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]

Unwitting Comedy Quote of the Day

Local Anarchists Miffed By Trump’s Designation Of NYC As Anarchist Jurisdiction

… The Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, an active NYC-based anarchist group, condemned the move … The group … said NYC had a long way to go before it could claim the mantel of full anarchism. (h/t instapundit)

I sure hope they are right about that.

I guess they might concede that New York City has less far to go now than, say, the year before de Blasio became its mayor.

I suppose anarchism is like socialism: in hindsight (but never in foresight), the kind that happened was never the ‘real’ kind – unlike the death and destruction it left behind.

(I appreciate that for any reader in New York, the comedy of this may be a bit on the grim side.)

Supporters are expected to place their absolute trust in BLM’s utter dishonesty

In the memory-hole world of PC, I’m never sure who should be the more annoyed when a loudly-proclaimed policy is silently discarded – those who spent time and effort refuting it or those who spent time and effort defending it. 🙂 (Of course when, as in this recent thread, the time and effort is mere comment writing, neither side has overmuch to moan about.)

BLM have stealth-edited their website to remove the “what we believe” page. No more will BLM “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” or “foster a queer-affirming network” or “free ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking”. Just a little spat within the intersectional hierarchy, I guess. 🙂

Actually, I guess supporters are expected to place their absolute trust in the movement’s utter dishonesty, and assume (despite some earlier evidence) that this is all just pre-election PR (I’m sure some will). Just as

No properly-indoctrinated communist felt the party was ‘lying’ in thus proclaiming one set of policies in public and its exact opposite in private.

so no properly-indoctrinated woke person will think the marxists who run BLM were or are ‘lying’ either when they put this page up or when they took it down.

Editor: this started life as a comment by Niall but was ascended to an article by the shadowy cabal.

Thomas Sowell quote of the day

In 1960, he worked as an economist with the Labor Department. His task was to study the sugar industry in Puerto Rico, where the department enforced a minimum-wage law. Upon discovering that unemployment was rising with each increase in the minimum wage, Sowell wondered whether the law was causing the rise—as standard economic theory would predict. His coworkers had a different take: unemployment was rising because a hurricane had destroyed crops. Eventually, Sowell came up with a way to decide between the competing theories: “What we need,” he told his coworkers excitedly, “are statistics on the amount of sugarcane standing in the field before the hurricanes came through Puerto Rico.” He was met with a “stunned silence,” and his idea was dismissed out of hand. After all, administering the minimum-wage law “employed a significant fraction of all the people who worked there.”

This was not an isolated experience.

Coleman Hughes’ article on Sowell has much information that I knew and much that I didn’t. I’m unsurprised to learn that Sowell has even more admirers than I guessed …

[Stephen] Pinker, a Harvard psychologist and leading public intellectual, named Sowell the most underrated writer in history. [Kayne] West, for his part, tweeted out a handful of Sowell quotes to millions of followers in 2018.

… or that the woke whites who pretend they care about respect for blacks are the ones doing the underrating:

Like others with similar views on race, Sowell has encountered countless smears, though the usual avenues of attack—accusations of racism, privilege, and all the rest—have not been available. Someone should have told Aidan Byrne, who reviewed one of Sowell’s books for the London School of Economics blog. Doubtless convinced that he was delivering a devastating blow, Byrne quipped: “easy for a rich white man to say.”

Aidan’s review has been updated to remove that line (credit to ‘Blog Admin’ who properly notes its former presence at the end of the article).

Why they fear their lying eyes

cult conversions … occur by using doctrine to resolve some core emotional vulnerability. … A… clear sign that one is dealing with a cult indoctrination … is making the mark live up to contradictory demands. You must understand racism and admit that you cannot understand racism. You must admit to your complicity in racism and pledge to do better knowing that it is impossible to do better. You must be an ally but accept that you will always do your allyship wrong. … these impossible and paradoxical demands dramatically deepen commitment to the cult … The concept of “white fragility” in the antiracist Woke cult is exactly this sort of emotional shakedown. … Lead the mark to take a step further in, coach them into rationalizing why that step was good, and then repeat with a further step. … when the mark rationalizes these objectively bad decisions and the cognitive dissonance that doing them causes, they nearly always rationalize themselves much further into the cult.

