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 – the racism of multiculturalism

There’s a foul, racialised undertone to this. The shock and horror some commentators reserve for ethnic-minority politicians who happen to hold more conservative views on immigration, asylum or multiculturalism has a whiff of ‘how dare you?!’ about it. They never accuse Braverman or Priti Patel of being ‘ungrateful’, but if we’re honest the vibe is not a million miles off. The unwitting implication is that it is somehow illegitimate for even second- and third-generation immigrants to be sceptical of mass migration or state multiculturalism. Those with an immigrant background must think the same, goes the unspoken logic, otherwise they are weird and inauthentic, perhaps trying to ingratiate themselves with golf-club racists.

This actually reminds us of one of the key problems with the ideology of multiculturalism – namely, the notion that ethnic minorities amount to homogenous blocs, with a specific culture and outlook, rather than individuals with minds of their own. Indeed, multiculturalism treats individuality as if it is something only white people do. This frankly racist idea has underpinned multicultural policy for many decades, justifying the state’s encouragement of cultural identities, and its funding of self-proclaimed ‘community organisations’, to be christened as the ‘authentic voice’ of this group or the other, all while ignoring the diversity that exists within those same groups.

Tom Slater

Samizdata quote of the day – truth is what the state wants it to be

So it is now official: a state-owned major television channel, required by its licence to ensure that its factual programmes “must not materially mislead the audience”, can broadcast blatant lies without reprimand, let alone sanction: provided, it would seem, that the lies are about British colonial policy. If that is how Ofcom interprets its regulatory duties, Netflix can relax.

David Elstein

The very existence of Ofcom, not to mention state-owned channels, indicates UK has not been a ‘free country’ for a very long time.

The latest justification for censorship: protecting the UK’s precious and fragile broadcast ecology

Adam Boulton is a journalist and broadcaster who is a regular panelist on TalkTV, a competitor to GB News.

Some background: GB News presenters Laurence Fox and Dan Wootton both are currently suspended while the station investigates some crass remarks from Fox about a female journalist for Joe News, Ava-Santina Evans. You can hear what he said on the clip embedded in this report by Metro magazine: Dan Wootton suspended and investigated by GB News over Laurence Fox’s misogynistic Ava Evans remarks.

Fox’s sexual comments about Evans (“Who’d want to shag that?”) and Wootton’s sniggering at them were oafish, but I do not see what Evans has to complain about given that she has made almost identical remarks herself:

But, as ever, it’s OK when the Left does it. Last week the Guardian ran a piece by Alexandra Topping called “Russell Brand and why the allegations took so long to surface”. She said, rather defensively I thought, that “multiple experts” had told her it was from fear of Brand suing for libel. OK, the experts do have a point about Britain’s libel laws, and that is why I am making absolutely no comment about the criminal accusations against him and ask you to do likewise, but fear of libel does not explain why Brand remained a star for years despite making on-air sexual remarks about a woman in a manner far worse than anything Laurence Fox has done.

The truly disgusting behaviour of Brand and Jonathan Ross towards Andrew Sachs and Georgina Baillie in 2008 did not stop the Guardian’s George Monbiot calling Brand one of his “heroes” in 2014 and saying “He’s the best thing that has happened to the left in years”.

Brand did not cease being on the left. Until these allegations came out on September 16th, he was due to contribute to book called “Poetry for the Many” edited by Jeremy Corbyn and the trade unionist Len McCluskey. But Brand’s views had ceased to be an asset to the left, certainly to the sort of left that flourishes in the current broadcast ecology.

Daily Telegraph columnist has tantrum about North Sea oilfield

Say what you like about the Daily Telegraph, which generally tilts centre-right in its politics and economics (particularly with incisive writers such as Allister Heath and Matthew Lynn), it does not seem to enforce orthodoxy. While the leader column and Heath have both applauded the UK government’s decision to permit oil drilling in the large Rosebank field in the North Sea – and mocked the fulminations of the critics, there were fulminations in the DT’s business section. An example comes from Ben Marlow, a columnist whose portrait glares out, Medusa-like, at a foolish and fallen world.

