We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

“The European Commission only has to win once”

Following on from Johnathan Pearce’s recent post about the EU Copyright Directive, I found this comment by a user called Ask_Me_Who in Reddit Europe. It dates from the first turn of the ratchet, back in June, but in the light of what has happened since it is more relevant than ever:

MEP’s can not create, amend, or reject proposals. They can act as a method of slowing them, requesting changes or rethinks of proposed policies, but if the other (unelected) parts of the EU want to force through a proposal they can just keep pushing it until it gets through in the knowledge that elected MEP’s will not have the power to propose future updates, changes, or abolition of legislation.

The European Commission only has to win once and it can never be repealed without the European Commission wishing it so. The people, as represented by elected MEP officials, have to win every time as they do not even have the option to vote in representatives to reverse a decision. This is the ‘democratic deficit’ that even pro-EU supporters widely acknowledge when they call for democratic reforms to the MEP system.

If you want to bring up the UK, the European Parliament works similarly to the House of Lords. The difference being that the Lord’s have been deliberately striped of much of their power specifically because they do not represent the people, while the MEP’s have never been given the power needed to actually represent the people.

EDIT- And if you think that’s depressing, since the Treaty of Lisbon (2007) lobbying has been an officially recognised and encouraged part of MEP’s decision process under the re-brand “European interest representation”. 30% of former MEP’s go on to work as lobbyists for major industries. Yeah, the people who only have to slip up once can accept weekly fancy dinners and then go on to make €€€ working for companies who give zero shits about what general public’s well-being.

Another example of the EU ratchet in action. No wonder they adopted the use of the neverendum so readily.

In order of priority

“Comicsgate is the latest front in the ongoing culture wars”, writes J A Micheline in the… I don’t really need to say it, do I?

The results of both the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election relied heavily (if not, solely) on the narrative of white loss and the tears of the white working class – while conveniently eliding the needs of working-class people of colour and what they stood to lose.

How can such events be combated? How can they be undone? But these are the wrong questions. Merely combating or undoing Comicsgate, Brexit, and the flourishing of American fascism is not enough.

The great battles of our time.

Do not read this!

The BBC reports:

European Parliament backs copyright changes

Controversial new copyright laws have been approved by members of the European Parliament.

The laws had been changed since July when the first version of the copyright directive was voted down. Critics say they remain problematic.

Many musicians and creators claim the reforms are necessary to fairly compensate artists.

But opponents fear that the plans could destroy user-generated content, memes and parodies.

Leaders of the EU’s member states still need to sign off on the rule changes before the individual countries have to draft local laws to put them into effect.

The vote in Strasbourg was 438 in favour of the measures, 226 against and 39 abstentions.

MEPs voted on a series of changes to the original directive, the most controversial parts are known as Article 13 and Article 11.

Article 13 puts the onus on web giants to take measures to ensure that agreements with rights-holders for the use of their work are working.

Critics say that would require all internet platforms to filter content put online by users, which many believe would be an excessive restriction on free speech.

Article 11 is also controversial because it forces online platforms to pay news organisations before linking to their stories, something critics refer to a “link tax”.

Julia Reda MEP, who has fought hard against this, says,

Catastrophic Article 11 vote: The European Parliament just endorsed a #linktax that would make using the title of a news article in a link to it require a license. #SaveYourInternet #SaveTheLink

and

Article 13 vote: The European Parliament endorses #uploadfilters for all but the smallest sites and apps. Anything you want to publish will need to first be approved by these filters, perfectly legal content like parodies & memes will be caught in the crosshairs #SaveYourInternet

A small silver lining to the cloud is that this move by the EU is particularly unpopular with just that crowd who usually love the EU most.

Why is John McCain kicking the bucket a big deal with the media?

