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]

Freedom and free movement

Some propositions:

1. Freedom is a good thing. It is good in itself and it leads to good outcomes.

2. Freedom includes “free movement”.

3. Free movement is a bad thing. It leads to bad outcomes.

I can imagine some of the responses to this.

Freedom of movement is a success.


Anti-Jewish sit-in at Liverpool Street Station.

Still think it’s a success? I’d love to know what you would regard as failure.

Freedom of movement worked in the US in the 19th Century.

Yes, but not anywhere else. And certainly not here, and not now.

I know some great immigrants (and their descendants).

And so do I.

I’d go to war with her.

…and her.

The issue is not with those who come in small numbers. Or the ones who marry in. It’s with the ones who arrive en masse, live separately and learn to despise the natives.

There are problems but these would be solved with more freedom. If we abolished discrimination laws, hate speech laws etc things would be better. If we abolished planning (US=zoning) laws, the NHS and state education a lot of the pressures that immigration causes would be eased.

I am not sure that abolishing hate laws etc is even possible. People who find themselves mocked for their immutable characteristics are going to try to do something about it. Abolishing planning etc would be a good thing but that would do nothing to reduce the problems caused by mass migration. By making migration even more attractive it might even make them worse.

If you ditch freedom of movement where do you stop? freedom of speech, property rights?

That is the bit that troubles me the most. I want to believe that libertarianism has universal application. But what if it doesn’t? Here is an idea. Matters concerning the tribe are off-limits. Who is a member of the tribe? Where shall the tribe live? How shall the tribe defend itself? are simply outside the realm of libertarianism.

Update 5/11/23. When commenters started to mention the welfare state I had something of an “Oh drat!” moment. I’d simply forgotten to mention it. And it is a plausible explanation for both mass migration and its failure.

So, how do we assess the claim? We need to find examples of unsuccessful mass migration in the absence of a welfare state (or similar). This is not an easy thing to do. Welfare states and transport becoming affordable to even the world’s poorest came about at about the same time. There are a couple of counter-examples. Irish immigration to Belfast in the 19th Century for example. There were no Irishmen in Belfast before about 1800. There was no welfare state. There was lots of immigration to the shipyards and other industries. And by 1858 (if memory serves) there was lots of trouble. Another example which I can’t find was in a comment left here maybe 15 years ago. The commenter pointed out that Singapore had no welfare state, lots of immigration and ethnic tensions.

The Great Retcon

“Comic book fans will be familiar with the term ‘retcon’, which in layman’s terms means that the writer waves his hand and tells you ‘Remember when we said this? We screwed up, forget about that.'” – ‘Spoony’ quoted on the TV Tropes website.

“There is no history of Wales without the history of black experiences in Wales”, tweets @WelshLabour. Why do so many people say stuff like this nowadays? What do they think it achieves? Sure, it would be fair to say that any history of Wales that goes up to modern times but leaves out the chapter on Black Welsh people was incomplete. But, given that they make up only around 0.6% of the Welsh population now, and that prior to modern times their numbers were far lower than that, to say that the history of Wales does not exist unless it includes black history to say that entire history of Wales from Neolithic times until the mid twentieth century does not exist. It also implies that white experiences do not count as history unless there were some black people around at the same time to experience history properly. TV Tropes has a name for that idea, too, the “Magical Negro”.

This desperate retconning of the odd Phoenician, Libyan or Egyptian who turned up in British history as “black”, and the whole trend to exaggerate the number of black people in British history, has two effects, both of which increase racism. White people from the majority population resent seeing the history of their ancestors falsified and even erased, as the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, did when he said that “This city was built by migrants.” For black people, and indeed anyone of any colour whose ancestors did not come from these islands, it cements the idea that a person cannot truly be Welsh or British unless they can point to examples of people with enough genes in common with them having lived in those places centuries ago.

As I wrote a few years back,

For those that know their history, to read the line “Britain has always been a nation of immigrants” promotes scorn. When those who at first did not know the facts finally find them out, their reaction is cynicism. Worse yet, this slogan suggests that love of country for a black or ethnic minority Briton should depend on irrelevancies such as whether the borders were continually porous through many centuries, or on whether people ethnically similar them happen to have been here since time immemorial. (The latter idea is another “very odd corner” for progressives to have painted themselves into.) If either of these claims turns out to be false, what then?

Better to learn from the example of the Huguenots and Jews. Whether any “people like them” had come before might be an interesting question for historians (and a complex one in the case of the Jews), but whatever the answer, they became British anyway.

