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]

Samizdata quote of the day – Eastern Europe is showing Britain up on Free Speech

Scruton gave a lecture on Wittgenstein to a private circle of intellectuals. He was quick to notice, however, that “they were far more interested in the fact that I was visiting at all”, rather than deliberations on the rather impenetrable Austrian thinker. The sense of togetherness was, according to the recollection of a Czech dissident, “the most important morale booster for us”.

It wasn’t just intellectuals who were in peril. The country, Scruton discovered, contained a sophisticated network of secret agents and snitches. Denunciation was prolific and social scrutiny omnipresent. No one, including the most inconsequential citizens, could feel safe from the Big Brother of the state and social pressure of their peers. The Czech author and playwright Václav Havel made this atmosphere famous when describing the deliberations of a greengrocer, who had to place a pro-regime slogan on display in his shop to avoid being denounced or judged unfavourably by his neighbours.

It is 2024, and in many ways the positions of Britain and Czechoslovakia (now Czechia) have reversed. It is now in Prague where freedom of speech and thought is tolerated, and it is in Britain where it is under assault – sometimes on the social level, but increasingly on the legal level as the recent legislation in Scotland shows. True, people seldom go to prison for expressing their opinions – like Havel did in Czechoslovakia – but lives have been destroyed nonetheless. Sackings, cancellations and character assassinations have proliferated in the country that was once hailed as the cradle of liberalism.

Štěpán Hobza

Samizdata quote of the day – the toppling of the woke authoritarians

Wokeism. Climate extremism. Kindly authoritarianism. This is now the operating system of Western, ‘centrist’ politics. Take Joe Biden, America’s somnambulant president. At the 2020 election, even anti-woke liberals insisted this scion of the old Democratic establishment – a man so old he can’t even be slurred as a Boomer (he’s actually Silent Generation) – was the man to return America to normality, before the BLM riots and MAGA mania. ‘If you hate wokeness, you should vote for Joe Biden’, declared a piece in the Atlantic, arguing that Trump is to the culture war what kerosene is to a dumpster fire, fueling the woke extremes. That take has aged like milk. On his first day in office, Biden signed sweeping Executive Orders on ‘racial equity’ and gender ideology. He later tried to apportion Covid relief on the basis of race. He’s a Net Zero zealot. He has allowed the justice system to be weaponised against his opponents. He invited Dylan Mulvaney to the White House, FFS. Biden’s return to ‘normalcy’ has been so successful millions of Americans are starting to wonder if Donald Trump might actually be the saner choice.

Tom Slater

Consequences does not have to mean coercion

AJ Edelman, OLY, MBA
@realajedelman
I received an email asking me to contribute to Yale for my class reunion.
My response:
“Last year I faced suspension and a trespassing charge if I returned to campus without proof of a 5th COVID shot.
Perhaps you can ask one of the fine Yalies bravely harassing their Jewish peers instead. They’re easy to find; they’re hosting a Jew hatred festival in the middle of campus and calling for violent intifada.”
12:30 AM · Apr 30, 2024

Now that’s what I call an effective non-violent protest.

Samizdata quote of the day – Another day, another fatuous ‘fact’ check from Reuters

Another day, another fatuous ‘fact’ check from Reuters. This time the news agency accuses the Daily Sceptic of “cherry-picking” Arctic sea ice extent data to provide a “misleading” story. Being accused of “cherry picking” by an outfit that funds a course for journalists that encourages them to pick a fruit such as a mango and discuss why it isn’t as tasty as the year before due to climate change is beyond ridicule. Taking lectures on responsible journalism from a Net Zero-obsessed operation that has promoted a course speaker who has suggested “fines and imprisonments” for expressing scepticism about “well supported” science is laughable, if also a tad sinister.

One of the activists called to admonish the Daily Sceptic with a ‘straw man’ argument was Walt Meier, a research scientist at the National Snow and Ice Data Centre, who said: “Comparing two specific years is not an indicator for or against long-term changes”. The Daily Sceptic did not do that. Interestingly, this would appear to be the same Walt Meier whose comments on ”mind blowing” low winter levels of Antarctica sea ice last year made headlines around the world. Meier claimed at the time that it was “outside anything we have seen”. Happily, the Daily Sceptic was able to remind Meier that he had been part of a team a decade ago that cracked open the secrets of early Nimbus weather satellites and found a similar sea ice low in 1966. At the time, Meier commented that the Nimbus data show there is variability in Antarctica sea ice “that’s larger than any we have seen” since 1979.

