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 – pessimism edition

Surely no year could be as bad as 2020, which had seen families sundered, schools closed and businesses destroyed in a hysterical over-reaction. After all, by December 2020, the second lockdown had ended and the UK had begun its vaccine rollout. The new year, it seemed safe to assume, would see a return to normality.

Boy, did we get that wrong. On 6 January 2021, another lockdown was imposed. It lasted, in one form or another, until July – and, even then, a noisy coalition of public sector unions, BBC panic-mongers, skivers, malingerers and mask-fetishists fought to prolong it.

The original justification for the restrictions had collapsed by April 2020. Sweden, which stuck to the plan that the UK had prepared in cooler-headed times, saw its cases peak and fall in line with everyone else’s, and now turns out to have had the lowest excess death rate of any OECD state.

But, by 2021, dirigisme had taken on a force of its own, and lockdowns were a policy in search of a rationale. “Flatten the curve” became “Protect the NHS”, then “Wait for the rollout”, then “Stop new variants”, then “Yeah, but Long Covid”.

Daniel Hannan (£) on how mankind experienced 65 years of progress towards peace, democracy and the rule of law, but now a new age of illiberalism beckons

35 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – pessimism edition

  • djm

    And, even now, a coalition of public sector unions, bought & paid for media panic-mongers, and mask-fetishists are fighting to renew restrictions.

    Even now.

    Just as the edifice of “Guvmint knows best” is collapsing & the true horror of injections of a trial vaccine are becoming apparent.

    There is no way out of this beyond Nuremberg 2.0 & resultant public executions of those at the head of all organisations who sought to impose their dictat upon the populace.

  • Chester Draws

    There is no way Sweden had a lower excess death rate than New Zealand. The statistics I found back that up.

    Truly closing the borders meant that NZ missed the first, most lethal, wave completely. Much, much less lethal Omicron was the dominant form upon opening, with a few Delta cases hidden in the morass. By then treatment methods were much better, so less deaths. Although there may be indirect consequences, the time to get vaccinations definitely reduced death by covid.

    I am all for Sweden’s methods, and was at the time. But while lockdowns don’t work, quarantines can.

    Whether the cost of closing borders is worth it, can be argued, but Sweden while Sweden didn’t “lock down” it didn’t have no restrictions or effects. Upper secondary school students missed more class time than their NZ equivalents, for example.

    I don’t know the situation in Taiwan, but suspect it is similar.

    It is important when analysing Covid responses we don’t fall into the pattern set by the powers that be, of outright lying. The OECD includes plenty of countries outside Europe. That some have the ability to close their borders tight means that direct comparisons are difficult, but it is what it is.

  • Mr Ed

    ‘Lord’ Hannan retains the Conservative Party whip in the House of Lords, despite the crimes of Conservative governments and the apparently surprising margins on some contracts it handed out during the pandemic.

    He also appears to have got into difficulty distinguishing results from historical methods and reality.

    Is there any point in taking any notice of what he has to say, except perhaps twice a day?

  • bobby b

    Lockdowns work, unless there’s leakage.

    There’s always leakage.

    Leakage is cut by multiplying fear.

    Thus, our governments tried their best to terrify us into lockdown.

    I suspect our governments now hate (even more) the idea of freely-shared information. Being informed cuts down on fear.

  • John

    The Mail article refers, albeit under a highly misleading headline about “pocketing” £2bn, to a couple who did very well out of moving quickly to source and supply vast quantities of PPE at a price which must have been agreed with the government.

    I don’t see any indication that their goods were faulty or unusable. Neither does the article mention the profit margin on the £2bn turnover so I am unable to form an opinion on whether it was excessive.

    It certainly appears from the story that this couple were more prescient than NHS procurement officers and their superiors who had allowed UK stocks to run so low. I recall numerous news reports in the first half of 2020 about the desperate shortages and difficulty in sourcing PPE, shortages which may even have influenced government/SAGE lockdown policy. However within a short period a private enterprise PPEUK website (I don’t recall the exact name) was set up identifying and listing tens of billions of masks/gowns/gloves etc already situated in the UK and ready for purchase – something which suggested to me at least that NHS procurement was not fit for purpose.

  • John

    I was referring to the link in Mr Eds post about surprising margins on some contracts.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Dan Hannan is normally quite an optimistic sort of chap, but he is very gloomy here, and I can fully understand why. I am going to think about this article and work on a possible response to it.

    I think it is clear that so much of what passes for conventional wisdom on a whole range of topics is wrong and that the pain of coming to terms with it is going to be with us for a long period, possibly until I am lowered in to the sod.

  • Kirk

    I think we can safely say that whatever it was we were doing during COVID, it didn’t work worth diddly-squat.

    The objective failure of everything from border control to the lockdowns and vaccines, none of it actually worked. The fact that the “vaccinated” are spreading most of the new cases is what I’d term a pretty clear clue that they don’t work.

