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]

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.

The wrongness because of explained rightness argument

It’s a little thing, but I always enjoy it when someone argues back, against what someone else has said, by replying: You’re wrong, because the reason why you’re right is …:

FACT CHECK: President Trump praised the record number of women in Congress, but that’s almost entirely because of Democrats, not Trump’s party.

Once you notice this, you notice it all the time.

“No Brian, you’re wrong, that doesn’t happen, because the reason that it keeps happening is because …”

Corbyn’s road map to a communist Britain

Just got back from supper with friends to find myself being urged by my Facebook Friend (and actual friend) Tim Evans to read Corbyn’s road map to a communist Britain by Giles Udy. This piece, says Tim, is “spot on”.

Sample quote:

At no point is there any question of the revolutionary Left’s presumed right to overthrow the existing order and impose its own socialist system. Indeed, it claims it represents “the interests of the working class and the whole population” – an intriguing conflation given that the Monster Raving Loony Party gained three times the votes of the CPB in the 2015 general election and the fact that all the far-left parties combined scored just 0.02 per cent of all the votes cast. But the arrogance is pure Lenin: the revolutionary elite must take power because the people do not know what is good for them. When the Left says it opposes rule by tiny elites, it exempts itself.

Did we, at the last General Election, reach Peak Corbyn? Have enough voters who thought they were voting for an amiable geography teacher now get that Corbyn is a far nastier piece of work than that? I wish I could be sure enough about this to remove the question marks. Nevertheless, were the Corbyn tendency to win power at the next general election, I would not only be aghast; I’d also be surprised. It cheers me up, as it must cheer up any anti-Corbynite, that Labour are now doing rather badly in the polls, despite facing a Brexit-deranged Conservative government.

But, does Corbyn even care about winning the next general election? What matters to him, surely, is him and his comrades first getting total command of the Labour Party. What does make chilling sense is that a financial melt-down may occur, any decade now, at which point the Corbynite take-over of the Labour Party will have been completed and communistic stridency (designed to gather all the comrades into one political organisation) will have been replaced by much more organised and conventionally presented duplicity (with all the comrades on message). At which point, all the horrors described in the article linked to above may start seriously to happen. Voters, worrying about far more than mere Brexit turbulence, may then take, in sufficient numbers, whatever bait is dangled in front of them.

Of course, I fervently hope that this is wrong. And actually, if I had to place a bet, I’d bet that it is wrong. But betting is one thing. Being sure about that bet is quite another.

Samizdata quote of the day

After years of having their dignity drained from them by corrupt, ruthless and cold men, Venezuelans are now fighting for their freedom and demanding an end to an illegitimate regime.

They know what so many in this country do not, which is that Venezuela has, indeed, shown the world that another way is possible. It has exposed to the world an inhumane dictatorship whose coercive ideology has brought brutality, mass poverty, disease, and tremendous suffering to its people. And the name for that system? As Mr Corbyn told us himself, it’s called socialism.

– Conservative MP Priti Patel

All that the socialists now have to agree about is at what point real socialism in Venezuela was abandoned, betrayed, done wrong, blah blah. Kristian Niemietz is good on this subject. His point being, as explicated in this IEA podcast, that if real socialism was supposedly driven off a cliff by bad or stupid people, its inherent tendency to slide towards and then go over that cliff, no matter who is driving, need not be faced.

Vera Kichanova on micro-homes

Last night I attended a meeting, and although I did not have any arguments with anyone about fake news, I did meet with Vera Kichanova, and learned from her that her Adam Smith Institute “report” (aka: argument in favour of) micro-housing was to be published today. Good. I’m for it.

ASI announcement by Matthew Lesh here. The entire thing can be read here.

I don’t agree with Vera’s title, “Size Doesn’t Matter”. I think that when it comes to where you live, size matters a lot. You don’t want somewhere too big for you, or too small for you. Perhaps the ASI is hoping that, by having a silly title, they will sucker many of those who hate the idea, and who would otherwise ignore it, into instead denouncing it because of its title, thus spreading the word about it. The Trump technique, in other words.

For many, “micro” would indeed be way too small. But, for quite a few others, micro-living would be much preferable to a long commute. I am in favour of people having choices along such lines rather than at the far end of a line. And I am in favour of entrepreneurs having the freedom to bet their time and money contriving such choices.

