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]

Oh, beware my Country

Build on the flanks of Etna where the sullen smoke-puffs float —
Or bathe in tropic waters where the lean fin dogs the boat —
Cock the gun that is not loaded, cook the frozen dynamite —
But oh, beware my Country, when my Country grows polite!

Thus ends Kipling’s poem on our national habit of becoming very polite when we are about to lose our temper.

Yesterday’s ‘March of Enraged Brexitters’ was polite. ‘Cheerfully furious’, was how someone described the chairman of one Tory constituency association who was there. Reports agree the rage was very real – and self-controlled.

Over in the US a few years ago, Tea Party marches made a similar contrast to left-wing protests (‘left areas tidier than when they arrived’ versus ‘vandalism and arson’) – which did not in the least stop politicians and the media inventing lies against the Tea Party and shrugging it off when caught. When it was clear the PC would report polite dissenters as if they were were rioting racist thugs, they did not (fortunately) get rioting racist thugs (because their understanding of their opponents was zero) but they did get something a little less restrained: Trump and his supporters were not so polite to them.

On our side of the pond, Parliament (Labour and Tory alike) promised us something very specific, as formally and solemnly as possible, in speech, proclamation and manifesto, before the referendum (if we voted for it) and before the election (unconditionally). Promising something and then taking it away is a great way to get people angry.

So, I admire the restraint of “cheerful fury”, but, between the lessons of our national character and the lessons of the Tea Party evolving into the Trump coalition, I think Parliament unwise to go on provoking it. But I also think that if Parliament were wise, we were not be where we are now.

Agreeing to disagree

Inevitably, a parliament that can agree on nothing can agree on a two-week delay. Hilariously, it’s the EU that protects us from longer delay – they disliked the last time Brits voted on them too much to want a repetition in the EUro-elections two months hence. Admirably, the DUP refuse to panic (I thought they were a luck from the start.)

Labour was whipped to vote for a second referendum (kudos to their shadow minister who resigned) whereas the Tories were not whipped, but it still failed. The idea will be debated again on April Fool’s day but the omens (not least that one 🙂 ) seem good.

May’s offers to resign get steadily more precise and shorter term. Each one brings the series nearer its end. Each one reduces her authority while she remains.

As for me, I still like deadlock. If ever there was a time for a monarch to say that, as parliament is unable to act, “we” will be its regent and just do it, now is that time, but perhaps the decision of making no decision at all would be most convincing of all. We on this blog want less government; here’s a chance to experience it

Comment away – you know you want to. 🙂

Less economy of truth, please: who pays whom?

In today’s UK, we can only envy the US its first amendment, but Brits familiar with the PC narrative on race over here still find some US excesses hard to credit. Even Brits who hang out with lefties can be astounded by the wilder shores of the US narrative.

Enthroned on this mad narrative, Ta-Nehisi Coates nevertheless gets some push-back. He’s not hard to criticise. In his own memoir, some shoving on a crowded New York escalator is the worst that white people ever did to him in propria persona, but their malign influence is everywhere: when a black kid points a gun at the young Coates, it’s the fault of whites; when a black friend is shot by a black cop in a black majority area, it’s the fault of whites.

However, those who dare question this feel they must virtue-signal even as they do so.

“Coates’s book is … angry about things we should be angry about” signals an article that shreds Coates’ memoir.

“Coates reminds us of the shame of the American inner city … His account of slavery and the ensuing discrimination against blacks is powerful and true.” says an article titled ‘The Toxic World-View of Ta-Nehisi Coates’.

While cringing white ‘liberals’ tell each other that “Coates is right about white supremacy — but that doesn’t mean that Bernie Sanders is wrong”, other critics seem to be saying that “Coates is absurd, dishonest or channeling racism – but that doesn’t mean I’m a racist for saying so.”

This lets lies survive even in the words of those fighting against them. After denouncing “genocidal whiteness”, Coates demands “reparations” for slavery. Consider the following thought experiments.

– Suppose the US government tells Mr Coates they have just learned he was in fact born in Senegal and adopted as a tiny infant by his US parents, who neglected the relevant legalities – so he is not a US citizen and should depart for his true country. In this thought experiment, Mr Coates’ true parents were not descended from slaves sold to white traders on the West African coast centuries ago. His true ancestors did not suffer from “genocidal whiteness”. How much money would Mr Coates spend on lawyers and investigators to overturn this assessment? How much money would Mr Coates pay to reacquire the legacy for which he says he should be paid?

