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]

This evening Dominic Frisby is doing another try-out of his Edinburgh Festival Financial Game Show

Yes. Dominic Frisby tweets:

North Londoners. The next try-out of my Financial Game Show is Tuesday May 22 at @downstairskhead. Entertaining, informative, exciting. What more could you want on a Tuesday evening?

Get tickets here. More about the show here.

I can confirm that this is a fun show, having already seen two earlier try-outs of it. One of these was in my own home, at my last Friday of the month meeting on April 27th. And earlier that week, I attended the very first try-out of this show (to check out what my Friday was likely to consist of), and greatly enjoyed it.

That first outing was in the same venue, downstairs at the King’s Head, that tonight’s show will be at Despite the extreme contrast in the space he had available, Frisby then made his second try-out performance at my place work very well, because he is a good humoured, thinks-on-his-feet performer. Nevertheless, a bigger venue is certainly needed for the show to have its full effect. I’m thinking in particular of how successful competitors in the quiz, such as the lady I went with to the first show, get asked to sit themselves in different and more visible seats as they progress, none of which could happen in my postage stamp of a living room

Nevertheless, Frisby seems to find early run-throughs at my place helpful, because he did a similar early run-through of his previous Edinburgh Festival show at my home, a couple of years ago, and now here he was inviting himself back to do this year’s show. Glad to be of assistance.

Without giving away too much in the way of answers, I can tell you that Frisby’s questions all point to the subtleties and surprises and oddities of economic life, of the sort that are familiar to devotees of Austrian Economics, with its emphasis on the subjectivity of value and the way that economic decisions so often involve making sometimes rather strange bets about the future. The contrast in the price of this small but expensive house and that bigger but cheaper house; Fading Footballer A getting paid, counter-intuitively, more than Superstar Footballer B; that kind of thing. Frisby thus communicates an inquisitive and amused attitude to economic life that will likely draw at least some of the people who see this show in Edinburgh towards his more opinionated intellectual products.

Who knows, some of these people may even end up reading this book? I wrote admiringly about it here.

Why Corbynites think that antisemitism is a feature rather than a bug and why Corbynite antisemitism won’t go away until Corbynism itself is destroyed

Labour is now described as having an antisemitism problem. But those who talk like this are neglecting the fact that for many Corbynites antisemitism accomplishes something very important. It helps to drive out of the Labour Party all of those Labour supporters who think that the badness of antisemitism ought to be publicly talked about, instead of these Labourites silently or vocally caving in, for now, to the Corbynite project. And that, as far as the Corbynites are concerned, is a feature rather than a bug.

We can see this process described in this piece, by “New Labour” (i.e. the kind of Labour that the Corbynites are determined utterly to destroy) Prime Minister Tony Blair’s senior shouter-down-the-phone, Alastair Campbell:

In a speech to centre-left campaign group Progress, Mr Campbell said: “All my life I have been tribally Labour. But my Labour tribalism is being pushed to the limit – by the return of Militant style nastiness in local politics; by my revulsion that any anti-Semitism has been allowed to fester; by the feeling that some in the leadership, and their supporters, feel much greater animus against other Labour supporters than against Tories.”

Campbell is right. The Corbynites do indeed hate Campbell and his ilk far more than they hate the Conservatives. The Conservatives, by allowing themselves to be lead by people like Theresa May, are bringing the day of glorious socialist triumph ever closer. Campbell and his sort are a far more immediate threat to Corbynism. So if antisemitism serves to cure Alastair Campbell of his tribal love of Labour, … good for antisemitism.

As of now, the Corbynites are far more interested in establishing themselves in unchallengeable command of the Labour Party than they are in merely winning elections. Their thinking is that, sooner or later, capitalism will be hit by another crisis, and that at that point they’ll win a general election, and then the question will be: will there be any New Labour Alastair Campbell type bastards around to prevent them from turning Britain into Venezuela or worse? Meanwhile, they can agitate, do local activism, recruit the right sort of unswervingly loyal cadres, on the internet and in real life, and generally speed up the arrival of that crisis of capitalism and be ready for it. Having helped to bring about their crisis of capitalism, they can then blame capitalism for it and sweep to power.

