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]

“With it being Asians, we can’t afford for this to be coming out.”

From the Times:

“Police chief: we ignored sex abuse of children”

Race fears stopped us acting, victim’s father told

A senior police officer admitted that his force ignored the sexual abuse of girls by Pakistani grooming gangs for decades because it was afraid of increasing “racial tensions”, a watchdog has ruled.

After a five-year investigation, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) upheld a complaint that the Rotherham officer told a missing child’s distraught father that the town “would erupt” if it was known that Asian men were routinely having sex with under-age white girls.

The chief inspector is said to have described the abuse as “P*** shagging” and to have said it had been “going on” for 30 years: “With it being Asians, we can’t afford for this to be coming out.”

His incendiary language features in a confidential report by the watchdog that upholds six complaints against South Yorkshire police by a former child victim of sexual exploitation.

But it did come out.

You keep using that word “economy”. I do not think it means what you think it means.

“UK green economy has shrunk since 2014”, laments the Guardian.

The number of people employed in the “low carbon and renewable energy economy” declined by more than 11,000 to 235,900 between 2014 and 2018, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Green businesses fared little better, seeing their numbers drop from an estimated 93,500 to 88,500 over the same four-year period.

[…]

Critics of the Conservative government’s record of support for the low carbon and renewables sector blamed the Treasury’s dramatic cut in subsidies to the solar power industry for the sudden loss of employment.

Solar panel installers were among the many businesses connected to the industry that went bust after the Treasury cut subsidy payments by 65% in 2015 before abolishing them altogether last year.

Obligatory “Princess Bride” clip for those benighted souls who haven’t seen it.

For a brief moment, my heart leapt with joy…

A few days after the recent election, whilst walking down the street near Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, I noticed this sticker & my heart leapt with joy. With enormous regret, I had just voted Tory as I live in what was the most marginal Labour seat in the UK (20 vote Labour majority), and it did indeed turn blue by a narrow margin (150 vote Tory majority). Suddenly I did not feel so bad about voting ‘Conservative’.

But upon closer examination, I realised that far from being a Conservative sticker, it was without doubt propaganda designed to produce the opposite reaction to the one I experienced. Not hard to understand the thinking, as to people who produced this sticker, it was inconceivable that anyone actually wanted to see the NHS privatised. Indeed, I do not either, I want to see it abolished completely, but I would settle for genuine privatisation 😉

Hollywood values

Yeah, it’s a soap opera, at least for us Americans. But what’s so fascinating about it, at least to me, is how the values of Hollywood, and one insecure, narcissistic American actress, have the power to shake the British throne. How threatening to denounce the Queen of England as a racist and a sexist is a thing that her grandchildren would do — and how it might work to manipulate her into doing their bidding. This reveals what real power looks like in the 21st century.

So writes Rod Dreher, piling on about Harry and Meghan (formerly of the UK Royal Family, so it appears at the time of writing). So much has been written and said that it is difficult to add much further. It is, however, interesting to note that one development in parts of the Web is how Harry is being used by “manosphere” commentators as an example of how not to behave and of the sort of mistakes men can make in selecting long-term relationships. There is, to give one case, a chap called Richard Cooper, based in Canada (I bet the Canadian taxpayers are delighted about having to look after Harry and Meghan’s security), and he has a site called Entrepreneurs in Cars. Another commentator who writes books about “red pill awareness” for men when it comes to women is Rollo Tomassi (this is his pen-name, and he’s a fan of the film LA Confidential, which is where the name comes from). Some of these men appear to be fans of evolutionary psychology, and make a big deal about the concept of hypergamy (the idea that women in their younger adult years look for “Alpha” males to have lots of hot sex with and switch to more tame “Beta” males as they reach the stage when they want to have babies, but still at times crave for the Alpha male, which is why they can quickly ditch a husband when they get bored, and are protected more than before by Western divorce laws, which tend to favour women in things such as custody of kids. As with all such notions, these are generalisations, and there are plainly exceptions). The take-away from all this is that Harry is very much now a Beta, having been a bit more of an Alpha male during his Army, helicopter-flying, dancing naked in Vegas, days. And as he becomes more Beta, and goes along with his wife’s social justice warrior views, and all the rest of this stuff, he loses his sense of self and assertiveness. Such men can lash out, or become addicted to various substances, or worse.

What interests me about the H&M case isn’t so much what it says about the pros and cons of a constitutional monarchy in this age (I am a supporter in the very limited sense), but more about what it says about the state of our culture. And as we classical liberals/libertarians need to remember, political ideas don’t operate in a vacuum. A culture that puts a premium on victimhood, that makes excuses, etc, is toxic for liberty and autonomy. In a different context, the desire of this young couple for “financial independence” would be congruent with a libertarian outlook if they weren’t also desiring to make use of an institution like the Royal family.

I actually feel some sympathy for Harry, in particular. He had no choice to be born a royal, and I for one don’t criticise him for wanting to get out of the limelight, so long as he does not try to play both sides of this situation.

One thing that strikes me is that Harry doesn’t seem, as far as I can see, to have any close male buddies that he can hang out with, for example. He has a brother (from whom he appears to be distant these days), but where are the mates, the guys he can fish with, drink beer with, play sports with and so on? Every man, no matter how happily married, needs to have such a network of pals. One thing I pride myself on is that I haven’t allowed my circle of friends to collapse after getting hitched. Social media is not a substitute. In Harry’s case, he was in the Army, and he went through the banter, teasing and discomforts of being a soldier. I cannot help but think that things went downhill for him when he left the Army.

Anyway, I promise not to write about this couple again.

Two snapshots of our times

1) Eurogamer reports,

PC Specialist ad banned for perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes

An advert for a bespoke PC retailer was banned for perpetuating harmful gender stereotypes of women.

The TV ad, below, for UK retailer PC Specialist, begins with a computer exploding, then shows three men getting excited over using a PC Specialist PC for gaming, making music and coding.

[…]

The Advertising Standards Authority received eight complaints from people who said the ad perpetuated harmful gender stereotypes by depicting men in roles that were stereotypically male, and implied it was only men who were interested in technology and computers.

PC Specialist responded to the watchdog to say its customer base was 87.5 per cent male, aged between 15 and 35 years, and “their product, branding and service had been developed for and aimed at that target audience and the characters in the ad therefore represented a cross-section of the PC Specialist core customer base”.

Ten years ago the Advertising Standards Authority would have said something like, “We just want you to stop portraying women as laughably incompetent at computers until a man helps them. Surely that’s fair? After all, some women are great at computers.” At that time it must have seemed ridiculous to make a fuss about freedom of speech when faced with such a reasonable request. But when the beast is fed it grows stronger.

2) And from the BBC:

Sheffield students paid to tackle racist language on campus

A university is to hire 20 of its own students to challenge language on campus that could be seen as racist.

The University of Sheffield is to pay students to tackle so-called “microaggressions” – which it describes as “subtle but offensive comments”.

They will be trained to “lead healthy conversations” about preventing racism on campus and in student accommodation.

Vice-chancellor Koen Lamberts said the initiative wanted to “change the way people think about racism”.

The students will be paid £9.34 per hour as “race equality champions”, working between two and nine hours per week to tackle “microaggressions” in the university.

These are described as comments or actions which might be unintentional, but which can cause offence to a minority group.

It gives examples of what it means by microaggression – such as:

  • “Stop making everything a race issue”
  • “Why are you searching for things to be offended about?”
  • “Where are you really from?”
  • “I don’t want to hear about your holiday to South Africa. It’s nowhere near where I’m from”
  • “Being compared to black celebrities that I look nothing like”

    Rather than being about controlling people’s speech, the university says it is “opening up a conversation”.

  • Judging from the first two examples, they are allowed to open the conversation but you are not allowed to close it.

    Sir Roger Scruton (1944-2020) RIP

    “Falling to the bottom in my own country, I have been raised to the top elsewhere, and looking back over the sequence of events I can only be glad that I have lived long enough to see this happen. Coming close to death you begin to know what life means, and what it means is gratitude.”

    Sir Roger Scruton, academic, writer and supporter of East European dissidents, died yesterday after a short illness. I knew he was getting on in years but his death nevertheless came as a shock to me. I did not agree with all of his views, but I did on most of them, and he was one of those men I regard as a defender of liberty and of civilisation in its fullest sense.

    I met him when I was only 22, having recently graduated from my college. I had contributed a couple of small items towards the Salisbury Review journal that he edited, and was invited to a wonderfully posh and fun black-tie dinner at Hatfield House, ancestral home of the Salisbury dynasty, and joined by such luminaries as the journalist T E Utley, and Enoch Powell. I remember – this being 1988 – that Powell spoke with his customary intensity about Margaret Thatcher’s Bruges Group speech of that time, and remembered thinking that this issue over Europe would dominate much of our politics. I wasn’t wrong.

    When you are a young graduate, making your way in the world and trying to get the advice of clever people, it makes a lot of difference when the folk you meet and admire turn out to be great as people. Roger Scruton was one of them – I remember his wit, kindness and helpful advice. The same applied around the same time when I met two outstanding thinkers: Anthony Flew, and David Friedman (son of Milton Friedman). A few years later I met P J O’Rourke, who was hilarious and full of encouragement towards me as I told him I was a trainee journalist. I had the same experience when I met Auberon Waugh once. It really matters that people whom you meet like this give the time and trouble to talk to young people, and I try and remember that when, now that I am in my greying middle age, that youngsters whom I come up against ask me about what I do. Scruton was a model of the good and considerate teacher.

    It has been remarked elsewhere that Scruton was more admired abroad than he was in the UK, and that applies of course to the UK’s education establishment, much of which is dominated by the Left. His book, Thinkers of The New Left, is one of his most brilliant, and dissected the likes of Foucault, Derrrida, Heidegger and Althusser – a veritable gallery of knaves and fools. Their defenders weren’t happy, and Scruton’s chances of academic grandeur suffered. He taught in the US, wrote more books and ran a farm. In middle age, he took up horse riding and hunting with hounds with a zeal of a convert. In some ways he was a bit of a paradox: the grammar school boy with a bit of a rebellious streak, except that for him, being a true rebel meant being conservative rather than a socialist. It is a quality I share in some ways, as do many of those who write for this blog.

    I think that history will be kind to him: his focus on issues such as understanding the importance of beauty in human life, for example, will last a bit longer than some present obsessions, including, I hope, the intellectual cul-de-sac of “woke” politics. (Here is an obituary in the National Review, from the US.)

    All that remains is for me to express my condolences to his family and many friends. In particularly, I think of those people in Eastern Europe he helped, at some risk to himself, during the years ahead of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Unlike some academics, he was also a man of action and he was brave as a lion. RIP, Sir Roger.

    “Extinction Rebellion isn’t about the climate” says one of its founders

    “I’ve been with Extinction Rebellion (XR) from the start”, Stuart Basden explains.

    And for the sake of transparency: that previous paragraph is all about me ‘pulling rank’ — I’m trying to convince you to listen to what I have to say…

    And I’m here to say that XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system of that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life. This was exacerbated when European ‘civilisation’ was spread around the globe through cruelty and violence (especially) over the last 600 years of colonialism, although the roots of the infections go much further back.

    As Europeans spread their toxicity around the world, they brought torture, genocide, carnage and suffering to the ends of the earth. Their cultural myths justified the horrors, such as the idea that indigenous people were animals (not humans), and therefore God had given us dominion over them. This was used to justify a multi-continent-wide genocide of tens of millions of people. The coming of the scientific era saw this intensify, as the world around us was increasingly seen as ‘dead’ matter — just sitting there waiting for us to exploit it and use it up. We’re now using it up faster than ever.

    Euro-Americans violently imposed and taught dangerous delusions that they used to justify the exploitation and reinforced our dominance, while silencing worldviews that differed or challenged them. The UK’s hand in this was enormous, as can be seen by the size of the former British empire, and the dominance of the English language around the world.

    This article is a year old, but someone on the UK Politics subreddit called “WhereHasCentrismGone” posted it with the comment that it made the now rescinded decision by the police to include Extinction Rebellion in a list of extremist ideologies that should be reported to the authorities running the Prevent anti-terrorism programme seem more reasonable. I think it was out of order for the police to put XR on a terrorism watch list – their stunts annoy but are not violent – but we should be grateful to Mr Basden for reminding us that XR should be avoided by anyone who seriously wants to protect either the environment or their own mental health, seeing as the organisation is an anti-scientific cult fuelled by the neurotic self-hatred of privileged dilletantes in rich countries.

