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]

Slobo fantasies, e-mail woes and Blog Watch II

It is a bit like some strange dream reading about the things Slobodan Milosevic has been saying in the Hague. In this parallel moral universe uniformed murderers are noble victims and the man who heads the government which pays the salaries of the murderers and gives them their orders, is absolved from guilt due to the fact he did not literally do it himself… whereas a couple hundred injured soldiers and civilians dragged from a hospital in Vukovar and then slaughtered by the brave Yugoslav Federal Army (not paramilitary cetniks) like animals at a nearby farm, are somehow just reduced to a shrug and ‘shit happens’. Matt Welch restored some of my faith that all America had not suddenly gone collectively insane by showing that people are not buying into the revisionist lies of Milosevic and his EVIL supporters and apologists.

Also, and far more important than those human compost heaps, my e-mail address is not working properly so Perry, our Chris Patten baiting editor, will be setting me up with a proper samizdata POPmail account sometime today, instead of just a forwarder. Anyone who has sent me e-mail to my private address recently might want to send it again. [Ed: the new e-mail account is now set up as a POP mail account]

Will Vehrs of Blog Watch II cannot be accused of submitting to demands by noisy Balkan women for three-star rating of articles… he gave me four!

Love and Massacres on Valentine’s Day

Seeing as Will Vehrs of Blog Watch II is moaning about the lack of Valentine party reports, here I go.

It all started off rather badly as I had a huge argument with my ‘significant other’. But that was probably just as well so this way I did not have him moping around later at the party like death’s head at the feast.

I was joint hostess of this party with two excellent lady friends of mine at a pleasingly nefarious and very out-of-the-way venue that for certain reasons will remain nameless. We expected 30-35 people but eventually got more than 80 I would guess, which proved interesting. I have no idea where they all came from and how they found our semi-private party. The guys running the bar (huge kiss to Marko, DJ Klaus and Dobroslav) had to go out twice and restock, the last time the underside of Marko’s old Trabi was scrapping the ground and making sparks because there was so much in the back and on the seats.

The title of the party was ‘Love and Massacres on Valentine’s Day’ and due to the preferences of one of my co-hostesses, the theme was ‘Goths in Love’: so I did radical things with my hair and had a rather fetching ‘tattoo’ painted on for the night.

The party took place in a large concrete basement that was quite recently used as a bomb shelter, with two dance rooms, a chill room and a very unusual and, um, ‘sociable’ toilet room. Music in one room was things like Prodigy, Alice DJ, Jaxx, Chemical Brothers, Stromkern, Apollo 440 and Orbital and the other room stuck to the goth theme with things like local boys Gone, Laibach, Weeping Willow, Phantasmagoria and Drinking Skull, plus the inevitable Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy, Siouxsie and the Banshees.

The place had a ventilation system which seemed to be running backwards and so it got hotter and hotter as more and more people arrived to engage in crazed dancing and innovative drinking games. After a while there was an interesting layer of cigarette and who-knows-what smoke sort of hanging just below the ceiling which did look rather cool. A bit later I had a very surreal conversation when four of us got trapped in the toilet room for about half an hour. I got talking with a very beautiful Hungarian boy wearing a bullet earring, who told me he “knew the people whose party this was and they were all smugglers from Russia”. I would have liked to hear more of this fascinating story but then Marko managed to take the big steel door off its hinges with a huge screwdriver and freed us all. All the waiting people who wanted to go pee pee rushed in and threw us out and I never saw the strange Hungarian boy again.

Many interesting things happened later but my memory gets hazy now…at least that is my story and I am sticking to it. It was a terrific party but I am really glad I didn’t have to clean up afterwards. Are you satisfied now Will? I demand *** for this revelation on Blog Watch II!

The happiness and sadness of parties

You know who you are. I will miss you at my party tonight and I will miss your party on the 23rd. Story of our lives.

Porn again Christian?

Sorry, but if Kevin Holtsberry can come up with the wonderful title Pornucopia, then I must say that writing about the subject again makes him a porn again Christian.

EU taxing the Internet

I realise I have already written once about this ludicrous EU plan to compel even foreign companies who want to deliver goods and services on-line to people within the EU to collect VAT on digital goods and services from their customers and pass it on to the EU.

