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 – Oxfam delenda est

Oxfam has come a long way since it was founded 81 years ago. There was a time in the dim and distant past when its primary purpose was to raise money from well-meaning, relatively affluent folks and use their donations to assuage the hunger pangs of the poor and downtrodden across the globe. It was a worthy cause.

Those days are long over. For some time now it’s been more associated with Left-wing agitprop than famine relief. Indeed, you almost get the impression feeding the famished is now seen by some in Oxfam as an annoying diversion from the far more important work of political activism.

Andrew Neill, of whom I am not a great fan overall but this is certainly true.

13 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – Oxfam delenda est

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    And do-gooding can have perverse consequences! One of Stossel’s Y-tube articles has him interviewing an African Enterpreneur, who complains about some Shoe-shops in America who give a pair of shoes to Africa if you buy from them. Unfortunately, her shoes can’t compete with these free shoes! So she is going out of business, because of foreign goodwill..

  • This is a variation on so many similar tales, farmers bankrupted by food aid for example. Killing with kindness.

  • Steven R

    It happens on an international scale as well. The US send food shipments to help people in the rest of the Americas, but all that does is undercut the local food production who then turn to narco-production in order to pay the bills. The road to Hell being paved with good intentions and all…

  • Doug Jones

    Leftism is a mind virus spread by bureaucracies.

    All organizations that are not actually right-wing will over time become left-wing.
    -John O’Sullivan

    Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself. Examples in education would be teachers who work and sacrifice to teach children, vs. union representative who work to protect any teacher including the most incompetent. The Iron Law states that in all cases, the second type of person will always gain control of the organization, and will always write the rules under which the organization functions.
    -Jerry Pournelle

  • Paul Marks

    On this Mr Neil is telling the truth.

    However, it is not just Oxfam – charities, generally, have been corrupted. That is partly because of structural factors (such as paid managers – if a charity has paid managers it may well best to avoid it) and working with governments and corporations (again if a charity is working with governments and corporations that is a warning sign), but also because the culture (the society) has been corrupted.

  • Paul Marks

    Doug Jones – as you know, John O’Sullivan has updated Jerry Pournelle, for there is a third type of person.

    The first two types of person are, in the case of teachers (but it applies generally) people who sincerely want to pass on the skills and traditions of Western Civilisation, and (the second sort of person) people who just want pay and an easy life, but there is a third type of person.

    The third type of person are people who are filled with zeal and work very hard – but their zeal and hard work is devoted to spreading evil (not too strong a word).

    This third type of person now has a stranglehold over the institutions of the Western world – both public and private.

    Imagine, for example, that the old Mayor Daley (of the 1950s, 60s and 70s) came back to Chicago today – even though he was corrupt (very corrupt), Mayor Daley would NOT be pleased by what he would find in Chicago today – a collapsing society with terrible suffering. This was not what he wanted – he wanted a comfortable life for himself and his family and his friends, and if other people had a comfortable life to (and did not threaten his power) he was fine with that. But that is not the Chicago of today – the Chicago of today is a place of terrible suffering.

    This has not come about by accident – it took a lot of hard work (and great zeal) to create these horrors.

    Sadly old Mayor Daley was baffled by people such as Saul Alinsky (an inspiration to both Mrs Clinton and Barack Obama) – he did not understand them, they did not seem to be motived by money. They did not seem to be motivated by money because people such as Saul Alinsky were NOT motivated by money or the desire for a comfortable life – they were motivated by the desire to destroy society and create terrible human suffering, they told themselves that this was a necessary evil so a perfect society could arise from the ashes of the old – but, really, the destruction and suffering were an end-in-themselves.

    And the people who run organisations like “Oxfam” are much the same as the late Saul Alinsky and others.

    By the way even the philosopher Jacques Maritain (not wildly bright – for example he was involved in the international declaration of human rights, which lists such things as paid holidays as “rights”, but does not list the right to keep and bear arms, or even an unqualified right of freedom of speech) and Pope Paul VI did NOT understand Saul Alinsky and others like him.

    They correctly understood that such people (Saul Alinsky and people like him) were filled with zeal and worked very hard, and were not interested in bribes and other such – and that they were passionately interested in “the people”.

    But they, Maritain and Paul VI, did not grasp that this was a very dark interest – a very dark interest indeed.

  • Mr Ed

    Oxfam was founded during WW2 with the immediate aim of getting food to Nazi-occupied Greece. No sooner had the war in Europe ended than they got round to sending food to Germany.

    Oddly enough the website says nothing about the use of prostitutes in Haiti and Oxfam being banned from that country.

  • Barbarus

    They correctly understood that such people (Saul Alinsky and people like him) were filled with zeal and worked very hard, and were not interested in bribes and other such – and that they were passionately interested in “the people”.

    My impression of Alinsky, and of one or two like-minded activists from university days, is that their professed interest in “the people” is actually superficial. Their real driving interest is in the techniques of subversion and the destruction of civilised society. That is what they enjoy doing, which is why they are prepared to work so hard at it. They truly seem to convince themselves this is for “the people” but, should any actual people disagree with them, they are at once classified as part of the enemy, to be crushed and – as they like to say – eventually put up against a wall.

  • lucklucky

    As a fantastic coincidence a Portuguese blog posted days ago the article of French magazine L’Express strongly criticising OXFAM; Title: Le sept erreurs du rapport OXFAM

    The article is in French. Also talks about the OXFAM empire with more 10000 functionaries.


  • bobby b

    “Their real driving interest is in the techniques of subversion and the destruction of civilised society.”

    You have to destroy existing structure before you can install the structure which you think would be better for the people.

    I’m not defending Alinsky – I think his preferred structures are crap, that he is profoundly misguided about human nature and about what humans really require to be a society. But we ought not look at intermediate steps and treat them as his ultimate goal. To do so allows his adherents to (rightfully) dismiss our judgments as merely a different kind of crap.

    His ultimate goal is not a destroyed society. It is a structured society, but structured differently than what we have now. But it is a form of society that will never work, because human beings will live in it. That is his flaw.

  • Mark

    @Bobby b

    If I may, it’s not “the people”, although that is the word they like to use.

    “Economic units” or “social units” perhaps. To make any of these utopian fantasies work, this is what “the people” have to become.

    Why can’t you just do as you’re told, why?

    A 15 minute city isn’t the problem, it’s you.

    You’re damned right!

  • Oxfam – “Ensuring money goes from UK taxpayer coffers to the hands of child prostitutes in the 3rd world.”

    That’ll help the inequality…or something.

  • Paul Marks

    Barbarus – yes that is what I meant by saying that Saul Alinsky (and the Legion of others) had a “very dark interest” in the population, an interest which people such as Maritain and Paul VI just did not not understand (they radically misunderstood it – assuming it to be benevolent).

    Saul Alinsky and co were certainly passionate about their interest – but their passion was for power and for destruction. They told themselves that it was necessary to destroy “capitalist” society in order that a wonderful new society would arise from the ashes – but, I strongly suspect, that really the destruction and suffering were an end-in-themselves.

    And, yes, organisations such as Oxfam attract such people.