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]

Are we watching ignorant armies clash by (saturday and) night?

When the Tea Partiers were called ignorant racist deplorables back in Obama’s day, they knew it was not true, even if some of them could not well articulate that knowledge in the face of “I’m with the media, screw you” PC questioning. They knew they left demo sites cleaner than when they arrived. They knew that illegal immigration was, well, illegal. They knew that, if they liked their doctor, they’d not been able to keep their doctor. And they knew that the statist solutions Obama loved have a very poor record (see e.g. Socialism, Experience of).

When the Brexitters were called islamophobic little-englanders ignorant of basic economics in the modern age, they had very good reason to think it was not true, even if some of them could not well articulate that knowledge in the face of a “we know best” media and establishment. They knew the UK economy had functioned outside the EU well within living memory. They knew their distaste at Rotherham was not a mere phobia. They could see many predictions of Project Fear were so wild as to discredit it. And they knew that taking back control was itself a benefit (see e.g. Liberty, Value of).

Now we have the yellow vests (Gilets Jaunes) in France. They have a lot of grievances, but the spark that lit their explosion was Macron’s eco-tax, to save the planet from Anthropogenic Global Warming.

Now, I know AGW is pseudo-science.

– I’m confident we’ll do OK after Brexit, but I know the notorious hockey stick was made when ‘scientists’ – deceitful, but also too ignorant of statistics to understand what they were doing – fitted their data like a policeman fitting-up a suspect (take the recalcitrant dataset into a dark room with some statistical tools; when you emerge, the dataset is moaning, “OK, OK, I confirm the hypothesis – just don’t separate my principal components again and I’ll say anything!!!”).

– I suspect the Brexit-day Calais traffic jam may be hardly worse than the jam the yellow-vests caused at the French-Italian border, but I know those scientists saw the post-fit line dipping back down to the pre-fit level (like an intimidated witness trying to drop a hint), yet refused even to think about what it was trying to tell them and instead (in the sole manipulation where they understood exactly what they were doing) scaled the graph to hide the decline.

What I don’t know is whether the Gilets Jaunes know this. I have bits of paper from known-name universities and later employments that credential me to talk about statistics, science, etc. The Gilets Jaunes don’t, so I can believe they are not well able to articulate it when faced with the arrogance of “we’re the experts”. However, they may have noticed how often we’ve passed some deadline to save the planet. They may sense that Macron is just another intellectual-without-intellect whose belief in AGW is clueless and self-serving. The Gilets Jaunes resentment that the price of saving the planet is always paid by them, never their ‘betters’, may lead them to ask why the oh-so-articulate eco-warriors don’t act like they believe it.

So, as regards global warming, I’m ready to credit the Gilets Jaunes with having a better ratio of sense to selfishness than the eco-EUrocrats. I’m just amused by the fact that the very issue where I myself can most claim to know, not merely think, that a particular group of populists is right, is also the very issue where I have the weakest evidence of that group themselves knowing or caring that they are not merely fighting their corner but are also correct about the issue.

Was I gullible to believe in Tory cynicism?

Ever since Gove messed up the election of a leave leader, my confidence that the Tories would nevertheless deliver Brexit rested less on the belief that the parliamentary party contained more leavers than full-blown remoaners than on the conviction that it contained many who just wanted to win the next election. Cameron’s referendum to deal with the internal and external (UKIP) threat to Tory electoral prospects ended not as he intended, but it offered such MPs a very obvious path forward. Likewise, when May demonstrated her ability to reduce a poll-lead healthily exceeding 20% to a result just exceeding 2% (over Corbyn, of all people), my belief that the Tories would not risk another election under her leadership rested solidly on my faith in how many Tory MPs wanted first and foremost to win.

