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

The far-Left’s attempted putsch in places such as Seattle and the statue-defacing/removal frenzy in the UK, among other outrages, are a delayed reaction not so much to a specific police act in Minneapolis, but because the far Left suffered a major electoral setback in December 2019 in the UK (yes, I get that the Tories ran to the political centre, but it was still a reverse for Corbyn & Co) and also because of the dawning horror that Trump could well retain the White House in November. Trump was on course to win because of factors such as the Russia-gate scandal that wasn’t, the pre-COVID-19 economy, the fact that the Democrats are led by people either out of their minds or losing them to infirmity, etc. So street politics – or “riot ideology” fills the vacuum of political power that parts of the far Left perceive they have lost. (See a related discussion here.)

Related thoughts from Joel Kotkin on the economic drivers of anger (not that he is excusing it).

Keep your eyes peeled

Julius Caesar, Act III Scene III:

CINNA THE POET: Truly, my name is Cinna.
FIRST CITIZEN: Tear him to pieces; he’s a conspirator.
CINNA THE POET: I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.
FOURTH CITIZEN: Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.
CINNA THE POET: I am not Cinna the conspirator.
FOURTH CITIZEN: It is no matter, his name’s Cinna; pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going.
THIRD CITIZEN: Tear him, tear him! Come, brands ho! fire-brands: to Brutus’, to Cassius’; burn all: some to Decius’ house, and some to Casca’s; some to Ligarius’: away, go!

The BBC reports:

Sir Robert Peel statue removal calls ‘targeting wrong man’

Anti-racism campaigners calling for the removal of statues of a former British prime minister have been accused of targeting the wrong man.

There are several statues of Sir Robert Peel, who founded the modern police.

But city leaders said people appeared to be confusing him with his father, of the same name, who opposed the abolition of slavery.

In contrast the Robert Peel of the statue, to quote Wikipedia, “often started from a traditional Tory position in opposition to a measure, then reversed his stance and became the leader in supporting liberal legislation. This happened with the Test Act, Catholic Emancipation, the Reform Act, income tax and, most notably, the repeal of the Corn Laws.” He also, most pertinently, laid down the principles of policing by consent that many forces would do well to re-learn. Oh, and as Prime Minister he “supported William Wilberforce’s Anti-Slavery Bill wholeheartedly” against the opposition of many in his own party.

So there you are. Two Robert Peels, father and son, same name but very different people. This whole statue-toppling thing is stupid but a little mix-up like that did not exceed the base level of stupidity. Easy mistake to make.

The next bit, however…

Despite acknowledging the mistaken identity, campaigners are still calling for the Leeds statue to go.

[…]

Although organisers recognised they had initially referred to the wrong person, they said they wanted it removed because “we should not celebrate colonisers”.

The petition states: “With the legitimacy of current policing in question, the history of policing, its origins in colonialism and its role in suppressing dissent deserves greater scrutiny.

“Peel’s statue belongs in a museum, as part of an exhibition for others to learn about the history of British colonialism.”

Edit: There are two petitions currently running on Change.org relating to different statues of Peel. The first is “Keep the Bradford Robert peel statue” and the second is “Keep the Sir Robert Peel statue in Picadilly Gardens”

As the BBC article states, the petition to remove the statue of Peel in Leeds got its target number of signers. You can see it here.

Peel created the London Metropolitan Police in 1829, the ideas for which he developed while overseeing the British colonial occupation of Ireland. He was pivotal in setting up the police forces which maintained British rule in Ireland and a system which led to the poverty, famine and displacement of Irish people. Colonialism and racism – in this case anti-catholic sentiment – are central to British history. Not only that but with the legitimacy of current policing in question, the history of policing, its origins in colonialism and its role in suppressing dissent deserves greater scrutiny.”

That is an extract from the version they wrote after they were made aware that they had misidentified the Robert Peel depicted in the statue.

The revolting revolting rich

Ed West provided the quote about younger sons of Norman lords which became the SQotD for June 4th. He has now written a follow up piece, “Why the rich are revolting”

Today’s unrest involves two sections of US society, African-Americans and upper-middle-class whites, who together form the axis of the Democratic Party, but it is the latter who are far more engaged in racial activism. The “Great Awokening”, the mass movement focused on eradicating racism in America and with a quasi-religious, almost hysterical feel to it, is dominated by the upper middle class.

I knew that, but I did not know this:

That noble tradition of haute bourgeoisie revolution continues today, especially in the US. The Occupy movement, for example, is deeply opposed to the 1% but largely because they come from the 2-5%; Amy Chua cited figures suggesting that in New York, more than half it members earned $75,000 or more while only 8% were on low incomes, compared to 30% of the city. They also have hugely disproportionate numbers of graduates and post-grads among their members.

