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]

Always rebuild

Jeff Jarvis is quite right, it makes no sense to turn the whole of the site of the WTC into a memorial. Croatia has not turned all of Vukovar into a memorial to what was done to the people there. Rebuild and move on. It is a sign of strength not heartlessness.

Britain’s favourite apologist of mass murders

I am referring to Harold Pinter, that well known playwright and signatory to the ‘Free Slobodan Milosevic’ campaign.

It seems he has avoided dying from cancer for a while, which I am sure will gladden the hearts of socialist mass murderers the length and breadth of Yugoslavia and Republica Serbska. I am sure his friends at the Tatler will be thrilled.

Vermin one and all.

Estonia: capitalist standard bearer?

It seems that Estonia is well on the way to becoming a shining example of robust capitalist virtues… and high tax Finland is concerned it will turn into a tax haven (article will only be available on-line for a short time for non-Baltic Times subscribers).

In Finland, corporate income tax is 29 percent while in Estonia it is 26 percent and there is no tax on reinvested corporate profits. The personal income tax rate is progressive in Finland and may reach up to 60 percent; in Estonia it is set at 26 percent.
“Estonia certainly wants to preserve the comparatively low taxation level for a long time,” Kallas said. “I suggest other countries move toward decreasing taxes rather than pressuring others to increase theirs.”
But it is hard for Finland to decrease the tax rate while trying to uphold a social-welfare system, he said, and so it is difficult for the country to compete internationally on low tax levels. He suggested that the EU set tax standards to avoid harmful competition between member states.
Viialained said that taxation was an internal matter for Estonia, but EU negotiators should have considered the issue more carefully.
“When Estonia is a member of the same union, then the common internal market is not totally (the country’s) own business any more,” he said. “That is why I hope Estonians understand our criticism.

Of course they understand EU criticism, a simpleton could understand it! The political classes in places like Finland (and France and Germany) do not want the owners of capital to have access to less kleptocratic taxation within the EU as that would endanger the system of pork barrel and kick backs they depend on for their perks. Oh if only more former communist nations would follow Estonia’s brave example and turn their back on the toxic social democratic model of the European Union.

Celebrations, Croatian style

Yes Brian, people in Croatia are very happy that our footballers have defeated Italy… the moment the match was over the streets were filled with people holding glasses of beer and bottles of loza, car horns were being blown and I could hear the crackle of guns being fired off into the air from all directions.

Like Perry said in his earlier article, modern societies do like to express their identities through sports… and of course the fact that historically Italy has a habit of invading us tends to make the significance of any ‘national’ clash on the football field take on a certain extra flavour just as the fact Britain and Argentina have fought a war against each other adds much the same spice. So just imagine how the English felt after defeating Argentina, then add the sound of rifles and pistols being fired off into the air and you should be able to picture the situation across Croatia!

… and of course guess who gets tricked into providing the logistics for the celebration party for my football mad friends this afternoon…

The Beautiful People are coming

It is interesting how things are developing economically in Croatia now that people in the rest of the world have finally figured out it is safe to come here again. Plans have been afoot for some time to develop various regions with businessmen like famous Italian developer Richard Mazzucchelli prowling around Dalmatia and Istria looking for opportunities. I have long thought the best way to treat such unspoiled places was to develop them with the high end of the tourism market in mind rather than the mass tourism planned in places like Split or Dubrovnik. Never being an optimist by nature, I rather expected the truth of what would happen would result in the ghastly Disnification of Croatia’s magnificent coastline and islands, with a MacDonalds dishing out vile industrial food to the great unwashed of Europe in every village.

Well it seems that in spite of my lapsed Catholicism at least a few of my prayers are being answered. Apparently Princess Caroline of Monaco is going to be investing in an exclusive development in the national park island of Brijuni. Hopefully this will just be the first of many. It is a tricky thing balancing the need for development with not destroying the very thing people would want to see, namely the extraordinary, historic and unspoiled locations that make up so much of the country. One excellent way would be to allow more foreign investment and easy land ownership restrictions for overseas investors. The Adriatic and Mediterranean are filled with low end tourist destinations with far more infrastructure and easier communications than is going to be available in Croatia for quite a while so clearly the added value this country can provide is the very fact of its unspoiled nature for more discerning (and higher spending) foreigners. Lower impact higher value markets are surely where a good portion of our future in tourism should be and it just might be working out that way. Let us welcome ‘The Beautiful People’… they have lots of money!

Looking west at the EU from across the River Sava

Yes, the EU does indeed look different depending on where you look at it from. Daniel Antal and his Greek friend sees a source of a more ‘liberal’ order, seeing Brussels as a fountain of civil rights to refresh the stagnant pools of Greek and Hungarian polity.

