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

Tax havens are a good thing. Without them, the cartels can continue without any competition. So, if not attending Davos really is a start to a low tax economy that forces tax competition on the globalists whether they like it or not and brings inward investment to this country, then there is cause for cautious optimism.


Barking Parking Teslas

Long ago, Milton Friedman suggested the US might be better off without the Food and Drug Administration. People wrote to him saying the FDA should not be abolished but reformed so it would act differently. Friedman replied by writing a column he titled ‘Barking cats’:

What would you think of someone who said, “I would like to have a cat provided that it barked?” … The way the FDA now behaves, and the adverse consequences, are not an accident … but a consequence of its constitution.”

Today I chanced to hear a couple of medical professionals discuss the Tesla they have just arranged to buy, bemoaning its cost but rejoicing there would be “no more gas-guzzling trips”. Later they spoke of government policy on parking at NHS hospitals. Labour brought in the policy – which Cameron and May kept on, of course – to help save the environment by making parking at hospitals difficult (its proposers used different words) to encourage use of public transport. I learnt this policy much annoys shift-working NHS staff, who must sometimes travel in and out at hours when there is little or no public transport (or in areas that are not too salubrious). I already knew from my own friends and family that it much annoys elderly relatives visiting hospital patients – friends of mine have had to give up and go home again because an old man was not up to walking the distance from the nearest viable parking to visit an old woman, and might have had to be signed into the hospital himself if he’d tried. These Tesla-buying NHS professionals conceded that the numerous (by government policy) almost-always-empty electric-car-only spaces that adorn the limited hospital parking provided were also annoying. The man remarked that a hospital he’d recently served at really wanted to convert an available site nearby into a car park – “but knew they’d never get permission.” The woman said that if the government wanted NHS staff and patients to use public transport, they should try and ensure large hospitals were well-served by buses, but her experience was the reverse – “They need some joined-up thinking!”.

The thought flitted across my brain that greenie civil servants were not alone in needing to join up their thinking. And then I thought of Friedman, long ago, recalling his “Barking Cats” column of yet longer ago:

The error of supposing the behaviour of social organisms can be shaped at will is widespread. It is the fundamental error of most so-called reformers. … It explains why their reforms, when ostensibly achieved, so often go astray. (‘Free to Choose’)

Of course, I believe that the western world’s social organism could be shaped to respect science more and virtue-signalling AGW non-science less. So maybe I shouldn’t be too critical. Still, the BBC reported today that SUVs are outselling electric cars 37:1, “making a mockery of UK policy” so there is hope – of a kind.

Disparate-Impact Anti-Semitism

Between Momentum activists complaining that Labour is

“not helped by the fact that the BBC has a lot of Jewish journalists

and Corbyn saying the BBC

“has a bias towards saying that… Israel has a right to exist

there seems to be a feeling in Labour circles that both Jews and their concerns are over-represented in the media.

This is not the first time round for such ideas. Complaints that the Germans were “a people with severed vocal chords”, that Berlin’s major newspapers were owned and/or edited by Jews, that “23 of 29 Berlin theatre managers were Jews” that “the barristers’ room in any Berlin state court was like a Jewish club” etc., were often made in the 1920s and 30s. Nazi statistics, even in the days when the press (Jewish-owned or otherwise) could still challenge them, were usually spun toward the high side – but aimed to persuade by describing areas where everyone knew Jews far exceeded their less-than-one-percent of Germany’s population. The Nazis would not have achieved anything by claiming that too many German farmers were Jews, or too many German generals. (It was the British empire, not Germany, that produced Sir John Monash.) In many a pre-power speech that Hitler gave, e.g. to students (students voted for him at twice the average German rate), he promised merely to remedy these disparate statistics and redress the historic injustices they revealed.

