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]

A speakeasy for archaeologists

“Stone Age Herbalist” is a pseudonym adopted out of necessity by someone who wants to practise an activity condemned by respectable society: scientific archaeology. Their piece for Unherd is called “The Rise of Archaeologists Anonymous”.

Why do these academics seek to do in secret what they used to do openly in the universities? Because academic archaeology has changed:

Historian Wolf Liebeschuetz and archaeologist Sebastian Brather, to pick on just two, have both firmly insisted that archaeology must not, and cannot, be used to trace migrations or identify different ethnic groups in prehistory. To quote from Liebeschuetz’s 2015 book, East and West in Late Antiquity: “Archaeology can trace cultural diffusion, but it cannot be used to distinguish between peoples, and should not be used to trace migration. Arguments from language and etymology are irrelevant.”

At a stroke, this line of reasoning would essentially abolish several centuries of work unravelling the thread of movements and evolution of the Indo-European peoples and languages, not to mention the post-Roman Germanic Migration Period, Anglo-Saxon invasions, Polynesian and Bantu Expansions and almost all major changes in the human record.


This became clearer than ever following the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, which saw archaeology departments and professional bodies across the world fall over themselves to pledge curriculum “decolonisation” and an explicit commitment to politicising the discipline. To quote from the “’The Future of Archaeology Is Antiracist’: Archaeology in the Time of Black Lives Matter”, published in American Antiquity:

“Consequently, Black archaeology has been and must remain purposeful in practice. It rejects research and practices defined in sterile, binary terms of objective-subjective positionality. Archaeology at historic Black sites must be conducted with an explicit politics… To the field of archaeology, it serves as a moral guide with the potential to elucidate historical wrongs and explore forms of contemporary redress.”

54 comments to A speakeasy for archaeologists

  • Mark

    “Historic black sites”

    Are there any?

    Sites that blacks have made history. A somewhat richer seam!

    I think all university departments will be history if black lying murderers have anything to do with it

  • William H. Stoddard

    This kind of thing is why I took a university library out of my will. I had used them for many years of productive and entertaining research, and was grateful, but their emphasis has now changed from scholarship to social justice, and I can’t support that.

  • Steven R

    If the silent majority of archaeologists just said “no” and went back to doing business as usual, these kinds of shifts in academic standards would cease to be an issue. However, it seems like the only pushback those demanding social justice reforms are coming from outside academia.

    So either they are on board with it or they are cowards who would rather keep their cushy jobs than stand up for what they believe.

    I will say that when I was in grad school for history, despite the fact that the vast majority of faculty being screaming leftists (and they unabashedly are), even they didn’t try to silence their students and colleagues provided they could make a good argument and make it up with documentary evidence.

    It isn’t that academia needs to be razed, but it is clear that it needs to have a real Come To Jesus Moment with itself over its purpose.

  • Archaeologists go underground to practice their research

    is ‘Behind the Black’s’ title for his article referencing the Unheard one (h/t instapundit). His content says nothing that Natalie’s does not, but his title confirms my opinion that political correctness does terrible things to its followers’ sense of humour as well as to their sense of science. Imagine being one of those US lefties with a yard sign claiming that

    In this household, we believe in … science …

    when the rest of the sign proclaims belief in BLM and climate change – in “Actually, no we don’t.”

    Meanwhile (less despondently than Behind the Black), I can hope the virtual speakeasy grows wide enough to practice real science.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Mark, I considered deleting your comment, as I make no apology for doing on occasion. But I will leave it up, as it illustrates that an inevitable effect of censorship is to make people distrust the things not censored.

  • Mark


    Thank you.

    We are seeing our whole civilization, right down to it’s most basic tenets, under attack and as every day passes, this attack becomes more deranged, deluded, infantile and vicious.

    I wonder what the motivations of those leading that attack actually are and perhaps more to the point, where they imagine this will all lead.

    Are we past the point of no return yet? It can’t be far off.

    I am of an age where the inertia – for want of a better word – is likely sufficient to see me out, but I do wonder what the world will look like a century from now.

    I hope I’m wrong (I really do) as something with little animating it other than envy and spite surely can’t succeed, but damage is being done which may be irrecoverable. Even if these infantilized “movements” end up in the dustbin of history, something will have been tainted and that taint will never go away

  • Exasperated

    Is this the same motive for renaming some of the prehistoric tool cultures with something inane. I though, oh great, that’ll really confuse the subject matter.

  • “Historic Black Sites”

    Are there any? (Mark, December 28, 2022 at 11:21 am)

    Archeologists can track the routes of the overland slave caravans that the Islamic world use to transport many negro slaves to North Africa (and/or to Zanzibar and the slave Dhow transports) by the skeletal remains around water holes (the captives would make a last desperate effort to reach water – then many would be too weak to go further when the march resumed).

    British Empire inspectors in the Red Sea in the 1930s suspected the Arab dhows of being built with openable keels. When a British inspection boat approached, the Arab slave trader opened the keel: the boat remained upright due to air pressure beneath the deck while the chained slaves plummeted to the floor of the Red Sea. Underwater archeology of chains and skeletons might establish that the thing occurred – I do not know if the suspicion was ever converted into indisputable fact.

    The Zulu Mfecane (the Zulu word) or Difaqane (Sesotho word – more usually used in Western history as westerners met these southern victims of the Zulus before the met the Zulus) led to a large region becoming ‘nearly depopulated’ (that quote is from Wikipedia, but is echoed in other sources). Tribes exterminated by the Zulus on the northern side of their expansion were (even) less well documented by western historical sources just beginning to penetrate the region, but fragments of those tribes were later found as far north as Lake Victoria. Archeology might supplement history in reconstructing the battles, slaughters and etc. Obviously, before we have written history for these things from observers, archeology is the only game in town.

