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]

A domestic army

Browsing Instapundit this morning, I found this link to this video…


Commenter Alisa contributed a link that includes a pointer to the Homeland Security Grant Application (PDF) by the Concord police department.

Section 1 B begins:

Application to purchase BearcatSection 1B

It would be interesting to hear the specifics of what kind of “active and present daily challenges” the Free Staters constitute.

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

– from a document that may soon be given a security classification the way things are going.  Simply following that link could brand you as a potential terrorist.  Not to mention get you in trouble with the IRS.

Nigel Farage tactfully comments on the euro and the EU

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZap5n3zGZ8&w=560&h=315]


Kim Jong-un is looking at things, just like his father!

The Kim is dead, long look the Kim!

– commenter Alisa

Not getting it yet

The state of nature is not the halcyon, bucolic life of myth. Existentially, the state of nature is a place of predators and prey. To escape that uncertainty, predators or prey can join together in mutual association, forming societies. Associations of individuals seeking escape from the state of nature can take one of two existential forms: Collectivist or Individualist.

In a collective existential state, society is one living organism: society and its members are one, and individuals exist only as inextricable parts of collective society. Society itself is alive – so by extension, the rights to liberty and property are also vested in society. Collective societies may grant privilege to members, but they may not recognize individual rights. All rights fall to the living collective society.¹

A collective society must have self-preservation as its primary function, and disentanglement of a collective is the death of something that had life.² In a collective existential state individuals are integral to the community: societal authority must control who joins or leaves the society. Collective societies without strong borders and powerful immune systems lack protection from external and internal threats. Let either its borders or its internal ‘immune system’ fail, and a collective society will bleed out its energy or be overwhelmed by parasites. Allowing departure enables internal threats to reposition themselves as external threats. Allowing departure allows the most productive and capable producers to escape with their skills to where they may benefit the enemies of the collective. This is why, as collectivist societies approach ideological purity, they invariably embrace genocide.

→ Continue reading: Not getting it yet

To coin money and regulate the value thereof

This all too serious joke has steadily gained traction among the self anointed cognoscenti.

Probably one reason they think “Hope®it will work is because it is “legal”.

We don’t make the loopholes. We just find them. The Treasury can’t print money on its own, because the money supply is supposed to be the strict purview of the Federal Reserve … but that might not be quite so strict after all, thanks to a coin-sized exception. Congress passed a law in 1997, later amended in 2000, that gives the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to mint platinum coins, and only platinum coins, in whatever denomination and quantity he or she wants. That could be $100, or $1,000, or … $1 trillion.

And we know that Congress has the power “to coin money and regulate the value thereof”, right? The Constitution says so, right?

→ Continue reading: To coin money and regulate the value thereof

A good day for limited government

There is a lot of conflicting opinion being fired at the US Supreme Court’s ruling(PDF) on “Obamacare”. It is certainly a curious ruling both on first and subsequent reads. I think the opinions in the decision make a great deal of, perhaps complete, sense when viewed in the terms of ‘doing a Marbury v Madison‘. That was a decision written by Chief Justice Marshall in 1803. From that decision, Marshall is regarded as the founder of the Supreme Court and the Judicial branch as it came to be understood and accepted in the balance of powers.

In this article, I am not addressing the merits of the Affordable Care Act, I am speaking to the Constitutional elements at work in the decision.

Roberts declares his view of judicial legislating in one succinct sentence. “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.” Notice he said “political” choices. If something can be allowable under the Constitution, then a restrained Court goes out of its way to accommodate it to the Constitution. If something is Constitutionally permissible, then whether or not to do it is entirely within the sphere of politics, not Constitutional law. We will never find perfect masters and expecting the Supreme Court to attempt that role is contrary to limited government. Roberts appears to be channeling Mencken with this declaration. → Continue reading: A good day for limited government