    I’ve been following the mRNA stuff since it was first publicized. The one thing I noticed about it is that it never lived up to the promise they said it showed, and that we’re now seeing a lot of the same issues in the vaccinated that they said they were having with the animal test subjects. Going to be interesting watching as things move forward–We’ve never had this many young athletes drop dead on the playing field, and I have to observe that and connect that dot with the animal testing having shown much the same thing with their cardiovascular systems.

    Whatever has been going on, the public health morons haven’t exactly covered themselves with glory, or done much to gain the public trust. Quite the opposite, really.

  • Giant 4N Devil

    2020, then 2020 Won, then 2020 II, now 2020 3D – The Revenge. I don’t much like this franchise.

    The box office is falling and the budget is exploding, as usual with sequels, so maybe we won’t get 2020 4.0.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not accept the original thesis, of Matt Ridley and others, that before 2011 there had been 65 years of movement in a pro liberty direction – on the contrary liberty has been in decline in most Western countries for the last one and a half centuries.

    Think about it – could a massive move towards liberty be suddenly be reversed in 2020, in most Western countries in the world? No – the philosophical and political ground work had been done long before 2020. What has happened since 2020 is the speeding up of the decline of liberty that was already very much in place.

    For example, in the United Kingdom the national government had given up on voluntary schooling (even voluntary schooling subsidised by the government) with the Government Education Act of 1870 (yes I know that it did not apply everywhere till 1891 – I am sitting in a town when it did not apply till 1891) – in 1875 about 40 additional functions were put on local government by Disraeli and unions (legal for many decades – this is nothing to do with them being legal) were given powers by government to undermine industry and promote unemployment – it is true that government may not have had that intention, but that was the effect of its actions. Also denials that giving unions more power will increase unemployment were rather undermined after 1906 when, fresh from denying that the 1906 Trade Union Act would increase unemployment the government set up “Labour Exchanges” because it expected – higher unemployment.

    As for taxes and government spending – they have been on an upward path in most Western countries since the 1870s – certainly they are much higher now than they were 60 or 65 years ago.

    So one does NOT have to explain how there was a turn away from a movement towards a freer and better society in 2020 – because there was no movement towards a freer and better country before 2020, what actually happened was that existing trends towards tyranny (Agenda 2021, Agenda 2039, DEI, ESG and so on) speeded up in 2020 – with Covid being used as an excuse for what international powers, government and corporate, wanted to do anyway.

    There was a movement towards liberty in the 1980s – although a more modest one that is often thought. But it was reversed by such people as President Herbert Walker Bush and Prime John Major in the early 1990s.

    An exception to all of the above is Eastern Europe (including Russia) – these countries really are much freer than they were 65 years ago – when they were under rigid Marxist tyranny (even the bandit Mr Putin is vastly better than that).

    China is also much less unfree than it was 65 years ago (under the lunatic Mao – and he was criminally insane, not just a Marxist).

    It could also be argued that India is less unfree (less of a “Permit Raj”) now than it was 65 years ago.

    It is Western countries – Western Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand…. that have vastly bigger governments than they did 65 years ago.

    It is to be hoped that such nations as India break free of the “international community” and its (long established) agenda of tyranny – not turning up to international meetings (such as those of UN agencies – and the Corporate State corrupt “Woke” Corporations of Davos) would be a good start.

    There needs to be sea change in attitudes – for example when governments (and corporations) are asked “what are you doing to further Agenda 2030?” the reply needs to be NOT “we are doing this, this and this…”, the reply needs to be “we reject Agenda 2030 and all other Corporate State agendas such as DEI and SEG – DO NOT CONTACT US AGAIN”.

    But that requires real conservatives in positions of power (in both governments and commercial enterprises) – not the sort of people we have had since George Herbert Walker Bush and John Major.

    Indeed not the sort of “conservatives” we have had before – such as Edward Heath, Richard Nixon, the Christian Democrats who lurched to the left in Italy in the early 1960s – and on and on.

    This sort of fake conservative is really the product of the education system – just as the leftists are.

    It is the education system (the false political, and false philosophical, doctrines that are taught in schools and universities) that is the root of the problem of the decline of liberty in many Western countries over the last 150 years (or more – in the case of Prussia-Germany and the Italian lands where government was growing from around 1860).

  • Paul Marks

    Can anyone think of a nation that has a smaller government now, lower government spending, less of a tax burden, less regulations, than was the case before the 1st World War? I can not think of any.

    But 65 years – yes I can think of countries (which I list above) which are smaller government now than they were 65 years ago – although the United Kingdom is certainly NOT one of them.

    As for the monetary and financial system – even before the 1st World War there was a lot of fraud (legalised fraud) in the system – with loans not always from Real Savings (the evil of Credit Bubble blowing) and money not always being physical (more “money” than there was actual gold or silver).

    But the pre 1914 monetary and banking system was paradise compared to the drooling insanity of the modern monetary and banking situation – even the situation in 1958 (65 years ago) was vastly better than today, banking was much more restrained (it does matter how big a Credit Bubble is – the smaller the better) and even the monetary system still had a fig leaf connection to reality.

