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]

Stop politicising my dumplings!

Samizdata quote of the day

I am persuaded that no system of government — democratic, oligarchic, aristocratic, monarchical, tyrannical, oriental despotic or worse, liberal-progressive — can deliver anything resembling justice in this world, unless it is under the direction of angels.

David Warren, via Maggie’s Farm

Samizdata quote of the day

It is not obviously progressive to insist that equal numbers of men and women work eighty-hour weeks in a corporate law firm or leave their families for months at a time to dodge steel pipes on a frigid oil platform. And it is grotesque to demand (as advocates of gender parity did in the pages of Science) that more young women “be conditioned to choose engineering,” as if they were rats in a Skinner box.

– Steven Pinker

I found it here. He found it here. He read it here. Go manlinking!

More recently, see also Pinker‘s remarkable Galapagos photos.

Tim Newman and Ezra Levant on the persecution of Tommy Robinson

If, like me, you are a Brit, then I recommend you depress yourself about Britain by reading Tim Newman’s posting entitled Tommy Robinson’s Appeal. (Although, if you are from some other part of the world, go ahead and depress yourself about Britain anyway.)

But what I really recommend is that you really depress yourself about the future of this country, by listening to something that Tim Newman recommends in this posting. It’s a recording of James Delingpole talking with Ezra Levant. Ezra Levant does most of the talking, and my goodness does he talk a storm. I hr 10 mins went by in a blink.

The more I learn about Tommy Robinson, the more I admire him.

Conservation of prohibitionism

July 1st 2018:

Jeremy Corbyn backs calls to decriminalise possession of cannabis

Jeremy Corbyn said he would like to see the possession of cannabis to be decriminalised as he backed calls for the drug to be used for medicinal purposes.

July 10th 2018:

Corbyn backs Nordic Model to tackle sexual exploitation

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn declared his full support for Britain to look at changing our prostitution laws by criminalising the purchase of sex, also referred to as the ‘Nordic model’.

Destructionism – with a few British examples

The last part of Ludwig Von Mises great work Socialism is entitled “Destructionism” and is not, formally, about socialism at all.

In the main body of “Socialism” Ludwig Von Mises proves that it is impossible (yes impossible) for socialism to equal capitalism economically, let alone to exceed capitalist economic performance (as socialists had been promising for over a hundred years) socialism must always produce inferior results. Now the language of Ludwig Von Mises may sometimes suggest that he believes that socialism can not function AT ALL (i.e. that it can produce nothing – no goods and services), but that is a misinterpretation of the position of Mises (which is partly the fault of Mises himself – who sometimes lets elegant language get in the way of fully stating the correct position, as I detest such things as “grammar” I do not make this mistake). By copying the prices of the capital goods in “capitalist countries” socialist countries can make a crude approximation of “capitalist” economic activity – never very good, but certainly not no economic activity at all.

However, in the last part of his work “Socialism” Ludwig Von Mises turns to “Interventionism” government spending, taxes and regulations which (supposedly) improve on the work of voluntary cooperation. “Market forces”, of supply and demand, are as my friend Mr Ed often points out – partly a matter of physical reality (weather and so on), but mostly a matter of human choices (voluntary interaction).

Government intervention (by spending, taxes and regulation) far from improving economic and social outcomes can (as Herbert Spencer pointed out in “Man Versus The State” in 1883) only make things worse than they otherwise would be. Ludwig Von Mises takes great pains in “Destructionism” to show that the fashionable polices of his time (and our own time) of government spending, taxes and regulations make things worse, not better, than they otherwise would be. And that the supposedly new idea of interventionism – is, in fact, a return to the absurd fallacies of past centuries that the Classical Economists of the had exposed.

Has the penny dropped, do politicians (and the public) yet understand that government spending, taxes and regulations make things worse (not better) than they otherwise would be? Sadly no – most politicians and most of the public do not understand.

→ Continue reading: Destructionism – with a few British examples

The presumption of liberty

My attention was drawn to an article about a harmless Australian eccentric who was unsuccessfully prosecuted by the authorities.