Marlow describes the timing of the announcement as “comically bad” and immediately shows his climate alarmism colours by noting that the announcement came a day after the International Energy Agency had warned that any new oil and gas infrastructure was incompatible with the Paris Climate Agreements of limiting global warming to 1.5 C. The new oil field is expected to produce as much as 500 million barrels of oil over its lifetime. Marlow goes on to state that bringing this oil field into production will do “none of the things that ministers and its cheerleaders claim”, and went on to berate the Conservatives for their alleged failure to cover the UK in solar panels and windfarms. And he went on to attack the government for sowing “confusion” among carmakers by putting back the ban on new internal combustion cars by 5 years to 2035. Further, he mocked the idea that producing more oil has any real benefits to the UK, saying that the oil goes into the world market. He does, rightly, criticise UK governments past and present for being weak on nuclear energy, but overall, Marlow’s column is a noisy example of green tantrum-throwing in an otherwise relatively sane newspaper. I wonder what his employers make of him?

So let’s examine Marlow’s central point, that the opening of this oilfield is a blow to the environment and won’t fix anything for the UK. Well, he ignores that some oil/gas fields will and have come out of production as the oil and gas gets too expensive to extract, reducing the commercial case for it, so if this is replaced by newer fields, that doesn’t necessarily increase the total amount of oil and gas in production. And even if it does, he’s assuming a straight-line link between increased C02 emissions, and increases in the average temperature of the planet. From my reading, there is a law of diminishing returns in nature, as in economics. Every extra ton of C02 produces less of a warming impact than the preceding one. Further, there is global “greening” to consider – although there’s a law of diminishing returns on that when it comes to the link with carbon emissions, I suspect, too.

And considering that he’s a business correspondent and editor, Marlow seems curiously uninterested in how, for example, developing this big oil field will generate export earnings for the UK, and a lot of tax revenue for the government. (On the latter point, this isn’t an argument that I know classical liberals would want to make much of.) The UK has to import a lot of stuff, such as natural gas from the Middle East and so on. Exports are what we need for imports. If the UK’s balance of payments improves, it benefits us in the ability to import more of what we want. As for the government, more revenues give it more ability to encourage R&D and the like in areas such as modular nuclear power plants, etc. Even for those who aren’t carbon fuel catastrophists, we can acknowledge that if we want to shift towards nuclear fission and fusion, and potentially as yet undiscovered sources, that requires a ton of wealth.

Marlow’s mockery of the UK’s supposed tardiness over wind and solar is again a reminder that the battery storage issue just doesn’t register. Without storage, the intermittency problem with wind/sun energy is a killer. (The writer Alex Epstein and others have made this point.) Marlow, and others who share his views, really have no excuses to not directly address this point and explain how they’d handle it.

A final point: The huge budget overruns and delays on the HS2 rail project from London to the North are surely another reminder to journalists who talk a big game about “infrastructure” that the UK’s record of delivering things on time, and on budget, is appalling. Rishi Sunak, whatever else he is, is not an idiot. He knows that the 2030 mark for banning sales of new ICE vehicles was and is insane. All he needs to do to win that cigar from this blog is to reverse the policy completely. Then stand back and watch Mr Marlow’s head explode.

Samizdata quote of the day – communitarianism is ultimately totalitarianism

To Blair and his circle, then, the individual did not precede society – as Hobbes and Locke had it. People are born into an existing social compact and have obligations towards it that they do not necessarily choose. Other figures in New Labour’s stable of philosophers included Anthony Giddens, who offered the phrase “no rights without responsibilities” as the slogan of the Third Way, as well as the communitarian theorist Amitai Etzioni.