    The last nation to break all connections with monetary sanity was Switzerland in the 1990s.

    Now in all major countries, the monetary and financial system has no connection to sanity at all – it is total Bedlam.

    I do not know what will replace it – but this mess (this lunatic monetary and financial system) can stagger on much longer.

  • Paul Marks

    I do not think it is bad intentions that are the problem – for example most people in the National Health Service in the United Kingdom sincerely want to cure the sick.

    Even in banking and finance I do not believe that bad intentions are the problem – if anything the opposite is true.

    Someone like J.P. Morgan before the 1st World War knew he was running a con game – but that made him CAREFUL – he knew that one slip and the whole House of Cards might well collapse. That is why, for example, he had one Dollar of physical gold for every three Dollars in loans he dished out – one Dollar of physical gold in his physical possession. Yes a con game – but a very careful and considered one.

    On the other hand someone like Matt Ridley is honest and sincere – he has no idea (really he has no idea) that Credit Bubble (money created from nothing) banking and finance is a con-game, he sees nothing wrong in it at all (he really does not).

    That is why one gets things such as Northern Rock.

    “But – my financial entity operated on the same principles as every other financial entity in the modern Western World!”

    Yes Mr Ridley – it did. And that means that they are all going to come down as well – indeed they have been propped up, for years, by the Credit Money of the Central Banks.

    Banking and finance is no more “free enterprise” than the rest of “the markets” are – or than the NHS is. But, I repeat, there is no Criminal Law fraud involved – because the Criminal Law depends on people KNOWING they are doing something wrong, and the people in “The City” or “Wall Street” have not got a clue they are doing something wrong – that creating money from nothing is not a good idea.

    Imagine a group of people who are blind drunk or stoned (by no fault of their own – someone has been spiking their water supply), and they are in control of the international economy.

    If you look at the board of (for example) Black Rock (which controls 10 Trillion Dollars of investments – hello Cantillon Effect concentrating financial resources in a few, insane, hands) you will see what I mean.

    “65 years ago” was lightyears from perfect – but things in 1958 were not quite in the insane mess that they are now.

    Even New York City, essentially Ground Zero of world wide financial insanity, was vastly less crazy in 1958 than it is now.

    New York City was also a vastly better place to live in 1958 than it is now – as was New York State (then the largest population State in the United States).

    “But real GDP per capita says…” – then “real GDP per capita” is bunk.

    One really does have to away with the elves and pixies not to see that New York, and many other places, were vastly better societies 65 years ago than they are now.

  • I’ve been following the mRNA stuff since it was first publicized. The one thing I noticed about it is that it never lived up to the promise they said it showed, and that we’re now seeing a lot of the same issues in the vaccinated that they said they were having with the animal test subjects. Going to be interesting watching as things move forward–We’ve never had this many young athletes drop dead on the playing field, and I have to observe that and connect that dot with the animal testing having shown much the same thing with their cardiovascular systems.

    Yet we are “reliably” informed by the mainstream media that “Died Suddenly” is a right wing dog whistle / conspiracy theory.

    Ah well. I quite rightly passed on the mRNA jabs and had COVID in August, so that’s me set for the foreseeable. Lets see how worthless good old acquired immunity is.


  • Jon Mors

    “Lockdowns work, unless there’s leakage.

    There’s always leakage.”

    Those vulnerable to Covid where also those most exposed to leakage. That is, the elderly in a variety of settings: care homes, hospitals, GP surgeries.

    This means that locking down the rest of society is futile. You also can’t really lock down the elderly, as the reason they are found in those settings in the first place is that they need to be so for their health. (There was an argument that locking down the entire society was necessary purely because focussed protection was not possible. Whilst it sounds plausible on the face of it, turns out that only a small amount of leakage is necessary for the entire strategy to fail.)

    If a version of Covid came along with 5% mortality rates for children, would it make sense to close the schools? Probably. On the face of it, it would sound a reasonable thing to do.

  • Emmeline Parker

    on the contrary liberty has been in decline in most Western countries for the last one and a half centuries.

    That might be most absurd comment I’ve seen on internet this week against strong opposition. I suppose if I was a male landowner in the 1870s catapulted into the future it might seem that way, but for the *vast* majority of people it’s hard to see how I have less liberty now.

  • lucklucky

    What was Daniel Hannan opinion at time and with his power what did he do?

  • Steven R

    That might be most absurd comment I’ve seen on internet this week against strong opposition. I suppose if I was a male landowner in the 1870s catapulted into the future it might seem that way, but for the *vast* majority of people it’s hard to see how I have less liberty now.

    Emmeline, chalk that up to the death by a thousand cuts.

    About the only area in the US where I see more liberty is in gun law, and that is a combination of some surprisingly good court rulings by the Supremes and because gun owners have a voice now besides the useless NR, especially at the state level. Obviously the coast states (other than the Gulf Coast) continually tighten the gun law noose, but those places are a lost cause unless the courts just say “restrict violent felons and those adjudicated as mentally incompetent and leave everyone else alone.”. But in every other aspect of our lives we have seen more and more rules, regulations, and laws.