    In the days when ancient Egypt extended its empire into Nubia, they created sites there. At least one has what looks like an Egyptian governor’s residence not far from a native king’s site; the two are very different in level of civilisational skill but both have been analysed by the archeologists for useful information about the situation at that mid-seccond millennium BC time.

    There are old sites in Africa. Without the least effort, I can extract from my memory information about a stone compound in Zimbabwe, some rock paintings in South Africa, etc – stone-age stuff. I’ve seen beeboid documentaries indulging the most absurd PC exaggerated demands we equate such sites to the Egyptian ruins rather than judge them at the obvious real level – but the sites exist, and can be sensibly assessed for what they are. (Of course, the latest state revealed by the Unherd article indicates that the beeboid exaggerations of (IIRC) a decade or two ago will be as nothing to the absurdities of today.)

    The barracouns of the west African coast, where the slaves who evaded the murder spectacle and such-like were sold to western traders, are tourist sites today. PC narratives can be spun on them, but genuine archeology could also be done there.

  • (Further to my comment above), anyone who wished to (and was not prevented by the PC from doing so) could use archeology (indeed would probably have to) to investigate the African sites of this or this.

  • James Hargrave

    It was nice to see my good friend, the recently deceased Gocha Tsetskhladze, a significant archaeologist and specialist on the ancient Black Sea, quoted in the original piece. A fine scholar who at a very early stage rejected the Late Soviet Nationalist archaeology (our glorious ancestors) being peddled in Georgia by O D (odious) Lordkipanidze and his toadies. The elephants in the room were Greek and Persian.

  • Steven R

    What really bothers me about the whole issue is that archaeology is being told that it cannot actually do its job because its findings are politically incorrect. People don’t just spring forth from the ground in a spot and that’s that. Peoples move, tribes come and go, and nations trade with and kill and enslave their neighbors. They always have and always will. And it is being told by a handful of self-appointed gatekeepers and the departments are going with it without any internal debate in the discipline.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    Thank you for your response to Mark.

    You introduced me to knowledge I was hitherto unaware of.

    That there were slave dhows crossing the Red Sea should not have surprised me. That those dhows were designed to scuttle their cargo but not the vessels , and this feature used when British ships approached for inspection tells me a great deal about the Arab countries and the British Empire that too few people are aware of.

    I am guessing that your sources are not entirely online. I am hoping that the knowledge can be preserved until people are mature enough to deal with it sensibly by the simple fact that there are too many books in the world for all of them to be burned.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    I am of the opinion that Moderation is wonderful when it is not the first step to the Tyranny of Hairy Whitemouses, which it always is, always has been, and always will be.

    Sites should offer Blocking, Short-Term and Forever, neither of them reversible (except by time in the case of a Short-Term Block).

    I reserve for myself the right and power to cut people off. I dislike it when other people think they have to cut people off from me because I lack the resolve to do so, and the self-restraint to understand what “irreversible” means.

    Mark’s initial comment offended me more with Tone & Tenor. The content seemed inadvisable. Sorry, Mark, your follow-up clarified things immensely.

    I was also able to read through the “racist” (who liked to indulged in speculation about IQ and Race) who was thrown off of their site by the Powers That Be on National Review Online. That if that lot were thrown off the cruise ship into an encirclement of sharks, I would find it regrettable that the sharks should have to dine on such poor fare.

    But that’s how I roll.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    Where, in print, currently or out of, can I find your sources?

    If not Amazon, then Powells, or even Internet Archive (I can print pdf’s) will help.

  • bobby b

    Niall Kilmartin
    December 28, 2022 at 4:32 pm

    Archeologists can track the routes of the overland slave caravans that the Islamic world use to transport many negro slaves to North Africa . . .

    I read Mark’s first comment as speaking of historical black achievement rather than merely historical events or places that involved blacks.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    bobby b:

    I sensed it was going there.

    I looked to Mark for clarification before I came to any conclusion.

    It takes a number of comments and statements on separate subjects before I settle in on a negative conclusion about anyone – assuming I have the patience to do that.

    Measure twice, cut once. I have not seen this idea stated by too many others, but I wonder if God arranging for His Son to be raised by a carpenter was a deliberate choice.

  • Mark

    @Fan of slackwire clowns

    Thank you.

    There is no question that one of the aims of the infantile peddlars of this whole “woke” lunacy is to sow divisions.

    I can ignore the asinine worlds of surreal “harmony” and “diversity” portrayed in advertising and media. I can ignore trillionth rate fantasist “academics” like olusoga.

    I can’t ignore the destruction of all rigour and standards in society though.

    I can’t ignore the reality of the apartheid state that is being built.

    I’m too old – a few years from retirement – for it to have any meaningful effects on my employment, but I do wonder what sort of disposal facilities they have planned for the likes of me 20 years down the line.

    I currently confine myself to what might be considered intemperate and maybe offensive words in forums like this. But that’s just me.

    However, think ahead a decade or two. The “woke” – in their terminal arrogance – think they will always be setting the agenda and will always be on top. Indeed, they show all the appearance of triumphalism believing they have already won and that from now on its just lining up the ducks to be shot down (with no thought for the actual outcome of course, such things being beyond their simple minded comprehension) .

    Infantilizing the population might seem a good idea for peddling “woke” shite, but when the inevitable backlash comes – as it will – it won’t be coming from an adult population.

    That’s what will make it interesting

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    I’m 58 so we may be near in age.

    Who knows, you may get a chance to run off with Jenny Agutter and hang out in the Library of Congress with Peter Ustinov.

    Both looked like fun for Michael York.

