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

“….it is more useful to see Liz Truss’s rise and fall as symptomatic of an identity crisis among free-market policy-makers across the West, as they wake up to a world in which can exist neither as competent technocratic administrators nor as a radical liberalising movement. This new world is one in which both Thatcherism and the Blairite Third Way are dead. What those commentators suffering from Brexit Derangement Syndrome appear to have missed is that the country is reeling from what many hoped was a transitory crisis, but now seems to be a permanent paradigm shift: one in which high inflation is endemic and the welfare capitalist model that has been propped up by cheap credit for the past 20 years is vanquished.”

Sherelle Jacobs. Daily Telegraph (£)

I wonder if people will talk of these times in the way they once discussed the tumultuous Corn Law/free trade debates that led, eventually, to the formation of the Liberal Party (Whigs and Robert Peel supporters joining) and the Tories, led by Lord Derby and later Disraeli, languishing in opposition for 20-plus years. Stephen Davies of the Institute of Economic Affairs (and a Manchester man who relishes the traditions of classical liberalism and economics in that city), argues that big realignments are going on. I think, contrary to his view, that economics is as important as “culture wars” stuff to what is causing politics to shift. The public has just had a big lesson in why economics matters. It matters a lot.

24 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Fan of Slackwire Clown

    That quote is cogently written.

    I am working on an essay about Sir Laurie Magnus, Dr. Israel Cohen, and Theodor Herzl introduced to me in 1992 by a copy of a 1928 95-page book titled APELLA: OR THE FUTURE OF THE JEWS I purchased at a garage sale near Walthers Avenue in northwest Baltimore. I bought the book at what I think was the house of a granddaughter of Maurice Louis Perlzweig, who was a Permanent Representative representing the World Jewish Congress to the United Nations meeting in San Francisco in 1946.

    In using, as much as possible, only the words of these men as they debate each other in a series of publications ranging from 1920, to 19009, 1917 and 1928 about what Eretz Israel is supposed to be, I have found myself glorying in how well Magdalen College and the University of London graduates of that day could write.

    Sherelle Jackson falls short of that standard. She uses, as is common among educated people today, too many 20 Dollar words and too much Lingo. Nevertheless, she does very well.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    I want to apologize for what has been my tone and tenor of late.

    It is due to some things going on in my personal life, but also a sense I feel – and strongly – that we are all living in a time when the shit has finally hit the fan. I see people trying to figure out how to reverse that slow of shit into fan. What was needed was to not pile up so much of that shit near the fan. What is needed is a time machine.

    Were there a time machine, whoever went back would face the dilemma Arnold Judas Rimmer faced in Red Dwarf when he tried to change the course of his life by advising his younger self to not be such a jerk.

    We did not make all of the mistakes that have put us where we are, but we were also as comfortable and self-satisfied and inclined to be complacent as the people who did. So these are now the times we live in.

    It is no small comfort that enough people on Samizdata are able to remember what the best elements of those times were, the elements that created that comfort and prosperity. And perhaps the members of Samizdata can pass on that knowledge to the people who build the world to come out of what seem increasingly like a shambles.

    But for us now, there is only through the shit storm, and to be thankful we have the strength to get through it, and the raincoats to protect us from the shit flying around us in the storm.

  • The public has just had a big lesson in why economics matters. It matters a lot.

    What follows is pedantry, but pedantry that is offered FWIW; it might help some reader in some discussion.

    The problems were wholly inflicted by politics. Lockdowns were no more scientific sense than they were economic sense. The science of global warming is bad science as well as bad for the economy, here as well as in Sri Lanka. And while Britain is, I suggest, less responsible than other major western players for looking weak, as regards Putin invading Ukraine, that was a political act and the economic effects flowing from it are all the result of political acts.

    Likewise, pre-2020, after Margaret Thatcher paid off a third of the UK’s national debt in the last year of her rule, UK governments have steadily been accumulating debts that weaken our ability to endure upcoming shocks. These were all political acts. None had an economic motive.

    So in one sense, no: the public is being offered a big lesson in why politics matters – a lot – and they will make very poor choices if they are fooled into thinking ‘the dismal science’ is the cause of their woes.

