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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 Scorpion State

While the desire on the part of modern conservatives to divorce themselves from ‘neoliberalism’ is understandable enough, the simple truth is that there is a very good and obvious reason why parties on the economic left tend towards being left on culture, too.

And it is simply this: a State which minutely governs the economy is one which minutely governs society as a whole, because economy and society are not in fact separate phenomena, but an integrated whole. This means that if the State is big vis-a-vis the economy, it is going to be big in all areas – and it is going to want to squash or co-opt competing sources of loyalty and authority (like the family, religious and community groups, businesses, etc.) which the right holds dear accordingly.

The truth of the matter, then, is that conservatives and libertarians both fundamentally need the same thing (a small state) and that the ‘left on the economy and right on culture’ meme is just that: a slogan without a genuine cause.

David McGrogan

21 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – the Scorpion State

  • Ferox

    In the triangle that is the Conservative-Libertarian-Progressive political diagram, I don’t believe that the C and L vertices are any closer together than they ever were.

    It’s just that the P vertex has gotten so far from center that the triangle, always somewhat acute, now looks like a needle. From the point of view of the Progressives, the Cs and Ls sit together at a point on the distant horizon.

    In other words, the Cs and Ls still have their differences, but the Ps have gone f*cking insane.

  • Roué le Jour

    I would like to think that the cozy post war socialist consensus is coming to a long overdue end. We defeated the divine right of kings, now we have to do the same to the divine right of bureaucrats.

  • DiscoveredJoys

    From Wikipedia:
    “Classical liberalism is a political tradition and a branch of liberalism that advocates free market and laissez-faire economics and civil liberties under the rule of law, with special emphasis on individual autonomy, limited government, economic freedom, political freedom and freedom of speech.”

    That does not sound like any major UK party today. The Conservatives used to be the closest but have been captured by the Blob. That electors are adults and can make their own minds up seems to pass by the Blob and politicians… yet the Blob and politicians are drawn from the same population.

  • Paul Marks

    The Collectivists – the “left” if that word means anything – after all the person the original leftists worshipped, Rousseau, was an ardent Collectivist, he redefined the words “freedom” and “liberty” to mean total submission to the “Lawgiver” is all aspects of life – as only the “Lawgiver” could know the “General Will” with what people thought they believed being the despised “Will of All” which was to be crushed.

    Anyway, in the past, the left mostly concentrated on a direct attack on economic liberty, private property and freedom of contract – and managed, for example, to get almost half the British public to vote for them in 1945 (and in two later elections as well). In America things are bit more complicated – as people such as Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson did not run as socialists, they said they were ANTI socialist – but just wanted the government to “help people” with spending and regulations – how much spending? how many regulations? Like Joseph Biden they never set a limit – it was always just “more”.

    These policies kept failing, making things worse rather than better (for example Franklin Roosevelt was forced to drop the Fascist, Corporate State, National Recovery Administration, the Blue Eagle thugs, by the Supreme Court – but he had already privately admitted that the thing was doing harm not good), but the left (the hard left – the Marxist left, the Cloward and Piven types) did NOT blame their policies.

    People such as Mussolini (very much a leftist – a Progressive) remained admirers of Karl Marx (and if he was not a leftist – who was?) till their dying day (the irony being that he was killed by other Progressives who held Mussolini to be a heretic for abandoning the classical interpretation of Marxism) and so did both the Italian and German Marxists – the latter coming over to the United States and starting their long march through the institutions – today the ideas of such people as Herbert Marcuse are dominant in most cultural institutions – including, bizarrely, Big Business).

    A direct attack on “capitalism” had failed – the left eventually came to understand that, so they turned to the destruction of SOCIETY – destroying the family, the churches, secular cultural institutions – and-so-on.

