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]

Li’s anti-government behaviour

Austin Bay at Instapundit:

Li’s anti-government behavior was using a private internet chat group to tell a handful of doctors and medical students that he was seeing signs of a viral epidemic.

Rather than listening to the message and taking immediate action, the government of China instead spent crucial days suppressing that message and punishing the messenger. Dr Li Wenliang and seven other doctors were arrested for spreading rumours, rumours which turned out to be accurate observations. Li has since died of the very disease that he noticed starting to spread.

China: Don’t just get mad, get even.

Today is a palindrome (for the first time since 11/11/1111)

In the spirit of what Julie near Chicago said in a comment, at 11:33am, on this, which was this, …

I love Samizdata. You learn so much arcane stuff hereabouts!

(She then adds, by way of example, something about the Cloak of Invisibility, whatever that is. (I’m not asking.))

… I will add another little bit of arcane stuff here. Before today ends, because it concerns today. I refer to this:

02 02 2020

This is the first time in over 900 years (since 11/11/1111) the date is palindromic no matter the date format.

I learned this in a tweet, which I encountered because the noted military historian Peter Caddick-Adams, with whom I was once upon a time acquainted and whose twitterings I now follow (and more to the point whose books I also read with great pleasure), drew it to my attention.

Although, what if you just say 2/2/2020? Doesn’t that count as a “date format”? I think I just destroyed this posting.

Personally, I always try to put the name of the month and only use a number for the day, because once you get confused about the all-numbers way of identifying dates the confusion only ends with your death. (When trying to work out when a photo taken early in the month got taken, I tend to get brain-ache and have to work it out like a crossword clue.)

I notice that Samizdata also uses month names for all dates. Very wise, and further proof of why all should love Samizdata.

The Wokists are losing the Mandate of Comedy

Here’s how the Bursar of St John’s College Oxford responded to a student demand that the college “declares a climate emergency and immediately divests from fossil fuels”.

“I am not able to arrange any divestment at short notice. But I can arrange for the gas central heating in college to be switched off with immediate effect. Please let me know if you support this proposal.”

The appropriately named Hot Air got this report out from behind the Times paywall, and tells how the dialogue developed from there. Thank you Ed Driscoll of Instapundit for the link.

Samizdata quote of the day

I’ve always believed that libertarian ideology should be to a well-lived life what scales are to a symphony: essential to know but not the music itself.

Jeffrey A Tucker.

I don’t know when Tucker first crafted this quote. I read it for the first time this morning when it appeared on my Twitter feed, retweeted by a Twitter followee of mine, Preston Byrne, to whom my thanks. I now follow Tucker also.

LATER: It would appear that Tucker said it this morning.

Looking back at Christmas Day

It’s now that time of the year between Christmas and the New Year, when we here sometimes do big postings with lots of photos. Usually, these have been retrospective looks back at the year nearly concluded. I did photo-postings like this in 2013, in 2015, and in 2017. And see also other such photo-postings here in the past, like this one in 2014, and this one way back in 2006.

We’re not the only ones doing these retro-postings about the nearly-gone year. A few days back an email incame from David Thompson, flagging up the posting he did summarising his 2019, which will already have been much read on account of Instapundit already having linked to it. And one of Thompson’s commenters mentioned a similar posting by Christopher Snowdon, mostly about politicians wanting to tell us what not to eat, drink or smoke.

So, here’s another 2019 retrospective. But it’s not a look back at the whole of 2019, merely a look back at a walk I took in London, on Christmas Day 2019. I like to photo-walk in London on Christmas Day, especially if the weather is as great as it was that Day.

I began my walk by going to Victoria Street and turning right, towards Westminster Abbey, where I did what I often do around Westminster Abbey. I photoed my fellow digital photographers, who were photoing Westminster Abbey:

The lady on the left as we look is using one of those small but dedicated digital cameras, of the sort that nobody buys now and hardly anyone even uses now, because the logical thing, unless you want something like 25x zoom like I do, or really great photos that you could blow up and hang in an art gallery, is to use a mobile phone. But she is still using her tiny camera from about a decade ago. Odd.

Next some giant purple Christmas tree balls, outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.

→ Continue reading: Looking back at Christmas Day

Sometimes experts get it right!

I now lurk on Twitter, and more recently, also on Facebook. Today, on Facebook, via Matt Ridley, this:

Still don’t know the link etiquette when quoting social media discoveries on a blog, so no link.

Usually, the most remembered prophecies are the ones that were proved totally wrong. Metal ships will all sink, aeroplanes can’t fly, cars will never catch on in Europe because chauffeurs, and so on. But this prophecy was – pretty much – right. And what’s more it came from someone running the very business he is prophesying about. He didn’t get everything about the mobile phones we now have. (No explicit mention of texting.) But, as Matt Ridley says: “Pretty good.”