  • What was Daniel Hannan opinion at time and with his power what did he do?

    As a former MEP he was essentially powerless, but he did occasionally mutter appropriately BRExity mouthings, I’ll give him that.

    Little more he could do in the EU’s Potemkin Parliament.

  • Kirk

    Paul Marks said:

    It is the education system (the false political, and false philosophical, doctrines that are taught in schools and universities) that is the root of the problem of the decline of liberty in many Western countries over the last 150 years (or more – in the case of Prussia-Germany and the Italian lands where government was growing from around 1860).

    That bolded bit, there? Could you please show your work? Provide some citations, perhaps? Other than the au courant conventional wisdom that really ain’t all that wise…? Or, for that matter, factually-based?

    This stereotype of “Prussian rigidity and lack of liberty” is something that just blows my mind. Y’all actually accept that as a truth, when there’s copious evidence out in the real world that it simply isn’t so?

    I mean, leave aside the von Humboldt brothers and their contributions to the Prussian education system. Ignore that, and then explain to me how the hell it was all these Germans who were supposedly educated in these lock-step Kadavergehorsam institutions managed to build the German economy up the way they did, reaching a point where they were surpassing British industry in nearly every respect? How was it that the German military was the one that actually embraced and demonstrated more “power-down” and initiative than their French and Anglo-American counterparts did in both world wars? Where’d they get the manpower to do that, that was able to adapt and think on their own, as the situations changed around them?

    The usual assertion that the Prussian education system was this lock-step sort of prison camp environment that outlawed independent thought and all that other “liberal” good stuff? That’s utter bullshit, and if you stopped to examine the premise or look at the evidence, you’d never voice that idiotic opinion again.

    Most of what the average person “knows” about the Prussian education system is filtered through British propaganda dating back to WWI, and the prejudices of people like Dewey, who actually disdained a lot of the things that von Humboldt espoused and embedded into the Prussian system. He came back to the US, and because it was fashionable, he sold his own ideas as being “German”. Reality? Much of the BS came out of his own head; you can’t find it in anything the Prussians were actually doing.

    This whole idea badly needs some rework, because much of it simply isn’t so. Mindlessly repeating it isn’t doing any of us any favors; falsity creeps into our own thinking, when we reflexively parrot these things.

    There are a lot of things that were wrong with the Prussians. Their education system, established and nurtured by the von Humboldt brothers, was not one of them. Hell, if you go back and look, there’s actually a lot more of that supposed “Prussian rigidity” in the French system; the Prussians were not so stupid as to idealize their system as teaching the same subject on the same page all across every school in France at the same time; that was an actual French goal/ideal, one of the things they boasted about. How, exactly, you’d learn anything in that sort of school…? An exercise best left to the horrified imagination.

  • Fan of Slackwire Clowns


    Mussolini did make the trains run on time.

    And now, to curry favor with the PTB:


  • Chester Draws

    Mussolini didn’t make the trains run on time. That myth was exploded long ago.

    Given that Germany was the standout leader in science up to the Nazis, with most of quantum theory and novel chemistry coming from that part of the world, they sure showed that the German education system was working.

    on the contrary liberty has been in decline in most Western countries for the last one and a half centuries.

    Only true if you define “liberty” in your terms.

    Gays didn’t find 1872 particularly full of liberty. Nor blacks in the US. Nor women pretty much everywhere. Catholics unwilling to lie were permitted into Oxford in 1871, so they just meet your deadline for that! But in practice there were still lots of impediments for those of the “wrong” religions.

    So the political liberty for male, white, straight, wealthy, Protestants might have fallen a bit. As one of those, however, I don’t see the nibbling around the edges that I have lost are sufficient to ignore the vast gains for the vast bulk of people.

  • Steven R

    So the political liberty for male, white, straight, wealthy, Protestants might have fallen a bit. As one of those, however, I don’t see the nibbling around the edges that I have lost are sufficient to ignore the vast gains for the vast bulk of people.

    Liberty is not a Zero Sum Game where the only way for women and Catholics and minorities to gain liberty is for rich WASP men to give it up.

  • bobby b

    If the people become empowered, and control more power than before through voting, and the people then vote for more rules and regulations, for more governmental control, for more socialism than individuality . . .

    Is this not freedom? They got to choose!

    Give stupid people freedom, and it might look like something else.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – yes government in Britain and France has been on the up, in terms of the taxes and government spending (even as a proportion of the economy) since about 1870.

    And yes – in the German and Italian lands the process starts a bit earlier, what happened was relatively high taxed Prussia conquered relatively lower taxed areas of the German lands (such as Hanover in 1866), Prussian taxes having been increased (without the consent of the Prussian Parliament) in 1861 specifically to build up the armed forces.

    In the Italian lands what happened is that relatively high tax Piedmont conquered other lands and imposed its taxes upon them, and other things to – such as language persecution (insisting on certain form of Italian to be taught in schools and in documents) and conscription – in such places as Sicily.

