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]

An industry that despises its customers, and I don’t mean Hollywood

I shall miss the Times. My subscription only has a few weeks left to run. I cancelled it because it is no longer permitted to comment under a pseudonym. Will I still see interesting little stories like this when I make my hejira to the Telegraph? “French cinema is full of flops, says former culture minister Roselyne Bachelot”

In an extraordinary attack, Roselyne Bachelot, who was replaced last May after two years in President Macron’s cabinet, has settled her score with an arts establishment with which she had clashed. The highly subsidised film industry is her chief target in her memoirs, 682 Days — The Hypocrites’ Ball.

To ensure France’s “cultural exception”, the film industry is “stuffed with money” allowing it turn out more films than anywhere else in Europe, but its members complain endlessly about their conditions, she writes.

“The famous ‘cultural exception’ allows very many French films ‘not to find their public’, as they say politely, or more explicitly, to be flops,” she writes. “This system also guarantees lead actors to earn fabulous fees, three or four times higher than actors in the American independent cinema.”

The system, which includes direct subsidies, tax breaks and advances on box office earnings, pours hundreds of millions of euros a year into production, “creating an assisted economy that hardly cares about the tastes of spectators and is even contemptuous of popular, profitable films,” she added.

Good stuff, but do not assume that she has seen the light about the enervating effect of state subsidy. An article I found in an outlet new to me, The Fashion Vibes, said:

However, she [Mme* Bachelot] denied that her comments about the film’s financing implied that she felt France was pouring too much government money into the film.

“Oh no! It makes perfect sense to continue it. If France is the only European country with a film industry which in turn feeds an industry on the platforms, it is because of the policy we have had since 1946 , since the creation of the National Cinema Center (CNC),” she said. We must keep it.”

*I had better be careful to use the correct title – Madame Bachelot herself was instrumental in the banning of the term “Mademoiselle” from French government documents. I have no objection to that, so long as the “ban” is limited to being an instruction to civil servants.

Let’s make all crimes legal over Christmas

Remember this movie?

The Purge. Survive the Night.

One night a year, all crime is legal.
Survive the night.

According to Wikipedia, The Purge posits that ‘In 2014, a political party called the “New Founding Fathers of America” are voted into office following an economic collapse, and pass a law sanctioning the “Purge”, an annual event wherein all crime is legal and emergency services are temporarily suspended. By 2022, the United States is said to have become virtually crime-free, with legal unemployment rates having dropped to 1%.’

Virtually crime-free and unemployment at 1%? That compares favourably with our timeline’s 2022, but nonetheless, this is not the the sort of policy proposal I usually associate with the Liberal Democrats – but it seems Ed Davey is ready to rock: “No one should lose their home this Christmas”, says the Lib Dem website. It continues:

Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, has called for an emergency ban on repossessions and evictions this Winter. This comes after the Conservative Government’s mismanagement of the economy caused spiralling mortgage and rental prices.

These measures would stop banks from repossessing people’s homes who have been hit the hardest by soaring mortgage prices as well as bringing forward the promised ban on no-fault evictions, alongside a ban on evictions for arrears over the winter.

We are deeply concerned that both renters and homeowners could face homelessness during one of the most difficult Winters in living memory.

We are making these urgent calls on the Conservative Government as only days of Parliament remain before Christmas for the Prime Minister to take responsibility for the mess his Government has caused.

The Conservatives have failed time and time again to bring forward the ban on no-fault evictions they promised and have made no attempt to stop repossessions caused by their disastrous mini-Budget. They must act now before it is too late.

No-one should face losing their home this Christmas because the Conservative Government crashed the economy.

Why so tame, Ed? If it is a good thing that one group of people should be allowed to take what they have not paid for without punishment over the Christmas period, why not others? Discriminatory, I call it. Let us throw away the shackles of enforcement of property rights for everyone this Christmas!

It’s Christmas time
There’s no need to be afraid
At Christmas time
We let in light and we banish shade
And in our world of plenty
We can spread a smile of joy
Throw your arms around the world
At Christmas time

Samizdata quote of the day

“I ended up as an activist in a very different place from where I started. I thought that if we just redistributed resources, then we could solve every problem. I now know that’s not true. There’s a funny moment when you realize that as an activist: The off-ramp out of extreme poverty is, ugh, commerce, it’s entrepreneurial capitalism. I spend a lot of time in countries all over Africa, and they’re like, Eh, we wouldn’t mind a little more globalization actually.”

Bono, the rock musician from U2. It would be quite amusing to see him say all this on stage the next time he is in front of the crowds at Glastonbury. Watch their heads explode. (I should add that he is far from going full classical liberal, but that’s not a bad start.) He is quoted at the Marginal Revolution blog, that took the quote from a paywalled New York Times page.

Hot news

Honestly, I kind of like The Rings of Power. It’s slow, and the evident fact that there must have been an episode of ethnic cleansing in the Shire at some point between the era of TROP and that of The Hobbit is sad to contemplate. But whether the mind-wiped stranger will turn out to be Gandalf, Sauron, or someone new has caught my interest, and oooooh the fabrics. Trust the elves to develop the Jacquard loom early and then not bother with the rest of their industrial revolution.

Oh, and Liz Truss will be the next prime minister.

Konstantin Kisin delivers a master class…

… in calmly ripping an interviewer a new orifice. Behold and enjoy.

Samizdata quote of the day

Responding to his cancellation, Gilliam said it was “very sad that a great cultural institution like the Old Vic allowed itself to be intimidated into cancelling our production”. Likening the younger members of staff who lobbied Old Vic bosses to scrap his show to “Neo-Calvinists”, he added: “They are totally closed-minded. [To them] there is only one truth and one way of looking at the world. Well, ‘fuck you!’ is my answer to them.”

– as quoted by the Free Speech Union – “Three cheers for Terry Gilliam!” – rave reviews for a musical the Old Vic tried to cancel

Ohh, Jeremy Corbyn

Remember this? “Glastonbury 2017: ‘Ohh Jeremy Corbyn’ chant sweeps festival as revellers get political”

Last year, it was the universal disdain for the Brexit vote, myself waking up to megaphones announcing David Cameron had resigned and Boris Johnson may take the PM position.

This year, though, the people of Worthy Farm have a new hero, one to bring everyone together: Jeremy Corbyn.

Barely a moment goes by without someone chanting the Labour leader’s name to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Army’.

I had forgotten the link to “Seven Nation Army”. The Glastonbury set are fine with army-themed song titles – armies that actually fight, not so much: “Jeremy Corbyn urges west to stop arming Ukraine”

Jeremy Corbyn has urged western countries to stop arming Ukraine, and claimed he was criticised over antisemitism because of his stance on Palestine, in a TV interview likely to underscore Keir Starmer’s determination not to readmit him to the Labour party.

“Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war,” Corbyn said. “We might be in for years and years of a war in Ukraine.”

Corbyn gave the interview on Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV channel that has carried pro-Russia reporting since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“What I find disappointing is that hardly any of the world’s leaders use the word peace; they always use the language of more war, and more bellicose war.”

Samizdata quote of the day

Only good stories matter, ‘representation’ should not be an objective in and of itself or daft things happen. That is why a super diverse cast in The Expanse works superbly but black elves in a Tolkien story are as laughable as Kate Beckinsale playing Martin Luther King.

Perry de Havilland

Boris Johnson’s evitable inevitable downfall

My paper paper and the online version of the Times have different headlines this morning. Royalty fills the paper, but online the focus has returned to the Commons:

Politics live: Boris Johnson faces confidence vote tonight

  • Sir Graham Brady announces confidence vote in PM to be held at 6pm
  • Rebels fear they do not have 180 votes to oust Johnson
  • Memo from backbench MPs brands PM ‘Conservative Corbyn’
  • PM booed outside St Paul’s thanksgiving service for Queen

    Boris Johnson faces a vote of confidence in his leadership today after the threshold of Tory MPs calling for him to go was reached.

    In a statement Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the Conservative backbench 1922 Committee, revealed that 54 MPs — amounting to a 15 per cent of the parliamentary party — had now lost faith in Johnson’s leadership and want to oust him.

    The vote will take place between 6pm and 8pm tonight with an announcement of the result to follow shortly afterwards.

  • Perhaps I should mention for foreign readers that this is an internal Party vote of Conservative MPs, not a vote of the House of Commons as a whole.

    Though the prime minister will – probably – win the vote, to be facing it at the hands of his own party relatively soon after winning a huge Parliamentary majority is an embarrassment. He has lost his magic, and for what? There might have been a sort of glamour about a prime minister throwing it all away to sport with Cytheris, but Boris threw it all away to sport with Secret Santa.

    I am fascinated by the question of whether his troubles were inevitable or not.

    At the start, of course, they were more evitable than Eva Duarte. Boris Johnson, like Agustin Magaldi in the musical, could have evaded all this bother simply by saying “No” to the offer of some illegal fun that probably wasn’t all that much fun anyway. But he said “Yes”. Repeatedly. Involving hundreds of people, all of whom had these new “mobile phone” thingies that have cameras.

    What an idiot! Could he not have foreseen that it was inevitable that someone would blab?

    Well, yes and no. In the end someone did, but it took long enough. The Ur-party took place in May 2020, but the first “Partygate” stories only appeared in the press in late November 2021. Am I the only person who is oddly impressed by this?

    If it is OK to hit someone who insults your wife, is it OK to hit someone who insults your religion?

    The controversy on Will Smith hitting Chris Rock after the latter made a distasteful joke about his wife’s hair loss is interesting because it cuts across party lines. Though most politicians have made statements disapproving of Smith, some traditional conservatives and radical left wingers have both spoken in support of him. To take but two of many examples:

    – Representative Ayanna Pressley (D) said, in a now deleted tweet “#Alopecia nation stand up! Thank you #WillSmith Shout out to all the husbands who defend their wives living with alopecia in the face of daily ignorance & insults.”

    – Simon Hoare MP (C) said, “I’d just hope if someone thought it in good taste to make a joke at the expense of a medical condition of my wife then I’d get up and lamp him.”

    Me, I support Rock. His joke was cruel. Smith had a right to be angry. But I would rather not set the precedent – or rather go back to the precedent – that words justify violence. For why, see the title of this post.

    The new “Reacher” series on Amazon Prime

    I have been snaffling up the new series, Reacher, based on the hugely popular Jack Reacher novels of UK-born author Lee Child. They have become classics, as classic as the Travis McGee novels of John D Macdonald. (McGee lives in a boat, in Fort Lauderdale, and those novels are set in the 60s. Wonderful stuff.)

    Anyway, a new Amazon Prime series is out. Already, I detect a certain discomfort among some highfalutin types that the main character, played by Alan Ritchson, lacks “depth”. Ah, not enough politics, or angst, or regret at wasting the bad guys. Plus he seems quite a draw for the ladies. In other words, Reacher is solid, heterosexual, no-messing entertainment like a traditional Western, and you can just imagine how well that goes down in certain quarters.

    Anyway, I left this comment on a Facebook thread:

    I like the fact that the main character is not constantly haunted and full of angst (sure, we get a few flashbacks to when he was an Army brat and fought local kids, but that is not overdone). I like the fact that he looks as he was written by Child; I like his touches of wry humour, his obvious sense of honour, his stoicism and willingness to do the right thing, to be protective of vulnerable people. He does not subvert the essential heroism of the character by being snide, or making tongue-in-cheek quips, or drop political points. It is a breath of fresh air in the current environment.
    Comforting? Maybe. Remember that art, done right, is about enhancing life, of showing how life could be, not merely reflect it. Reacher is a sort of rugged hero, and we need them.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    Not only is it impossible to find the climate change satire in Mr. McKay’s movie that he claims is there. Alas, there’s no market for parodying the aspects most in need of parody. Millions of us have grown too comfortable pronouncing ourselves passionate about a problem we don’t bother to understand. Our politicians have stopped asking whether policies advanced in the name of climate change (e.g., electric cars) would actually have an effect on climate change. A certain kind of Harvard left-winger won’t countenance any proposal that doesn’t also fight capitalism, racism and patriarchy. A cadre of scientists make a profession of believing whatever the media needs them to believe. They are easily recognized because they employ the modifier “existential” for a climate problem that doesn’t actually threaten human existence. In this sense, “Don’t Look Up” fails not on its own terms, but on the terms its director foists on it, because no movie would be brave enough to take on the shibboleths that have subsumed the climate debate.

    Holman W Jenkins Jnr, Wall Street Journal ($) He is referring to the Netflix film Don’t Look Up.