That’s the trouble with disparate-impact theory. Jews have often been victims of racism. But if the mere existence of racial disparities proves racism then a glance at many a country’s economic or cultural statistics will show, according to disparate-impact theory, how much more time Jews must have spent perpetrating racism. Percentages always sum to a hundred – so, even in countries where their fraction of the population is not much higher than in pre-war Germany or even lower, any Jewish higher-than-proportion achievement necessarily accompanies some lower-than-proportion percentages of other groups. Disparate-impact theory exists precisely to crush the racist excuses offered for such racist disparities.

And of course, this racism cannot remain confined within each country. Since there are fewer Jews in the world than there are citizens of Kazakhstan, disparate-impact theory makes Jews guilty of a lot of racism against Kazakhs (and almost everyone else) in Nobel prize awards. Even the evil of toxic whiteness, conveying disproportionate prosperity and prestige to caucasians, cannot quite compare statistically with Jewish disproportions, and if Jewish survivors of violent dispossession repeatedly arrived near-destitute in new places, but their descendants averaged more of such places’ increased fame and wealth than the indigenes, well, by disparate-impact theory that just proves how committed Jews must be to such racist behaviour. Don’t they understand that at some point you’ve made enough money and won enough awards – and that point is strict statistical parity with the locals.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is one reason why a movement that calls you a Nazi for arguing with it so often sounds like it is taking its lines from one of Adolf’s early-30’s addresses. The political world, like the real world, is a sphere: go too far ‘fighting racism’ and you’ll meet your alleged opposites round the far side – and after that you’ll be so far gone you’re coming back.
[Nazi propaganda remarks quoted above are referenced in contemporary book ‘The House That Hitler Built’ by Stephen Roberts.]

“Does Britain have free speech?”

The title is quoted from a Quillette article (h/t instapundit) inspired by the following letter to author James Flynn from Tony Roche, publishing director of Emerald, explaining their decision to drop his book:

“I am contacting you in regard to your manuscript ‘In Defense of Free Speech: The University as Censor’. Emerald believes that its publication, in particular in the United Kingdom, would raise serious concerns. … the work could be seen to incite racial hatred and stir up religious hatred under United Kingdom law. Clearly you have no intention of promoting racism but intent can be irrelevant. …”

In the 1930s, J.R.R.Tolkien’s publisher contacted him regarding publishing ‘The Hobbit’ in Germany. To do so, they were legally obliged to provide an assurance that Tolkien had no Jewish ancestry. Tolkien gave them two courteous letters, saying he would rather they sent the first but he acknowledged it was up to them. The first politely withheld the information. The second expressed Tolkien’s “regret” that he had “no ancestors of the gifted Jewish race”, adding that his pride in his German ancestry would be sensibly diminished if enquiries of this kind pointed to Germany’s future. (Alas, back then, all too clearly they did.) Because it is this second letter that was found in the publisher’s files, it is thought they acted on Tolkien’s request to send the first.

My pride in being British will be sensibly diminished if Emerald’s letter points to our future. My Brexit enthusiasm owes much to my knowledge that one side would let Britain become a place where Emerald could feel less concerned, while the other are determined to give them cause to feel yet more.

Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 “to champion new ideas”, according to its website. I guess you could say free speech is an old idea and banning it is the new idea – though also a very old one. Or maybe ‘champion’ doesn’t mean what I thought it did. Such pride as I ever felt in British publishers was sensibly diminished as I read that letter – and it did not cheer me to think that while the decision may reflect some cowardice or even complicity in Emerald, shocked to find an un-PC book had somehow crept into their planned list, the letter may also be factual and more honest than the activists who would prosecute.

A logical danger in PC illogic

(Normal service – i.e. prose – will be resumed promptly. I promised a follow-up poem about its being too easy to rebut the race scammers – or ‘race hustlers’ as is, I believe, the US term. Here it is.)


When true statements are uttered by those you despise,
It’s not logical (nor helpful, narrative-wise)
To shout “racist”, as if hearers will not realise
That from true factual statements do not follow lies.

Don’t unwittingly justify what you oppose,
by discarding all logic for wokeness, like those
intellectuals lacking in intellect who
‘prove’ some true facts are racist (so racism’s true?).