At some point during all this, Corbyn will step aside and be replaced by a younger, better dressed and better shaved personage, more emollient, more “centrist” in tone, in appearance more like Alastair Campbell. Britain as a whole will be fooled. That “crisis” general election will be duly won, and then the “project” can really begin. And an essential part of that process is clearing out backsliding scum like Alastair Campbell, who, if they hang about and continue to attend Labour events, might blow the gaff in time to stop all this. At the very least such persons will be an unwanted nuisance.

Personally, I think that this is all a very long shot. But I wish it was a whole lot longer than it is.

The other thing to be said about antisemitism is that eradicating it from the Corbynite clan will be impossible. The Corbynites may, any year now, once all the Blairites are flushed out or permanently silenced, tone it down in public, once that besuited and beshaven person steps forward. But they will still all be antisemites.

→ Continue reading: Why Corbynites think that antisemitism is a feature rather than a bug and why Corbynite antisemitism won’t go away until Corbynism itself is destroyed

Samizdata quote of the day

For [Adam] Smith, the dangers that natural liberty faces are not a result of the system of free markets itself, but of mankind’s flawed human nature, particularly the desire of those he called “merchants and manufacturers” (among others) to “rig the system.”

The natural desire to “better our condition” motivates us to strive for a better life. This is the motivation that underlies the success of natural liberty. Yet this same natural desire also leads to cronyism and corruption when businesses and others use the power of government to procure for themselves “systems either of preference or of restraint.”

In so doing, Smith said, they impose an “absurd tax on the rest of their fellow citizens,” retard growth, and increase inequality.

As a result, free markets are neither self-establishing, nor self-sustaining. If we are to continue to reap the very real benefits of natural liberty, we must be prepared to defend against cronyism.

Lauren Brubaker

Samizdata quote of the day

Political and economic theories are never implemented in pure form, and their adherents are rarely impressed by politicians who claim to be inspired by them. That’s just par for the course. Marxists, however, are pretty much the only thinkers who accept no responsibility whatsoever for real-world approximations of their ideas. Third-Way advocates may have despaired over Blair, Hayekians can – and do – rant all day about Thatcher’s shortcomings, and ordoliberals have written scathing condemnations of Konrad Adenauer. But ask them whether they think those respective governments did more good than harm on balance; ask them whether they think those governments were preferable to the next likely alternatives – and you will get an unambiguous and unqualified “Yes!” as an answer.

In contrast, hardly any contemporary Marxist would accept that whatever ‘real’ socialism is – surely, East Germany was at least closer to it than West Germany, North Korea is at least closer to it than South Korea, Venezuela is at least closer to it than Peru, Maoist China was at least closer to it than Taiwan, etc.

And why would they? It works for them. Every other idea is judged by its necessarily crude, incomplete and imperfect real-world approximations, warts and all. Only Marxism has the luxury of being judged purely as a set of ideas, which something as mundane as real-world experience could never blemish.

Kristian Niemietz

Samizdata movie spoiler quote of the day

This universe has finite resources, finite. If life is left unchecked, life will cease to exist. It needs correcting.

Avengers: Infinity War spoilers below.

→ Continue reading: Samizdata movie spoiler quote of the day

A shoddy book criticising free markets

Whatever your views on free market principles, it is clearly dishonest to imply that those who support tax cuts, lower government spending and greater economic freedom do so in the belief that some wealth will belatedly “trickle down” to the poorest in society or because they view entrenching wealth amongst the privileged as an end in itself. Free marketeers would instead argue that allowing people to pursue all the opportunities they can through free exchange, with the minimal amount of government interference, will lead to generalised wealth creation. The virtue of cutting taxes is not that it benefits the rich, but that it benefits everyone.