The Cult Dynamics of Wokeness analyses how it spots and indoctrinates its marks, but says little about the mark’s original issue that the woke exploit:

Sometimes, the underlying emotional vulnerability is there for personal reasons, or as a result of life events.

Sometimes, indeed it is – their prime targets are students, who often arrive at university with plenty of youthful insecurity and teenage angst. But wokeness itself can provide the distress as well the abusive ‘resolution’. Students arriving at a politically-correct university are immediately plunged into an an artificial racial reality that they are forbidden to notice: affirmative-action admissions ensure that the academic ability of their fellow students correlates strongly with skin colour. Next, the disparate impact theory they are taught offers them only two explanations, one explicit, the other implicit, for the disparities it highlights:

– blacks are statistically unequal to whites because of white racism

– blacks are statistically unequal to whites because they are inferior

No third option is allowed into any target’s mind – not if the woke can help it (if they even know one themselves!). So the mark has a simple choice: believe in the explicit explanation, or become the moral equivalent of Hitler by believing the implicit one. No-one wants to be morally equivalent to Hitler, so, since they know no third option (since the very idea there could be any other alternative to the evil implicit one has never risen into their awareness), every doubt that subtle white racism explains the discrepancy, every argument that denies that white racism, however hidden, is at the root of the differences they’re taught to hate and the even more obvious differences they’re forbidden to notice, threatens them with becoming that object of loathing to their (and society’s) principles, a racist! When these two alternatives are the only ones that a student knows deep down (and up top, in the surface of the mind, they hardly dare think of the implicit one) then the claim that one is either a racist or else admits to being a racist seems to make sense.

(It was the same under Stalin and Mao. In both Russia and China, the mass famines were followed a few years later by the mass purges. Either you accepted that saboteurs, wreckers and enemies were fouling up the scientifically-proven socialist dream, or you were a vile capitalist-roader, an exploiter. One communist who had served the Party in the Ukraine famine and been shaken by what he saw, later wrote:

For that very reason, however, my conscious mind reached out desperately for alibis, for compromises with conscience. … It was imperative to squelch these emotions, to drive them into the underground of my mind. I laboured to repair my loyalties. With the purge in the offing, this urgency was even greater.

“With the purge in the offing …” – the far lesser but real dangers of cancel culture have a similar effect of ‘encouragez les autres’. This encouraging of indoctrinated minds to discipline themselves is as important to wokeness as the conscious fear that cancel culture inflicts on outsiders.)

So, does a better understanding of the problem point us towards any solutions?

The only ways I know of to effect a deprogramming of this are these three: (1) striking right to the heart of the point of vulnerability in a completely different and more healthy way …

The first of the three is what I will talk about. However,

None of this is easy. In fact, it’s all usually very difficult … … People who have been reprogrammed into a cult mentality will perceive all attempts to free them from the cult as malicious attempts to drag them … back to the Bad Emotional Place that they have come to strongly associate with that awful feeling of vulnerability that was used to initiate them into the cult in the first place. The doctrine is the opium that dulls their emotional pain … anyone trying to talk sense to a fully reprogrammed cult member … will be, in a very real sense, interpreted as trying to do harm to them … because the cult doctrine is the proffered resolution to the … emotional vulnerability that led them to be indoctrinated and reprogrammed in the first place. And you must appreciate just how much that vulnerability has been inflamed by the cult initiation, indoctrination, and reprogramming process.

At this point it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room; that third explanation (for why blacks in the US today can be statistically unequal to whites) which, of all others, wokeness most trains its victims never to see. Political correctness is a parasite on the backs of those it pretends to help.

“Although the big word on the left is ‘compassion’, the big agenda on the left is dependency.”

I owe that quote to Thomas Sowell, who has described how lucky he was to be born at a moment when the old prejudices about blacks were dying, and the new ones with which the PC would replace them had not yet grown strong (read his books). Sowell’s long life also lets him witness against what another coloured academic calls the woke’s “ever-present soft bigotry of low expectations”. A third black analyst concludes that

“woke whites would do more good by doing nothing”

Etc., etc., etc.

