an apologist for Southern racists to a tool for left-wing socialists without blinking. His choice of policies (if indeed it is he who is choosing policies, and not people behind the scenes) seems to have little design.

  • Paul Marks

    Thank you Tim C.

    William H. Stoddard – I admit that Mr Biden is senile and is unlikely to be actually making the decisions (for example, I doubt he can even understand the Executive Orders he has signed – let alone write them himself).

    However, you are quite wrong in thinking Mr Biden never had any political convictions.

    It astonishes me that people do not bother to even check United States Senate voting records – just like Senator John Kerry in 2004 and Senator Barack Obama in 2008, Mr Joseph Biden was, as a Senator, an extreme Collectivist.

    For example, people who are astonished at “President” Biden’s hostility to locally elected law enforcement, or his support for Federal “Gun Control” clearly have not researched his background.

    Joseph Biden is an extreme Collectivist – he has been one for many years.

    The “moderate”, “pragmatic” “Joe” Biden is a MYTH.

    I am sorry if other people have not checked the U.S. Senate voting records – but I did all I could do, I reported what I found. For example, on “Gun Control” Senator Joseph Biden was to the left of Socialist “Independent” Senator “Bernie” Sanders.

    I repeat – it was the same with Mr Kerry in 2004 and Mr Obama in 2008 – the Democrats select extreme Collectivists to be their candidate for President of the United States.

    “John Kerry an extreme Collectivist?”

    YES HE IS – again check the United States Senate voting records.

    Remember that the “mainstream media” LIE – about just about everything. If they tell you that someone is “moderate” and “pragmatic” that is prima facie evidence that they are NOT moderate and pragmatic.

  • I have to partially disagree with Paul. It’s not evident to me, for example, that Biden ever had any particular political convictions. (William H. Stoddard, June 21, 2022 at 12:07 pm)

    William’s statement is not incompatible with Paul’s post.

    It was Ann Coulter IIRC who pointed out that after Chappaquiddick, Senator Edward Kennedy had to be an extreme and reliably-voting US-liberal. A true-republican senator with the same in his past would hear of it night and day – and so would his voters. It was the necessary price of Kennedy’s keeping his career that the media maintain a friendly disinclination to raise the subject.

    The same was true of Senator Robert Byrd, Grand Cyclops in the Klu Klux Klan when young. Being praised as “friend and mentor” by Hillary Clinton gave him some additional protection, but not enough if his conformance to the left’s latest orthodoxy had ever slackened.

    It’s the same for Joe Biden, who indeed always wanted a career but who needed a gentle press (more and more as his baggage accumulated) to have one. When your political posture and personal baggage mean you won’t get reelected if the woke media turn on you, then the desire to get reelected ceases to translate into any desire to fight the woke media, or any desire to know that there could be votes in doing so.

  • Paul Marks

    Niall – do not forget that the KKK was Progressive in the sense of its economic and social interventionism and its hatred of “capitalists”.

    In some ways the political position of Senator Byrd never changed.

    Even a century ago the leading Democrat Collectivists (Big Government Progressives), such as Governor Bilbo of Mississippi, were also vicious racists.

  • Paul Marks

    I can not resist (or, rather, choose not to resist) the temptation to point out that the Economist magazine supported both John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008.

    They knew that Mr Kerry had the most Collectivist voting record in the Senate in his time, and Mr Obama had the most Collectivist voting record in the Senate in his time – and supported them anyway.

    So the legend that “it is just that they hate Donald Trump – the Economist is a free market publication really” is WRONG.

    The Economist magazine is not a Classical Liberal roll-back-the-state publication – it is a fraud.

    And it is a dangerous fraud – publications such as the New York Times or the Guardian or “The Nation” or “The New Statesman” do not pretend to be free market, roll-back-the-state publications the Economist magazine does, and it is lying.

    The Economist magazine takes up the space that a real Classical Liberal publication should be in – it does so for historical reasons, and this is a terrible situation.

    While the Corporations and the Credit Bubble banks can present themselves (via such things as the Economist magazine) as the face of the Free Market, things will continue to get worse. The fraud needs to be exposed.

  • William H. Stoddard

    Paul: On one hand, I’ve long been aware that the traditional US South, as embodied for example in the Agrarian School between the world wars, was collectivist and anti-capitalist; they feared that profit-seeking businesses would not respect community traditions that kept black people in their place, and imposed segregation on them legally (as in the case that gave us the phrase “separate but equal,” involving a railroad that didn’t want to run separate passenger cars for white and black passengers). On the other hand, its goal was not imposed egalitarianism, in the style that used to be characteristic of the left; it was imposed hierarchy.

    (I say “used to be” because the emphasis of the left now is almost entirely on granting special privileges to designated victim groups, to the point where actual advocacy of equality is likely to be denounced as racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, and so on. Inverted hierarchy is still hierarchy.)

  • William H. Stoddard (June 22, 2022 at 2:32 pm), minor point: the ideology of the Confederacy could rival that of the recent woke in being about hierarchy but proclaiming equality.

    A Southern farm is the beau ideal of Communism; it is a joint concern, in which the slave consumes more than the master, of the coarse products, and is far happier, because although the concern may fail, he is always sure of a support; he is only transferred to another master to participate in the profits of another concern; he marries when he pleases, because he knows he will have to work no more with a family than without one, and whether he live or die, that family will be taken care of; he exhibits all the pride of ownership, despises a partner in a smaller concern, “a poor man’s negro,” boasts of “our crops, horses, fields and cattle;”, and is as happy as a human being can be. (George Fitzhugh, ‘Sociology for the South: or, The failure of free society’, 1854)

    Woodrow Wilson’s progressivism was this ideology, reworked for his time.

    Except that its labour discipline was not harsh enough, the proportion it killed per annum far too small, and the degree of free speech allowed amongst its bureaucrats, its secret police and even its citizens (a.k.a its plantation owners, its overseers and even its slaves) excessive, I think Stalin and Mao could hardly quarrel with Fitzhugh’s opening sentence as compared to their own practice.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The Economist magazine is not a Classical Liberal roll-back-the-state publication – it is a fraud.

    What i’d like to know is, when did it become a fraud?
    I only detected the fraud in 2006, but i probably should have found out sooner.
    Based on the endorsements in UK and US elections, my guess is that The Economist became loony only in this century.

    The Economist magazine takes up the space that a real Classical Liberal publication should be in

    Pretty much the same could be said for NeverTrump.

  • What i’d like to know is, when did it become a fraud?

    Started drifting into Blairite territory in the early 2000s, I think I binned my subscription around 2007 or so.