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Samizdata quote of the day – we are inching towards totalitarianism

Somehow we have arrived at a place that the West never expected to inhabit. A generation after the collapse of the most powerful totalitarian regime in modern history, the “free world” has apparently lost its grip on the relationship between moral values and political decisions which was once its greatest strength.

The idea had seemed to win out against all the odds: that a government could uphold fundamental first principles of justice, liberty and the authority of the law while still responding realistically to changes in popular opinion and social conditions. This was a truly miraculous understanding of the relationship between morality and politics and, difficult as it might have been to manage, it seemed to deliver the life most people wanted.

It’s hard to believe but we might be witnessing the end of it.

Janet Daly (£)

17 comments to Samizdata quote of the day – we are inching towards totalitarianism

  • jgh

    The people who are screeching and demanding autocratic suppression of individual life should have it good and hard.

  • Deep Lurker

    Inching? More like kilometering.

  • Paul Marks

    Good person though Janet Daley is – the lady unintentionally shows the contradiction that has led to the collapse of liberty over a very long period of time.

    If a government is allowed to “respond realistically to…. social conditions”, greatest happiness of the greatest number Jeremy Bentham stuff, then “the first principles of justice and liberty” will, eventually, be exterminated. “Law” will become the commands of the ruler or rulers (Despotism – the evil of Thomas Hobbes) no principles of law.

    Covid showed that there were no real limits on government power in most Western countries – that the various “rights” Conventions and Declarations were lies, but the decline of liberty did not start then, it started a very long time ago.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the specific matter of punishing people for “Hate” speech – that did not start in Britain with the Scottish Act – it started with the 1965 Act. Many “laws” since then have pushed us further and further down this evil road

    Most countries persecute people for saying things the rulers do not like (which is what “Hate Speech” really is – dissent) – the United States is an exception, but a couple of leftist appointments to the Supreme Court and the First Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, will be dead.

  • Kirk

    Paul Marks said:

    …but a couple of leftist appointments to the Supreme Court and the First Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, will be dead.

    Here we will have to disagree. Those “leftist appointments” to the Supreme Court are symptoms, not the actual disease.

    The actual disease is that the body politic would tolerate their appointment in the first place, and any following acquiescence to the actions of those appointments.

    I am truly puzzled by the mindset this post of yours typifies. The Supreme Court is not the final arbiter of these things, and the fact that you seem to think that it is would be… Mistaken. In the end, the real question is, what will the people of the United States tolerate and allow to be done to them by those who have set out to domesticate them. The idea that the Supreme Court is anything other than an ephemeral artifact of the current national zeitgeist seems to escape you. Do you remember when Roe v. Wade was imposed, its basis found in the “penumbra” of the Constitution? How about when it was re-litigated?

    Add to that the final option, the one of utmost exigency: How long do you suppose that the rulings of the Supreme Court will matter, once enough of the American people grow tired of their fetters?

    Ain’t none of this crap permanent. The folly was enacted, but there is nothing at all keeping that folly from being undone and rewritten. Nor do we have to follow the “guidance” of our supposed “betters” like George Soros and his minions. They (and, apparently, you and your ilk…) think that they’ve accomplished something, something other than utterly discrediting the existing system. I don’t think any of you comprehend what comes after enough people say “Yeah… This? It’s not working, for me or mine… We’re doing something else. Now.”

    Followed shortly thereafter by a whole lot of “unfortunate” violence directed at anyone seen to be responsible for the problems. Committees of Vigilance will spontaneously self-organize, and a lot of the current “system” will find itself out of a job. Or, alternatively, dead. To include that selfsame Supreme Court and anyone daring to enforce its new edicts. People will continue to obey and believe in it all for a bit, while they get used to the idea that the “system” isn’t answering their needs or their desires, and then it’ll all be over in a paroxysm of violence the likes of which you’ve never seen or imagined.

    I keep warning people, but they won’t listen. Things will be just hunky-dory, all the way up to the day it isn’t, any more. Preference cascade. Timisoara. It can, and it will happen here.

