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 – people don’t want freedom edition

“Most voters don’t want tax cuts. They don’t want personal responsibility. They don’t want limited government. Britain was already in a dirigiste mood going into the lockdown. But, since coming out of it, it has been downright authoritarian.”

Daniel Hannan.

Samizdata quote of the day – the ‘consensus’ must be overturned

I would like to think that the cozy post war socialist consensus is coming to a long overdue end. We defeated the divine right of kings, now we have to do the same to the divine right of bureaucrats.

Roué le Jour

Samizdata quote of the day – the Scorpion State

While the desire on the part of modern conservatives to divorce themselves from ‘neoliberalism’ is understandable enough, the simple truth is that there is a very good and obvious reason why parties on the economic left tend towards being left on culture, too.

And it is simply this: a State which minutely governs the economy is one which minutely governs society as a whole, because economy and society are not in fact separate phenomena, but an integrated whole. This means that if the State is big vis-a-vis the economy, it is going to be big in all areas – and it is going to want to squash or co-opt competing sources of loyalty and authority (like the family, religious and community groups, businesses, etc.) which the right holds dear accordingly.

The truth of the matter, then, is that conservatives and libertarians both fundamentally need the same thing (a small state) and that the ‘left on the economy and right on culture’ meme is just that: a slogan without a genuine cause.

David McGrogan

‘¡Afuera!’ – Presidente-elegido Milei on the Pope, the murderous Castros and architecture

Probably the most important man of the 21st Century, if only for his potential to do good, Argentine President-elect (as I write) Javier Milei sat down with Tucker Carlson for an interview, (excerpt provided) at which he discussed the Pope, the murderous Castros and architecture amongst other points (that socialists are evil and think they are ‘God’). The interview was done with Mr Carlson asking questions in English and Señor Milei’s replies in Spanish are sub-titled (accurately I would add) and presumably interpreted in real time.

This segment is just over 9 minutes long, and it is well worth watching. We have all the indications that he is the real deal, he says that he is prepared to die for his beliefs, let us wish him a long and productive life and Presidency.

Samizdata quote of the day – are liberal conservatives sleeping with the enemy?

Tony Blair is a political virtuoso, whatever one thinks of his policies or ideas, and he stated the position very clearly. The 21st century is not a battle between capitalism and socialism. It is one between progress – that is, liberal progress – and conservatism. It follows that anybody who describes themselves as a ‘liberal conservative’ is sleeping with the enemy – or very badly confused.

[…]

Liberalism, fascism, and communism are all in essence justifications for a mode of rule which is fundamentally ‘princely’: all are predicated on the idea that the population is in some way benighted or corrupted and incapable of simply being left to its own devices, and therefore that government’s task is to reform it from the ground up (and indeed, that this is the basic narrative of History).

Against this stands conservatism, which alone among political philosophies holds that it is not that the people are benighted or corrupted when left to their own devices, but in fact that it is they who are the true repository of virtue. Goodness inheres not in the State, but in the familial, social, communal and religious institutions which people naturally create, and naturally congregate towards, and it is through embedding oneself within these institutions that one is made truly free – in the sense not of being free from ties, but in the sense of being free to realise one’s true potential. This does not exactly mean that there is no need for the State to exist at all, because man is fallen and there is a requirement for laws to be enforced and the people to be protected. But it means that the justification for the existence of the State derives from its reflecting, and preserving, the social norms of society, and its capacity to preserve that society’s way of life in a stable and secure way across time.

David McGrogan, in a virtuoso article There is no such thing as liberal conservatism

Ten years ago, Brian Mickelthwait predicted the response to Covid-19

Ten years and ten days ago, the sadly missed Brian Micklethwait wrote this: “What if there is a real collective disaster?”

Brian quoted this article by Paul Murphy which said that the response of governments and the scientific establishment to what they saw as the global warming crisis had “destroyed the credibility of all involved” and “greatly weakened the world’s ability to recognize and respond to a real threat should one now materialize.”

Brian added,

An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision? (Think Stalin when Hitler attacked the USSR in 1941.) And what if it then imposes a wrong decision about what needs to be done? A collectivity that is hastily assembled by freer and more independent persons is just as likely to act in a timely manner, and is far more likely to have a proper argument about what must be done, and hence to arrive at a better decision about that.

Besides which, what is often needed in a crisis is not so much collective action, but rather individual action for the benefit of the collective. That is a very different thing, and clearly a society which cultivates individuality will prepare individuals far better for such heroism than will societies where everyone is in the habit only of doing as they are told.

“An unfree society may be great at imposing immediate unanimity, but what if what it immediately imposes unanimously is panic and indecision?” There could scarcely be a better description of the response of the UK and the Western world as a whole to Covid-19. Masks are useless! Cancel that, masks are compulsory! Herd immunity! Cancel that, vaccines are compulsory! Lockdown! Cancel that, ‘Eat Out to Help Out’, er, cancel that, back to lockdown!

Samizdata quote of the day – Why Ayaan is now a Christian

At the time, there were many eminent leaders in the West — politicians, scholars, journalists, and other experts — who insisted that the terrorists were motivated by reasons other than the ones they and their leader Osama Bin Laden had articulated so clearly. So Islam had an alibi.

This excuse-making was not only condescending towards Muslims. It also gave many Westerners a chance to retreat into denial. Blaming the errors of US foreign policy was easier than contemplating the possibility that we were confronted with a religious war. We have seen a similar tendency in the past five weeks, as millions of people sympathetic to the plight of Gazans seek to rationalise the October 7 terrorist attacks as a justified response to the policies of the Israeli government.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I never expected an honest lockdown reckoning

“Since apologies are now required. Challenging any consensus is fundamentally important to good science – especially that of an unproven intervention such as lockdown. The onus should have been on those proposing such a radical new policy to justify it, not the reverse. Sweden is the elephant in the room. A nation of relatively similar wealth and standing to us, it largely avoided lockdowns yet has emerged with impressively low excess deaths. Should the inquiry not be asking how? Anders Tegnell, the architect of their successful strategy, should have been a priority witness.”

– Prof Karol Sikora is a consultant oncologist. Daily Telegraph (£)

When the pandemic petered out and lockdowns were – with some reluctance from the powers-that-be – abandoned, there was some speculation about how there needed to be “a reckoning” over the damage done, that we should examine the Swedish case, and re-visit the Great Barrington Declaration’s arguments. But I feared at the time that this was unlikely to happen, at least for some time with the present political establishment. Simple reputation protection is part of it. Also, it appears the large majority of the public in countries such as the UK supported lockdowns. Maybe too many voters did not want to face the full, ugly fact that what had been done was a massive mistake, on a par with entering a war. In this day and age – and I suspect it has been like this since forever – soul searching and honest reflection is not encouraged. Parts of the media probably thought the same about lockdowns and in far too few cases has there been much reflection. You can almost detect a certain awkwardness. I mean, at any social gathering I have been at, among journalists and suchlike, the folly of lockdowns never comes up unless I raise it (I try not to make a habit of it, mind), and if I ever do, I get that “oh, look at that oddball” stare, or desire to shift the conversation to something less controversial.

On the Conservative and Labour sides, and across the public sector, most were invested into lockdowns; already, when I saw journalists have a go at the Boris Johnson government, for example, it was usually that it did not lock down hard enough and early enough. The whole “meta-context” was about repression, speed and duration of lockdown, and the need to throw the full apparatus of the State at it. The idea that ordinary members of the public were already acting to socially distance back in February and early March of 2020, that various methods, freely embraced, might have made a difference (I am not a doctor, so usual disclaimers), were ignored. Not just ignored, but as we saw over the GBD crowd, mocked and scorned.