    Promoting racial hatred (whilst pretending to be “anti” racist), promoting hatred between men and women, and promoting bizarre sexual agendas, such as “Trans-Rights” for four-year-old children, which is what the Los Angeles (a city of millions of people) School District does, all this became the stock-in-trade of the left (there had been more of a hint of it in Rousseau himself – with his discarding of his own children into Foundling Homes – and the Fabians, such a George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells has wanted to destroy society – for example see the sort story “The Coming of the Comet” by Mr Wells) – destroy society, and “capitalism” is also destroyed.

    And the left are correct about that – destroy society (the family and so) with cries of “racist!” “sexist!”, “homophobic!” (and now the final stage – “Trans Rights” for even the youngest children, pushed by the Devils who control so many cities and towns) and “capitalism” also falls.

    “And then the wonderful socialist society will finally appear in its place!”.

    No – there will just be ashes and dried blood, and the echoes of screams.

    But then that was always the end of the left hand path – the broad and easy road, it has always led to a certain place (long before Karl Marx or Rousseau).

  • Paul Marks

    To those who do not know – the economic system pushed by the New Dealers (till it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1935 – only two years in) was a copy of the Fascist Italy of Mussolini.

    Society itself was not attacked in the 1930s – and the left (the hard left – the people who are far more extreme than Mussolini) came to see that as a terrible mistake. They came to see that if society is destroyed – then “capitalism” will fall with it. But the people who control Corporate Big Business, pushing their “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” agenda – or rather the agenda that has been given to them by the education system (and so on), do not understand this.

    Their dream of a Henri Saint-Simon style Collectivist society – Collectivism but with bankers and Big Business types in charge (“Davos” style) will not work.

  • David Roberts

    David McGrogan’s article clarified, for me, what the problem is and why no
    good outcomes to societies problems are in sight.

    Instead of endlessly analysing the Scorpion, analyse the Frog. Only through better understanding the Frog may we effectively tackle societies problems.

  • jgh

    In order to micromanage the economy you *have* to micromanage people, because “the economy” is simply the name we stick on the interactions of people interacting with each other.

  • Kirk

    jgh said:

    In order to micromanage the economy you *have* to micromanage people, because “the economy” is simply the name we stick on the interactions of people interacting with each other.

    Which is an excellent summary of why the control freaks always wind up munging everything up, whenever they get themselves put in charge of anything.

    I think that the latest left/right bunfight would be better and more honestly described as “the battle between people who want control over everything everywhere vs. the people who know such control isn’t possible”.

    It’s interesting to observe the continuity of it all; most Marxists of today are descended from the very people who used to run things and who very badly want to run them again, despite the fact that they failed.

    Case in point would be the UK… Who ran the economy into the ground, back in the day? Why, it was the very same imperialist/protectionist scum that want to run it today, class- and culture-wise. The impulse for “control”, that which wanted colonial monopoly on all trade under British control? That’s what really did in the Empire, because the British industries fell behind the more competitive parties outside the Empire. All because the same set of idiots who wanted to “run it all” thought they knew better than everyone else, and could play at being God for their own benefit. Had the control freaks left everything the hell alone, the British Empire might still stand today, self-supporting.

    Greed and the impulse for control did it in, just like with any other monopoly situation. You cannot control complex chaos; you can merely dance with it. Every time the control freaks wind up in charge, disaster follows. The trick is, you have to look at the background systems and ensure that they’re cellular, small, and failure-proof not through size, but quantity. If a small entity does something stupid and fails? No big deal; repurpose the resources it had, and move on. If something really big crashes, like Boeing? You’re screwed; you’ve allowed things to get “too big to fail”, and as a result? The inevitable failure, which will happen, is so big it takes a huge chunk of your aviation industry with it. Which is what Boeing is actually doing, right now…

    The model for Lloyd’s of London is a better one than that of some massive enterprise like their US equivalent; if your system isn’t robust enough to allow for failure of small parts of it, your system is defective by design. In fact, it should be designed around such small components… Not these huge reef-structures we’re so fond of casting up as solutions to everything. Monobloc and massive is not the way to go, with anything.