    One of the tragic things about the 19th century is that most liberals supported German and Italian “unification” even though it, in practice, it meant less liberty (bigger government).

    As for when government started to grow in my own town – 1875 (as we did not set up a School Board here in 1870 – but were hit by the about 40 functions of local government imposed by Disraeli in 1875 – we got a School Board in 1891).

    National taxation reached a low point in the United Kingdom in 1874 – and has been on the up (even as a proportion of the economy) since then.

    In France the peak of liberty would be 1869 – before the war of 1870 and the Third Republic (with its state education and its religious persecution and it was the majority religion that was was persecuted in the early 1900s in France, in Germany religious persecution came earlier and Bismarck called it off when it was obvious that it had failed).

    However, government was small by modern standards – it has taken 150 years to get to the present position in Britain and France.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b.

    Have Americans ever voted for higher taxation on themselves? Has any politician said “vote for me – and I will increase your taxes”?

    As for movement – people tend to move from areas of big government (in taxes and regulations) to areas of lower taxes and less regulations.

    Even warm California has more Americans leaving it than going there.

    “Lenin” may have said “vote with your feet” – but he did not like the results of that.

    A few people did indeed go to the Soviet Union – but vastly more people tried to leave it.

    People do not like the effects of Big Government policies – and (finally) they are starting to understand that it is the Big Government policies that are causing the bad effects.

    In the past people would, for example, leave California for Colorado and then (insanely) pushed the same policies in Colorado. These days people leaving California (and so on) seem to have a better grasp on the causes of the effects they deplore.

    This is actually progress.

    It is a rare positive thing – which even I, Mr Gloomy Guts, have to admit.

    At least people now (or many people) grasp that high government spending leads to high taxes (on them – not just on “the rich”) and that high taxes have bad effects, and that lots of regulations are also a Bad Thing (TM).

    For example, the cult of “licensing” in California (worse than other States) with endless trades and professions needing a bit of paper from the government (or some compulsory associations) has terrible effects.

    As Kirk will know – this trend also started off in the late 19th century (with State after State demanding various forms of licensing for legal and medical work – and then for other things) – but got dramatically worse in the 20th century.

    “Stop spending money – and stop creating money from nothing” and “stop passing laws thinking you are helping people – you are hurting not helping” is good advice for governments.

    But good advice they rarely follow – especially over the last 150 years.

  • bobby b

    Paul Marks
    January 4, 2023 at 10:38 am

    “Have Americans ever voted for higher taxation on themselves? Has any politician said “vote for me – and I will increase your taxes”?”

    Facially? Openly? Only one I can think of is Walter Mondale, who said that he would increase social spending and pay for it all by raising current taxation without adding to debt. And we saw what happened to him.

    But, who ever votes for any Democrat without knowing, for certain, that taxes will rise if they win? No one. Taxes always rise when they win.

    And the Dems have been winning more often than losing, for some time, at least over here.

    So my point was, we here have the freedom to choose our systems, and we keep choosing to be less free in our daily lives, I’m guessing because people value security – being told what to do instead of having to choose what to do.

    We get what we deserve. We the people – or at least 51% of us – have been sheep for some time. Anger at the politicians is misplaced, I think. We ought to be angry at the electorate.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – compulsory state education in Prussia went back to Frederick the Great, the principle of compulsory state education was then copied in other Germanic lands (for example the Empire of Marie Theresa).

    It is quite true that Von Humboldt tried to move the Prussian State education system into a more free minded direction in the early 1800s (there was a general move towards greater freedom in Prussia in the early 1800s especially after their defeat in 1806 – an end to serfdom, and, in 1810-11 to compulsory guilds) – but there was a contradiction there, a state education system that was to teach anti statism?

    From the early 1860s the Prussian state started to expand again – and there was little resistance from the population to that, even though (for example) the tax increase of 1861 was illegal (it had not been passed by the Prussian Parliament).

    Certainly when Horace Mann imported the Prussian idea of compulsory state education to Massachusetts the idea was not (not really) to improve reading skills or knowledge of mathematics – it was (even back then) about pushing a certain mindset – a mindset that had a positive view of the state (of what government could-and-should do for people).

    The mindset also pushed by the “Prussian schoolmaster.”, although yes (I agree) the Prussians (and the Germans today – especially down south in Bavaria) were and are better at teaching mathematics and so on than the British and American education system generally is.

  • Paul Marks

    bobby b.

    Angry at the electorate.

    I am a man naturally given to anger – but I have learned to control it, as it does not achieve anything, and it is also often unjust.

    Yes one can be disappointed, bitterly disappointed, at the outcome of (for example) the 1964 Presidential Election – even as I type these words I can feel the grief (and yes the rage) rising in me. But one must resist the passions – even if, indeed especially if, it is hard to do so. Yes there is “righteous anger” (as Aristotle put it) – but only under certain conditions.

    People did not, mostly, vote for Mr Johnson because they were wicked – they voted as they did thinking they were doing good, that Barry Goldwater wanted to “blow up the world” and so on.