I’ve not yet read Vera’s piece yet (this being one of those something now rather than something better but later postings), so I don’t know if she makes this point, but one very good reason why many might now be okay with a much smaller living space is that home entertainment and home education can now occupy a tiny fraction of the space that they used to, about one or maybe two generations ago. You can literally now carry your entire entertainment system, and your entire library – words, music, movies, TV shows, the lot – in a small bag. In other words, you can now not merely eke out your existence in a tiny dwelling space, you can actually have a life while living in such a micro-home.

One final point, before I hurry back to the rest of my life. Vera Kichanova works for Zaha Hadid Architects, which is all part of why I believe it to be important that Zaha Hadid Architects thrives.

Scott Adams catches a video being used to lie by being edited lyingly

I just watched the first twenty minutes of this speech to camera by Scott Adams, about a piece of CNN fake news. Kudos to Adams who, having dug himself into a bit of a hole by believing some fake news, stopped digging and climbed out, and then filled in the hole by deleting his earlier and wrong interpretation of the story.

This is part of a much bigger story, I think, about how the media are now fragmenting into … well, fragments. Time was when (a) CNN might have valued their reputation for impartiality enough not to be this brazen and this fake in their “news” presentation, and when (b) if they had been this brazen and this fake, nobody else would have been able to do anything much about it. As it is, each part of the shattered ex-body politic now has their own version of these events. Mine is what you’ll see if you watch that second Scott Adams wideo, the one I just watched. If I encounter someone this evening who thinks CNN got this story right, and the event I will be attended means that I very well might, the polite version of how I might respond is: That’s not how I see this. The ruder version might also happen and here’s how that will go: You’re wrong.

Don’t call … them the “mainstream media” because they are not this any more. They’re (we’re) all just media – CNN, Scott Adams, Uncle Tom Cobley on YouTube, me and my pals posting and maybe you commenting on Samizdata – churning out stuff for the kind of people who see things the way they (we) do, and want the kind of news – true, false, dazzling, daft – that they (we) want to offer.

It used to be that you only discovered what liars and nincompoops journalists were capable of being when you were in the middle of one of their stories and actually knew what lies they were telling, if they were. Now, we can all see this whenever we want to, by whistling up a contrary opinion more to our own tastes.

This is a very important change, which has already given the world Trump and Brexit and much else besides, such as, most recently, here in Britain, that already famous Question Time Roar, and all the sort of people who regret Trump and Brexit and The Roar are intensely aware of this. They are fighting back vigorously.

But here is a big opinion about that fight-back, very hastily expressed because I must soon be out. No amount of censorship or bias – by Google, by credit card companies, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the rest of them – can even seriously reverse these liberalising (in the true sense) developments, let alone put any sort of complete stop to them.

There should many more links in the above paragraphs, and another page of explanation of that big opinion, but I am out of time. Also, maybe I could be persuaded that free expression, in countries like mine, really is seriously threatened, if anyone can convince me that the fight-back is going to be savage enough. But, gotta go.

Discuss.

Hobbs mania: How a cartoon depiction of Mohammad provoked Muslim outrage – in 1925

I have begun reading Leo McKinstry’s book about Sir Jack Hobbs, whom he describes in his book’s subtitle as “England’s Greatest Cricketer”. So, greater than W.G. Grace then? That’s what McKinstry says, and he emphasises this by telling, at the beginning of his book, on pages 5 and 6 of the Introduction, about how Hobbs surpassed Grace’s record for the number of centuries scored by a batsman in top class cricket (“first class” cricket as we cricket people call it), and of what a sensation this caused in England. This happened several decades before cricket was toppled by soccer as England’s greatest sporting obsession.

Hobbs began the 1925 county cricket season scoring heavily, and the centuries piled up, a century being a personal score of a hundred or more runs by the one batsman. But as Hobbs neared Grace’s record of 126 centuries, and as press and public interest grew, the nerves cut in and started affecting the performances of the usually nerveless Hobbs. The centuries slowed to a trickle. Once, when he got out for 54 (which would normally be rated a decent score), Hobbs walked back to his home pavilion at Surrey’s Oval cricket ground in complete silence, so deep was the gloom and disappointment of the spectators.

But, Hobbs having got stuck within one century of the Grace record, Hobbs’s team, Surrey, were playing Somerset at Taunton. On the first day of that game, August 15th 1925, Somerset were dismissed cheaply and Hobbs reached 91 not out, just a handful of runs short of reaching the record. And the next morning, he inched his way to century number 126. Equality with Grace was apparently what mattered, rather than doing one better, and with the pressure off, Hobbs’s first class century number 127 followed in the second Surrey innings of that same game.