But how do they propose to force people to register for Value Added Tax if they are in, say, India or Croatia or Ukraine? What possible motivations could an off-shore company have for collecting taxes on behalf of the European Union? How are they going to prove they have even delivered the ‘taxable’ digital goods? Even if the vendor in is a country willing to cooperate with the EU tax authorities, they can just use disposable third-party re-sellers (i.e. “Acme Sprockets Resale Limited of Bangladesh”). How stupid are these people? At least I have an answer to that last question…


Inter-blog Porn Wars

Well if the boys can have Inter-blog Gun Wars, why not Inter-blog Porn Wars? And contrary to what one e-mail said, I do not write these things just to wind people up…

…well, I must confess I do rather enjoy seeing Kevin leap up and down every time the subject comes up again.

But in truth I do think the issue lies on the edge of some very fundamental questions about human society and what makes it work, or not. Kathy Kinsley has joined the battle, giving William Sulik a forceful handbagging. I agree with Kathy and digging out my Oxford dictionary find a much more straightforward definition of pornography:

pornography n. 1 the explicit description or exhibition of sexual activity in literature, films, etc., intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings. 2 literature etc. characterised by this. [Gk pornographos writing of harlots f. porne prostitute + graphos write]

As Kathy also mentions, it is interesting to find that women seem to be the ones who tend to the ‘pro-porn’ side of this argument. Last time I wrote about this issue and, as has also been the case this time, generated a big spike in e-mails, women overwhelmingly agreed with me whereas men were more evenly divided.

Also I do address the matter of the more extreme forms of porn in my latest pro-porn frolic. Like many others I have poked around the Internet and seen some of the more alarming stuff but I cannot help thinking that it is much less significant that many seem to insist. It is a fact that people are capable of astonishing brutality and cruelty, but having seen that first hand on a large scale, I cannot see how people can then conclude when the same things happen on a small scale elsewhere, it must be due to pornography. Why not vodka or anything else you care to think up?

I will try to make some time later to answer more of the e-mails and bloggings on the subject that have sprung up overnight. I have a feeling these issues are going to have a long shelf life.

Pornography: society, law and reality

Many of the e-mails I got as a result of my last remarks about pornography raise the same points, some politely and some very rudely. As all the objections came from conservatives, I will address them. One of these objections to pornography is that it is ‘harmful to family life’ or ‘is responsible for causing divorces’. I in turn have several objections to this approach.

Firstly it is impossible to know if that is true with any certainty. Regardless of anecdotal evidence that I am sure I can match to the contrary, the truth is relationships break up for many and varied reasons. I very much doubt pornography is the actual source of those sort of problems. They are just pictures for goodness sake and to blame such things is usually going to be a gross simplification.

Secondly, even if it were true, so what? Whilst socialists might not have a problem with the idea of the state interposing itself between the most personal of relationships, is that really what conservatives want? If the state can restrict what a person reads or watches on their video player because it might damage the institution of marriage, then I would suggest banning all televised football, both American and Soccer, as that has probably caused more marital tension than 1000 copies of Playboy. And if you accept the principle that the state has a role in family matters, why stop there? I hope it is clear where this leads. It is not a slippery slope, it is a cliff.

Not all the letters to me were advocating legal suppression of pornography however. Many just wanted to discourage it socially and in that I have no problem. I personally would tend to ignore those sort of pressures but that does not mean I regard the social norm I may be ignoring as being an inherently bad thing. One person said that ‘no one would read a Playboy in public and that was a good thing’. Well maybe not where he comes from but that is not the case everywhere, even within a single country. In America I have only ever been to New York City yet I suspect what is fine socially in some parts of New York might not be fine in Utah. But in truth I do not think that social customs are a bad thing as most enduring customs have an objective, even if fuzzy, basis for their existence. I will touch again on that point at the end of my article.

Another point made by several people was that pornography leads to sexual violence, by which I assume they all mean the non-consensual kind. Once more I think that this is a simplification. I think that people who rape have what we all have, a sex drive, but lack any objective moral capacity and empathy. They do not really require a motivation beyond the physical urge, just an opportunity. On that basis it occurs to me pornography, particularly violent pornography might actually be a useful outlet rather than a cause, though that is just a logical supposition on my part. I have seen what large numbers of people do when a state has partially or completely collapsed and taken the values of a state centred society down with it. When that happens young men kill helpless civilians and they rape even more of them. It does not require pornography to make that possible but rather a collectivised view of the world and a subjective sense of morality. Nothing more and nothing less is required.

