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]

It is past time for a Hayek statue

I agree with this, from Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute.

It is past time that Nobel Prize-winning economist and great social thinker, F A Hayek, had a statue in London.

Hayek is one of the greatest modern economists, and while his intellectual presence in academia is extraordinary, it is time for his legacy to be extended to the greater public.

Hayek traced the idea of spontaneous order from Adam Smith’s ‘invisible hand’ to the present day. He made it one of the most important underpinnings of social and economic freedom. He also made groundbreaking contributions on trade cycle theory and policy, competition in currency, and even human psychology.

A physical memorial would not only honour him directly, it would also bring his name and presence before people who do not yet know of his books and his ideas, and prompt people to find out more about his output and his wide intellectual influence.

I have become very bored of people saying that “now is the time” for XYZ, when in truth it should have happened a long time ago. So he had me at “It is past time …”, even if the wording seems a bit clumsy. It has long (see paragraph 2 above) been “time for his legacy to be extended to the greater public”.

I Hope that, if this statue happens, it’s a good one. I look forward to taking photos of it.

National anthem of Libertaria

The excellent Dominic Frisby is crowdfunding a music video for his National Anthem of Libertaria. He is very much out there spreading good ideas, including in such unfriendly territory as the Edinburgh Festival. I applaud his efforts.

Arise libertarians
Above totalitarians
Our guide is the mighty invisible hand
Reject state controllers
Collectors and patrollers
Our choices are better than government plans

Taxation is a form of theft
Free markets and free trade are best
Free speech, free movement, free minds and free choice
Our actions are all voluntary
Not coerced or compulsory
War we abhor, socialism does not work

No debt or inflation
No stealth confiscation
No pigs in the trough at the gravy to drink
No state education
To brainwash our nation
No experts dictate what to do, what to think

We scorn your fiat currency
Gold and bitcoin is our money
We own ourselves and we live and let live
We take responsibility
Life, love and liberty
Leave us alone, let a thousand flowers bloom

1642

Samizdata has no ‘official position’ on Brexit. Some of the samizdatistas support it, others do not, and for reasons I fully understand. Fine by me, it is not a ‘libertarian’ issue and opinions held in good faith vary on the likely aftermath either way.

So my view is just my view. And my view of where the UK finds itself is no longer a matter of “is Brexit a good idea?” but rather if, in view of the obvious attempts to roll back the result of the referendum, has the state de-legitimised itself? Has Parliament become a self-serving enemy of the people it supposedly represents? And if so, what can be done about it?

“This is your decision. The government will implement what you decide.”

They didn’t have to say that, but they did. They didn’t have to hold the referendum, but they did. So clearly voting will have been demonstrated as pointless if we do not in reality end the political control of the EU & its associated institutions after a majority voted to do precisely that. If leaving the EU proves to have been a terrible idea, then by all means hold another vote on trying to rejoin the EU later. But implement the result of the referendum first. Otherwise, next time a party gets a majority in Parliament, if I don’t like the result, I say we skip the whole tiresome implementation phase of a government taking power & just hold more votes until the correct result is achieved.

Absurd, of course. But that is what some people want regarding the referendum and they are working hard to achieve that. This is what de-legitimisation looks like.

Well, in my view, if we have not left the EU on the 29th of March, more voting on the issue is worthless. But votes are not the only way to express a political opinion. Demonstrations are of course peachy, but they are also easy to ignore and will be mis-characterised as ‘far right’ by the media no matter who else turns up. That said… I recommend purchasing some Yellow Vests. I am buying five as I have friends who tend not to plan ahead.

Tax strikes, on the other hand, attack the very foundations of the state. If 1,000 people do this, they will get dragged into court and made a public example of. However if 100,000+ do it, the entire system will come unglued, and we now have a real rebellion with teeth.

I never thought I would have to write this article, but here we are. I am not musing on the future, this is what is staring us in the face right now.

