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]

Discussion point: have you kept the libertarian faith on freedom of movement?

The Independent reports, Let Us Vote: New campaign launched to give everyone living in UK the right to vote in elections

The “Let Us Vote” campaign, which has the backing of more than a dozen MPs and peers, is seeking new legislation to extend the voting franchise, which has not changed significantly since the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1969

It has been launched by campaign groups the3million, representing EU nationals in the UK, British in Europe, which represents UK citizens in the EU, and anti-Brexit group Another Europe is Possible. The campaign says it is strictly neutral on Brexit and party politics.

In an open letter published in The Independent, supporters including MPs, peers, and NGO leaders wrote: “The outcome of the next few weeks in politics could determine the course of our lives for decades to come.

“But many of the people who are most affected by the current situation – migrants living in the UK, and UK citizens living abroad – have never been offered the chance to have a stake in our democracy.

“Whatever our views on Brexit and party politics, we are united in the belief that it is fundamentally wrong that so many millions of people whose lives will be deeply affected by developments at Westminster are currently denied a vote.”

The letter was signed by Labour MPs Lloyd Russell-Moyle, Clive Lewis, David Lammy and Stephen Doughty, plus Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran.

The “Let Us Vote” campaign’s own website is here.

What was your first thought upon reading this proposal? What would it have been ten years ago?

My first thought was this was David Lammy’s way of ensuring he never again loses another referendum. (My second was, “Leave campaign: use this on C2DE voters.”) Ten years ago I might have said, “It’s a difficult question”. I do not think I was ever unambiguously in favour of complete open borders on libertarian grounds but I knew plenty of people who were and I was open to persuasion. It was seen as one of the questions that sorted the committed Libertarians from the dilettantes. That, I think, is where my instinctive casting of the question in religious terms came from.

My impression is that my loss of belief in free movement of people is shared by many. Is it shared by you? Or have you kept your faith strong? Have you converted to this belief?

Her Britannic Majesty’s Government should do something….

British woman faces Dubai jail over Facebook ‘horse’ insult

Shocking news from Dubai, a British woman, formerly an expat in Dubai, has been arrested there and is facing up to 2 years in jail, after travelling to her ex-husband’s funeral. This is an ex-husband whose new wife she had allegedly rudely deprecated on Facebook (whilst in the UK).

Ms Shahravesh was married to her ex-husband for 18 years, during which time she lived in the United Arab Emirates for eight months, according to the campaign group Detained in Dubai.
While she returned to the UK with her daughter, her husband stayed in the United Arab Emirates, and the couple got divorced.
Ms Sharavesh discovered her ex-husband was remarrying when she saw photos of the new couple on Facebook.
She posted two comments in Farsi, including one that said: “I hope you go under the ground you idiot. Damn you. You left me for this horse”.

Sadly, her ‘wish’ came true. The target of her ire reported the comments and is refusing to drop the case, it seems.

The Foreign Office said it was supporting the mother-of-one.

Well that is reassuring, the same Foreign Office that is campaigning for freedom of speech in the media by appointing a relatively low profile barrister with a rather more well-known husband as its special envoy on media freedom.

Whilst at the same time, social media freedom in the UK is coming under attack from the UK’s government.

Websites to be fined over ‘online harms’ under new proposals

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has proposed an independent watchdog that will write a “code of practice” for tech companies.
Senior managers could be held liable for breaches, with a possible levy on the industry to fund the regulator.

Discussing financial penalties on BBC Breakfast, he (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Jeremy Wright) said: “If you look at the fines available to the Information Commissioner around the GDPR rules, that could be up to 4% of company’s turnover… we think we should be looking at something comparable here.”

Well, a proposal for yet another self-financing regulatory agency, (the business model of the Spanish Inquisition, I understand). What will they do with all the surplus funds? What of Dr. Bonham’s Case, all fines belong to the King?

Just out of interest, what exactly might HM Government be complaining about to Dubai when certain social media postings in the UK can get you fined or jailed for 2 years anyway?

A draft speech for Mrs May’s approval

After pondering deeply the general trends of the world and the actual conditions obtaining in Our Empire today, We have decided to effect a settlement of the present situation by resorting to an extraordinary measure.

We have ordered Our Government to communicate to the Governments of the European Union and its Member States that Our Empire accepts the provisions of their Political Declaration.

To strive for the common prosperity and happiness of all nations as well as the security and well-being of Our subjects is the solemn obligation which has been handed down by Our Imperial Ancestors and which lies close to Our heart.

Indeed, We declared our intention to leave Europe’s Union out of Our sincere desire to ensure the United Kingdom’s self-preservation and the stabilization of Gibraltar, it being far from Our thought either to infringe upon the sovereignty of other nations or to embark upon territorial aggrandizement.

But now the Brexit row has lasted for nearly four years. Despite the best that has been done by everyone — the gallant fighting of the diplomatic forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our sixty million people — the Brexit situation has developed not necessarily to the United Kingdom’s advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.

Moreover, the enemy has begun to employ a new and most cruel £39,000,000,000* divorce bill, the power of which to do damage is, indeed, incalculable, taking the toll of many innocent businesses. Should we continue to fight, not only would it result in an ultimate collapse and obliteration of the British nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization.

Such being the case, how are We to save the millions of Our subjects, or to atone Ourselves before the hallowed spirits of Our Imperial Ancestors? This is the reason why We have ordered the acceptance of the provisions of the Political Declaration of the Powers.

The hardships and sufferings to which Our nation is to be subjected hereafter will be certainly great. We are keenly aware of the inmost feelings of all of you, Our subjects. However, it is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.

* it could be a lot more.

The Art of (No) Deal

Via Instapundit I came across this fine editorial from the New York Sun:

“Sometimes You Have To Walk”

The collapse of President Trump’s summit with the North Korean party boss, Kim Jong Un, certainly takes us back — to October 12, 1986. That’s when President Reagan stood up and walked out of the Reykjavik summit with another party boss, Mikhail Gorbachev, of the Soviet Union. We can remember it like it was yesterday. The long faces, the dire predictions, the Left’s instinct to blame the Americans.

“What appears to have happened in Iceland is this,” the New York Times editorialized. “Mr. Reagan had the chance to eliminate Soviet and U.S. medium-range nuclear weapons in Europe, to work toward a test ban on his terms, to halve nuclear arsenals in five years and to agree on huge reductions later. He said no.” The Times just didn’t see that the Hollywood actor turned president had just won the Cold War.

It’s too early in the morning — this editorial is being written at 3 a.m. at New York — to know whether that’s the kind of thing that just happened at Hanoi, whence news reports are just coming in. Messrs. Trump and Kim were supposed to have a working lunch, to be followed by the signing of some sort of agreement. The next thing you know, Mr. Trump is heading home.

It’s not too early, though, to caution against over-reacting to this development. What appears to have happened is that the Korean Reds wouldn’t agree to the complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization that we seek. Absent that, we wouldn’t agree to the dismantling of all the sanctions the North Koreans seek. “Sometimes you have to walk,” Mr. Trump told the press.

Good for him, we say. It would be a fitting epitaph for any statesman.

The tags I chose for this post will serve as my only further comment.

Samizdata quote of the day

That there are now more overweight humans than starving humans is one of mankind’s greatest achievements.

Damien Counsell has said it many times. Good for him.

The Prince of Prosperity and Secession

Here is a fascinating YT documentary on Liechtenstein, that remote Elysium high on the young Rhine, with a long interview with the Prince himself, starting just before 6 minutes in, and running mostly to the end, in all 38 minutes. Some fascinating commentary from him on his policies and his country’s history, including the slightly farcical Nazi ‘March on Vaduz’ of 1938. Having started as a ‘rotten borough’ in the Holy Roman Empire, the first Prince to live there moved in as late as 1938. He is a fan of being in the EEA, unlike the Swiss, but he got it through via direct democracy. Every village has the right to leave the nation. He found inspiration for local democracy from Switzerland and the United States (at the State level one can infer).

They have a system where 11 municipalities (villages) engage in tax and regulatory competition with each other. He says that he is trying to make government work. (He’s not done badly). He wants them to deliver services with low cost and therefore low taxation.

Are you listening Mrs May, or are you changing your slogan to ‘Brexit means Anschluß’?

There is direct democracy, where you have to explain your policies. That actually means that people discuss government proposals and it provides stability despite the low threshold for proposing changes. He also has his royal veto power, last used in 1961 for a hunting law. The only law he can’t veto would be the abolition of the monarchy. Some less ‘royalist’ politicians note with almost heart-breaking sadness in their faces that by popular vote, the royal veto was retained, so they cannot prevail.

“…One kept taxation as low as possible so as to attract business…”

He asks why should taxes support banks. He notes that people are getting detached from governments, and states can get over-centralised.

GDP per capita: $139,000 (USA $59,000).

Of course, the people and what they do are what make Liechtenstein what it is. By God, it looks like a decent place.

“Jordan Peterson aims at a refounding of Western Civilization …”

I like this, about Jordan Peterson, in Esquire, by Wesley (good name, considering his subject) Yang:

Many of Peterson’s seemingly grandiose pronouncements are, in fact, quite modest. He is often derided for repackaging banal common sense in a vague and pretentious idiom, and there is something to this. Peterson is an apologist for a set of beliefs that we once took for granted but now require an articulate defense, such as: Free speech is an essential value; perfect equality inevitably conflicts with individual freedom; one should be cautious before attempting to reengineer social institutions that appear to be working; men and women are, in certain quantifiable respects, different. His life advice concerns the necessity to defer gratification, face up to the trials of life with equanimity, take responsibility for one’s own choices, and struggle against the temptation to grow resentful. How such traditional values came to be portrayed as a danger adjacent to Nazism is one of the puzzles of our time.

The next paragraph solves this puzzle:

Viewed another way, Peterson’s intellectual project is exceedingly immodest, and can be stated in a sentence: He aims at nothing short of a refounding of Western civilization, to provide a rational justification for why the materialists of the digital age should root themselves in the soil of Christian ethics despite having long ago lost the capacity for faith.

The more rabid leftists call anything they don’t like Nazi. And the thing they dislike most is The West, which they want trashed. The West’s power, and everything good that The West stands for. Anything – anything – which is anti-West, they support.

Jordan Peterson is preaching virtues, public and personal, virtues which are the total opposite of Nazism and which might, unlike Nazism, greatly strengthen The West, by persuading a generation of Western and Westernised wastrels to sort themselves out, and to have good lives with good consequences. Therefore Peterson must be denounced as a Nazi, regardless of what he says he is, and regardless of what he actually says about the Nazis.

Samizdata quote of the day

However, you can be sure the global elites, the media, and Trump’s ideological enemies at home and abroad will do everything in their power to downplay, ignore, or misrepresent Trump’s role in whatever progress is made on the Korean peninsula from hereon. Like those who can’t bring themselves to accept that Reagan’s policies were instrumental in bringing about the end of the Cold War rather than leading to nuclear Armageddon, those who claimed Trump was recklessly endangering the world will be incapable of acknowledging he’s probably made it safer. How much safer remains to be seen, but let’s recall Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for doing absolutely nothing except winning the presidency after George W. Bush. Nobody is ever going to award the Nobel prize to Donald Trump even if he permanently eliminates war and suffering by tomorrow night, but Obama could at least gift him his.

Tim Newman

An unintentionally honest headline to an unintentionally honest article

“Labour’s plan to tackle inequality can revive the ailing development sector”, writes Nick Dearden in the Guardian.

Clicking on Mr Dearden’s name took me to a link that said, in true Grauniad style, “Nick Dearden is director of the Global Justice Now (formerly World Development Movement)” The faltering fortunes of “the Global Justice Now” and similar organizations in what is called the aid “sector” (as if were part of the economy rather than a drain on it) distress Mr Dearden for understandable reasons. No man likes to see his prospects of a secure and comfortable living imperilled. I do not see why the rest of us should care. I would be quite happy to issue the development sector with a one way ticket to Switzerland.