Cue the celebrations:

Across the nation, Hobbs was acclaimed as the greatest sportsman of his age. ‘Jack Hobbs has taken the sporting world by storm. In two days and the same match he has equalled and surpassed the greatest feat ever performed in the annals of cricket; declared the Daily Mirror. Even King George V, a monarch notorious for his gruff reticence, sent a fulsome message of congratulations from Balmoral via his secretary Lord Stamfordham, expressing ‘much pleasure’ at Hobbs’s ‘remarkable success, whereby you have established a new and greater record in the history of our National Game’. Nor could the non-cricket world ignore the event. ‘Britain welcomes a new cricket hero; the New York Times told its readers, explaining that, ‘England has been in something akin to ferment this summer.’ …

But then comes this:

… A ferment of a different sort arose in Britain’s Indian Empire in the wake of Hobbs’s triumph. On the day that Hobbs beat Grace’s record, the Star published a cartoon by the brilliant New Zealand-born illustrator David Low, later to be renowned for his savage depictions of the European dictators of the 1930s. This 1925 cartoon, which perfectly captured the Hobbs mania that had gripped Britain, showed the Surrey player, bat in hand, towering over a series of other historical figures, including Columbus, Lloyd George, Caesar and Charlie Chaplin. Fatefully, Low also inserted in the line-up the Prophet Muhammad, standing on a pedestal and gazing up at Hobbs. When the image appeared in the Indian papers, it caused fury in the Muslim population, not just because Islam regards any portrayal of the Prophet as sacrilegious, but also because Muhammad was placed in a position of inferiority to a mere cricketer. According to the Calcutta correspondent of the Morning Post, the Hobbs cartoon ‘convulsed many Muslims in speechless rage. Meetings were held and resolutions were passed.’ So serious was the problem that the Indian Viceroy, the Marquess of Reading, wrote to the Cabinet in London to convey the feelings of Muslim outrage.

I note with approval that the internet allows us to see what all this fury was about:

Google quickly showed me this cartoon reproduction, which is apparently to be found at the Mohammed Image Archive. There are many other depictions of Mohammed (that being the third version in this posting alone of how this personage is spelt) on view at the other end of that link, but I could not find the above cartoon, although presumably it is there somewhere.

Nor have I been able to determine whether Indian Muslims issued any death threats, against David Low or against anyone connected to or working for The Star. From the reference to “meetings and resolutions” I get the impression: not, or the death threats would have got a mention also. But I would love to know.

Lord Deben on how (not) to influence and work for a better world

I think that this is a very revealing Tweet about last night’s House of Commons EU vote, from Lord Deben, formerly John Selwyn Gummer, and not in a good way:

So we leave all decisions to others and remove our major opportunity to influence and to work for a better world. We decide we are indeed just a nation of shopkeepers whose customers and suppliers decide and we obey. That instead of being the driver of the EU. What a come-down!

Lord Deben thinks that “we” were “the driver of the EU”, to which I would say that this “we” was only … a very few of us, and that also other EUropeans did quite a bit of driving. And, Lord Deben thinks that the best way to “influence and work for a better world” is to do politics, and EU politics at that.

Does Lord Deben think that Britain leaving the EU is not going to have any “influence” upon the world? I put it to him, as my trial lawyer ancestors would say, that this will have a big influence, provided only that it does happen. Just not the sort of influence that Lord Deben will like. It’s a lot to hope for, but I really do hope that Lord Deben is, approximately speaking, right about the sort of nation that Britain will become. Although, I can’t remember ever having “obeyed” a shopkeeper, unless they were the kind that collaborate with people like Lord Deben to restrict me in what I can buy.

When I think of the good that has been done for the world by inventors and entrepreneurs, and yes, shopkeepers, I think that Lord Deben’s is a very restricted view of the world and its possibilities.

Dominic Cummings on how rational arguments don’t (but actually sometimes do) have consequences

I have finally got around to reading this notable blog posting by Dominic Cummings. I recently watched the Channel 4 DocuDrama about Brexit. This was fun to watch, but if you are a Brexiter like me, you might also want to read this denunciation of it. Upshot: I wanted to know what Cummings himself had to say.

And one of the things Cummings says, right near the beginning (this being as far as I’ve got so far) might well serve as the rationale for political blogging generally, and for Samizdata in particular:

I’ve learned over the years that ‘rational discussion’ accomplishes almost nothing in politics, particularly with people better educated than average. Most educated people are not set up to listen or change their minds about politics, however sensible they are in other fields. But I have also learned that when you say or write something, although it has roughly zero effect on powerful/prestigious people or the immediate course of any ‘debate’, you are throwing seeds into a wind and are often happily surprised.