‘…If there are not… …great private fortresses… …to which you can flee from the State, …’ . And then the Patreon/Mastercard question….

The words of economist and philosopher Anthony de Jasay, in a long interview on YT. The full quote, as I transcribe it:

‘…The State can starve you if it has sufficient power over the economy. If there are not (as Schumpeter put it) great private fortresses in the economy to which you can flee from the State, when all these private fortresses are demolished, then you are utterly delivered to the State….’.

. He also said

‘…the State can starve you if it has sufficient power over jobs, over the economy, because it can decide that you will not get a job…’

But with the Patreon and Mastercard blacklisting of certain ‘right wing’ voices on YT, such as the brave Robert Spencer and where no state appears to have done anything, we have a situation where private companies are choosing to end contracts with individuals on what can only sensibly be termed political grounds. This might be the thin end of a very broad wedge. In a cashless society, it could make like very difficult indeed for certain individuals.

Now a libertarian might say that this is unfortunate but simply the choice of a business whether or not it wishes to do business with any particular person, and is not a matter for any form of legal regulation. Furthermore, if there is a breach of contract (e.g. a bogus justification for not processing payments), then damages are limited to the losses that flow from the breach and would cease at the point at which the contract could lawfully have been ended.

A counter argument might be that if it is to do this, a business (assuming that we are talking about the legal fiction of a body corporate) which seeks to refuse custom on political grounds (rather than on grounds of breaching the law), then it should be open about its aims, and be specifically empowered to pick and choose customers in its terms of service and in its company rules. So if Mastercard advertise to me that I can use my card for payment, without qualification, then it has fraudulently mis-represented to me what it will do since in an objective reality, making payment to Mr Robert Spencer, (pbuh) is perfectly innocuous, and my custom has been obtained by deceit, and Mastercard has in fact a general obligation to process payments made by me to whomever I choose, except where an illegality issue arises, where it need not advertise the fact.

And of course, a company does nothing, it has the legal fiction of a corporate personality, whereby it is supposedly liable for its acts, not always those who work for it. But if those who work for a company are not acting in its best interests, but in the interest of their own malevolence, can that company claim against them? Should the ‘veil of incorporation’ be pierced?

And what sort of a weapon might that be in certain judicial circuits in the United States, or other jurisdictions, where ‘social justice’ might be deemed a requisite corporate objective?

So, what would those who tend towards libertarianism, and some around here may be 0.999 (recurring) in the direction, others not so close to being an integer, say could or should be done about the situation, if anything?

And does the State (from its own pov) need to do anything more to restrict the internet if there is a ‘private’ solution to undesirable speech on the internet?

What’s going on with Facebook?

Over at Libertarian Home, Simon Gibbs (who is the proprietor of Libertarian Home) asks:

I’m asking you a question: have you been tuning into these pages and what do you think is going on? Are some of these legit targets based on some criteria of public safety that you feel is valid? Or are they legitimately operated venues of dissenting opinion which is being squashed?

“These pages” being a list of pages which a certain Justin Harvey (commenting on a Facebook posting) says have been taken down, by Facebook.

I have only very recently plugged myself into Facebook, and have so far only lurked. I have posted nothing. Facebook is useful to me for keeping track of the doings of a few actual friends of mine (this one in particular), but otherwise I find it confusing. They keep nagging me to stick up a picture, so that my “friends” can know that I am really me, but my actual friends know this already.

Besides which, whatever combination of rumour and fact it is that Simon Gibbs is asking about make me think that if Facebook really, really wants me “to take a few moments” to update all my info, they can take a hike. The regular question with which Facebook confronts me whenever I open it, “What’s on your mind?”, feels downright creepy, given what I am coming to believe about the utter duplicity of Facebook’s masters and commanders, wanting, as they seem to, all the privileges but none of the obligations both of a common carrier and of a freelance publisher.