Chris Morrison

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? (Warhammer edition)

“When even Warhammer nerds leave the battlefield, isn’t it time the anti-woke mob laid down their arms?”, writes Jasper Jackson in the Guardian Observer. Mr Jackson starts by introducing himself as a Warhammer player. I shall likewise declare my interest by introducing myself as a former payer of mighty sums to buy Warhammer kits for a member of my family. I was aware enough of the game to smugly chide the Observer sub-editors for failing to distinguish between Warhammer 40K and proper Warhammer. (I was promptly de-smugged by the discovery that someone has gone and changed the Eldar into Aeldari without telling me. What brought that on, then, an attack of elite T’au copyright lawyers?)

I digress. Mr Jackson continues,

But in recent weeks the sprawling Warhammer fandom has been enveloped in a dramatic controversy – or at least you would think so, from some news headlines.

“It’s Wokehammer! Games Workshop engulfed in gender row with fans after it said Warhammer squadron that was previously thought of as men-only has ‘always had females’,” screamed one MailOnline headline. What had prompted these claims of outrage was Games Workshop introducing a new female character into one of its science fantasy games, Warhammer 40,000. The character in question was part of a group of genetically engineered warriors called Custodes, which had, so far, not had any women models in it – but, according to Games Workshop, had always been included in the weighty narrative “lore” of the game.

The Mail had seen a number of tweets complaining about it, such as one from a games designer saying that Games Workshop was “‘gender flipping’ characters for ‘woke points’”. This was portrayed as a widespread backlash from fans. But, as a fan who frequently browses message boards for tips on playing and painting, or to look at interesting bits of background dug up by people who have bothered to read the many books published about the various Warhammer universes, my experience has been quite different.

If you actually look at the online spaces where fans of the games discuss the hobby they love, most don’t seem very bothered.

I commend the Mr Jasper’s eschewal of sensationalism. But as a pitch for an Observer piece, “most don’t seem very bothered” has its limitations. Eight paragraphs to learn that Reddit slumbers. What, I started to wonder, is this article for? In the ninth paragraph, I found out:

But where once those getting angry about changes bringing greater inclusivity might have been the overwhelming majority, this time they seem at best a vocal minority. That this is the mood on Reddit is even more surprising, given that the social network was once one of the primary breeding grounds for Gamergate, the toxic online movement of 2014-15 that spewed hate towards women with the temerity to create, play, enjoy and critique video games.

Despite not being a Warhammerer myself, I do have an alternative hypothesis to offer Mr Jackson as to why Gamergate exploded and Custogate fizzled: it is that people react differently to things that are different.

BONUS OVERNIGHT MUSINGS: The reason why the Warhammer community finds the retconning of the Custodes order to include females to be, at most1, slightly annoying in a “Put a chick in it and make her gay” kind of way, is that “Custodian Calladyce Taurovalia Kesh” is just one new character in a sprawling fictional ‘verse. Warhammer clearly were jumping on a bandwagon in the Orwellian way that they intoned “Since the first of the Ten Thousand were created there have always been female Custodians” despite never having previously mentioned this in the 37 years since the game was released. In addition, as someone quoted in the Daily Mail article suggested, the Sisters of Battle have a right to feel slighted2, especially given their feminist origin story: the order was created to circumvent a rule that the Ecclesiarchy was not permitted to maintain any “men under arms”. But in the end, allowing for the two nitpicks I mentioned, Warhammer’s adverts offering the Calladyce product line for sale would get four stars on eBay for the honesty of their product description.

In contrast, the whole point about Gamergate was industry-wide dishonesty in product descriptions. Jasper Jackson, who seems a nice Guardian-reading boy, thinks Gamergate was about male gamers hating female gamers, and also thinks, not entirely logically, that male gamers who hate female gamers would also hate female fictional characters appearing in their games. With those assumptions it would make sense to be pleasantly surprised that the number of woman-hating male gamers had gone down since 2014-15. The problem with that line of thought is that conclusions drawn from wrong assumptions are worthless. This summary of Gamergate given by commenter “bobby b” in 2017 was rightly praised as being far more accurate than anything you’ll find on Wikipedia:

I still get a chuckle out of how it all started – one guy who, discovering that his game-designer girlfriend was spreading her charms widely, wrote a long blog post about it, letting out the secret that her paramours were writers in the game-critique industry who were giving games high ratings for factors unrelated to the actual games (wink wink).

And then he got piled on by people defending her right to lie to him and sleep around because she was a poor repressed woman, and then they got piled on by guys saying, no, she’s a whore and so are these game critics, and then the SJW types decided all gamer-guys were nerdy neanderthals who hated women, and the fun began.

1 Or not annoying at all. In the comments below, “Agammamon” puts forth a satisfying in-universe justification for the existence of female Custodes.

2It is not wise to slight a member of the Adepta Sororitas.