The wider Great Awokening, of which the 2020 disturbances are a part, is a very elite phenomenon, with progressive activists nearly twice as likely as the average American to make more than $100,000 a year, nearly three times as likely to have a postgraduate degree, and only one-quarter as likely to be black.

Lording it over history can get out of hand

A Facebook friend of mine put this on her timeline, and after asking, she said I could post this here. I am sure Samizdata readers will appreciate the sentiments.

Since banning and toppling is now the lockdown activity de rigeur, I didn’t want to be left out, so have decided to add to the list:

– The Colosseum – hotbed of slave suffering and anti-Christian persecution. Turn it in to a car park, I say. Whilst we’re at it, the Pyramids and Acropolis didn’t build themselves, so send in the JCBs.

– The Guardian newspaper – founded by a man whose fortune was made on the back of the slave-intense cotton trade. Naughty.

– The Labour party – one of the founding organisations was the Fabian society, which, in the early 1900s called for eugenics and forced sterilisation. Off with your heads.

– Jeeves and Wooster – we all remember how they blacked up as minstrels in one of their episodes? Silence them.

– Most of Southern Spain – conquered and occupied by the Moors for over 300 years, around 1 million white Europeans were sold IN to the African slave trade (well before European colonialisation, Africa had booming slave markets). The historical legacy is everywhere, not least in those colonial place names (Al-Andalus, Al-Meria, Qurtoba) – abolish the lot.

– Scandinavians – what were they up to, sending their vikings over and enslaving our tribes? Actually, add the bloody Normans to that too.

– Mongolia – rapist-in-chief warlord, who had more slaves in his tenure than ever existed in the Western colonial slave trade, and killed 40 million people during his rampages. Apparently, there are 16,000,000 living direct descendants of his wayward penis. No yurts for you.

– Ghandi – Had a few unsavoury things to say about black Africans. No more blacked-up Ben Kingsley for you.

– All of us – that’s right, there is virtually no one alive today who is not the product of what is today considered paedophilia. Women were often married off as children, and started giving birth at 12 or 13, so we should no-platform ourselves and our ancestors.

OR

We could just grow the fuck up and consider that man has evolved faster in the last 3,000 years than any other species on this planet. We have gone from cave dwellers to sending humans in to space in a period of time that is barely a blink in the cosmic scale.

To apply our 21st century morality on our ancestors is so completely ridiculous, as to defy morality or reason. To educate our youth fairly and equitably on our progression is a far more powerful tool than to deny our pasts. This attempt to pretend that Britain has a history only to be ashamed of is not only factually incorrect, but so counter-productive and divisive, that we will make whatever problems we think we have, far, far worse.

Everyone calm down.

The Anglosphere and our present discontents

Contemplating the riots/demonstrations of the weekend (statues defaced and pulled down, police officers assaulted, social distancing ignored, etc) I ask myself about the extraordinary power of events a thousand-plus miles away in the US to excite supposedly “spontaneous” reactions here in the UK. And yet if, say, French police get all heavy with yellow-jacket protesters, I don’t recall marches of demonstrators in front of the French embassy. Or nor do I see this if or when there are problems in Germany, Italy or Spain (racism is a thing in these countries, after all).

Ironically – and this must drive those of a pro-EU frame of mind nuts – it is still North America, with its rawer culture and politics, its legal similarities to the UK (for good and for ill) that resonates, even in the minds (for want of a better noun) of the sort of folk going on BLM demos. What goes on in France, Germany or Italy tends not to have the same grip on the mind. The Atlantic is wide and the Channel is narrow, but in every other sense, it is the other way around. To that extent, then, the Anglosphere lives, even in the hearts and minds of the far Left.

And even with the lockdowns, there is the same focus in large part on what the US is doing or not doing, rather than say, what our continental European neighbours are up to. One reason for this is that those who want to sacralise the National Health Service face the uncomfortable fact that even in more socialist Europe, healthcare isn’t a state, centrally planned system, but rather more decentralised, particularly in Germany.

If Corbyn had won we’d have had free broadband by 2030

As in we would have had it.

15 November 2019:

General election 2019: Labour pledges free broadband for all

Labour has promised to give every home and business in the UK free full-fibre broadband by 2030, if it wins the general election.

The party would nationalise part of BT to deliver the policy and introduce a tax on tech giants to help pay for it.

Shadow chancellor John McDonnell told the BBC the “visionary” £20bn plan would “ensure that broadband reaches the whole of the country”.

28 May 2020:

No more free petrol, Maduro tells Venezuelans

Venezuela’s socialist government says it is ending its policy of allowing motorists to fill up with free petrol as the country confronted an economic meltdown.