  • Paul Marks

    Social Conservatives, i.e. people who support civil society (the family and other cultural institutions) are indeed fools if they support the Big State economically – for it will undermine society even if the officials and so on do not want to undermine society (and, as matter of fact, they DO want undermine society – they have been educated to see society as “racist, sexist, homophobic….” and so on). So the “Red Tory” position is a non starter – both on economic grounds (high government spending and lots of regulation do HARM not good) and on cultural grounds – see the societal decline in so many places.

    As for using the state to restore morality – even if they people in control of the state machine believed in traditional morality (they hate it – see above), this would not be possible. As Prime Minister Gladstone said – of this I am certain, it can not be by the action of the state that the morality of the people is improved.

    Or as Tacitus said almost two thousand years ago – the more laws there are, the more corrupt the state is.

  • Kirk

    The more control you reach for, the less you have…

    I honestly don’t think the real “axis of conflict” is along the supposed ideological lines of left vs. right. The real conflict is between those who seek to control others, the “Karen” types, and the people who just want to be left the hell alone. This is precisely why you keep seeing the Republicans and the Tories in our respective countries doing the exact same things that their putative “enemies” on the Democrat and Labour side want to do… It’s all down to them being inveterate “control” types. They want to be petty little gods, all of them, ordering the world around them and telling everyone what to do. They’re uncomfortable in an environment that lacks control, feeling as though the chaos is a danger to them… Which it is.

    It’s truly amazing to observe the same sort of idiocy going on in modern Russia that you saw under the Tsars; likewise, the points of contiguity between Caesar and Napoleon, as well as between those two and any other monarchial power-freak in history. You also then glance over at the North Korean regime, and it’s truly spectacular where the features line up between Kim Il Sung, and Napoleon, right down to the love of pageantry and sheer personality-cult worship of the executive.

    You also note the points of failure for all these regimes, and you have to wonder why the hell we keep putting them into place. Power and control do not work past a certain point of scale, across size, space, and time. You can make something command-controlled, but the sad fact is, there’s a finite period where it will work. Look at NASA; once past the initial “Get Man on Moon” phase of its existence, what happened? Bureaucrats colonized the place, took it over. See another example in Boeing, where the financial whiz-kids took over after McDonnell-Douglas essentially became the new company.

    One might as well admit that one’s existence is basically a dance with chaos; you cannot control, you cannot “lead” chaos. All you can do is dance, dance, dance… And, adapt to the ever-changing flux that is existence. Today’s power center is tomorrow’s point of failure; permanent solutions do not exist to intractable problems which will always be with us. All you can do is leap into the unknown and make the best of things.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Kirk – the conflict is between those who want to control others and those who do not.

    That is why, although they scream hated of each other, the Davos types and Mr Putin are brothers in spirit – they both agree that ordinary people should be serfs, they just disagree on who should be the master.

  • Kirk

    The problem for them is that the serfs are unwilling participants in their schemes… And, the power center is shifting between the two classes.

    I don’t think they (the Davos control-freak types) have quite realized that all of their traditional tools have been undermined by the increasing awareness of their equally traditional victims. You see more and more people who’re effectively pulling out of the great game, and refusing to play. When enough of the proles do that, the whole thing comes crashing down.

    I think the “birth dearth” is going to be the final capstone on their failure. Klaus Schwab wants everyone to “own nothing and be happy”, but the problem with that idea is that without ownership and something for people to have an actual interest in the future on behalf of, they don’t bother having kids. You can create your happy little dancing drones, Mr. Schwab, but can you force them into raising the next generation for you to dominate? Or, will they do as they’ve done all across the civilized world, which is opt out of reproducing at all?

    One of the critical failures all of these “I’mohsosmart” types have failed to comprehend is that the fertility rate is a trailing indicator of just how good a job they’re doing at managing things; if people were happier, more productive, more everything… Then, they’d be having those missing kids. They’re not, so the real deal is that the Klaus Schwab types have failed, utterly.

