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The Precautionary Principle and “synthetic meat”

Virginia Postrel, whose book, The Future and Its Enemies, is shown on the upper-left of this blog’s page (under the work of Karl Popper and the handgun), recently wrote an article that got me thinking about how the Right has its own form of Precautionary Principle. A few days ago, she wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal about synthetic meat. She later thought about the topic some more on her Substack. As she noted, anyone who has spent time in a chicken factory and slaughterhouse is going to be keen on the idea. (I have no view on the nutritional case for or against synthetic meat, although I’d imagine that some poor brute of an animal reared in a massive shed and pumped full of antibiotics is probably not superior to a synthetic alternative. You don’t need to be a veggie to be unhappy about this.)

Glenn Reynolds, who usually strikes me as the sort of chap to be interested in tech innovation, including agriculture, writes this by way of a rebuttal to Postrel. I find his reasoning is mistaken (more on that later), but here are his comments in full:

Well, I too am a meat eater who likes human ingenuity and technological progress. But I can see a couple of problems. One is that “synthetic meat” is a confusing term. It means real meat, grown in a vat instead of in a cow, but it sounds like it might be the non-nutritious “Beyond Meat/Impossible” slop marketed to vegans.

Second, the technocracy is pushing this stuff, and the technocracy is currently in bad odor. There’s a real lack of trust, and once people start to think that the technocracy will do things to them that they don’t like — and often lie about it in the process — the lack of trust spreads from specific subjects to more general matters. Plus, given that most opposition to meat-eating is essentially religious in nature, rejecting it is not exactly a matter of irrationality.

In an ideal world, where we could talk about this sort of thing on its own merits and in a generally good-faith manner — like the world we at least thought we lived in back in the ’90s — things would be different. But we don’t live in that world now.

There are several problems with this in my view, even as one who can feel the force of what Prof. Glenn Reynolds writes. First of all, whether the term “synthetic meat” is misleading or not, the free marketeer in me prefers to let entrepreneurs and consumers, subject to laws of fraud against dishonest marketing, figure this out.

Second, whether the “technocracy” is pushing this stuff is not, in my view, sufficient justification for people to throw shade on this technology. A few years ago, I recalled how parts of the Green movement, particularly those of a Left-wing nature, liked to hate on genetically modified crops, particularly if they were produced by big American firms such as Monsanto (booo!, hiss!). And one could have argued that a reason why they did so was because, if it is possible to feed a much larger population with GM crops, etc than with conventional ones, then those Paul Ehrlich doomsters’ fox has been well and truly shot. Come to that, imagine that really clever carbon capture tech is created, thereby royally screwing the global warming alarmists’ whole argument.

It is possible to see how, depending on where you stand on the political battlefield, that a tech might be an enabler to those whom you dislike. Dammit, I bet one could have said the same about the internet 30 years ago, or the motor car 100-plus years ago. I have even read people denounce private spacefaring because of its sinister libertarian motivations (“All those crazy Heinlein fans in space”).

It may be that those who are promoting synthetic meat are all vegetarians and sinister tyrants, but if there is a case for it on its own merits, then why the hell should I care? There’s a danger of what I called motivated reasoning here getting out of hand. I can, in fact, see a future where people remain meat eaters, getting much of their meat protein from synthetic sources and occasionally spending a bit more to buy the organic, “real” forms, such as grass-fed beef, wild salmon, venison, and so on. Is this really such a bad outcome, particularly if some of the worst forms of factory farming die out? As a libertarian chap – and one raised on a farm in East Anglia – preferring to see animal husbandry done with due regard to animal welfare is not, in my book, a “soppy” or for goodness sake, “woke” point.

This paragraph from Postrel strikes me as particularly on point, because it strikes me that on parts, if not all of the “Right” (a package-dealing term but it will have to do), quite a few people have become so riled up by certain developments that they end up opposing technologies and innovations in case it encourages things they don’t like.

The best argument against the development of cell-grown meat is that technocrats believe that anything good must be mandatory, especially if the good thing claims to help the environment. So if someone invents cell-grown meat, government mandates will soon follow. We therefore shouldn’t encourage alternatives to the status quo lest we be forced to adopt them. It’s the same argument we hear from people who believe that saying cities should allow property owners more flexibility about what they build on their land is tantamount to banning single-family homes. This culture-war form of the precautionary principle is as bad as every other form. It’s a prescription for stasis.

Update: Matthew Lesh of the Institute of Economic Affairs has thoughts on cultivated meat, and why the UK should seize the benefits of being outside the European Union to encourage agricultural and food innovation.

73 comments to The Precautionary Principle and “synthetic meat”

  • Chester Draws

    Some of the artificial meats, the vege kind, are getting quite good. I had some fake mince the other day, and in a Spaghetti Bolognese you simply would not know. Most fake meats don’t have “mouth feel” but this one did. If it were to become cheaper than beef I would buy it. Why not? I used to buy horse for the same reason in France – could not tell the difference in a rich sauce and had the same satiation effect. I eat meat because it is nice tasting and good for me. It’s origin doesn’t bother me one jot.

    Lab grown meats will become popular if they can get the price down for a variety of reasons. No bones, lower fat, no animal care issues, no fretting about anti-biotics, less health risks with disease, fresher if replacing something usually imported.

    I’m quite looking forward to the price of rib-eye steak, tuna and the like coming down in price. Because that will be where the market aims — they’re not going to be growing spare ribs.

  • bobby b

    I love electric cars. The power, the quiet, the simplicity of the mechanism . . .

    But you cannot discuss electric cars without knowing that the main impetus for them has nothing to do with their technical merits, and everything to do with some people’s decision that I ought not have any of those nasty ICE cars anymore.

    And so one cannot have that discussion – are electric cars cool? – without understanding that subtext. Get me to agree that they’re cool as Step One, and then you take my ICE cars away.

    Same with guns. “We’ll all be safer and can live without fear if we all disarm!”. A very logical and sane statement on its face, but small examination reveals that those same people are doing everything they can to ensure that criminals who use guns don’t face consequences, out of “equity.” No, they’re not working for “safety.” They’re working to disarm ME, a person who has never illegally shot anyone. It’s politics. They don’t want people who might object to socialism having guns.

    And so on to meat. They’re not pushing synthetics because they’re tastier, or more nutritious, and they’re certainly not going to be cheaper. It’s all laid down to global warming – that we need to reduce methane, that we need to free up land for . . . something or other. (Drive across the US. Takes days of seeing emptiness. Tell me we need more room, with a straight face. And, if I have to seriously argue CAGW here, I’ve read the room wrong.)

    There comes a point where continual lying and bad faith are going to generate a kneejerk reaction when a new proposal comes along. This is a new one. Screw them if they expect to be treated as good-faith improvers of the human condition after what they’ve pulled so far.