“Petrol must be paid for,” said President Maduro in a state TV address. He described the change, euphemistically, as a “normalisation and regularisation plan.”

Britain should open her doors to Hong Kongers looking to flee China’s overreach

Hong Kongers are some of the most educated and entrepreneurial people in the world, so even folk who depreciate immigration from the Third World should be able to get behind this idea, given Hong Kong is very much First World.

I rather doubt Hong Kongers (Hong Kong GDP/capita = $49,334, UK GDP/capita = $42,976) are not going to be competing with poor British people for council houses.

Everyone’s a winner

The Times reports,

A civil servant who was branded a racist for claiming that it always rained in Wales has been awarded more than £240,000 at an employment tribunal.

Anne Giwa-Amu won her race and age discrimination case after being mocked for complaining about the cold, wet weather, which a colleague referred to as her regular “weather reports”, and accused of stealing ice cream.

Reading the Times account, it does seem that Ms Giwa-Amu was bullied by her colleagues:

The tribunal was told that Ms Giwa-Amu felt Ms [Daisy] Cartwright was trivialising discrimination by calling her racist for moaning about the weather.

In front of colleagues, Ms Cartwright also repeatedly accused Ms Giwa-Amu of stealing ice cream. The tribunal found that while this may have started as a joke, Ms Cartwright carried on bullying Ms Giwa-Amu after others asked her to stop.

Ms Cartwright also sprayed deodorant near Ms Giwa-Amu, knowing that she hated it, and span around on a chair while sitting next to her to try to make her feel sick.

Another co-worker, Robert Lewis, “humiliated” Ms Giwa-Amu, the tribunal was told, when he accidentally touched her bottom. He said, in front of a large group: “I touched [Anne]’s bum. I touched her bum.” Ms Giwa-Amu said that the experience was horrible and that she felt Mr Lewis was laughing about how unpleasant he found it to have touched her.

The full Times story is behind a paywall, but this report in Personnel Today tells the same story.

But fear not, it all worked out OK for everyone in the end.

Mr Lewis is still an administrative officer at the Caerphilly office. Ms Cartwright was promoted to a job in another part of the civil service.

As for Ms Giwa-Amu, Personnel Today says she joined the Department of Work and Pensions in February 2017. The Times says she went on sick leave in March 2017 and never returned to work. At an Administrative Officer’s salary it would have taken around ten years to earn the quarter of a million pounds she was awarded.

So, everyone wins. Except for one group of people who are financially involved but whose interests can safely be ignored.

The State’s lament: ‘A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened;’

Thus went the UK government’s discussion paper on increasing social distancing on 22nd March 2020.

The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat.

There were other considerations:

Hong Kong’s experience:

Having a good understanding of the risk has been found to be positively associated with adoption of COVID-19 social distancing measures in Hong Kong

And carrots:

Incentivisation
6. Social approval: Social approval can be a powerful source of reward. Not only can this be provided directly by highlighting examples of good practice and providing strong social encouragement and approval in communications; members of the community can be encouraged to provide it to each other. This can have a beneficial spill-over effect of promoting social cohesion. Communication strategies should provide social approval for desired behaviours and promote social approval within the community.

And of course, coercion, along with ‘social disapproval’:

Coercion
7. Compulsion: Experience with UK enforcement legislation such as compulsory seat belt use suggests that, with adequate preparation, rapid change can be achieved (16). Some other countries have introduced mandatory self-isolation on a wide scale without evidence of major public unrest and a large majority of the UK’s population appear to be supportive of more coercive measures. For example, 64% adults in Great Britain said they would support putting London under a ‘lock down’ (17). However, data from Italy and South Korea suggest that for aggressive protective measures to be effective, special attention should be devoted to those population groups that are more at risk (18). In addition, communities need to be engaged to minimise risk of negative effects. Consideration should be given to enacting legislation, with community involvement, to compel key social distancing measures.

8. Social disapproval: Social disapproval from one’s community can play an important role in preventing anti-social behaviour or discouraging failure to enact pro-social behaviour (15). However, this needs to be carefully managed to avoid victimisation, scapegoating and misdirected criticism. It needs to be accompanied by clear messaging and promotion of strong collective identity. Consideration should be given to use of social disapproval but with a strong caveat around unwanted negative consequences.

So, for us rats in the lab, we can see the experimental parameters. I can’t find the words ‘rights‘, ‘freedom‘, ‘free‘ or ‘liberty‘ anywhere in this document. I can see this, my emphasis in bold, with the lie about people being ‘asked’:

9. Community resourcing: People are being asked to give up valued activities and access to resources for an extended period. These need to be compensated for by ensuring that people have access to opportunities for social contact and rewarding activities that can be undertaken in the home, and to resources such as food. Adequately resourced community infrastructure and mobilisation needs to be developed rapidly and with coverage across all communities (6, 15).