It is not necessary to have ancestors in a country to love it and to take inspiration from its history. This was well expressed in the maiden speech of Kemi Badenoch MP:

There are few countries in the world where you can go in one generation from immigrant to parliamentarian. Michael Howard spoke of the British dream—people choosing this country because of its tolerance and its opportunity. It is a land where a girl from Nigeria can move, aged 16, be accepted as British and have the great honour of representing Saffron Walden.

There are some in this country, and this Chamber, who seek to denigrate the traditions of this Parliament, portraying this House as a bastion of privilege and class, that “reeks of the establishment”, as someone said. It is no coincidence that those who seek to undermine the institutions of this island—Parliament, monarchy, Church and family—also propagate a world view that sees Britain, and the values we hold dear, as a force for bad in the world. Growing up in Nigeria, the view was rather different. The UK was a beacon, a shining light, a promise of a better life.

Intersectionality in today’s NHS

Dr Wahid Asif Shaida has worked as an NHS doctor for a practice in Harrow for more than twenty years. He is described as having a senior role at the surgery as a mentor and trainer for recently-qualified doctors.

Remember the Hizb ut-Tahrir member who led the chant for jihad the other day?

Same guy.

London jihad demo leader is NHS doctor: Islamic extremist’s double life as a suburban GP is exposed

The firebrand leader of an extremist Islamic group that called for ‘jihad’ at an anti-Israel protest works as an NHS GP under a different name, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

As head of Hizb ut-Tahrir in the UK, Abdul Wahid celebrated the barbaric Hamas terror attacks that slaughtered 1,400 Jewish men, women and children earlier this month as a ‘very welcome punch on the nose’ to Israel.

But he has also spent more than 20 years practising as a family doctor under his real name, Dr Wahid Asif Shaida.

The lever wasn’t long enough

“Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world”, the great mathematician Archimedes is supposed to have said.

Maybe it was their company name that led Anglo-Dutch consumer packaged goods company Unilever to briefly decide that their real mission was not making shampoo, soap, washing power and assorted packaged food products but to take it upon themselves to move the world. The world moved all right, away from these irritating people who were trying to shove it around.

“Unilever to tone down social purpose after ‘virtue-signalling’ backlash”, reports the Telegraph.

Unilever will no longer seek to “force-fit” all of its brands with a social purpose, its new chief executive said, following a backlash over the company’s “virtue-signalling”.

Hein Schumacher, who took over from Alan Jope in July, said for some of its brands, giving them a social or environmental purpose “simply won’t be relevant or it will be an unwelcome distraction”.

He added: “I believe that a social and environmental purpose is not something that we should force-fit on every brand.”

It marks a change in position from Mr Jope, who placed social purpose at the centre of his strategy for Unilever. In 2019, he pledged to sell off brands that “are not able to stand for something more important than just making your hair shiny, your skin soft, your clothes whiter or your food tastier”.

Can anyone tell me if this pledge was fulfilled, and if so which brands were sold to other companies? I like the sound of products whose makers feel that there is nothing more important than manufacturing them to perform their functions well.

The stance prompted a backlash from the City, amid growing frustration at blue chip companies for prioritising fashionable causes over profits.

Terry Smith, one of Britain’s best-known investors, has criticised Unilever for becoming “obsessed” with its public image and accused the company of “virtue signalling” rather than focusing on financial performance.

He said in January last year: “A company which feels it has to define the purpose of Hellmann’s mayonnaise has, in our view, clearly lost the plot.”

Speaking on Thursday, Mr Schumacher said Unilever was not “giving up on purpose-led brands” altogether. He said for some brands such as Dove, giving them a social or environmental purpose was “logical”, as it made them more attractive for shoppers. Dove uses the idea of “real beauty” in its marketing campaigns, featuring women with different body types.

The Unilever chief said Ben & Jerry’s was another of its brands which has a “clear purpose”.

The ice cream brand is known for adopting stances on political issues, championing causes including protecting the environment and defending LGTBQ+ and refugee rights.

However, Unilever has clashed with Ben & Jerry’s over its activism in the past. Mr Jope told the ice cream company in July last year it should steer clear of “straying into geopolitics” after the brand attempted to boycott the Palestinian occupied territories. Unilever later sold Ben & Jerry’s Israeli operations.

Ben & Jerry’s has not spoken publicly about the Israel-Hamas conflict since the war broke out.

Mr Schumacher said on Thursday: “They’ve been vocal indeed before because of the social mission that Ben and Jerry’s definitely has. On the conflict, I just have no comment at the moment. It’s not a topic of discussion.”

Tellingly, the Telegraph article adds that the “social mission” to boycott the Palestinian occupied territories did not apply to occupied territories nearer home where Unilever’s profits were at stake:

Mr Schumacher has also come under pressure to address Unilever’s decision to keep selling its products in Russia since taking over as chief executive.