    If your fertility rate drops below replacement for more than a year or two, and with good linkage to something like the COVID crisis? That ought to be prima facie evidence that you’ve failed as a leader, and every single person involved in governance during that period ought to be put out of office and never allowed back into power again, even as a local dog-catcher.

  • Snorri Godhi

    ‘Neo-liberalism’ is not to be confused with classical liberalism; nor with ‘liberism’, to use the Italian term for free-market advocacy/philosophy/ideology.

    Paul Marks:

    the person the original leftists worshipped, Rousseau, was an ardent Collectivist, he redefined the words “freedom” and “liberty” to mean total submission to the “Lawgiver” is all aspects of life – as only the “Lawgiver” could know the “General Will” with what people thought they believed being the despised “Will of All” which was to be crushed.

    Interestingly, Plato, Aristotle, and other Greeks held a similar view.

    See also I.Berlin’s essay on Two Concepts of Liberty. Memorable quote:

    Can it be that Socrates and the creators of the central Western tradition in ethics and politics who followed him have been mistaken, for more than two millennia, that virtue is not knowledge, nor freedom identical with either?

  • Paul Marks

    I partly, partly, disagree about the Greeks Snorri.

    But yes, Plato (the “noble lie” man) did play these dishonest games.

    Harold Prichard (Professor of Moral Philosophy at Oxford back when it was a great institution) used to teach about “Is Moral Philosophy Based Upon A Mistake?” (his article in 1912 – in “Mind”), this error of confusing knowledge and moral goodness.

    Someone can know very well that something is evil and do it anyway, and they can take pleasure in doing evil – and they are in no way “insane” or brain damaged, they are quite normal and healthy people.

    Morality is a choice – a real choice, we can (with effort) choose to do other than we do.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Kirk – there is increasing opposition to the Davos crowd, the international Corporate State.

    More and more I see ordinary people knowing about them – and opposing them, in spite of all the lies from the mainstream media (their pretense that the truth is just “conspiracy theories” or “disinformation”).

    You were right about this Kirk – and I was wrong.

  • Kirk

    Paul, “right” doesn’t play into it. My observations are just as prone to error and wishful thinking as those of anyone else. I may well be wrong, but when I look at the Dutch and German farmers, plus everything else going on? The signs are that the scam cannot continue.

    If you examine history, the sad fact is that most of it consists of the elites putting one over on everyone else. The original post-Roman feudalists sold their generous efforts on behalf of everyone else as “defending them against the barbarian”, and what they were actually doing was quite the opposite… They weren’t nature’s noblemen acting to defend the local peasantry against looting and banditry, but the bandits themselves selling a protection scheme which they did not actually follow through on providing. The Swiss and the Bohemians were the first to call the knightly noble class on this line of BS, and we’re seeing the ongoing battle between the nobility of the past aligned with the wannabe nobility of the future against everyone else today. Klaus Schwab is the natural heir of all those rancid bastards who set themselves up in castles and manor houses after the fall of Rome, and he wants the same damn thing: Feudal suzerainty over everyone he can get control over.

    I’ve come to analyze history as a see-saw battle between the control-freak Karen types and everyone else who just want to be left the hell alone. Klaus Schwab is a prototypical Karen; he wants to run things he doesn’t understand, for reasons he probably can’t analyze himself, but which likely boil down to a deep sense of inferiority and fear of the chaotic. He’s not capable of managing anything at all complex, and yet seeks to do so, thinking he can “do better” at it than others. What he fails to comprehend, along with the rest of his ilk, is that the things he wants control over are effectively beyond control; they’re natural processes in a system that is neither amenable to control nor comprehensible to the human mind. These assclowns think they know how everything works; the reality is, they absolutely do not. Especially with regards to people…

    Who are, I’m afraid, the biggest and wildest variable imaginable.