    How many people who voted for Mr Joseph Biden (and although there were NOT “81 million” there were certainly tens of millions of Biden voters) voted for the sexual mutilation of children?

    Yes Mr Biden, or rather those who control this puppet, supports that – but how many of the people who voted for him do?

    They did not know bobby b – the media did not tell them, most people still do not know. Ask people – “did you know that President Biden supports the sexual mutilation of children?” – many people will think you are insane. It is much the same if you tell them that Covid 19 could always be treated – that most people who died could have been saved, but that Early Treatment was deliberately smeared so that there could be Emergency Authorisation for injections, injections that are themselves sometimes lethal. They do not want to know that – they do not want to live in a world this evil (and who can blame them – I do not want to live in such a world either).

    It is better to be angry with the people who hide the truth from the voters or who lie to them (“Goldwater wants to blow up the world”) than be angry with the voters themselves – in many ways the voters are victims. We are voters to – and we are victims.

    It is horrible to be a victim – not just the harm, but also the humiliation. The feeling of powerlessness – of having one’s moral agency (free will) insulted, disregarded.

    At least in Jewish thought that is the worst sin of all – because it leads to all the other sins (that is why Spinoza was kicked out, for his denial of human moral agency – free will). The denial of human personhood (moral agency) leading to seeing other people not as people, but as things (with no personhood – no free will).

    Kant (Randian Objectivists please note that I am not endorsing his other points of view) held much the same thing. Demanding that people be seen as persons (ends in themselves), not just non free will means-to-an-end – subjects, not just objects.

    The ordinary voters could act differently (we all could) – but first they must have the truth, and the truth is often terrible – people (quite understandably) resist knowing it.

    Jordan Peterson teaches that it is quite rational for people to resist accepting what sound like terrible “conspiracy theories” – because to live in such a terrible world destroys happiness and means that they will have to take great risks in opposing evil (and may well lose anyway).

    And much to the time in history (in normal society) such stories of terrible “conspiracies” are WRONG (utterly mistaken).

    As the old Chinese curse is supposed to have it “may you live in interesting times”.

    Sadly, tragically, we do live in “interesting times”. Most of the time, most people do not live in such evil times (times when the powerful in the world are actively working to do them harm – often the powerful are indifferent, or even partly benevolent, not actively hostile), but sometimes such times come upon humanity.

    And things are not over yet, even I (Mr Gloomy Guts) know that – there may be good things coming (not just bad things).

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – one thing about that Prussian tax increase in 1861.

    The Prussian Liberals made a massive tactical mistake – which, I think, stemmed from a philosophical mistake,

    The made the argument about control of ministers – who would appoint them, saying that they would (“of course”) pass the tax increase, to increase the size of the Prussian Army, if they had a right of veto over ministers.

    That made the argument over who controlled the state – not the size of the state. And it may (perhaps) have been based on the idea (at least in some minds) that “freedom” is control over the government, rather than limiting the size and scope government.

    However, I may be being unfair to the Prussian Liberals – certainly some of them believed that the way to limit the size of government was for the Parliament to have control over the government.

    As for me – I have no problem with a monarch, as long as the monarch is like the Thrain of Tolkien’s Shire – who does not cost anything, and does not do anything (unless there is an attack).

    And monarchs, even if they do things, can (like all of us) do good as well as bad – for example the Emperor Domitian forbad the castration of slaves. And King Louis the Tenth of France forbad slavery itself (as against natural law).

    The last King of France before the French Revolution (Louis XVI) did many good things – for example he got rid of torture (“putting the question”) and proclaimed religious toleration (other than in Alsace – where he did not have the authority to change the laws) – but then came the Revolution and the good he had done was forgotten.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the increase in the size of the state.

    It may be true that the size and scope of the state (Federal, State and local) was greater in, say, New York in 1913 than in 1860 – but the difference in size was small.

    It is after 1913 that the size and scope of government really starts to greatly grow in the United States and it continues to grow in our own time.

    Much the same in Britain – both my father and my material grandfather (I did not know my paternal grandfather – he died before I was born) could remember a time when paper money was rare (at least among the poor) and the coins had real silver or gold in them – when things were real, not totally the playthings of governments and pet bankers.

    As for welfare – as late as 1911 more than 80% of industrial workers in Britain were members of “Friendly Societies” (mutual aid associations) to look after them and their families in times of such things as sickness and old age.

    A, basically, free society is almost within living memory – it is not lost Atlantis thousands of years ago.

  • Kirk

    @Paul Marks,

    I’d really recommend you go back and do some more reading on the issue of what the Prussian and Prussian-influenced schooling systems actually consisted of and did. They weren’t the things we have been taught that they were.

    And, yeah, there was a certain degree of schizophrenia to it, with there being school uniforms and all the rest, while teaching the spirit of free inquiry, but there you are. The common caricature we all have is not at all accurate.

