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

“We often read critics of either ideological stripe bemoan the lack of originality in our art, our music, and most certainly, our movies. Old franchises suffer from Woke narratives smuggled into stories that should never have been revived. Nostalgia is the only thing that motivates moviegoers now because we really have no new stories to tell. We’re only entertained by ‘content creators’, influencers, and the next series to watch on Netflix, Hulu, Apple Plus, Paramount, Max, and Amazon Prime. But the Woke left and the TradCon right both suffer from the same affliction — a lack of imagination. That lack of imagination was caused by the death of allegory, metaphor, hyperbole, parable, myth, sarcasm, poetry, and the woodcraft to express it — all replaced by an autistic literalism needed to protect the egos of lazy, mediocre minds.”

Rollo Tomassi, a US-based writer and podcaster who talks about issues such as intersexual dynamics.

26 comments to Samizdata quote of the day

  • Steven R

    Take the woke and DEI and dangerhaired-filled writer rooms working from a roadmap and all the rest of the political stuff out of the equation and it’s simply risk versus rewards. It’s easy to say “no” and kill a project in Hollywood. New is risky. It’s far safer to just rehash an old property a studio owns or pump out yet another franchise film or tv show and rely on name recognition than it is to try to generate buzz for something new.

    There’s plenty of imagination left in Hollywood. The problem is that it is kicked aside in favor of the known.

  • bobby b

    Too many unexpected, cancel-provoking minefields for the production of new works, new themes, new stories about good versus evil. You can offend today in ways you’d never guess, even with hundreds of social monitors reviewing your new work before release.

    Far safer to simply re-do old themes that have made it past the woke-scolds already. Everything has already been apologized for. Maybe even fix some of the shakier little points in those old works. Make Indiana Jones into a woman. Make Batman a hermaphrodite.

    But a completely new work? You need to start from scratch, apologizing for the scriptwriters, the makeup people, the pronouns, the basic theme of the work, the characters and actor choices – everything new is up for being offensive, and must be defended. Who has that kind of energy?

  • Paul Marks.

    Yes there is a lack of originality – but there is also just a terrible low level of quality.

    “Woke” stories are not really stories at all – they are just rants.

    For example, Star Trek was “liberal”, in the modern sense, even in the 1960s – but it told real stories, such things as STD (“Star Trek Discovery”) do not, they are written without the love of story telling.

    Star Wars has gone the same way – as has the Marvel Cinematic universe, no love of story telling, no love of the characters (the old characters or the new characters), just “Woke” ranting, the DEI agenda.

    And it is not just film and television – all the arts, literature, painting, sculpture, music… all must serve such political and cultural agendas as DEI and ESG – and artist, any creator, who dissents, is punished – is driven out.

    We are indeed watching the death of a once great culture – both at the popular culture level, and at the “high brow” cultural level.

    Interestingly no such distinction used to exist – such composers as Handel were loved by street venders and by monarchs, everyone, regardless of social class of level or education, knew a great painting when they looked at it, people knew what a beautiful building was (again regardless of social class or education), people of all levels of society once had a good knowledge of the same basic texts (think of Oscar Wilde and his wife being mocked by barefoot slum boys when they went out for a walk – mocked with, correct, quotations from Shakespeare given a naughty twist by the boys), such as the Bible and “the Classics” (it was not considered odd that the Earp brothers were named “Wyatt”, “Virgil”).

    It was one of the great failings of television series “Deadwood” that it got the language totally wrong – not even pimps and hired killings said “fuck” every other word, when they cursed (and they cursed viciously) they cursed using Biblical or Classical allusions – which they, and their targets, knew well (but which would baffle “modern audiences”).

    A man might not be able to afford books or anything but rags on his back – but he knew very well what good boots and shoes were (and good tell them from bad), ditto what a good suit was – and was not a good suit. He might only be able to afford second hand books -but he read (literacy was a lot more common than we are now taught to think) – after all there was no television, radio or computers, people read and a lot of them did NOT just read trash.

    People knew what good food was – even they could not afford it. And, again. what good music was, and what good paintings and sculpture were, and what good buildings were like.

    When my own father was young men (and women) in the gutter of the East End of London knew all these things.

    When a gangster in New York or Chicago discussed Opera with someone who did not who they were they, the gangster, were not putting on a false front – they really did know what they were talking about, just as when they went to buy a suit with their ill gotten gains, they knew what a good suit was and what it was not, just as they knew what good art was and what it was not.”Old Money” liked to pretend that the newly rich knew nothing about culture – but the “New Money” often new the basics rather well, even if they had been born and raised in the gutter.