    (Spent significant time around large animals, and small. Mucked out my share of stalls, raked enough chicken yards, to understand that, while “factory farms” are brutal, there are realistic and efficient and humane alternatives. Ending the use of protein sources for pie-in-the-sky culture growths is a non-starter for me, especially when it’s Woke Karen doing the selling. She lies.)

  • sch

    “No antibiotics” with culture grown protein may not occur as keeping bacteria, fungi and viruses out of a perfect culture media in which these mammalian cells will be grown is not easy. Cultured protein growth rate is several orders of magnitude slower than bacterial or viral growth rates. It will take al lot of technological development to make pricing competitive with animal farming, but I suspect the technocrats will find ways of making animal farming too expensive to continue outside of the Wagyu variety, what with needing all that land for solar farms and whatnot.

  • Kirk

    See, here’s how I see this playing out, with regards to “artificial meat”, meaning stuff grown from cell cultures.

    This is what the whole thing is going to look like. They’re going to find out that the stuff is basically flavorless glop, absent things like exercise. So, when they’re culturing the meat in vats, they’re going to have to have these things that’ll probably look a lot like the mechanisms they use to stretch out taffy. It’ll be expensive. Very expensive.

    Then, they’re going to find out that it’s a huge pain in the ass that is, again, expensive to produce the feedstocks for the cell cultures. So, they’ll want a means of easily converting cellulose and other things to those feedstocks. The process won’t be efficient, it won’t be clean, and it will create a bunch of waste.

    Then, they’ll figure out that having these big factories of churning cell cultures is messy, requiring enormous amounts of energy input. So, they’ll seek to have smaller autonomous cell cultures as close to where they’re getting the feedstocks from.

    Those cell culture autonomous machines are going to require some sort of artificial intelligence be implanted in them, to make them work efficiently in the real-world environment. Said AI is probably not going to take being periodically hauled off to be harvested all that well, because you’re going to have to program in self-preservation and a bunch of other crap so as to keep them from wandering off of cliffs, and so that they stay away from predators…

    In the end, what’s going to wind up happening is that we’re basically going to re-invent cows. All. Over. Again.

    Is that going to be any better, morally?

    It’s basically just predation with extra added steps. Explain the point of all this to me, again? Cows already do a pretty damn good job of converting grass into protein, and they’re pretty efficient. What’s the point of artificial meat? So you can feel better about not having to kill cows, or something? Is that it?

    All y’all looking at this and saying “What a good idea that is! I can’t wait to eat my artificial steak…” are, to put it bluntly, overthinking this. A cow is already a perfectly good mechanism for converting grass into meat. Let’s just leave it at that.

  • Snorri Godhi

    I don’t see Glenn Reynold’s post as oppositional to Postrel’s article: I think (arrogantly) that he just failed to explain himself clearly.

    In my immodest opinion, what Glenn (if i may presume to be on a 1st name basis) was trying to say is why people ARE opposed to “synthetic” meat, not why people OUGHT to be opposed. It’s the is/ought dichotomy once again. Glenn was explaining (again, in my opinion) that, although he is not opposed to it, he understands why many other people are.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Chester:

    Some of the artificial meats, the vege kind, are getting quite good.

    At the risk of pointing out something that you know already:
    Virginia Postrel was not talking about artificial meat. See the 1st paragraph of Glenn Reynold’s quote in the OP.

    Artificial meat is ultra-processed food. It contains seed oils, which everybody should avoid like lead or arsenic. It also contains soy proteins, which probably come with phyto-estrogens.

    I use soy sauce, sometimes; but, unlike tofu, soy sauce contains slightly less phyto-estrogens than olive oil — which i consume in large amounts.

    Phyto-estrogen content (micro-grams/100 grams)

    soy sauce: 150
    olive oil: 181
    soy veggie burger: 1,672
    multigrain bread: 4,799
    tofu: 27,150

    You can consume a large amount of soy sauce every day (which i don’t) and still ingest no more phyto-estrogens than you would by consuming the same amount of multigrain bread once/month.

  • Long ago, in the Hippie Era, I ate some artificial meats – mostly modified soy protein. I lived for some years in a crafts commune, and through the other people being otherwise busy, or creatively incompetent, I ended up as a sort of house mother. Did most of the cooking. Did most of the grocery shopping, Got stuck paying for most of the food. It is not easy being the sole responsible person in a commune.

    We had some famous eaters there. Mixing soy protein into the meat dishes saved money; and some of the artificial meats tasted good. I don’t remember the brand, but I liked the taste of the bacon and the Canadian bacon, though it was obvious the ‘meat’ had never said “oink” in all its days. Back then it was financial incentive, not moral. We have always had vegetarians, and even vegans, but they weren’t as preachy then. We had Moonies and Hare Krishnas for that.

    When they started selling Impossible Burgers, I bought one and tried it. It was more expensive than a real hamburger, and it simply wasn’t the right taste. Ketchup, mustard, onions, and pickles might have disguised that, but why bother?

    The only true piece of meat those things can substitute for is the nose of the camel, creeping under the side of my tent.

  • Ferox

    At this point, if the Bill Gates/WEF caste of supervillains are involved, I am out. Their motives are malevolent; their methods are evil. And Gates is one of the biggest pushers of fake meat.

    If Gates were selling gold bars for a dollar, I probably would not buy one.

  • Chester Draws

    What’s the point of artificial meat?

    Hopefully, and I understand that this might not be possible, top end steak for $20/kg.

    Now if that happens, I will be all over it.

    Artificial meat is ultra-processed food.

    Don’t start that. Almost all food is “ultra-processed”.

    Oddly, I generally like my food thoroughly cooked (though not steak, I hasten to add) and with many flavours and enhancers added.

    Yesterday I had a KFC chicken, mayo and lettuce sandwich. It was delicious. Calling it “ultra-processed” when it was deep fried chicken with spices, an egg/oil emulsion and whole grain bread is just ludicrous. Oh, and quite a lot of salt. I like my lettuce salty.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Yesterday I had a KFC chicken, mayo and lettuce sandwich. It was delicious. Calling it “ultra-processed” when it was deep fried chicken with spices, an egg/oil emulsion and whole grain bread is just ludicrous.

    What makes it ultra-processed is the seed oils used to fry the chicken, the flour in the batter, and the seed oils and sugar in the egg/oil emulsion.

    I fry with coconut oil (not deep-fry of course), and make my own mayo with olive oil and no sugar.

    Actually, when i cook hamburgers (home-made with no flour: just meat, salt, and spices), i don’t use oil at all: there is enough fat in the meat.

  • Paul Marks

    It is part of a political agenda – it is NOT about not being cruel to animals and it is NOT about concern over C02 and methane.

    If the production of food is in the hands of vast numbers of family farms then it is hard to control (hard to have a stranglehold over), although regulations (such as the American and E.U. regulations) may seek to concentrate the processing of food for political control (NOT really “public health”) reasons.

