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 was generally known [the Inspector-General said] that great quantities of opium were grown up-country and smuggled into the wealthy cities in violation of the law with the connivance of the provincial and military officials. The illicit growth, transport, and consumption had become a serious problem, and the question arose whether the Chinese Government should not recognize an evil that seemed ineradicable from China, create a monopoly of the drug, and license users at rates, of course, as nearly prohibitive as practicable.

– Sir Francis Aglen, The Times, 25 January 1923 as dredged up by yours truly for this week’s episode of What the Paper Said.

10 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • …create a monopoly of the drug, and license users at rates, of course, as nearly prohibitive as practicable.

    It which point the illegal drug producers extend their illegal activities into counterfeiting government licenses, packaging and what have you so that they can continue to sell their product at high government rates, but without bowing to the monopoly concerns or giving the monopoly or the government a single brass farthing.

    Just like the current Canadian Government* solution to marijuana licensing.

    Same shit, different century.

    * – and others

  • Patrick Crozier

    Yes, there is that. I was rather hoping that people would concentrate on the prohibition-is-bad part of the argument rather than government-monopoly-is-the-alternative part.

  • Paul Marks

    This has a long history in China.

    For example, the Opium War with Britain is presented in modern history books as evil drug trading Brits against the noble Chinese government.

    In reality the officials of the Imperial Chinese Government traded in Opium themselves – and enforced their monopoly by executing whole villages and towns on the Collective Punishment principle, basically “if one person in this community trades with a British opium dealer, rather than with us, we will execute the entire community”.

    Historians such as Frank Dikotter try and get a less one sided account to people, but anti Western propaganda still dominates the history taught to the young in Britain and elsewhere.

    The Manchus had conquered China back in the 1640s (“Imperialism” and “Colonialism”) and made the Chinese wear their hair in a way that, to the Manchus, looked like the rear end of a horse, ritual humiliation. Although the Manchus did not control all of China till the 18th century.

    Many of the secret societies that later turned into criminal “Tongs” started off as anti Manchu resistance groups, as did some martial arts styles.

    A person could be searched for weapons – but if the person was trained to use their body as a deadly weapon…..

  • Yes, there is that. I was rather hoping that people would concentrate on the prohibition-is-bad part of the argument rather than government-monopoly-is-the-alternative part.

    Best I can give you is “Government monopoly is only marginally better than outright prohibition”.

  • Paul Marks

    The history has importance to this day – for example one of the reasons the Chinese government pushes fentanyl (which kills so many people a year) in United States, is revenge against the West for the opium trade of the 19th century – and a desire to weaken the West in order to push People’s Republic of China global dominance.

    In short the propaganda blaming the West for opium use in China in the 19th century, and exaggerating how addictive and harmful opium actually was, has been going on so long, that many high people in China actually seem to be believe it – and, also, believe that what they themselves are now doing is justified revenge against the West, especially against the United States which they see as the most powerful Western nation, the one they must destroy if they are to destroy the West.

    And the high officials in China are correct – without the United States the West is weak, easy to destroy. Fentanyl is just one of many weapons they use against the United States. For example, the powerful people of the People’s Republic of China also push the C02 is destroying the world theory (a theory they ignore when building more coal power stations in China) in the United States and other Western lands, and push the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) agenda in the United States and other Western lands – if anyone tried to push such agendas (whether Environmental and Social Governance, ESG, or Diversity Equity and Inclusion DEI) in CHINA – the person pushing such stuff in China would be vivisected.

    SEG and DEI are NOT a new “Woke Social System” – they are not a social system, they are a weapon. A weapon to destroy the targeted societies (both targeted by external enemies such as the People’s Republic of China – and the Legion of domestic enemies in Western societies, foes who control the education system, the mainstream media, the government and corporate bureaucracies….).

    For better or worse, the United States is the keystone of the Western arch – without this keystone the West would collapse.

    Again, the Legion of domestic (Frankfurt School and other) enemies in the West are the true driving force of destruction (it is NOT China that is the true driving force of the destruction of Western societies) – but the Communist Party Dictatorship of the People’s Republic of China helps the “Woke” domestic enemies of Western societies as much as it can.

    The attack, the effort to destroy Western societies with such things as the ESG and DEI agendas (Agenda 2021 goes back more than 30 years – and stems from the Club of Rome as far back as the 1960s, and now there is Agenda 2030 of the United Nations and the World Economic Forum), would continue even if the People’s Republic of China did not exist (it is not the driving force of it) – but the Communist Party Dictatorship of the PRC, naturally enough, helps the process of destruction when it can.

  • Patrick Crozier

    I have experienced government monopoly in the form of Ontario off-licences and I’d have to say – crap as they were – I didn’t see a single person carrying a violin case while wearing a pinstripe suit.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I have experienced government monopoly of alcohol sales in Alberta, at a time when i drank almost only beer, and they were reasonable. My favorite was Steinlager, a Kiwi import.

    I went to a picnic with a bunch of foreign students. A recent arrival from Israel had brought a can of root beer, which he naively assumed is real beer, to general amusement.
    (He was also unaware that he could not drink beer in a city park.)

    Incidentally, government-run alcohol shops in Sweden became much more customer-friendly sometime about the turn of the century.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I’d like to ask Paul Marks a couple of questions about the background to the Opium Wars. (As long as he does not start to talk about Hume…)

    First, was it legal to sell opium in China? Because i thought that it wasn’t. Which would not necessarily prevent Chinese gov. officials from selling it, of course.

    Second, where did the opium come from?

  • bobby b

    “I was rather hoping that people would concentrate on the prohibition-is-bad part of the argument rather than government-monopoly-is-the-alternative part.”

    I recently had cause to be in downtown San Francisco, and Oakland, and Minneapolis, and a few other places where druggies had extensive third-world encampments where they go to die.

    I combine that new knowledge with my past experience representing criminal defendants who were mostly drug-destroyed meat puppets.

    It makes me wonder if there is a version of libertarianism that doesn’t involve supermen.

  • Paul Marks

    Snorri – opium sales were illegal in China, indeed punishable by death ( sometimes not just the death of the buyer – but of their entire community, collective punishment) otherwise the officials would not have made their corrupt profits.

    Where did it come from – opium can be grown in some areas of China, but it was also grown in India. Indeed the East India Company encouraged the growth of opium in some areas of Bengal, this is alleged to have made a famine (when bad weather hit a lot of Bengal – as it does from time to time) worse than it otherwise have been.

    However, this was long before the Opium War – I believe the East India Company had its monopoly removed long before then.

    As for David Hume (if you will allow me to be supportive – not critical) – he was quite right about corporations (big ones are inevitably political and depend on government favours) and credit bubble banks (money lending is fine, creating money from nothing is not fine – indeed it is barking mad).

    As a young man I thought (along with Milton Friedman and so many others) that Hume was wrong about corporations and credit bubble banks – but now I accept that I was wrong and David Hume was right.