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 – social manias, epiphanies, and being ornery

We like to think we are ‘modern,’ as every population in the present has always fancied themselves, and we like to think we’re too rational and scientific to subscribe to lunacies like phrenology or bloodletting with leeches. But we’re the same as we’ve always been, just as vulnerable to getting seized en masse by goofball ideas as we ever were. ‘Some people are born in the wrong body’ is right in there. One of the passages in MANIA I’m most attached to is the one in which the narrator explains that she used to be confounded by mass atrocities of the past, but now they all made sense: Nazi concentration camps, Pol Pot’s killing fields, Stalin’s show trials, Mao’s cultural revolution. That’s what I concluded after Covid, when in the land of the Magna Carta literally overnight people abdicated every civil right that they had the very day before imagined to be their birthright: free speech, freedom of assembly, a free press, free movement, even the right to leave your own home. Obviously people will believe anything, and for something like National Socialism to triumph in the UK it would take Adolf Hitler at the most about three weeks.

– Lionel Shriver via Laura Dodsworth

12 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – social manias, epiphanies, and being ornery

  • Paul Marks

    The ending of what was left of Freedom of Speech in Scotland was supported by every political party in the Scottish Parliament, apart from the Conservatives.

    For once, Conservatives had the courage to be on “the wrong side of history” – i.e. the side of liberty rather than tyranny (tyranny being, supposedly, “the correct side of history”).

    Private property rights? There will be no real protection for independent private property owned by individuals and families in the future that is being planned by the international establishment elite – everything will belong to the “public bodies” and to “partner corporations” – “you will own nothing and you will be happy” has been repeated so many times that it is almost a joke, but it-remains-the-plan.

    Jews? They are “Nationalists” (a central tenet of Judaism is “the land” – and it is very specific as to where this land is) and increasing numbers of Israeli Jews believe in God – NOT as a “personification of the community – about helping the poor and oppressed” but as actual being (a person) with unchanging doctrines (not doctrines that can be transformed into something very different via the Hegelian dialectic – the form of “religion” that is fashionable today).

    So there will be no place for Jews (for believing Jews) in the world of the future, and no place for believing Christians either – the “Social Gospel” or “Liberation Theology” not being Christianity.

    Will the new Henri Saint-Simon or Klaus Schwab and Bill Gates (indeed the international elite in general) system work?

    Of course it will not work – it will lead civilisation to destruction, but they are going to do it anyway.

  • Paul Marks

    The Scottish Act, the completion of a series of anti “Hate Speech” laws that date back to at least the 1960s (in some countries longer than that – but in the United Kingdom to the Act of 1965) shows that international conventions and declarations do NOT protect Freedom of Speech – as “Freedom of Speech – apart from when you say something we regard as hateful” is not Freedom of Speech at all.

    However, only the United States Supreme Court (alone of all the bodies in the world) still stands for Freedom of Speech – and, as Senator Cruz has written books showing, all it takes is a couple of appointments to the Supreme Court and the 1st Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, will be as dead as a dodo.

    Laws and constitutions are only as good as the judges who guard them – if Modernists or Progressives become the judges, then laws and constitutions are just worthless paper and ink.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the book – basically outlawing discrimination based on intelligence has already happened, intelligence tests. and often tests of specific competence (not the same thing as intelligence) as well, were denounced as “disguised racism” years ago in the United States. Hence there are more and more people in technical jobs, such as airline pilots, who are not capable of doing those jobs. “Is this person the best for the job?” was long ago replaced by “does this person tick the various DEI boxes?”

    As far back as the 1964 Act this started to creep in – as (contrary to Senator Humphrey – who pushed the Act) the only real way to prove you were not “discriminating” was to have an unofficial quota of people from the fashionable population groups – and it is sometimes hard to find enough people from these fashionable groups who are good at the job, so the temptation is to lower standards (rather than face anti discrimination legal action). After 60 years of this, anyone who still blames disparities of income and wealth between population groups on “discrimination” is a liar.

    I am reminded of book “Facial Justice” back in (I think) the 1950s – the satirical attack on Social Justice by applying it to appearance, with attractive people disfigured by surgery in the name of “fairness”.

  • Paul Marks

    “The parties have a death wish”.

    It was ordinary people who voted for Donald John Trump in the primaries of 2016 and 2024 – very much AGAINST the wishes of the Republican Party, and many of these ordinary people made it very clear they would not vote in the November election if DJT was not the candidate.

    As for Joseph “Joe – 10% for the Big Guy” Biden, he was indeed the choice of the Democratic Party (or rather of the elite that control it) – where the contests were not rigged (for example the Iowa Caucus or the New Hampshire Primary in 2020) Mr Biden came no where – it was not that he lost by a small margin, where the contests were straight hardly anyone (even among Democrats) voted for him.

    “I am not sure which would be more disastrous”.

    Well that shows the lady may be very intelligent (she may have a very high I.Q.) – but she is not very wise. The lady lacks basic wisdom.

  • Jerome Thomas

    This quote should actually be attributed to Lionel Shriver, not to Laura Dodsworth who merely conducted the interview.

  • jgh

    Harrison Bergeron was supposed to be satire and a warning, not an instruction manual.

  • Phil B

    [F]or something like National Socialism to triumph in the UK it would take Adolf Hitler at the most about three weeks.

    It would only take that long because old Adolf would be 135 years old and he wouldn’t be as spry as he was in his prime. Otherwise three days, tops. Faster if the BBC was involved.