    However, if food is manufactured it will be easy for regulations, and the Credit Money of government and banks – the “Cantillon Effect”, to concentrate control – to gain a stranglehold. Let us say, for the sake of argument, that it became very easy to produce lab-grown-meat and (again for the sake of argument) that the product was entirely safe – regulations and Credit Money would still concentrate production in the hands of a small number of corporations who would (of course) be joined at the hip with international governance via SEG, DEI, and-so-on.

    “Paranoid conspiracy theory” – only if someone writes about it in a hostile way (as I just have) – if the language used is “positive” (supportive) then it is no longer a “paranoid conspiracy theory” – it is a perfectly reasonable and good plan that everyone (or almost everyone) in the House of Commons (and so on) would nod at, without really understanding what they were nodding at.

    The agenda, as always, is “those who will not obey – shall not eat”.

    Especially in a “cashless society” where dissenters will find that they have no bank accounts, their plastic cards are just bits of plastic, and the “apps” on their mobile telephones do not work either.

    I used to believe (in my stupidity) that high taxes on individuals and corporations would get the international business establishment to turn against the agenda, but such things as the corporate support for Governor Gavin Newsom (busy blaming the latest mass killings on lack of “gun control” regulations – with the international media never pointing out that California already-has-these-regulations) show that this is not so.

    The international business elite do not care about high taxes, California has very high taxes (yet they still want to make Governor Newsom President of the United States) and welcomes endless regulations (because the regulations concentrate the economy in a few hands – ending competition, California is perhaps the most regulated State) – as they see the future as money coming from the banking system, with people being told what they should spend this “money” on, lab-grown-meat and so on.

    Take the drug companies – why should Pfizer (and so on) care about taxes – when they get tens of Billions of Dollars from the government (“free” “vaccines”) for products that are not only useless, but actually dangerous – indeed, in some cases, lethal.

    In such an environment even if (if) “lab grown meat” tasted awful and poisoned people it-would-not-matter – the “mainstream” media would denounce anyone who dissented, and the product would be bought because regulations, taxes and subsidies would have pushed “nudged” things that way.

  • NickM

    Somehow I suspect a very strong aspect of the dislike of the very idea of synthetic meat in the sense of vat-grown stuff from cell-cultures is the influence of SF stories. You see much the same with things like AI and robotics. The trope that any really significant tech breakthrough must have a downside (usually a catastrophic if not out and out apocalyptic) downside is so culturally ingrained that it is very difficult to overcome.

  • Almost certainly actual meat, even the industrial factory farm style of modern pork/chicken, is more nutritious than current commercially sold fake meat. AIUI current fake meat has all sorts of problems that mean that it simply doesn’t provide many of the key nutrients that actual live animals do. However Ms Postrel seems to be talking about something that is quite different from current fake meats. AIUI she’s talking about animal cells being grown on some framework that replicates part of the beast but omits bits we don’t care about like the brain, nervous system, guts etc.

    If we get to a point where actual animal cells can be cultured (in a vat?) and produce something that makes a decent sausage or hamburger than I’m all for it. I do however share Prof Reynolds sketicism that what the great and good will force on us is Ms Postrel’s form of fake meat.

  • The problem with the fake meat of the vegan end of the market is that its over-processed crap. Not only is it trying to be something that it’s not (i.e. real meat), it’s not even healthy because it’s so over-processed.

    A Twinkie has probably better nutritional value than your average vegan “sausage”.

    Having said all that, we’re still just talking about structured proteins. Get the texture and flavour right along with a substantial discount to the cost of genuine meat and I’d probably eat a burger or sausage made of it.

    Probably still go back to the cow for a real steak though, because that’s as much about presentation as anything else (i.e. “The first bite is with the eye” kinda thing).

    What I object to is being told by the elite denizens of the WEF (as they chatter between the foie gras entrée and the salmon meuniere), is that I will eat ground up cricket paste and like it.

    Revolutions have started for far, far less.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Chester Draws: Almost all food is “ultra-processed”.

    Indeed. Obviously, there are gradations, but even burning meat on a firepit is a process.

  • Johnathan Pearce (London)

    It is part of a political agenda – it is NOT about not being cruel to animals and it is NOT about concern over C02 and methane.

    That is your opinion. But I can think of plenty of people – me included – who like meat, are not vegans or vegetarians, or who want to micro-manage our existence, who like the idea of lab-grown meat or at least aren’t reflexively hostile to it. Of course some advocates might be sinister, but to denounce something because some of the cheerleaders might have suspect motives is, as I wrote in the OP, to commit the same fallacy as those who got steamed up about GM foods.

  • NickM

    Consider this an addendum to my earlier comment. It only just occurred.

    When GM Crops first became big news* they were termed by many “Frankenstein Foods” even though GMOs are something Mary Shelley couldn’t even have conceived of even if she’d been toking on Percy’s pipe a bit much. For many literary scholars her novel, Frankenstein, is considered the seminal work of SF. The whole evil genius meddling with things they don’t understand – preferably in a Bavarian Schloss whilst an Igor cowers behind a Tesla coil. We all know the script don’t we? It probably goes back to some cave-person objecting to Ugg thinking it might be an idea to bring fire into the cave. I mean it’s the Prometheus myth, it’s kinda Genesis (without Phil Collins – thank God for small mercies). It’s the oldest story ever told. No good ever comes from trying to mess with the natural order to make life materially better. Except of course it does. I love having computers and stuff and wouldn’t trade ’em for polio or smallpox anyday. You can bet my sweet ASUS on that!

    * they weren’t to me. I did sixth form work experience in the genetics labs of Newcastle University where they were – amongst many things – working on creating a form of cassava that didn’t need very serious work to make non-toxic. Cassava is a major food crop in much of the developing world because it grows where other stuff doesn’t but it is a massive pain to process into something edible. Getting this right would free-up a lot of time from drudge work for some of the poorest people on the planet. Is that not an unalloyed good?

  • Cassava is a major food crop in much of the developing world because it grows where other stuff doesn’t but it is a massive pain to process into something edible. Getting this right would free-up a lot of time from drudge work for some of the poorest people on the planet. Is that not an unalloyed good?

    Sure, but not if it is then flogged as a patented product with the vast amount of the added value drained off as “intellectual property”.

    Suing poor farmers is seldom a good look.

  • george m weinberg

    The full title of Shelly’s book is “Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus”, so yeah, it’s the Prometheus myth. But Prometheus is an enigmatic character in Greek mythology, he’s the Titan who sided with the Gods against the Titans because he could see which way the wind would blow. You can read the Prometheus myth as saying we shouldn’t play god, but the Greek gods were pretty dumb, no reason to think we’d be any worse at it than they were.
    In any case, I don’t see the parallel to the “precautionary principle”. Lots of people don’t want to eat lab grown meat or bugs or crap like that, but I don’t see many people trying to prevent other people from eating it. Unlike golden rice, which I still can’t get even though it’s 20th century technology.