    I don’t know for certain that I’m right, but the read I have made of history and the zeitgeist of the times is that the efforts of the control freaks are going to founder, and they’re going to founder on the rocks and shoals of intrinsic human nature. You can’t do the things they’ve tried to put in place, and you can’t effectively control the variables enough to make any of this BS work. They think to make themselves god-like beings of exquisite power, but they’re really not even capable of mastering their own lives… Look at what a fatass slug of a man that Klaus Schwab really is, how self-indulgent and self-pleasuring the man is. Examine that deal at the Gotthard Pass tunnel opening, and wonder at the exquisite self-aggrandizement of that entire pagan ceremony. These people are detached from normal human life, and unable to comprehend it. They live in a self-created dreamworld that they’ve come to believe in, never having run it up against reality in the form of real people doing real things.

    Once they do, the odds are that the result will be a massive crack-up of all their enterprises.

  • Ferox

    Kirk, I generally agree with you, but I think you might be giving them too much credit for having somewhat decent intentions.

    I believe they have no intention of even trying to manage well. They don’t care if everything goes to shit, as long as their gates hold up and their larders stay full. They would rather be 10% richer or 10% more powerful and see the rest of the society burn, than see everything great and themselves not get that extra 10%.

    It’s greed, lust for power, and sheer ego driving this, and the idea that they could run it better than everyone else doesn’t enter into it at all. All the alarmism is just a fugazi.

  • Kirk

    Oh, I don’t give them credit for anything, least of all “good intentions”. The only “intentions” they have would be for their own self-aggrandizement and power.

    Which, in large part, is why their plans are falling apart as quickly as they are. They want power, now. Not later, in generations, now. Because of that, they’re having to move far too fast for any of this to work.

    It took literal generations for feudalism to come in after the Romans went away. That happened in large part because the Empire had worn away any self-organizing or self-governing impulses across the swath of Europe they controlled, which left everyone in a state of apathetic sloth. Which neatly allowed for all the power-hungry types to come in as saviors and found Europe’s aristocratic classes…

    The idjit class of today is falling prey to the same failure mechanism that Hitler ran into: Trying to build a “Thousand-Year Reich” in a week, on the cheap. Won’t work; the rubes can see the maneuvering behind the scenes, and thus we have the things going on in Germany and the Netherlands with their farmers. Had the morons chosen to work more slowly, over the course of at least a couple of generations… They might have managed it. They were in a hurry, sooooo… Yeah. Not going to work.

    And, again… All this is happening because they’re running up against the hard stops of reality.

    Case in point:


    In this new modern era, you can enserf the current generation, but there ain’t no way, no how to force that generation to undertake breeding your next generation of victims. No incentive? No kids. No kids? No future for your new class of mandarins, ‘cos there won’t be anyone to lord it over…

    I dunno what it’s going to take to get through the thick skulls of all these “genius leader” types, but the current situation ain’t far off of what happened to feudalism after the Black Death swept through… You don’t have enough peasant bodies to run things? You starve; they just move on to someone who’ll treat them better. Wonder why all those Chinese are gravitating towards the US and Canada…? I wouldn’t put it outside the realm of possibility that there will be rather more Han outside of China than inside what was once the Chinese state. The rate they’re pissing people off, it won’t be long before they find themselves staring down both a demographic and a cultural barrel. The Uyghurs are going to serve as a salutary lesson to all other non-Han minorities inside the Chinese hegemony. Wait and watch…

    Stupid bastards, all of them. Putin is a perfect example; the asshole did nothing for Russia or Russians, certain that nature would take its course and just “take care” of the common Russian citizen that actually represents Russia’s real power base. Because he did nothing to improve their lives and material conditions, the demographic implications are clear in the medium- and long-term: Russia goes bye-bye as both an ethnicity and a nation-state. Same-same with the Han, just on a somewhat longer trajectory. Han Chinese will likely continue to do well outside of China, though… Russians? Not so much; they’re making themselves so thoroughly hated by their neighbors that it’s likely that any Russian expat communities that refuse to integrate with their host nations will wind up deported or worse.