    The newly rich understood the basics of culture because the came from the SAME culture – they did not have quite the same depth of knowledge (they could be caught out on details) – but only because they did not have the money and the time to develop their knowledge when they were young – not because they came from a different culture. Again it was perfectly normal for a “working man” to love serious music as late as the 1930s. Indeed a beggar in the streets who had never known anything but grinding poverty might have more cultural knowledge, and have better taste, than many of the “elite” today.

    Somehow in the mid 20th century the arts (culture – everything from painting to architecture to literature) started to lose its way – and become divided.

    Things have got a lot worse since then – till today we really do seem to face the death of a once great culture.

  • Paul Marks.

    Thinking of “Deadwood” – the real Sheriff Bullock built a tower as a memorial to his friend Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, Mr Bullock did not have long to live when he built that tower (more than a century ago now)- but he built it anyway and it is still there, not a long hike from the town – most likely some academic is claiming it was built by a “Native American Civilisation” or is on “stolen land” (or both – they can claim contradictory things at the same time).

    Lawrence County (Deadwood) admired Theodore Roosevelt as a man, but did not vote for him in 1912 – rightly understanding that he was a great man (and he was a great man – for example not many politicians would insist on finishing a speech after they had been shot), but that he had gone off the deep end in radicalism in his politics – in truth Woodrow Wilson was just as bad (influenced by the same people – for example Richard Ely), but Woodrow Wilson presented himself as moderate, and William Howard Taft did not campaign (President Taft did not even really want to be President – even as a young student, when he was known for his muscles not his fat, his dream had been to be on the Supreme Court, a dream he eventually achieved), the Taft of the 1920s – eating a planned diet and walking several miles a day to get his weight down, was very different from the overweight and tired out man of 1912. I wish he had won, but it was not to be.

    As for “Mr Hurst” there was one in Laurence County (his son became a newspaper owner and was, perhaps, not quite right in the head – but that was William Randolph Hurst, not his father George Hurst who was quite sane) – but he was mainly concerned with the then vast good mine near the town of Lead (some miles from Deadwood) – there was also a Mrs Hurst who organised many cultural and social events and organisations, but Hollywood Marxists hate the truth, so they presented George Hurst as some sort of cartoon villain, and did not really present Mrs Hurst at all.

  • Paul Marks.

    There was still a difference between Theodore Roosevelt and his young cousin Franklin Roosevelt – from the Democrat part of the family.

    Theodore Roosevelt was more into government “insurance” schemes on the Prussian model, with “efficient government” – just handing out tax money to buy votes, as Democrats such as Mayor Curley of Boston did during his life time, and his cousin Franklin was to do a few years later, disgusted Theodore Roosevelt.

    Notice that all Hollywood films and television shows that touch on these matters at all, present government just handing out money, and goods, as a GOOD thing – they are not really followers of Theodore Roosevelt even in his “Bull Moose” period.

    And all Hollywood films and television shows that touch on these matters at all, present a community owning everything in common, and work being communally planned, as a good thing. When I said “Hollywood Marxists” I was not just throwing out abuse – they may be millionaires working for vast Corporations, but their basic beliefs (and they do have beliefs) are Marxist.

    Ditto the rest of the “cultural elite”.

  • Ricardo Cortez was the ultimate Sam Spade.

  • Fred Z

    I wander the backwoods of YouTube. There’s plenty of interesting new stuff out there and lots of nicely redone versions of classics and old pop.

    YouTube musicians gone mainstream – with babes sometimes

    The Dinosaurs see the Asteroid but have no idea what it is or what to do.

  • Roué le Jour

    I read a lot of science fiction and the thing that strikes me is the complete absence of any material dealing with the future of Europe as migrant numbers increase and the number of natives decreases. On the contrary, I have read stories set in the future where London is still full of Londoners, Paris Parisians etc.

    For example, I can’t help noticing Islam is very popular in counties where you can sleep outside all year round. How does that translate to, say, Sweden? What happens when the power goes out in winter? When there aren’t enought natives to tax?

  • Chester Draws

    The “lack of originality” thing is overdone. The issue is that time has not yet sifted the wheat from the chaff.

    When I was growing up I liked various bits of alternative music. It was not what most people listened to, to put it mildly. But it was original. Now much of it is played as the “classics” of the era, and so people now assume it was what popular at the time.

    The vast bulk of today’s movies will not look good in 60 years. But then the vast bulk of movies made 60 years ago didn’t go the distance either. It’s just that we have only kept watching the better ones. Who today rates Cleopatra or How the West was Won? And that’s before we get to Son of Flubber or McLintock! Do we not remember how Elvis made a string of movies that actually made the modern Marvel movies look like masterpieces?

