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]

China’s Soweto

The Soweto riots were the beginning of the end for Apartheid in South Africa. This is how they began:

Black South African high school students in Soweto protested against the Afrikaans Medium Decree of 1974, which forced all black schools to use Afrikaans and English in a 50–50 mix as languages of instruction. The Regional Director of Bantu Education (Northern Transvaal Region), J.G. Erasmus, told Circuit Inspectors and Principals of Schools that from 1 January 1975, Afrikaans had to be used for mathematics, arithmetic, and social studies from standard five (7th grade), according to the Afrikaans Medium Decree; English would be the medium of instruction for general science and practical subjects (homecraft, needlework, woodwork, metalwork, art, agricultural science). Indigenous languages would only be used for religious instruction, music, and physical culture.

Forty-six years later, in Inner Mongolia, sorry, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China (not to be confused with the neighbouring sovereign state of Mongolia), children of another subjugated land are protesting against a decree that forces their schools to use the oppressor’s language as the medium of instruction:

Inner Mongolia protests at China’s plans to bring in Mandarin-only lessons

Thousands of ethnic Mongolians have protested across northern China in opposition to Beijing plans to replace the Mongolian language with Chinese in some school subjects.

Tuesday marked the first day of a policy revealed in June, to gradually transition the language of instruction in Inner Mongolian schools from Mongolian to Mandarin Chinese. The change affects three subjects over the next three years in the autonomous region. The education bureau said Mongolian and Korean language classes would remain.

The official explanation for the change to a bilingual education system was to ensure the curriculum and textbooks were of a high standard, and that government documents cited by analysts also referred to president Xi Jinping’s push for shared language as part of a common identity.

However mass protests in Inner Mongolia – referred to as Southern Mongolia by ethnic rights and independence groups – have revealed the depth of fear that Mongolian would be relegated to a foreign language as part of government plans to assimilate ethnic minorities into Chinese Han culture.

I called this China’s Soweto. But don’t expect any equivalent to UN Security Council Resolution 392.

Other links concerning this story:

Tightening the noose on Mongolian in Southern Mongolia

Rare rallies in China over Mongolian language curb

Discussion point – was Churchill right about the atomic bomb?

There was never a moment`s discussion as to whether the atomic bomb should be used or not. To avert a vast, indefinite butchery, to bring the war to an end, to give peace to the world, to lay healing hands upon its tortured peoples by a manifestation of overwhelming power at the cost of a few explosions, seemed, after all our toils and perils, a miracle of deliverance.

– Winston Churchill, writing of the decision by the Allies to use atomic weapons on Japan. Victory over Japan day was seventy five years ago today.

The choir

“For centuries, the cherubic faces of choirboys in white ruffs have been part of church culture”, said the Guardian. Whenever a news report begins by saying that a tradition has endured for centuries you know that tradition is about to die. Sure enough the story which I quote tells of the ending of that aspect of historical Anglican culture in one cathedral at least:

Decision to disband Sheffield cathedral choir strikes discordant note

But is this change progressive or not? The next line of the story lets the hard pressed Guardian reader know what attitude to take:

Choristers usually came from privileged backgrounds, were coached by expert music masters at fee-paying schools attached to cathedrals and churches, and performed exquisite choral music, often in Latin.

Some of that has changed. The first girls were admitted, at Salisbury cathedral, almost 30 years ago and choirs have become more diverse.

Now Sheffield cathedral is going a step further, disbanding its choir in order to make a “completely fresh start” with a new team of choristers that reflects and engages with a changing city.

The cathedral would pursue “a new model for Anglican choral life here, with a renewed ambition for engagement and inclusion”, said a statement on its website.

The population of Sheffield and the surrounding area was growing, getting younger and becoming more diverse. In recent years, the cathedral had welcomed refugees and supported people living on the streets, Bradley said.

“We need to be engaging with people who are part of this changing city. We believe strongly in equality and giving as many children as possible the opportunity to sing at the highest level.”

The appeal of church music was wide but was sometimes “presented in a way that can be seen as elitist”, Bradley said.

That was in late July. Since then this apparently obscure local story about the disbandment of one cathedral choir has been widely reported. These are just a few of many examples:

  • Why is Sheffield Cathedral’s choir being disbanded for ‘inclusivity’? – the Spectator
  • Sheffield Cathedral Choir disbanded in “complete fresh start” for music and diversity – the website of the radio station Classic FM
  • Dean defends disbanding of Sheffield Cathedral ChoirChurch Times
  • Sheffield Cathedral closes choir and looks for new one to reflect urban diversity – the Times
  • Diversity is no reason to scrap Sheffield’s cathedral choir – the Telegraph

    As some of those titles indicate, the decision to close down the Sheffield cathedral choir has angered people who have not been to church for years and would not normally much care for church music. Why has it resonated so widely? I think I know why, and the knowledge depresses me. Until a few months ago I would have said that the UK had done relatively well in promoting an inclusive, non-racial sense of patriotism in which immigrants were seen as “joining the team” and adding their culture to the indigenous culture rather than displacing it. The maiden speech of Kemi Badenoch, my MP, expressed this idea well. “I chose to make the United Kingdom my home”, she says, and speaks of the British Dream: “It is a land where a girl from Nigeria can move here aged sixteen, be accepted as British, and have the great honour of representing Saffron Walden”.

    But that ideal of inclusive patriotism is being eroded by decisions like this one. It is scarcely surprising that white British people begin to see diversity as a threat to their culture when they are told that a part of their culture that has gone on for centuries is to be abolished in the name of diversity.

  • “A tiny sect of libertarian provocateurs”

    No, not us at Samizdata. While I can say with pride that I am a libertarian, with sorrow that my sect is tiny, and with one of those sorrynotsorry voices that I have been known to be a provocateur, neither I nor anyone else at Samizdata has ever reached a position where the Guardian could credibly accuse us of secretly controlling the Conservative Party. The Revolutionary Communist Party has.

    Andy Beckett’s Guardian article, “Why Boris Johnson’s Tories fell for a tiny sect of libertarian provocateurs”, is a genuinely interesting account of this strange tale of political transformation. My goodness, though, those commenters are cross.

    The progress to sanity* of former RCP/Living Marxism stalwarts such as Munira Mirza, Claire Fox, Frank Furedi, Mick Hume and Brendan O’Neill was observed at an earlier stage by Brian Micklewthwait in this post from 2003.

    *Well, most of the way to sanity. Best not to mention Serbia.

    VIDEO: Boris Johnson with two naked men

    No, this is not one of my clickbait headlines. The video is from 2000 and at 1:03 we see a younger, slimmer Boris express commendably libertarian views on the right to be naked in conversation with two people exercising that right.

    Sad to say, an older, fatter Boris has recently “ditched ‘libertarian’ position on obesity after coronavirus battle”, according to PoliticsHome.

    The Prime Minister is not the only one to cut a poor figure compared to his earlier self. His host on that trip to Glastonbury – for there it was that these events took place – was the singer and songwriter Billy Bragg. Bragg has always been a massive lefty, of course, but in that video from the turn of the millennium he came across as enjoying the exchange of political barbs with Johnson. In contrast, the Billy Bragg of a few days ago who wrote this miserable article in support of cancel culture in the Guardian comes across as an old man abasing himself before the cult of youth.

    On why feminists ought to be glad about skyscrapers

    Asks the headline above this Guardian piece by Leslie Kern: Do cities have to be so sexist?

    Let me ask a similar question: Do skyscrapers have to be so tall and yet so comparatively thin? Do skyscrapers have to be shaped, that is to say, like penises? The answer is: yes. That’s the whole point of skyscrapers. Their reason for existence is to fit a lot of floor space upon a very small patch of land, in a place where land is very expensive to buy because lots of people are needed to work in this one spot, and consequently where the elaborate technology needed to build them is justified by the advantages gained.

    Says Leslie Kern:

    From the physical to the metaphorical, the city is filled with reminders of masculine power. And yet we rarely talk of the urban landscape as an active participant in gender inequality. A building, no matter how phallic, isn’t actually misogynist, is it?

    I’d say that the urban landscape is not actually that misogynist. After all, the basic economic fact that made female political, social and economic equality something which it made sense for women to demand was that the modern economy depends far less on physical labour done in fields and factories, and far more upon mental work, done in places like skyscrapers. Men are, on average, physically stronger than women, so in a world dependent on sweated labour, men were the dominant sex. But now, it counts for more that women have always been, again on average, just as clever as men, and rather more conscientious, while also being rather more biddable and risk-averse than men. Very useful corporate functionaries, in other words. How would all this new indoor and sexually more egalitarian mental labour have been accommodated in the exact places where it has been most needed, without the “urban landscape”, and in particular without skyscrapers? Instead of grumbling about skyscrapers, feminists ought to be glad about them. Even if skyscrapers are shaped like penises.

    I once had an unpaid job in the office of the recently deceased and much lamented architect Ivor Smith. Much lamented, because even as I was, even way back then, beginning to have my doubts about his architecture, I had to acknowledge, and I say again now, that he was a lovely man, just as all the obituaries I have today been reading said he was.

    One of my more vivid recollections of Ivor Smith was when he and some of his young colleagues were discussing a tower that some other architect had designed, and Smith speculated that this architect had done his design by slapping his cock down on the drawing board and drawing round it. Having only just stopped being a rather nerdy schoolboy, and having just become an equally nerdy student, I was a bit startled to hear a grown man in a suit and tie make a joke like this, in an office, as I think were some of the other architects. But there was as much masculine self-mockery in this joke as there was mere masculinity. Smith was no misogynist. I still remember also how much Smith’s wife and daughters adored him, and he them.

    But then again, although I don’t know if this applies to Leslie Kern, many feminists don’t approve of happy families, any more than they approve of skyscrapers.

    Thoughts on Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech

    For me, the most important thing about President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech, apart from the splendour of what it says, is that, thanks to the internet, we can all of us, if we wish, read the entire speech, without depending upon any of those people whom Instapundit refers to as Democratic Party operatives with bylines to tell us what they merely want us to think that Trump said. We now live in a world where those old broadsheet “newspapers of record” have been reborn, and are now readable at no extra cost by anyone with an internet connection.

    I’m a libertarian, and what I really want is a really libertarian enclave of territory, somewhere in the world, which will really prove to the world for ever the superiority of all of my opinions about how the world should really be, over the opinions of all others. But meanwhile, I’m the sort of libertarian (which nothing like all libertarians are) who will settle for the actually existing United States of America, as it is now is and as it has been since it was founded, a vast but very imperfect nation, constantly disfigured by unfreedoms imposed upon it by collectivist would-be despots of one sort or another, yet constantly disappointing those same despots with those pesky freedoms which it started out by proclaiming. Likewise, American military might is frequently hurled by careless American adventurers at places that ought to be left to solve their own problems, in a way which only makes such problems even worse. Nevertheless, the world is surely a better place than it would have been had America made no attempts of this sort to bully it into behaving better. A world that consisted only of the Old World would surely be a much duller and poorer and more brutal place.

    The New York Times and the Washington Post, echoed by many other organs in America and beyond, have described Trump’s speech as “dark and divisive”. Well, it was a bit divisive. It divided Americans into two camps. In the one camp are violent looters and rioters and despotic cancellers, and their enablers in slightly less impolite society, like the people who run the New York Times and the Washington Post. In the other camp are all the many Americans of the sort who feel approximately as I do about America and its flawed and violent but nevertheless inspiring history.

    I especially like what Trump said about how the fundamental principles of the USA meant that those principles would, in the end, put an end to slavery and legally imposed racial discrimination. The fundamental principles bloody well took their time, but they eventually did just this.

    Here, in case you doubt me, is how Trump said this:

    We must demand that our children are taught once again to see America as did Reverend Martin Luther King, when he said that the Founders had signed “a promissory note” to every future generation. Dr. King saw that the mission of justice required us to fully embrace our founding ideals. Those ideals are so important to us – the founding ideals. He called on his fellow citizens not to rip down their heritage, but to live up to their heritage.

    To call this speech racially divisive, as many have, is a flat out lie.

    And, a “dark” speech? Again, I don’t think so. Naive and optimistic, starry-eyed even, historically over-simplified, yes, maybe all of that. But “dark”? Hardly.

    But what of Trump’s enemies? The rioters are saying: “Screw America, smash America!” Their Democrat enablers indoors are saying: “America, you want this to stop? Vote for us, and then we’ll stop it. Meanwhile, it’s all Trump’s fault.” That’s rather “dark”, isn’t it?

    Trump’s America, aka “America”, is now resisting this uprising, and the uprisers and their enablers are now turning on each other. The rioters and outdoor looters, after all, have no love at all for Democratic Party insiders. On the contrary, they regard them as the people who stole the Democratic nomination from them and their man in 2016. Other rioters merely hate the rich and the powerful in their entirety, including those paying the wages of the people urging them to riot.

    It is now – is it not? – almost entirely in Democrat-governed places that the rioting, and now the crime waves consequent upon the hobbling by Democrat politicians of local police forces, are happening. Those McCloskeys, rather inexpertly waving their guns at rioters outside their nice big home are classic Democrat insiders. As is the Mayor of Seattle, who only shut CHOP down after her own home had been attacked by rioters.

    So, I want Trump’s America now to prevail and its enemies now to retreat in ignominy, many of them also to prison, because of their various crimes, indoors and outdoors. We win, they lose, as President Reagan said when asked about how to settle the Cold War. Reagan also made very “divisive” speeches about that big old misunderstanding, didn’t he? After which the Good Guys did win and the Bad Guys did lose. Again please.

    In this same spirit of melodramatic divisiveness, I would like now to suggest that the way that the writers of the New York Times and the Washington Post, and their many imitators, are using the word “dark” is blatantly racist. These people are assuming that to be “dark” is to be bad. This is the language of white supremacist slave-owners. Next thing you know, they’ll be referring to African Americans as “darkies”.

    I’m kidding, but I also sort of mean it. I entirely get what the wokist media are trying to say, and are not trying to say, with the word “dark”. Punishing them for being racist for using this word in this way is not a rule I’d want to see universally applied. On the other hand, rules of exactly this perverse sort are the rules that these people have been unleashing upon others. So the wokists now deserve, if not actually to die by this rule that I just made up, then at least to be chucked out into the streets for a while, there to think about what they’ve been doing.

    But my basic point here is that you don’t need to take my word, or anyone else’s word, for any of this. Trump’s speech itself, the complete text of it, is worth a second link. Read the whole thing. And as I said at the start of this, be glad that you can.

    LATER: Further thoughts from me about Trump’s speech in a piece entitled Trump as Republican Party Reptile. This is about how his Mount Rushmore speech echoes a piece by P.J. O’Rourke in the 1980s, about an epic journey across America in a Ferrari.

    Someone made a profit from finding a cure for a deadly disease. This must never happen again.

    Citizens for Financial Justice have a new article out!

    Who are they? You mean you don’t know?

    Citizens for Financial Justice is a diverse group of European partners – from local grassroots groups to large international organisations. Together, we aim to inform and connect citizens to act together to make the global financial system work better for everyone.

    We are funded by the European Union and aim to support the implementation of the Sustainable development Goals (sDGs) by mobilising EU citizens to support effective financing for development (FfD).

    A cosy arrangement. Thank God the UK is out of it. Here is the article:

    World Hepatitis Day: How Gilead Science Profits from Hepatitis Deaths

    Alternative title #1: How Gilead Science Profits from Ending Hepatitis Deaths

    Alternative title #2: How the Profit Motive Led Gilead Science to Find a Cure for Hepatitis C

    Guys, my apologies. I have to do some work – work work, can you believe that? – so when I remembered that I had already written a post that said what I wanted to say about about this lethal idiocy, I decided simply to post it again. It is seventeen years old. It does not require updating.

    Life is still tough for the owners of lazy slaves

    An extract:

    Now, just possibly you the reader aren’t very sympathetic. Just possibly you opine that the slaveowners had only themselves to blame – “Well, of course,” you are saying, “it’s no surprise that if people are forced to work for nothing then they don’t bust a gut.”

    So why do so many people expect these familiar laws of human behaviour to suddenly change when the time is now and the work to be done is AIDS research?

    In this link Stephen Pollard quotes Roger Bate, writing in the Wall Street Journal, as saying that AIDS drug development is trending downwards.

    Why the decline?

    Because the drugs companies no longer believe that they are going to get rich out of AIDS research. In fact they begin to doubt they will get any compensation at all. They read the newspapers, they study the speeches of politicians, and they sense that the popular wind is blowing against them. They think, probably rightly, that governments will either force them to sell at a loss drugs that were developed at huge expense or will bypass them and the law entirely by buying generic copies of patent drugs. Governments, after all, are the ones who can change the law when it is inconvenient. One minute the authorities will come down like a ton of bricks on pirate music or pirate videos. The next minute they will say that it is ‘unacceptable greed’ for companies to actually want to profit from patents on medical discoveries. I accept that there are subtleties and genuine conflicts of principle in the field of intellectual property – but the bottom line is that if pharma companies get nothing but abuse for the work they put in they bloody well won’t put in much more of it. Just as for the slaves, it’s no surprise that if people are forced to work for nothing then they don’t bust a gut.

    It was the New Deal which put the Great in the Great Depression

    The most significant thing about this Daniel Hannan tweet, I think, is not his praise of a Michael Gove speech, but his aside to the effect that FDR “turned a recession into a depression”. This idea is really getting around, and this is a very good thing.

    It was the New Deal which put the Great in the Great Depression. (I found myself emitting this sentence at the end of this at my personal blog, which started out being about something else entirely, namely the current Lockdown, rather than about how the world will or will not emerge successfully from it.)

    I just googled the above epigram, and the first piece I got to asked: Did New Deal Programs Help End the Great Depression? That item one in such a search casts doubt on (rather than simply endorsing) the claim that The New Deal did end the Great Depression, is a big propaganda step in the right direction.

    What people now think is the quickest and best way to end an economic recession matters very much. That surely being why Hannan felt the need to say this about FDR’s disastrous economic policies, even though he was tweeting about something else.

    The leader of Plaid Cymru must attend a struggle session

    Adam Price, the Leader of Plaid Cymru, writes in Nation Cymru:

    Wales, colonised and coloniser: a reflection

    The murder of George Floyd and the desperately unequal burden faced by people of colour in the grip of the global pandemic have placed the question of racial injustice, at the forefront of our politics, in Wales just as in the wider world.

    Accepting that to be silent at this time is to be complicit, I have committed to use the platform that I have to call for action: for the Welsh Government to instigate a wide-ranging review into the realities of structural racism, to decolonise the curriculum and to build a National Museum to celebrate the history of people of colour.

    In the middle of this global moment of truth some criticism – some of it fair and some it not – has been levelled at me for some comments that I made about the Welsh colonial experience. I have spoken publicly about this before and I planned to do so again, having discussed it in depth with Plaid’s BME Section and others. While continuing to reflect on the criticism I have been more interested in listening than defending or explaining myself, not wanting to distract from the bigger issues at hand. But in response to claims that my actions mean Black Lives do not matter in Wales, I feel it’s now right that I respond.

    Gwan, give us the dirt.

    In October last year in an article headlined Westminster owes Wales reparations, I wrote:

    “The Wales Office – that colonial outpost of a Westminster Government – stands in Whitehall in the building that once housed the Slavery Compensation Commission which infamously paid out to the slave owners after abolition rather than the newly liberated slaves. The argument that the British Empire owes reparations to the people of its former colonies is powerfully well-made by the Indian politician Shashi Tharoor. But England’s first colony should be added to that long list of creditors.”

    You may have noticed that Mr Price mentions that when the British government abolished slavery in British colonies it “infamously” paid compensation to the slaveowners. He is right, it did pay an enormous sum to free the slaves. I am not sure what other path to liberating them Mr Price thinks the British government of 1833 ought to have followed. Perhaps that of France? The French revolutionary government declared all slaves in the French colonies free as early as 1794. Unfortunately words are not deeds, and in most places the declaration was ignored. Then in 1802 Napoleon restored slavery, and that was that for another forty six years. The other way of defeating a well-entrenched pro-slavery interest is this. While sometimes that sort of thing has to be done, I cannot help thinking that the British method was better for everyone, including the slaves.

    I digress. Mr Price continues,

    Much of the criticism has focused on the use of the word ‘reparations’. Historically this has been used to denote payment by way of compensation by a State to make amends to those it has wronged e.g. the reparation payments imposed on Germany after the 1914-1918 War.

    In recent discourse, however, the word has been more closely associated with the campaign to recognise the financial debt owed to the descendants of the victims of the transatlantic slave trade and to the former colonies of Western countries, including Britain, in Africa, the Caribbean and South Asia and elsewhere (a campaign I fully support). In many conversations I have had since I spoke in October I’ve come to understand that many people of colour strongly believe that the word reparations should now be reserved exclusively for the context of slavery and western colonialism in acknowledgement of the unique scale of human suffering involved.

    Now that we know that small self-appointed groups can take words out of common ownership, let’s buy up some Welsh words for our exclusive use. I am sure progressive Welsh speakers won’t mind the loss of them. They can always use English words instead.

    Mr Price concludes:

    I didn’t fully appreciate the force of this argument nor the strength of this feeling. I recognise now that this was a mistake. It was wrong to blur this distinction, and I would express myself differently today. If my poor choice of words caused anyone pain then I am profoundly, deeply, genuinely sorry.

    Not a dry eye in the house.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    True, they were hypocrites. Jefferson himself was clearly aware of the ghastly contradictions. Pity they did not apply their own wise philosophies even-handedly, but they didn’t. That is was why Samuel Johnson hated them. And yet, their good ideas stand on their own merits.

    – Perry de Havilland in response to “How do you respond to people who say that the Founding Fathers were hypocrites for owning slaves?”

    Hey, let’s make it a three-way racial grudge match!

    “The purity of a revolution can last a fortnight”Jean Cocteau

    I thought from the start that most of the “solutions” the Black Lives Matter protesters demand would make the lives of black people worse, but (as with the Me Too movement before it), the BLM movement would never have got off the ground if there were not justifiable anger at real abuses.

    To fight real abuses is hard. It might require thought. It might require compromise. To fight images of dead men is much more exhilarating. Don’t worry, you still get to crack heads.

    The Leicester Mercury reports,

    Gandhi statue campaign ‘a distraction’ from Black Lives Matters – Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe

    Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe says a campaign to remove the statue of Mahatma Gandhi risks being a distraction to the Black Lives Matter movement.

    A 6,000 name petition is calling for the sculpture of the Indian leader and civil rights campaigner to be taken down from the plinth in Belgrave Road where it has stood since 2009.

    The petition was launched after a statue of Bristol slaver Edward Colston was toppled during a recent Black Lives Matters protest and dumped in the city’s harbour.

    The organisers of the Gandhi statue petition said he was a “fascist, racist and sexual predator” who brought “inconsolable suffering” to millions of people during the partition of India before his assassination in January 1948.

    That has enraged many people from the Indian community in Leicester East.

    You don’t say!

    Ms Webbe spoke out on the issue of the Gandhi statue after her predecessor as MP Keith Vaz arrived with city councillors and community volunteers to throw up a symbolic human ring around the piece of art.

    Mr Vaz, who stood down as an MP after more than 30 years representing his city constituency prior to December’s General Election, had vowed to “defend it personally”.