Well I certainly understand that. Croatian politics and aspects of civil society are just as ghastly for many of the same reasons. And thus many people in Croatia also look west to the EU and see something hopeful, something better, something more prosperous. Croatian businesses, like Hungarian businesses, salivate at the idea of getting access to the huge EU market… and like our friends in Budapest, they are just as wrong.

Just ask your Greek friend to point out how the Greek economy is going from strength to strength now that it is a member of the EU. Only it isn’t. Greece is stuck on the lower tier of the EU and is going to stay there. Countries like Britain, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, have large ‘welfare’ states but they do so by parasitically drawing wealth out of their large wealth creating capitalist economies… Hungary and Greece do not have proper modern economies and by joining the EU they will never develop them.

Hungary will never develop a dynamic wealth generating capitalist economy because Brussels will have thrown a smothering blanket of EU regulations over it, regulations which will be welcomed with open arms by the half-wit socialists which pervade Hungarian polity. Hungarian labour costs will rapidly loose any advantage over French or German ones and even high levels of unemployment will not move them downwards because of the regulatory cost floor that will be put underneath the price of employing someone. This will have the effect of keeping the playing field tilted towards existing producers and economic structures… and the reality is those economic producers and structures are overwhelmingly in the west.

Read the small print. Unless you are an existing large business located in the west and who wants regulatory barriers to reduce the chance of new market entrants competing with you, or are a Trade Unionist working in cahoots with such a company, then the EU is not your friend. The EU is stasis incarnate. For Christ’s sake WAKE UP!


If racism is like poison then ‘culturalism’ is like strong drink…

Which is to say, best taken in moderation. Racism is always poison because it is completely irrational, based on either stupidity or (even worse) pseudo-science. ‘Culturalism’ of the sort David Carr talks about however is just saying ‘the values of my culture are better than the values of that culture’… and it may well be true.

Provided one realised that what matters is the liberty actualising aspects of a culture and not all the other clutter over which people periodically feel the need to kill each other, then a degree of ‘culturalism’ is not just ok, it is vital.

Just don’t over do it as in the minds of some, it is not about which culture enables liberty and prosperity best but which culture ‘stinks up our streets with curry’ or ‘builds hideous Mosques in our Christian towns’. Discerning ‘culturalism’ is just fine but ignorant cultural chauvinism is not. I realise it is the former not the latter which David Carr is advocating, but it is a distinction worth making again and again. Like Slivovica or Whiskey, a little is a wonderful thing but too much dwelling on culture seems to send some people completely bonkers.

The Shame of Srebrenica

I was just watching CNN and saw that Wim Kok will resign along with much of the Dutch government over a damning report on the massacre of Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica by Bosnian Serbs under Ratko Mladic.

Although I am bitter regarding the role of the UN throughout Croatia and Bosnia i Herzegovina, at least the Dutch are objective enough and have the courage to face the reality of what happened just seven years ago and their part in it. The efforts of the Dutch army to cover up this dark page in their military history has been thwarted by enough fine Dutch people (including some in their army) who were determined that the truth be known and publicly faced. I am glad that blame is being taken although in truth the Dutch soldiers were placed in an invidious position,without a clear mandate on the use of force, lightly equipped and denied air support when they demanded it.

For this, although the Dutch are rightly searching their souls for being a party to the murder of 7000 men and children, I primarily blame that epitome of despicable moral relativism, Yakushi Akashi and the entire rotten edifice of the UN for which he worked, for allowing the UN ‘Safe Havens’ to become a lethal fiction, making them nothing more than collection centres for mass murder by Ratko Mladic and his cetnic einsatztruppen.

Like a cold shadow from the recent past

I have not written about the Middle East before (and have not written much lately at all due to excessive demands on my time), as I do not feel very qualified to address many of the issues there. In some ways the interesting thing to me about Israel and the Palestinians is not so much what is happening but the strange way people report what goes on there.

Both sides seem to view Israel as somehow ‘special’. Its detractors point out its lousy human rights record and the ethnic nature of its definitions of nationality as if somehow that made Israel worse than the vast majority of other non-Anglosphere countries in which these facts also apply. I wonder why so much is said by the detractors about Israel’s beastly treatment of non-Jews and yet so little is said about Belorus or Burma or China’s beastly treatment of everyone within their borders.

