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 inadequacy of political “kindness”

In response to a Times article called “How I watched the halo slipping from Jacinda Ardern”, a commenter called Iain Thorpe made a very good point:

There are deep problems with “kindness” as a political philosophy. If kindness is the answer to all problems, then the problems must be caused by unkindness. And people who disagree with you must be unkind people. Obviously you don’t have to listen when unkind people try to tell you anything. And you certainly don’t have to offer them the same concern or compassion as other people. Their unkindness is their own fault. You don’t have to do anything for it, or for them. And so “kindness” ends up being without empathy, the opposite of inclusion. Adern’s inability to deal with people who disagreed with or were disadvantaged by her government’s policies was striking. She seldom even attempted to speak to them and seemed incapable of winning over anyone who opposed her.

Samizdata quote of the day – a pox on antipodean authoritarianism

We almost certainly haven’t seen the last of Ardern. No doubt a plum job at the United Nations, the World Health Organisation or some other ghastly supranational body beckons. Nor have we seen the last of the elitist politics that she came to represent. It’s high time we had a reckoning with this ‘kindly’ authoritarianism.

Tom Slater

Swatted by Siri

“How a personal trainer’s smart watch caused 15 armed police officers to turn up to his Sydney gym while he was teaching a client”Daily Mail.

Apparently, Jaime Alleyne, who is a a Muay Thai and boxing trainer, called out “one, one, two” followed by “good shot” to a client he was sparring with. He was not wearing his smart watch but it was still active – and 112 is one of the Australian emergency phone numbers. Mr Alleyne said, “Next minute about 15 officers including undercovers showed up, with several ambulances parked out the front, and that’s when I started bricking myself.”

He would have had no need to fear an over-zealous response from the UK emergency services. They would still be waiting for a risk assessment.

You were entirely in the tank, Jacinda

‘Jacinda Ardern has announced she will quit as New Zealand prime minister ahead of this year’s election, saying she no longer has “enough in the tank” to lead’, reports the BBC.

‘Ms Ardern choked up as she detailed how six “challenging” years in the job had taken a toll

Labour Party MPs will vote to find her replacement on Sunday.

The shock announcement comes as polling indicates the party faces a difficult path to re-election on 14 October.’

The only shock was that she chose to jump rather than be pushed. Still, she can comfort herself with the thought that though her support inside New Zealand may have diminished, she remains much esteemed by the great and good worldwide.

Greenpeace Aotearoa lives in hope

I am not being sarcastic when I say that I admire the way that Nick Young, writing for Greenpeace Aotearoa (the country formerly known as New Zealand), at least has the guts to admit that Sri Lanka’s ban on chemical fertiliser was a disaster. In a piece called “Sri Lanka’s fertiliser ban and why New Zealand can phase out synthetic nitrogen fertiliser”, he gives his reasons for supposing that despite Sri Lanka’s experience, it will work next time. He is enthusiastic, for instance, about the prospects for the Indian state of Sikkim which has also prohibited chemical fertilisers. He writes,

The key thing to note is that it wasn’t something that happened overnight. And it didn’t happen because Sikkim’s shoppers suddenly decided to buy organic food or because its farmers woke up one day and decided to switch to organic with no support. It happened because the Sikkim Government used policies, public investment and a transition plan to make it happen.

It is strange to me to see someone delight in the fact that the choices of shoppers or farmers, the ordinary people whose lives would be affected most, played no part in this change.

This Guardian article is five years old now, but I would bet that the problems it describes have not gone away: “Sikkim’s organic revolution at risk as local consumers fail to buy into project.” More recently, Pawan Chamling, who as the then Chief Minister of Sikkim did much to put the policy in place, said that the current Sikkim government “has put Sikkim’s organic mission on the back burner”. He writes,

The organic mission has been totally wiped out of the government’s vocabulary and State budget. Not a single penny has been allocated towards organic farming. Even more alarming is that chemical fertilisers are being brought into the state and are freely sold in the market.

Freely sold and freely bought. Farmers making their own decisions. How awful.

Despite everything, I have nothing against organic farming. But the way that Sikkim being “100% organic”, a source of pride and a key part of Sikkim’s identity according to Mr Chamling, withered as soon the government subsidies dried up suggests that the change was never, if you will forgive the metaphor, organic in the first place. It was imposed from the top down. It had no roots.

Battleground Melbourne Documentary ‘FRIENDS & FAMILY’ Pre-Release

Terrifying.

New Zealand as Neverland: where children never grow up

“New Zealand smoking ban: young to be barred from ever buying cigarettes”, the Times reports.

New Zealand will ban young people from ever being able to purchase tobacco under world-leading plans to make the country virtually smoke-free within four years.

No one who is under the age of 14 today will ever be legally permitted to buy cigarettes in a drive to eradicate smoking from the country under new legislation to be introduced early next year.