But what does our Commentariat think? I am not so concerned about the mere experience of using Facebook. Nor am I now asking about privacy. It is Facebook’s political biases that I am asking about, as is Simon Gibbs. One of my biases being in favour of people being allowed to express political opinions that I don’t share. The way it looks, to me, now, is that Facebook will be delighted to convey whatever opinions I express on Facebook to the world, until such time as the world starts, in noticeable numbers, paying attention to those opinions, at which point those opinions, being what they are, will vanish from view.

It may well be that, as a freelance enterprise rather than a government agency, Facebook is entitled to behave as it pleases, and face the commercial consequences. But if that’s so, what sort of consequences should those of us who do not share Facebook’s biases be trying to contrive for Facebook, and how? Besides, which, maybe Facebook actually is now a government agency in all but name.

Libertarian Home is an enterprise I admire. I especially enjoy attending its meetings, which happily for me mostly take place a mere walk away from where I live. But the LH commentariat is not as impressive as the one here, and I would love it if our commentariat were to take a serious crack at the questions that Simon Gibbs poses.

Samizdata quote of the day

To take an example, many students in universities and employees at Google take bias training courses that tell them “white privilege” and “systemic racism” explain disparities in outcomes between groups, despite the fact that—to take one example—Asian Americans from China and India (‘people of color’) make more money and are incarcerated at lower rates than whites. According to the conspiratorial worldview of many faculty in grievance studies departments, citing statistics and making arguments that go against the privilege narrative proves that you have an unconscious bias against minorities, and that you’re probably a white supremacist.

Jonathan Anomaly, who is not only a smart chap but has quite possibly the greatest name ever.

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.”

An interesting exchange of fire in the culture war

I found this interesting, just a mere twitter exchange relating to the Day of Freedom rally that you will never see the BBC say much (or indeed anything I suspect) about.

I am increasingly willing to accept almost anyone on the correct side of this as an ally, and if the Guardian wants to tar anyone who supports free speech as ‘far right’, well who cares? It turns out that support for free speech is in fact ‘multicultural as fuck’.

“Jordan Peterson aims at a refounding of Western Civilization …”

I like this, about Jordan Peterson, in Esquire, by Wesley (good name, considering his subject) Yang:

Many of Peterson’s seemingly grandiose pronouncements are, in fact, quite modest. He is often derided for repackaging banal common sense in a vague and pretentious idiom, and there is something to this. Peterson is an apologist for a set of beliefs that we once took for granted but now require an articulate defense, such as: Free speech is an essential value; perfect equality inevitably conflicts with individual freedom; one should be cautious before attempting to reengineer social institutions that appear to be working; men and women are, in certain quantifiable respects, different. His life advice concerns the necessity to defer gratification, face up to the trials of life with equanimity, take responsibility for one’s own choices, and struggle against the temptation to grow resentful. How such traditional values came to be portrayed as a danger adjacent to Nazism is one of the puzzles of our time.

The next paragraph solves this puzzle:

Viewed another way, Peterson’s intellectual project is exceedingly immodest, and can be stated in a sentence: He aims at nothing short of a refounding of Western civilization, to provide a rational justification for why the materialists of the digital age should root themselves in the soil of Christian ethics despite having long ago lost the capacity for faith.

The more rabid leftists call anything they don’t like Nazi. And the thing they dislike most is The West, which they want trashed. The West’s power, and everything good that The West stands for. Anything – anything – which is anti-West, they support.

Jordan Peterson is preaching virtues, public and personal, virtues which are the total opposite of Nazism and which might, unlike Nazism, greatly strengthen The West, by persuading a generation of Western and Westernised wastrels to sort themselves out, and to have good lives with good consequences. Therefore Peterson must be denounced as a Nazi, regardless of what he says he is, and regardless of what he actually says about the Nazis.

Bernie Sanders fails to compete with the AAPP

Bernie Sanders announces a plan to guarantee every American a job, but he fails, yet again, to come even close to the promises made by the And A Pony Party (“AAPP”).