US Senator John McCain, an ultra-hawk super-statist on the leftmost edge of GOP, kicked the bucket recently. And it seems that this is big news, given the constant stream of articles on the topic ever since. But why is that? And in particular, why are the BBC and Sky, both UK based channels, headlining this when when the vast majority of people outside the USA have a level of interest approaching zero? Yes, it warrants reporting but why is such an event being bigged up like this? Was it because he had the good manners to lose an election to Barack Obama?

The system will be brought down by its internal contradictions

“Mr Corbyn also suggested a series of proposals for the BBC, including publishing the social class of ‘all creators of BBC content, whether in-house or external'”, reports the BBC, trembling.

That would be fun to watch, but what is to stop the Beebourgeoisie, middle class to the tips of their Shiatsu-massaged toes, from foiling the plan by self-identifying as proletarians?

Watching the debate on self-identification within the Left is like watching a long fuse slowly burning down towards a time-bomb. Though nicer. As things stand this week:

Gender – completely a matter of choice and how dare you say chromosomes. Voluntary efforts to eradicate sexism having failed, compulsory quotas for females must be imposed by the power of the State. But anyone who wants to be included in the quota only has to ask.

Race – is nothing but an oppressive social construct. To cease participating in this oppressive and delusionary social construct is forbidden.

Class – They called it “Catch BBC”. You started working class, worked like mad, finally got a soft job, which made you middle class, so in the interests of social mobility they won’t hire you again. Edit: Or your kids. But their re-impoverished kids will be favoured. Social oscillation, the wave (geddit?) of the future!

What side do I take on all these controversies? None. I’m for freedom of association. It is so restful.

Venezuela is a mess due to terrible policies

“Why is Venezuela a country in turmoil?” asks Adam Parsons, writing for Sky, whereupon he talks about monetary policy, the price of oil, hyperinflation, increases in the minimum wage.

I suppose this all came about due to rip tides or adverse alignment of stars or maybe even ‘bad luck‘.

For an article that asks the question ‘why’, for some reason Mr. Parsons makes no attempt to suggest what could be motiving and informing President Maduro’s actions, a man whose day job is running Venezuela, but who also happens to be president of something else too.

‘Strangely’ nowhere in this article does the word ‘socialist’ or ‘socialism’ appear. Go figure.

Samizdata quote of the day

That’s really what is annoying [Mark Thompson, CEO of the New York Times]. He’s got a newsroom with 1,000 or more people turning out perhaps one, possibly two, pieces each a week. All to impeccable journalistic standards as to process and near no diversity of viewpoint nor thought at all. Then along come some bunch of teenage scribblers, some of them even without Masters degree in journalism, producing stuff that people actually want to read. How Very Dare They?

Tim Worstall

Samizdata quote of the day

Every decent person who understands why America has a constitutionally protected press wants to see the press succeed. As the only unregulated private sector industry in America, the free press’s entire existence is based on afflicting the single most comforted institution throughout human history: centralized authority. Afflicting and comforting anyone else is secondary. The truth—and a genuine commitment to its pursuit—must take precedence, even when it runs contrary to the interests of whoever is deemed afflicted or comforted. Journalism humbles itself in finding truth in a complex world. Activism pursues its ends with righteous certainty. Journalism is the work of describing and understanding reality; activism is the work of refashioning it. Journalists act as impediments to the acquisition of power; activists pursue power.

Robert Showah

Football news for people who aren’t really interested in football

I hear there is a footballing tournament taking place.

Apparently the English team is not doing too badly, and some people feel happy about this. Naturally, the Guardian is on the case. Steve Bloomfield writes, “If this England team represents anyone, it’s the 48%: the remainers”

My favourite comment came from DunstanMc:

‘If this England team represents anyone, it’s the 48%: the remainers’

God I hope not. They lost.

Roseanne Barr denounces the regressive media

Quite a few days ago now, Roseanne Barr tweeted this:

The liberal media is an absolute joke – they no longer provide real news or information. They have made it their ultimate goal to undermine our dually elected president everyday. I encourage real Americans to find other reliable sources for their news and share their information.