  • Paul Marks

    As I have pointed out before, “Woke” Frankfurt School Marxism is NOT a “social system” (so to claim that I think the “social system” of the Frankfurt School is inferior to, say, China is a mistake), Frankfurt School “Woke” Marxism is a weapon, a weapon designed to destroy. In this case destroy archaeology.

    “But Stalin condemned Frankfurt School Marxism – so it must be a good thing” – “Stalin” also held that 1+1=2, that does not mean that 1+1 does not equal 2.

    “Stalin” did not want the Frankfurt interpretation of Marxism (what is called “Woke” doctrine today) in the Soviet Union because it, Frankfurt School Marxism, is a weapon to destroy society, obviously “Stalin” did not wish to destroy the country that he himself ruled – no more than Dictator Xi wants to destroy China. Try pushing “black rights”, or “Trans rights”, or whatever, and opposing “Islamophobia”, in China and see how long it is before you are used for spare parts – and I mean that literally (cut open for your organs – remember Marxism, both Frankfurt School and Classical Marxism, rejects bourgeois morality – individuals have no rights against the people, not to any school of Marxism).

    As for Africa (“black sites”) – the expansion of the Bantu peoples over the centuries in Africa is one of the great histories of Colonialism.

    The Bantu peoples in Africa were normally subsistence farmers (farming yams and other crops) and their farming practices sometimes degraded the soil, also they tended to have many children who could not be maintained in the existing land (even if it was not degraded), so they expanded seeking new lands to exploit – displacing or killing pre existing populations of hunter gather peoples (often these peoples were biologically different), In other areas, the Bantu peoples were herders of cattle and other animals – this put them into competition not just with hunter gather peoples (such as the Bushmen), but also with pre existing herder populations (such as the Hottentots). The greater physical size and strength of the Bantu people, and the warrior culture, of the Bantu peoples gave them decisive advantages as they expanded into southern Africa.

    As for the future of the world – people can look up comparative fertility rates and migration trends for themselves (it is not difficult) they have no need of me doing this for them. And the future is not a matter for the historian or archaeologist – any more than current politics is.

    I will say that I would much rather that President William Ruto of Kenya, or many other African leaders, were President of the United States or Prime Minister of the United Kingdom than the people who presently are. I may have the same skin colour as Joseph “Joe 10% for the Big Guy” Biden, but I still utterly despise this puppet Biden (and he was a puppet, and utterly corrupt, long before he became senile).

    “But Paul, Ruto and the others are violent and ..” what a despicably RACIST thing to say (as if other cultures are inferior), and Mr Biden and other white rulers have killed far more people – they just do not do it themselves (they order other people to do it), because they have no physical courage (no warrior spirit).

    To cite “Ned Stark” from “Game of Thrones” (or “A Song of Ice and Fire”) – he who gives the order to kill someone should strike the blow himself.

    Someone like President Ruto does not go around murdering babies, certainly not on the industrial scale that Mr Biden supports. Nor does he go around (like Mr Biden or the Emperor Hadrian – and Hadrian only did once, Mr Biden has long supported making an industry of it) supporting satanic surgical mutilations to try and turn little boys into girls, or little girls into boys – or rather into a mockery of girls or boys.

    On one thing I do agree with the Woke archaeologists – the modern United States (or the modern United Kingdom for that matter) is in no position to lecture African leaders on morality. Although I hold this position for rather different reasons to the Woke archaeologists.

  • Mr Ed

    Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries, perhaps partially motivated by religious ideology. It might be a useful precedent for a reforming government looking at the current state of our universities.

    Perhaps using the endowments to fund some targeted and merited reparations, or pinprick the national debt, might be a good start.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the Islamic slave trade from Africa – the names that Muhammed used for black slaves he dealt in (his calling them “raisin heads” and claiming they looked like Satan) may offend the “Woke” (and the non “Woke”) – but there is no evidence that Muhammed practiced castration or the killing of babies (indeed he forbad baby killing – Muhammed was not like Mr Biden, or those who control this puppet, Muhammed was a religious and political leader and military commander, sometimes a ruthless one, but he was NOT some sort of Satanic savage beast).

    What seems to have happened is that many years later, long after Muhammed was dead, there was a massive slave revolt and long slave war in what is now southern Iraq.

    After this terrible war, the fashion came to be that male slaves from Africa were castrated and that if female slaves gave birth (after being raped) the babies were killed. This is why after so many centuries of the Islamic slave trade from Africa the populations of Syria and so on are still not black – whereas black people are common in the United States where it was not the normal practice to castrate black male slaves and to kill babies born to black female slaves.

    It should be stressed that these Middle Eastern practices of castrating black male slaves and killing the babies of female black slaves are NOT Islamic – Muhammed never laid down such practices. They came later as a response to slave revolts.

    “But if they did not normally allow their black slaves to breed how did slavery not die out?”

    Well firstly Islamic cultures were happy to take slaves from the north and west as well as the south (there were slave raids on Europeans for more than a thousand years, and it was not the normal practice to castrate these slaves (although some were) or to kill the babies of white slave mothers (this would seem to be racist).

    Also the slave trade to Africa continued into modern times – there was need to allow black slaves in the Middle East to breed much, as their masters could always buy more.

    In East Africa (and other parts of Africa) some black people converted to Islam – and sold other black people into the Middle East. This continued into modern times (as Presdient Obama’s relatives in Kenya knew well – although it is NOT true that Mr Odinga, the leader of the left in Kenya, is the literal “cousin” of President Obama, the word “cousin” is used in a more general sense, meaning someone from the same clan or kin group).

  • Paul Marks

    Mr Ed – as you know Henry VIII intended to keep the land he stole from religious institutions (some advisers hoped to fund various public services – a sort of proto Welfare State) – it was the pressure of his war in Scotland (basically Henry being like Mr Putin in relation to the Ukraine) that led a desperate Henry to have to sell this land into private ownership (so the dreams of Thomas Cromwell, the “Master of Wolf Hall” so beloved by the modern British left, had to wait till the 20th century).