We remind you, once again, not to be swayed by politicians hopping on to the bandwagon by cynically pushing inadequate substitutes for the program of the only political party that really cares.

Stay the course. Support the AAPP.

Poujadisme, in Desborough, Kettering, England

10 ‘Conservative’ Councillors (of the 12 complement) on the Town Council in the little town of Desborough in Northamptonshire have resigned after an apparent hostile response to a 400% tax rise imposed by the local council, and there is an alleged undercurrent of unpleasantness in the local reaction, perhaps the spirit of Poujard lives on.

The BBC tells us:

Desborough Tory councillors’ mass ‘bullying’ resignation

Well, who is the bully?

Is it the Council for ramping up tax by 400% from £19.10 to £96.98 per year on those who have to pay, with the sort like the Chairman, Councillor Pearce, of whom it is reported:

Ms Pearce… …said “with hindsight we perhaps should have sent out some kind of warning it was coming”.

and then went on to say:

“But I absolutely whole-heartedly believe it was the right thing to do and I would do it again tomorrow in a heartbeat,”

That’s a ‘Feck you!‘ if ever I heard one, and which I assume is a reference to the true costs coming through after some financial juggling used to disguise the costs of the Council ended (more like that later). And the article goes on, Ms Pearce said that:

she was “shocked by the ferocity” of the reaction.
“My husband’s taken abuse on Facebook. I’ve had comments made to my eldest child who’s only 15. I’ve had people try to stop children playing with my nine-year-old daughter.

So a frank expression of views and voluntarily withdrawing social interactions is shocking when you start robbing people under colour of law?

Her observation?

“They didn’t ask for that and they don’t deserve that.”

I think that is exactly what the residents are telling you, Madam! Action and re-action, this is not bullying, it is intra-election consultation.

For our more international readers, this council is about the smallest unit of local government that can levy taxes, and this council probably doesn’t need to exist, it can add a local ‘precept’ onto the taxes levied by the other local authorities, (4 layers are possible, 3 with taxing powers), all of which is loaded onto the ‘Council Tax’ bill that households pay, overall bills can be in the region of £1,200 to £2,000+ p.a.

To the resigning Councillors, I say ‘Oh dear, how sad, never mind‘, and count yourselves lucky that you live in such temperate times.

Meanwhile, at a County level, the County Council for Northamptonshire have spent £53,000,000 on a new headquarters, and in true Parkinson’s Law fashion, with the new HQ, matters have started to disintegrate, with spare money running out, so they have had to go to the government and tell them that they have cocked things up and run out of discretionary money to spend.

So having moved into a new HQ in October 2017, they are now looking to sell it to keep themselves going (by which they mean ‘sell it to a company who will lease it back to them, so that they can squander the capital and saddle locals with rent charges’ rather than ‘downsize and cut costs’). It’s just as well that the entire County is not rising up to berate the County Councillors, but perhaps the whole thing is too complicated and remote for people to care.

But at least the spirit of Poujade stirs from time to time, the BBC might think like Durin’s Bane, but actually more like Beorn. There is hope yet in England. And the Sage might wish to maintain a discretion on this one.

Edit: an erroneous ‘r’ removed, my apologies to the Gods of Accuracy, Spelling and M Poujade, and my thanks to Appianglorius, the price of accuracy is eternal vigilance, its true.

Happy birthday Helen Szamuely!

Happy birthday Helen Szamuely. You got to see both of your life’s works achieved, proving that in your case, “a life in politics is NOT doomed to end in failure” . How typical that you’d contradict Enoch Powell in the process!

The USSR is gone, UK Independence Day was one year and two days ago. Brian Micklethwait once described the job of the Libertarian Alliance in the Cold War as “making it end in victory at least 15 seconds sooner” .

You saved us all a lot of time!

Thanks! I shall toast your life’s work on this beautiful Sunday. Wish you were here.

[Crossposted at Antoine Clarke’s not very active blog.]