It seems that Roseanne is copying the technique pioneered by her “dually” elected President of the USA, by including grammatical and spelling mistakes in her tweets, thereby getting these tweets noticed and written about by pedants like me, who would probably have had nothing to say about them had they been more properly phrased.

Even better would be if she had misspelt duly as “duelly”. Imagine POTUS being chosen by literal single combat. Hillary Clinton wouldn’t have won that either. (By the way, how do you not misspell “misspell”? Misspell doesn’t seem right. But miss-spell doesn’t seem right either.)

See also: The liberal media “is” an absolute joke. Should be “are”, surely.

On a more serious verbal point, I personally don’t like the way Roseanne Barr calls them the “liberal” media. I don’t like either “liberal” or “progressive” to describe people who seem to have no sane idea of what liberty or progress actually are.

But at least Roseanne Barr refrains from calling these media the “mainstream” media. This is a usage I am starting seriously to dislike. It attributes to these very particular media a cultural dominance that they did once possess, but no longer do. “Mainstream” says to me that any other media only have significance if they are tributaries of this main stream. But now, other streams can find their own way directly to the great sea that is public opinion, with no help from that still supposedly “main” stream at all.

I will now elaborate on what I mean.

→ Continue reading: Roseanne Barr denounces the regressive media

Anyone know how the new EU internet censorship & link tax law will affect the UK?

According to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware, in one week’s time I might no longer be able to link to Lucian Armasu of Tom’s Hardware and quote him like I’m about to do. Or have I misunderstood? I hope I have, because this sounds serious:

EU Expected To Pass Censorship Machines, Link Tax On June 20

As soon as June 20, next week, the European Parliament will vote a draft legislation proposed by the European Commission (EU’s executive body). Critics have attacked the proposal as being quite extreme because it could impact many digital industries too severely.

Censorship Machines (Article 13)

One of the biggest issues with the new EU copyright reform proposal is the Article 13, which mandates that websites that accept user content (anything from videos to online comments) must have an “upload filter” that would block all copyrighted content that’s uploaded by users. Critics, such as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Julia Reda, have also called upload filters “censorship machines.”

Under the censorship machine proposal, companies would be required to get a license for any copyrighted content that is uploaded to their site by its users. In other words, websites would be liable for any content their users upload to the site. It goes without saying that this could significantly hamper innovation on the internet.

For instance, YouTube or a site like it, probably wouldn’t even exist today if the site would have been liable for what users uploaded from day one.

Link Tax (Article 11)

The “link tax” proposal in Article 11 of the copyright reform directive is another idea that’s not just seemingly bad, but it has also failed in countries such as Spain and Germany, where it has already been attempted. Instead of getting companies such as Google or other publishers to pay for the links, or article excerpts and previews, those companies simply stopped linking to content coming from Germany and Spain.

To make matters worse, the EC will allow EU member states to decide for themselves how the link tax should work. This seems contrary to the Commission’s “Digital Single Market” objective, because it will create significant complexity for all online publishers operating in the EU. They will have to abide by all the different copyright rules in the 27 member states. Existing fragmented copyright laws in the EU is one of the reasons why services such as Netflix took so long to arrive in most European countries, too.

Reda believes that a link tax would significantly reduce the number of hyperlinks we see on the web, which means websites will be much less connected to each other. Additionally, the link tax could boost fake news, because real publishers may require others to pay for linking to its content, but fake news operations evidently will not. These groups will want their content to be spread as easily as possible.

Reda also said that the link tax would be in violation of the Berne Convention, which guarantees news websites the right to quote articles and “press summaries.”

I have heard of Julia Reda MEP before. She sits with the Greens in the EU Parliament but don’t hold that against her; she is actually a member of the Pirate Party. She is fighting the good fight.

Samizdata quote of the day

A media that taught us to mock authority and culture was unprepared for the day when the audience would mock their authority and their culture.

wretchardthecat