Its supporters on the other hand seem extraordinarily sensitive about negative remarks, reacting with ‘shock’ when even reasoned criticism about Israeli behaviour is made. Some months back I recall seeing a harrowing film clip of a young Palestinian child being shot dead by Israeli troops whilst he cowered next to his terrified father and yet the murmur from the usual talking heads in the Western media amounted to a shrug and saying ‘shit happens’. I recall seeing a blog (I forget which one) which said in its sidebar that it was writing about US and Israeli ‘exceptionalism’. Well frankly I don’t buy the notion of American ‘exceptionalism’ let alone that of some dusty Middle Eastern quasi-socialist quasi-religious ethnically defined state. The world is full of dusty quasi-socialist quasi-religious ethnically defined states.

And so if you detect an air of indifference in me, well I suppose I care as much about the conflict between Jews and Arabs as most Jews care about the conflict between Croats and Serbs. Which is to say, not much. Perry shares my lack of enthusiasm about the subject but he at least knows a bit more about it than I do.

And so the reason I find myself writing about the Middle East, at least indirectly, has less to do with the rights and wrongs of what Israel is and is not doing than with my own subjective perceptions and emotional baggage. I was watching CNN in a hotel in Zagreb earlier to day whilst waiting for a business appointment. As I watched, I heard a report from a female reporter near Jenin who said that Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers were moving through the area instructing all Palestinian males between the ages of 15 and 50 to come out of their homes and wait for transport to a place where they can be ‘questioned’.

Now I have no idea what the Israeli military actually has planned for these people but I felt a sudden surge not unlike panic inside me when I heard the reporter say that. In my part of the world many times within the last ten years, powerful armies have moved into a community and taken away entire male populations based on the simple fact of their ethnic background. I found myself desperately hoping that those Palestinian men would find some dark cellar or attic to hide in rather than be bused off somewhere, their fate entirely dependent on the wishes of armed men who by and large feel no commonality of community with them.

I am not on anyones side in that conflict. Israel (and the Palestinians) did not help or hinder Croatia in its recent war and I feel much the same about them, yet I cannot help but pray that my feelings when I heard that report were baseless and irrational. There are already enough communities in the world with no young men in them.

It is not immoral to break the law…

…when the law you break has no moral basis.

In 1991, a crime was committed in New York. The UN imposed an arms embargo on all of the former Yugoslavia and all the national governments who voted for that resolution were parties to that crime.

At the same time as this crime against the peoples of Croatia and Bosnia i Herzegovina was happening, Argentine Economics Minister Domingo Cavallo was conspiring successfully to sell Argentine weapons to Croatia via a series of dummy companies and third parties.

Now I am under no illusions that Mr. Cavallo was motivated by any desire to right the wrong done by the UN when it tried to prevent the poorly armed Croatian and Bosnian peoples under attack by the Yugoslav Army from defending themselves. Nevertheless, that was exactly what the results of his self-serving actions were. We were able to fight and survive and eventually prevail.

Yesterday Domingo Cavallo was arrested under the orders of politically motivated judges for his part in that entirely moral series of arms sales between 1991 and 1995. Argentine congressional deputy Elisa Carrio, an independent anti-corruption campaigner, welcomed the ruling that resulted in Cavallo’s arrest yesterday saying “Truth and justice will prevail”. Guess what, Elisa… it already has and you would not know what either looked like if they bit you in the behind.

And so, Domingo, whatever else you may have done and deserve to be punished for, I hope you beat the rap on this one because there was no moral reason for you not to have done it and several excellent reasons to do so. And given the state of the Argentine economy, I hope you stashed your end of the proceeds in Zürich, not Buenos Aires.

Sorry for the absence

Gosh, what a lot of e-mails I had waiting for me asking why I have not posted for a while. Unfortunately I have been too involved with unexpected business travel and family matters to be able to blog. To make matters worse my portable is sick and so I can only post from my office, which is a bit difficult.

I hope to do a few postings this week if my crazy schedule permits!

Donkeys formerly lead by a Lioness

Margaret Thatcher‘s remarks are hardly surprising to anyone who has read what she has said over the years but it was a surprise to me as an outsider looking in to read the negative response from so many British Conservatives.

For years Perry has been telling me that they are ‘The Stupid Party’ and are not committed to resisting EU envelopment and super-statism. I see now that he is quite correct. [Ed: like I said about the Libertarian Party in the USA, there are some good people in the Tory Party, but they are not the ones running it]

It seems that the only argument between the much of the Tory party and their political enemies in Britain is the rate at which British is to be enveloped by Euro-statism. The British Army was once said to be ‘Lions lead by Donkeys’. It would seem the Tory Party are ‘Donkeys once lead by a Lioness’. As the contrast between the more dynamic economy of the USA and Euro-sclerosis grows harder to miss by even the most willfully blind, how can the party which actually started the privatising ball rolling that shattered the seemingly unstoppable advance of ‘democratic’ socialism in the 1980’s have come to being in step with histories obvious losers? The Stupid Party indeed.