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

“You couldn’t force lockdowns without laptops, Zoom, Amazon deliveries, cloud computing, Slack, QR codes or Netflix. Without them, lockdowns would have lasted two, maybe three weeks tops before the utter destruction of the economy forced everyone back to the workplace. Instead, we took the Faucian bargain of technology-enabled yearlong lockdowns because it was doable. Silicon Valley’s tools became shackles.”

Andy Kessler, WSJ ($). Tech is great, and these channels would be useful in any sense, but it is certainly true that for a segment of the population (such as those with media influence and in government), they made lockdowns far more “doable”. For a fan of tech such as me, that is an uncomfortable thought.

“Faucian bargain” – very droll.

19 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Mr Ed

    All of which leads to the suspicion that the roll-out of fibre broadband across the UK in the second decade of this century and the eagerness of the government to support it was so that lockdowns could be imposed more easily and for longer. It was all ‘oven ready’ and then the pretext came along.

  • bobby b

    Large parts of our society are not tech-enabled. No laptops, no Amazon, no Netflix, no Samizdata.

    Tech enabled the tech-equipped to survive lockdown. The rest were screwed.

  • Ben David

    Bobby b:
    Tech enabled the tech-equipped to survive lockdown. The rest were screwed.
    – – – – – – – – –
    OTOH the unconnected are likely to keep their freedoms in the next phase of the attempted revolution… They may even find themselves key players in the defense of the West.

    Lefties are always tripped up by unintended consequences of their actions. The lockdowns and attendant violence have:

    -Crystalized the vague unease that started when 80s-era corporate raiders destroyed labor relations. Many “tech enabled” service/info workers now see themselves as free agents rather than hive critters. They are uninterested in/skeptical of socialist promises.

    -Revealed the indoctrination and debasement going on in schools. This alone is likely to torpedo The Revolution.

    -Precipitated 180 degree resets of suburban conventional wisdom about everything from gubmint medicine to gun ownership…. The surveys claim to track the popularity of a politician or an administration, but they really indicate deep mistrust of government. Again, not so great for The Revolution.

    Men make plans, and G-d laughs.

  • JohnB

    Ben David: “Men make plans, and G-d laughs” – I think God actually weeps at the unnecessary tragedy of it all. But free will is free will.

    But yes, the seemingly infinite possibilities of data capture and data processing is a very scary thought when one considers human nature.

    A techie guy on the TV here was recently showing off his implanted chip, and telling how amusing it was to see the startled reactions of cashiers when he paid for his groceries by waving his hand over the card reader.

  • I’ve been wondering for a while about the question: where (physically) is government to be found, these days?

    In the old days, a mob might encircle a mansion only to find the brutal governor had slipped away through a secret tunnel, but now maybe he was never there in the first place – all those arrogant speeches just done to camera in front of a web backdrop. IIUC, the impressive-looking studio in which the BBC’s news presenters appear to sit does not actually exist in that physical form. And the White House locations in some of Biden’s speeches are studio backdrops.

    If some Russian wants to assassinate Mr Putin, they cannot trust his screened speeches to tell them where he was, let alone is. And if you wanted to spy on some game-the-election media meeting in 2020 in hopes that Jeremy Toobin might expose planned vote fraud, not just himself, you’d need to crash the meeting electronically, not physically – sneaking up to a window of his house would give you the dubious pleasure of hearing and seeing Mr Toobin, but not his co-conspirators, who might well be several states away. The Davos crowd meet 5000ft up a Swiss mountain, but do not need to meet at all, physically. If some Chinese want to riot against a Xi-chaired meeting debating another lockdown, then, before all other problems, there might not be any physical location where the meeting is happening.

    One can argue that this advantages the rulers over the ruled (and one can also argue against).

  • Steven R

    I’ve been wondering for a while about the question: where (physically) is government to be found, these days?

    Behind walls guarded by men with guns to keep the little people from getting to them. But other than a few choice folk, that only applies while they are at work. As the leadership famously reminded ld the American people with orders to harass and intimidate the Republican leadership, when they do go out for dinner or are in the grocery store, or at the library, they can be gotten to. Obviously, your run-of-the-mill clerk isn’t who we need to worry about, but it’s their middle management bosses, and their policy making bosses at the top of the agency food chain that make the decisions, but most of them are anonymous to all but the most determined citizen.

    It’s rather ingenious how government works these days. Get a letter directing you to send in the enclosed form, or download it from the website, and that’s that. Or taxes are withheld on payday or collected at the sale register so there is no need to write the check. Or a policy change is put in place and the retailer must do it or they lose their license to stay open.

    I will say that most of the actual government clerks, at every level including Federal, I have dealt with over the years are helpful and pleasant and I doubt very many of them took the job for agenda or political reasons, but rather because it’s a steady paycheck and good insurance and retirement. I do try to be nice to them because although I detest the existence of their agency, it costs me nothing to be kind to them.

  • Paul Marks

    Any technology can be used for good or evil.

  • Paul Marks

    An evil genius such as Genghis Khan (and he was a genius, not just evil – you do not go from being a slave to creating the largest empire the world had ever seen, without having very high intelligence) can reduce the population of the world by 10% with just hand tools – and his MIND (“how can I best burn crops, destroy irrigation systems, and use water supplies to spread disease – in order to destroy those who will not submit to me?”). The Inca Empire did not even have writing or the wheel (previous South American civilisations had had both – the Inca are an example of regression), yet they managed a degree of totalitarian level of control that is still admired, by Collectivists, to this day.


    It is quite true that technology gives modern tyrants (such as the Credit Bubble banks and the internet companies) powers that previous tyrants wanted but did-not-have.

    The Emperor Diocletian wanted to control history – he wanted to pretend that he (and his associates) had reunited the Roman Empire and defeated rebels and barbarian invasions. However, history in those days was recorded in physical books (codex or scroll) – which every wealthy person had in their home (Romans, like Egyptians wrote on papyrus, which was a fraction of the cost of the parchment of the Middle Ages. So, unless he was going to a house-to-house search for forbidden books all over the Empire (as the demented First Emperor of China did), there was a limit on what Diocletian.

    But if history is defined as what is on computer screens (decided by the government and the internet companies – and the state bureaucracy is much the same as the corporate bureaucracy) then history can be CHANGED.

    Want to pretend that the past was colder than it actually was? No need to go round every house confiscating books – because very few people have leather bound temperature record books in their homes ever more. They trust websites – and website can be changed, indeed (thank you Tony Heller for pointing out) they already have been changed.

    And what can be done with the history of temperatures can be with the history of anything else – if “history” is whatever internet Search Engines say it is. Google lies endlessly – yet most people still “google” search results (the company name has become a verb) – and the other Search Engines are going the same way. Why not say that a woman invented the jet engine? Or that there were lots of black people in Britain during the Roman Empire? Why not – if history is electronic, and can be changed to fit a political agenda?

    Diocletian also wanted to control the economy – to decide what the price of everything was, and to control production as well.

    But the Roman monetary system was based on coins – once they were minted and in circulation, the government did not have much control of them (no matter how many people it executed for violating regulations).

    But if currency is electronic (“digital” or whatever – just lights on computer screens) then there is no limit to the tyranny of the government and the corporations (which are becoming joined – merged).

  • Paul Marks

    Oh – in case anyone does not know (in case anyone believes modern history books – and does not bother to read), the “crises of the third century” was not defeated by Diocletian and his associates, Emperor Aurelian and Emperor Probus had already defeated the barbarian invasions and reunited the Empire.

  • Paul Marks

    The “old media” is also essentially useless now – instead of independent newspapers in American towns whose editors are also their owners, and who relied on leather bound record books for their facts and figures. There are chains of newspapers and television stations – who just push the establishment line, and if the establishment line changes, they change what they report (without ever admitting that used to report something else).

  • Peter MacFarlane

    “… the unconnected are likely to keep their freedoms in the next phase of the attempted revolution…”

    Well, maybe.

    This what the war on cash is all about, of course.

    The unconnected will be able to continue in some sort of small localised way, using a barter system of some sort. But you don’t overthrow the elites using those kinds of methods.

  • Sam Duncan

    A techie guy on the TV here was recently showing off his implanted chip, and telling how amusing it was to see the startled reactions of cashiers when he paid for his groceries by waving his hand over the card reader.

    It’s all fun and games until one of them tells him payment has been refused because of something he said on Twitter in 2008.

  • Paul Marks

    Cash is indeed vital – and it must be real cash, something that people choose to value before-and-apart-from its use as money.

    “Paul, even you cannot be that reactionary”

    Yes, I am that reactionary – and I am also correct.

  • The Pedant-General

    “by waving his hand over the card reader”

    And it’s all fun and games until his card expires and he has to have surgery on his hand once every few years…

  • JohnB

    Sam and Pedant, I agree with you that it is no joke.
    It’s getting ever closer to the “mark of the Beast”.
    My point would be that people are walking into this massive trap of data collection and processing, with laughter on their lips, to their ultimate peril.
    And it does, indeed, seem inevitable.

  • Bruce

    But how many REAL jobs can you do from yout computer at home?

    Ship-building> Aircraft manufacture?

    Brain surgery?

    Agriculture and Grazing?

    Commercial fishing?

    This seems like the “leaners” leaning even harder on the “lifters”.

    Time to turn off the computer, fire up the lathe and mill and get something productive done.

  • Paul Marks

    “Farcian bargain” – yes Tony Fauci is a corrupt and evil man, although, perhaps, he was not always as he is now.

    Sadly, he is just the tip of the iceberg – the last few years have shown many (indeed most) Western countries to be institutionally corrupt, rotten to the core.

    The very slogans, such as “public/private partnership”, “stakeholders” (and so on) show this corruption – how can the government honestly police a nation if it is in bed (in “partnership”) with private organisations?

    The answer is simple – it cannot. Both the government (such as the drug regulators) and the private companies are corrupted by this “partnership” by these endless conferences and “stakeholder” doctrines.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the Thomas Paine idea that fiat money is wrong if monarchies do it – but fine if it is pushed by the “elected representatives of the people”.

    Well, a polite response to the late Mr Paine was that he was utterly mistaken – as he was about so many things.

  • David Norman

    I think Kessler is entirely right. I am old enough to have lived through the flu epidemics of the 50s and 60s which were more of a threat to young people than Covid. I doubt that it occurred to anyone that lockdown might be an appropriate response because, as Kessler suggests, that course would have been unsustainable. Instead we just carried on. That would, in my view, have been the sensible course with Covid. Instead we got febrile incoherent panic for months on end and we are now reaping the economic cost of it. Bit of a shame really.