  • NickM

    John Galt,
    The research was funded by the UK Overseas Development Agency. Nobody was gonna make money out of it in the sense you imply. Yeah, I was surprised at the time it wasn’t BBSERC or whatever but even if it was for profit what is wrong with for profit if the consumer also benefits? I mean the everyone is a winner situation is OK for everyone, right? For sure this can be abused but, for example, I’ve got a lot more out of Microsoft than they’ve ever got out of me. And that is not including the number of machines I’ve had that flew the black flag…

    george m weinberg,
    Beyond your excellent reading of Greek myth I fail to follow you. My point was that there is a level of antipathy to any really disruptive technology because people have imbibed from SF that these things are always going to end-up very badly. And, for what it’s worth, we have a King who thinks food production should be Sam Gamgee on a bloody allotment. And, yeah, he wields a lot of “soft power” (Charles, not Sam) . I’m also an absolute, futurological techno-fetishist. I want the future to pose interesting philosophical issues such as whether my robo-cleaner has Appliance Rights. And do they differ from Human Rights? I want a future that is different and just weird. I want the weird moral issues of the future rather than the weird moral taboos of the past to be the thing because I believe the future is going to just be so much more interesting. I am much more curious as to whether my next laptop is an entity than whether I’m going to Hell for wearing a wool/linen mix.

    Does the future pose moral issues? I really hope so.

  • bobby b

    “I want the weird moral issues of the future rather than the weird moral taboos of the past to be the thing because I believe the future is going to just be so much more interesting.”

    “May you live in interesting times” is usually considered to be a curse. I understand what you’re getting at, but I think many of us are yearning for some boring times. For a bit of a break.

  • NickM

    I don’t believe we live in “interesting times” – we have done and shall again.

    Boring can be good, I get you on that bobby b, but it can also be bloody dreadful and boring and bloody dreadful is a horrid combo.

    For example… Is the current gender-ideology shennanigans “interesting”? Maybe, for a sociologist.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Actually, Paul Marks raises a legitimate concern, that should be taken seriously — but with some skepticism.
    My skepticism centers on this:

    Let us say, for the sake of argument, that it became very easy to produce lab-grown-meat and (again for the sake of argument) that the product was entirely safe – regulations and Credit Money would still concentrate production in the hands of a small number of corporations who would (of course) be joined at the hip with international governance via SEG, DEI, and-so-on.

    A new technology that replaces an old product with a new, cheaper and safe product, does not necessarily result in economies of scale. In finance and social media, perhaps, but not necessarily in the production of physical goods.

    Not NECESSARILY, mind you: there is reason for concern, but not for despair.

    In any case, “we” certainly should not ban private investment in “synthetic” meat; if for no other reason that other countries would take the lead.

    It seems to me that the crucial thing is that “we” do not ban real meat.

  • Ferox

    It seems to me that the crucial thing is that “we” do not ban real meat.

    In the current climate, there is zero chance that authentic meat would not be banned if any remotely plausible synthetic alternative were developed.

    If the Bug Brigade managed to produce something that didn’t make people revolt in disgust, you would have to go to Argentina to get a steak thereafter.

    On top of that, the IP issues around the synthetic meat process would mean that production of it would certainly be concentrated in the hands of a few very sinister people.

    And Gates is talking about introducing mRna into the production of meat now. Can you imagine his schemes for world domination if he became the Big Boss of synth-meat?

  • Martin

    quite a few people have become so riled up by certain developments that they end up opposing technologies and innovations in case it encourages things they don’t like.

    If technologies and innovations don’t seem likely to encourage conservative friendly outcomes, why should conservatives welcome these? Why make the work of their enemies easier by cheering on things likely to be used against them?

  • NickM

    Ferox,
    I think eating insects is going nowhere. Nobody is gonna do it. It would revolt me and the vegans/vegetarians I know or have known (and that’s a lot of folks) aren’t gonna buy it especially as there is increasing evidence that the neurolgical systems of invertebrates are a lot more sophisticated than previously thought. I don’t eat octopus for much the same reason I don’t eat primates. Also, the big hitter for me in terms of eating meat is a really nice steak (or similar) like from a tuna or a cow or deer and that’s great but you’re never gonna get anything beyond some sort of bizarre Soylent whatever from creepies now are you? I mean it lacks the structure and if it’s just ground-up generic protein then… I’m happy to go full vegan.

    I’d rather eat TVP than ground-up roach. The first is a vegan utopia and the second is The End of Days. That neither are ideal doesn’t mean one is vastly less unpleasant.

    Snorri,
    I get your point about the centralization. But this is not food specific. This could (and often does) apply to, well, anything. It can work the other way. Small businesses can do well. We just need to be set free…

    That is in ways way too complex to go into here and now but seeing as I’m writing this comment on a libertarian blog I think you can guess the broad outline…

  • bobby b

    “If the Bug Brigade managed to produce something that didn’t make people revolt in disgust, you would have to go to Argentina to get a steak thereafter.”

    Naw. Come out to South Dakota. Even if they make the sale of beef illegal, we’ll still be raising some for our selves. (I’m picturing a Far Side-type scene in which the Drug and Food Administration inspector walks around searching while I try to hide my all cows under tarps out in the field. “No, sir, those are just scare-cows.”)

    (Personally, I think this is all aimed at the fact that, in the rural/urban war, food production has historically occurred in the rural areas, and the urbanites feel that danger. If you can replace millions of acres of feedlots with many vats of cell cultures, you can put those vats in urban-controlled areas. No food blackmail by the deplorables that way.)

  • NickM

    Martin,
    What exactly are, “conservative frindly outcomes”? If it means the status quo then the Hell with it! I have seen enormous change in my life and a lot (by no means all, but a lot) has been for the better.

    Moreover, we never know exactly where change takes us. This is not a reason to oppose but to use it for the better and enjoy the flight…

    The press, the machine, the railway, the telegraph are premises whose thousand-year conclusion no one has yet dared to draw.

    – Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Timothy Hargadon

    My wife has been a vegetarian for many years. She has a horrible diet consisting mostly of eggs, cheese, eggs,and cheese with some cheese thrown in for variety. She would on occasion buy some veggie burgers made of compressed beans and whatnot. I purchased a fake meat burger from Burger King once and she took one bite and tossed it out. We also have some vegan friends one of whom buys one of the major brands of fake meat regularly. But this is because her daughter works at one of the fake abattoirs; so she gets regular coupons in the mail from her daughter. The other hard core vegan we know hates the stuff. I don’t care for it; but I have no strong convictions of any sort least of all regarding food. I think it’s a good day when you get something to eat – highly processed or not.

  • Ferox

    Bobby B:

    Better get your souped-up pickup ready and start mapping out the back roads.

    Ranchers will be the new bootleggers, dodging cops on the dirt lanes to bring illicit meat to carnivore speakeasies across the nation. Bill Gates as Boss Hawg and Greta Thunberg as the hectoring Temperance marm.

    Bring your own steak sauce, the password is “ribeye”.

  • george m weinberg

    The local supermarket here sells silkworm larvae, maybe I’ll give them a try sometime. But if so it’ll be my choice.
    Here in the People’s republic of California it’s illegal to sell horsemeat for human consumption, although you can
    still make it into dog food. It’s a (state) constitutional amendment passed by voter initiative! Never had any interest in
    eating horesmeat before that, but after was a little different.

  • I used to work in Geneva and horse steaks are available in certain restaurants there. Meant to be healthier or whatever, but the taste and texture of horse is very different and the flavour stronger.

    I wasn’t a fan and haven’t eaten it since, so can’t say you’re missing much.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Martin writes: If technologies and innovations don’t seem likely to encourage conservative friendly outcomes, why should conservatives welcome these? Why make the work of their enemies easier by cheering on things likely to be used against them?

    First, why would a “conservative” be okay with factory farming of animals if there were a plausible, less brutal way of eating meat, and if that were not to come at the expense of eating high-quality traditional meat when one wanted it (such as, as I wrote, grass-fed beef, etc)?

    The reason why this attitude that some on this blog are displaying is a good case of the Precautionary Principle is that some “conservatives” have become so fearful (not always without cause) of current trends that they think that any technology, even if it has benefits, must be resisted if for any reason it might give those they dislike a reason for pushing for policy A or B.

    Well, how about developing a bit of moral and intellectual backbone to argue for what you want rather than to join Leftist Precautionary Principle folk in using the tactic of banning, suppressing or mocking things they don’t like? (That’s why I brought up the case of GM crops to provide an example of this sort of error from the Left.)

    I think that Postrel had it right. I think part of the “Right” has, to some extent, been driven crazy over recent years (I have some sympathy) and it ends up with a position that is fearful, hostile to innovation and the like, even if it is driven by commerce rather than the coercive State. It is a reason, by the way, that I increasingly go out of my way to not be described as a conservative these days.

  • BenDavid

    Uhhhh we are just now finding out the horrors caused by “next generation” vaccinations – after many “educated” people swallowed the folderol entirely, even smugly.
    So now the folks on this list – and many others who should know better – are running headlong towards the next test-tube miracle?

  • GregWA

    NickM at January 24, 2023 at 11:23 am, “…the influence of SF stories. You see much the same with things like AI and robotics. The trope that any really significant tech breakthrough must have a downside (usually a catastrophic if not out and out apocalyptic) downside is so culturally ingrained that it is very difficult to overcome.”

    I’m sure you’ve seen the recent videos of the Boston Robotics human-like robots running around their factory (and doing summersaults!). You’re right: I go right to the SF memes about killer robots. But I’m not wrong! Those things creep me out!

    Is there any doubt that some govt, probably the US first, is going to put a couple of guns and grenade launchers into one of these, a bit of Kevlar to protect the “eyes”, battery and motors, and voila, it’s “Ahhhrnold Schwarzenegger”!

    Oh, and let’s also make them autonomous (AI), able to determine how best to accomplish their mission (algorithm says “kill all the people, not just the ones they told me to!”)

    Maybe we just require that they are all solar powered? That would stop them in their tracks quite literally and we could then hunt them at night! 🙂

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Uhhhh we are just now finding out the horrors caused by “next generation” vaccinations – after many “educated” people swallowed the folderol entirely, even smugly.

    If there are extensive data points, including those from reputable organisations, to back up claims of systemic problems with vaccines, please provide them. Otherwise, at this stage I treat all these assertions with a grain of salt. For example, all I have heard and read so far are anecdotal claims as these side effects. Several women I know have mentioned that their menstrual cycle was odd a couple of times after taking the vaccine, but nothing else.

  • Martin

    how about developing a bit of moral and intellectual backbone to argue for what you want rather than to join Leftist Precautionary Principle folk in using the tactic of banning, suppressing or mocking things they don’t like?

    I never said anything about banning or suppressing though did I? I just don’t see why we’re obliged to cheer on all tech innovations and accept them as ‘progress’, especially when so many recent ‘innovations’ that we were told would be emancipatory have been used so destructively. So many scenarios that would have once been dismissed as only being far fetched conspiracy theories have materialised. 90s style technophilia seems pretty misguided to me. Not all technology will be used sinisterly, but I think scepticism of big-tech/big-science is as warranted as scepticism of big-government and big-finance.

    It’s also naive to think the ‘free market’ will resolve this. Maybe if this technology was invented 200 years. But now? More likely that if this technology works, it’ll be heavily subsidised to the hilt, regulations will be used to favour it and undermine alternatives, and there will be massive state, media, and corporate pressure to go with the ‘new norm’.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Martin: “I never said anything about banning or suppressing though did I? I just don’t see why we’re obliged to cheer on all tech innovations and accept them as ‘progress’, especially when so many recent ‘innovations’ that we were told would be emancipatory have been used so destructively. So many scenarios that would have once been dismissed as only being far fetched conspiracy theories have materialised. 90s style technophilia seems pretty misguided to me. Not all technology will be used sinisterly, but I think scepticism of big-tech/big-science is as warranted as scepticism of big-government and big-finance.”

    You haven’t called for such tech to be banned, but you are certainly mocking it, or generally decrying it. And the argument seems to be that “big tech”/”big science” is suspicious or alarming. No, what the problem is when the ,em>State gets involved and issues demands one way or the other. It is the nexus between science and government that’s the problem, not the science.

    Personally, I find the broadly optimistic mindset of the 1990s infinitely better than the leaden, dreary, bed-wetting whining mindset we have now.

    It’s also naive to think the ‘free market’ will resolve this. Maybe if this technology was invented 200 years. But now? More likely that if this technology works, it’ll be heavily subsidised to the hilt, regulations will be used to favour it and undermine alternatives, and there will be massive state, media, and corporate pressure to go with the ‘new norm’.

    Depends. Leave things to the interplay of consumer choice and business, and I am happy with that. Maybe it will be subsidised, maybe not. But it seems a counsel of despair to say that something should be scorned because there is a possibility it might be messed around by the State. You might as well have said the same of the very internet that makes this blog possible, or the car, the steam engine, or a clock, or 3-D printing, or for that matter, the printing press.

  • bobby b

    I love new tech, new ideas, new ventures. No one said anything about reflexive avoidance of the new.

    What we’re speaking of here are ideas that are clearly driven by some woke ideology. Fake meat isn’t being developed because people are tired of the real stuff, but because of cow farts. Electric cars aren’t being touted because of the cool tech, but because of fossil-fuel paranoia.

    If I didn’t think that the development of an edible beef-cell growth would lead to the banning of real beef – if I didn’t think that adoption of EV’s would lead to the banning of ICE vehicles – I’d be all over them. Cool stuff. But in the current environment, no. It’s bad faith all the way down.

  • Martin

    but you are certainly mocking it, or generally decrying it.

    So what? If the plebs don’t automatically cheer it on are we offending the Gods or something?

    State gets involved and issues demands one way or the other. It is the nexus between science and government that’s the problem, not the science.

    I don’t see how you can avoid a science-government nexus, as the requirement of even a nightwatchman state in today’s era requires a high-tech military and intelligence agencies that require large scale government involvement in science and technology.

    Personally, I find the broadly optimistic mindset of the 1990s infinitely better than the leaden, dreary, bed-wetting whining mindset we have now.

    It was an optimistic time, Panglossian really. My excuse was that I was a child.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    If the plebs don’t automatically cheer it on are we offending the Gods or something?

    No need to be touchy. What’s plain from some of the comments here is a general level of suspicion, and a dislike, of such tech, and I have explained why I think people make the same mistake as the Greens have done on things like GM crops. I am getting a bit tired of having to make this point again.

    It was an optimistic time, Panglossian really. My excuse was that I was a child.

    I was in my 30s, and I was broadly optimistic, but not Panglossian. And as a result, I avoided the mistake of swinging into the opposite direction, as people can do. For what it is worth, worries about the Surveillance State, for instance, predated 9/11 and there have been plenty of dystopian science fiction movies made in that decade to make the flesh creep.

    As for the argument that you cannot avoid a science/State nexus, that is, as I have written before, an argument against pretty much any significant technology going back hundreds of years. States messed around with the printing press; navies encouraged development of chronometers to encourage ocean navigation; the internet was partly spawned by the US Defence Department. Steam engines were used by government troops. Etc, etc.

  • Ferox

    If we lived in the world where incandescent lightbulbs had not been banned, and where combustion engines were not in the process of being banned (see California, for example), where experimental vaccines had not been mandated by the state, where (in my state) plastic grocery bags had not been banned, along with some dish soaps, if we lived in a world where you could still buy a toilet that worked on the first flush, if we lived in a world where smoking was not in the process of being banned (see the UK), then I would agree that I was being a Luddite ninny who watched too many sci-fi movies.

    But we don’t. And therefore I am not.

    You want to eat vat meat? Fine with me. But don’t even try to deny that if vat-meat becomes a reality tomorrow, the very next thing on the Progressive agenda will be the banning of real meat.

    To these people, everything is a lever for control. Giving them more levers to pull is civic irresponsibility.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Ferox:
    If we lived in the world where incandescent lightbulbs had not been banned, and where combustion engines were not in the process of being banned (see California, for example), where experimental vaccines had not been mandated by the state, where (in my state) plastic grocery bags had not been banned, along with some dish soaps, if we lived in a world where you could still buy a toilet that worked on the first flush, if we lived in a world where smoking was not in the process of being banned (see the UK), then I would agree that I was being a Luddite ninny who watched too many sci-fi movies. But we don’t. And therefore I am not.

    That might be a reason in your case for not liking the development of synthetic meat (or whatever), but I take it you are not going to make the same error as the Left on GM crops (a point I have made over and over until I am losing the will to live) in calling for bans, etc? Bear in mind that I can predict that some will be calling for bans/controls on synthetic meat particularly if the stuff tastes great but is perceived to consume “too many” resources. Like I said (again, repeatedly, for fuck’s sake) it is not as if the way we rear animals such as chickens isn’t in need of a credible alternative for those who aren’t vegans or vegetarians.

    Yes, I know that lots of things have been banned, as in all the examples you give. But again, as I said before, it does strike me how paranoid and afraid so many are (well, a lot on the comment thread of this blog) that a technology is seen as a lever for things they don’t like when there is nothing inevitable about it. Many of these controls you write about were lost because people lost faith in liberty. The fundamental problem is a failure of ideas. Once technologies are created, they cannot be kept a secret or one just hopes they go away. This thread has been about meat alternatives; it could as well apply to AI, machine learning, or just about any other major innovation down the centuries.

  • Ferox

    Johnathan: it seems we are talking right past each other. Probably my fault; let me try again.

    I am not calling for any bans. In a world free of causality, I would be enthusiastically in favor of any technological innovation, including vat meat.

    We do not live in that world, do we?

    You say that there is nothing inevitable about the banning of real meat in the wake of the coming of vat meat. Perhaps. But as an intellectual exercise, try granting my premise: that such a ban would certainly follow the emergence of vat meat as a viable food source.

    In that case, why would people who want real meat cheer for the coming of vat meat? Why would I be eager for the arrival of the bullet which will be fired into the back of my skull?

    It isn’t fear driving my belief, either; it is empirical observation (see my list from the previous comment, and understand that it could extend for pages and pages – only laziness and courtesy have made me truncate it).

    But let me try what I advise: I will grant your premise, that bans are not inevitable. Fine; what probability of a ban on a product I desire should meet my threshold of concern? If there is a 10% probability that I will never be able to purchase a steak again, is that enough for me to be unenthusiastic about vat meat?

    Do you think that probability could be as low as 10%?

    I am not in favor of bans. But I am not filled with joy at the coming of things like vat meat. The tech is cool; the result will be more boots on all our throats.

    And as an added bonus, when vat meat comes, the people who will have control over a large chunk of the food supply are some of the worst people who have ever lived. Won’t that be nice.

    In summary, you say this thread has been about technological innovation, but I say it is about the real-world consequences of such innovation. The actual, in-the-grocery-store consequences.

    Can we find a common ground in that?

  • Snorri Godhi

    If there is a 10% probability that I will never be able to purchase a steak again, is that enough for me to be unenthusiastic about vat meat?

    That strikes me as the wrong question to ask.
    The question to ask should be: what can we do to reduce, as much as possible, the probability that steaks “off the hoof” will be banned?

    We should be focused on what we can do, and if we can agree that bans on “vat meat” are both unfeasible and undesirable, then we should focus on how to deal with the consequences. Personally, i am more concerned about affordability and nutritional value than about taste (although i hope to be able to eat venison on a regular basis, some day).

    I also share Paul Marks’ concern about monopoly power, but i don’t think that is inevitable.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Incidentally, Stephen Green wrote a piece on “fake meat” at PJMedia yesterday.

    In the very 1st paragraph, he displays confusion between fake meat and “vat meat”, but if you keep reading you’ll find a couple of interesting links about fake meat.

  • bobby b

    I love the new techie idea of scannable digital ID’s embedded in our skulls. Makes our medical records instantly available, easier to find lost kids, voting will be simplified . . . .

    So let’s all get it done.

    Sure, some people might want to misuse this concept, but still, it’s cool tech and it’s progress and advancement, and remember how we made fun of those people who resisted GM foods . . .

    So let’s all get our implants, and THEN we can address and prevent misuse by our rulers.

    Sorry, no. There is only one reason why people are pushing vatmeat, and that has little to do with the mistreatment of animals on farms. Absent the CAGW cult, we’d see no real push for this. I will not cooperate, for the same reasons I won’t get a scannable skull digital ID.

  • bobby b

    Snorri Godhi: ” . . . although i hope to be able to eat venison on a regular basis, some day.”

    We used to eat a lot of venison when I was a kid. Lots of fresh walleye (pike-perch to you, I think), pheasants, even rabbits. Then my dad got a job.

    Now, I have a freezer of it – family hunters who love hunting it but not eating it and who are convinced I love it – and it’s not very good. Unless you get the backstrap – the tenderloin – most of the meat is dry and tough. Takes a lot of added beef fat to make a juicy venison burger.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Unless you get the backstrap – the tenderloin – most of the [venison] meat is dry and tough.

    Ah, but when venison is vat-produced, they can produce just the tenderloin, you see…

    Takes a lot of added beef fat to make a juicy venison burger.

    Why not use eggs instead?

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Bobby b, just keep taking the meds.

  • Alex

    Bobby b, just keep taking the meds.

    That’s an extraordinarily rude response to a long time commenter who has contributed meaningfully to many discussion threads on this blog. Are you actively trying to create an echo chamber here? Being so dismissive of his opinions just because you disagree is a poor show in my opinion.

  • bobby b

    Will never stop. Meds are fun.

    But it’s funny. I live (in the summer) in the most-woke state of Minnesota. (We’re beating California finally this year, now that the Dems swept all three state-gov branches!) When I forget where I am and say anything about Covid vaxes maybe being unsafe, or the Trump accusations maybe being untrue, I get that exact same reaction – a shaking of the head, and someone saying “keep taking the meds, bobby b.”

    I feel right at home! 😉

    (P.S. Thanks, Alex. Appreciate it. In fairness, I’ve been rude to JP in the past, too, so it’s all good.)

  • Snorri Godhi

    Well, i too have been rude to bobby, at least once; and to others, too, especially Paul Marks, who did not always deserve it. Not always…

    At other times, i have simply been blunt. I understand why some people don’t take it well; but keep in mind that, unlike bobby, i feel extreme uneasiness at being gaslighted.
    When i see a naked Emperor, i feel the need to say, loud and clear, that the Emperor has no clothes. If people around me disagree, then i consider moving to another country.
    (This is not only about politics btw.)

    In this spirit, let me add that, when i say that everybody should eliminate brain-poisoning foods from their diets, i mean it.
    You might already think more clearly than i do, but why would you be content with that? Why not achieve your full potential?
    And remember: it is not so much about IQ as to avoid (or rather, minimize) delusional insanity.

  • Ferox

    Bobby b: I live in Washington (state), so I have a good grasp of what you are talking about.

    Maybe that is why we are less sanguine than others about the possibility of vat meat without real meat bans – because we live among the Progs day by day and get to see exactly how they operate, up close.

    Have they banned plastic bags in your state yet? Our legislature is talking about adopting California’s upcoming combustion engine ban .. oh the joy.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Maybe that is why we are less sanguine than others about the possibility of vat meat without real meat bans

    I, too, flatter myself that i understand what you are talking about.

    Where we differ is that i think that vat meat (or “cultivated meat”, which sounds better but has too many syllables) is inevitable.
    Therefore, we should focus on hampering bans on meat off-the-hoof, and stop ranting about the pros+cons of vat meat.

  • Ferox

    All right, I’ll bite: keeping in mind that we are talking about states where such progressive policies as decriminalizing shoplifting are being successfully pushed through, what methods do you have in mind for hampering the Ban All The Things party from doing its work on real meat?

    And please just skip the “strongly worded letter to the editor” sort of stuff. The editor has his marching orders and won’t publish any strongly worded letters from “right-wing extremist Nazis” like us.

  • Snorri Godhi

    what methods do you have in mind for hampering the Ban All The Things party from doing its work on real meat?

    Moving to a State where no bans are under consideration.

    I have moved for much less.
    But then, i am rootless; though not exactly a cosmopolitan.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Incidentally, if you check the Matthew Lesh link in the update to the OP, you’ll find that the meat Luddites are aligned with the EU on this issue; which should give them pause.

  • Alex

    Moving to a State where no bans are under consideration.

    What will you do when you run out of places to flee to?

    I am in general principle in favour of conflict-free resolutions where possible but the transnational nature of a lot of these things make fleeing a temporary solution at best. Eventually the insanity reaches even the more conservative areas all the more powerful and persuasive in that it hasn’t been effectively challenged elsewhere.

  • Martin

    Incidentally, if you check the Matthew Lesh link in the update to the OP, you’ll find that the meat Luddites are aligned with the EU on this issue; which should give them pause.

    Incidentally, the CCP seem really keen on the technology.

    Of course, that China are pursuing such technologies isn’t sufficient reason to give them a pass, but it does show everyone can play these ‘guilt by association’ games.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Of course, that China are pursuing such technologies isn’t sufficient reason to give them a pass

    That China is pursuing such tech is sufficient reason to think that — as i wrote above — vat meat is inevitable, and discussing whether it should be developed or not, is an exercise in futility.

    There are a number of people here who subscribe to “I do not want a ban, but…”.
    Well, if you do not want a ban, why do you waste time arguing that vat meat should not be developed??

    but it does show everyone can play these ‘guilt by association’ games.

    My comment was not about ‘guilt by association’: it was intended to stimulate a pause for thought. A pause for thought would reveal that, if the EU is opposed to vat meat, then it is not a globalist project … for now. Things can change, but do you really think that you can see further ahead than the Davoisie?

  • bobby b

    ” . . . unlike bobby, i feel extreme uneasiness at being gaslighted.”

    😉

    C’mon, man, it’s family. You take the bad with the good. I am the crazy guy everyone wants to sway. I only live there six months out of the year, and spend the other six hanging out with similar folk next to the Mexican border. For my sanity. (Whether that’s working is open to inquiry.)

  • Paul Marks

    “Vat meat” is not “inevitable” – it is a political project, about power and control of the food supply.

    The international establishment elite are not really doing this out of a concern for animals, after all they want to control arable faming as well. And the idea that they doing this out of a concern for C02 and methane emissions is quite mistaken.

    This is about Corporate State power – the control of the lives of ordinary people by having their food supply in the hands of a few corporations (Cantillon Effect – Credit Money concentrates economic power into a few hands, over time) working in “partnership” with governments (“Stakeholder Capitalism”, what Mussolini called “Fascism” – the Corporate State).

    The basic project of public-private (Corporate State) control of ordinary people has been out in the open for a very long time – after all Agenda 21 (now Agenda 2030) came out at the start of the 1990s, and it includes public-private planning (control) of LAND.

    The Obama Administration tried to get all land that had water (try and run a farm or a ranch without water) under government control – and the Biden Administration is trying the same tactic. It is part of an international agenda, which is public and admitted (indeed the international elite are proud of what they are doing).

    Again – this project has nothing to do with rising human population, indeed the fertility rate is below 2 in most advanced countries (and many unadvanced countries as well).

    Nor is any of this a matter of real concern for animals – as they (the international establishment) want control of arable food production as well,

    Nor is it anything to do with real concern for C02 or methane emissions – after all both the Club of Rome and the “Stakeholder Capitalism” (Fascism) of the World Economic Forum came BEFORE (yes before) the Global Warming theory became fashionable.