    In another sense, the OP quote is right, but in the sense that Thomas Sowell defined it:

    Economics is the study of cause and effect.

    Reality matters – a lot – despite the career-choice-enhanced desire of many politicians to think that only appearances do.

  • Roué le Jour

    Civilization is complex, delicate machine, government is a monkey with a sack of spanners.

  • Steven R

    It isn’t just government at fault. Societies come and go. Empires rise and fall. It’s just our bad luck to be alive at a time were we get to watch night fall on civilization itself.

    It’s like the first episode of The Sopranos were Tony meets Dr. Melfi and says, “it’s good to be in something on the ground floor. I came too late for that, I know. But lately I get the feeling that I came in at the end, that the best is over.”

    Just enjoy life as best you can, savor the little things, and let your loved ones know that they are loved.

  • Paul Marks

    The Earl of Derby (Lord Stanley in his youth) was someone I did not know much about when I was young – but yes, he was as bad as Disraeli. J.S. Mill was correct when he summed up Derby’s political principles in one word “liberticide” – J. S. Mill was NOT the libertarian that some people think he was, but Derby was worse, a lover of all aspects of statism, ever more government spending schemes (in England and Ireland) and ever more regulations – semi prohibition included.

    However, there is no opposition free market party now – the opposition parties are still attacking the government for not spending enough money and imposing enough regulations.

    The situation is incredibly bad J.P.

    I was just reading the reading the Social Media feeds of some of our “free market allies” in government – Mr S. Baker retweeted a government plan to “build new roads” and provide subsidies for “cheaper energy” (why not get rid of the “Green” taxes and regulations – that would mean less expensive energy).

    Mr Baker also retweeted a statement by Mr Rees-Mogg in support of subsidised offshore windmills.

    Remember no party in the House of Commons opposes any of this – on the contrary, the other political parties say the government is not going far enough.

    So, it is a bit more serious that than being opposition for 20 years J.P. – the way things are going there is not going to be a place called the United Kingdom.

    Yes, I know what I just typed – and I mean it, unless there is a move away from the international agenda of ever higher government spending, taxes and regulations, there will be no United Kingdom.

    Indeed, there will be no Western World.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven R. – the Epicurean way is not for me.

    If our civilisation is dying – then let us go out trying to save it.

    Majorian never accepted the fall of Western Civilisation in his time – for example it had been illegal for centuries for civilian Romans to own military weapons, Majorian repealed those Imperial laws, and many other Imperial laws.

    “Paul – the Emperor Majorian was betrayed and tortured to death by barbarian mercenaries”.

    Yes, I know – but he would have gone on the same road, even if he had known where that road would lead (and he, most likely, did know what his end would be).

    And so should all of us.

    Perhaps it will be different this time – perhaps our civilisation can be saved. If not – then let us die trying to save it.

  • Fan Of Slackwire Clowns

    Niall,

    Addressing what the public learns …

    The distinction between learning and being taught matters here, in matters specific (such as why does Liz Truss so very much remind me of Paul Ryan – or visa versa) and general (what is the best use of the Dismal Science – and it does have a use).

    I see the appeal of being taught over learning. It allows one to blame the teachers (or journalists, or whoever we allow to become our teachers) for what we have been taught being mistaken or just plain wrong.

    A public composed more of people who have set out to and are dedicated to learning on a continuous basis than those who have chosen to be taught by accredited (officially or informally) “experts” is one that can learn the lessons recent (going back more than 15 years, actually) political and economic events have to offer.

    BTW, “experts” have expertise – in the same way Maya Angelou was past master at promoting her career as a poet and writer but not really much of a poet or a writer … Pablo Picasso combined being an artist and being the self-promoter he needed to be in a way that is fascinating.

    I suppose a brutal lack of loyalty to anyone you cannot garrote for betraying you or just exile from your life might be something worth learning, albeit not wholly emulating.

  • WindyPants

    “Civilization is [a] complex, delicate machine; government is a monkey with a sack of spanners.”

    RLJ, chapeau mon ami – that is beautiful!

  • SkippyTony

    Paul,

    To say Western civilization is dying is to ignore the agency of the actors involved. Western civilization is being killed, or at least incompetently managed to death. That demise is not the result of some Ides of March event, rather the consequences of mismanaging a garden over years / generations. Considered in the abstract, is the persistence of the United Kingdom a force for civilization or a diminishment of civilization? If the people of Ireland collectively decide up tents and fuck off to the EU, for example, it is probably the end of the UK, as I’d imaging if there go the Irish, how far behind the Scots? Does it remain the UK if its just England and Wales? If that did become the mood in Ireland (and lets be fair, there’s plenty of people there who would like to bring Cromwell back to life just so they could kill him again) would modern England really have the power or the will to stop them? Other than with the benefit of (possibly generations) of hindsight, which is the more civilising path? The modern view of the world that nations are arbitrary constructs would seem a ridiculous notion to my grandparents. Yet, here we are. More civilized?

  • Steven R

    Some of it is intentional, some of it is just a couple of two centuries of hidden rot finally coming to light, some of it is just a system’s death throes. The frontier in North America and Australia is closed, and with it Europe’s relief valve of discontent is shut. The robber barons and Wall street tycoons destroy everything in their paths, be it environmental or financial or on a human level, simply to make a buck and don’t care about the wreckage they left behind and it led to demands that government step in. People get tired of having kings step on their necks and replace the kinds with tyrants who promise a better way that never quite materializes. Professional politicians who pack so much graft into laws. One half of politicians know they can’t sell their agenda to the voters so they throw open the borders. The other half suck up to big business and bring in foreigners to drive down wages while domestic manufacturing and jobs are outsources overseas. Either way millions upon millions of people who share no cultural values with the West, or have no desire to assimilate at all, show up with their hands out demanding to be taken care of while those who were from Western nations are shoved aside by their political better. Fiat currency and the printers turned on overdrive to keep the welfare state going because our leaders can’t tell voters the ugly truth of the matter and that hard choices need to be made. Endless wars that do nothing but enrich defense companies and prop up corrupt regimes. The completely pointless WW1, the empires destroying WW2, and a Cold War the commies actually ended up winning. An education system that is less about educating children and more about indoctrinating them. Men who are women and women who are men and who knows what else. The complete eradication of privacy. And so on and so on and so on.

    It’s just so many things coming to a head at one time.

  • phwest

    I am coming to believe the underlying issue is less economics than demographics. It has been clear for some time that the primary factor driving macroeconomics for the last couple of decades has been a massive surplus of investment capital. In all likelihood, this is driven by the global baby boom passing through its peak savings years. See any of Peter Zeihan’s recent presentations to hear this more fully fleshed out. Most importantly, the low interest rate, low inflation environment of the past 20 year has NOT been the result of central bank or government policy, but rather a consequence of post-war demographics. As that generation moves into retirement and is replaced by the much smaller Gen-X, capital formation will plummet. We are moving from a happy circumstance where almost any policy choice could work to a deeply unhappy one where all policy choices will fail.

    What you are seeing with the Tories is the beginning of the change. Cheap debt is coming to an end and the Tories are staring at the spending requirements of current policies and the lack of funds to pay for it as global capital flows slacken and economic growth stalls. Keynesian stimulus will fail, but so will attempts to stimulate the economy with tax cuts. There will be pain no matter what path the Tories take, and they are well and truly f****d. It will indeed be the stuff of history books, the story of the end of the Tory party.

  • Steven R

    The demographics timebomb is one of the reasons western nations are driving immigration from Africa, Asia, and South America into Europe, Australia, and the USA/Canada. All those baby boomers are getting all kinds of various welfare and public pension payments and there simply aren’t enough people behind them to keep putting cash in the kitty to keep that gravy train going otherwise.

    For good or ill, public-backed stimulus payments in times of crisis are a thing. Unfortunately, the part of the equation the legislatures and central bankers forgot to learn was Keynes also said it was fine to use that money in times of drought, but it was also just as important to fill the coffers in times of plenty and to use that rainy day fund. But DC, London, Paris, et al, just turn on the printers instead and then say any inflationary woes suffered by the public aren’t their fault but are the result of the Other Party/War/Supply Disruptions/Natural Disaster, Pandemic, whatever.

  • Paul Marks

    SkippyTony – yes Western civilisation is being killed (murdered), I apologise for implying society is dying a natural death, I did not mean to imply that (I know the West is not dying a natural death – the Free World is being murdered).

    Steven R.

    The Credit Money system is coming to an end. Many of us desperately wanted gradual reform – but instead we are going to get the collapse we warned against.

    We warned against it for many years – but we totally failed to stop the policies that have made it happen.

    For us “they tried – but they failed” should be written on our gravestones.

    Not that we are likely to get gravestones.

  • Roué le Jour

    phwest,
    Zeihan is very, very good on China but doesn’t convince me on the west. I don’t believe France is about to become the defacto leader of Europe. I’m probably wrong? He seems to look at the gross population and birth rates and ignore the make up of those numbers. Also, like many US commentators, and I apologize in advance to US commenters here, no offence intended, he does not grasp the extent to which the other English speaking nations, Canada, UK, Australia and NZ, are little more than client states of the US now. The COVID scam sould have convinced everyone of that. None of us would be permitted a Thatcherite government at this point, and thatcherism doesn’t go nearly far enough.

    The final sentence of your first paragraph echos something Jerry Pournelle (pbuh) frequently pointed out, that the US used to be rich enough to be stupid, in the future that will not be the case.

    SkippyTony,
    I see the west as the victim of a murder/suicide. We’re holed up with a nutter with a shotgun who’s going to kill us then himself and there doesn’t seem to be anything we can do about it. After they’ve trashed the west, where are the elite going go? Argentina?

  • bobby b

    “Also, like many US commentators, and I apologize in advance to US commenters here, no offence intended, he does not grasp the extent to which the other English speaking nations, Canada, UK, Australia and NZ, are little more than client states of the US now.”

    As one of the aforementioned US people, I think you just insulted Canada, the UK, Australia and NZ, not us. 😉

    ” . . . the US used to be rich enough to be stupid, in the future that will not be the case.”

    Here’s the vid all of our farmers are watching right now and nodding their agreement. Remember food? Well, savor those memories. It’s going to get thin. (This guy does know the subject matter.)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiSYRKDUcss&t=4s

  • lucklucky

    I think, contrary to his view, that economics is as important as “culture wars” stuff to what is causing politics to shift. The public has just had a big lesson in why economics matters. It matters a lot.

    I disagree with this idea. The culture that created the Industrial Revolution is 200 years later scandalised of a small reduction in taxes for rich people? Well that reaction is culture not economy. And extensive Cultural Change towards tax dependency instead of creating, doing, inventing.

    Culture Wars are not separated from attitudes toward Economy. Why UK political class choose socialism ? it is because of culture. Culture that is spread from Universities and Media.
    BBC by its nature of tax dependency is obviously by self interest a Socialist/Social Democrat propaganda organisation.
    If economy mattered that much UK would not have been poorer than Germany( FGR was not even all Germany) only 25 years after Germany was significantly destroyed in WW2.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    luckylucky: up to a point you are correct, BUT, I would add that much of the current focus of commentary and politics in recent years has been about non-economic stuff: gender pronouns, statues, whether the leader of the Labour Party can understand what a woman is, immigration and culture, and so on. “Bread and butter” issues such as productivity, GDP growth rates, the share of State spending, the structure of tax, etc, tended to be relegated to the “boring” area. It was seen as all a bit “Thatcher” or old hat. Further, the dividing lines in politics were said to be culture, not economic, any more. We were told that it was no longer about Big Government vs Small Government, high-tax vs low tax, etc. Well, it seems that this claim was premature. With inflation strong, rates rising, and the tax burden at the highest level in 72 years, the “bread and butter” stuff is front and centre of politics.

    It is true that developments such as the Industrial Revolution took place in a culture that was favourable to individualism, property rights, scientific experimentation, a degree of risk taking, etc. That is all true, and important. The sort of body of ideas, of philosophy, that operates in a country, that sets its “tone”, does matter a great deal.