It became clear to me that there is a clear overlap between the lockdowners, as I call them, and much of today’s Green movement. It was hard for me to ignore an almost pleasurable embrace of lockdowns by the Greens. I mean, we’d stopped most people flying! Look at how clear the canals of Venice are, daaaahling. The Net Zero phenomenon, whatever else it is, is about using the coercive power of the State to force people to change how they behave in ways they will find restrictive and unpleasant for some sort of supposed provable collective goal. The lockdowns were a trial run, in a way, for the sort of repressive measures that such Green activists seek. In one story, an academic suggested that lockdowns were actually a sort of “liberation”.

Clearly, it is possible to be alarmed by all this even if you are, for example, concerned about viruses, possibly cooked up in a lab, or Man-made global temperature increases. These are matters of empirical science. Just because freedom-loving individuals don’t like lockdowns or restrictions on fossil fuels doesn’t mean these fears are unfounded. (The correct approach is to accept the best evidence available without rushing to junk freedom.) But it surely does suggest that in so many cases, top-down responses to this or that threat need to be questioned more. To go back to the quote at the top of this article, there is a need for a burden of proof to sit with those who want to slam measures on the public, not the other way around. And there needs to be more willingness to embrace the solutions and tools to which a free, entrepreneurial society give rise to.

Samizdata quote of the day – the single greatest threat to free speech in Europe

“The #DSA (Digital Services Act) is here to protect free speech against arbitrary decisions.” So said Thierry Breton, EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, in a recent tweet. Given the extraordinary level of discretion this Act gives the European Commission to pressure online platforms to enforce vaguely defined “hate speech” and “disinformation” rules, one might reasonably take issue with Mr Breton’s self-presentation as a guardian of free speech. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to say that the Digital Services Act is the single greatest threat to free speech in Europe since the formation of the European Economic Community in 1957.

David Thunder

Freedom Debate: Konstantin Kisin vs Ash Sarkar

Well worth a few minutes of your time.

We answer, you reply, they skew

“Horses sweat, men perspire, ladies glow.” To the Guardian’s Steven Morris, responding to a government consultation is another of those famous irregular verbs that changes its form according to who does it.

UK gun lobby accused of helping to ‘skew’ consultation on tightening laws

The powerful UK gun lobby…

“Powerful UK gun lobby” my breech. It has lost every legislative battle in my lifetime.

…has been accused of mobilising tens of thousands of shooting enthusiasts to “skew” a government consultation on tightening firearms laws launched after the Plymouth mass killings in 2021.

The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC) and the Countryside Alliance have made it easy for members and supporters to access the consultation from its websites – and advised them on how to reply to each of the 20 yes/no questions posed.

Making it easy for members of the public to respond to a Green Paper or other public consultation exercise is usually just the sort of thing the Guardian supports. The whole point of such things is that anyone with an interest in the subject is encouraged to give their view, and all advocacy groups consider it a core part of their function to tell their members that such consultations are taking place and to advise them what to say. Would anyone really prefer that a democratic country went ahead with a proposed new law without seeking input from all viewpoints?

The answer to that is yes, some would prefer exactly that. Among them is Peter Squires, a professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Brighton. He says,

“Virtually every independent-minded expert agrees on what needs to be done and then the Home Office conducts one of these farcical consultations and allows the self-interested single-issue shooting lobby to school its members through the process of rejecting the proposals.”

The consultation could turn out to be farcical in one of several ways. But if you want to give it a go, here is the link again. The deadline is tomorrow, 23rd August 2023.

Samizdata quote of the day – the West and China share the same fate

It was managerialism that emerged as the true winner of the 20th century’s ideological battles. As Orwell prophesied in 1945: “Capitalism is disappearing, but Socialism is not replacing it. What is now arising is a new kind of planned, centralised society which will be neither capitalist nor, in any accepted sense of the word, democratic.” China is just a bit further down the path towards this same totalitarian future. The West is following.

N.S.Lyons