10. Reducing inequity: Adherence to these measures is likely to be undermined by perceived inequity in their impact on different sections of the population, especially those who are already disadvantaged, e.g. those in rented accommodation and those working in precarious employment. Reducing costs of phone calls, data downloads etc. by ‘responsibility deals’ or government subsidies should be considered.

Just in case you don’t think that this is an experiment, there is a reference to methodology including this, but read the whole thing:

The criteria go under the acronym, APEASE (Acceptability, Practicability, Effectiveness, Affordability, Spill-over effects, Equity)

Edit: Just after Paul’s comment, a bit more has just come out, from 25th February 2020, about the risk of disorder, foreseeing a risk of PPE shortage on 25th February 2020, so they knew that they could be short long before they did anything about it:
The last paragraph says it all:

Promote a sense of collectivism: All messaging should reinforce a sense of community, that “we are all in this together.” This will avoid increasing tensions between different groups (including between responding agencies and the public); promote social norms around behaviours; and lead to self-policing within communities around important behaviours.

L’affaire Cummings

Please. Stop acting like this Dominic Cummings farrago is actually about “what Dom Cummings did within the context of Wuhan Coronavirus in the UK”.

It ain’t.

Almost everything in UK media & politics makes perfect sense when viewed through the lens of Brexit, and that will be true until 1st January 2021.

Cummings is usually described as ‘hard line’ on the recommendations he gives regarding Brexit. It is obvious that the Cummings lynch mobs are really only interested in ‘salvaging’ some kind BRINO from the ‘catastrophe’ of Brexit.

In spite of coronavirus, it is still actually Brexit that really still drives everything in UK. Everyone worldwide is going to try and use coronavirus to leverage their preexisting political objectives, and UK is no exception. Normal politics will resume next year.

Please, gentle Nicola, will you bless a little child?

Please, gentle Eva, will you bless a little child?
For I love you – Tell heaven I’m doing my best
I’m praying for you, even though you’re already blessed

Please, mother Eva, will you look upon me as your own?
Make me special, be my angel
Be my everything wonderful, perfect and true
And I’ll try to be exactly like you

Santa, santa Evita
Madre de todos los ninos
De los tiranizados, de los descamisados
De los trabajadores, de la Argentina

Why try to govern a country when you can become a saint?

*

STV’s deleted ‘Thank you, Nicola’ video

Cute kid A: The children of Scotland…
Cute kid B: …would like to say thank you…
Cute kid C: …to Nicola, our First Minister of Scotland.
Cute kid D: We are so grateful, thank you for always…
Cute kid E: …keeping us safe,
Cute kid F: working so hard,
Cute kid G: for being strong for us.
Cute kid H: Thank you for caring for every individual life…
Cute kid I: …and for always thinking about the children of Scotland.
Cute kid J: Thank you Nicola.
Cute kid K: Thank you.
Cute kid L: Thank you.
Cute kids M & N: Thank you.
Supremely cute toddler: Dank yoo.

STV launches inquiry into ‘North Korea’ children’s video

STV has launched an internal investigation after the broadcaster released a video of children praising Nicola Sturgeon for “keeping them safe” during the coronavirus pandemic.

A series of clips from the video were posted on Twitter yesterday before being taken down following a number of complaints.

Some compared it to the sort of brainwashing media typical of totalitarian countries such as North Korea.

(Want to see what these complaints are getting at? Here are a couple of examples: “North Korean children sing ode to Kim Jong Un”, and “Tearful schoolchildren salute Kim Jong-un in North Korea”.)

Apparently reading from a script, they say: “The children of Scotland would like to say thank you to Nicola, our First Minister of Scotland. We are so grateful, thank you for always keeping us safe, working so hard, for being strong for us. Thank you for caring for every individual life and for always caring about the children of Scotland. Thank you Nicola.”

Who in STV decided this was a good idea? Who made this video? Who wrote the script, who hired the children, who filmed it?

Who was paid to show it and who paid to have it shown?

Edit: Mr Ed comments,

“Someone please do a mash-up of all the women saying ‘Thank you‘ to Nicola’s predecessor, provided that reporting restrictions are not breached.”

Samizdata quote of the day

The Ferguson – or Imperial – coronavirus model is a load of Hooey. But not, or not alone, for the reasons generally given that it’s a tangled mess of code that doesn’t even produce the same answer each time. Nor because its output was so useless that even the originator wouldn’t obey the implied rules from its use when seeking a shag.

No, Ferguson failed because his model failed to include human beings in it. Which is really very weird indeed when attempting to model, erm, human beings.

Tim Worstall