So in a way, I’m not disagreeing with those woke whites who say they’re racists. THAT’S MY POINT! They are – just not in the way they’ve been led to believe. That fact is the ‘more healthy way’ to confront their distress. Even in a struggle session, with leaders organised and ready to shout or sneer you down, it may sometimes be better – and even safer – to be last heard expressing the ‘wrong sort’ of anti-racism than just denying their sort. In a private conversation with an early inductee, it may even be productive.

cult deprogramming almost always proceeds from an initial doubt that spirals out of control

I agree with Edmund Burke that “lying and falsehood are allowed in no cause whatever … but a man may speak the truth by measure, that he be allowed to speak it longer”. If you can either avoid triggering the emotional vulnerability at the very start of a personal discussion or else trigger it in “a more healthy way”, then you may manage to speak the truth for longer – maybe as long as can save a soul from the woke lie. The very fact that your truth is more costly to adopt than their current lie can be turned to polemical advantage. Robert Conquest became a communist at 17 – and also ceased to be a communist while still 17. Thomas Sowell was a marxist in his early 20s – but not thereafter. Modern victims of the education establishment experience are more propagandised than those two ever were, but can still be reached.

Of course, woke leaders (and many a follower – those who believe the dogma for other reasons or none, or because they were not infected with emotional vulnerability by indoctrinating educators but brought a personal one with them to university), will not be reached by this, but as the increasingly abusive rituals of politically-correct ‘anti’-racism show, there are a lot of self-flagellating followers.

Xinjiang: where lives don’t matter

Twenty prisoners live in one small room. They are handcuffed, their heads shaved, every move is monitored by ceiling cameras. A bucket in the corner of the room is their toilet. The daily routine begins at 6 A.M. They are learning Chinese, memorizing propaganda songs and confessing to invented sins. They range in age from teenagers to elderly. Their meals are meager: cloudy soup and a slice of bread.

Torture – metal nails, fingernails pulled out, electric shocks – takes place in the “black room.” Punishment is a constant. The prisoners are forced to take pills and get injections. It’s for disease prevention, the staff tell them, but in reality they are the human subjects of medical experiments. Many of the inmates suffer from cognitive decline. Some of the men become sterile. Women are routinely raped.

Such is life in China’s reeducation camps, as reported in rare testimony provided by Sayragul Sauytbay (pronounced: Say-ra-gul Saut-bay, as in “bye”), a teacher who escaped from China and was granted asylum in Sweden. Few prisoners have succeeded in getting out of the camps and telling their story. Sauytbay’s testimony is even more extraordinary, because during her incarceration she was compelled to be a teacher in the camp. China wants to market its camps to the world as places of educational programs and vocational retraining, but Sauytbay is one of the few people who can offer credible, firsthand testimony about what really goes on in the camps.

That’s only the beginning of her long, detailed account. It’s a distressing read – but to anyone familiar with survivor testimony from Stalin’s camps, it’s not a surprising read. I noticed just one significant ugly addition to what the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics did back in the day: “every move is monitored by ceiling cameras”. The Chinese communist guards can’t monitor everything in real-time, any more than the NKVD guards could back then, but they can replay it. No longer do they have to rely on the ubiquitous informers that for a crust of bread would sell their cellmates out in the Gulag. No longer does recognising and avoiding them offer hope of a brief safe conversation.

Now, as then, powerful media political interests would rather the story got ignored – so I encourage people to spread it around. (And h/t instapundit from whom I got the link.)

BLM (Black Lives Murdered)

The “Black Lives Matter” movement took yet another black life on Saturday. Eight-year-old Secoriea Turner was murdered when ‘Black Lives Matter’ activists shot up the car she was in after its driver had the misfortune to exit the interstate near one of their barriers.

If they order you to take the knee, stand up. Stand up for Secoriea; don’t kneel to her murderers. Honour Secoriea Turner, who was 8 and did no harm; don’t honour George Floyd, who thrust his gun into the stomach of a pregnant black woman during a home invasion.