    The gamekeeper is on her rounds

    “I implore people to stop using private healthcare: it’s killing the NHS”, writes Jessica Arnold, who is described as “associate director of primary care for NHS Bromley clinical commissioning group”.

    …this is one of the most insidious and immediate ways privatisation is affecting our universal healthcare system – by poaching staff from their NHS jobs. Private hospitals, private diagnostic testing services, private general practices and other privately run services are creating a vicious cycle of detriment. It is a major contributor to the some 100,000 vacancies currently in the NHS today.

    “Poaching” is a strange metaphor to use, given that the “birds” in this case are not being kidnapped by the private sector but leaving the National Health Service to work elsewhere of their own free will. Perhaps Ms Arnold is referring to the eventual destiny of the birds under a gamekeeper’s care that do not get poached.

    Samizdata quote of the day

    Labour is to commission the mini millipede to hold an inquiry into why Labour lost the election. Which is funny really. I mean, everyone else knows exactly why they lost the election. In a recent conversation with one of their number, I was treated to ad hominem attacks for merely pointing out the obvious. They have their fingers in their ears, still believing, despite the evidence to the contrary that they won the argument, that Boris Johnson is an ignorant buffoon and that their economic polices weren’t a pile of shite.

    Longrider

    Let’s just accept that we live in a low-probability timeline

    Continuing my series of “Newspaper headlines mentioning vaguely newsworthy persons that I thought at first sight were jokes but turned out to be literally true”,

    Prominent lawyer Jolyon Maugham clubs fox to death while wearing kimono.

    Well, I suppose it is traditional to kill foxes on Boxing Day.

    Yesterday’s entry: The Attorney General reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    The Attorney General reads “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    Like it says on the tin, here is a video in which Geoffrey Cox reads ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas.

    No political point is being made. I just thought he read it rather well. If the politics gig doesn’t work out, a more respectable career awaits him as a voiceover artist.

    Happy [insert festival of choice here, including but not limited to Christmas and Wednesday] to all our readers.

    Do you stand with Maya?

    After selling half a billion Harry Potter books, it ought not to be news that J K Rowling has found a bunch of new readers. She has, though. But not all of them are fans. In the last few days twin rivers of praise and obloquy have washed over her for this tweet:

    Dress however you please.
    Call yourself whatever you like.
    Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
    Live your best life in peace and security.
    But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?

    #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
    12:57 PM · Dec 19, 2019

    She was referring to the judgement given by the employment judge Mr J Tayler in the employment tribunal case Forstater vs CGD :

    The specific belief that the Claimant holds as determined in the reasons, is not a philosophical belief protected by the Equality Act 2010.

    Those of you who did not leap to read the 26-page judgement may find it hard to understand what has aroused Ms Rowling’s anger. There are slightly more digestible accounts of the case between Maya Forstater and her former employer, the Centre for Global Development, available from Izzy Lyons in the Telegraph, Gaby Hinsliff in the Guardian, Clive Coleman for the BBC, and Andrew Sullivan in New York Magazine‘s blog, the Intelligencer – scroll down to see the part about the Forstater case. I got the link to the actual judgement from Mr Sullivan’s article.

    So, do I stand with Maya?

    Er, sort of. I’m kind of hovering sympathetically in the same general area without getting too close. The tragedy is that the debate we are getting is not once but twice removed from the debate we should be having. Should Maya Forstater be free to say what she thinks about the issue of whether transwomen are women? Yes, a thousand times yes. I would fight that battle gladly. Should the Centre for Global Development be free to impose restrictions on the speech of its employees as a condition of their employment? Yes in Libertaria, but in the real life UK… it’s complicated. Are transwomen “really” women? That question is subjective. The attempt to make it a matter of law does nothing but breed hatred. Yet at present all discussion of transgender people quickly becomes lost in an impenetrable maze of competing definitions of womanhood. The one issue that this futile discussion settles is which banner one marches under in the transgenderism wars, when there never needed to be sides at all.