    It was his son Edward VII who abolished the guilds (outside the City of London), again for religious reasons.

    Now in strict libertarian doctrine abolishing guilds is wrong – but guilds tend to become COMPULSORY guilds (by later order of the state) which is even more wrong.

    Better no guilds than compulsory guilds.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perhaps using the endowments to fund some targeted and merited reparations, or pinprick the national debt, might be a good start.

    In the US, endowments should be confiscated to pay off student debt.

    I have thought of a slightly more sophisticated scheme, but i’ll leave it at that.

  • I am of the opinion that Moderation is wonderful…

    Samizdata does indeed have limits to what we will tolerate.

  • Steven R

    You have it backwards, Paul. The monasteries were the welfare institution of the day. They fed and clothed the poor, provided medical care for the indigent and elderly, and provided care for the like. When Henry VIII dissolved them, all those poor and indigent and sick and insane were out on the streets (so to speak) and the state was forced (kicking and screaming) to develop a proto-Welfare State to provide for those who could not provide for themselves and the money used to do that was not available for Henry’s wars.

    It actually ended up creating a problem of Sturdy Beggars (those who could work but were panhandlers) being cracked down on by authorities; they would have been provided for by the monasteries but ended up migrating to the larger towns and cities to beg for a living rather than get a job.

    Just another unintended consequence.

  • Paul Marks

    The article itself is interesting – yes I made the mistake I often make of forgetting that a bit of highlighted text is a link to an article, that is a mistake I have now corrected (by clicking on the link and reading the article).

    Yes – the effort to make archaeology leftist runs into the wall of genetics (Frankfurt School Marxists have long hated the subject of genetics – and will destroy it, or totally corrupt it, if they can).

    The Anglo Saxons were real Germanic invaders – not a “cultural change”.

    And yes the Bronze Age replacement was even more radical – something like 90 of the population of the the British Isles.

    And this replacement did NOT happen everywhere – for example it did not happen in Sardinia and so we can see what pre Indo European Europeans looked like (and what Ancient Egyptians) looked like.

    We can see them right now – because the genetics of modern Sardinians is much the same as the pre Indo Europeans in the British Isles, or people as far away as Anatolia (modern Turkey) or Ancient Egypt.

    And Sardinians are NOT black – oh dear, how sad, never mind.

    As for Britain “always been a nation of immigrants” (the lie one hears and sees on the BBC, and so on, almost every day) – again genetics proves this is false, before the last few decades most people in these islands had ancestors who had been here for many centuries.

    Not me (at least only on one side) – I really am an example of “diversity”, but racism is not racism if it is applied to people like me. The Baader-Meinhof gang explained why it is O.K. for a leftist to hate people of my ethnic origin – they were “Money Jews” even if an individual Jew, personally, did not have any money, but Karl Marx got there before them, explaining why it was O.K. for him to hate people of his ethnic origin – “What is the God of the Jew? Money! What is the religion of the Jew? Hucksterism!” and on and on.

    As for British universities – apart from the University of Buckingham, I see little resistance to the Marxist agenda.

    The people who created the University of Buckingham were wise – it may (perhaps) preserve some (some) of the learning of the past in the dark times to come.

    Such places as Hillsdale may (perhaps) do the same in the United States.

  • bobby b

    “In the US, endowments should be confiscated to pay off student debt.”

    Amen. That’s exactly where all of that ill-gained money resides.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven R – I have nothing backwards.

    I have not denied that religious houses did good work (fore example in education) – what I wrote was that some of Henry’s advisers (for example Thomas Cromwell) wanted the state to provide these services, and much more. Pointing out (as they did) that the religious houses were limited in what they provided. However, the War with Scotland (the effort to conquer Scotland) led the landed estates being sold off – much to the frustration of these “reformers”.

    As it was far more limited Poor Laws were passed by the Tudors – limiting freedom of movement and imposing local taxation.

    This was not a great burden for centuries – till the late 18th century when, during the Napoleonic Wars, the Act passed in 1782 was used (in some areas) to provide a legal justification for the wage subsidies that started (in the parish of Speenhamland) in 1797 – this system spread over most of England and Wales, and local taxes got higher and higher till the system was abolished by the Poor Law Reform Act of 1834 (which cretins on the BBC – led by the “historian” Michael Wood, thought was the start of government provision for the poor in England, when it was actually an effort to roll-it-back).

    Most of Scotland had no Poor Rate till the Act of 1845. Ireland did not till the Act of 1838.

    In Ireland in the late 1840s the Poor Law Tax became crushing – and when Poor Law Unions went bankrupt, other Poor Law Unions (in parts of Ireland that were not dependent on the potato) were forced (by another Act of Parliament from London) to bail them out – dragging down these areas of Ireland as well.

    This policy of crushing taxation and “roads to nowhere” (and the rest of the Sir Charles Trevelyan policy) is called “laissez-faire” – by people who do not seem to know what that term means (or who know nothing about history).

  • Steven R

    A lot of that endowment money goes to capital improvement. All those university hospitals building pediatric cancer centers and the like use endowment money to do it. Obviously taking the money instead of allowing a university to build a Transgender Studies Museum is nice, but some of that money does go to something a little more worthwhile.

    Not to mention, with state schools, the money is already under state control. Plus given how irresponsible the state is with taxpayer money as it is, I don’t think giving them a windfall of cash is going to go the way we want.

  • Paul Marks

    By the way Steven R. – the start of Michael Wood’s “History of England” television series on the BBC was actually worse than his episode on the Poor Law (which, in his ignorance, he thought started in the 19th century).