    If you stop and think about it, there’s a huge contradiction in terms when you look at the actual evidence: Nowhere in German economic or business performance during the 19th and 20th Centuries do you find concrete demonstrated evidence of these supposed “rigid Prussian attitudes and approaches”. The Germans were actually far more adaptable and open to the talents; they were not hobbled by the class system issues that the British were, and they had far higher standards of education than here in the US, although applied to a much smaller percentage of the population. I once had cause to compare an arbitur document from the pre-WWI era to my own grandmother’s high-school transcript. She was a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, and her high school record would make today’s typical liberal arts college graduate quail. The German arbitur I looked through had similar standards, but from what I could tell, they went even deeper into the weeds than they did here in the US. By comparison, today’s students are maleducated dolts, and I include myself in that count. The idea of anyone trying to teach Greek, Latin, and all the other routinely required courses in today’s high schools would drive most people to the protest line, saying that the schools and the educators were demanding too much.

    I bought into the usual party-line BS about German education, but then I got to talking to someone who actually knew the system better, and they pointed me at places to go look, some reading to do, and asked some pertinent questions. Like, for example, where the hell all those adaptable and self-motivated types that had the necessary initiative and smarts to make the complex system of German tactics work at all levels. The Germans had a tiny, select officer corps, but there was way more depth in their mid-level NCO corps than any of the other armies in WWI, and they were routinely trusted to do things that were the sole purview of officers in the British, French, and US armies.

    That sort of thing did not grow out of some lockstep school that taught things the way we stereotype them doing. You don’t pull several armies worth of self-directing cadre out of your ass; there has to be a deep field of support for such things in your culture, which is one reason the Germans did as well as they did in both world wars. They should never have gotten as far as they did, and they were only able to do that on the backs of some highly adaptable and flexible manpower, the likes of which all this supposed Prussian rigidity could not have possibly produced.

    I’m not saying that they were perfect, or that they should be emulated, but I am perfectly willing to die on the hill of “They weren’t what we caricaturize them as…”

    It bears careful consideration, because a falsity of image and understanding only leads to more misunderstandings, distortions, and defeats.

    One thing that’s worth looking into is just how much the Finns took from the Prussians in their schools and their military tradition. The Prussians had one hell of a lot of influence on both: The Finns took most of their military tradition from the Prussian Jaegers that trained them during WWI, and maintain a lot of their traditions down to this day. And, those traditions are not the ones we’ve all been taught to believe they were, either.

    It’s well worth an examination and some research of your own, because you’ll learn a lot and see that I’m not trying to feed you a line of BS on the issue. It’s also fascinating to observe the way the whole thing got so distorted in everyone else’s view, as well. Good case study about bad information driving out good information, there.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I considered commenting earlier on Dan Hannan being delusionally insane for writing:

    Sweden […] now turns out to have had the lowest excess death rate of any OECD state.

    with a link showing that Sweden does NOT have “the lowest excess death rate of any OECD state”.
    (Although Sweden does have lower excess deaths than states where the inmates are running the asylum, such as the UK.)

    On reflection, i am glad that i did not write such a comment.
    The problem with Dan Hannan is not that he is delusionally insane: we all are.
    The problem with him is that he does not realize that he is insane.
    If he did, then, after reading an article, he would ask himself: insane as i am, have i really understood what this article says?
    That’s what i do!

    That Dan Hannan does not realize that he is insane, was already evident at the time of the Cypriot banking crisis, if not before.

  • Alex

    Snorri, I have considerable time for your theories about diet and delusional thinking but if we are all insane, then we are all not insane. The word ceases to have any valuable meaning.

    We may all be guilty of abandoning rational thinking. There is I would think a reasonable argument that no one has ever been truly rational in the conventional sense of the word. Everyone is at all times contaminated by emotional thinking, and justification is the norm. I’ve been involved in several tendering processes where I have been asked to be a consultant to provide some evidence based evaluation of tendering parties and tried to do my job well, but it’s usually been clear that the decision maker for the client has already emotionally invested in one of the tendering companies and will constantly look more favourably on that choice and come up with numerous justifications for this. I have at times attempted to bring to the surface this subconscious or unconscious bias but it usually is stringently denied; people strongly dislike confronting the unconscious biases they have.

    However I do think that in recent times we are more conscious than we used to be that we have unconscious or subconscious preferences/biases, that decision making should be based on evidence and not “good feelings” or “bad feelings”, yet the trend appears to be in effect that we justify or ignore evidence we dislike.

    The internet has brought to the surface a flood of disinformation, misinformation, low quality information and in combination with filter bubbles and echo chambers the need to confront ideas and information that make us uncomfortable is diminishing year on year. It’s no wonder that people experience knee-jerk hostile reactions when something pieces the veil of the warm, pink, effervescent safe spaces we inhabit. Left and right, libertarian and authoritarian alike that is.

    Is diet contributory? I think it’s likely. Very likely. We have never as a species had long periods of total food security, the freedom to consume endless amounts of dubiously nutritious food. It is noteworthy that T-levels and sperm quality are plummeting worldwide alongside marked increases in mass consumption of novel foodstuffs promoted as healthier alternatives to traditional foods. Is it the total story? Probably not. Other things are contributory, I suspect.