For now, it is all still to play for. Firstly, if there are as many letters written as rumoured, yet such as David Davis are still thinking about it, then Mogg’s “this week or next” remains on the table – and I quite see that the rule ensuring May a challenge-free year if she survives a vote is a very good reason for caution in the run-up to launching one. Secondly, when May’s incompetence made her dependent on the DUP for her majority, I thought it good for one reason; I now also think it good for another. Thirdly, if all else fails, reality could still prove wiser than parliament and deliver us a no-deal Brexit through their sheer inability to agree anything decisive in a timely fashion.

All that said, I am beginning to question my faith in the “focus on winning” cynicism of a sufficient majority of Tory MPs. It is one thing to think that enough Tory MPs to keep May as leader could betray their voters, their party, their principles and the most emphatic statements of their 2017 manifesto (and her leadership campaign), but it shakes me to the core to find myself wondering if they could choose the electoral death ride of May campaigning on this deal rather than follow a leaver. I’m glad that a majority of back-bench MPs seem to be interested in retaining the votes of the ‘swivel-eyed loons’ so derided by Cameron, Osborne, and now May, but just how many others would rather lose than be unfriended in SWI ?

Natalie once stated she would endure a Corbyn government rather than stay in the EU. I have always felt much sympathy for the wretched situation of Slavs who found themselves fighting for Stalin against Hitler as the only alternative to Hitler’s winning, and it is with similar feelings that I do see her point (if, that is, we could even rely on their being alternatives). However we should be able to do better than that.

The elephant with more sense than to be in the room

After the armistice centenary celebrations, Macron is hosting some kind of talking shop about ‘peace’ for his fellow European leaders. Wisely, Trump has decided not to attend. (He’s already done his bit for European peace by extorting from Macron a verbal acknowledgement that Europe should do more for its own defence. We’ll see whether that amounts to anything in practice.)

The chattering classes love the saying that generals prepare to fight the last war, not the next one. Sadly, they rarely ask whether they themselves are trying to avoid the last war, not the next one. After 1918, many western leaders tried so very hard to avoid WWI that they greatly helped Hitler bring about the very different WWII. (The UK had a pacifist prime minister and pacifist leader of the opposition during Adolf’s first three years.) Now Merkel and co. are trying to avoid yesterday’s wars by enforcing ‘hate speech’ laws on every questioner of the PC consensus they can mischaracterise as a blond blue-eyed lover of the nordic race. Even if we did not know how Weimar Germany’s similar use of similar laws worked out, it would still be a great way to avoid the problems of the past by encouraging the problems of the future.

Rare literal example of ‘No True Scotsman’ Fallacy

Twitter urged to bring in ‘Verified Scottish’ status

A Scottish member of the European parliament has warned that fake Scots are taking to twitter and spreading fake news.

It is unclear what led natz MEP Alyn Smith to this appalling discovery. Some suggest he first became suspicious when he realised that tweets from an Aberdeenshire businessman named Donald were in fact coming from an IP address in Washington D.C. Others speculate that his scepticism was naturally aroused when an allegedly-Scottish comic expressed more liking for the English than for the natz, which Alyn found neither Scottish nor comical. Surely it cannot be that the very disciplined natz party suspects its former leader of having too close an association with a source of twitter bots?

Whatever it was alerted him to the problem, he knows the solution:

Alyn Smith urges Twitter to bring in ‘Verified Scottish’ status.

I hate to break it to my fellow Scot, but I’m not sure Jack Dorsey is going to be too interested in this. I’m also not sure how Jack would decide who is Scottish and who is not. Scots have a great love of their country from a distance: by one definition, there are said to be 5 or 6 times as many Scots around the world as there are in Scotland. Conversely, there are English people in Scotland, some of whom immigrated from south of the Tweed quite recently. Other recent immigrants come from a greater distance – the middle east, for example. Might Twitter think it wrong to withhold Scottishness from any who claim it? And how would they assess Alyn himself, who often tweets from Strasburg or Brussels?