  • Kirk

    Just to put a point to it… I think that the key lesson of the 21st Century is going to be that the so-called “elites” can’t take the rest of the population for granted. They may think they can, but the sad fact is, without them? They’re nothing. It ain’t like they can do their own work, given their mentality and conduct.

    The tragedy of it all is that we’ve done this to ourselves, by ennobling all this “education” and “meritocracy”. In the end, it matters not what degrees you might have attained, but whether or not you’re competent. There’s been no control on competency within most of our elites; they just go on and on, making mistake after mistake, without any sort of check or balance.

    Someone in the Russian system should have been observing the effective results of Putin’s “leadership”, and then taken steps to get rid of him before he did all the damage he’s managed so far. Because they can’t or won’t do that? He’s going to play “captain on the Titanic”, calling for more speed, more speed, more speed… Right up until the idiot rams the ship of state into a colossal iceberg named “Consequence of Demography”. Ya think all these Russians going without heat right now are thinking what a great job Putin has been doing? Do you think they’re motivated to raise kids under those conditions? How many women are, right this moment, looking at the onerous tasks of motherhood and saying “Screw that for a game of soldier’s…”, while making an appointment down at the local abortion clinic?

    There’s a lesson here, for the elites: One that they’re only going to learn as it all plays out over the medium- and long-term. That lesson is this: You don’t take care of the people? You won’t have people to abuse for much longer, at all. Your power resides in how good a job you do, taking care of the population you want to lord it over. You don’t do a good job? They won’t be there, and they won’t be listening to you while they still are, either.

    The elites of the pre-Black Death era didn’t consider their minions very much, if at all. They were an ever-abundant natural resource, there for the exploitation. That attitude is reborn with many of today’s elite; the fallacy represented by that worldview is shortly going to come into obvious and unavoidable preeminence as the consequences of their failure to care for their people shake out through the economy and national zeitgeist.

    I’d love to see the Klaus Schwab’s of the world forced to mow their own lawns, put out their own trash, and do their own work. At the rate they’re going? That’ll happen, and it will be most unpleasant for them all.

  • bobby b

    “I think that the key lesson of the 21st Century is going to be that the so-called “elites” can’t take the rest of the population for granted.”

    My only disagreement with what you’re saying is this:

    I think Biden (or some other Dem) will win the presidency this year. I don’t think it will be the result of cheating – I think he will genuinely get more votes than Trump (or some other R.) He will then continue to pursue this elite agenda.

    So I think that, at least so far, the elites CAN take the rest of the population for granted. MPAI.

  • Kirk

    @bobby b,

    They’ll be in control… Right up until they aren’t.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Trump must not be analyzed in terms of “Trump”. That’s an irrelevancy.

    What the phenomenon of “Trump” must be analyzed as would be in the form of a warning shot across the bows of the elite, here in the US. If they manage to take him down, or fraud their way into power for some period of time? Something worse than Trump will then eventuate. No idea who, no idea what, but if the electorate that voted for Trump in 2020 becomes convinced that they’ve no voice in things? It’s going to get bad, very quickly.

    There is no way in hell Biden got 81 million votes. Everyone knows that; the disenfranchised that voted for Trump in that election are biding their time, and waiting. When they’re convinced they have no other choice…? Then, look for “unrest” and something far worse than January 6th. For the current lot of incumbent criminals, at least…

    Trump isn’t so much a phenomenon as “Trump”; he’s a warning, a harbinger. The people that voted for him aren’t voting for him so much as they’re voting against the status quo. The proponents of that status quo would do well to pay attention to that fact…

    Hell, I didn’t vote for Trump so much as I cast my vote against Hillary. His performance after election? So much gravy… All I wanted was “No Hillary”, and I got a decent executive out of it. I suspect that the powers-that-were who were behind 2020 are going to regret their choices before long.

    2016 was the whistle on the boiler safety valve; 2020 was the idiot running the boiler painting over the pressure gauge and tying down the safety valve to shut the whistle off… 2024? Likely the damn boiler blowing up.

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