Somewhere on the www there are presumably collections of such successful prophecies. Links please!

Also, what’s still to come for the telephone? Brain implants? 3D virtual reality transmission? Thought control of children? (Thought control by children?)

For a more immediate prophecy, I recently read this fascinating little blog posting by Jordan Peterson, about high tech telephone conmanship. Jordan Peterson being Jordan Peterson, it’s very grim and dark and miserable, and yet another circumstance that The Individual will have to defend himself against, and go a bit mad failing to defend himself against. But still, well worth a read if you missed it.

And also, e-scooters.

And, inevitably, see what Natalie said yesterday in the previous posting, which I only just read.

Samidata quote of the day

For almost a century, Governments have pissed away countlesss billions in the North. It didn’t work. No amount of cycle lanes and art galleries and award-winning ‘garden’ bridges will do it. The North needs Hong-Kong style shock-treatment tax cuts.

Martin Durkin

It’s a tweet, so that’s all there is.

Similar sentiments have been expressed by Dominic Frisby, as reported towards the end of this earlier posting here. (LATER: Also, I now see, Johnathan Pearce says very similar things in the previous posting to this one. Well, if it’s worth saying, it’s worth repeating.)

Samizdata quote of the day

What is the intellectual origin of the foreign policy views of Jeremy Corbyn’s inner circle? It is Lenin’s theory of imperialism.

In the early 20th century, building on the work of liberals such as John Hobson, Lenin argued that capitalism was being sustained only by the profits from colonial exploitation. These excess profits allowed domestic workers to be paid enough to prevent them from rising up against their capitalist employers. Imperialism was made possible by the power of capitalists to make the state provide military and political protection for their foreign investments.

From this two things follow. All foreign policy by capitalist countries is about creating empires, conquering property and exploiting resources. Kosovo as much as Iraq, Sierra Leone as much as Afghanistan, troops in West Germany as much as in Vietnam. Hence Mr Corbyn’s jaundiced view of Nato and any institutions connected with it, such as the European Union.

So Mr Corbyn argues, as he did in 2011, that “since World War Two, the big imperial force has been the United States on behalf of global capitalism and the biggest, mostly US-based corporations. The propaganda for this has presented itself as a voice for ‘freedom’ and carefully and consciously conflated it with market economics.”

The second thing that follows is that the troops on the front line of the movement to overthrow capitalism are national resistance movements. These are the heroes of socialist advance, even if sometimes they aren’t purely socialist.

So Mr Corbyn has given encouragement and support to the Iranian government, the Irish republicans, Hamas and Hezbollah, and Fidel Castro. He saw Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela as lights to the world, developing a new economic model worth emulating….

The Labour leader ignores or dismisses the idea that any of these groups or countries, such as Iran, might be imperialist powers because all that matters is that they resist western capitalist imperialism. So their imperialism, like that of the Soviet Union, is, he put it, “different”. Where resistance movements have turned to violence or fundamentalism Mr Corbyn says he disapproves but that the root cause is not their behaviour but ours….

There will be some who read this and will think I’m being unfair because I mentioned Lenin and Hezbollah and there is an election coming. But this article is unfair only if it’s an inaccurate description of Mr Corbyn’s views, and given that it is based on things he and his close advisers have written and said, it can’t be. If Mr Corbyn becomes prime minister he and his advisers will control foreign policy. Given that he departs so far from the postwar consensus and the traditional Labour position, it’s as well to understand what he thinks.

– Daniel Finkelstein, in a piece behind the Times paywall, but quoted (all of the above and more) by Mick Hartley.

How to defeat the Chinese Communists

How can the HongKongers defeat the Chinese Communists (hereinafter termed ChiComs), and preserve their HongKonger way of life approximately as it now is? In the short run, they probably can’t. During the next few months, the ChiCom repression in Hong Kong will surely get ever nastier, and the bigger plan, to just gobble it up and digest it into ChiCom China will surely bash onwards.

But then again, I thought that these Hong Kong demonstrations would all be snuffed out months ago. So what the hell do I know? I thought they’d just send in the tanks, and to hell with “world opinion”. But the ChiComs, it turned out, didn’t want to just kill everyone who dared to disobey, plus anyone else who happened to be standing about nearby. That would not be a good look for them. What are they? Russians? Far too unsophisticated. Instead the plan has been to divide and conquer, and it presumably still is. By putting violent agent provovateurs in among the demonstrators, and by ramping up the violence simultaneously perpetrated by the police, the plan was, and is, to turn the peaceful and hugely well attended demonstrations into far smaller, far more violent street battles of the sort that would disgust regular people. Who would then turn around and support law and order, increased spending on public housing, blah blah. So far, this has not worked.