I suppose Twitter could always apply the reasoning they appear to use in the US, but Mr Smith had better hope it gets adapted for the Scottish domain. The algorithm “Tweet account likes English – treat it as a bot” would no doubt suit him, but an automated “Tweet account likes ‘Donald’ – treat it as a bot” might rate some of his natz colleagues as ‘fake’ – and be all the more accurate for it. 🙂

(A description of the No True Scotsman fallacy is here.)

Even unto the 10th generation (depending on what the meaning of ‘is’ is)

Elizabeth Warren helped her academic career by claiming benefits available to members of a minority group – in her case, native american. Later it turned out she had no evidence of this. One of her ancestors was a soldier who guarded native americans on the ‘trail of tears’ but there was no traceable first nations ancestry – just (she said) a family legend.

Some people suggested it was fraud and hypocrisy to take minority benefits when you had no evidence you were one. And Donald Trump said he’d pay $1 million to any charity she chose if she could show she was.

Now she has taken a DNA test. As she supported the recounts in some states after he won, so likewise I would not in the least blame him for demanding a confirming second test supervised by agreed experts. Let us assume, however, for the sake of argument, that, just as those recounts did not change the outcome, so a second test gives either

a) a minimally-similar result: Senator Warren has a single tenth generation native american ancestor

or

b) an even better result: suppose, for example, that a more detailed check shows she has a single fifth-generation native american ancestor

Two questions arise.

The first, as a man once said, depends upon what the meaning of ‘is’ is. For the purpose of claiming minority benefits and status in today’s identity culture, does being a minority extend unto the fifth generation? How about unto the tenth generation? (And if, as the NYT reported in 2014, the average european american is 0.18% native american, are they all entitled to these benefits?)

The second is: did Trump just win a bet or lose it? I guess that would depend on what exactly he said and whether he later clarified it. If he said ‘any’ amerindian ancestry, I think he just lost. If he said ‘is’ amerindian, I think he just won. If he’d ever clarified it to, “Has a proportion of native american descent that is at least a full standard deviation’s worth above the mean for the US population” – then I’d think he (was being advised by a statistician and) may have won, but if he’d said “mode” instead of “mean”, could Warren’s charity be in with a chance? Should Trump pay a percentage of $1 million equal to her percentage of first-nations ancestry – or that percentage divided by the percentage that US universities typically demand when handing out minority benefits?

In this time of polarisation, I’d like to think at least a political bet could be settled. It would be a pity if, unlike presidential elections in the US constitution, this one proves not to have been well-enough defined beforehand.

The NYT article was about the difficulty the old south had defining exactly who was black and who was not. Everything old is new again.

Suicidal logic

Theresa May said the appointment of Health Minister Jackie Doyle-Price to the new role [Minister for Suicide Prevention] will help tackle the stigma surrounding suicide. While suicide rates are falling, 4500 people commit suicide every year. (BBC Text News this morning)

Creating a new role to solve a problem that is diminishing anyway may seem like a clever move to a politician, but I’m not so sure. If Minister Jackie Doyle-Price removes enough of the ‘stigma’ surrounding suicide, might the rate start rising again?

Of course, that might not be so much of a problem, politically. Back in the 70s Labour appointed a Minister for Drought after a long spell of dry weather. The heavens then opened – and he was reappointed Minister for Floods. When Jackie Doyle-Price has removed enough of the stigma surrounding suicide that you can get euthanasia on the NHS, perhaps she’ll be reappointed the Minister for Assisted Suicide.

Meanwhile, what does one make of Theresa May saying that there are too many suicides so we must remove the ‘stigma’ surrounding it. Should I assume that in the past, when I thought she was “thick as a brick”, I really hadn’t grasped how stupid she was. Or should I, more charitably, assume the PM reads (and signs?) whatever her civil servants put in front of her without thinking about it, while worrying every day “How long have I yet to live?” (politically).

Putting the ‘social’ in socialised medicine

The NHS is trialling group consultations. Instead of seeing your doctor one-on-one, up to 15 people will be seen all at the same time. One’s experience of medicine (or rather, ten or fifteen’s experience of it) will certainly be more social under these plans – especially as these group consultations will apparently include such issues as erectile disfunction. This should help achieve the old marxist aim of ‘abolishing the private sphere of life’.