    I don’t have much time for modern museum art, but that is because I *know* it will be mostly thrown away. There’s a reason why the famous artists of the past were largely starving — they were not the ones publicly admired.

  • Keith

    Roué le Jour: Try Caliphate, by Tom Kratman

  • I have to agree with Chester. Most output has always been crap, we only remember the good stuff. For every masterpiece like Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock or David Suchet’s Poirot that stand the test of time, there are a dozen more that are unwatchable now.

    Even these days, amongst the foetid oceans of utter shite, there is some good stuff made. And some remakes are incomparably better than the originals (Battlestar Galactica for example).

  • rhoda klapp

    Sturgeon’s Law applies, although Mr Sturgeon if still alive might change the percentage.

  • Roué le Jour

    Thanks, I’ll check it out.

  • Paul Marks.

    Do you believe that goods should be owned in common and work should be “planned by the community” rather than the “selfishness and greed that is the chaos of the market”?

    If you do not answer “Yes” then the modern arts are not for you – for they, everything from films and television shows to literature and painting, are controlled by people who do believe in Communalism – and (rather importantly) who believe that all “cultural output” must be designed to further this cause.

    They may be millionaires and working for vast Corporations (say indirectly working for BlackRock which manages ten TRILLION Dollars worth of shares – look at the Board of Directors of BlackRock) – but their fundamental moral assumptions are Collectivist and they believe (very strongly believe) that the arts must be made to serve the Collectivist cause – with dissenting people driven out of the arts.

    Again if you do not hold with this – then the modern arts are not made for you, as Hollywood types reply to “toxic fandom”, “this was not made for you”.

    This was not made for “you”, for us, whether it is a film, a television programme, a painting, a piece of music, a video game (as Perry should remember), a book – or anything else.

    It is made by people who believe in Collectivism for people who believe in Collectivism – or, at least, do not oppose it.

  • JohnK

    Can one imagine a film like “Dirty Harry” being made today? A straight white male who shoots criminals? It would never work. And in San Francisco too!

  • Is “woodcraft” just a misspelling of “wordcraft”, or maybe it refers to writing implements often being made of wood, and “pencil pushers” having to exercise woodcraft in pushing the wooden objects around?

  • LoudLight

    The American TV show “Justified” was great while it lasted. I’d tune in regularly just to see what criminal Raylen would shoot this week. The new “Justified: City Primevil” (sp?) has the criminals shooting each other, but Raylen hasn’t shot anyone yet.

    It is not near as much fun.

  • Stonyground

    Does this stuff qualify as art?


    I like to build stuff out of wood but some people take it to another level.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    BobbyB: But a completely new work? You need to start from scratch, apologizing for the scriptwriters, the makeup people, the pronouns, the basic theme of the work, the characters and actor choices – everything new is up for being offensive, and must be defended. Who has that kind of energy?

    That is why anything new and original is unlikely to happen in the mainstream world today, or go underground, until such time as disgust with current trends is so great that a few folk eventually break above ground.

    Perry dh is correct that there are some decent new offerings and re-makes of old series, so like many things, this quote was a generalisation. I don’t however think that many of the “reboots” of series in recent years (Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Bond, Star Trek) and so on can be seen as other than disappointing at best, and poisonous crud, at worst.

  • Stonyground

    I thought that Lilo & Stitch was quite an original movie. Not that recent I know but I thought that, for Disney, it was an interesting departure from their usual remakes of classic fairytales.

  • Stonyground

    A lot less recent than I realised, 2002.

  • Paul Marks.

    Back in the 1920s and 1930s the leading Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci (Mussolini had been the Italian Marxist before the First World War – but he had turned heretic, although he remained an admirer of Karl Marx to the end) argued that “Capitalism” survived because it had an “ideological hegemony” over the CULTURE.

    Marxists (not just followers of Gramsci but also Frankfurt School Marxists in Germany and then the United States, Britain and other countries) responded to this by building a Collectivist “cultural hegemony” of their own. It took a lot of time and a lot of work – but here it is, it is what we see now in the arts and culture generally.

    However, both Gramsci in Italy and the Frankfurt School Marxists in Germany and other countries, made a fundamental mistake – they assumed (yes – just assumed) that Marxism (Collectivism) would work – just destroy “Capitalism”, “Capitalism Culture”, and a wonderful new society would appear.

    But Marxism can NOT work, no form of Collectivism, including the semi Saint-Simonism beloved by Dr Klaus and the vast (Credit Money supported) Corporations, can work.

    After the destruction of “Capitalist Culture”, including the “Capitalist Arts”, no wonderful new society will emerge – there will just be ashes.