Each year the legal smoking age, now 18, will be increased, with new age groups added to the ban list until the country is almost smoke-free.

This is one of the classic signs of a cult

“Dismiss anything else. We will continue to be your single source of truth.

– Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand

When I first clicked on the video of Jacinda Ardern saying those words that is embedded in this tweet from “Darren of Plymouth” via Not the Bee, I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. All of us sometimes say things that “come out wrong”. By “single source of truth” I thought she might have meant no more than “convenient one-stop place you can go to get truthful information”. Apparently there is a concept in information systems design that goes by the name “Single Source of Truth (SSoT)”; perhaps she had picked up this piece of jargon somewhere.

However I only had to wait until 1:02 in the video to see Ms Ardern demonstrate that she meant it exactly the way it sounded:

“When you see those messages, remember that unless you hear it from us, it is not the truth.

Edit: I assume the “Not the Bee” link got Darren’s tweet enough engagement to alert Twitter’s censorship team. When I first made this post two and a half hours ago the link to the tweet worked, but commenter ‘Dyspeptic Curmudgeon’ has pointed out that it has now disappeared. Here is a YouTube clip of the same speech filmed from a different angle and here is another YouTube clip that seems to be the same one I saw.

A couple of points to note:

– The speech is older than I thought, from May 2020.

– The silence of the press. This all takes place at a press conference. The room is full of cameras and microphones wielded by journalists, news providers. Yet not one of them protests when the prime minister of their country says that they should not be trusted as a source of news. Have they no pride in their profession?

“The app will contact people at random asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes”

How will South Australia’s home quarantine trial work?

Premier Steven Marshall said he hoped the trial would be expanded to international travellers in “subsequent weeks”, making it a national first.

Those in home-based quarantine will need to download an app, developed by the South Australian Government, to prove they are staying home while required to.

People wanting to return to South Australia and home quarantine will have to apply to SA Health.

They will have to prove they have a place to isolate during their quarantine period and must also be fully vaccinated.

Those who are approved will have to download the South Australian Government home quarantine app, which uses geo-location and facial recognition software to track those in quarantine.

The app will contact people at random asking them to provide proof of their location within 15 minutes.

The report is by Sara Garcia and Rory McClaren of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, via “Australia Traded Away Too Much Liberty” by Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic and (for the second time in two days) Ed Driscoll at Instapundit.

Far from being ashamed of this Orwellian project, Premier Steven Marshall says “I think every South Australian should feel pretty proud that we are the national pilot for the home-based quarantine app.”

Five Eyes, one closing

“Five Eyes on China cut to four as New Zealand puts trade first”, reports the Times.

New Zealand has broken with Anglophone allies over using the “Five Eyes” intelligence-sharing network to confront China, reversing an agreement to expand the network’s remit.

Nanaia Mahuta, the foreign minister, declared that New Zealand was “uncomfortable” with pressuring China and wanted to pursue its own bilateral relationship.

The network, a Cold War-era partnership to share intelligence, took a new turn last year when it began issuing statements as a single entity, including condemning China’s human rights record.

Last May defence ministers from Britain, America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand endorsed an expanded role with a public commitment not only to meet shared security challenges but “to advance their shared values of democracy, freedom and respect for human rights”.

Mahuta, 50, said she had informed the other Five Eyes members of New Zealand’s changed position.

Ms Mahuta waxed poetical about the relationship between New Zealand and China:

She symbolised the China-New Zealand relationship as one between a “dragon and taniwha”, a serpent-like creature from Maori myth.

“I see the taniwha and the dragon as symbols of the strength of our particular customs, traditions and values, that aren’t always the same, but need to be maintained and respected,” she said. “And on that virtue we have together developed the mature relationship we have today.”

Oddly, the Times report makes no mention of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. If only she knew of this cynical act of realpolitik by one of her ministers!

An Australian senator is summoned by the Equal Opportunities Commission

This is an excerpt from Hansard Australia recording a debate that took place in the Parliament of Australia on the 3rd September 2020:

Chamber Senateon 3/09/2020

Item ADJOURNMENT – Freedom of Speech

Senator CHANDLER (Tasmania) (17:45): Last week in the Senate I spoke about World Rugby’s efforts to defend the integrity and safety of women’s sport by ensuring women’s rugby is for female players. At the end of my speech, I referenced the recent case of a woman being fired from her job for speaking about the reality of biological sex. I posed the question:

How do Australians know that they are able to speak freely about women’s rights and the reality of biological sex without being censured or fired by their employer?

Well, it didn’t take long to get the answer to that question. The answer is that Australians are not free to acknowledge the realities of sex or to defend the integrity of women’s sport.

