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

In the 1480s, complaints lodged by Casimir’s envoys accumulated in Moscow: “thieves” from Muscovy were raiding across the border, burning, and pillaging villages, sowing terror. Ivan professed ignorance and claimed innocence, but clearly the raids had his backing. They were part of a systematic strategy for destabilising the border. Towards the end of the decade they escalated outrageously. In 1487, one of Ivan’s brothers occupied a slice of borderland on the Lithuanian side, and Ivan appointed a governor in districts traditionally part of Lithuania. A raid in 1488 carried off seven thousand of Casimir’s subjects.

– Felipe Fernandez Armesto, 1492, p164, 2009. Reminds me of something but I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Anyway, the Casimir mentioned was the head of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – yes, there was such a thing. The Ivan was not Ivan the Terrible but a predecessor.

15 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Paul Marks

    Yes – and the imposition of Serfdom (not about “the mode of production” as the Marxists falsely claim) also predates Ivan the Terrible.

    The rulers of Moscow have varied. After all even Ivan the Terrible tolerated Muslim tributary subjects – most of the rulers of the West did not.

    The Empress Elizabeth was the terror of the Prussians, Frederick “the Great” was only saved from total defeat by her illness and death, and Joeseph Goebbels comforted Adolf Hitler down in the bunker in 1945 by pointing out that just when all seemed lost for Frederick, the terrible Russian Empress died.

    But the “terrible Russian Empress” also forbad the death penalty – at a time when in most of Europe, including England, you could be executed for fairly minor crimes.

    Morality is hotly contested….

    For example, Californians voted, overwhelmingly, in favour of abortion on Tuesday – and also voted against betting (either on-line or on Indian reservations – surely none of the business of non-tribal voters?).

    So, in California killing babies is fine – but betting is considered terribly wicked. No doubt when “digital currency” comes along people will not be allowed to spend money on gambling (or anything else the international elite disapprove of) anywhere.

    In Montana the people voted (admittedly narrowly) not to help babies even AFTER they are born alive – a return to the practices of the Roman Empire. Yum! Yum! the rats will think as the feast on the still living babies (unless the voters eat the babies first). The children will not even live to be sexually mutilated – in spite of the sexual mutilation of children being fashionable in the West at the moment.

    Even Ivan the Terrible would be baffled by such people.

  • Paul Marks

    The Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth, formed when the last great pagan nation of Europe, Lithuania (which once stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea) adopted Christianity and formed a joint monarchy with Poland, was a great state – but it contains a warning for libertarians.

    As Gough (Oxford – when it was a great university) in his 1940s on John Locke, points out, in the Middle Ages the difference between individual consent and majority consent (a distinction that Locke fudges) was well understood – and the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth (normally referred to as Poland) eventually adopted the principle of individual consent – for nobles (not every single person regardless of rank)

    Any noble could veto a tax or a military operation – and that helped destroy the great Kingdom of Poland in the 18th century – as the enemies of Poland could always find a few nobles open to bribes or threats.

    However, examining the “Propositions” approved by the voters of Oregon on Tuesday one is reminded that the other extreme, bare majority consent, is hardly ideal either.

    To the Founders of the United States a “right” is a limitation on government power – not a good or service from government. But, 51% to 49%, the voters of Oregon decided that health care (a service) is a “right”, and in a second proposition vote, that (regardless of the 2nd Amendment) someone may only have a firearm with the consent of the authorities – and even then only the sort of firearm (no magazines more than ten rounds – and so on) that they approve for you to have.

    Some people suggest that such votes are rigged (after all computerised machines are involved) – but at this point it makes little difference.

    For very different reasons, the United States may well be as doomed as the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth – indeed more doomed.

    Poland rose again – it is quite possible that America, which, as Margaret Thatcher often said, is an “idea” not an ethnic identity, will not rise again.

    The American people (or whoever controls the voting machines – and sadistically tortures people with 51% to 49% proposition margins, programmed before any votes are cast?) have decided that the American idea, limited government – rights AGAINST the government, is dead.

    But we shall have to see – as Perry often says, suicide is not a solution. So let us cling to what little hope for the Western World that we have left.

    For if America falls, and it very much appears to be falling, there is no hope (none) for the rump that is the rest of the Western world.

  • Fred the Fourth

    Paul, A minor minor point: the California Indian casino issue has a history. The original proposition, back in the dark ages, allowed Casinos and gambling on Indian Reservation land, owned and operated by the tribe. Later, it was extended, under legal pressure from the tribes, to allow casinos on tribe-owned land off the reservation (i.e. anywhere in the state, basically).
    So the electorate has, shall we say, reservations about the actual effect of any proposed extension to the casino & gambling rules.
    But remember, this is a state where a court decided, rightly, that bees are fish, because the legislature is too stupid and lazy to write a proper update to their own legislation.