I could say a great deal more – but if you or I are ever in that position, the narrative’s finger will be poised over the ‘Cancel’ button. So I advise thinking about what brief words you will say, when they tell you to kneel to a bunch of murderers and you suspect the next words you utter might be the last they’ll let anyone hear in the public domain.

“Say BLM not ALM” is a performance bond

And why, you may be asking, do I think it is like a ‘performance bond’ (whatever that may be)? Here is a historical analogy:

The symbolic gesture of obeisance to Germany, made by Hungary [in winter 1938-9] but refused by Poland, was adherence to the Anti-Comintern Pact. … It was, of course, known in Berlin that the Hungarian, like the Polish, leaders of the time were vehemently, even violently, anti-communist; adherence to a German-sponsored Anti-Comintern Pact could not make them any more so. It could however be recognised as a sign of willingness to take orders from Berlin – and it was so regarded at the time. … this pact had become for the Germans a sort of performance bond to be exacted as a test of distance from the Western Powers and subordination to herself. (‘A World At Arms’, Gerhard L. Weinberg)

The Dean of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, Dr Leslie Neal-Boylan, has been fired for this:

I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER,

If she’d stopped there, she’d still have her job – but she persisted:

but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS. No one should have to live in fear that they will be targeted for how they look or what they believe.

It is, of course, known in the University that the ex-Dean is vehemently (though not violently) anti-racist (when she was hired a few months ago, a now deleted University website page praised her ‘visonary’ advocacy of diversity and inclusivity, especially of the disabled in the nursing field). Making her say ‘black lives matter’ and not say ‘all lives matter’ could not make her any more so. On the contrary, just as signing the anti-comintern pact meant the signers would acquiese in Hitler’s alliance with Stalin a few months later (only the Japanese, ignorant of European mores, protested against Germany’s “outrageous violation of the pact” in August 1939), so demanding the Dean say “black lives matter” but not “all lives matter” was precisely to assure her acquiescence in theories that discriminate by race and in deeds that cost black (and other) lives.

Person of colour dares not sign name

It shouldn’t affect the strength of my argument above, but for the record, I write as a person of color. My family have been personally victimized by men like Floyd. We are aware of the condescending depredations of the Democrat party against our race. The humiliating assumption that we are too stupid to do STEM, that we need special help and lower requirements to get ahead in life, is richly familiar to us. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to deal with open fascists, who at least would be straightforward in calling me a subhuman, and who are unlikely to share my race.

The well-written open letter from the professor with no (safe to add) name is on pastebin, having (of course) been removed from where it was first put. Other links to the text are here and here.

(I wrote this as a Samizdata Quote of the Day – h/t instapundit – but decided the title needed to tell you something not in the bit I quoted. Read the whole thing.)

An excited delirium of political correctness

Given the irrational and potentially violent, dangerous, and lethal behaviour of an Excited Delirium Syndrome subject, any law enforcement officer interaction with a person in this situation risks significant injury or death to either the officer or the subject who has a potentially lethal medical syndrome. This already challenging situation has the potential for intense public scrutiny coupled with the expectation of a perfect outcome. Anything less creates a situation of potential public outrage. Unfortunately, this dangerous medical situation makes perfect outcomes difficult in many circumstances.

White Paper Report on Excited Delirium Syndrome, issued by the American College of Emergency Physicians, September 10th 2009

Ya think?!

When we get to see the bodycam videos of the police officers, we’ll know whether George Floyd had Excited Delirium Syndrome. Had the officers switched off their cams beforehand, that absence (like Hillary Clinton’s missing emails) would speak volumes. If the cams show a calm Mr Floyd ready to be put in a police car, then the officers’ defence of excited delirium will be tossed with contempt. As we’ve heard nothing about the cams from the media, they may not support the narrative.

– in the video we have been allowed to see, a panicking Mr Floyd says he can’t breathe – showing that he can breathe but it’s not doing him much good. Despite his being able to breathe, and so speak, his organs are begging for oxygen they’re increasingly not getting. That fits final-stage Excited Delirium Syndrome.

– His autopsy showed fentanyl and methamphetamine. That drug cocktail is good for giving yourself Excited Delirium Syndrome, especially when it is far from your first time.

