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 – 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

Samizdata quote of the day – Palestinian civilian deaths are at the heart of Hamas’s strategy

Hamas likes nothing better than an Israeli strike that kills civilians. That is why it has reportedly been preventing its people from fleeing the war zone, sometimes by force. They seemingly want Palestinian casualties to pile high, in full view of the world’s media. The BBC and others beam footage of the horror of war around the world to people who have lost touch with the reality of armed conflict. Hamas want people in the West to take to the streets in outrage, forgetting that even a just and defensive war is hell. They know this will help them win.

Jake Wallis Simons

Samizdata quote of the day – ideological insanity edition

“There is an ironically neocolonial feel to the cultural elites’ absolution of Hamas. It is their indoctrination into the politics of identity that leads them to view Israel as the culpable adult in this relationship and the Palestinians as blameless children. Critical-race-theory narratives about white privilege and brown victimhood have led to a situation where not only are whites demonised as powerful and destructive but also non-white people are patronised to an obscene degree as non-powerful and pathetic. This hollow, pat explanation for every political event has now been cut-and-pasted on to the Middle East (despite the fact that Israel is not a ‘white’ country). The end result? Both Israelis and Palestinians are denuded of their humanity, the former damned as the conscious authors of all ills, the latter reduced to the moral infants of world affairs, whom ‘nobody should blame’ even ‘for the things we do’, in Hamad’s words. The anti-Israel elites take a far more racially paternalistic view of Palestinians than Israel does.”

– The relentlessly quotable Brendan O’Neill, at Spiked.

Another crushingly good paragraph:

“There is a serious danger in the neo-racist absolution of Hamas. It serves as a green light to further terror. For if you are never held to account for what you do, you can do anything you like. Hamas now knows, from the global fallout from its pogrom, that it will always be absolved. That it enjoys a kind of moral impunity among the opinion-formers of the West. That its mass slaughter will be contextualised, explained, forgiven. That even its use of civilian buildings and civilian vehicles to store and transport the machinery of its war crimes will not bother the consciences of those who pose as pro-Palestinian. Our elites have done something even worse than blame Israelis for their own deaths – they have signalled to Hamas that if it were to do the same again, there would be no moral consequences. Its blamelessness would remain intact. The failure of our intellectual elites to condemn the Hamas pogrom is an implicit approval of future pogroms.”

Read the whole thing, as the saying goes.

By the way, the expression “intellectual elite” deserves to be covered in scare quotes. “Elite” implies quality, but I see little evidence of it.

Samizdata quote of the day – Do we want Ukraine to Win?

Its in many ways the crucial question that needs to be answered honestly now. Do we want Ukraine to win the war and liberate all its territory? or Do we want Ukraine to be forced to accept a deal which hands over parts of the country to Putin? The rhetoric of western leaders is the former, though to be frank the policy looks more and more like the latter. We armed Ukraine this year specifically not to give it range, air superiority, etc. We forced it to launch direct assaults on defended Russian lines. Zaluzhnyi is saying that cannot continue. Either Ukraine is armed properly to win a modern war, or the technological imperatives will necessitate the continuation of this attritional war we have seen.

Western leaders must therefore answer that question now, and act accordingly.

– Phillips OBrien

Samizdata quote of the day – generational differences edition

“But I must say the general mood of many people my age is an astounded sense that we began in our youth, in the 1960s and ’70s, saying `Don’t trust anyone over 30.’ And now, as we survey the wreckage the woke regime has done to the academy, the arts, the corporate office, we are thinking something that had never crossed our minds. `Don’t trust anyone under 30.'”

Peggy Noonan, WSJ ($). She’s reflecting on the conduct of college students in the wake of the atrocities against Israel. In another passage, she writes that when students in a college were told that what happened on 7 October was a “pogrom”, they didn’t know what the word means.

Samizdata quote of the day – unsurprisingly totalitarians support totalitarianism

“The kinds of people who are willing to justify, minimize, or deny the slaughter of millions by the likes of Stalin and Mao are unlikely to blanch at Hamas’ much smaller-scale atrocities. If you are willing to embrace the Great Leap Forward, Stalin’s purges, or Lenin’s Red Terror, there is probably no limit to what you will accept, so long as you think it is moving the world in the right direction.”

Ilya Somin, in an article that goes into the details of why so many on the Left have adopted a version of the oldest hatred.