  • Kirk

    Look… Here’s what happened: They took over the cultural heights, but in so doing, they rendered those heights completely irrelevant.

    This is the issue with all this Gramscian crap. The idjits imagine that if only the controlled the “organs of culture” like the newspapers, then everyone would believe and comply with their line of thought. The idea that there was an underlying reality that was reflected in those bourgeoisie institutions and values never, ever occurred to them. They had to be right.

    They were not, in actuality, right.

    The bourgeoisie is not what it is because it has nice houses or educations; it is what it is because it possesses those things which actually function, which work.

    You can give the ne’erdowell types all the nice houses, and they’re never, ever gonna be productive middle-class people. Because, they’re inherently ne’erdowell malcontents and incompetents. The idea that they’re going to obviate all those characteristics that make for bourgeoisie success, somehow? Ludicrous, demonstrably so.

    What works, works. What doesn’t? Doesn’t.

    Which is a large component of why the capital-L Left can’t stand the bourgeoisie, in any way, shape, or form. The bourgeoisie is a living refutation of their essential incompetence at life, a denial of their most cherished fantasies. It’s why they seek, incessantly, to destroy the bourgeoisie and why they loathe it in every fiber of their beings. To be bourgeoisie is to exist as a reproof, a denial of their well-deserved success because they’re just right.

    Leftism, by and large, is a mental disorder. It’s akin to the syndromes like oppositional-defiant disorder in failed children. They can’t stand the idea that Mommy and Daddy were correct in their insistence on self-discipline and the other virtues of the bourgeoisie; it maddens them past all reason.

    The crazy have been put in charge, thanks to the siren call of their madness. Fixing what has gone on since the 1960s? Good ‘effing luck… It’s a psychosis. One that will demand extensive correctives and the utter destruction of its avatars. Nobody in the West has demonstrated the fortitude to act or follow through on it all, but if they don’t? We’re doomed, as a civilization.

  • Paul Marks.

    I would dispute the late Antonio Gramsci’s claim (and the claim of so many Marxists) that “capitalism” survived because of “cultural hegemony” – as no such “cultural hegemony” existed, there was always dissent in the culture, including from many artists.

    Antonio Gramsci hated the Roman Catholic Church (indeed he blamed the Catholic Church for the continued existence of “capitalism”) but he shared a central error with Catholic “Social Teaching” (by the way this error is the only aspect of Catholic teaching that Joseph “Joe – 10% for the Big Guy” Biden actually agrees with – all the true aspects of Catholic teaching are rejected by Mr Biden) this error can be seen in the very first paragraph of the once famous 1891 Encyclical by Pope Leo XIII – namely that “Capitalism” has led to the great increase in poverty, the grinding into poverty of the workers, and that this requires collective action to correct.

    As Kirk points out – this is just not true, “Capitalism” has not led to an increase in poverty, quite the contrary (and that was clear even in 1891) and the wealth of the “Capitalists” is NOT based on the exploitation of the workers.

    In short the fundamental assumptions of Marxism (and other “anti market fundamentalist” doctrines) are WRONG.

    So the Marxist program, now achieved, of creating “cultural hegemony” for anti capitalists (bizarrely SUPPORTED by the vast capitalist corporations such as Disney) is based on two false assumptions.

    Firstly that there used to be a “capitalist cultural hegemony” – there never was one (there used to be diversity of opinion in literature and so on), and that “capitalism” has increased poverty and “exploits” people – which is just not true (such thinking is based on the Labour Theory of Value, Ricardo’s theory on LAND, and other errors – yes, just, errors).

    So the present “cultural hegemony” of the left in the arts was justified by utterly FALSE thinking – and is producing art that is both based on these false assumptions, and is horribly BORING.

    It is false politics – and (in addition) it is bad art.

  • Paul Marks.

    I sometimes wonder if the history of the world would have been rather better had Pope Leo XIII, who (as far as I know) had never studied economics, had declined the urging of Cardinal Manning to write an Encyclical on the “Social Question” – the “Social Question” being based on the false ideas that “Capitalism” had increased poverty (it had reduced it) and that Collective action could make things better than they otherwise would be – rather than Collective action (by the state or by private bodies using the threat of violence – such as Trade Unions using the military tactic of “Picket Lines” to enforce “Collective Bargaining”).

    Although kind and well meaning, Cardinal Manning seems to have a similar level of knowledge of economics to that of Prime Minister Disraeli and Chancellor Bismarck (ironically Bismarck was deeply hostile to the Catholic Church, for being not under state control – not for any theological disagreement, and persecuted it) – essentially Cardinal Manning’s thought seemed to go as follows “there are lots of poor people” (true), “poverty is worse than it used to be” (not true – it was better than it had been), “state and government backed Trade Union action action will make things better than they otherwise would be” (again not true – as such action makes things worse than they otherwise would be).