    Michael Wood walks and talks to the camera.

    The collapse of Roman Britain, the man claims, was caused by “climate change” – he points to burned out cars, “imperial overreach” and “greedy bankers” – “remind you of anything?” the man says as he smiles at the camera.

    Even if one believes that C02 emissions cause global warming, the Romans did not have the internal combustion engine – so the burned out cars are certainly not Roman. “It is a metaphor Paul” – no it is not a metaphor, it is just Michael Wood talking rubbish (the weather did indeed get colder, not hotter, colder – but that was mainly after 535 AD and was NOT the result of human action).

    “Greedy Bankers” – the Romans did not have a system of fractional reserve (Credit Bubble) banking – “greedy” or otherwise.

    “Imperial overreach” – the Empire had been on the DEFENSIVE for centuries.

    The man is such a total arse – I tried to complain about this (and the rest of the vile series), I went through all the hoops (after all the BBC is funded by the BBC tax), but it was hopeless.

    I believe that PBS even broadcast this series in the United States – the series was a tissue of lies.

    Always, people, be very careful about television history – for example if an historian on the television makes a special point of saying that the Emperor Franz Joseph of the House of Hapsburg did nothing to stop the rise of the Jew hating Mayor of Vienna you can bet that Franz Joseph DID try and stop him (and he did).

    And if a television history has Kaiser Wilhelm II gloating over “Lenin” (and other monsters) being sent into Russia – you can bet that he, Kaiser Wilhelm, was not told till it was too late (was kept in the dark).

  • bobby b

    Steven R, if a robber drops a chunk of my money into the Salvation Army pot, I’m still not going to be happy.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    bobby b:

    Personally, I would amend Bankruptcy Law to cover student loans, along with retroactively removing the Federal guarantees.

    Bankruptcy has always come with a cost (in Donald Trump’s case his willingness to be called a deadbeat allowed him to use bankruptcy as a business strategy – it was the banks who spared him of the other cost … being a poor credit risk), but if someone wants to declare bankruptcy, the banks, now without the safety net of a federal guarantee to rely on, would have to work out with the borrower terms that leave the loan on their books as an asset rather than disappear as a write-off.

    The bank and the borrower could get creative. Transform a portion of the student loan into a mortgage or even a car loan, allowing the borrower to own a home that live in or car to drive rather than a college degree they don’t see as useful. The borrower would be maintaining the moral obligation they undertook when they took the student loans (there’s more dignity in discharging your moral obligations than many people not realize), and the banks would be retaining assets and depositors .

    More than mere money is at stake here, the integrity and stability of society are at stake. Although all that Slaughtering of Innocents (Herod would be disgusted at what Western Culture is today – he would call us insane) is doing more damage, but this notion that borrowers don’t have to repay their debts is as disgusting.

    As to the endowments? Pile them all up like the Joker did with all that cash and burn it. Let people see all that worthless Fiat Money go up in smoke. How many people even know what the M2 numbers mean. The excess money must be see to be burned.

    Distributing it to anyone else would just turn them into Henry VIII’s.

    Yeah, I’m a little crazy mad about this subject.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    I place my faith in people, even Fraser Orr, to decide who they want to talk to and listen to rather than my ability to know what is offensive to anyone other than me.

  • Paul Marks

    Steven R.

    As you know the foundations in the United States (Ford and so on) are leftist playpens.

    The universities with large endowments – that would be Harvard and other despicably racist places, where having the “correct” skin tone is far more important than talent.

    In British law, the infamous “Wellcome Trust” case, it has been ruled by the courts that someone leaving instructions in their will can be overruled by later trustees.

    So one might as well spend one’s money on luxury – as if one leaves it to create a foundation or endowment, it will (eventually) go to fund evil.

    The endowments left by dead “capitalists” in Chicago ended up under the control of “ex” Marxist terrorists, such as Bill Ayers, and certain young person by the name of Barack Obama.

    Bill Ayers and Barack Obama lived close to each other in New York City in the early 1980s – and went to the same conferences (for example the conference to mark the hundred anniversary of the death of Karl Marx in 1983).

    But we are expected to believe that they first met in Chicago – where they just happened to serve together on boards controlling very large sums of money (money left by well meaning “capitalists” who would have done less harm if they had spent the money on hookers and cocaine).

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns2han

    Bobby b:

    I am against anyone but the borrower, or someone who uses paying off someone else’s as a form of paying them for services rendered (my brother saw his student loans paid off when he enlisted in the Army), paying their debts.

    Borrowers paying what they owe is essential to the integrity and stability of society.

    Allowing borrower to declare Bankruptcy and including student loans makes sense. Declaring Bankruptcy has medium-term affects on the one declaring it.

    Personally, I would use the endowments as a way to reduce money supply. Thank the universities for the donation to the nation’s economic stability, and burn it in public.

    If my first idea can happen, the second one can, and we can ride unicorns and fly pegasi to witness the event.

  • Paul Marks

    Let us compromise.

    Leave Harvard, and Yale – and the rest of these Hell Holes, their endowments – but not one cent of taxpayer money for them, including no more “Student Loans” (this being a demented scam anyway).

    Not only are these places racist (with black skin being, to them, more important than talent or work) they are also hypocrites – as people can get in with the “wrong” skin colour, if their ancestors went there, or if a lot of money is given, or if someone is from a leftist family.

    Even a sincere (as opposed corrupt and fake) leftist, should hate these places. They are everything that is vile in modern society – and so are employers who employ people on the basis that they went to such places and got a “good degree”.

  • Paul Marks

    If “student debt” is a problem – stop-the-loans.

    The loans, and other American government subsidies, are what increased tuition fees in the first place. Government subsidies of anything (most certainly including health care) inflate costs over time.