The gentleman who was harassed, a certain Mr. Meow-Ludo Disco Gamma Meow-Meow, had removed the fare chip from a train travelcard and had it implanted in his hand, thus allowing him to access the train system without needing to carry the card — he could wave his hand over the card reader instead. No allegation was made that he had defrauded the Sydney transit system in any way. He paid his fare, he was just using a chip implanted in his hand instead of into a plastic card.

However, the humorless martinets of the prosecution service decided to go after him anyway, even though he had obviously done no harm to anyone. Why? Presumably because we now live in a society where the implicit rule is, that which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. Never mind that he’d paid his fare, never mind that no tangible harm was done to anyone or anything, it annoyed them that someone might do something they found peculiar, and so they set forth to crush that behavior.

(Mr. Meow-Meow’s fare chip was cancelled, by the way. This, to me, seems like a breach of contract, and possibly even a theft, as he had paid legitimately for his travel, and his money was taken without recourse.)

The assumption in any civilized society society should be this: that which harms no one is legal, and should not be subject to punishment upon the arbitrary and capricious whims of humorless prosecutors who decide to find something irritating for no important reason. Laws should be few, clear, irredundant, and should exist only to deal with actual interpersonal conflicts in which one party has actually damaged another and not merely offended their sensibilities. It should never be possible for an official to decide to crush someone merely because they find them vaguely distasteful in some manner.

Indeed, any official who decides to do such a thing should, in turn, themselves be guilty of an offense, for they have proposed to use the weight of the courts not to restrain a malefactor but to deprive someone of their freedom.

The presumption should always be that things which harm no one are perfectly legal. The fact that your neighbor doesn’t like your haircut, or the music you prefer, or the fact that you like keeping your proximity chip in your hand rather than in your wallet, or that you eat strange food or enjoy sleeping at the wrong time of day should never be an offense, and indeed, society should vigorously and mercilessly prosecute those who would interfere with the liberty of others.

Mr. Meow-Meow won his day in court this time (although he found himself forced, unaccountably, to pay court costs when he had caused no one any harm), but I fear that the presumption of liberty in the Anglosphere has long since been forgotten. It is long past time to resurrect it, and vigorously.

The world’s governments are mostly followers of Jeremy Bentham, but most people follow Epicurus – and there is some hope in that

Most governments, whether they know the writer or not, tend to follow the assumption of the late Mr. Jeremy Bentham. They regard humans as soulless machines, not beings with free will and moral agency, and they regard the idea of rights against the State as ‘nonsense’ and natural justice itself, which is to say limiting state power, as ‘nonsense on stilts’.

To most governments and the witchdoctors in universities and media – and the establishment generally, rights are goods and services from government – not limits on the size and scope of government. They may or may not believe that there should be 13 Departments of State seeking to produce “the greatest happiness for the greatest number” like Bentham – they may believe they should be 11 Departments of State controlling society or 14 or some other number, but they agree that there should be a permanent bureaucracy which is neither elected or appointed by people who are elected (thus making elections to some extent a sham) dedicated to the Progressive agenda of spending ever more money and imposing ever more regulations. To most modern governments, and the evil establishments they represent, such works as “The New Atlantis” by the collectivist supporter of despotism Sir Francis Bacon (the mentor of Thomas Hobbes) are not horror stories – they are an inspiration, as they were for Jeremy Bentham. For more modern examples, see Richard Ely (the inspiration of both “Teddy” Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson) and “Philip Dru: Administrator” by President Wilson’s “other self” Colonel House.

So far a depressing picture – but I do not think that most people in most countries fully share this Benthamite view of things. I think that most people are closer to the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus. The philosopher Epicurus did not deny the Gods (he was not a materialist as Hobbes and Bentham were), but he did not stress them either – his concern was with this life. Nor did Epicurus deny moral agency: the ability to meaningfully choose – free will. On the contrary, his philosophy was based upon the principle of free will – he hoped to convince people to choose to change their lives. And how to change their lives? Not by politics – but by their own efforts and by cooperating with their friends. Not in wild orgies (the short term pleasure undermining longer term happiness)… but in the simple joys of life and friendship. About a million miles for someone like me – I am really a Stoic in my political attitudes, always looking for a noble cause to die horribly for (telling me to forget politics and “enjoy your life” is like telling acid to be alkaline), but also a million miles from a follower of Jeremy Bentham with their obsession with planning society – treating people as non-sentient (non-beings).