Madeline Grant

The author is commenting on what appears to be a shoddy misrepresentation of the ideas of persons such as the late FA Hayek. Interestingly, one of the writers of the book in question, Angela Eagle, had attempted to run against current hard left Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. But it appears Eagle’s understanding of the classical position is terrible and her opposition to such freedoms as we enjoy seems clear. So the question I ask is that if Eagle and her allies are the “moderates”, then in what ways can they possibly be any better than Corbyn, apart from perhaps being less indulgent to anti-semites and certain other thugs?

Samizdata quote of the day

You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.

Adrian Rogers

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.

How the Corn Laws and all that may not be all that

The story that I and most people here are familiar with is that in the 1840s Britain abolished the Corn Laws, became the pioneer in free trade and that this was a good thing.

John Nye begs to differ. In this Econtalk podcast (from, ahem, 10 years ago) he makes two points. Firstly, British tariffs were falling throughout the 19th Century and that the abolition of the Corn Laws was not particularly significant in that process. Secondly, French tariffs were by-and-large lower than those in Britain.

But surely Britain was much richer than France at this time? Yes it was, and according to Nye that was mainly due to it having fewer taxes and regulations. France even had internal tariffs as Samizdata’s own Antoine Clarke once pointed out.

So much as I don’t think Trump’s trade war is a good idea it is possible that it may not be as bad as all that.

Discussion point…

Conventional theory has it that capitalism arose in England in the 16th century but I long ago found it thriving in the 13th century. Rowland Parker’s ‘Men of Dunwich’, a treasure of my bookshelves for many decades, uses ancient pipe rolls and mediaeval manuscripts in our historic archives as the author turns detective. Why did Ada Ringulf, with a cottage by St Peter’s, pay only ¼d rent a year when neighbours paid 1½d?* Parker thinks he knows. Anyway, Dunwich merchants, shipowners with vessels we know as ‘cogs’, would speculatively take cargoes of wool, barley, cloth to Europe and the Baltic and return with iron, wine, silk and spices. Profits could be handsome – but the loss of a cog to a hostile port, pirates, minor warlords or official blackmail could ruin a man and his family overnight. So merchants offset their risk by investing in eachother’s cogs and cargoes, risking only a fifth or a sixth on each voyage. Parker has the evidence. That’s capitalism. And it was happening three hundred years earlier than thought. Capitalism means risk, even if it’s managed risk. What the global corporates do is risk free; monopolistic, monopsonistic or oligopolistic, they have a licence to make money with virtually no risk, by virtue of their size and power.

Raedwald

Agree, disagree? Not convinced by the entirety of the thesis at all but there are some interesting points being made. Read the whole thing.

Gender gaps

Julian Jessop, at the Institute of Economic Affairs’ blog:

Few can have failed to notice that UK companies with 250 or more employees are now obliged to report specific figures about their ‘gender pay gap’. Supporters argue that the data are helping to expose the disadvantages that many women face in the workplace. In my view, though, the system is failing.

For a start, the data are frequently misunderstood and misrepresented. Variations in hourly wages or bonuses between men and women are often interpreted – wrongly – as evidence of different pay for the same work. This sort of discrimination would, of course, be illegal. It would presumably be uneconomic too; if women were indeed willing to do the same work for less money, they would surely be over-represented in the highest paying jobs.

Readers in the UK will also have noted an increase in volume of news stories about the so-called gender gap in pay and overall remuneration as it affects women. I am not dismissing concerns about this as fabricated or an example of Leftist mischief-making against the market economy, although I am sure such criticisms would be valid. But as Jessop says, there is a basic problem with the approach that many critics take in assuming that the State should “do something” about it, or that the simple fact of group A earning, on average, less/more than B is ipso facto proof of some wrong being committed. (I urge people to read the whole article; one of the most silly sleights of hands of those trying to make out that there is a major issue is to lump part-time and full-time jobs together.)

The great Thomas Sowell, debunker of many woolly ideas, has dealt with the gender gap issue, as the linked Youtube clip shows.

The US-based economist Tyler Cowen has argued that the gender gap will eventually close and it seems, largely for reasons unconnected to interference by the State.

Common sense is quite uncommon

So here is some from Madsen…