  • Roué le Jour

    bobby b,
    I have nothing but contempt for the governments of CAN/UK/AUS/NZ so no problem. They’re told to lockdown and they attack their citizens without a second thought. Biden licks his ice cream and says Truss’s policies are mistaken, and off she goes to the attic. Not a single spine between them. Just so long as you didn’t think I was digging at you and the other fine Americans in these parts.

  • Paul Marks

    People still do not seem to have grasped that the present Credit Bubble Western economic system is coming to an end.

    Not facing the truth, will not make the truth go away.

  • phwest

    Ruoe – I share your concerns about France. It’s going to be French statecraft, which is the best of the large European countries, vs the potential for France to fracture internally along native/muslim lines. If France can manage the internal stresses, then the geopolitical future Zeihan envisions is certainly possible. It may well be a very different France than emerges from this if that is the case, but that’s not the sort of thing Zeihan focuses on. And in fairness to Peter, he only highlights France as having more potential than the rest of Europe, not that they are going to be able to make it happen.

    His greater confidence in the relative strength of the American position is based on the same underlying geographic advantages that were responsible for the American rise to global superpower in the first place, and they aren’t going anywhere. Our current stupidity will probably lead to some pain and take hard work to recover from (I still miss Pournelle), but it’s nothing like the challenges facing much of the rest of the world.

    As to the British countries of the Commonwealth, their status as current US clients won’t be worth much if the US withdraws from much of its current global commitments (a big Zeihan point). Cananda obvious stays in the North American regional combination with the US and Mexico, but the others aren’t inevitably part of that. If China collapses, that takes with it much of the US interest in ANZ, which is more about be able to deny resources to a hostile China than anything else. So would a Russian collapse reduce the need for the UK as a client. Zeihan is talking about the global order as we know it blowing up and speculating about what might replace it. Don’t read that as saying anything about current alignments.

  • Paul Marks

    In some ways France has done better than Britain or the United States – it has not deliberately fostered ethnic divisions with the “Diversity and Inclusion” agenda – as Britain and the United States have.

    Indeed, in France it is unlawful for a public body to even ask what your race or religion is – let alone give you artificial advantages on the basis of your race or your religion. And that is as it should be.

    No public body should be allowed to ask questions about race or religion – it is none of their business, and corporations (which exist under government license) should not be allowed to ask such questions either. That would kill off the “DIE” (Diversity, Inclusion, Equity) agenda.

    However, France does not really offer an ideological alternative to Islam – or to anything else. The vast statism (crushing taxes and so on) of France is not an attractive vision, and it does not work.

    In terms of a multiracial society – I think Florida works better than France does. To some extent Florida (and some other parts of the United States – although not other parts) still stands for LIBERTY – and liberty works, it really does.

  • Paul Marks

    “The Markets” did not care about the increase in government spending in the recent United Kingdom budget – the “Energy Price Cap”.

    “The Markets” only hated the roll back of Mr Sunak’s tax increases.

    This is because “The Markets” are under the influence of the vast corporations who are backed by the credit money of the Central Banks.

  • Ben david

    Not politics
    Not economics

    Values. Morality.

    Here we go:
    Judeo-Christian monotheism and the related concept of man in G-d’s image lead the West to personal liberty, personal responsibility, and universal equality.

    By a sweet paradox the founding religious beliefs of secular democracy are excluded from politics, cannot be legislated. But the Judeo Christian faith of the populace are the flying buttresses that support the edifice of secular democracy from without.

    The post Enlightenment attack on Judeo Christian values has led to the steady erosion we see now.

    We are witnessing a neo-pagan revanchism. The sexual corruption and mutilation of children, continued relaxation of euthanasia rules, the sacralization of abortion, the return of concubinage as ‘friends with benfits’ – these are only possible when people no longer view themselves or others as children of G-d.

    Throughout the 20th century too many intelligent people thought ‘that stuff’ would always be there, they could play loose with the moral heritage of the West. They bought the convenient lie that this represented progress.

    We are now finding out that Judeo Christian brotherhood is not the default setting of human history. It must be upheld and transmitted.

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