The Telegraph revealed earlier this year that Ukrainian veterans had written directly to Mr Schumacher, urging him to quit Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. They warned Unilever staff risked being conscripted into the war.

Schumacher’s response was to emit words:

On Thursday, Mr Schumacher said Unilever would continue to look at its options, adding: “It is clear that the containment actions that we have taken minimise Unilever’s economic contribution to the Russian state.”

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

Arrestable and non-arrestable offences during religious protests

Ten months ago, a woman called Isabel Vaughan-Spruce was arrested for silently praying outside an abortion clinic.

For days ago, a man whose name the police know but have not made public was not arrested for asking a “What is the solution to liberate people from the concentration camp called Palestine?” Then the man standing at his side led the crowd in chanting “Jihad! Jihad! Jihad!” – and he wasn’t arrested either. This took place at a protest in London on 21st October organised by the Islamic Fundamentalist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.

I do not think either Isabel Vaughan-Spruce or the two Hizb ut-Tahrir members should have been arrested. I have two main reasons for this view. Firstly, I believe in free speech (well, free mental recitation in Vaughan-Spruce’s case). Secondly, I want to know what the likes of Hizb ut-Tahrir are saying and I want other people to know. The media have sugar-coated Muslim extremism for long enough.

But if we are going to have anyone arrested for religiously motivated protest, why should it be her rather than them? Here is the Metropolitan Police’s own explanation:

Specialist officers have assessed the video and have not identified any offences arising from the specific clip. We have also sought advice from specialist Crown Prosecution Service lawyers who have reached the same conclusion.

However, recognising the way language like this will be interpreted by the public and the divisive impact it will have, officers identified the man involved and spoke to him to discourage any repeat of similar chanting.

We are also aware of photos from the same protest showing signs and banners referring to ‘Muslim armies’.

While there are varying interpretations of what the language on the placards should be interpreted to mean, officers must take decisions based on the wording actually used.

Such care for exactitude in whether words spoken at a protest met the threshold for being an offence would be admirable if the police applied the same care to everyone. But they don’t. Ben Sixsmith, writing for The Critic, lists twelve things more arrestable than calling for Jihad.

UPDATE: This video, which I found via Dr Eli David, shows a crowd of Muslims marching down a street in London. Someone shouts (into a microphone judging from the sound) the following words, “We’ll find some Jews here! We want the Zionists! We want their blood!” Meanwhile a policeman walks beside them, saying nothing.

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 – 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 culture wars, sporting edition

My stance on this is Bill Burr’s. I’ll take it seriously when women fans show up. The men’s game is subsiding the sport with my money. Not that anyone asked my permission. I’ve done more than enough and it’s just “not my job” to watch it for them too.

– ‘Tom Payne

Just like the old days at the BBC

The BBC yesterday: Why BBC doesn’t call Hamas militants ‘terrorists’ – John Simpson

I wrote the following for the “Biased BBC” blog in 2006. Depressing to think that seventeen years and God knows how many thousands of terrorist murders later, I can repost it unchanged and, bar one or two place names and the reference to the London bombings of 7/7/2005 being ‘a year ago’, it is as relevant now as it was then.

But … you talk like war crimes are a bad thing.

I was listening to the ten o’clock news with half an ear and I caught Jeremy Bowen saying something like if Israel can’t prove that bombing the bridges in Lebanon was justified “then it’s a war crime.”

I don’t get it, BBC. So what if it is. Why do you care?

Note, I’m not asking why you, the readers of this site, might care – or you, the BBC audience, or you the Lebanese or you the Israelis or you the Palestinians or you the world. You all might have many and different opinions on whether it’s a war crime in law, or whether it’s a war crime in the sight of God – but I’m not asking you.

I’m talking to you, the British Broadcasting Corporation. When Hamas and then Hizbollah attacked Israel you never troubled to tell us the legal status of the acts. When suicide bombers killed Israelis at pizza parlours and bar mitzvahs you never gave us any of this war crime schtick, although attacks targeted at non-combatants are the epitome of a war crime. “Terrorist” is a term with meaning in international law, yet when bombers murdered your own countrymen in London a year ago you were so anxious to avoid being judgemental that you had someone go through what your reporters had written in the heat and pity of the moment, carefully replacing the word “terrorist” with the word “bomber.”

(God, what a shameful job. While they were still scrubbing the blood off the streets and the rails, some hack was scrubbing out any suggestion that the killers might have been bad people. Was it a junior hack under orders or a senior hack doing his own dirty work? Or were you all sent slinking back to your desks each to expunge his own words? I’d really like to know, but whichever it was you were anxious to avoid any talk of “crimes” then.)