– As another way of asking the same thing, suppose a powerful witch offers to wave her magic wand over Mr Coates. His ancestors’ past will be changed. The “genocidal whiteness” that has affected that past will be expunged. At every moment when one of his ancestors was about to be pushed onto a white trader’s ship – at every moment when the white western world was about to impinge upon them – they will instead be among the unselected, remaining in Africa. As a special bonus, the witch will ensure that they are not instead sent into the King of Dahomey’s murder spectacle, nor have their eyes gouged out by the Bemba, nor die entertaining the Ashanti, nor be eaten by a cannibal tribe. They will instead live to give rise to Ta-Nehisi Coates, still himself, but now a slave-descended citizen of Senegal from whose past all “genocidal whiteness” has been erased. How much would Mr Coates pay the witch not to wave her wand?

It seems so superfluous to point out that the sums Mr Coates would pay (in these hypothetical examples) to keep his heritage are the sums he should pay, not be paid, if his agitation for reparations ever overcame the many better, more fundamental reasons against it.

I understand the urge to utter that ‘but’but I’m not a racist, but I know evil things were done, but I’m not Adolf reborn. Even I find myself wanting to tell you that being sold as a slave by his jealous brothers, and then falsely accused by Potiphar’s lustful wife, worked out really well for Joseph in the end – but they all needed Grand Vizier Joseph’s forgiveness, not his thanks, and his giving it was an act of grace, forgoing the punishment he could so justly have inflicted. I so needed to make sure you all knew I knew that – even though I already knew you all knew I knew that. Even though I already knew what surely we all know by now: that cringing to the PC only encourages them. Even though I already knew that anyone who would have pretended not to know I thought it if I did not say it will still pretend just as hard although I have.

And that is how this need to virtue-signal lets lies survive even in the words of those fighting against them. Yes, all the perpetrators and victims are dead. Yes, how could we unravel all their clashing inheritances. Yes, reparations for the past opens a pandora’s box of endless complications. But all this general philosophy merely hides specific points. You can hate the British Empire or you can hate slavery but no-one honestly hates both – and the PC hate that fact. If Mr Coates’ ancestors had never been put on the ships, their enslaved descendants might have had to wait decades longer for the Empire to reach and free them in their homeland. Reparations for centuries-old events may be philosophically impractical in general, but focussing on that only obscures that when you indict a whole society’s dead past on behalf of another, as Coates does, then you should ask whether that society was peculiarly guilty, or peculiar only in its relative lack of guilt. Slavery was ‘the peculiar institution’ in the pre-war south. In the non-western world, it did not look peculiar – and would not today, but for the western world.

“You’re taught that on race issues you are morally obliged to suspend your usual standards of logic. Faced with a choice between some benign mendacity and being mauled, few human beings choose the latter.”

Those who do ‘choose the latter’ know what Burke did about economy of truth: “a man may speak the truth by measure that he be allowed to speak it longer”. But Burke never thought mendacity could be ‘benign’ – and nor do I. I think we should be less economical.

Less economy of truth, please: who kissed whom?

Punching back against PC lies – punching back “twice as hard” – is advice instapundit likes to offer. I wish I had a pound for all the times we instead push back half as hard, conceding one absurdity to a woke idiot in the very act of gently suggesting they tone down another.

The famous picture of a sailor kissing a nurse on WWII victory day is the latest target of the wokescolds. A US lecturer describes how a crybully in his class said

“That is the photo of an assault. That man should have gone to jail.”

after which a gay (who “could never get get to the end of a sentence without mentioning it”) asked why celebrate “colonialism”. The lecturer raised a laugh against the gay by reminding him that our soldiers went to France to free it from Nazi colonialism, but in doing so he effectively let the crybully off with a remark that implied she was merely overemphasising a valid point.

Let us consider some other celebratory moments from the end of that war.

The men flinched from the kisses of the ecstatic, filthy, stinking girls who tried to swarm all over them. (Kitty Hart, ‘Return to Auschwitz’)

The only unusual part of this end-WWII description is Kitty’s clear statement that these unannounced female kisses were not only unwarned but unwanted by the US soldiers on whom they were showered. After two years in Auschwitz and months of slave-labourer-trudge westward across the dying Nazi state, Kitty and her tragically-few fellow Jewish survivors were not looking their prettiest at the liberation of Salzwedel concentration camp – and they were looking pretty aggressive. (Kitty’s memoirs describe frankly how she took an aggressive personality into Auschwitz and a more aggressive one out of it. Jews who did not, did not survive, though you also needed a lot of what Kitty Hart’s maiden name – Kitty Felix – is Latin for.)

There are many other examples. When Paris was liberated in August 1944, a great many Parisiennes threw themselves on the soldiers and kissed them without the least hint of, “Excusez-moi, monsieur, voulez-vous que je vous embrasse” beforehand – but it is not recorded that the men of General Leclerc’s French 2nd armoured division ‘flinched’ under this onslaught.