On originalism

What law of physics obligates the existence of a moral code? Why don’t rocks and trees and lions and zebras have moral codes? What is it that makes human decisions a special case that is different from all other things and creatures? Philosophers have struggled over the concept of right and wrong since before fire was captured for domestic use. In the time since then there have probably been as many moral codes as there have been philosophers to think of them. Most of them have one thing in common; they are claiming a lever to compel the behavior of others. Do lions and zebras have moral codes? Of course not. Lions attack and zebras defend. Zebras are (I’ve heard) a principal non-human killer of lions. They break the lion’s jaw with well placed kicks while attempting to escape. Unable to eat, the lion starves to death. Is a lion committing a moral wrong when it attacks a zebra? Is a zebra committing a moral wrong when it kicks a lion? Of course not, lions are lions and zebras are zebras. There is no moral code for lions and zebras beyond continuing their gene pool. With only that for guidance, all of their interactions tend towards extreme violence. Carrying on one’s gene pool is an internal imperative to each individual. There is no external imperative in the laws of physics that a particular gene pool must be continued. If one line ends, (other) life goes on. There is no external imperative for a lion or zebras’ moral code. Nor for a human’s. → Continue reading: On originalism

If this bastard wins …

The Wisconsin Recall election on June 5 is national news and a much discussed political watershed moment. And, conveniently, voter ID laws have been temporarily blocked during the recall.

If this bastard wins the Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial primary, expect all hell to break loose.

His platform is available courtesy of Occupy Wisconsin.

I didn’t know about the Republican primary and thought that what everybody is calling “The Democratic Primary” didn’t have any Republican elections on the ballot. I hadn’t planned on voting.

That bastion of unbiased neutrality, aka Wisconsin Public Radio, even put up an article saying that “Gov. Walker is urging Republican voters not to meddle in the Democratic primary recall elections on May 8th” . Notice the NPR article has the exact same date that the Government Accountability Board (notice 5 to 1 Democratic appointees) announced that they had qualified an additional 369 petition signatures that they had previous determined to be ineligible and Kohl-Riggs would be running against Walker.

Their plan might even work. If it does, expect what we’ve seen so far to look like it was a warm-up.

On this day in 1775

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave . . . Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.

– Patrick Henry, March 23, 1775, at the second of the Virginia Conventions.

The full speech is available here It’s not long so, as Glenn Reynolds would say, “read the whole thing.”

System ‘D’

For any of you who may be feeling particularly depressed about the state of the economy, politics and the regulatory leviathan in general, this will cheer you up greatly. It certainly improved my overall outlook.

Although this trend is very much a good thing, I do have some concerns. One of them is for intellectual property protection. All advances in technology and the arts are the result of intellectual endeavors, and assuring the rewards and return on investment of those endeavors is essential to continue the advances. Another concern I have is for ‘real’ property rights. I would very much like to hear from any of the Samizdata commentariat who have access to, and perhaps even do business in “l’economie de la débrouillardise.”

As the dollar and the Euro flare off into nothingness like the methane from a decomposing landfill, I presume System ‘D’ is Plan ‘B’ for advanced Western societies as well. How will that unfold?

Institutional Will

Do institutions have a will that transcends, and can run contrary to, those who create and staff them?

In the early seventies my high school participated in a program that allowed students to access the Illinois Institute of Technology computers for instructional purposes. In a room off of the school library sat two Teletype 33 terminals, one of them equipped with foam telephone ear cups and a modem. We would code our programs onto paper tape and then, during our school’s allocated time, feed them into the IIT mainframe for compiling and executing. The second thing I learned after how to get the mainframe to understand that I was sending it a program, was that computer programs have a will of their own that is totally apart from my will. My will is to get the answers to the formulas I am trying to solve. The program’s will is to follow the next instruction. Occasionally, to the programmer’s embarrassment and the rest of the computer club’s amusement, an errant program would set off in a Quixotic attempt to consume all of our allocation of CPU clock time, empty the box of paper and wear out the printer ribbon, in an infinite pursuit of pointless activity. An example of this might be if I told the program to stop when a particular value reached “25”, but then inadvertently instructed it to count up in units of two. Since the counter stepped from “24” straight to “26”, it never did reach “25” and the program tripped merrily along, consuming all of the resources it could acquire. Later I was employed working on a Burroughs computer. It had a lovely missile-launch style red button labeled “CLEAR MEMORY” shielded underneath a spring-loaded, hinged, clear plastic cover. When programs ran amok, we could lift the cover and administer an instant memory wipe to the CPU, returning control to the system operator.

How does computer programming pertain to Institutional Will? Institutions, whether they are small temporary government programs, or über institutions like a constitution, are nothing but computer programs executing procedural instructions on a societal mainframe. Just like electronic programs, institutions can evade their constraints and wildly consume resources, until a counter-procedural force stops them.

→ Continue reading: Institutional Will