When exam results don’t match what you want them to,
When too few of the prize winners have the ‘right’ hue,
Do not claim that it’s racist to add two and two:
“Mathematics is racist!” says “Racism’s true”.

If school discipline policies are colour-blind
and offender percentage results in each kind
are unequal, don’t say that is racist to do:
saying “colour-blind’s racist” says “racism’s true”.

That slavery is ancient, you should not deny,
Nor that blacks sold the blacks that white traders did buy,
Nor that one culture banned it and forced others to,
Nor that these truths aren’t racist (else racism’s true).

Falsifiable claims enforced by a loud few
Do not silence the minds whose mouths dare not argue;
Best let doubters weed errors in free speech review.
Don’t say free speech is racist; free speech finds what’s true.

Sadly, say what I like about freedom of speech.
How ‘respect’ means first hearing the viewpoint of each,
And how more diverse thoughts could expand your thought’s reach,
Your thought is:   we listen, while you alone teach.

When you welcome illegals, but back of the queue
Is where you put the Copt, Venezuelan or Jew
(anti-‘Zionist’ immigrants being welcome too)
It appears that some racism’s OK by you.

Know from false ideologies, falsehood derives:
You’ll be spreading the hatred, you claiming the lives.
If you war against truths then you will evil do,
For no truth can be racist – else racism’s true.

Too Easy to Rebut the PC Ta-Nehisi / NYT

The long-suffering readers of this blog know that, like Bilbo Baggins, I occasionally inflict poetry upon you (in deference to this blog’s free speech convictions, I also allow the word ‘doggerel’ 🙂 ).

Whether this poem says anything my prose did not say, I leave to readers, but since Ta-Nehisi is being echoed by Democrat candidates, and the NYT is promising to write essay after essay “demonstrating that nearly everything that has made America exceptional grew out of slavery”, how can we avoid restating truths as they reiterate their lies? In pursuit of variety, I therefore offer as poem some thoughts mostly already expressed in prose. (If commenters know other ways of restating timeless truths to resist the fashionable lies of this time, by all means say.)

When white traders sought a profit in black endless tribal wars,
Where the winners sold the losers, pinioned in their slave collars,
Then the winners were the losers, left behind in Africa,
From the losers came the winners, free men in America.

If you thought that reparations were owed you by those you blame
Then the past you should have had, you would endeavour to reclaim –
Live with offspring of keen sellers, whence your captured forebears came,
Quit the nation that stopped buying, if you thought it owned the shame –

Since a man who claims repayment from a country where he’ll stay,
Clutching eagerly its passport (to live there, not go away),
Knows the winners don’t descend from those who won a tribal war;
He, descendant of the losers, knows he is today’s victor.

For we all have ancestors, and all have some who had it rough.
‘Fixing’ that would have no end, quite cause enough to say “Enough!”.
But to insolently claim repayment for great benefit,
When the losers are long dead, and in world terms you’re doing great,

When you say your country owes you yet remain its citizen,
Shows you don’t think you, today, inherit loss from way back then.
Better not repay your country with your self-indulgent hate,
But rejoice that negroes prosper as it is again made great.

That it is in one way too easy to rebut these idiots – that the antifa woke mob have a power in their fists and in their administrators’ and media-friends’ fraud that they do not have in their heads – prompts me to write parables and poems to make it interesting. But since we believe diversity of thought is the only diversity of value, ‘too easy’ has its dangers – those words are not just in my title for the rhyme. But that must await my next poem.

Meanwhile (reverting to prose), the whole NYT Ta-Nehisian project is like observing that in the 1850s, while a majority of free U.S. blacks were literate and literacy passed easily from them to slaves, a majority of US slaves were not literate – at a time when the large majority of the world’s people were not literate. It is only because the US population was exceptionally literate for its time that one has any basis for complaint. And southern slaveowners worried about slave literacy only because, in the exceptional US, a literate slave might read that all men were endowed with inalienable rights – and then read a map showing routes northwards – which was not a danger in the unexceptional parts of the world.