Today I received a letter from the Tasmanian equal opportunity commission, summoning me to attend a conciliation conference to answer for my statements on free speech and sex based rights. The complaint, made under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, is in relation to an op-ed I had published in The Mercury earlier this year about, quite ironically, free speech. My op-ed started:

The recent publication of an open letter signed by 150 writers and academics in defence of free speech offers a glimmer of hope that we can put a stop to the anti-democratic cancel culture which has taken root in many corners of society.

Well, I’m not so sure about there being a glimmer of hope for free speech now. The complaint letter I received today says, in referencing my actions: ‘It is clear or can be inferred from her comments that she considers people who are born male and seek to live as a female should not have access to female toilets, facilities or sports. This is problematic because excluding someone who is designated male at birth and currently expresses their gender as female from single-sex facilities or sport may be direct discrimination on the basis of gender identity.’ It is open to the commissioner to dismiss the complaint as vexatious but without substance, but she has chosen instead to pursue it and to compel me to attend a compulsory mediation with the complainant.

Many democracies have a system whereby parliamentary committees or their equivalent demand the attendance of citizens so that questions can be put to them by the MPs. These sessions almost invariably display elected lawmakers at their most arrogant. I cheered when Dominic Cummings refused to appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the UK Parliament. But I have found one thing I hate more than elected politicians summoning members of the public for (theoretically) compulsory questioning: unelected bureaucrats summoning elected politicians for actually compulsory “conciliation”.

“Compulsory Conciliation” was the title of the post in the pro Scottish Independence blog “Wings Over Scotland” where I saw this illustration of how fast once-cherished notions of free speech can fall. It would have surprised me in 2014 to know that in 2020 I would be grateful to Stuart Campbell for the good work he is doing to protect civil liberties in Scotland. But that is the sort of thing that happens when a Bill allows as much scope for abuse as does the Hate Crime Bill (Scotland). People from all quarters of politics have seen the danger and come together to oppose it. And do not think for a moment that what happens in Scotland or Australia can be ignored elsewhere.

By the way, I was not particularly interested in Senator Claire Chandler’s exact views about the transgender issue, only in the fact that an “equalities” official can summon a Senator of the Parliament of Australia for questioning over her “problematic” opinions.

An Australian farce

The following article comes from a senior British academic and friend who has asked for his name not to be published. From my point of view (Jonathan Pearce) everything in this article, in terms of what I know about the cant of so much contemporary bank PR spin, this article rings 100 per cent true.

Western businesses like Australia’s ANZ have toyed with Chinese communism so much they have put themselves on an inevitable road to ruin. As a new Cold War between the West and China’s increasingly despotic and brittle communist regime comes into ever sharper view, one of Australia’s major banking groups has emerged as the world’s exemplar of what not to do when it comes to strategy and reputation.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has long been mired in scandal and rumour. Predictably, it is currently facing court battles concerning share price fixing and cartel accusations.

However, under the leadership of CEO Shayne Elliott and the bank’s Chair David Gonski things have become so toxic that some observers are detecting unprecedented levels of incompetence.

Unable or unwilling to execute a coherent strategy, Elliott and his team have wasted several years honing a quintessentially woke public relations veneer in an attempt to disguise the bank’s massive involvement in totalitarian China.While publicly talking the talk of ‘diversity and inclusion’, ANZ’s leadership have made sure the bank is walking the walk of the CCP.

As China stamps on people’s freedoms at home, in Hong Kong, and further afield (not to mention its use of concentration camps and the forced sterilisation of minorities), ANZ has not only been left with oceans of increasingly questionable investments in China but it has also been exposed for having worked alongside China in its information warfare assaults on western free speech.

Shamefully, ANZ even fed the career of one of its own employees, the US citizen and star trader Bogac Ozdemir, to a Chinese disinformation operation because he dared to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party.

Similarly, while ANZ is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, the bank’s leadership has placed the organisation’s key data centre in the Chinese city of Chengdu.

Despite Chinese cyber-attacks on Australia and the recent expulsion by China of US diplomats from Chengdu, this is the city that Elliott chose as the location for ANZ’s main data ‘hub’ – therein putting at risk vast amounts of their customers’ personal information (not to mention all manner of emails and other communications).

Indeed, so far reaching has ANZ’s involvement and exposure to China been that Brussel’s EU Reporter recently likened the bank to running “the risk of becoming a twenty-first century Krupps or IG Farben”.

Strategically, ANZ is caught between the spokes of an unsustainable strategy on China, an overheating mortgage market in Australia, and a US-led west determined to face down the CCP and its proxies.

While most observers now expect Elliott’s contract with the bank will not be renewed in October, one insider in Melbourne goes so far as to say “he is toast,” adding, “Gonski’s exposure to China is so big he will have to go too.”

Truly, if ever you wanted to see a western business toy with totalitarianism, and in so doing place itself on a road of economic and reputational ruin, then this is it.

Devoid of morality, coherence and basic common sense, the failings of ANZ are so great they should make an entertaining MBA case study for years to come.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny.