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: what do you think of the apparent sabotage of Nord Stream 1 and 2?

On February 7th, Joe Biden said, “If Russia invades…then there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.”

Today the Guardian reports: “Fears of sabotage as gas pours into Baltic from Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines”

Was it sabotage? If so, who did it and was it a good thing to do?

“We don’t have to feel like prey”

Fair play to the Guardian for running (sorry) this article, which will have gone against the preconceptions of many of its readers:

‘We don’t have to feel like prey’: the female joggers running with guns

Jamie, a 40-year-old runner who prefers to withhold her last name for privacy, says, “Women who carry while running are not monolithic, but we are often characterized as such in the media. We are characterized as right-wing, aggressive, backwards-thinking, and ignorant of the risks of gun ownership. I am none of these. I am educated, politically moderate, and sane.”

Jamie goes on to describe her own experiences. “I was followed around a popular lake trail by a man who exposed himself to me … about a half mile later, I heard steps behind me and it was him.” It was getting dark, and Jamie realized she was alone with the man, who she assumed was strong enough to overpower her. He came closer and closer, ignoring her entreaties to leave her alone, and backed her into some trees. Finally, “I put my hand on my [up until then concealed] pistol like I was about to draw and I told him to get away from me.” Suddenly, Jamie’s aggressor completely changed his demeanor, telling her to, “stay safe”, and running away.

The riding list

All twelve of the firefighters who were working in my husband’s firehouse died on 9/11. The “riding list,” handwritten in chalk, listing all the men who were on duty that day, still hangs on the firehouse wall, forever preserved in glass. Engine 40 Ladder 35 #NeverForget

– Janice Dean

Discussion point: the car bomb that killed Darya Dugina

On 20th August 2022 a car bomb near Moscow killed Darya Dugina, the daughter of the Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin, who was probably the intended target.

I am away from home at the moment and cannot easily link, but the story is everywhere.

Here are some of my reactions to the killing. I list them roughly in the order that I had them, rather than making any attempt to list them in order of importance.

My first thought was that this killing was ordered by the Ukrainians and was both a crime and a blunder. The rules of war exist for a reason. The fact that Mr Dugin has, and his daughter had, abhorrent views is not the point. Assassination of civilians is several steps along the way to making it a case of “they’re as bad as each other”. Along with many others I support Ukraine in this war because the two sides are not remotely equivalent: Russia is the aggressor, Ukraine the victim. Ukraine squanders that moral capital at its peril.

However, with their usual stunning incompetence at propaganda, an organ of the present Russian government reminded the world that they are quite happy to send assassins to other countries to murder their political enemies, and without the excuse of being at war. Margarita Simonyan, head of the RT television channel, formerly known as Russia Today, said that if the Ukrainians did not hand over the person allegedly responsible, a woman called Natalia Vovk, then Russia ought to send a hit squad to “admire the spires around Tallinn” – a clear, gloating reference to the 2018 Salisbury poisonings. If Putin’s methods are used against Putin’s supporters, why should anyone else in the world care?

The story about Natalia Vovk is odd in several respects. She is alleged to be an agent of the Ukrainian secret services. She is also alleged to have spied on Ms Dugina from a Mini Cooper. Surely a trained secret agent would not choose such a noticeable vehicle? Even more strangely, she is alleged to have taken her eleven or twelve year old daughter along on her deadly mission. While it is not unknown for terrorist groups to use children because children are less likely to be suspected, in these particular circumstances what would she have gained by bringing any child, let alone her own daughter?

If not Natalia Vovk, then who? Some say a Russian anti-government group called the National Resistance Army. Others say an internecine struggle between different factions of the FSB. Or the Russian mafia – not everything has to be political. Of course the Ukrainian government could be still be ultimately responsible even if the actual killing was carried out by any of these.

Can you see the parallels between Saigon and Kabul now, Mr President?

Reporter #1: “Is the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?”

President Biden: “No. It is not. Because you have the Afghan troops have 300,000 – well-equipped- as well equipped as any army in the world – and an air force – against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable”

Reporter #2: “Mr President, thank you very much. Your own intelligence community has assessed that the Afghan government will likely collapse.”