  • There’s no chance whatsoever they wouldn’t be, Phil…

  • If only it was just jobs, but it’s everything – literary and film prize-giving no longer rewards writing good stories, but instead what in-fashion social ‘problem’ you feature.

  • Paul Marks

    Jerome Thomas – quite correct, and Lionel Shriver is the person I have writte about, not Laura Dodsworth.

    Phil B – it would not be “National” Socialism (the early 19th century ideas of the philosopher Fichte and others – taken up a century later by Mr Hitler) – it would be international socialism, and on the Henri Saint-Simon model – Collectivism brought to us by the Credit Bubble Banks and vast Corporations. “Socialism delivered by the Capitalists” – and on an international basis.

    However, this would still include sending people to prison for “Hate Speech” – “Hate Speech” being opinions the powerful disagree with.

    The “Critical Theory” Marxist line that “Hate Speech” laws are about protecting the powerless from the powerful being a lie.

  • Kirk

    I think the most ironic thing about all of this is the self-own these arseholes are putting onto the whole concept of “IQ testing”. I remain highly dubious of that entire proposition, that you can test for what should properly be termed “full spectrum intelligence” via a classroom-centered pencil and paper test.

    The entire effort to center our society on this chimeric idea of “intelligence” is one of the most stupid things I’ve ever encountered in all my reading of human history. The sad fact is, the ideas we have about intelligence are horribly inadequate, and focus on the wrong things. Much like the infantile ideas about “eugenics” (which would work, but on a totally different timescale than the idiots promulgating those ideas considered…), the fantasies about “testable intelligence” don’t begin to really work.

    From either end… On the one, we say that “High IQ rulz!!!”, and we never consider that what we’re measuring is a sort of brittle quality of what actually amounts to autism. We don’t inject the slightest hint of performative evaluation into the question, just worshipfully kowtow at the feet of the “highly intelligent”, never considering the idea that maybe, just maybe… It could be better to be wise than smart.

    Consider how much damage that these intellectual giants have done to society, over the years: Thomas Midgley Jr. being one of the better examples. Highly intelligent man, did a lot in his life. Like, invent tetraethyl lead additives for gasoline, and popularizing the use of Freon as a refrigerant. That one “bright” guy did more damage to the atmosphere of this planet than any other single organism in the entire geologic history of the world…

    Yet, he’d be hailed today as someone “highly intelligent”, and put in charge. Kinda like the arseholes who insisted on doing gain-of-function research at various Chinese research facilities, gaining us COVID-19…

    Please, explain to me again the value of “IQ”? There should be some performative evaluations done on these people, before putting them in charge of anything. Yet, we do not; got a good score on the tests? You’re going places, baby!

    No matter how much damage you do when you’re put in charge. Those goddamn tests make everyone clap their hands like seals, admiring your score… While you kill millions through what should be easily predictable misadventure, like doing gain-of-function research in a lab known for breaches, built in a major metro area with rather massive international connections. Do your research in Outer Mongolia, maybe…? Hell, even the Japanese with Unit 731 had more wit and wisdom than to research in a major urban area…

    Smart is as smart does. Performative stupidity and disaster? Ya might want to think about your criteria for “intelligence”; signs are, we have something very wrong with ours.

    The other end of this crap is that by relying on this wholesale testing regime, we’re saying to an entire swathe of humanity that “you can’t play this game”. So… What are they to do with themselves? Say “Oh, well… Didn’t do so well on the tests, I guess I’ll just go die…”

    That ain’t happening. Instead of saying to these people that they’ve no place in society ‘cos “low IQ and other test scores”, how about instead basing things on performance and hard work? I’d do away with the SAT and the whole range of IQ tests, but I’d also tighten up the standards: You can get in, no matter what, but it’s up to you to demonstrate competency and actual mastery of the subjects, which should maintain the old standards and not be dumbed down. Rule ought to be, do the work, get the grade… Not “Pass the gatekeeper’s tests, get the diploma”. Actual scholarship and mastery, ya know?

    And, if you can’t do the work? Not everything ought to be predicated on the persnickety ideals of the oh-so-smart “Just So” types we have infesting our schools. Not everyone is suited to playing their little games, nor should they be. I swear to God, if I’d have been forced through one more of those damn “find a word” games as a kid, I’d have probably made headlines when I burned the school to the ground… Building your schooling around the sensibilities of a scrapbooking-cult little girl mentality is not inducive to much enthusiasm on the part of the boys, and that’s only one of the multitude of problems associated with this “just-so” approach to schooling and the way that relates to society.

    Raw fact is that both schooling and testing are mere simulations, and the more fidelity you lose between simulation and reality, the worse the results are going to be. You can see that in any field, where what we term “gamification” takes over: Observe the course of practical pistol shooting, which started out from the premise that such things ought to reflect reality. Early days, the sport did, with matches requiring duty guns and holsters. Then, the gamester mentality crept in, and they started having things like “race guns” that nobody would carry on a daily basis, due to their sheer impracticality on the street.

    We’ve “gamified” much of our society, and the gamesters are breaking it because of that fact. Look at a lot of what goes on with how “private equity” buys, strips, and flips a formerly successful publicly-traded company. The same mentality is doing that to almost all of society today, and one of the main tools they’ve used to do this is that entire concept of “testing, not performance” that got started with Wilson and his fellow academics taking over society’s levers.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – as you point out, intelligence (IQ) and wisdom (what is sometimes called “Common Sense”) are different things.

    As Cicero put it – some things are so absurd that only a philosopher could believe them.

    An ordinary person would not order everyone to try and make steel in their back yards, or to kill all birds – only an intellectual such as Mao (a very high IQ person) would issue such orders.

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