(This is another of my “Less economy of truth, please” posts – maybe I should make a tag.)

Samizdata quote of the day

“By stifling his criticisms of human rights-abusing regimes, what Donald Trump may see as the projection of strength is surely viewed by America’s adversaries as weakness. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blames the United States for an attempted coup against his regime, and Trump calls to congratulate him on his suspicious election victory. North Korea murders and purges its nuclear negotiators and Trump gives Kim Jong-un a photo op on North Korean soil. Vladimir Putin counters American geopolitical and economic interests at nearly every turn, and the president can’t bring himself to say a bad word about the autocrat in the Kremlin. What American interest is being advanced by this servility?”

Noah Rothman, Commentary Magazine.

Resisting ethnic prejudice by other means

Germany resists islamophobia. German law seeks to purge the public domain of such offensive views.

Germany also resists anti-semitism. The German government’s anti-semitism commissioner has warned Jews to avoid being Jewish in public.

The BBC sees the German far right behind the rise in anti-semitism that prompted the commissioner’s advice. Is it just me or are they ignoring a rival explanation?

Also, is it just me, or is the German method for resisting anti-semitism rather different from the German method for resisting islamophobia – so different, in fact, that their advice to Jews resembles what their law demands of ‘islamophobes’: become invisible in the public domain lest you cause offence?

I wrote a poem about this a while back.

Do please feel free to say that it’s just me and there is really nothing more to see here. After all, I expect that’s what the German government’s anti-semitism commissioner would say – but he might be only obeying orders, or only obeying the anti-islamophobia law.

As annoying?

We’re confident that North Carolina’s politics will annoy us from the right as much as California’s does from the left, but we’re equally confident that center-right North Carolinians won’t try to personally and professionally ruin us for daring to disagree with them.

The quote is from a comment to this article (that I found from instapundit). The commenters – Californians who have decided to vote with their feet – complain they’ve seen one too many

smart, talented colleagues fired, and their reputations blackened, because they had the temerity to utter a heterodox opinion, or made it known that they voted for a Republican, or were insufficiently enthusiastic about adopting the latest politically-correct newspeak.

They expect to be as annoyed by NC’s right-wing politics as by CA’s left-wing politics. It may be just their way of expressing it. And I suppose it will be a culture shock (understandable they’ve not moved to Texas, or Alabama – or Samizdata 🙂 ). But I have a hard time imagining being as annoyed by politics that will allow me to dissent as by politics that will punish any hint of dissent.

But maybe that’s just my typical right-wing focus on the honesty of the process rather than the nobility of the goal.

Elections have consequences – and so does arranging that they don’t

There’s a Snoopy cartoon that starts with Linus telling Violet he is running away from home. “I know a joke about running away from home”, says Violet. “A boy at a street crossing tells a friend he is running away from home. ‘Then why are you waiting here?’, she asks. ‘I’m not allowed to cross the street without permission.’, he explains.”

“That’s a riot”, replies Linus sourly, gazing down at the kerbstone on which he is standing.

Winning a referendum, electing a president – with hindsight, we can see these were not so much victories as winning the right to fight. They did not force the deep state to obey – they forced the deep state to fight. While some crudely expressed their entitlement (“The Electoral College should ignore the outcome” or “Just declare him insane”, and “Hold another referendum” or “It was only advisory”), more professional liars began a longer-term strategy to undo what was voted.

Two years later, we have reached stage two: as with Harvey Weinstein, everybody knows – and everybody knows the insiders always knew. In the US, there was no collusion, just a lot of cheating to pretend there was. In the UK, May and collaborators lied (quite a lot) to get the power to tell us we can run away from the EU just as soon as the EU gives us permission. In the US, the media’s collusion story is over. In the UK, all the papers are talking about who will succeed May. And all that means is, the deep state can be made to stand and fight.