Take the example of a young lady I overheard whilst on a recent overseas trip. The young lady asked a friend to help her decide which bangle on a table was the most pretty – this was a very serious matter for her, indeed her face was a picture of serious consideration into what was, for her, a very serious matter. This young lady was not unintelligent (I heard her speak at least two languages with total confidence) – it was just that her concerns were not political. Her mind was not bent on the planning of society (or preventing it being planned – in a desperate stand against the forces of evil) – and making (by force and fear) everyone do what she wanted them to do. The young person’s concern was with her own happiness and the happiness of the people around her – happiness to be promoted voluntarily, not by force.

I think most people are like this – large numbers of evil people exist, but most are not. Most people are, whether they know the man’s name or not, followers of Epicurus. I am not – most people are utterly alien to me (people like Cato the Younger are my sort of people). But most people are NOT followers of Jeremy Bentham with his desire to plan society, which means that (deep down) most people are not on the same side as most modern governments and the entrenched establishments they represent.

Television and posters (and so on) is all a good example of this. It is not all socialist, ever bigger government, propaganda. Most television, posters, magazines etc. are really focused on ‘life style’, fashions, holidays, house design, clothing, food, drink…

→ Continue reading: The world’s governments are mostly followers of Jeremy Bentham, but most people follow Epicurus – and there is some hope in that

Listening to Patrik Schumacher

Podcasts don’t suit everyone. Simply, for many, they tend to take too long to make their points. They have an additional drawback for me, which is that I love to listen to classical music, i.e. the sort of music which can also demand a lot of time to make its various musical points.

This morning, for instance, I was happily listening to one of the very longest symphonies of all, Mahler 3.

But, I paused it. I paused it because my Twitter feed had told me about a podcast. I am listening to this podcast now. The guy asking the questions is someone American whose name I didn’t catch from the Centre for Innovative Governance Research, and the Podcastee, so to speak, the man answering the American guy’s questions, is Patrik Schumacher. Patrik Schumacher is the boss of one of the world’s most formidable architectural practices, the one founded and bossed, until she recently died, by the formidable Zaha Hadid.

Like classical music, the design of architecture, and especially of urban environments on a larger scale, seems to encourage dirigiste habits of mind and of action, politically as well as aesthetically. City planners tend to assume that cities have, so to speak, to be conducted (the German word for conductor being dirigent). Conducted, that is, by them. Well, they would, wouldn’t they? Schumacher challenges these kinds of assumptions.

The American guy asking the questions has been very badly recorded. But it’s mostly Schumacher, and Schumacher, thank goodness, mostly sounds somewhat better. I am learning a lot about how Schumacher thinks and about what he does. You might too. The podcast lasts a bit over an hour.

Mahler 3 will have to wait.

“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.

Enlightened modern practice

“GP accused of paedophilia by ‘fantasist’ loses fight for costs” reports the Times. I have put phrases from the following excerpt from the Times article that seemed particularly striking in bold type.

A retired GP accused by a “serial fantastist” of being part of a paedophile ring was told yesterday he would not be reimbursed for £94,000 in legal costs he incurred before the case collapsed.

Stephen Glascoe, from Cardiff, spent most of his savings preparing his defence. The woman who made unproven allegations against him and others has won £22,000 in “criminal injuries” compensation and has asked for more.

Several cases have collapsed in recent months after the Crown Prosecution Service ordered a review of evidence in all serious sexual offence allegations.

Charges against Dr Glascoe and four other men were dropped in January, two weeks before their trial was due to start, after concerns about the alleged victim’s evidence and her relationship with her therapist and the police officer who had led the investigation.

Dr Glascoe, 67, who was not entitled to legal aid because of his savings, spent more than £100,000 on lawyers and expert witnesses. He will receive only £7,280 from the Legal Aid Board and no contribution to the cost of his barrister.

The complainant received £22,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority after contacting South Wales police in 2012 but later refused to co-operate with the investigation.

She spoke to police again in 2016 with more allegations about being abused at parties between the ages of three and 15. She said she had a pregnancy forcibly aborted and had been made to take part in torturing other children. She has applied for more compensation.

Christopher Clee, QC, applied at Cardiff crown court yesterday for Dr Glascoe to have all his costs reimbursed on the ground that the charges were the result of an “improper act or omission” by the prosecution. The prosecution should have been alerted, he said, to the poor credibility of the alleged victim by notes from 229 counselling sessions, which included “regression work”, and her improperly close relationship with the investigating detective.

Mr Clee said the notes made clear that the therapist “had exceeded any professional boundaries” and given the woman the idea that she had been raped by five men. Prosecutors had demanded to see the therapy notes before deciding whether to charge, but a senior police officer urged them to take a “victim-centric position”, he said.

Catherine Richards, for the prosecution, said the case was dropped over “considerable concern” about the detective, and because a jury might consider that there had been a “mirror of the undue influence” by the alleged victim on the officer and her therapist.

Judge Thomas Crowther attributed the collapse of the case to “dynamite” evidence that the complainant had lied about an Amazon package she claimed had been ordered by her abusers.

The judge dismissed the application for Dr Glascoe’s costs, saying he would have to prove that no reasonable prosecutor could have decided to bring charges. The decision had been “in line with enlightened modern practice”, he said.

It was certainly in line with modern justice as practised by the Enlightened.

Culture Wars Update

This video appeared in the Illuminatus’ Facebook feed recently:

In it, participants line up for a running race but before they start a man lists a number of life advantages (such as having a father, or money, or a good education) and instructs people to take two steps forward for each of those advantages they enjoyed. He is explaining that people with certain advantages are more likely to win. There is an element of truth, but it is so obvious as to be trite: yes, some people are at a disadvantage in ways that are not their fault. Yes, as Baz Luhrman quoted Mary Schmich, don’t congratulate yourself too much on your successes or berate yourself too much for your failures. Hard work is part of the story but if you are successful you probably had some lucky breaks along the way.

Which would be fine for a trite bit of social media wisdom if it had been about “advantages”. But this video is about “privilege”, an altogether more loaded term. And at 2 minutes 55 seconds the host remarks that some of the black dudes would win the race if it was fair. As an eldritch horror from the underworld, the Illuminatus is not qualified to have an opinion, but it wonders whether it really is “woke” for a white guy to tell a bunch of black dudes that they have no chance. Certainly that is the sort of thing that Candace Owens was talking about; that Kanye West seems to like. It does not seem too much of a stretch to worry that if you keep telling a group of people that their only hope of success is to be rescued by others then they might believe it and miss out on some opportunities as a result.

Matt Christiansen deconstructs the privilege race video. He notes its flaw as a metaphor for economics: there is not a single race for a single prize; each individual can maximise his gains at no cost to others. The Illuminatus muses changing the rules of the game in the video such that prizes of descending value are handed out in order of finishing: that would much more interesting.

In a more recent video, Christiansen discusses Count Dankula and freedom of speech in the UK, and Chelsea Russell who was convicted of posting some rude rap lyrics on the internet.

Paul Joseph Watson, who is a bit unhinged on some topics, but very entertaining on the subject of the culture wars, has a video about the Candace/Kanye incident. At the end he claims that the establishment is terrified of West, and of social media conservatives like Owens, because they are the new counter-culture. Later, a show on Comedy Central mocked him for claiming that conservatism is the new punk rock. So he replied:

It’s the left who consistently act like joyless puritans and literally try to ban fun. Whether it’s cheerleaders, offensive songs, topless models or free speech, you’re the new censors. You’re the new puritans. And that’s not very punk. Being owned by a monolithic transnational corporation and a 94-year-old billionaire [Sumner Redstone]: that’s not very punk.

He’s not quite right, though. Conservatives aren’t the real counter-culture, libertarians are. If conservatives are punks we are the weird kids too busy playing Dungeons & Dragons to be into cool music. Our day will come.