The Occupy Paradox is back, this time at Northwestern U

“Which is it? Do you want to occupy the public space to express your dissent and invoke your absolute right to speak? Or do you want to beat on anyone who then exists in that same space and invokes their absolute right to document it?”

– a tweet from David Simon referring to a video posted by Logan Schiciano with the accompanying text “Unfortunately some protesters at Northwestern’s newly-formed encampment weren’t too thrilled with us reporting” in which a masked protester assaults the person filming them.

Remember the “Occupy” movement? The Occupy Paradox is this: “Upon what basis can an Occupy protest ask someone to leave?”

… because “This is private property” or any other version of “You have no right to be here” are open to some fairly obvious ripostes.
“We were here first” – “Er, not quite first. The actual owners of the space were there before you.”
“We are the 99%” – “We’re poorer than you, you middle class ****-ers”
“We represent the 99%” – “Who voted for you, then?”
“We are the official accredited Occupiers” – “We refuse to be defined by your oppressive structures, and hereby declare ourselves to be Occupying this Occupation!”

I knew who Dominic Frisby was before I knew who Elon Musk was

I only really cemented in my head which of those Billionaires Having Something To Do With the Internet Elon Musk was in February 2018, when he sent his Tesla Roadster into space. I loved him for that, but fell out of love a few months later over Musk’s behaviour towards Vernon Unsworth. Since then, my regard for Mr Musk has crept up again. It’s nice having freedom of speech on the internet back. I now – and I do know how sad this is – follow him on Xitter or whatever it’s called these days.

In contrast, I have been reading about Dominic Frisby on Samizdata as an financial writer, economist, film-maker, singer and comedian since early 2014.

Elon Musk has finally caught up with us.

Climate: the Movie – now shadow banned by YouTube, so…

… here it is on BitChute, just in case they take the final step and delete it 😉

In defence of all-{insert variable of choice} clubs

The Guardian is all a-froth because the Garrick Club, one of the historic gentlemen’s clubs of London, is still, well, a club for gentlemen as opposed to ladies.

In response, the Telegraph’s William Sitwell advocates for freedom of association:

“All-male members’ clubs reflect our natural tribal desires – get over it or get your own”.

… that central charge of archaic, sexist exclusion is nonsense. First because of the idea that there is something wrong with men wanting to be in the company of other men.

It is possible to be a decent male member of society – who champions equal opportunities in the workplace, changes nappies, generally strives to be a domestic god and is (joyfully) surrounded by women and small children at home – and, at the same time, enjoy a lunch with the boys. In the same way that others might want to hang out at the golf club, or in the snooker room. Or similarly how members of the LGBTQ+ community might wish to hang out in a club or bar or pub with their folk, or players in an all-female hockey team might wish to spend an evening with each other sipping champagne in a hot tub.

Humans are tribal, gravitating towards those whom they look, act, feel and sound like. But that is not incongruous with supporting positive discrimination in society, promoting the visualisation of minorities in fashion or policing or politics.

For the values that represent you formally are not necessarily jettisoned when you’re having fun. Which is what clubs are for.

Savvy and Witty: a review of Jimmy Failla’s ‘Cancel Culture Dictionary’

Douglas Young gives us a review of Jimmy Failla’s Cancel Culture Dictionary

Jimmy Failla’s Cancel Culture Dictionary: An A to Z Guide to Winning the War on Fun is a remarkably well-reasoned, witty, and surprisingly serious takedown of cancel culture. The book defines it, explains how it came about, profiles its tactics and contradictions, demolishes its arguments, and shows how to successfully push back against this dangerous assault on our freedom of expression since, as Failla sees it, “If speech ain’t free, neither are we.”

Echoing books last year from fellow anti-woke comics Kat Timpf, Greg Gutfeld, and Tyrus, Failla’s thesis is that “we need to stop appeasing the censorship brigades because they keep narrowing the lanes in which we can enjoy ourselves.” Indeed, “we absolutely need to get back to a time when the world knew the difference between a joke and a hate crime. Because any society that can’t take a joke is destined to become one.”

Superbly organized with subjects grouped alphabetically, the book quickly pinpoints the forces abetting the rise of cancel culture. A major one is iPhones, leaving Failla nostalgic for growing up in the 1980s when “the only one who spent all day obsessing about their phone was E.T.”

Of course, iPhones are merely a means to the narcotic of social media which “has created a world where what you say is way more important than the things you do. Empathy has become a brand instead of an actual character trait.” Furthermore, “social media made it trendy to look at ourselves as victims and blame society for all of your shortcomings.”

The rise of this cult of victimhood has armed the censorship warriors with a hyper-sensitivity to the remotest possibility of a slight. In fact, “a world that champions victimhood… [h]as taught way too many people to look for things to get offended by instead of living their lives in search of joy.”