    Difference between today’s America and yesterday’s Romania? The Romanians were accustomed to authoritarian abuse; the United States is populated from the groups and people who would not tolerate such things, and left their home countries to escape it. If you think that the US population is likely to roll over and put up with the abuse that would flow from “a few left-wing appointments to the Supreme Court”? All I can do is laugh heartily, and remember that there aren’t secured enclaves all these “regime enforcers” can withdraw to. They live among us; what do you suppose happens when the FBI and other “law enforcement” goes from “trusted and valued member of society” to “vicious regime thug” in the popular mind? D’ya think that those men will feel safe in leaving their families at home, in a neighborhood filled with the people they’re ordered to oppress? Even if they’re of a mind to, what do you think happens next, once the Timisoara moment is reached? How stable a situation is it, when the regime forces realize their vulnerability, and what do you suppose happens when they’re rather more concerned with protecting their families and their property than their pensions?

    The idjit class running this country is playing with fire; they don’t even realize it. You can tell from the blithe way they’re just assuming that their baseline beliefs about stability and safety of the regime’s foot troops will continue to be valid into their imagined future. “Oh, the military will always be there for us to order around…”

    Oh, yeah, sure it will. Wonder why the formerly “most likely to enlist” demographic isn’t enlisting, any more? There is nothing to force them, and if they try, well… Yeah. Don’t expect much compliance or to have a military force that will follow your orders. I’m hearing unpleasant things from people who’ve joined, discovered the new woke military as it actually is, and who’ve left the service. They’re having a hell of a time with retention, let alone enlistment. The traditional source of their most useful personnel ain’t signing up, any more. I understand that it’s the same with many Federal agencies.

    Government is the art of the possible. The idjit class is about to discover the hard stops on that “possible” here in the US. What ensues? Unpredictable, but it doesn’t include the permanent position of the Supreme Court. Or, for that matter, much of anything else. The population of the US is composed of rebels, coming from a long line of rebels. They’re not going under the yoke without a struggle, once they wake up to the facts.

  • Paul Marks

    Kirk – you have a point, for example when the Supreme Court, way back in 1935, allowed the government to steal privately owned monetary gold and to violate the gold clauses in all contracts, public and private, thus-violating-the-Constitution-and-all-principles-of-law, the people did NOTHING – there was armed resistance, none. Just as there had been no resistance when the government committed these vicious crimes in 1933.

    Indeed the public reelected Franklin Roosevelt by 60% of the vote in 1936.

    If the Republic (the Res-publica) is defined by people willing to stand up for the basic principles of liberty – the Republic was already dead.

  • Paul Marks

    A very cynical person might suspect that the economy was crushed in the Great Depression (with Real Wage reductions actually been PREVENTED by the government – unlike every previous Credit-Money bust from 1819 to 1921) partly for the purpose of getting the public into such a desperate position (mass unemployment, terrible poverty, and-so-on) so that they would accept the destruction of basic economic independence (commodity money – rather than money just being the whims of government and its pets the banks), the destruction of the foundation of liberty.

    “Never let a crises go to waste” in the war to destroy liberty – indeed that may be why crises situations are created in the first place.

    Make the public desperate – then exploit their desperation to take their liberty away.

  • We could start inching away. End the Drug War say.

    Proof in a few short sentences (5 sentences, 28 words) that Drugs CAN’T cause addiction. Republicans devastated. Libertarians ecstatic.

    Drugs fill receptors. Filling empty receptors makes you feel good. What empties the receptors drugs fill? Pain and possibly other things. Drugs can’t cause a desire for drugs.


  • bobby b

    I don’t know that proofs work that way.

  • Kirk

    MSimon said:

    We could start inching away. End the Drug War say.

    Proof in a few short sentences (5 sentences, 28 words) that Drugs CAN’T cause addiction. Republicans devastated. Libertarians ecstatic.

    Drugs fill receptors. Filling empty receptors makes you feel good. What empties the receptors drugs fill? Pain and possibly other things. Drugs can’t cause a desire for drugs.


