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]

Climate: the Movie – now shadow banned by YouTube, so…

… here it is on BitChute, just in case they take the final step and delete it 😉

Samizdata quote of the day – R.I.P. The Scottish Enlightenment 1697-2024

As a Scot who grew up in the 1970s in the drawing rooms of Edinburgh’s New Town, the architectural manifestation of the Scottish Enlightenment, I am truly appalled that the legacy of Aikenhead and the Scottish Enlightenment – a historical event far more relevant to the modern world than the War of Independence of the early 14th century that so enthrals the SNP and its activists, an event which put Scotland on the map of the world and one of which the nation can be rightly proud – has been trashed by the Scottish Parliament and the Yousaf Government. From April 1st 2024, saying the wrong thing at your own dinner table, let alone in a drunken pub rant like young Thomas did, will once again land you in significant trouble with the law, 327 years, eight months and 24 days after Thomas died.

Mr. Yousaf, his ministers and those who drafted and will enforce this law would do well to remember how history judged those who hanged Thomas Aikenhead on that bleak winter morning on the road to Leith. In doing so they should recall that this gross act of overreach and tyranny was the high tide of the power of the Kirk, power which was swept aside by the forces unleashed when the people said ‘enough’.

C.J. Strachan

“Canada’s descent into tyranny is almost complete”

“Canada’s descent into tyranny is almost complete”, writes David Collins in the Telegraph.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is threatening his most tyrannical attack on freedom yet through his government’s proposed Online Harms Act (currently Bill C-63). Brought to you by the same farcically-named “Liberal” party who froze the bank accounts of the truckers who protested vaccine-mandates, the OHA is the government’s overzealous attempt to promote online safety.

The proposed legislation supposedly achieves this by requiring operators of social media services to adequately mitigate the risk that their users will be exposed to harmful content through measures such as publishing standards of online conduct, providing blocking tools and ways to flag and label harmful content. The OHA would create a Digital Safety Commission to administer and enforce its rules along with a Digital Safety Office to support social media users and advocate for online safety. These agencies can investigate complaints, summon people to testify in hearings and to produce records. Costs of all this will be paid by unspecified charges on social media platforms, presumably contemplating Canada’s planned Digital Services Tax on big tech platforms.

Most controversially, the OHA’s provisions on posting hateful content would require amendments to Canada’s Criminal Code as well as its Human Rights Act. While the victims of online “hate” may be comforted by tough new penalties, the changes are radical, particularly a new hate crime offence which can lead to life imprisonment. Worryingly, the criminal provisions of the OHA would give judges the ability to put people under house arrest because they might commit a hate crime in the future. The potential criminal could also be made to wear an electronic tag if the Attorney General requests it.

Emphasis added. The phrase “Canada’s descent into tyranny” comes across as hyperbole until you get to the bit about putting people under house arrest because they might commit a crime in future.

Sadly, this was not a namecheck

Matt Taibbi: “America enters the samizdat era”

It is a sobering description of how the world went from this:

Ten years ago PBS did a feature that quoted a Russian radio personality calling Samizdat the “precursor to the Internet.” Sadly this is no longer accurate. Even a decade ago Internet platforms were mechanical wonders brimming with anarchic energy whose ability to transport ideas to millions virally and across borders made episodes like the Arab Spring possible. Governments rightly trembled before the destabilizing potential of tools like Twitter, whose founders as recently as 2012 defiantly insisted they would remain “neutral” on content control, seeing themselves as the “free speech wing of the free speech party.”

to this:

The Internet, in other words, was being transformed from a system for exchanging forbidden or dissenting ideas, like Samizdat, to a system for imposing top-down control over information and narrative, a GozIzdat. Worse, while the Soviets had to rely on primitive surveillance technologies, like the mandatory registration of typewriters, the Internet offered breathtaking new surveillance capability, allowing authorities to detect thoughtcrime by algorithm and instantaneously disenfranchise those on the wrong side of the information paradigm, stripping them of the ability to raise money or conduct business or communicate at all.

(Hat tip: Instapundit. Like us at Samizdata, Glenn Reynolds has watched this change happen over the time he has been blogging.)

Samizdata quote of the day – How Labour wants to make another people’s revolt impossible

Starmer, we are told over and over again, is just ‘a normal bloke’ who likes to play football and wants Britain to be well run. He’s just a bland technocrat who rejects divisive ideological narratives in favour of sound government.

But, in truth, Keir Starmer and the people around him do have a radical vision of politics and our democracy. It’s a vision of a country where people who think and act like them are in power forever and where the populist revolts against the new elite which erupted over the last decade, through UKIP, Brexit, the Brexit Party, and then the reassertion of popular sovereignty in 2019, are made impossible.

Labour want to do this by taking political power away from elected governments and giving much more of it to an assortment of unelected civil servants, regional assemblies and spurious quangos.

Matt Goodwin

Samizdata quote of the day – Hong Kong’s slide into darkness edition

“It is telling that Beijing and Hong Kong are more afraid of their own people than Hong Kong’s British colonial government ever was.”

Wall Street Journal, editorial comment. ($)

Samizdata quote of the day – the horror of Mao’s dictatorship edition

“If I were prosecuting Mao, I’d further cover my bases by pointing out that he gave explicit orders to literally enslave hundreds of millions, then invoke the felony murder rule. However you slice it, Mao was a monster – and it’s high time for China to tear down his remaining posters and replace them with monuments to his victims.”

Bryan Caplan, EconLog.

His article refers to a new study of the terrible famine, wrought by collectivisation of the Chinese economy. Communists tend to be very, very bad at farming. Property rights, incentives, etc – they just don’t get it.

Until such time as China takes a full, objective reckoning of the monster that Mao was, I don’t see much that is benign about that nation, even though this isn’t meant to be a sweeping statement about all Chinese people, of course.

Another reason why I would not advise Ukraine to negotiate

“Jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny dead, says prison service”, reports the BBC.

August 2023 – Navalny’s sentence is increased to nine years after a conviction on new charges of embezzlement and contempt of court. An additional 19 years at a “special regime” facility are added on charges of extremism.

December 2023 – After going missing for two weeks, the opposition leader is located in a penal colony in the North Arctic.

February 2024 – Alexei Navalny dies in prison.

That is how Vladimir Putin treats his own people. It is a safe prediction that he will be as or more cruel to those Ukrainians who fall into his power. If he gets the chance, I would not put it past him to do as his exemplar Stalin did to the captured Poles at Katyn.

I have seen some strange commentary from both the left and the right regarding Tucker Carlson’s visit to Russia to interview Putin. For instance Mehdi Hasan and James Lindsay both seemed to think there was something wrong with Carlson observing that the Moscow subway is clean, orderly and free of aggressive drug addicts. The historian and journalist William Dalrymple reposted a tweet from Edward Luce of the Financial Times that blasted Carlton for interviewing Putin, but I remember Dalrymple gushing over the valuable insights gained by those who interviewed Osama Bin Laden:

Writers such as Robert Fisk and the former CNN journalist Peter Bergen, both of whom have interviewed Osama bin Laden, and scholars such as Gilles Kepel, Malise Ruthven and John L Esposito, have proved to be more reliable guides to what is going on in al-Qaeda than any number of Downing Streets dossiers or CIA briefing papers.

To that list should now be added the name of The Observer’s Middle East expert, Jason Burke. His new study, Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror is possibly the most reliable and perceptive guide yet published to the rise of militant Islam, the threat it poses and the best way to tackle it.

The more we know about how Putin thinks, the better the chances of defeating him and saving many lives, both Ukrainian and Russian.

Samizdata quote of the day – Truly… truly… the state is not your friend

‘Let me issue and control a nation’s money and I care not who writes the laws.’

-Mayer Rothschild

If you asked the man or woman on the street whether they think we should have a ‘national conversation about the future of money’, they would probably say something like: ‘Yes, we need to talk about how we can have more of it.’

The Bank of England, however, has a different discussion in mind. It seems to be growing ever fonder of the idea that we should have this ‘national conversation’. But what it wants to talk about is not increasing wealth; it is ‘the future of payments’ (code for introducing a Central Bank Digital Currency or CBDC, the ‘digital pound’). The Bank of England, you see, lives on a rather different country to the rest of us – one in which the pressing economic problems we face are not to do with inflation, interest rates, quantitative easing, or overleveraging, but to do with how we pay for things. In the version of Britain which it inhabits, we have the national bandwidth to devote major resources to the designing of a ‘future payments ecosystem’ so that the UK can ‘remain at the forefront of payments technology’, and we also need to do this as a matter of urgency.

David McGrogan.

Read the whole thing.

“My third leg can be flexible and unbending”

This catchy Chinese-language song “People of the Dragon” by Malaysian filmmaker and recording artist Namewee has had 7.5 million views since it was posted two weeks ago. For centuries the Chinese have used puns and wordplay to poke fun at the powerful, and it seems Namewee’s song is so full of coded uncomplimentary references to Xi Jinping and the CCP – in addition to completely uncoded ones – that there are whole videos devoted to explaining them all, many of which have received tens or hundreds of thousands of views in their own right.

I think I might just possibly have guessed that it was being a bit rude about Xi Jinping, and a bit rude full stop, from the number of references to long thin intermittently rigid things, one of which forms the title of this post.