And for as long as any ChiCom plan for Hong Kong continues not to work, “world opinion” has that much more time to shake itself free from the sneer quotes and get itself organised, to try to help Hong Kong to stay semi-free.

Those district rat-catcher (or whatever) elections last Sunday came at just the wrong time for the ChiComs, because they gave peaceful HongKongers the chance to make their opinions known, about creatures of a far more significant sort than rats, and at just the time when the ChiCom plan should have started seriously shutting the HongKongers up. These elections were a landslide.

The ChiComs are very keen to exude indifference to world opinion, but they clearly do care about it, because if they truly didn’t care about it, those tanks would have gone in months ago, just as I had assumed they would. So, since world opinion clearly has some effect, the first thing the rest of us can do to help the HongKongers is to keep our eyeballs on Hong Kong.

As I say, I continue to be pessimistic about the medium-term future in Hong Kong. But in the longer run, if the HongKongers can’t have a local victory, they can set about getting their revenge. And all of the rest of us who care can join in and help them.

We, the HongKongers and all their supporters around the world, can start talking seriously about toppling the ChiComs, not just by continuing to contest Hong Kong, but also by talking about China as a whole.

If the ChiComs won’t let Hong Kong be, then the HongKongers have a perfect right to start talking about China as a whole, since that’s what is now trying to swallow them up. If they aren’t allowed the distinct and distinctly better system that they were promised, then the only system they are allowed becomes fair game for their complaints and for their recommendations. That’s a claim that will make sense to anyone able to think for themselves. It won’t persuade the ChiComs, but persuading everyone else in the world with a clutch of honest brain cells to rub together is a fine start.

What needs to happen is some re-framing.

→ Continue reading: How to defeat the Chinese Communists

Samizdata quote of the day

Oh no. I’ve accidentally stayed up way too late reading about the 1560s attempt to set up copper mining and smelting works in Cumbria using German experts.

Anton Howes, historian of the origins of the Industrial Revolution.

The above is the first of a series of tweets. Read them all here. Howes was asked what exactly he’d been reading. Answer: This book.

I signed up to the Anton Howes Age of Invention newsletter a while back, and am always pleased when another installment shows up in my incoming emails.

How irrational anti-racism, irrational anti-sexism and irrational anti-classism encourage rational racism, rational sexism and rational classism

“Shouting Thomas”, commenting on this Althouse posting, says:

It’s a mistake to vote for any candidate for any office except for a straight white man.

Every other variety is protected from criticism by liberal race, sex and class doctrine. You’re racist, sexist or classist if you dare to criticize them.

So, if you want accountability from public officials, you must vote for straight white men.

For “straight white man” he should, to make his point about classism, have put: “posh straight white man”. Otherwise, good provocative stuff, well worthy of being rescued from a mere comment thread.

I myself am prejudiced against female British Conservative Party parliamentary candidates and members of parliament, if their femaleness is the only thing I know about them. I believe that, ever since Cameron’s “detoxification” efforts, they have been getting an easier ride during the candidate selection process than men.

Similar suspicions are surely widespread in fields beyond politics, wherever positive discrimination is rampant.

What if the Berlin Wall hadn’t come down?

I have always been interested in the What If? question that consists of asking how the world would have been different had the Berlin Wall not fallen and had the USSR just blundered onwards indefinitely, still being the USSR.

That’s a question that has long intrigued me, ever since the Wall in question actually did fall. As you can tell from how I phrase the question, I am damn near certain that the world would have been a far grimmer place than it now is, had that horrible structure not been trashed or turned into souvenir fragments. But, beyond noting with approval the way that various eastern European former Soviet possessions have become much freer and less poor, I have never taken the time to think through the details of this feeling. How might western public opinion have developed, had the Wall remained? How would the world as a whole have been different?

So, I was very interested to learn yesterday about an IEA event, which I have already signed up to attend, to be held at the end of this month:

This month sees the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, ushering in dramatic change across East and West Germany. But even now, East Germany still lags behind the West and the legacy of socialism has been hard to overcome.

So what would have happened if the wall hadn’t come down?

On Thursday 28th November, the IEA is delighted to host an intriguing discussion on that very premise. Professor Syed Kamall will chair the conversation with our own Head of Political Economy Dr. Kristian Niemietz, and historians Roger Moorhouse and Giles Udy.

Rather than just bang on with more guess-answers, I will keep this posting brief and await comments from others.

In particular, are there any ways in which the fall of the Berlin Wall has made the world worse? I’m not talking about how it has embarrassed Communists and (a tribe I particularly despise) anti-anti-Communists … like that’s a bad thing. Those are just two of many features. I’m talking about how life for regular people around the world, and perhaps also in Russia itself, may actually, in some weird knock-on effect ways, have been made worse. I can’t think of any obvious ways that anything like that has happened, but maybe someone else can.