    The self-delusion here is… Exquisite. I’d suggest you go off to Portland, San Francisco, or metro Seattle, then live there for awhile with the results of legalization. Get back to us after a year or two, and do let us know if you still feel the same.

    I, too, used to believe that the “War on Drugs” was a bad thing. Then, I observed the effect of effectively legalizing everything. I have come to believe that the only way legalization of drugs will work effectively is if you also simultaneously allow nature to take its course by making Narcan and other interventions illegal. Why? Because the addicted are not going to magically “heal themselves” and seek treatment. Drug-taking and drug-seeking behavior is what it is, and that is contra-survival behavior. We do these people no favors by enabling them through legalization, but when you also cannot force effective treatment on them? The only course is to let nature take its course.

    And, we’re not realistic or hard-hearted enough to do that.

    I really don’t give a flying f*ck about the touchy-feely attitude that “Oh, drug use is just an expression of PTSD…” Tough shit; if you’re weak-minded enough that daily life induces PTSD? So be it… That’s natural selection at work, weeding out the unfit.

    I’ve spent enough time cleaning up after drug users to know that the majority of them aren’t “victims” of anything other than their own lack of character and common sense. You know heroin is addictive; you’ve observed people thoroughly addicted to it. Yet… You still choose to complete the complex loop of behavior that leads to your own addiction to it? Whose fault is that, again? Mine? Oh, no, sweetie… That’s all on you. And, while I feel pity for your problems, they’re also not my responsibility, and when you impinge on my rights, my spaces, with your addiction? I really don’t care. I do care about your discarded needles, your feces, and all the rest. So… Yeah.

    Full legalization also has to imply full agency being granted to the addict; that means that most of them will die before seeking treatment. Too bad; nobody was chasing these idiots down and putting needles in their arms. They did that all on their own.

    I’ve got a family history of alcoholism. I have dealt with alkies all my life, and I know the behaviors. It’s not anyone’s fault but the alcoholic, particularly when they were all warned about the family tendency towards abuse. I’m sad that they let this happen to themselves, but… In the end? They’re the only ones who can fix themselves, and they have to make that decision on their own. You can’t fix addiction from outside, and I fear that legalizing it all while insulating the addict from the consequences of their choices is only going to make the problem worse.

    And, yeah… I used to advocate for full legalization, thinking that people would respond rationally. Guess what? They don’t. So, we either do what we are doing in Portland, and go back to the imperfect situation we had going before they tried legalization, or we ought to just say “F*ck it… Here’s the free hot and cold running Fentanyl, and ohbytheway… Narcan is now a controlled substance. You OD? You die…”

    The halfway house of “legal, without natural consequence” ain’t working. For proof, see major West-coast cities.

    In nature, you do what the average drug-user does, you wind up dead in pretty short order. I can’t imagine what would happen were we to have large predators hanging around our cities, feeding on the passed-out drunks and druggies, but that’d be fully in tune with what Momma Nature does in the wild: Consequences flow from actions. And, yes, elephants do like their fermented fruit, but I don’t think you’ll see too many alcoholic elephants in the jungles of Southeast Asia, because they’d be too easy meals for the various large predators. Tigers would have a heyday…

  • Kirk,

    The problem with Portland was use was decriminalized while distribution was handled by criminals. What would you expect to happen under those circumstances?

    People in chronic pain chronically take pain relievers. Why is that a problem? If we counted anything that empties pain receptors as pain – the Drug War goes away. Doctors and pharmacies handle it like they do for other pain.

    Medical schools in America teach – addiction is a symptom of PTSD.
    Dr. Lonny Shavelson found that 70% of female heroin addicts had been sexually abused in childhood.
    I suppose the persecutions of abused children will have to continue.
    And addicts (people in pain) will require the mercy of criminals. They ain’t gonna get none from us.

