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]

Dominic Frisby needs another week to get the video up

I did the blogging equivalent of buying shares in Dominic Frisby quite a while ago now. More significantly, from Frisby’s point of view, Guido Fawkes has been boosting him, most recently by remembering this heartfelt ode to Nigel Farage. See also this other Brexit-related song by Frisby.

Now, it seems that another Frisby comic song is in the pipeline. Concerning this, Frisby tweets:

I’m now in the situation where I desperately don’t want Theresa May to resign because I have written a really funny song about it, and I need at least another week before I can get the video up.

Theresa, are you reading this? Of course you are. I know that you are planning to step down as Prime Minister any hour now, because you have been listening carefully to what people like this have been saying. But I urge you, Theresa, for the sake of your country’s Comedic Future (see above), to hang on in there for another week. Force yourself.

(Delingpole agrees.)

(This bloke, on the other hand …)

John Lewis Gaddis on good versus evil in the Cold War

One of the particular pleasures of twenty-first century life is that it is now easy to purchase interesting books which have been around for quite a while, cheaply and easily rather than expensively and complicatedly. I recently bought, from Amazon, We Now Know, by John Lewis Gaddis, which is about the Cold War and was published in the 1990s. I’ve been meaning to acquaint myself with this book ever since I first heard about it, which must have been well over a decade ago.

I have so far only skimmed We Now Know, but I have already encountered a rather striking passage, towards the end. (Skimming usually involves looking at the end, doesn’t it?)

The Cold War, says Gaddis, was not decided in the Third World, but rather in such places as Europe and Japan. And why, asks Gaddis (pp.286-7 – his italics in bold), did “Washington’s empire in those pivotal regions”, generate so much less friction that Moscow’s:

One answer may be that many people then saw the Cold War as a contest of good versus evil, even if historians since have rarely done so.

Let me focus here on a single significant case: it has to do with what happened in Germany immediately after the war as its citizens confronted their respective occupiers. What Stalin sought there, it now seems clear, was a communist regime in the east that would attract Germans in the west without requiring the use of force, something the Russians could ill afford given their own exhaustion and the Americans’ monopoly over the atomic bomb.

Obviously, this is not what he got. Germans first voted with their feet – fleeing to the west in huge numbers to avoid the Red Army – and then at the ballot box in ways that frustrated all of Stalin’s hopes. But this outcome was not fore-ordained. There were large numbers of communist party members throughout Germany at the end of the war, and their prestige – because of their opposition to the Nazis – had never been higher. Why did the Germans so overwhelmingly welcome the Americans and their allies, and fear the Russians?

→ Continue reading: John Lewis Gaddis on good versus evil in the Cold War

“Added impotence …”

Tweet of the day. That’s what Julia Hartley-Brewer says. She’s Tweeting about this Tweet:

Theresa May’s spokesman says the local election results “have given added impotence… I mean impetus,” to Brexit talks with Labour.

My position on Brexit is: I want it. As in: national legislative independence, no customs union, etc. I want Brexit in the way that the Brexit Party wants Brexit. As smooth as it can be but as unsmooth as it has to be.

But, my position on a Corbyn government is: I don’t want it. The second sentiment may well trump the first, for me, come the next general election. I don’t believe I’m the only one thinking like this. How odd that Corbyn and his pals, who have always wanted Britain out of the EU, may be the ones who end up keeping us in.

My hope is, if the Conservatives do now – to coin a phrase – succeed in failing to deliver the Brexit that they promised, that the Brexit Party will actually be a better bet than the Conservatives, come the next general election, to stop a Corbyn government. This because so many disappointed Labour Brexiters will be voting for the Brexit Party along with most of the formerly Conservative vote. So: No Corbyn government, actual Brexit. Two for two. I can hope.

Also: What if you are strongly pro-EU, but even more strongly anti-Corbyn. Might you also, in the circumstances just described, vote in a general election for the Brexit Party, if they looked like a better bet than the Conservatives to stop a Corbyn government? There presumably won’t be many such people, but maybe enough to make a difference.

Weird times.

Samizdata quote of the day

It is not without significance that the socialist Labour Day is celebrated in the Spring, at the time of planting and promise. It is full of hope of what might be achieved. By contrast, the capitalist Labor Day celebrated in America takes place on the first Monday of September, when the harvest is in and its actual achievements can be hailed.

Madsen Pirie of the Adam Smith Institute contrasts Britain’s Labour Day (today) with Labour Day in the USA.

“Young designers can learn more working at a studio than studying at a fee-paying university …”

Internships are often denounced as the exploitation of cheap labour. Compared to paid jobs, I dare say many internships are indeed rather exploitative, and not in a good way.

But it makes just as much sense to compare internships with higher education. Internship gives you some free education. Universities charge a fortune for something similar but arguably much worse.

Karim Rashid argues exactly this, when it comes to learning how to be a designer:

New York designer Karim Rashid has defended the use of unpaid internships, saying young designers can learn more working at a studio than studying at a fee-paying university.

“I believe some of the universities are far more exploiting than a small brilliant architecture firm that can inspire and be a catalyst for a student’s budding career,” said Rashid in a comment on Facebook, responding to Dezeen’s post about unpaid internships at Chilean architecture studio Elemental.

“In a rigorous office with a respectful mentor, an intern can learn in three months more than a year or two of education, and education in USA is costing that student $60,000 to $100,000 a year,” the designer wrote.

Instapundit, which has for years and quite rightly been banging on about the “higher education bubble“, and about how the “business model” of higher education is broken, should be alerted to what Rashid says. Do the Instapunditeers read Dezeen, where the above report is to be found? I’m guessing: not that often.