    That and the demented idea of employers, post World War II, that a degree in the liberal arts was some sort of indication that someone would be a better manager. This has spread to lots of trades now – but it is still a demented idea.

  • bobby b

    College was sold to the masses as an automatic increaser of lifetime earnings.

    And so we – my generation – the generation that actually realized this benefit – pushed our kids, hard, to go to college.

    But we did it ignorantly, without keeping up with the economics.

    The schools saw this increase in lifetime earnings, and they figured out the present value of that increase, and they added that to their prices – so that they pre-harvested that increase for themselves.

    And so the basis for my generation’s exhortations to our kids to go to college turned out to be a bad idea.

    Now, I see many young people – my kids’ ages – with crippling debt that they borrowed in the face of our recommendations, but the expansion in “who goes to college” was so great that that increase – which they already paid for in tuition – has disappeared.

    You can critique an adult decision to borrow and spend money foolishly, but they did it at our direction, so we all share that blame.

    If there is going to be student debt relief, it ought to be financed by those people.

  • Mark

    @Fan of Slackwire Clowns

    Actually as the nurse in American werewolf in London.

    If she wanted to end my days by sitting on my face I would die happy!

  • 1) Fan of Slackwire Clowns (December 28, 2022), as I indicated above, while the existence of residual slaving from adjacent parts of sub-Saharan Africa into the Arab-controlled world in the 20th century, even during the British Empire’s post-WWI through post-WWII clampdown and vague suzerainty over the area, with occasional slave dhows crossing the Red Sea during the 1920s into the war period, trying to evade the British Empire’s checks, is fact, the idea that they had that particular ingeniously-cruel way of dumping their cargo unseen on the approach of a patrol was a belief of the British patrollers of the time. I have not found (I have not looked hard for) evidence they ever gained concrete proof of a case. If anyone wants to believe, for example, that it was instead an excuse offered by double-agent Arab or Swahili informers for why a specific tip-off proved a bust while a distant other dhow evaded them, then be aware, I cannot show otherwise at this time (that’s why the idea of using marine archeology interested me).

    2) As regards the slaving, there are various peripheral references, but it became a minor aspect of a major public story during the 1930s when Mussolini invaded Ethiopia, which, as the sole independent country in Africa at that time, was the sole one that had not officially abolished slavery. Musso tried the line of “I’m nobly annexing this country to abolish slavery and the slave trade”, and got a lot of rasberries from the UK press. I recall a 1930s left-wing anti-Fascist rebuttal that was a bit ‘modern’ when it came to slavery within Ethiopia (the usual “Those blacks treat their black slaves ever so well, really”, with subtext, “Slavery’s only wrong when whites do it to blacks”). However others were very much more on the nose when they pointed out that the export of slaves into Saudi Arabia (that Musso was supposedly going to put a stop to) was mainly through lax-or-worse Italian Somaliland (previously an Arab emirate which, like all in the area, depended on slave-trading for its economy).

    (FYI, as the third paragraph of this comment hints, that does not mean that slavery in Africa only ever managed to continue under the corrupt Italians. Would-be slave-smugglers operating from other regions had to work harder to evade the authorities – or start a rebellion, as sometimes happened; the local sheiks in the whole area were apt to prefer the Italians to the Brits, and were in rebellion even in 1945 IIRC.)

    In the post-war period, I believe enforcement became more effective. The Israelis, amongst others, suggested that elements of Arab enslaving of Africans returned as the British Empire passed from the scene, but I’ve not researched that.

    3) References to the suspicion of hollow-keel: now you’re asking, Fan of Slackwire clowns. For my posts I (re)locate all my references but for my comments I often just trust my memory. The information you want is first and foremost from factual books of the pre-WWII and early-WWII time period – books that my extended family were very good at hoarding for many decades after WWII but that are now somewhat dispersed. I feel sure they are out-of-print now (they were the kind of books that often ceased their print-runs before WWII ended and in some cases shortly before it even started.)

    One post-war, still-in-print writer whose name I can easily recall and direct you to is in many ways ridiculous, even hypocritical – none other than the unpleasant Leni Riefenstahl, whose pretended ignorance of slavery and other horrors in Nazi Germany makes an unpleasant contrast to her (I believe) accurate reporting of them in Africa. She visited Africa before WWII. After it, she spent a lot of time there taking pictures and publishing books, and finding it a convenient place to avoid questions about her Nazi past. In her interwar visit, she learned about the slaving, and the opening-keel suspicions, from British imperial officials (with whom she appears to have been popular back then) and wrote them up in a 1930s monograph that she republished as part of the first (IIRC) of her several postwar books on Africa.

    You will understand why this unusual reference sticks in my memory while the titles and authors of the other books don’t. I’ll find them if I can – if they are still in the family at all after clear-outs and sales of some houses and etc. I pretty-well guarantee they are long, long out-of-print. So tracking down stuff beyond Leni’s memorable reference may take me some time. (I would be delighted if anyone else can find information on this.)

    IF the records of the interwar Royal Navy Red Sea activities can be examined, their interceptions, and maybe their suspicions, could be read at the source. I’d been leaving that to a possible post-retirement activity.

  • Perry: I place my faith in people, even Fraser Orr, to decide who they want to talk to and listen to rather than my ability to know what is offensive to anyone other than me.

    I have no idea what you are talking about. 80% of Samizdata site moderation is done via an algorithm that decides when someone might be an arsehole or spammer, requiring me or one of the others to either leave it blocked or approve it. That sometimes takes a few hours as we actually have lives. If that’s not acceptable, feel free to bugger off or not, up to you.

  • Fan of Dockside Clowns

    Sorry, Niall

    Thanks for the start of a new research project.