  • BTW Kirk,

    All the bad habits you recount are mostly the result of Prohibition. “Addicts” under a doctors supervision getting pure medicines of known quantities don’t have those problems. I believe a Dr. Marks in England was allowed to prescribe for a neighborhood. All the problems you foresee never materialized. They shut him down and hushed things up. You obviously have never heard about that experiment. Thus your support for the government position “It is a bad situation but what else can we do?” Legalize – distribution and use – is what you can do. Stop making criminals out of people in pain.

  • Kirk


    Look… It’s functionally immaterial as to the things you’re using to justify decriminalization, which is effective legalization of it all. The fact remains that the problems of widespread availability and abuse of drugs are there. How to deal with them, in the face of feckless human irresponsibility? You tell me; what we’re doing manifestly ain’t working.

    As to your assertion that “70% of female heroin addicts had been sexually abused in childhood”?

    Prove it. That data comes from self-reporting addicts seeking to justify their behavior, which means it can’t be trusted in the slightest. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t… No matter what, you cannot make policy on what people abusing drugs tell you to justify their use. They lie, to themselves, to others, to the very people that raised them. Women in those cohorts, in my experience? They’re very glib and facile liars, willing to tell anyone anything for sympathy.

    Now, you show me longitudinal studies showing that children taken up from abusive situations tend to be drug abusers? I’d buy those stats, because there was presumably a grain of truth in them about the abuse. The self-reported crap from addicts? Not on a bet. Been there, done that, got taken to the cleaners by them.

    You seem to think that pitying these people is moral, that they ought to be excused. Reality? You’re enabling them and their self-destruction. Every little thing you do, like making the needles clean and free for use? You’re making it all that much easier for them to continue on their paths of self-destruction, and you’re making me pay for it. Which I object to on both moral and fiscal reasoning.

    Raw fact? Most of these people are dead creatures walking. They’re not going to “recover”, and if they do? The quality of life they experience after having burnt out their brains isn’t worth all that much to them or anyone else. It’s sad, but it is also not something that either you or I have moral responsibility for. You can’t “fix” any of these people from where you sit; they have to make that decision themselves, and everything you do to stave off their final encounter with reality is only going to make it that much harder for them to come to the realization that they need to stop what they are doing. And, if they never reach that point? What’s the loss for them or anyone else? Are they better off in misery on the street, so that you can feel your fine moral sensibilities haven’t been violated, or are they better off dead and no longer being a threat to public safety and sanitation?

  • Kirk


    All the problems you foresee never materialized.

    Are you being serious, or are you really this delusional? The exact problems I enumerate EXIST. Doubt me? Go walk through Portland or Seattle, preferably late at night while waving around some cash or other valuables. You’ll learn.

    You have a fantasy-world view of addiction and addicts. I doubt you’ve ever spent time in proximity to any of the various sorts of addicts, or you’d not be repeating these fantasies about how it’s all because of the laws and society.

    Addicts are addicts, and they get that way because that’s who they are. The fairy tales they tell you about how they were traumatized are generally just that… Fairy tales.

    A fair clue to this? I’ve never, ever run into anyone who’d just blithely tell me things like “I was raped by my father/brother/uncle as a little girl…” who was telling the truth. Real victims? They don’t talk about it. Ever. With anyone except closely trusted confidantes.

    You will, however, run into lots and lots of con artists who’ve learned to scam with heavy artillery by bringing this sort of bullshit into play with everyone they encounter. They’ll tell you whatever works, observing what gets them the most sympathy. The more you feed them, the more you’ll get, and the more lurid the tales. Because they’re responding to your feedback, using it to manipulate you. That’s how these people work; they’re functionally sociopathic at a deep level.

    You run into the same thing in veteran communities. If a guy is willing to talk to you about his experiences in Vietnam, right off the bat, describing how he had to kill dozens of VC with a knife, up close and personal, as they overran his basecamp? He’s almost certainly a liar; the real vets are those guys down on the end of the bar who won’t talk about their experiences, and/or only tell you amusing stories of their idiotic exploits as young men on R&R in Australia or Thailand. The realities of war, where they killed and lost good friends? Those you will never, ever hear as an outsider. And, if you do? He’s almost certainly a liar, feeding you the lurid details you’re obviously thirsting for. It’s the same crap, different con artist and different victim.