    To label everyone as delusionally insane strips the term of value. Quite possibly people are suffering from delusions, that doesn’t make them insane. Delusions are so common both now and historically that you could discount almost any decision ever taken or any opinion ever held as being the result of delusional thinking.

    Regarding Dan Hannan, he is probably merely mistaken. Is it good that he is promulgating false information? No. Is it commonplace for commentators to do so? Absolutely, yes. Chalk it up as a black mark (if we’re allowed to use that term nowadays) on his permanent record.

    By the by could you furnish a link to reliable statistics about the lowest excess death rate of OECD countries? Is it Japan that is actually the country with the lowest excess death rate? A casual DuckDuckGo search provided very contradictory results.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – I reject the principle of state control even if the people in charge have good intentions.

    Von Humboldt did indeed have good intentions – I have never dissented from that. Although he did not create the system – he inherited it, and tried to reform it.

    For the record, I do not believe that Horace Mann, who brought the idea to Massachusetts (finally getting in passed in 1852 – after years of pushing it) had good intentions – although I would not care if he did have good intentions.

    Back in the early days Massachusetts had-had a system of state schools – when it was a de facto theocracy, but this system had declined over time, and Horace Mann created a new system – dedicated to the State. There was no massive illiteracy problem in Massachusetts at the time – Horace Mann (I believe) pushed the state system for ideological (not practical) reasons.

    As for today – yes, German schools, at least Bavarian schools, tend to use more traditional methods and have better results than Britain and the United States.

    On Covid….

    Disturbing news from Japan – people are dying, the death rate in Japan in past years was low (the Japanese endlessly talked about a lockdown, but did not really get round to imposing one – yet the death rate from Covid in past years was very low in spite of most Japanese being exposed to the virus, in short the cloth masks were useless, the Japanese were being infected they just were not dying, indeed most had no serious illness by Covid).

    I suspect that the injections are weakening people over time – leading to the deaths they were supposed to prevent, but the authorities will say that there should be far more injections.

    As Snorri correctly says – we are all insane in our own way. In that we all have biases – and none of us is entirely objective and logical (no matter how much we try). We can limit our irrational passions – but they are always with us, they are part of the human condition.

    I am reminded of the early Christian theologian (ouch – his name escapes me) who castrated himself because he kept having lustful thoughts.

    You are going to have lustful thoughts – you are a man, that does NOT mean you are going to rape women and you do not need to castrate yourself. You can control your lust and other passions – including the desire to kill (another entirely natural human thing).

    No one has to cut their hands off – all we have to do is say to ourselves is “I am not going to kill anyone today” – and keep to it.

    Go for a walk in a natural area instead.

    Even in a city there are parks – and, in an unsafe city, there are art galleries and large libraries.

    Do not get stuck at home with your bottled up rage and grief – which humans tend to have from time to time.

  • Paul Marks

    As for Covid – just to repeat what many of us have pointed out before (no harm in being a hobbit and repeating what people already know).

    It as created in an institute in Wuhan, research funded by Tony Fauci (American bureaucracy) and Peter Daszak (Eco Health Alliance and World Health Organisation).

    It was ether accidently or deliberately (we still do not know which) released from the institute in 2019 – the Chinese government limited travel from Wuhan to other parts of China, but kept the international airport open which had the effect (intended or not) to spread the disease around the world (there was also a bit international sporting event in Wuhan in late 2019, with all the normal totalitarian world governance, but that could have been a total coincidence – there are such things as coincidences).

    Tony Fauci and others in the health bureaucracy at first said that Covid was no real threat and there was no need to block travel from China – then, after the disease had been widely spread, Tony Fauci (and many others – he as not alone) changed their tune and started demanding lockdowns.

    The lockdowns served no medical purpose, but they did cause terrible harm, especially to independent small business enterprises – this may (or may NOT) have been the real reason for the lockdowns (to cause the harm).

    The cloth masks were at first mocked by Tony Fauci and others – and quite correctly as they do NOT stop the virus. Later Tony Fauci and others changed their tune and started demanding that people wear useless cloth masks.

    Early Treatment existed for Covid and could have saved most of the people who died – yet Early Treatment was systematically (and viciously) smeared. The grim minded interpret this smearing of Early Treatment as an effort to increase (yes increase) casualties – but it could have been an outbreak of “group think” by the authorities.

    Later on, using the false claim that there was no effective Early Treatment for Covid, Emergency Authorisation was given for injections which have turned out to be largely ineffective as “vaccines”, and have injured or killed some people. Again the grim minded think this was deliberate – and others think it was just a terrible error.

    Presently in the United Kingdom the injections are still being pushed – even though the Prime Minister has been repeatedly warned (including in the chamber of the House of Commons) against the injections.

    Even young children are being injected – in the United Kingdom (although many other countries have not gone down this path, or have stopped doing this).

    I can feel the anger starting to rise within me – so I will stop at this point.

    Rage is a mind poison – it does not achieve anything positive.