    It was a nice change from Russia, Russia, Russia.

  • phwest

    Just a quite note on the subject of student debt in the US. I am always surprised how many people do not realize this, but the Federal government holds 92% of all student debt in the US. This was done as part of the Obama health program – not the “affordable health care act” itself, but a second piece of legislation titled “Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act”. Why do Health Care and Education need to be reconciled? So that the income from the loans can be used to fund Federal health programs (not all of it, the Education Department also funds programs with it, thus the “reconciliation”.

    This is how Biden is able to justify his current debt forgiveness program without Congress appropriating funding. There is no need, the government is just modifying the terms of loans it holds (just as it has done for almost 2 years in suspending payments as part of “COVID relief” without any Congressional funding). The Biden administration explicitly acknowledged this when in modified the original proposal so that the residual 8% of private loans are now excluded from the program. This was to deny private loan holders standing to sue to stop the program.

    I can understand how those who get their information on this issue from political speeches attacking “predatory lenders of student loans” that somehow never manage to mention that the lender in question is actually the federal government might not realize this. The government does its own bit to mask this fact even from the students, as both loan origination and loan servicing is generally done by private companies under government contract. But the government owns the business and the revenue is a significant source of government income.

  • phwest

    Oh – and Paul, the real driver of the spread of college degrees as a critical employment credential is the US Supreme Court decision Griggs vs Duke Power which effectively prohibited employer testing in employment under the doctrine of disparate impact under the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Legally prohibited from testing applicants’ intelligence directly, they outsourced it to universities. Since this didn’t do anything about the actual problem (differences in the measured intelligence of different groups) the substitution of a poorer proxy for direct measurement added disparate impact against poor people and intelligent people who dislike universities without doing much to change the disparate impact that was the basis for the suit in the first place.

    Griggs is a critical element in the massive expansion of higher education in the US (the case was decided in 1971, well after the GI Bill and other federal student funding programs, so by no means the only thing). It was Griggs that made a university degree a necessary, as opposed to desirable, credential. And it was after Griggs that you begin to see the spread of essentially vocational degrees into University programs – my go to standard there being the Hotel Management program at our flagship state university, but you can say the same thing about Journalism and most Business BA programs. Degrees like this benefit no one outside of the degree granting institution, as any reasonably intelligent person interested in the field would be better off with 4 years of practical experience, and indeed that was how these fields had been staffed for decades prior to Griggs.

  • Paul Marks

    phWest – I was aware of the position on Student Loans, but the program being “private” was always a farce. It was set up by government – so President Obama just made it obvious.

    Tragically home loans are going the same way – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were both set up by government and treating them as “private companies” was always in the end going to be exposed as a farce. The government, and allied corporations, will end up owning most property – very Agenda 2030. Property Taxes will also be used by Government and Woke Corporations (but I repeat myself) to steal land from people.

    I was NOT aware of the Griggs Vs Duke Power Supreme Court decision. Egalitarian dogma running into reality – and the Supreme Court deciding that reality should be disregarded. That egalitarian dogma was more important than reality. The same ideology that declares that a man who died of the drugs he had voluntarily consumed was “murdered” (a jury that decided otherwise would have been “cancelled” – most likely by being burned alive) by a “racist cop” who is married to an Asian lady, and then declares the “murdered” man (who had a long history of violent crime – including holding a weapon to the throat of pregnant woman while he and associates robbed her home) to be a deity – to be worshipped by burning, looting and murdering in Marxist riots.

    I am an old man, this stuff should not shock me any more – but somehow it still does.

    I certainly would not shed any tears if a giant space rock flattened the next meeting in Davos.

    No wonder people go as far away as Paraguay to get away from this “Woke” totalitarianism – although they find that such places have not even sorted out clear and secure land ownership.

    Theodore Roosevelt (in one of his lucid moments – no other man has mixed so much good sense with so much nonsense) pointed out that it was LAND LAW (not race) that was the real difference between the United States and most of Latin America – in the United States there was a grid system (the land being scientifically surveyed), with who-owned-what being clear and secure – that is the basic foundation of economic development, and of societal development.

    The “Spanish land grants” that Hollywood films (and university textbooks) claim were “stolen” were often little more than drawings and vague descriptions – that is not a basis for a sound society, as so much of Latin America (although NOT all the Latin American countries – for example Uruguay is an exception) sadly show.

  • Paul Marks

    I missed out one obvious error in Michael Wood’s treatment of the Poor Law.

    As well as pretending that the English Poor Law was created in 1834 (in reality the 1834 Act was an effort to roll-back much of the Poor Law provision, in order to reduce local taxation – especially in rural areas), the episode also pretended that the Act of 1834 was “Victorian”.

    1834 – “Victorian”, a Merit Mark to the first boy or girl who sees the problem.

    Ironically the Poor Law in Scotland and Ireland could indeed be argued to be Victorian – as most of Scotland and Ireland did not have Poor Law taxation before the reign of Queen Victoria, but “England” – NO. Poor Law taxation went back centuries in England.

  • Paul Marks

    Archaeology must have an “explicit politics” – no archaeology must follow The Truth (which is objective – not subjective – there is no “my truth” only the truth) where ever it goes.

    And the politics of the “decolonizing” Frankfurt School Marxist academics, media (and Corporate “capitalists”) is totally wrong.

    “You racist!” “Hail Diversity!”

    This from people who complain that the Association Football team of Argentina was entirely “white”, but do not have a word of complaint about the Association Football team of Nigeria being entirely “black”.

  • Snorri Godhi

    About the transition from Church welfare to State welfare in England/Britain, i recommend reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Memoir on Pauperism.