I hope we get to find out at the trial, if not before. Till then, if anyone tries to make you swallow the media’s narrative whole, add a pinch of salt.

Meanwhile, this grim subject at least raises a grimly amusing question: are the politically correct experiencing a kind of excited delirium syndrome? Some common symptoms are very much present, especially in the rioters:

remorse… and understanding of surroundings … are absent in such subjects. … subjects are known to be irrational, often violent … delirium and agitation … destructive or bizarre behavior generating calls to police … ongoing struggle despite futility … Subjects are incoherent and combative … delusional, paranoid

Not yet observed in the rioters (AFAIK) are

unusual physical strength and stamina


Impervious to pain

(unless it’s the pain of others), and I don’t think we’ve yet had a chance to observe whether the rioters would show

Significant resistance to physical restraint

or an absence of “normal fear and … rational thoughts for safety”, as there has not been much physical restraint, let alone cause for the rioters to feel afraid. Since we are clearly in the early “sudden onset” stage of “violence and hyperactivity”, it is no surprise we have not yet seen any symptoms from the syndrome’s late stage:

“sudden cessation of struggle, respiratory arrest and death.” (The Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, 2010)

If we make the diagnosis, how should we treat excited delirium in the politically correct?

the specific physical control methods employed should optimally minimize the time spent struggling, while safely achieving physical control. The use of multiple personnel with training in safe physical control measures is encouraged. … research is needed to establish field protocols and techniques that allow police, emergency medical services and hospital personnel to interact with these agitated, aggressive patients in a manner safe both for the patients and the providers.

I share the writers’ desire for safety all round, but while this research on how to achieve it proceeds, I refer readers to the top-of-post quote: these perfect outcomes are ‘difficult’ – and these US physicians seem to have perfected the art of English understatement. (I assume this belief – that achieving swift safe control is essential, to end the subject’s wild agitated activity that is speeding his own death – is part of why the elected Minneapolis authorities teach their police to use knee-to-neck-hold as department policy.)

A less technical summary seems to be saying the same thing.

Deescalation does not have a high likelihood of changing outcomes significantly …

The subjects require physical restraint (this is because if they continue to struggle it accelerates the death) …

Once the decision to do this has been made, action needs to be swift and efficient …

I feel sure this is the treatment the rioters need. Whether it would have been (or indeed was) also the right (albeit, sadly, too late) treatment for Mr Floyd is something the bodycam videos will tell us.

(In the above quotes, I have expanded ‘ExDS’ to ‘Excited Delirium Syndrome’, ‘LEO’ to ‘law enforcement officer’ or just ‘officer’, and ‘EMS’ to ’emergency medical services’, for ease of reading.)

Samizdata comedy quote of the day

Clever Churchgoers Avoid Arrest By Disguising Themselves As Rioters

LOS ANGELES, CA—Religious people in Southern California have found a bold, creative solution for in-person meetings in spite of the continuing lockdown. This past weekend, several area churches attended church services disguised as righteously indignant rioters.

“We already have the righteous indignation thing down,” said one church elder. “Now, we’ve simply added black balaclavas, hoodies, Guy Fawkes masks, and baseball bats! We found that when we do this, we can meet in large groups without much interference from the local authorities. It’s been a delightful experience.”

It’s satire 🙂 – I think? 🙁

I feel like commenting that comment is needless – but don’t let that restrain you.

The Plague

“Are you able to condemn absolutely?”

“No – but surely that is not necessary?”

“It is not – though the situation is very bad. But testimony without reservation is the only testimony I will give – so I will give no testimony in support of your testimony.”

Ostensibly, these two characters at the start of Albert Camus’ The Plague are talking about the health situation of Algerian natives under French colonial rule. But The Plague is not actually about an outbreak of the black death in Oran. It is about France under Nazi occupation, recast as a description of French behaviour in an epidemic. The plague represents the Nazis: deadly, relentless, reigning in terror for a time and then gone. The book’s interest is in how people act when a thing like that sweeps over them; about the scum it brings to the top; about who decides to resist and when and why; about Vichy and freedom and the human heart.