The mad logic of the woke crybully says Kitty and friends should have been jailed. After all, the nurse in the iconic protograph became friends with the sailor, met him often thereafter, posed with him for an anniversary photo, always spoke of it in positively glowing terms – in short, gave every possible proof of her willing acceptance of the kiss – whereas Kitty shamelessly admits the men her cohort kissed were anything but eager. And since those women in Paris have no better excuse than the sailor – “Les hommes ne nous résistent pas” is clearly not enough for the crybully – they must belong in jail too.

Burke said that while falsehood and deceit were allowed in no cause whatever, “a certain economy of the truth may be practiced; a man speaks the truth by measure that he be allowed to speak it longer.” He has a point – sometimes one must pick the points to make to be able to go on talking – but I think we should try to do less of it. That crybully girl merited mockery, not the PC cringe.

You say that like it’s a bad thing, Mr Soros

The EU could collapse in the same way the Soviet Union did, George Soros warns

Back in 1991/92, when the Soviet Union had just collapsed and the UKIP party had just formed to fight the “ever-closer-union” Maastricht Treaty, one of their posters was two pictures of the map of Europe, one captioned ‘Before’ and the other ‘After’. ‘Before’ showed Western Europe divided into many separate countries while the east was the single monolith of communism. ‘After’ showed Eastern Europe divided into many separate countries while the west was the single monolith of the EU.

In Britain, this comparison was used as an argument against the EU but Mr Soros evidently sees it differently. He

has issued a call for Europe to “please wake up” and recognize “the magnitude of the threat” it faces.

Otherwise

“the European Union will go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991.”

Mr Soros blames

“the lack of legal tools for disciplining member states”

Also attracting his ire is “the outdated party system that prevails in most European countries” (I do not recall this being a problem in the old Soviet bloc), and the fact that changing the treaties that define the EU is too difficult. He also thinks the EU should not have required migrants to register in the first EU country they reached, instead of moving them on over the continent, because that made local electorates more aware of their numbers.

However Mr Soros believes all will yet be well if the Eurocrats

“awaken the sleeping pro-European majority”

Good luck with that.

Girl’s got a point

We need to be less ready to throw each other under the bus when the PC media tell us to.

In London recently, Candace Owens of Turning Point talked about globalism versus nationalism, and was asked the usual idiot question about nationalism meaning Adolf. She replied,

“Whenever we say ‘nationalism’, the first thing people think about, at least in America, is Hitler. He was a National Socialist. But if Hitler just wanted to make Germany great and have things run well, okay, fine.”

Though you can be arrested for quoting Sir Winston Churchill on Islam in the UK, it is (or was, last I looked) still safe to quote him on Hitler.

I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side. He [Hitler] had a perfect right to be a patriotic German if he chose.

That is how Churchill characterised a chance conversation with a fan of the fuhrer. So it seems Sir Winston held the same view as Candace. (Quoted in Churchill’s WWII Vol I, Chapter V, ‘The Locust Years’. In a follow-up conversation,

I happened to say, “Why is your chief so violent against the Jews?”

after which, it seems, these conversations, and Hitler’s reaction to the fan’s report on them, became less welcoming.)

Completing her answer, Candace went on to say

The problem is that he had dreams outside of Germany. He wanted to globalize. He wanted everybody to be German, everybody to be speaking German, everybody to look a different way. That’s not, to me, that’s not nationalism… I have no problems with nationalism. It’s globalism that I try to avoid.”

Even those who despise socialism tend to study its theories with a certain seriousness. Hannah Arendt’s study of antisemitism (despite the title of its first section being ‘Antisemitism as an outrage to common sense’) is one of far fewer that make the effort to study that subject seriously. Hannah ridicules the

hasty … identification of antisemitism with rampant nationalism and its xenophobic outbursts. … not only the Nazis but 50 years of anti-semitic history stand as evidence against the identification of antisemitism with nationalism. The first antisemitic parties … were also among the very first that banded together internationally. … they called international congresses and were concerned with a coordination of international, or at least inter-European, activities. … the Nazis nationalist propaganda was directed toward their fellow-travellers and not their convinced members … Nazi “nationalism” had more than one aspect in common with [WWII-and-after] nationalistic propaganda in the Soviet Union … The Nazis had a genuine and never revoked contempt for the narrowness of nationalism, the provincialism of the nation state, and they repeated time and time again that their “movement”, international in scope like the Bolshevik movement, was more important to them than any state …

She notes the Nazis’ “spiteful contempt” for the German people “which they had always had, but could hardly show before” (i.e. before they won power). Hitler described himself as a magnet drawing whatever was good out of the German people – “those who are left are worthless anyway”. Hannah remarks, “Even then, it was clear to those in his circle what would happen to people Hitler considered ‘worthless anyway’.” Hitler ordered that the word ‘German’ be replaced with the word ‘Aryan’ throughout the Third Reich’s legal code, institutionalising this contempt. In parallel, the Nazis eagerly recruited all the foreign antisemites they could. [All quotes are from Hannah Arendt’s ‘Origins of Totalitarianism’]

So when Candace Owens talked about Hiler’s place along the globalism versus nationalism spectrum, she seems to have an ally in Hannah Arendt.