As usual, however, socialism’s compassionate attempt to provide

a “fun and efficient” way to carry out consultations with patients who shared the same conditions

is being resisted by some old-fashioned reactionaries who claim to feel

“incredibly uncomfortable” discussing personal matters with large groups of strangers

overlooking the fact that, since the average NHS GP serves a specific contiguous area, such groups will not always be of strangers – they may often include neighbours and acquaintances.

See something, say nothing, do nothing:
how the Grauniad became the Girthiad

Four decades ago, the Guardian newspaper dared not defy its then-powerful printsetting unions – so its morning editions often had unfortunate typos. Sometimes these were spotted by journalists at what would have been just-in-time moments before the print-run began, but woe betide anyone who dared alter the type with his own un-printsetter-unionised hand – or suggest that union-negotiated printsetter hours be disregarded.

The Guardian has been called the Grauniad ever since. (The unions are gone but the tradition lingers – in 2014, the Guardian reported that a crucial UN summit sought “a global agreement to find climate change before the end of the year.”)

When the chance timelines of separate stories resulted in last Tuesday’s front-cover, I think it likely some, even at the Grauniad, noticed something. In live broadcasts, I understand how unfortunate adjacencies in BBC news may juxtapose themselves too late to be avoided. But at the Grauniad, there must have been long minutes, if not hours, before the moment when the print-run began and the cover below also appeared on the web that is forever.

FightFatphobiaBeHealthy

But clearly, noone at the Grauniad dared say anything. It’s not just us who “can’t say that”; they also silence themselves.

(h/t David Thompson, well worth reading on this, via Instapundit)

No bible cake – fine; no trans cake – crime

Ironically, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission actually defended another baker who refused to bake a cake that would convey a message. In 2015, the commission declined to take up an appeal involving Azucar Bakery, which refused to bake Bible-shaped cakes with messages against homosexuality. The bakery’s owner, Marjorie Silva, said she refused to bake the cakes because the writing and imagery were “hateful and offensive.” Christian Baker Again Under Fire for Refusing Transgender Cake Despite Supreme Court Win

I’m all for there being as many articles as possible exposing the Colorado commission’s ongoing war on free speech, but I do not think the word ‘irony’ means what this article thinks it does. I see not irony but consistency. When the Colorado commissioners treat the supreme court’s ruling on them as a joke, but expect the bakery to treat their new case against it as no joke, they’re not being ironic. They are consistently pushing their freedom-hating agenda.

Now if this were to help Trump and the GOP in the midterms, that would be ironic.

(One other thought: the she-it-he person who demanded the bakery bake a trans cake has apparently also demanded that it bake a satanist cake, but AFAICS the commission has not taken action over that. Is the commission prejudiced against satanists?)

Finally, an achievable socialist goal

Abolish profit is the proclaimed goal of The New York branch of Democratic Socialists of America (they would also like to abolish prisons, cash bail and borders, but abolishing profit comes first). Normally, I think that, this time, socialism won’t work – because it didn’t last time, and the time before that, and the time before that – but for once, that logic points in the opposite direction.

Sure, I’m for social insurance, medical care and the rest, provided it’s given to the people from the profits which the State, as owner and operator of the factories, makes on them – the profits that formerly were made by the capitalists – and not from the earnings of the workers themselves. In that was the gist of the revolution.

But where are your profits? Your industry and your whole economy work at a loss. And we, the citizens, are forced to cover those losses.

Revolutionary socialist Andrei Kravchenko said that to his son, communist official Victor Kravchenko, in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1936. Socialism’s ability to abolish profit was later confirmed by Mao, Mugabe and Chavez – and by a number of nationalised industries in the UK. So I believe socialism can do this.