By setting the book in Oran, Camus gave himself an advantage: he could describe the city he grew up in very well (and the ostensible event – an outbreak of plague – was more likely). But he also gave himself a problem. France was under the Nazis but Oran was under the French colonial authorities. The French readers of Camus’ book are like the French readers of the newspaper whose journalist “cannot condemn absolutely”. So Camus explains – very exactly, in terms of his analogy – that he will say nothing, and from that point on, the book focusses only on how the ethnically-French inhabitants of Oran behave.

I have been a little surprised never to see mention of The Plague in my recent web browsing. (Only a little surprised – the amount that is on the web and not noticed by me is vast.) That an epidemic can be like an invasion, empowering Vichy-like petty tyrants and harming freedom, would seem topical at this time. I’m no great fan of Camus (though, like anyone honest, I greatly prefer him to Sartre and suchlike) and it is from old memory that I provide the quote heading the post. But some people think highly of him, and I’ll grant that, even in translation, a certain quality of the prose shines through. The left did not welcome his post-WWII advice that what they needed most was “pitiless criticism”, but they never managed to push him all the way down the memory hole.

In the UK and the US, I’ve seen criticism of the lockdown that I thought very fair – and other criticism I thought OTT, as if it were rational to think Boris and Trump really loved lockdowns and wanted them to last forever. The cruel absurdity I see in France seems to belong in the pages of The Plague.

L’absurdité cruelle

Not long ago, I posted that events in the UK distantly echoed

“the cruel absurdity of the Roman princes, unable to protect their subjects against the public enemy, unwilling to trust them with arms for their own defence” (‘The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire’, Edward Gibbon)

But events in France offer more than an echo.

France’s general population remains under extremely strict lockdown; the police have been ordered to enforce the rules ruthlessly. Permits to leave one’s home were limited to 60 minutes, once a day, and no farther than half a mile. … more than 915,000 citations have been handed out; 15.5 million persons have been stopped and checked …

People living in no-go zones [zones-urbaines-sensibles “sensitive urban zones”] are treated differently. Police officers have been told by the government not to stop them at all and to avoid as much as possible going near where they live.

(Excerpted from France’s No-Go Zones: The Riots Return.
Read the whole thing.)

The ‘zones sensibles’ of Gothic immigrants in the dying western Roman empire were not ‘urbaines’ but they enjoyed the same cruel absurdity of being exempt from the harsh laws Rome enforced on the areas it still effectively controlled. They showed the same pattern of growth too. In 2005 there were less than 100 zones urbaines sensibles; today, France has more than 750 zones where the absence of lockdown casts the growing reality into stark relief.

The evolution of ruling attitudes makes another parallel.

In 2005, the police tried to quell the riots, unsuccessfully. For three weeks, the country seemed on the verge of a civil war. Today, because members of the government seem to believe that if riots occur, a civil war really could happen, the police are asked not to intervene and to stand aside until the destruction stops.

In ancient times, a similar period takes us from the Battle of Adrianople (378 AD) when the empire tried and failed to quell ‘rioting’ Gothic immigrants, to that of Frigidius (394) where the emperor used a Gothic army to defeat his internal rivals. The Goths lost heavily in that battle, which probably did not bother the emperor – but also did not slow much the speed with which they rotted the empire. I doubt Macron will lose sleep if the ‘zones urbaines sensibles’ lose people to the virus through ignoring his lockdown – which they won’t much, certainly not enough to slow their rate of growth much.

A similar number of years then takes us from Frigidius to the fall of Rome in 410. One day soon, France may do something sensible about the ‘zones urbaines sensibles’. Or, one day, France may do something horrible because for too long political correctness forbade her doing something sensible. Or Paris may ‘fall’ – may become one big zone urbaine sensible.

Meanwhile, I find it a disturbing symptom that the French government seems so acclimatised to the cruel absurdity of enforcing laws that take liberty from natives who obey you, while allowing exemptions that give liberties to immigrants who don’t. I can dislike a law yet dislike its arbitrary enforcement more. I do not care for this ‘lockdown pour nous, mais non pour vous’. Between 2005 and 2020, a kind of degeneration has taken place.