It’s actually not complicated. People read things like Samizdata when they are making up their minds, or because they have made up their minds that Samizdata is right and like reading about how right they are. They make up their minds as intelligently as they can, but when they have made up their minds, their intelligence is then almost entirely applied to acting in accordance with whatever political principles they have made up their minds to follow, rather than in listening seriously to anyone who wants to explain why these principles are mistaken. Critics are only attended to in order themselves to be criticised.

Samizdata quote of the day

The logic of socialism is to look at someone in a wheelchair and punish the able-bodied by breaking their legs.

The Academic Agent, talking about The Problem with the BBC. The whole thing lasts just under ten minutes, and that little nugget comes about a minute before the end.

Thank you Instapundit.

LG unrolls a new kind of TV screen

Blogs like this one have a tendency to get rather doom-laden with the passing of time. As the political disappointments pile up and are fretted about, it tends to be forgotten that things could be a hell of a lot worse, and that in the meantime that there is much to celebrate.

Things like new gadgets and inventions. The one that I noticed recently was this new roll-up TV screen. That’s a link to a bit of video of an actor of rather modest means pretending to be a rich guy, of the sort who early-adopts such things as roll-up TV screens, before they are really good and way before they are cheap, but who is so very rich that this really doesn’t matter. He is not so much an impatient and/or extravagant idiot. He is more like a patron, giving the techies who did this, and who still have another decade of improvements and price-reductions to graft away at, a bit of well-deserved encouragement, for having at least got the thing working, sort-of, to the point where their bosses are now willing to boast about it. Well done lads, keep up the good work.

Here is another bit of video showing off the same device.

Whether this particular LG version of the roll-up TV screen will ever work well I do not know. But some time soon, this gadget and other gadgets a lot like it will surely start working very well, and then ever more cheaply and compactly. Hurrah. I suspect that roll-up TV screens will be very popular, just like flat TV screens before them, and for very similar reasons.

The sales pitch offered in the first bit of video linked to above is that you will be able to roll the screen down into its small horizontal case, and then enjoy your expensive view through your expensively vast window. Or maybe the story here is that you are such a superior person that only you need know that you ever watch television at all. As for me, I am perpetually pushed for space in my little London home, and a roll-up TV might give me a further little bit of accessible CD shelf space. (Please spare me the anti-CD comments. I like them. If you can’t read that without telling me to stop with the CDs, well, the bit in brackets here.)

Another major plus that will follow from this roll-up TV screen being perfected is that a mobile computer would need then only be the size of its keyboard, because the screen could be the same width as that keyboard, but any old height you want, when you unroll it. Will the standard screen of a computer morph from smallish landscape, if you get my drift, to about-three-times-as-big roll-up portrait? In the age of mobile portrait-type phone screens, that might make sense. As might rolling them up only a little, when rolling them up a lot might be rather anti-social or inconvenient.

Roll-up TV screens will be both big enough to see from a bit of a distance, and yet also small enough to carry around with you without too much fuss. So they’ll be a godsend for people giving talks in unfamiliar surroundings, where they want to show computer imagery but don’t want to depend on their hosts to supply a working big screen.

One final point, about all such developments. I vaguely recall doing a posting here about how a man I admire a lot, Steve Davies, has been arguing that we need different history dates, to celebrate the creative achievements of free people, and to replace the insignificant and frequently very destructive moments, individual or collective deaths mostly, associated with the doings of mere governments. Yes, here we are. But I now think that the whole idea of having alternative dates of this sort is a mistake. What does it matter exactly when the shipping container became the benign influence upon the world that it now is, or the Jumbo jet, or the communications satellite, or the personal computer, or the pencil, or the water mill, or the wheel? Or the roll-up TV screen? The way to identify these various gadgets is the way I just did, with words that allude to and label them. Searching for an exact date for each one is a waste of time.

Recently, I have been waving around the date that is May 24th 1844, this being exactly the day when Samuel Morse first publicly demonstrated his electric telegraph and his Morse Code. But it you want to say that the really important bit of that story happened a bit earlier, or for that matter a bit later, for this or that reason, well, fine. The point is: the electric telegraph and the Morse Code, some time around then. The whys and wherefores of these great steps forward are worth celebrating, by naming them. The exactly-whens don’t really signify. Approximately-when will do just fine. Just because we know exactly when some King died, or exactly when a particular and particularly bloody battle occurred, doesn’t mean we have to fret about exactly which bit of creativity was the most creative, in some quite long drawn-out stretch of creative endeavour, such as is now occurring with these roll-up TV screens. The point is: roll-up TV screens! Some time around … now!