Mr Dearden writes,

At the height of New Labour’s power, Peter Mandelson famously said: “We are intensely relaxed about people getting filthy rich.” To be fair, he added, “as long as they pay their taxes”. But New Labour never had a burning ambition to reduce inequality. They could live with inequality as long as no one was really poor.

Extreme poverty was the focus of New Labour’s international development policy. The wanted to make global capitalism work for the poor – better markets and voluntary codes of conduct to encourage the private sector to “do the right thing”.

And the problem with this was…?

It wasn’t without its achievements, coming as it did after an era in which the poor were regarded as responsible for their own poverty. But it continued to allow the real drivers of poverty, western corporate and foreign policies, to go unchecked, while offering a charitable contribution to clean up the mess they created.

Emphasis added. Libertarians and similarly inclined folk often see the Guardian commentariat as being no less daft than the Guardian writers. That is not always true. Nearly all the most popular comments to this piece make pretty good sense and I am going to quote several of them. For instance take this one from someone called ‘Humza’, who says,

No, fighting poverty is much more important than fighting inequality. Trust Labour to come out with a policy that would punish the person who makes $5 a day and scream injustices because his neighbour can only manage $1 a day.

Absolute/extreme poverty has dramatically declined over the past couple of centuries and quelle surprise, that coincides when most of the world began to transition to world trade and free markets.

https://ourworldindata.org/extreme-poverty

Mr Dearden continues,

On Monday, Labour announces a new development policy which takes a radically different approach. In essence, you can’t solve the problem of poverty without tackling inequality. And you can’t tackle inequality without dramatically changing how the global economy works.

In other words, Labour’s policy is unworkable.

Concretely, Labour proposes a new law, ensuring that all aid money must be spent fighting inequality as well as poverty.

Neocolonialism! British interference in the policies of sovereign African nations! (Hat tip to commenter ‘daveg861’ for that point.)

Fighting inequality requires huge changes to the way the global economy works.

In other words, Labour’s policy is unworkable. Wait, didn’t I say that only a minute ago? Yes, I did, but if Mr Dearden is going to repeatedly state that reducing inequality cannot be done unless the Labour party conquers the world I am just going to have to repeatedly point out that it ain’t gonna happen.

Labour proposes a range of policies that will require further clarity in office

Those policies require further clarity in office the way a fish requires further water on the deck of a trawler.

but include changing the way we trade with southern countries, clamping down on tax dodging, reforming the debt system, transforming institutions like the IMF and World Bank, introducing a financial transactions tax, changing the way we measure wellbeing, and providing “global leadership on the refugee crisis”.

As ‘FatherChewyLouie’ says in the most recommended comment, “What exactly do Labour mean by providing “global leadership” on the refugee crisis? If it’s what I think it means then I can guarantee it won’t be a vote winner.”

Meanwhile, back in the The Global Justice Now! universe:

Countries like Britain grew rich on the turbocharged exploitation of Africa

Countries like Britain might have, but Britain grew rich because of the Industrial Revolution before it had African colonies. When it got them it turned out they were a net cost to the British government and were unpopular thereby. The original “Little Englanders” were opposed to expansion of the British Empire for that reason. (I swear, I had already written that when I saw a comment by ‘YEverKnot’ saying the very same thing. Of course it is a fairly obvious point to make.)

– and still today Africa bleeds wealth to rapacious corporations. Aid, which should be a form of reparation or, at least, redistribution of wealth akin to taxation, becomes largesse: a gift which should be cut in the bad times, and given to our current government’s pet projects in good times.

Reparations? That might not go down well with voters. However, the point about aid being largesse which can be cut off on a whim is true. And thus Mr Dearden unintentionally makes an excellent argument against government-to-government foreign aid and against the very existence of his beloved “development sector”.

Discussion point: What should the UK do about the Skripal case?

The basic facts are given in this Wikipedia page: Poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal, and there is a BBC “What we know so far” piece here. I keep hoping to read somewhere that they are beginning to recover. I keep not doing it.

What should the UK government do? What do you think about the measures it has taken so far?

Here are some opinions from several different points of view to get you started:

What can Theresa May do about Russia over the Salisbury poisoning? – Dominic Waghorn, Sky TV.

After the Skripal attack, talk of war only plays into Vladimir Putin’s hands – Simon Jenkins in the Guardian.

Alex Salmond: Don’t shut down my TV show over spy attack – Andy McLaren, STV News.

The message on those Oxfam T-shirts

Have you ever watched someone make a speech and caught the moment when the speaker lost the sympathy of the audience? Those friendly to the speaker wince, suppress it, and lock their heads and their eyes into looking straight ahead. In contrast the hostile part of the audience exchange glances – did you hear it too?

There can be moments like that when reading a news story too. Suddenly a detail leaps out. The reader who is friendly to the subject of the story winces, while the hostile reader cannot wait to click on the comments. For the Oxfam story I think that detail was the prostitutes half-naked except for Oxfam T-shirts. Without that the story was and is a bit meh.

So men far from home use prostitutes? Meh. They call it “the oldest profession” for a reason. Most people, even those with traditional views on sexual morality, would say that is a private matter.

So women in countries stricken by war or disaster turn to prostitution to survive? In that case the power imbalance makes the picture look uglier – but realistically it is inevitable. There was a sweet letter in today’s Times in which the writer suggested that we send the army to administer aid rather than these NGOs. Like the writer, I have a higher opinion of our armed services than I do of our misnamed “non-governmental” organisations, but consider the centuries old connotations of the term “camp follower”. Where soldiers are, there will be women offering to sell them sex.

Every story on this seems to include the line that some of the prostitutes may have been underage. Serious if proven, but so far, not proven. No one has put their name to a definite allegation citing times and places. May have been underage. Meh.

But this is not meh:

Oxfam in Haiti: ‘It was like a Caligula orgy with prostitutes in Oxfam T-shirts’

“The group lived in a guesthouse rented by Oxfam that they called the ‘pink apartments’ — they called it ‘the whorehouse’,” said a source who says he was shown phone footage by one of the residents of the guesthouse.

“They were throwing big parties with prostitutes. These girls were wearing Oxfam T-shirts, running around half-naked, it was a like a full-on Caligula orgy. It was unbelievable. It was crazy. At one party there were at least five girls and two of them had Oxfam white T-shirts on. These men used to talk about holding ‘young meat barbecues’.”

That image has deeply unpleasant associations. There is not even the fig leaf of buying the girl a drink and making a little awkward conversation to make it feel more like an interaction of equals. Black women are labelled as available for white men by brand name packaging. Think how that must rankle in Haiti.

But we’re libertarians, right? (I have used this line before.) Indeed we are. Neither guilty whites in London nor resentful blacks in Port-au-Prince should have a veto on two individuals making a deal. Subject to some provisos about promises made by either party to their spouses, to local laws, and to agreed conditions of employment, that is still my opinion.

However it is not Oxfam’s opinion. Do a search for the word “Oxfam” on this blog. There were a few sensible noises on free trade from this semi-fake charity fifteen years ago, but in recent years Oxfam has grown fat peddling economically illiterate bullshit on the alleged evils of “inequality” and “speculation”. White guilt and black resentment were its stock in trade. Actual trade was something to be taxed, regulated and eternally prefixed with some veto-word like “Fair” or “Ethical” that showed permission had been given by censorious third parties for the transaction to occur.

Live by the sword, die by the sword.

Rod Liddle on Oxfam

The people of Haiti needed help — what they got was a bunch of Oxfam sleazebags

Yet another brilliant party I’ve missed out on. The Oxfam gig in Haiti back in 2011 — the whores, I’m told, were sensational, if a little on the young side. My own fault for having assumed it would be a grim convocation of death and destruction — plus pious white liberals blaming capitalism for everything. Not a bit of it. Those Oxfam staffers know how to party, especially the top brass.

No sooner had they arrived in the earthquake zone than they had set up their bordello, “the pink apartments”, and were ready for — as one of them put it — “young meat barbecues”.

The women were purchased — some of them younger than 16, allegedly — and decked out in Oxfam T-shirts — no undergarments, no jeans or skirts, just Oxfam T-shirts. Then began what was described as a “full-on Caligula orgy”, led by Oxfam’s then country director Roland van Hauwermeiren. Roly is 68 years old — you have to admire his energy. All that misery to sort out, but he still had the time to give some local teenagers a good charitable seeing-to.

Better still, Roland could later appear before the cameras, wringing his hands and saying of the situation in Haiti: “Too many donors from rich countries have pursued their own aid priorities.” You’re not kidding, Roland. You were clear about your own aid priorities, weren’t you? But, hell, what a party. And to think I felt bad about the Presidents Club dinner, where some right-wing men may have touched a woman’s knee.

This scarcely believable story was revealed in The Times: four senior Oxfam workers booted out for engaging prostitutes in Haiti as the country tried to recover from its earthquake. Oxfam complained it was old news and that the press had been told about it at the time.

Oxfam was lying. Sure, we’d been told back then some staffers had been sacked for “misconduct”. But misconduct could have been tearing up parking tickets or referring to a dying earthquake victim by their gender at birth, rather than the one to which she/he had transitioned. I suppose lying is stretching it, mind. Technically, you could say the Yorkshire Ripper was guilty of “misconduct”.

Oxfam also claims it told the Charity Commission about everything. That’s not how it looks. It told me on Friday: “We have written to the charity as a matter of urgency to request further information regarding the events in Haiti . . . This information will be considered as part of an ongoing case regarding the charity’s approach to safeguarding.”

It does give you an insight, though, into the way these perpetually angry and concerned middle-class lefties actually think of the people they are supposed to be helping. So pristine and pious, so sanctimonious towards the rest of us. So aloof from our own national concerns: internationalist to a man and especially in favour of countries where, like Haiti, the whores can be bought for one dollar. Yay, that’s the kind of country we like!

This is the second scandal to affect Oxfam this year: income £408m in 2016-17, almost half of it from government, with huge sums spent on salaries or advertising or lobbying — or indeed whoring. A few weeks ago the charity castigated capitalism for having enmired the Third World in poverty. It was pointed out, fairly quickly, that capitalism had elevated most of the world out of poverty and into affluence.

Oxfam’s assertion was the usual adolescent political grandstanding and weird warping of reality — and ignored the desperate poverty inflicted on hundreds of millions of people by socialism. It was virtue signalling by an organisation that, by now, is denuded of the slenderest vestiges of virtue. Most of the world’s poverty today is occasioned by bad governance and a predatory Third World elite, not by capitalism.

I think the Oxfam staffers know this. I think they know this and it makes them hot. Never give these people any of your money.

I have been known to give Oxfam small amounts of my money. I love a bargain, and if I’m passing an Oxfam charity shop I’ll pop in, and if there is a little something that takes my fancy, I’ll spend a quid or two to have it. Er, not in the Roland van Hauwermeiren sense. Call me over-optimistic, but I would like to think that alongside what Liddle rightly calls Oxfam’s “adolescent political grandstanding and weird warping of reality” – a.k.a. “socialism” – the charity has some employees who are actually quite good at getting help quickly to desperate people after an earthquake or similar catastrophe. That’s my excuse anyway.

By the way, so long as they are over the age of consent, I strongly oppose prostitution or the hiring of prostitutes being an offence in law. However I believe it was the case that Oxfam made a rule forbidding its aid workers to employ prostitutes, then covered it up when senior employees broke that rule.

Much of Oxfam’s sickness comes from its receipt of government money. No longer was it entirely dependent on the goodwill of ordinary people with their naive belief that the money they gave should be spent on medicine or tents or emergency latrines rather than politicking, and their equally tedious preference that their donations not be spent on prostitutes. Freed from all that, Oxfam could branch out into being a political party for people too sensitive to do the hard graft of going door to door and canvassing for votes, and as a bonus it could use government money to advocate for the policies that would keep the stream of government money coming.