Pres. Biden: “That is not true.”

Reporter: “Is it – Can you please clarify what they have told you about whether that will happen or not.”

Pres. Biden: “That is not true. They did not reach that conclusion.”

Reporter: “So what is the level of confidence that they have that it will not collapse?”

Pres. Biden: “The Afghan government, the leadership, has to come together. They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place.”

Reporter: “Do you see any parallels with this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam? With some people feeling…”

Pres. Biden: “None whatsoever. Zero. What you had is entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy. Six if I’m not mistaken.”

“The Taliban is not the South – the North Vietnamese army. They’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”

– President Joe Biden, press briefing, 8th July 2021. Kabul fell on 15th August.

From Guido Fawkes’ post of 16th August 2021, “Biden’s tragically optimistic Afghanistan press briefing shows lack of intelligence”

Salman Rushdie stabbed on stage in New York, condition unknown

“What’s on your mind?” asks the WordPress dashboard at the top of the little box where you put your content. This. This is on my mind. Salman Rushdie getting stabbed. Back in the 1990s I bought a copy of The Satanic Verses as a contribution to his security costs. I’ve read it, and Midnight’s Children, and found them memorable but they were not books to which I wished to return. I thought all that stuff about the Iranian fatwa had faded away. I guess not.

Edit: “I’m literally a communist” Ash Sarkar sinks to the occasion:

Don’t have anything particularly clearheaded to say, but the stabbing of Salman Rushdie (though it has decades-old origins) alongside the campaign of threats and intimidation against drag queens in the US makes it feel like a very grim, dangerous time for artistic expression.

Ohh, Jeremy Corbyn

Remember this? “Glastonbury 2017: ‘Ohh Jeremy Corbyn’ chant sweeps festival as revellers get political”

Last year, it was the universal disdain for the Brexit vote, myself waking up to megaphones announcing David Cameron had resigned and Boris Johnson may take the PM position.

This year, though, the people of Worthy Farm have a new hero, one to bring everyone together: Jeremy Corbyn.

Barely a moment goes by without someone chanting the Labour leader’s name to the tune of ‘Seven Nation Army’.

I had forgotten the link to “Seven Nation Army”. The Glastonbury set are fine with army-themed song titles – armies that actually fight, not so much: “Jeremy Corbyn urges west to stop arming Ukraine”

Jeremy Corbyn has urged western countries to stop arming Ukraine, and claimed he was criticised over antisemitism because of his stance on Palestine, in a TV interview likely to underscore Keir Starmer’s determination not to readmit him to the Labour party.

“Pouring arms in isn’t going to bring about a solution, it’s only going to prolong and exaggerate this war,” Corbyn said. “We might be in for years and years of a war in Ukraine.”

Corbyn gave the interview on Al Mayadeen, a Beirut-based TV channel that has carried pro-Russia reporting since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

“What I find disappointing is that hardly any of the world’s leaders use the word peace; they always use the language of more war, and more bellicose war.”

“The media could not be played”, and that frightens me even more

The video embedded in this tweet from Laurence Fox apparently shows someone being arrested for tweeting. I cannot see the video, but the top comment says,

“Chap shares a post by @LozzaFox and the police arrest the chap, even though Laurence is actually stood there 👀

This is disgraceful. People upset by hurty words need to turn the Internet off and remember the old children’s rhyme – Sticks and Stones.”

Apparently the arrest had something to do with that meme that shows four LGBTQ+ Progress Pride flags (my goodness, “Newsround” has changed a lot since John Craven presented it) arranged so that the triangular inserts form a swastika. Fox’s Wikipedia entry says, “In June 2022 Fox tweeted an image of a swastika made from the LGBTQ+ Progress Pride flag with the caption ‘You can openly call the [Union Jack] a symbol of fa[s]cism and totalitarianism on Twatter. You cannot criticise the holy flags’. This led to him being temporarily suspended from Twitter for a day.”

This tweet from Richard Taylor of GB News may show the same video.