Even the few with latent sexually violent urges who might be somehow triggered by violent pornographic images do not provide any justification for banning these things however. Look at a bottle of vodka: most people can drink from it, enjoy the drink and then get on with their lives. Yet a few will drink it and then start a fight or drive a car and kill someone or rape a woman afterwards while drunk. Would you therefore ban all alcohol?

If you would ban violent images, quite apart from the impossibility of doing so in the Internet era, where do you draw the line? How about pictures that are just suggestive of sexual violence? Well you can find those even in women’s magazines occasionally. For example there was a photo shoot of lovely Dutch model Karen Mulder in the French edition of Glamour that was clearly playing on sexually threatening and potentially violent themes. But guess what? I think those are quite exciting pictures. That does not mean I personally want to be chased for real through the Paris Metro but the pictures ‘work’ for me with their frisson of sexual danger.

My whole point here is that I think when people worry about pornography, they are worrying about the wrong things. Pornography is just an expression of what goes on in people’s heads and the vast majority of people who look at it are no more harmed by it than by a glass of red wine. War movies do not cause wars either. The things that cause violence against women and relationships to break up are complex and inter-relative. Social pressures to not do things are just fine by me. I like the idea that attacking me when I am walking down the street is frowned on by society.

But when we start involving the state, rather than society and reason, then we enter a realm of downward spiralling consequences. If the only reason a man does not attack and rape me is that he fears the state and its laws, then if he encounters me alone in a remote place, what is to stop him now? So I think that societies which encourage reason in people rather than just fear of the law, are surely going to be safer. To try and legislate away all the possible influences that cause perceived ills is not only going to fail, soon we are back heading in the direction all state-centered orders eventually end up going, which is the replacement of society itself by the state. Trust me when I tell you that does not turn out to be the better route to a safer society. It is in fact the end of society all together.

An outbreak of rational thought in a normally sterile environment?

The sterile environment I refer to is the mind of Jaroslaw Kalinowski, the leader of the Polish Peasants Party, junior partner in the ruling centre-left coalition currently de-structuring Poland’s economy. Yet much to my delight he is calling for the complete abolition of the EU agricultural subsidies that suck up 80% of the EU’s stolen budget.

Naturally this is not because these barely reformed socialists have suddenly become converts to real world economics but because they are starting to realise that they are going to be wiped out by subsidized Western EU agriculture and if the primitive and inefficient Polish farmers cannot get the same subsidies, they it is better to eliminate them for everyone in order to level the playing field where far lower Polish labour costs can off-set the large and highly mechanised Western European farms advantages even without subsidies.

Of course as that is such a utterly rational course of action, there is no chance whatsoever that the EU will adopt it. If not even the USA can bring itself to treat farmers like everyone else I suppose the whole world is doomed to eventually vanish under a mountain of unwanted food that is paradoxically over-produced and yet over-priced to the consumer. Madness.

European Union to provide business opportunities to data havens and off-shore company registries

The splendid European Union is going to demand people selling over the Internet add EU Value Added Tax (VAT) on to item delivered digitally in Europe.


  • Register several companies off-shore with different names
  • Each company separately sets up to take credit card
  • transactions
      in different countries
  • Sell your product without collecting VAT from outside EU (and outside USA as well for best protection)
  • Do not hide what you are doing…use it as a marketing plus
  • Set up several servers & shells so if EU tries to shut you down you can be back up in minutes in another country
  • You make money and EU kleptocracy does not. Double Plus Good.

Oh! But this is not clever tax avoidance, this is breaking law!

I don’t live in the EU though I do sometimes do business there. I recommend not breaking the law where your severs are but as for EU law? Yes, break it every time and as often as possible. Don’t cooperate with your own repression and for goodness sake don’t help fund it for other people. Remember: what a business person can do across a border in minutes, hours, days can take a lawyer weeks, months, years to do across the same borders if you choose your borders well.