    This sort of false (factually false) thinking also seems to have been present in Prime Minister Disraeli and Chancellor Bismarck – indeed it can be seen in the young Disraeli’s “cultural output” – namely his novels, with their claims about “two nations – the rich and the poor” and demands that the government “do something” (I am put in mind of the cartoon character “Dick Dastardly” – “do something Muttley, do something!”), and Disraeli’s contempt for Prime Minister Lord Liverpool who, unlike Disraeli, actually had some level of understanding of domestic policy. Disraeli’s partner in the leadership of the Tory Party – the Earl of Derby, once Lord Stanley, was also a person whose answer to everything was a bigger and more interventionist government.

    One could also mention the reports of Sir Edwin Chadwick and others – reports whose conclusions (namely that government should be bigger and more interventionist) were really composed before any “investigations” were made.

    Far from being a time of “capitalist cultural hegemony” even the 19th century seems to have had a massive amount of anti capitalist (interventionist) thought – which went both into politics and the arts.

    One should also mention the “Social Gospel” nonsense (bad economics – and bad theology as well) in some Protestant Churches (it is not just a Catholic thing) – for example Richard Ely, the leading academic who inspired both “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson, is held up as a great intellectual and moral leader by the American Episcopalian Church (once the church of the American elite).

    In reality Richard Ely was both an ignorant man (he had the same grasp of basic economic law that the German “Historical School” had – namely NONE) and a deeply intolerant man – who wanted all pro liberty people driven out of academia, yet had the gall to present himself as a defender of “academic freedom”.

    Richard Ely would fit in well into modern “Cancel Culture” – his ignorance and his intolerance was very much like that of the modern “Cultural Elite” in the arts and elsewhere.

  • Kirk

    The raw and unpleasant fact is that a broad segment of society is incapable of really contributing much to society, in return for what they take out.

    The incapacity might be physical, mental, or a combination of the two, but it does exist as a problem for those who do carry the burdens.

    Part of the problem with the current situation is that we’ve all allowed the leftoid freaks to define the terms of the argument; they’ve come up with the pejorative “capitalism” to describe traditional economics, while terming their ideas “communism” “socialism”, and so forth, hiding the real fact that while traditional economics relies on willing free economic activity, their own ideas mandate enserfment of the productive in order to support the maladapted, unfit, and just plain lazy.

    You can’t make things work, over the long haul, with any of the left’s ideas. Not even the most half-ass semi-socialism will last, once the proles figure out that they can just exist without effort, and the productive realize there is no point to hard labor. This is why Scandinavian socialism failed, and they moved away from it.

    People aren’t ants. This is a fact that few on the left seem capable of incorporating into their so-called “thought processes”. Most of their “thinking” consists of positing the human economic behavioral equivalent of the classic “spherical cow”, and then moving on from there. Nowhere in the world’s history can you point at a single successful socialist society that didn’t either exist in a state of utter primitivism like the various Polynesian island societies, or which relied on parasitism on a successful outside society, as in most national military organizations.

    Marx left nothing behind as a legacy except his pernicious ideas. Nowhere did he put his ideas into practice; nowhere did he build a lasting organization. Everything of his is purest wishful thinking that he came up with out of an experiential vacuum. He proposed; nowhere has anyone ever been able to make his ideas work.

    That is the whole of the left, by the way: Nothing that works. Not over the long haul, not over the medium haul, and the only reason that they seem to make things work over the short haul is because they’re successfully parasitizing another host somewhere.

    The irony is, a lot of the abuses of “capitalism” that they claim exist? Exist mostly because of their own fascist attempts to “balance” things; were you to do away with the majority of the bureaucracy and structures that they’ve built up around the productive all these years, we’d all likely be better off. Ever notice how the rate of innovation slowed down, once the “good guys” got their hands on the machinery of governance, so that they could stick their hands into the cookie jars of the economy?

    How much of the money going to “Big Pharma” is actually going to pay off the regulators like Fauci? Wonder why your meds are so expensive? Look no further than the regulatory structures that mandate testing, which doesn’t seem to do much bloody good, what with how they finesse everything to get things like the mRNA “vaccines” through the process and then into mandated use… Given the utter lack of protection that the FDA is providing there, I’m of the opinion that we’d be better off with nothing and a robust sue-the-bastards climate for when they don’t do due diligence. The Federal regulatory system has been captured, entirely.