As you can probably tell, I am not at all sure what is going on. Is my inability to play the video censorship by Twitter, or just my old computer not being up to the job? Some accounts seem to imply that that the threatened arrest was not carried through, although that reassures me very little. As we have all seen, making the process the punishment has been a very successful way for the police to chill free speech while avoiding having to defend their actions in court.

Thomas Sowell: The gun control farce

Professor Sowell wrote this article in 2016. Little has changed since then, except that I doubt that today’s Associated Press would dare publish it.

Surely murder is a serious subject, which ought to be examined seriously. Instead, it is almost always examined politically in the context of gun control controversies, with stock arguments on both sides that have remained the same for decades. And most of those arguments are irrelevant to the central question: Do tighter gun control laws reduce the murder rate?

That is not an esoteric question, nor one for which no empirical evidence is available. Think about it. We have 50 states, each with its own gun control laws, and many of those laws have gotten either tighter or looser through the years. There must be tons of data that could indicate whether murder rates went up or down when either of these things happened.

But have you ever heard any gun control advocate cite any such data?

The president offers his condolences, but that’s enough about you

The president of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, offered his condolences over the massacre of worshippers at a church in Owo, Nigeria.

News Letter reports,

Forty people were killed in the attack at the Church of St Francis in the Owo district in the Ondo region of Nigeria on June 5. Over 126 people also suffered injuries following the attack.

In a statement last week, President Higgins appeared to link the attack with climate change.

His comments have drawn criticism from the bishop of the Catholic Ondo diocese, Jude Ayodeki Aroguande, who acknowledged and thanked the president for his condemnation but said the “incorrect and far-fetched” link drawn between the slaughter and climate change was “rubbing salt to the injuries of all who have suffered terrorism in Nigeria”.

In his statement, President Higgins had condemned those responsible for the attack and cautioned against “any attempt to scapegoat pastoral peoples who are among the foremost victims of the consequences of climate change”.

The Labour politician also called for solidarity with “all those impacted not only by this horrible event, but in the struggle by the most vulnerable, on whom the consequences of climate change have been inflicted”.

The former president of the United States, Barack Obama, offered his condolences over the massacre of children at a school in Uvalde, Texas.

The New York Post reports,

The former president shared the message on Twitter Wednesday in the wake of the massacre at Robb Elementary School that killed 19 children and two fourth-grade teachers.

“As we grieve the children of Uvalde today, we should take time to recognize that two years have passed since the murder of George Floyd under the knee of a police officer.” Obama tweeted. “His killing stays with us all to this day, especially those who loved him.”

I post this to make an important political point

Please tell me what it is in the comments. Via Seth Dillon of the Babylon Bee, who offers one suggestion.

When dangerous fantasies come true

Famously, while Nigel Farage was debating Nick Clegg in April 2014, the latter said that the idea of an EU army was a “dangerous fantasy”. Ed Miliband repeated the line a year later.

Three days ago, the man who was the EU’s Brexit Guy – the EU Parliament’s former Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP – tweeted,

BREAKING — Conference on the Future of Europe approves radical overhaul of the EU: end of unanimity, abolishment of veto’s, launch of Joint Armed Forces of the Union, transnational lists and many other reforms…

Now, just because the Conference on the Future of Europe says a thing, that does not necessarily mean it will come to pass. Wikipedia describes the Conference thus:

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a proposal of the European Commission and the European Parliament, announced at the end of 2019, with the aim of looking at the medium to long term future of the EU and what reforms should be made to its policies and institutions. It is intended that the Conference should involve citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society, and European institutions as equal partners and last for two years. It will be jointly organised by the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission.

In other words, the usual cheerleaders duly led the cheers. Nonetheless the very fact that the “young people, civil society and European institutions” who took part in the Conference were pre-selected for their obedience means that when they say they want an army it means that the leaders of the EU now want an army.

Discussion point: Watching Clegg and Farage spar over Vladimir Putin’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine, does anyone feel a newfound sympathy with Clegg’s position? These are dangerous times. It is no longer a matter for us in the UK to decide, but maybe the EU does need an army.