  • Snorri Godhi

    About the ‘Aurea Libertas’ of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth: it is true that the system was open to corruption and foreign interference; but its real weakness, i suspect, was that it was adopted on the European Plain. Strong leadership is needed where natural defenses are weak.

    By contrast, Viking-age Iceland could allow even more individual freedom for its landed gentry (people who had enough land and/or milch cows to sustain their family) because it was defended by half of the North Atlantic (as good as Viking ships were, they were not yet as good as in the Age of Exploration) and could produce little surplus for any would-be conqueror. Not worth the expense of maintaining an occupation force at such a distance from the mainland, not if the subject population is made up of Icelanders.

    Similar remarks probably apply to serfdom: how else were peasants going to pay for their own defense, if not with their labor?

    In Norway, the mountainous terrain, combined with a diet rich in animal protein (which made for burly men) made it easier for a family to hold on to a valley.

  • JohnK

    Poland rose again – it is quite possible that America, which, as Margaret Thatcher often said, is an “idea” not an ethnic identity, will not rise again.


    I agree with your thesis. I would just say that until the 1970s the USA was 90% white European, and about 10% black, with a small number of Hispanics.

    It is as a result of Ted Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Act that the USA is going to become a minority white country, especially as the Democrat crime family has opened the southern border to all comers. It is an act of policy by the Democrats.

    The USA was created by white European men steeped in the ideas of the Classics and the Renaissance. That era is now over. It was “a republic if you can keep it”, again, that era is drawing to a close.

    The Democrat crime family had a big shock in 2016. they truly believed there was no way Donald Trump could beat Hillary Clinton. He did, and they decided it would never happen again. 2016 might have been the last honest election in American history, and will be a stark date in the history of the decline of the republic.

    Incumbent parties usually do badly in mid term elections. The current incumbent is particularly bad. He is senile, he lost Afghanistan, and presides over 10% inflation. Yet the Democrats have held on the Senate, and may lose the House by only a few seats. Really? Really?

    America has been taken over by a crime syndicate. Can it ever recover?

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – excellent points, this comment I did understand.

    Fred the fourth – the voters of California also voted against on-line betting.

    Still at least they voted against a 16% top rate for the income tax – which would have made Californian State income tax higher than New York State and New York City income tax put together (if I am mistaken about that then someone, perhaps a financial journalist, will correct me).

    JohnK – many Hispanics are fine (for example in Florida) and many Anglos are not. As for race – it is more ethnicity than race (they are not the same thing – but then you know that).

    But the point is valid – the United States is not an ethnicity (like Poland) it is an idea, the idea of limited government and rights AGAINST the government, the elite (starting with Harvard) stopped believing in that idea as far back as the 1890s – but there is a awful lot of ruin in a great nation, so it has taken this long to corrupt every institution (public and private) in the United States.

    Yes, the establishment were shocked by how the people voted in 2016 – both in the independence referendum in the United Kingdom (independence NOT “Brexit” – which is a meaningless word that sets my teeth on edge) and in the election of Donald John Trump as President of the United States.

    There was some censorship and election rigging even before 2016 – but afterwards it has become a tidal wave.

    Internet companies such as Google (over 90% of all internet searches go through that corrupt corporation – what happened to “anti trust laws”?) rig things on the internet – banning or “shadow banning” anti leftists on social media and systematically rigging search results – forget “anti trust laws” Google is a FRAUD it claims to be an “unbiased, objective, search engine” and it is not – try tyoing the name of the Republican candidate and the Democrat candidate in the same race before the recent “Mid Terms” – for the Democrat you would be directed to praise (including to their own website), for the Republican candidate you would be directed to hatred (the first page of search results would be a hatefest).

    Yet the fraudsters who run Google are not going to prison – after all the FBI and the “Justice” Department are on their side.

    Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) is not going to prison either – he spent half a Billion (Billion – with a B) helping to rig (sorry “fortify”) voting and the counting of votes in the election, but do not hold your breath waiting for Mr Zuckerberg or the rest of the “Cabal” (this as the word that Time magazine used for them – and they thought it was praise) to go to prison.

    The people who decide who goes to prison in the United States are not going to put their key allies in prison – although they may (at some point) throw poor Hunter Biden under the bus – because he does not really matter to them.

  • Paul Marks

    Let us be honest.

    The “defeat” of Kari Lake in Arizona (along with the other rigged elections) means it is “not just Trump” – allowing the establishment to cheat Donald John in 2020 was a green light for them to do anything they like – and they have.

    Pfizer and the other “Woke” corporations could not care less if Kevin McCarthy is Speaker of the House.

    Their objective is to keep people who are their enemies (not Corporate boot lickers like Mr McCarthy) away from positions of power – and now Ron Johnson (who only just kept his Senate seat – against a tidal wave of lies and propaganda from Google and other corrupt vermin) will not be a Committee Chairman in the Senate (and neither will Rand Paul and the others) – and Kari Lake will NOT be Governor of California (although she had overwhelming support).