The Covington incident showed some on our side betraying it and cringing to its enemies by believing what those enemies said happened. The Candace Owens pile-on is an example of doing the same by believing what those enemies say our words mean. Candace discusses the incident here. Anyone who cares what is true is still free to argue that (things being as they are today) she should practice replying in ways even harder to misrepresent. But they could they stand up for the facts enough to include those words ‘even harder’ when they say it.

Googling ‘Welsh evil’ (or ‘BBC stupid’)

They were thrown into ecstasies of suspicion by finding we possessed a French translation of Hitler’s ‘Mein Kampf’. If that had been the only book they found, our doom would have been sealed. It is obvious that a person who reads ‘Mein Kampf’ must be a fascist. The next moment, however, they came across a copy of Stalin’s pamphlet ‘Ways of Liquidating Trotskyists and other Double Dealers’, which reassured them somewhat. (George Orwell, Homage to Catalonia)

The BBC has learned from Google that Welsh IP addresses are 7.2% more likely (than other UK ones) to be the origin of searches concerning Jews in conjunction with certain negative terms. Since it lists these terms, the BBC story is now a high-ranked result found by such searches – or so I assume (I have not checked, lest Google record my IP address and the BBC report that Scotland has overtaken Wales). It is suggested that Google discourage these wicked Welsh googlers by not letting these combinations auto-complete.

I see no suggestion in the story that anyone contributing to it has even risen to the level of the communist secret police by e.g. correlating these queries with others from the same IP address like ‘racism evil’. (If any of the offending IP addresses also searched for ‘islamic terrorism evil’, I assume the BBC would only be the more shocked and disgusted.)

On the rare occasions when I’ve tried to imitate a Welsh accent, I often sound like I’m trying to imitate the accent of a Pakistani speaking English. I’ve been told the two accents sound similar because a high proportion of the governesses who tutored children of natives from the Indian subcontinent in the days of the Raj were Welsh. (I have no idea why that should be so or whether it is true.) If the BBC harbours the least suspicion that some of the searchers are studying anti-semitism with a view to opposing it, or that the accent of others might indeed sound Pakistani, it does not mention it.

Remoaner MPs

They dislike the treaty but fear a clean Brexit,
They hope that – in more ways than one – they can fix it.
Too statist to say, even at their most livid,
“Take back control? Look at us, to whom you’ll give it!”,
Instead, as the fast-nearing date makes them manic,
Their failed Project Fear has become Project Panic.
Campaigning, they pledged they would honour the hour.
Elected, and climbing the greased pole of power,
They cling in death-grip to their fear-calming view,
We’re the wise – VoteLeave’s win showed the folly of you.”
In parliament’s past, you at many times find,
It avoids doing wrong by not being of one mind.
So if “House fulfils pledge” seems a doubtful prediction,
Let’s hope for “House deadlocked in fierce contradiction”.

“Have you considered masterly inactivity?”, replied Sir Humphrey Appleby when newly-appointed Prime Minister Jim Hacker asked what he should now do. Alas, so polarised is politics today that even – indeed, especially – Sir Humphrey would likely oppose inactivity in this case. We hope parliament will in fact do nothing supremely stupid during the next two months, but my most confident prediction is that whatever they do or don’t do will not appear masterly.

Zimbabwean currency basket (case)

A visit to Africa a few months ago produced many, many pictures of wild scenery and wilder animals – and this picture of civilisation after socialism.

BasketOfTenBillionDollarNotes

In times of inflation, you carry your money to the shop in a basket and carry your purchase home in your wallet. In times of socialist inflation, each note in the basket is for tens of billions. There is a rumour that Zimbabwe will imitate Venezuela and remove some of the zeros. (There is another rumour that says that this had already happened.) The socialist Mugabe is gone but socialism lingers on. I fear Kipling’s poem is not quite right:

But though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said, “If you don’t work, you die.”

Socialism doesn’t work but it also doesn’t die. Socialism is the modern name of an ancient evil that in every generation resurrects and must be slain again.

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.