New Labour proceeded to govern in this spirit, with the political strategist Philip Gould crystallising these ideas into a policy agenda. The New Labour years saw the beginnings of Stakeholder governance, which envisages society as a compact of chartered interest groups – faiths, ethnicities, capital, labour – who have a right to be consulted on all matters of public policy. This is an anti-liberal idea: it formally dispenses with the individual citizen as the primary political unit, and denies the rights of voting majorities – a basic premise of liberal democracy. The establishment of protected characteristics is another example; it was premised on the idea that, in the eyes of the law, you were a member of a community first and an individual second.

J Sorel

Samizdata quote of the day – the opposite of conservatism

Net Zero policies are trashing private property rights, stealing vast resources from taxpayers, and creating a moribund economy based on Soviet-style government planning – the total opposite of conservatism.

Richard Wellings in response to this gaseous emission (£) by Selwyn Gummer in which he argues delaying ruinous Net Zero policies is “unconservative”.

The ‘Conservative’ Party should be repudiating the entire climate scam, not just delaying bits of it to harmonise the UK’s economic ruin with the EU’s economic ruin.

What I did on my holidays

Switzerland is a great country. In most respects Machiavelli’s description of the Swiss as “armatissimi e liberissimi”, “most armed and most free”, still applies. But…

It says,

Mandatory shooting
Mandatory program

Compulsory shooting training applies to all soldiers equipped with an assault rifle and must be completed every year until the end of military obligations.
It must be carried out by August 31 with a recognized shooting club. You can check the dates and times in official publications or on the internet.
Further information can be found at: http://www.be.ch/militaire

The Wikipedia article on Conscription in Switzerland says,

Switzerland has mandatory military service (German: Militärdienst; French: service militaire; Italian: servizio militare) in the Swiss Army for all able-bodied male citizens, who are conscripted when they reach the age of majority,[1] though women may volunteer for any position.[2] Conscripts make up the majority of the manpower in the Swiss Armed Forces.[3]

On September 22, 2013, a referendum that aimed to abolish conscription was held in Switzerland.[4] However, the referendum failed with over 73% of the electorate voting against it, showing strong support for conscription of men in Switzerland.

Much as I admire the Swiss, I cannot make myself believe that constitutes being liberissimi.

Samizdata quote of the day – the age of absurdity

I’ve said previously we’re living in an age of tragedy. I’m not too sure about that anymore. I think we’ve advanced further than tragedy. We’re entering an age of absurdity. Consider German climate policy. Germany, as we keep hearing, is incomparably more adult, more advanced, more modern, and in every way superior to bungling Britain. But in Germany, the result of their closing down of nuclear and going for renewables has been an increased reliance on the dirtiest kind of coal. Well, this is tragic, but it’s even more than tragic. It is completely absurd.

And it’s difficult to put these arguments forward because people start shouting at you or they start crying or they say they can’t get up in the morning. I rather brutally suggest: “Well don’t. Stay in bed until you get a better reason for getting up. And if you don’t, well, there we are. Progress always has casualties.”

John Gray

The obesity of the State and its consequences

In his book, After America (published in 2011, which already seems a loooong time ago), Mark Steyn wrote this:

“Any visitor from the Fifties would soon discover, in a bleak comment on the limits of predictive fiction, our brains didn’t get bigger. But our butts did. If DC Comics had gone with the `Super-Ass of Jimmy Olsen,’ they’d have been up there with Nostradamus. `Our culture’s sedentary character – our strong preference for watching over doing, for virtual over real action – seems closely related to our changing body shape,’ wrote the Harvard historian Niall Ferguson. `We now consume significantly more fats and carbohydrates than we actually need. According to the standard measure of obesity, the body-mass index, the percentage of Americans classified as obese nearly doubled, from 12 percent to 21 per cent, between 1991 and 2001. Nearly two-thirds of all American men are officially considered overweight, and nearly three-quarters of those between 45 and 64. Only Western Samoans and Kuwaitis are fatter.’ We are our own walking (or waddling) metaphor from consumption unmoored from production.”