The fun begins in the very first second. Up pops a green screen with official-looking writing on it, which I gather resembles the CCP censor’s certificate that is shown before every film. Look hard at the head of the dragon. Look, too, at the number 8964 which seems to be the number given to this particular film. 89-6-4, the fourth of June 1989. A day in Chinese history when, famously, nothing happened. Fourteen seconds later, the ugly splotch that appears at the top left of the first Chinese character in the video’s title seems to let down the fine calligraphy of the rest. One would have expected someone to catch something looking like that before it all went viral… oh, wait.

I first heard of this song from this post by Victor Mair at “Language Log”, who says that the AI replication of Xi Jinping’s voice at the beginning and the end of the video is uncannily good.

Too late, Ms Starbird. Trust, once lost, is not so easily regained.

I hear the faint chink of the penny dropping at Guardian. This profile of misinformation specialist – read that job description as you will – Kate Starbird is predictably fawning, but they seem distinctly anxious to get across the idea that she and other misinformation specialists are no longer going to behave in the way they did in the last few years: ‘Stakes are really high’: misinformation researcher changes tack for 2024 US election

A key researcher in the fight against election misinformation – who herself became the subject of an intensive misinformation campaign – has said her field gets accused of “bias” precisely because it’s now mainly rightwingers who spread the worst lies.

Kate Starbird, co-founder of the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public, added that she feared that the entirely false story of rigged elections has now “sunk in” for many Americans on the right. “The idea that they’re already going to the polls with the belief that they’re being cheated means they’ll misinterpret everything they see through that lens,” she said.

Starbird’s group partnered with Stanford Internet Observatory on the Election Integrity Partnership ahead of the 2020 elections – a campaign during which a flood of misinformation swirled around the internet, with daily claims of unproven voter fraud.

Starbird and her team helped document that flood, and in return congressional Republicans and conservative attorneys attacked her research, alleging it amounted to censorship and violated the first amendment.

Starbird, a misinformation researcher, herself became the subject of an ongoing misinformation campaign – but said she would not let that deter her from her research. Her team wasn’t the only target of the conservative campaign against misinformation research, she noted: researchers across the country have received subpoenas, letters and criticism, all attempting to frame misinformation research as partisan and as censorship.

Jim Jordan, chair of the House judiciary committee, served as the ringleader of this effort in Congress, using his power to investigate groups and researchers that work to counter misinformation, particularly as it related to elections and Covid-19. One practice that especially upset Jordan and his colleagues was when researchers would flag misleading information to social media companies, who would sometimes respond by amending factchecks or taking down false posts entirely.

That is censorship. One can argue that it is justified censorship, but it is censorship.

Nor is it just Congress attacking anti-misinformation work. A federal lawsuit from the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana alleges that the Biden administration violated the first amendment by colluding with social media companies to censor and suppress speech.

The Guardian’s writer, Rachel Leingang, has phrased that last sentence so that it could easily be read as saying the whole of the phrase “the Biden administration violated the first amendment by colluding with social media companies to censor and suppress speech” has the status of a mere allegation, a question yet to be decided. I hope Ms Leingang will forgive me if I clear up that potential ambiguity. The U.S. courts may or may not rule that the Biden Administration violated the First Amendment by colluding with social media companies to censor and suppress speech, but there is no doubt whatsoever that the censorship happened.

A new lawsuit from the state of Texas and two rightwing media companies takes aim at the Global Engagement Center, a state department agency that focuses on how foreign powers spread information.

The pressure campaign has chilled misinformation research just ahead of the pivotal 2024 presidential election, as some academics switch what they focus on and others figure out ways to better explain their work to a mixed audience. One thing they will probably no longer do is flag posts to social media companies, as the practice remains an issue in several ongoing court cases.

Hear that? They’ve changed now. Censorship was so 2020. They aren’t going to do that any more. Probably.

A glimpse into the future: you have no rights

The point here is that if one only has a right so long as it is in accordance with the public interest, then that is tantamount to saying one does not have a right at all, because it is entirely contingent on the authorities’ view of what the public interest entails. If they have a plausible-sounding reason why depriving one of one’s property is in the public interest (spoiler alert: they almost always will have such a reason), then they can do so irrespective of one’s ‘rights’, and one’s rights therefore are of no real practical or legal consequence.

This is the position we find ourselves in, then, with respect to A1P1. We have a right to property but only insofar as we can be deprived of our possessions when it is in the public interest. We do not then really have a right to property at all, at least insofar as the ECHR goes, but more a liberty to enjoy peaceful possession of our property on the sufferance of the State. We are on implied notice that as soon as it is in the public interest to deprive us of our property, the State can do so.

David McGrogan

Strongly recommend you real the whole thing.