So, while many years earlier comedienne Roseanne Barr got away with trashing the national anthem and satirically wearing a Nazi uniform, by 2018 a social media mob got ABC to cancel her TV series over a single ugly tweet about Obama White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. In fact, standup comics now face fake fans armed with iPhones “to get attention for calling a joke out as offensive” by unleashing it on social media with no context to try to destroy a career.

Failla further contends that helicopter parenting germinated a generation of completely coddled children convinced they should be protected from ever hearing anything they dislike. Couple this with the Left’s equating words with violence and you have an ideal climate for a cancel culture mob to be generated by a single upsetting statement or even word.

All this toxic brew bubbled over when the Left’s nightmare candidate was elected president in 2016 “after breaking every social media rule there was.” Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House so shocked and enraged progressives that they became unhinged in their fanatical drive to destroy anyone deemed an enemy.

Failla is particularly perceptive about the sad, empty lives manning the cancel culture brigades who he sees as a misfit gang that is dangerously angry, bored, and narcissistic:

an online rage mob that knows nothing about you, save for the fact that they want to destroy your existence in the name of getting likes and showing the world they know better. That’s cancel culture in a nutshell. A collection of people who wake up every day looking for something to get offended by so they can leverage their victimhood into your firing and their clout. The trend has become so prevalent in society that scientists have a word for people who do this: they’re called losers.

Failla is convinced this lonely lot cares nothing about whatever issue happens to be trending on social media that day. It is only interested in cheap virtue-signalling and scoring the “digital dopamine” that comes with “destroy[ing] anyone who achieves something in showbiz that they themselves couldn’t dream of pulling off.”

Recalling Kat Timpf’s You Can’t Joke About That, Failla chronicles what is likely the worst trait of “the outrage mob,” a merciless bloodlust to ruin lives for a typically trivial verbal faux pas because, “whenever somebody says something dumb, online prosecutors always recommend the career death penalty.” This is not only grossly disproportionate, but “losing one’s job the first time you say something stupid isn’t a great strategy for any of us to endorse in the long run, given how flawed we all happen to be.” More ominously, “If someone is so devoid of nuance and empathy that they’re willing to destroy your livelihood for one step out of bounds, do you really think they won’t be on board with jailing you for it someday down the road?”

→ Continue reading: Savvy and Witty: a review of Jimmy Failla’s ‘Cancel Culture Dictionary’

Craig Foster has won the victory over himself

The captain of the Australian women’s football team, Sam Kerr, is awaiting trial in the UK on a charge of “racially aggravated harassment” for allegedly calling a London police officer a “stupid white bastard”.

Craig Foster, a prominent former player for the Australian national team, the Socceroos, intially said that Kerr should resign if convicted, because racism is bad.

*

“Two gin-scented tears trickled down the sides of his nose. But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself.”

*

“Craig Foster apologises to Sam Kerr after arguing her alleged remark to UK police officer was racist”, reports the Guardian.

Foster last week urged Football Australia to strip Kerr of the Matildas captaincy if the allegation was proven, to make a stand against racism. He said: “Interpersonal racism against a white person … is still racism.”

But on Saturday he explained that he had changed his mind.

“Like many, I mistakenly thought that comments that referenced any colour and were discriminatory, demeaning or hostile were a form of racism. I apologise to Sam for that mistake,” Foster wrote on X.

“Judging from the coverage, comments and conversations we’re all having, every day, there were major gaps in knowledge about how to deal with situations where the descriptor ‘white’ is used in a derogatory way.

“As many experts and leading anti-racism groups have pointed out, interpersonal comments can be offensive, abusive or inappropriate, however, racism can only be perpetrated against a marginalised person or group, which anti-racism frameworks are specifically designed to protect.”

Four points:

1) Anyone believe Craig Foster’s claim that he thought calling someone a “white bastard” was racist until “experts and leading anti-racism groups” told him otherwise? His apology was so obviously made under pressure that it came across almost as parody.

2) Calling someone a “white bastard” is racist. Obviously.

3) Calling someone a “white bastard” is not “racially aggravated harassment”. It was just words. It must be annoying being a cop and having people insult you quite often, but the only difference between this and a thousand other drunken outbursts is that the presence of the word “white” enabled the cop concerned to slap a ridiculous charge on Kerr.

4) I have a low opinion of the conduct of all of Sam Kerr, Craig Foster and the police officer.

Samizdata quote of the day – it’s all in the punctuation

I have long been of the opinion that Google’s old motto was merely lacking in the proper punctuation. Whenever a Google employee thought, “Should I do the right thing?”, they looked to the company motto for their answer: “Don’t. Be Evil.”

Anon