“Our `changing physical shape’ (in Ferguson’s words) seems an almost literal rebuke to the notion of republican self-government. Never mind the constitution, where are our checks and balances?”
Mark Steyn, After America, pages 225-6.

Steyn is connecting two things: a government/central bank policy mix that focuses on consumption, rather than production, and ties policy to that, including welfare policy (ideas such as Univeral Basic Income, etc). Also, the risk-adverse, Precautionary Principle of our time seems to go against humans being adventurous, taking calculated risks, getting up and going places, etc. For example, he notes how young adults today can go through their teens and early 20s without having a job. When, as I did, you worked on Saturdays and during the summer holidays (paper rounds, working on farms, in shops, etc) there were various consequences – all good – including the fact that you had to be physically active. (Glenn Reynolds writes in a similar vein on why teenagers should work before going to college.) Now, the idea of young people working is treated as being on the same plane as evil Victorian mill owners out of a Dickens novel. But Steyn is also making the point about production – and a very anti-Keynesian point. As the “Austrian” school notes (as in George Reisman’s book Capitalism), to consume, you have to produce and that means accumulate capital (physical capital, and mental capital, such as skills and habits). So much present policy seems to work against accumulating capital (taxes, regulations, inflation, the general demonisation of wealthy people, etc). And we print or have printed money to fill the gap. So our economy becomes zombified on ultra-low rates, and like someone who hasn’t taken a regular walk, lifted weights or performed physical work, we get bloated and sick.

Much of what Steyn wrote 12 years ago was accurate, and many of his predictions hold true. I think where the book is a bit off is that he thinks the threat from fundamentalist Islam was the biggest threat to the US while he did not write lot about China, although China does figure in this book quite a bit, to be fair. And the idea of Russia running amok in Ukraine or wherever, while he hints at this risk, it does not really figure all that much. I am quibbling, though. This is a book that holds up well. Its conclusion – that we have to shrink the State, remains as valuable as ever.

Right, off to the gym.

Samizdata quote of the day – the total state is all around you

What we are talking about, then, is really political reason on steroids. And it has two necessary consequences. Foucault’s assertion was that political reason was both ‘individualising and totalising’. Again, this is not difficult to understand, but worth spelling out. The state’s impulse is always to atomise the population, such that each and every individual first and foremost looks to their relationship to the state as the most important in their lives. And this is at the same time necessarily a totalising impulse, as it installs the state as the very essence of society, without which the latter simply cannot survive, let along flourish.

This is the basis of political reason, but why is it so? Regular readers will I hope forgive me for returning to Machiavelli, who made things perfectly clear: ‘[A] wise ruler…must think of a method by which his citizens will need the state and himself at all times and in every circumstance. Then they will always be loyal to him.’ Needing the state in order to address systems of patriarchal domination and toxic masculinity while ensuring everybody enjoys their right to pleasurable, satisfying and safe sex were probably not at the forefront of his mind. But the logic of CSE is impeccably ‘prince-like’ in character all the same. It is predicated on a construction of a vulnerable, benighted and ignorant populace, who simply cannot be expected to govern their own affairs, and must look to the state at every turn – even when ‘managing’ their relationships and even when having sex.

David McGrogan

Samizdata quote of the day – investment is an expense

Investment is an expense and don’t let anyone tell you different – not even a fashionable professor.

Tim Worstall, who is probably annoyed at how often he has to state the bleedin’ obvious.

A magnificent reply to an appalling letter

We regard it as deeply inappropriate and dangerous that the UK Parliament would attempt to control who is allowed to speak on our platform or try to earn a living from doing so. Singling out an individual and demanding his ban is even more disturbing given the absence of any connection between the allegations and his content on Rumble. We don’t agree with the behavior of many Rumble creators, but we refuse to penalize them for actions that have nothing to do with our platform.

Although it may be politically and socially easier for Rumble to join a cancel culture mob, doing so would be a violation of our company’s values and mission. We emphatically reject the UK Parliament’s demands.

– Official Rumble response to this appalling letter.