Of course I am just speaking theoretically


[Thanks to Medvjedica for link]

The unobtainable splendour of pornography

Porn has been around longer than written language. It has been around since humans first started drawing on cave walls. If porn is unnatural, then so is writing and agriculture and high heels and teddy bears and antibiotics. As for causing emotional and physical damage, you could just as easily be describing most close personal relationships, or football, or being a war correspondent or riding a horse come to that. Are these also things to be ‘discouraged’?

One big trouble I have with so many conservatives is the implicit arrogance that underneath it all, people basically see the world the way they do and feel as they do. Now I am as guilty as them of seeing the world through the filters of my own experience and emotions, but at least I do not claim that I think most other people secretly agree with me when it is quite clear they do not. Conservatives can claim that there is deep meaning in sex and certainly that can be true. But the truth is that sometimes sex is the banquet at the wedding feast and sometimes it is just a quick trip to MacDonalds.

The evidence is clear that much of the time people see sex as an end in and of itself. You do not have to even read Playboy to see that. Look through Vogue and you will see page after page of exaltations of female sexuality… not female commitment, female sexuality, with a strongly bisexual/sapphic overtone at that. It is all about elegant, lovely, lustful and largely unobtainable sexual perfection. We all want to look like exquisite Christy Turlington wearing Hervé Leger, Bulgari and exchanging enigmatic eye contact with Linda Evangalista. Of course we all know in our heart of hearts that the only person who can actually do that is Christy Turlington, not us. Yet I still buy Vogue every month… Italian edition, German edition, Russian edition, British edition.

And so it is with pornography. Maybe we need to look at unobtainable uncomplicated thrilling sex for the same reason we want to look at unobtainable expensive sophistication in Vogue. For the same reason preliterate man made sexual cave paintings and extravagantly male outlines on hillsides, we still need to experience the animal side of our existence. Do you think the conservatives roaring fiercely as they watch their favourite sportsman on television are getting in touch with the spirit of Aristotle? So why do they find it so hard to understand the nature of pornography? It is impossible not to trip over people’s true attitude to sex every time you walk down the street or turn on the television or pick up a magazine. People do not use marriage as a marketing devise, they use sex, because that is what people actually think about much of the time. Pornography is just the essence of that. In reality most well adjusted people do not get porn and real life confused, keeping them in different boxes in their heads.

Yet I don’t read Vogue primarity for the articles anymore than most people read Playboy for the articles (which are mostly crypto-socialist drivel anyway). I read them both for the sex. I don’t have a problem with pornography because unlike many conservatives and their socialist-feminist friends, I do not have a problem with the reality of human nature. I just wish those conservatives and their statist allies on the left would stop trying to use the force of law to impose peculiar world views on everyone else.

We are now officially Hunters of Communist Vampires!

The Samizdata has been awarded the Croix du Mérite for driving critically rational pointy things into hearts of crypto-Euro-commies, by Thomas Sipos of the Communist Vampires website.

And we have only just begun to fight! So do you think I would make a good replacement if Sarah Michelle Gellar ever retires? Is the world ready for a new Balkan Buffy? Natalija the Vampire Slayer! Mmmm. I bet that pays really well too!

The transcendent ecstasy of the Internet

For me it is like walking through some exhilarating global weather system, an interactive one at that. I see some article that does not particularly interest me and it is like a raindrop against my skin or a passing breeze: I am aware of it but in a moment it is gone and forgotten.

And then I see something that interests me, like light from some distant sun touching my face through the shifting clouds of data. Or then suddenly I stumble upon something that angers or startles me, like a lightning bolt hurtled up into the sky from New York or Wellington or Belgrade or Delhi or London, only to strike the ground near me, illuminating everything for a moment and shocking me with its force.

The Internet makes me feel like I am some luminous being working a magic device that transports me up from my little corner of the Balkans until I can not only look down over the sound and fury of the whole world, but like some pagan goddess with my shimmering wings powered by Blogger.com, fling my own thunderbolts back down at it, watching them strike in London and Warsaw and Calgary and Athens and Pretoria.

The Internet is so much more than the slow moving dead text of yesterday, something remote from yourself held at arms length figuratively and literally. It is the seething, howling, singing, snarling voice of the global gestalt that surges through you and carries the sound of your own voice away with it to unseen ears on the other side of the world. It is utterly intoxicating.