“Bomber” not “terrorist”: by your own account your only job is to describe projectiles hitting meat. So what’s up now, with your “war crimes” and your “Israel kills Lebanese civilians”? You don’t need these fancy legal concepts, as if it mattered to you whether they were civilians or not. By your own stated standards moral distinctions between killings are “a barrier rather than an aid to understanding.”

I just don’t get it.

Underground and overground

The recent and highly contested decision by London mayor Sadiq Khan to expand ULEZ (ultra-low emissions zone) from central to the outer London boroughs has already caused considerable political pushback. It cost the opposition Labour Party a by-election result. and played a part in encouraging Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to realise, perhaps rather late in the day, that the push to ban sales of new petrol/diesel vehicles in 2030 wasn’t a great one.

It is always wise to heed the Law of Unintended Consequences, and who better to raise that angle than the Institute of Economic Affairs, the think tank. A writer, David Starkie (not the right-wing historian, but another chap), has this:

“The extra ridership on the Tube due to the ULEZ is no doubt tiny compared with daily numbers using the network; this number, about 5 million people a day, is equivalent to more than half the population of the capital. Tiny the extra numbers may be, but these transferees from road vehicles will have their health risk increased as a result of the ULEZ-induced modal shift. Whether this was considered when calculating the statistical numbers of reduced deaths due to the scheme is unknown, but it is by no means apparent that it was considered.”

The article is written in the cool, measured tones of economics. Starkie talks about “modalities” and so on. To translate into blunt language, Starkie argues that people are being encouraged to avoid cars and take dirtier underground public transport instead. The deeper Tube lines are full of dust, such as metal particulates thrown up as wheels grind on the rails. The Tube also, so a friend who used to work for the Tube tells me, has a lot of poison to kill mice and rats. (Here is a page about the mice problem with the Tube.) Starkie notes:

Parts of the Underground suffer from serious air pollution, discovered following research in 2019 sponsored by the Financial Times. According to the newspaper, the deep Tube is by far the most polluted part of the city because of considerable particulate pollution from metal friction, clothing fibre, and dust in general trapped in the tunnels. And there is a lot of it. Using hundreds of measurements inside carriages within Zone 1, dangerously high levels of pollution were found, particularly on the deeper lines. All the deep lines (Piccadilly, Jubilee, Bakerloo, Northern, Victoria and Central) had particulate PM2.5 levels at least five times higher than the World Health Organization’s safe limit and much higher than average levels on the surface, (generally less than PM1.0) particularly in outer London.

In short, some Londoners and those entering or leaving the city on a daily basis are swapping their cars, and where air quality is pretty good, for the Tube, where parts of it have air quality that is far worse. Whatever else Mr Khan may claim about the the expansion of ULEZ, I doubt that a rigorous or honest consideration of air quality is what this is about. It is about raising money and bashing those who own cars.

Samizdata quote of the day – the Israel edition

“Yet the idea that all British Jews are uncritical backers of the Israeli administration is fiction. There are as many vocal opponents of Benjamin Netanyahu and his hardliners as there are supporters. So why should they be blamed en masse for policies decided in Jerusalem? And why must it spill over into violence and vandalism? Indelibly ingrained anti-Semitism can be the only credible explanation.”

“After all, the Left — and it is almost exclusively the Left — don’t hold all British Muslims responsible for the excesses of the Saudi regime. Or attack Chinese restaurants over Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs. Where are the protests outside the Russian embassy about the illegal war on Ukraine? What also baffles me is why the Left make common cause with fascistic, paramilitary organisations such as Hamas, which represents and practises everything they claim to abhor, including rampant misogyny. How can they make excuses for a terrorist group which rapes and kills women and children?”

Richard Littlejohn.

Part of the Left (and a few on the crazier ends of the Right) excuses attacks on Israel, and engages in this sort of moronic behaviour, because they are anti-semites. Anti-semitism is a moral sickness, the badge of under-achievers, losers and loons the world over, and has been that way for centuries. Another factor is that for a lot of Leftists, to be on the Left is to support “victims”, particularly if they have cultivated, nurtured and celebrated victimhood, as in the case of say, the Palestinians or wherever. Sometimes there are aspects of genuine justice in these stances, but in the main this is about a search for a cause with a group that is nice and far away, rather than to have to contemplate the more complicated facts on the ground. And another driver of Israel/Jew hatred is that Israel is a modern country in many ways, a tech powerhouse, and the Jewish people have over the centuries excelled in many fields when given the chance. If you are a Leftist, all this achievement cuts against the grain.