Unfortunately, the DSA’s second goal – abolish prisons – is one that socialists have never achieved, since prisons are the means by which “we, the citizens, are forced to cover those losses.”

Unfortunate Adjacencies in BBC News

Yesterday, the BBC 10 o’clock news covered wicked Mr Trump’s treatment of immigrant children (which, it was implied, was very unprecedented, nor ever praised by the left). The beeb’s Washington correspondent told us that

“In a series of tweets that will further strain the transatlantic alliance”

Mr Trump asserted Germany’s immigrants were causing that country problems such as more crime,

“but that is false. Germany’s crime rate is lower than it has ever been.”

(The emphasis on the word false was in the original.)

Soon after came their coverage of Merkel’s woes. The beeb’s Europe correspondent told us that, instead of a cooperative pan-European policy (which, she seemed to be implying, was what had been needed), individual European countries had raised barriers (references to populism and stuff), so now Merkel was meeting with the Italian PM one day, the French president the next, in

“a race against time”

to salvage things in a Europe

“more disunited than ever.”

I can’t understand why Merkel doesn’t just point out to her German voters that crime in Germany is lower than ever now they’ve imported such vast numbers of people from areas where crime rates are notoriously low – uh, well, notorious, anyway. 🙂 If any wicked right-wing populist dared to question her own crime statistics, Merkel could point to the happy experiences of Austria or Sweden, and if that doesn’t do the trick, she can always quote the majestic authority of the BBC: suggesting an immigrant-related rise in crime is false.

I also can’t understand why the BBC’s correspondents don’t coordinate their narratives better. That emphatic false from the Washington correspondent at the end of his story really wanted to be further from the somewhat downbeat report from the Europe correspondent – like, in a whole different news broadcast.

[I wrote down the BBC correspondents’ words from memory immediately after the programme aired yesterday.]

The style is catching

(With grateful acknowledgement to the Continental Telegraph’s inspiring Aunt Agatha, whose insightful replies to the many problems of British establishment figures are a comic must-read.)

Dear Aunt Europa,
   we are retired British operatives who have been doing nicely over the last two years as the British end of an operation to help some American friends. Our job was to type up rumours about Mr Trump, and a couple of people briefly connected to his campaign, in the form of impressive-seeming intelligence reports that our US associates could convert into bugging authorisations and sinister-sounding leaks to the media.

At one time, this work brought us golden showers of payment and praise. Recently, however, our transatlantic buddies have soured on us. Apparently some of our inventions proved too baroque for the public’s credulity, and we were not discreet enough in our supportive leaking to US papers. Worse still, some of our friends now seem nervous that their conversations with us might themselves be bugged by leak investigators. So the payments and praise have both dried up.

Can you suggest another line of work for us (bearing in mind that it might not be prudent for any of us to visit the US just now).

      Yours as sincerely as we ever are,
            (You’ll forget our current aliases almost as
              soon as we will, so let’s just skip this bit)

Dear Retired British Operatives,
   it is always wise to play to your strengths, so I suggest you find a client on this side of the Atlantic who has the same eagerness for your existing skills and storyline. Long before Mr Trump said that his election night would be “Brexit plus plus”, a similar hatred of both on the part of a similar group of people over here was quite evident. There are many Remoaners on both sides of the channel who would instantly and fervently believe almost anything you typed up if you rejigged your reports to be about the Leave campaign. Although their list of wealthy backers was shorter than Remain’s, there is a reasonable chance that at least one of them has at least one investment with a Russian connection. And you might get lucky; maybe one of them has socialised with a Russian – or even married a Russian. To those with your experience, making this sound most sinister to Remoaner journalists and MPs should be child’s play.

I do suggest however that you avoid “golden showers” or similar inventions. I am astonished to learn that it is possible to lose credibility through underestimating the taste of the American public, but if that one proved too crude to be believed even over there then the British public (outside Remoaner circles) might not credit it either.

      Yours every bit as sincerely as you were being
            Aunt Europa