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]

The Guardian attacks free speech

Is the Guardian becoming increasingly illiberal? It may have a section of its website called “Comment is Free”, yet it is now attacking free speech when it disagrees with the opinions expressed.

Once a supporter of liberal values, the Guardian was the sort of paper that would have quoted Voltaire’s “I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend, to the death, your right to say it.” But just as it has dropped support for liberal ideas on economics (it was once a free trade paper), it now appears to be dropping liberal ideas about freedom of expression.

In that vein, it is getting itself worked up because one of its rivals, the Telegraph, runs a blogging platform, like Blogger or Typepad, where members of the public can start their own blogs. That blogging platform has been one of the reasons why the Telegraph, according to moaning articles in the Guardian, has recently overtaken the Guardian in online readers.

Among the 20,000 people who have signed up for a ‘MyTelegraph’ blog, one is a member of the anti-immigration British National Party. The Guardian thinks the Telegraph should ban him, but the Telegraph says that it believes in free speech – even when the views are wrong – and rightly so.

The Guardian’s lack of faith in free speech is not just restricted to BNP-type comments. It whines that: “My Telegraph is also inhabited by some very unsavoury characters, including a minority of active members of the far right, anti-abortionists, europhobes and members of an anti-feminist ‘men’s movement’.”

Anti-abortionists! Europhobes! Opponents of excessive feminism! I wonder if the Guardian would prefer a return to the old days before the decentralisation of publishing in which only the elite, who knew best, were allowed a voice.

Samizdata quote of the day

It seems that the “cultural revolution” imposed by Chairman Mao so starved the Chinese of culture that they value great cultural classics rather highly.

Alex Singleton


For those of you in London, there’s a free showing of a new film on Wednesday looking at "the dark side of environmentalism". I saw Tom Clougherty on the internet TV station 18 Doughty Street (view recording) discuss the film against some statist from the Green Party. Clougherty’s view was that while there is something of the Michael Moore about this film, it makes an important point. It’s about an underdeveloped town in Romania full of unemployment and poverty. Capitalists want to create jobs by building an environmentally-friendly mine, but Western environmentalists swoop in from overseas and try to force the locals to stay poor, saying that the locals are happy being poor. The showing is at One Great George Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3AA. Doors open at 6:30pm, the film starts at 6:45pm, there is a Q&A session at 7:50pm, and there is a drinks reception at 8:15pm. RSVP to iea@iea.org.uk. View the trailer here:

The film is also available on DVD from here.

On the fringe, there was was something sound at the Tory conference

Work sent me to the Conservative Party conference in last week. It was dull. But I saw the Globalisation Institute had a fringe event so I went along and they gave us all some wine. They had Mark Malloch Brown, the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, give a speech in which he said this:

After all our efforts at reform, Kofi and I felt let down, if not betrayed, by the UN Human Rights Council’s biased and unbalanced approach to the Lebanon conflict. They focussed solely on Israeli actions, while ignoring the atrocities committed by Hizbollah.

That certainly woke me up. It is comforting to hear someone from the UN be so honest. Perhaps next we will find that he is an avid reader of the website UNisEvil.com. Somehow I think it unlikely.

Millions dead because of water statism

That is the conclusion of research published today by Mischa Balen. Over a billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.6 billion people have no sanitation facilities. More than two million people die each year from diarrhoea, and over six million people are blind as a result of trachoma, a disease strongly related to lack of face washing. In Sub Saharan Africa, 42% of the population lacks access to decent water. This state of affairs, he finds, is caused by state failure in water systems.

What can be done? Where the private sector has been called in, it has prevented wars and conflict by creating a system of property rights and acting as an incentive to conserve; increased access to clean water; increased the treatment of sewage, thereby lowering infant mortality; cut politicisation from the supply of water; promoted sustainable development by reducing wastage.

That is great. Unfortunately, ideological opponents of markets are campaigning heavily against the private sector. They choose, he says, “not to compare private provision in reality with state provision in reality, but private provision in reality with a mythical, utopian state provision which does not exist in the real world.” No change there, then.


Press plagarist of the year

The press plagarist of the year competition is in its final round. Go and vote for the worst blog content pirate…

Help fight for free trade

Tomorrow (Wednesday) the issue of trade justice will be topical. Free-market NGO Global Growth is looking for volunteers in London who would be willing to help with a stunt outside the French Embassy. If you are free in the middle of the day tomorrow, e-mail your details to info at global-growth.org. Please include your mobile number.

The Adam Smith Institute works its magic

Oh. My. God. I logged on to ePolitix.com this this morning and found this:


The Adam Smith Institute is working its magic yet again with the flat tax. Only last year it introduced the idea of a flat into the Westminster political sphere with the launch of Flat Tax: The British Case by Andrei Grecu, followed up by Flat tax for the UK. All the major parties have been looking at it: the Treasury censored their findings about the flat tax; the original said it would create a “mini-economic boom”. Flat tax may be the most radical think tank proposal for a decade, but I have a distinct feeling this is going to be on the statute books quite soon.

Good riddance!

Those of us who believe in an open immigration system acknowledge that this should not mean we let in those who support terrorism. So hurrah say I to this news:

“The Home Secretary has issued an order revoking Omar Bakri Mohamed’s indefinite leave to remain and to exclude him from the UK on the grounds that his presence is not conducive to the public good,” a Home Office spokesman said.

The wording “not conducive to the public good” comes from the Immigration Act 1971. The government says it needs new powers to deal with terrorism. The funny thing is that I cannot remember anyone talking about being able to exclude preachers of hate if they are “not conducive to the public good” before this last week. Could it be that the government does not actually know what powers it has?

Samizdata quote of the day

“The Central American Free Trade Agreement is just at the beginning of a century of trade liberalisation, more significant and powerful than any previous wave of liberalisation. Europe and Britain can either choose to follow the path of America, Asia and China, or it should prepare for a century of decline. If the EU is to avoid long-term economic stagnation, it has to welcome globalisation – not fight it.”

– Alex Singleton writing in The Business newspaper.

Someone tell the Heritage Foundation to put a sock in it

Washington DC’s Heritage Foundation has sent out a remarkably stupid e-mail today telling us how to deal with terrorism:

the British government must strengthen its anti-terror laws, from suspect detention to intelligence.

It is bad enough having Charles Clarke fighting against civil liberties in Britain without having the American Right poking its nose into our affairs. I am reminded of the words Charles Fox who in 1794, when warning against the suspension of Habeus Corpus, wrote:

The bill was characteristic of those violent times when, instead of being guided by reason, we were to be put under the dominion of wild passion, and when our pretended alarms were to be made the pretexts for destroying the first principles of the very system which we affected to revere.

We do not need right-wing opportunists from America campaigning against our civil liberties. Someone, please tell them to put a sock in it.

Blood on their hands

Next time you see a starving African child on the television, remember the culpability of Make Poverty History. MPH’s will cause more poverty and more deaths than would otherwise have occurred.

Socialism is killing the third world and Make Poverty History is going to make it worse. In a report by the Globalization Institute called More Aid, Less Growth, we learn that “for every 1% increase in aid received by a developing country, there is a 3.65% drop in real GDP growth per person. Contrary to the conventional wisdom in the aid industry, the study finds that even where recipients have good governance, the effect is also negative.”

So there you have it. The increase in aid prompted by Make Poverty History is going make things worse, not better.