    It is about power and control – the desire of the international establishment elite, to stamp their boot down on our throats.

  • Paul Marks

    Things are only “inevitable” if people allow them to happen.

    For example, a politician who opposed Islam was going to win a general election in the Netherlands, it was “inevitable” that he would become Prime Minister – but then he was murdered, so it was not “inevitable” that he would be Prime Minister. It was the same with various film makers and writers in the Netherlands – it was “inevitable” that their work would be influential, but then they were murdered and so their future work did not come into existence. It was not “inevitable” any more.

    There is nothing really “inevitable” about Prime Minister Rutte and other World Economic Forum (Corporate State – “Stakeholder Capitalism”) types doing anything in the Netherlands – or anywhere else. It is only “inevitable” if people allow it to happen.

    For example, one could VOTE these people out of office – and tear up such agreements as Agenda 2030.

    If organisations such as the United Nations, or states such as the European Union, demand that one keeps to such Corporate State (Fascist – “Stakeholder Capitalism”) plans as Agenda 2030 (including its “cultural aspect” – i.e. censorship and indoctrination) then leave these entities.

    There is no need to kill anyone – just leave the European Union and so on, and when the World Economic Forum (which is, these days, joined at the hip with the United Nations) sends out invitations to a meeting, just say “no” “I choose not to go”.

    No need for violence – just say no.

    For example, the European Union demands that there are laws against “Hate Speech” (this is part of a political project that goes back at least to the 1960s – with Freedom of Speech being denounced as “Repressive Tolerance” by Herbert Marcuse and his Frankfurt School Marxist associates) – but there is no need for violence against the European Union.

    Just say “no” to their demands – and, if they insist, then leave this political entity.

    It is the same with the campaign against family farms – just say no, and stick to no.

    “We do not wish to be a Corporate State – it is only inevitable if we accept it, and we do choose to reject it”.

    And, by the way, the fiat money (and Credit Bubble finance) of the banks is not really “inevitable” either – people can choose to reject a “Cantillon Effect” economy with economic power concentrated in a few hands by fiat money. They can say no to such a monetary and financial system (which causes terrible harm) and stick to no.

  • Paul Marks

    The historian Neil Oliver is correct – the key to defeating the Corporate State, including the Corporate State effort to gain a stranglehold over the food supply (which is what the “synthetic meat” doctrine is really part of) is to defeat the push for “Digital Identity”.

    “Digital Identity” is the keystone of the totalitarian arch that the international Corporate State is building. For example, in the United kingdom the “public consultation” (which most of the public have not heard of) on Digital Identity ends in March this year.

    “Digital Identity” would indeed be a nightmare, ending what little is left of privacy and economic liberty, and ending what is left of freedom in general.

    Privacy and payment in cash are vital, if any liberty it be maintained. And I would go further than Neil Oliver does – as the cash should really be cash (commodity money) not the fiat money of the state.

    But I think we can all agree that, at the very least, the Digital Identity doctrine must be utterly rejected.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Alex, chill out. I thought Bobby was taking the analogy off the deep end. We can wind each other up. I’ve been commenting here for 21 years. In that time I’ve definitely noticed a rising amount of pessimism about technology and the ability to steer change in a hopeful direction. At least among the comments although I have to remind myself that most readers of this blog don’t necessarily comment at all.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Bobby:

    C’mon, man, it’s family.

    You would not say that if you met my family.
    Extreme gaslighting (unintentional, and not political).
    Even worse than the Ivy League (from which one can get away).

    I only live there six months out of the year, and spend the other six hanging out with similar folk next to the Mexican border.

    Not sure i understand. You mean that the people you hang out with, near the Mexican border, are similarly gaslighting?
    If so, i assume that you migrate just for the weather. Which is fine, except that you miss on the cross-country skiing.

    Incidentally: i think that, on Samizdata, bobby has a sense of humor most similar to mine. But he, and indeed anybody else, is welcome to disagree.
    And anybody except bobby is welcome to say that his sense of humor is better than mine.

  • bobby b

    Snorri Godhi
    January 30, 2023 at 8:27 pm

    “Not sure i understand. You mean that the people you hang out with, near the Mexican border, are similarly gaslighting?”

    Ah, sorry. Similar to me, I meant. Many more Gadsden flags here than BLM flags.

  • Snorri Godhi

    US to allow sale of vat meat this year, says Reuters.
    It is already legal in Singapore.
    Any more doubts that it is inevitable?

    Found via Instapundit and Wattsupwiththat, who don’t get it: vat meat is an alternative to eating bugs. If you don’t want to be forced to eat bugs and/or fake meat, you should push for vat meat.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Snorri, whether it is inevitable or not, what should count in my mind is whether the nutritional value of this stuff is as good, or better than factory-farmed animal meat, or whether not. I am not qualified to judge that.

    What does strike me, though, is that some of the bad developments (war against the internal combustion engine, nanny state restrictions on liberties, etc) mentioned by others on this thread have reached the point where almost any new tech today, from whatever the source, appears to be regarded by a lot of people, including many on the libertarian/conservative side, as suspect, or at least just tools of oppression. That’s a very different mindset from 30 or so years ago. And that’s not just because we have got older, and seen the foolishness of the “End of History” for the hubris that it was. It is a general lack of confidence in the ability of pro-liberty arguments to be victorious on the battlefield of ideas. It is an admission of defeat.

    It could be AI, or autonomous cars, or synthetic meat, or anything else, but now the default setting seems to be that new tech is probably bad and going to be a nuisance. It is not that different from the Greens’ fallacy that whatever has been the case until very recently represents a sort of ideal equilibrium.

  • Ferox

    Johnathan, you and Snorri need to get your stories straight.

    You accuse vat meat sceptics of a lack of confidence, but Snorri’s suggestion for combatting the oppressive effects of vat meat is to move away.

    Are you two performing some sort of comedy routine?

    You have missed the point completely. My powers of articulation have failed. I am not suspicious of the tech. I am not suspicious of the tech.

    I am fully confident in the bad intentions of the people who are developing this tech, and who will own it once it appears.

    Nor does the inevitability of a thing require me to celebrate its coming. When the Germans march down the Champs Elysees I will not be out there waving a flag.

    Oh, and Snorri – vat meat is fake meat.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Ferox, if you are not suspicious of the tech, then

    (a) you have no reason to say that it is fake meat (which it isn’t: it’s muscle grown in a vat);

    (b) you would not care about the intentions of the people developing it. What are you, a Jesuit?

    As for moving away: it is not possible to stop the development of this tech in all countries, and stopping the development in your country would be pointless.
    It IS possible to move to a country that does not ban meat on the hoof.

  • Snorri Godhi

    PS:

    And please just skip the “strongly worded letter to the editor” sort of stuff.

    Well, a strongly-worded letter to the editor of The Times beats a strongly-worded comment on Samizdata!

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