    In Arizona, and other States (hello Pennsylvania where a brain damaged person “won” the election, and hello Alaska – where “ranked voting” meant the Democrats got to vote TWICE, once for the Democrat and then for the RINO) the Corporations and their corrupt local helpers rule – the votes of ordinary people do not matter, ordinary people will either be prevented from voting (Arizona) or drowned by fake mail-in ballots (Pennsylvania).

    We denounce RUSSIA – and rightly so. Mr Putin’s “elections” are a farce.

    But we must also denounce America – for the same reason, the elections (in many States) are a rigged farce.

    Payment processors such as Mastercard and Visa (as well the infamous PayPall), corrupt Credit Bubble banks, “Woke” Corporations with unlimited amounts of money, indirectly, from the Federal Reserve (which creates it from NOTHING) – which means that good men, such as General Bolduc in New Hampshire, get out spent 20 to 1 (for every Dollar he had to spend – the enemy had 20 Dollars, and if that was not enough they would have been give 200 Dollars for every 1 Dollar he had to campaign with, and the “free” media were just as bad, so banning political ads would make no real difference).

    Everything is corrupt, every institution public and private, not just in RUSSIA – but in the United States and many other nations to.

    But there is hope – hope of a terrible kind, but hope.

    The swine can rig elections as much as they like (they can even pretend that Kari Lake did not win in Arizona), but they cannot cheat economic law.

    This despicable Credit Bubble economy will fall – and it will take the institutionally corrupt political system with it.

    The end will be terrible, I will NOT survive it (and neither will many other people), but at least it will be the end.

    This institutionally corrupt system will fall – both its economy and its political power. And NO it will NOT be replaced by the World Economic Forum, the United Nations and the rest of the international Corporate State. For that violates economic law as well.

    “Paul, you are like a Roman peasant who so hates the system, which has reduced him to a serf, that he cheers on the Goths – even though they are going to burn his hut and kill him”.

    Perhaps YES – for I am sick of this international institutional corruption and the only thing I really want is to watch it fall.

    Yes – even if that means my own death in the process.

  • James Strong

    How is it possible to measure Kari Lake’s support in a way that makes it clear that the election was rigged?

    Isn’t the most parsimonious explanation of the election result that Ms. Lake got fewer votes than her opponent?

  • Steven R

    I said it back in 2020 when the only pushback from an obviously rigged election was a couple of dozen knuckleheads running through the halls of Congress that we would never see another fair election again. The only way it will change is when enough people are tired of it and start dragging election officials out of their homes and offices and stringing them up and their replacements dare not even think about putting their thumbs on the scale for their political bosses.

    But we’re either so whipped as a people or so sure the system will fix itself or so afraid of the police and courts that we don’t even consider violence as a resort, no matter how many guns we own or times we should “molon labe!”

    They won the long term political war and there isn’t much we can do about it.

  • JohnK


    As usually happens, the Republican candidate gets the most votes on election day. Counting then continues for a week or so until enough mail in votes for the Democrat candidate are found. Counting then stops and the Democrat is declared the winner.

    Easy enough to understand isn’t it? Note that late mail in votes never break for the Republicans, always the Democrats. You are free to believe this fairy tale if you wish.

  • Steven R

    If it were up to me, the only mail-in ballots would be from people out of the area on official government business (e.g. military and diplomats, dependents, law enforcement), would be mailed in two days before and nexy day aired to the appropriate precinct, and counted on voting day. Everyone else has to vote in person and only on voting day.

  • JohnK


    C’mon man, how are the Democrats meant to win with that system?

  • Stephen J.

    “As usually happens, the Republican candidate gets the most votes on election day. Counting then continues for a week or so until enough mail in votes for the Democrat candidate are found. Counting then stops and the Democrat is declared the winner.”

    And even the excessively idealistic, but nonetheless theoretically possible, event of such an election actually being an honest reflection of the electorate’s preferences misses the point: an election process where the occurrence of fraud cannot be falsified is an insufficiently safe process.

    Elections are the opposite of citizens: they should all be presumed fraudulent until proven valid.

  • Snorri Godhi


    an election process where the occurrence of fraud cannot be falsified is an insufficiently safe process.

    Perhaps you meant:
    an election process where the presumption of absence of fraud cannot be falsified, is to be considered null and void.

    Elections are the opposite of citizens: they should all be presumed fraudulent until proven valid.

    Amen to that.

  • Stephen J.

    Yes, I think perhaps the way you phrase it is better — what I meant to say is simply that if you can’t prove that fraud didn’t happen, that’s unacceptable even if a particular election was not, in fact, fraudulent.

    I also think that ballot harvesting in advance is ethically unacceptable even if it happens that the majority of users are correct in their self-judgement that they will not change their desired vote between ballot submission and in-person voting day, for the same reason: assuming something is impossible prevents people from properly accounting for it when it happens.