    As a historical note: In Viking Iceland, there was of course no State as we know it (no executive); but there were voluntary associations for law enforcement, and for welfare. IIRC what i read in Jesse Byock’s book on Viking Iceland, the 2 systems were completely distinct: any freeman (bondi) could choose any law-enforcement leader (godhi), and any welfare association. That means that, if your welfare association rips you off, you can talk to your godhi about it, and he’ll sort things out.

  • phwest

    Following up on the Griggs decision – like much US court jurisprudence on discrimination, the decision does not prohibit the testing of applicants. It “just” requires that the testing be job related. Of course, what is actually job related will be subjective, particularly when talking about general skills. Any rational company (that is to say, one that would like to avoid potentially expensive and reputation-damaging litigation) presented with this type of decision will limit the use of such testing to narrow, clearly definable skills that can be defended in court, thus any kind of broad aptitude test goes right out the window.

    Like much Civil Rights jurisprudence, this case is a classic example of “hard cases make bad law”. Duke Power, a southern energy utility, had long discriminated against blacks, restricting them to manual labor jobs. In the context of that history, it is fairly obvious that the new requirements they created in response to the CRA, which in addition to two aptitude tests also included a high school diploma requirement at a time when the still recent history segregation of schools meant few blacks had completed high school, were clearly an attempt to re-establish de facto discrimination.

    It is a testament to the influence of higher education on the judiciary that the clear prohibition of requiring a high school diploma without a clear job requirement was never applied to college degree requirements, which now are little better signals of fitness for employment than a high school diploma was in 1971. In my opinion by the way, it is the use of university degrees, including the prestige of the granting institution, as proxies for fitness that drives the broad support for racial and ethnic admissions preferences amongst university administrators. Well aware that what they are actually providing students is a credential, not an education, they cannot accept that those credentials be allocated by any racially neutral standard that would generate racially disproportionate outcomes.

  • 1834 – “Victorian”, a Merit Mark to the first boy or girl who sees the problem.

    Victorian Age starts in 1837 😉

  • Sorry, Niall (Fan of Dockside Clowns, December 29, 2022 at 12:25 am)

    No need to apologise, O Fan of clowns that really get around. 🙂 I take care to have warrant for the claims I make and often that is indeed in a book in my house or findable on the web. But occasionally, as in the case you raised, we’re talking old, even wartime-or-pre-war-printed books that will be none too easy to reexamine now.

    Thomas Sowell remarks that

    historians talk of ‘the abolition of slavery’ in the west, but ‘the decline of slavery’ in the Islamic world.

    He also (e.g. in Race and Culture, chapter 7) has a range of references to books on the East-African/Islamic slave trade. Most of these, however, focus on the 19th century, when political pressure and aggressive use of the Royal Navy extracted public bans of slave trading which were at first wholly fake, as regards the Arabs, but which the RN gradually made more real.

    The issue is that it’s easy to write a history of Islamic slavery in the 19th century when it’s obvious, being done by Arabs, Swahilis and others who, even in the 1890s treat ‘the English’ merely as an enemy to avoid, not even with the ‘respect’ professional criminals give ‘the law’. (If you read far enough down this PC/gentle page on Ottoman slavery, you will nevertheless get an idea of how they regarded the strange British desire to end slavery.) By the 20th-century’s interwar years, after decades of enforcement by the then-at-its-largest British empire, which (the locals had come to well-understand) treated slave-smuggling as criminal, things were hidden and a history book is harder to write, so one tends to pick up data in odd snippets (though not usually as odd as a Leni Riefenstahl book 🙂 ) from which the mind eventually assembles a fresh piece of history: that the Empire, informed by repeated incidents, was never able to end its east-African anti-slave activities, though it did force the slaving down to a very low level by the immediate post-war period. (Looking at our or the US border today, I guess we should not feel surprised.)

    HTH. Sowell’s narrative and references are one place to start.

  • […] know he valued Samizdata immensely. Read the comments that he made yesterday to my previous post. As ever they are full of wonderful scholarship and commitment to truth. I can […]

  • GregWA

    Does anyone here know of a speakeasy for climate research?

    There are plenty of sites pushing against the official narrative, but is there one where actual practicing climate scientists talk freely…and anonymously?

    I’d love to hear in private what scientists who contribute to the IPCC studies and reports really think, for example, about the information at WUWT and similar sites.

  • Paul Marks

    The Merit Mark goes to Perry.

    Niall was quite correct – slavery was endemic in Africa, and other parts of the world, long before the British Empire. Indeed the British Empire later turned against slavery (the first great Empire in human history to turn against slavery) and fought a century long conflict against slavery and the slave trade.

    The “history” that the modern international establishment elite is indeed based on “politics” (as they themselves admit – see the quote in Natalie’s post), but it is not “right politics” it is wrong politics – because it is based upon lies and distortions.

    As for Mark’s question….

    Africa has historically been more divided in terms of interconnections that, say, Europe. It is difficult to talk in terms of “African history” as if, for example, what we used to call the Berbers of North Africa had any contact with the Bushmen and Hottentots of southern Africa (they really did not).

    As for the history of the Bantu peoples (which is sometimes presented as “African history” although historically it was the history of PART of Africa), in recent years this history has been overlaid with nonsense.

    Settlement size has been wildly overstated, inventions have been falsely attributed, rulers who were not have been declared “the richest in the world” and so on.

    This is certainly getting into the mainstream – not just via the far left take over of the education system, but also by such things as the wildly political Google search engine.

    One thing that people can practically do is, for all political and historical matters, refrain from using the search engine – as yet such search engines as “Bing” (even though it is owned by the dreadful Mr Gates) are not as bad as Google.

    Again I am very sorry to hear that Niall Killmartin has died – he was a Gentleman and a scholar, we are all poorer for his passing. The world is a darker place with Niall not in it.