  • Kirk,

    Stop making criminals out of people in chronic pain. – It is a moral abomination.

    Repeating Prohibitionist lies will not make them come true. – The effects you describe are caused by Prohibition. End Prohibition – put people in pain under a Drs. care with pure known quantities of pharmaceutical drugs. The bad stuff mostly goes away.

    The actual effects of legally available opiates –

    Dr Marks could see the difference between the street addicts stumbling into the clinic for help for the first time, and the patients who had been on legal prescriptions for a while.

    The first people to notice an effect were the local police. Inspector Michael Lofts studied 142 heroin and cocaine addicts in the area, and he found there was a 93 per cent drop in theft and burglary.

    And something nobody predicted took place. The number of heroin addicts in the area actually fell.

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/05/the-case-for-prescription-heroin/ – link no longer functions

    So how long has this knowledge been out there? Over 25 years. You haven’t heard of it? Funny that.

    This link does function – The Merseyside Experiment – Dr.John Marks


    Proof – The Government Is Lying About DRUGS


    Drugs fill receptors.
    Pain empties receptors. PTSD empties receptors.
    Filling empty receptors makes you feel good.
    Empty receptors create a desire for drugs.
    Drugs do not create a desire for drugs.

    Please tell me why pain from PTSD should be treated any differently from the pain from a broken leg? They empty the same receptors.

    Please tell me why we no longer have alcohol wars? Shouldn’t we be persecuting alcohol addicts with Prohibition? When can we start jailing food addicts?

    The Government has done an excellent job of making you hate people in pain. It is not a pretty look. I’d advise you to give it up – but you seem to be having so much fun. Persecution is thrilling when it destroys the enemies the government has told you to hate, ain’t it?

  • Kirk

    What we have here in M. Simon’s apparent belief system is a perfect example of why we have these problems. He ideates accountability as “persecution”. He thinks that enabling other’s paths to self-destruction is “compassion”. He is victim-focused, and forgets the collateral damage those “victims” create by their presence in the public spaces that we all pay for.

    There is a much larger cost to all this “compassion” than M. Simon realizes. You enable the homeless drug addict, not holding them accountable for their conduct? You effectively punish the productive members of society, and not just in esthetic ways.

    Case in point: Once upon a time, there was a (relatively…) small family business not too far from downtown Seattle. They sold authentic German sausage and smoked meats, and were quite successful at it. They’re no longer in business at that location; the artisanal production that they had going is gone, off to be made at various large factories owned by conglomerates, and the quality just isn’t there, any more.

    Do you know why that happened? Compassion. See, their little plant had a problem with the local homeless population (I’m going to be bluntly graphic here, to drive home the point…) shitting on their sidewalks and loading dock. They’d call the police, make a complaint, and nothing would be done. They tried taking action against the vagrants shitting on their property, only to have the police show up and ticket them for “harassing the homeless”. Then, to add insult to injury, the city health department started coming around and ticketing them for having human feces on their sidewalks and loading dock… Eventually, along with the harassment their employees were taking from the vagrants, they said “Screw this…” and shut down operations. Good-bye tax revenue, and hello even more vacant buildings. Today, that formerly very successful family-owned business is a “brand identity” of a major conglomerate. You can’t get a decent authentic German sausage in the entire state, now.

    There’s a cost to “compassion”, and it is billed in a lot of ways, like quality of life. Why can’t you walk with your kids in the parks you pay for with your taxes? Because they’re filled with vagrant drug users that will harass you and your children, likely attacking you, and they’ll also litter the place with needles and other drug paraphenalia that you’ll have to keep the kids away from. All on money likely taken from your Social Security funds, that those same vagrant POS assholes likely never paid a dime into. If you live in Portland, San Francisco, or Seattle, you’re likely a prisoner in your own home, to “compassion” of these jackasses like M. Simon. You get taxed to death to pay for the facilities and amenities you cannot use because “unhoused”, and you get to pay for their addictions as well.