Also, has this piece, I wonder, been picked up on the Insta-radar? It’s entitled “The Creeping Capitalist Takeover of Higher Education”?

Whenever the Subsidised and Subsidising Classes stop defending one of their strongholds and instead start denouncing it as a capitalist plot, you know that the stronghold in question is staring some serious trouble in the face. The S&S Classes can see that trouble looms for higher education, because it’s coming for them and because of them. Large swathes of it are an overpriced racket and they can’t any longer pretend otherwise. So, before this becomes as widely understood as it soon will be, they need a narrative that says that this wasn’t their fault, but was instead the fault of their political enemies.

British pushback against the problem of transgender athletes competing in women’s events

News of interest on the Transgender Athletes front, from the BBC:

Dame Kelly Holmes, Paula Radcliffe and Sharron Davies say they are going to write to the International Olympic Committee asking for more research on the “residual benefits” of being a transgender athlete.

I don’t quite get why these transgender athletes bother. When all the medals in some “Women’s” athletic event go to transgender athletes, these athletes can bully us all into not calling them fake winners to their faces, but that’s what most of us will go on thinking. And I bet Martina Navratilova hasn’t changed what she actually thinks. Which may indeed be that “cheats” is not quite the right word. After all, these transgender athletes all played by the rules as currently written. It’s the rules that need updating. Maybe there should be a distinct athletic category of competitions for Transgender Athletes, distinct from regular women.

For athletes who transgender from male to female anyway. As the BBC notes drily:

Athletes who have transitioned from female to male can compete without restrictions.

But maybe they too need a separate category?

But what do I know about this ruckus? My basic point here is that some British women athletes of great renown have begun what looks like a significant pushback against something that seems to me and to many others to be a very silly sort of competition.

Samizdata quote of the day

If socialists really wanted to help people they’d be capitalists.

Andy Puzder.

Spotted by Stephen Green of Instapundit, to whom thanks.

A Brexit photo

Today I was at Euston tube station, and found myself admiring the antique signage on one of the platforms, the Northern Line I think, done with painted tiles, rather than with a printing press or with electronic wizardry as is the way such things are done now. Way Out signs are not what once they were. So out came my camera.

At this point I realised that there was some weekend, Brexit-related fun to be had, by including also part of the bit where it said, in much bigger letters, “EUSTON”:

If only the way out of the EU was turning out to be as simple as exiting from Euston tube station.

Samizdata quote of the day

We don’t need to rewrite the Constitution. They need to reread the Constitution.

Lynnette Hardaway

For a bit of background, read About Diamond and Silk.

The enforced prosperity inflicted upon Jean Sibelius by the government of Finland

I continue to be obsessed by the Seventh Symphony of Sibelius, after hearing it performed at a live concert. (In a comment on that posting, Nick M expressed admiration for how Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra performed this piece. I assume he meant this recording. Having listened to many recordings of Sibelius 7 recently, I find myself strongly agreeing with Nick M. (My surprise second favourite Sibelius 7 is, as of now, John Barbirolli and the Halle Orchestra. (But Karajan and the BPO are much better recorded.)))

While seeking to learn more about this amazing piece, I came across a delightful start to some writing about it by Paul Serotsky:

So often does adversity transmute talent into greatness that we seem to consider it a general rule. Sibelius would be an exception to prove that rule. While still only 32, the Finnish government awarded him a pension for life, a year before he even began work on his First Symphony. That he went on to produce some of the Twentieth Century’s finest and most original music says much for his strength of character in the face of enforced prosperity.

Much is made of the last few decades of Sibelius’s life and of how, during all that time, he composed nothing. But he was over ninety when he died, and sixty isn’t a ridiculous age at which to be retiring from the creative life. In general, his life is usually regarded as a case of a government arts subsidy scheme working out pretty well. As Serotsky says, Sibelius is exceptional in being so creative, after receiving a guaranteed minimum income. (Incidentally, I wonder if the government of Finland had its collective brain cells scrambled by what they surely saw as the success of their Sibelius experiment, and thus thought that a generalised version of the same scheme would be other than a dismal failure, that echoed the end of Sibelius’s life rather than his earlier creativity?)

Serotsky’s words remind me that I did a couple of other music-based postings here, quite a few years ago now, about how adversity can sometimes indeed transmute talent into greatness.

The response demonstrates why it needed to happen

The launch of Turning Point UK felt to me like an important moment.

Douglas Murray agrees:

Earlier this week I made the usual mistake of looking at Twitter and saw that ‘Turning Point’ was trending. This is unusual in Britain. Turning Point is a very successful organisation set up in the US to counter the dominance of left-wing views on campus. It turned out to be trending because of the launch of Turning Point UK this week. In essence the response to the launch of Turning Point demonstrated the need to launch Turning Point in the UK.

This is also how I now feel about the Brexit vote. The response to that also explains why it needed to happen.

Turning Point?

Turning Point UK is getting quite a lot of attention, and I think it deserves a little more, from any Samizdata readers who are hearing about it for the first time, now.

Here is a recent Tweet of theirs:

Young people are waking up to the biased political narrative we receive during our education and we won’t be passive to this anymore.

I want to believe that. I also want to believe that Turning Point UK will stick around long enough and loud enough to do something substantial about it. I don’t assume anything, but I wish them well.

These young people seem to be libertarian-inclined but basically partisan supporters of the Conservative Party. Fair enough. The Conservative Party has suffered dreadfully from the shutting down of the Federation of Conservative Students in 1986, by Norman Tebbit of all people. The resulting ideological vacuum lead directly to the Labour Lite Nannyism of the Theresa May generation of Conservative leaders. If Turning Point UK can merely help to correct that sad circumstance, they will be doing the UK a great service.