Samizdata quote of the day – the collapse of adolescent mental health

“The sudden switch from play-based childhood to phone-based childhood is—we believe—the leading candidate for being the major cause of the international collapse of adolescent mental health.”

Zach Rausch & Jon Haidt.

Samizdata quote of the day – We defend free speech for all

But we cannot allow freedom of speech to become a casualty in the fight against anti-Semitism. We already have a plethora of restrictions on speech and protest, on everything from ‘hate speech’ to disruptive demonstrations to ‘grossly offensive’ messages. Misgendering someone on social media. Protesting against the monarchy. Telling a police officer she resembles your lesbian grandmother. Brits have been handcuffed for all of these supposed ‘crimes’ and more in recent years. And the cops’ warped priorities only underline why we cannot hand the authorities the power to decide what is and isn’t permissible to say. They often come to rather eccentric conclusions. Beyond direct incitement to violence, thuggish protest or harassment – which are not speech crimes at all, but rather crimes that involve speech – even the most hateful and extreme speech must be permitted. If for no other reason than it safeguards our own freedom. We defend free speech for all, or for none at all.

Tom Slater

And then the establishment closed ranks on Covid…

In one of the most jaw-dropping interjections of the inquiry to date, Baroness Hallett revealed a prejudgement that if masking people could have had even the slightest of benefits, and seemingly without even contemplating that risks and known harms might need to be weighed too, she pressed Sir Peter Horby, an esteemed epidemiologist at Oxford University, who had indicated that he believed universal masking was not a straightforward decision: “I’m sorry, I’m not following, Sir Peter. If there’s a possible benefit, what’s the downside?”

Coming from the independent Chair of a public inquiry, this is an astonishing comment. It betrays a presumption, or at the very least a predisposition, to accept that it was better to act than not to act — the reverse of the precautionary principle. When a comment such as this, from the Chair of the Inquiry, goes unchallenged, it risks anchoring the entire frame of reference for the inquiry’s interrogation of this critical topic. In our view it was a surprising and serious error of judgement for an experienced Court of Appeal judge.

What made Baroness Hallett feel this to be an appropriate thing to think, let alone say out loud? We suggest the issue lies in the fact that the Chair and the official counsel to the inquiry seem already to have the storyline of the pandemic wrapped up.

– Molly Kingsley, Arabella Skinner and Ben Kingsley, writing The Covid Inquiry is an Embarrassment to the English Legal System

Samizdata quote of the day – Hamas unleashed hell

IDF spokesman Daniel Agari steps up to deliver some preliminary remarks. “We want people to understand what we are fighting for,” he says. “This is something else. Something has happened to Israel. This is not about rage or righteousness but the sense that this is a crime vs humanity. This is good v bad. Death v life. These [terrorists] will do anything. [commit any crime]. And it’s nothing to do with Islam,” he adds. It is a refrain I hear through the event. Clearly the word has come down to make a clear separation between Hamas, the wider Palestinians and, above all, with Islam.

What is also clear is the emotion. Agari is technically a media mouthpiece, but he veers into rhetoric. “Why did they strap GoPros to themselves? Why do they call the family of who they murdered? Because they are proud of what they did.”

– David Patrikarakos writing I watched Hamas unleash hell. Not easy reading, nor should it be, but read it all. And then spit on the next Hamas apologist you see.

Samizdata quote of the day – some institutions cannot be reformed

I am not against a rule-based system and I am not against human rights. I simply think that we need to decide what human rights we want and to what degree we want them. At the moment, the problem is not the Convention itself, which is a collection of principles, not a single one of which I would question in any way. What I oppose is the legislative process by which the Strasbourg court, the European Court of Human Rights, has emancipated itself from the only thing that the states party to the Convention ever agreed, which was the text of the Convention. I do not think that it is the function of judges to revise the laws to bring them up to date — that is a function of representative institutions, certainly in a democracy.

So I would favour withdrawing from the European Convention and substituting it for an identical text, but simply interpreting it responsibly in accordance with what it’s intended to mean, and not in accordance with a wider political agenda — which I’m afraid is the animating spirit currently of the Strasbourg Court.

Jonathan Sumption, on why he wants UK to leave the European Court of Human Rights. It is a much wider interview, covering much of what I agree & disagree with Sumption about on many issues.

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