    And, in the end? It isn’t “compassion”, but a sort of weaponized idiocy hell-bent on destroying civil life in our cities. I don’t particularly care that you’re stupid enough to addict yourself to heroin or whatever, but I do care that your addiction is something I’m being forced to pay for, and that the rest of the behavioral package that comes with those addictions means I can’t walk down the street in my own cities without having to deal with human feces and drug-addled morons trying to mug me for their next hit on the crack pipe.

    We’ve somehow gone from one extreme to another, over the last few centuries. Time was, someone did what the average vagrant does today, shitting on the sidewalk where decent people live? They’d be run out of town, at the least. Today? You complain about it? Ticket. You don’t clean it up? Ticket. You’re their servant, their keeper. You can’t even condemn them for their behavior, lest the M. Simon’s of the world come to your door and call you cruel and heartless for “not understanding their pain”.

    News flash for you: I don’t care about the pain. I don’t care about the suffering they’ve had. I care that I’m being forced to enable it, pay for it, and that there is shit on my sidewalk. I care that I can’t go to the parks and other things I paid for with my taxes, because they’re filled with “compassion-deprived” vagrants taking drugs that my contributions to the Social Security fund are likely paying for.

    M. Simon believes as he does because he thinks it virtuous, this “compassion” of his. I would not term it thusly; I see it as the reverse, in that his “compassion” for the addict leaves out the effect on everyone else that is actually productively contributing to society. It drives out the people and businesses that support that society, and if you think that’s a recoverable thing…? Have a look at Detroit, and contemplate the trajectory that “compassion” has put on our major West Coast cities. They’re not coming back in this generation, and likely any other. I fully expect that the next time a disaster wipes out Seattle, it won’t be rebuilt. Hell, it likely won’t be rebuilt after the idjit class finishes with it; like locusts, they’ll move on to another host.

    I once thought that legalization and decriminalization of drugs would be a good idea. Having observed the course of things around me? Not any more; the data is in, and that data pretty clearly shows that easy availability of even marijuana is something that the average person cannot handle responsibly. Or, at least, they don’t bother; I’ve had to deal with too many marijuana-related side-effects on job sites to believe that it’s something that the users will just “handle”. They don’t; and the results are expensive errors in their work, accidents, and reduced performance. I’m not afraid to admit I was wrong. I don’t have a good answer, but what we’re doing isn’t working. If you think it is, go spend a day wandering what were once thriving downtown areas in Seattle, Portland, or San Francisco.

    Ya wonder why they can’t get people to go back to the office, any more? This is a huge component of the reason; once people recognized that they didn’t have to put up with their cars being trashed, their mornings ruined by stepping in human shit, and all the other lovely things the homeless drug users bring to the table? They ceased being willing to go into the offices, which drove down commercial real estate values, and all the rest. It’s a vicious, self-reinforcing circle of destruction.

    All enabled by “compassion”. The military-industrial complex ain’t got shit on the homeless-industrial complex; the people building ships and other weapons generally have to deliver things that work. The “compassionate” folks running the other? They’ve got an endless sink of irresponsible vagrants to rely on, to keep the money coming in. And, they don’t even have to show results, ‘cos ain’t nobody looking for those. It’s all a tithe to virtue, and feeling virtuous about the “compassion” you feel for the “unfortunate”. Nine-tenths of whom created their own damn problems in the first place…

  • bobby b

    If you derive pleasure from punishing the addicts, but don’t really care to actually decrease the presence of the homeless addicts in your city, then keep up what we have been doing.

    What M. Simon speaks of is a way to address the problem at the source, and is likely the only way (aside from wholesale execution) with which we might end up with fewer addicts.

    Calling the people who shit on our sidewalks “scum” is sort of satisfying, but does nothing to decrease the sidewalk soiling until you’re willing to start shooting them down, and I don’t see that as a possibility. Addressing the root of their addiction is the most efficient way to clean up the shit. M. Simon speaks of one possible route to accomplishing that.

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