– If you can frame a president, and the only price you pay for failing is that you didn’t succeed, then (to paraphrase the Brighton bomb terrorists) Trump has to be lucky every time; the deep state only has to be lucky once.

– If no vote is so solemn, so pledged to be decisive before and after by government and opposition, that its decision can’t be delayed forever, then votes don’t control what the deep state can do; the deep state controls what votes can do.

It’s been quite an education, watching it unfold. But they’ve had to be just a bit obvious to get here – so now they can be made to stand and fight.

“The night before the Nazi-Soviet pact was announced, I dreamed that the war had started. It was one of those dreams which … reveal to you the real state of your feelings. It taught me .. that I should be simply relieved when the long-dreaded war started.” (George Orwell, ‘My Country, Right or Left’)

In Britain, it begins with a fight for the soul of the Tory party. Some of us used to point out that our hate speech laws were not imposed on us by the EU against our rulers’ will – that May loves them, that Corbyn adores them, that Brexit was only ever going to be the start. Now we have been taught the worthlessness of establishment promises. We know there is no Brexit without a leader who wants it – and deselecting MPs who don’t. The struggle we hoped to start sometime has become the unavoidable fight of today – and we have some very angry allies.

In the US, it begins with a fight for consequences. The usual suspects intend to show that fitting up Trump has no consequences, but being un-PC has grave consequences. Trump can drain the swamp now or drown in it next time – and he has quite a lot of evidence.

The deep state, the establishment, the ‘experts’, the people who know best – they will fight. It’s our achievement (helped by their errors) that they will have to. I don’t know who will win, on either side of the pond, but

“for myself, I am an optimist; there does not seem much point in being anything else.” (Sir Winston Churchill)

What I do think is that politics tomorrow will not be like politics yesterday – that in a deep sense, what the deep state has done has already had consequences.

Samizdata quote of the day

“When hedge-fund managers and the Communist Party see eye-to-eye on any question, it’s time to be concerned.”

Peter Oborne, writing in OpenDemocracy.

The balance of forces

Guido presents evidence that we have God on our side, along with the Queen, 63% of voters, a large part of an infuriated Tory party, and the army (or at least, the parachute regiment – I’ve lived next door to a para, and suspect they would be enough). 🙂

By a possible majority of one vote (at this moment I write), parliament is not on our side but on the side of endless procrastination – nor it would seem is the PM on our side. (I’m not quite sure what happened to “I’ll stay for as long as you want me”, but I assume it’s the same thing as happened to all the other promises.)

Having God on your side is good, but if I understand the theology correctly, He protects free will by using His power to warn, not compel – and helps those who help themselves. A coincidentally-timed lightening strike is welcome – and hilarious – but while I invite all who so wish to pray hard, we should not expect lightning to strike May and Corbyn as they shake hands. 🙂

Having the Queen on your side is good (noting that all is report and she would act sooner than she would formally say in public). Normally, like the almighty, her majesty warns but does not compel. In my opinion, the more letters that arrive at Buck Palace (acknowledging her wise convention of staying out of it normally but expressing calm loyal support for her right to act when Parliament behaves irregularly), the better, and they can certainly do no harm (most of us will have already written to our MP, some with far less reason to think it could have any effect). IMHO, be brief, be polite, be properly-phrased and don’t lecture her on what action to take, just say how loyally you’d support her taking action.

Having the voters on your side is good (if it is so – opinion polls are unreliable, of course, and a bit all over the place, but less so in both respects than parliament at the moment). However the voters cannot easily compel before an election.

We also, I hope, have ourselves – the brexitters – on our side. Guido is one of those brexitters who wanted May’s deal accepted for fear of worse. I respect such people despite disagreeing with them. Now is time for both sides of that debate to leave recriminations since that ship would appear to be sailing, for better or worse. Let’s look at those options.

1) For worse: Ramsay MacDonald was the last PM to betray their party and form an alliance with the opposition and a few like-minded turncoats. Being the nominal head of an overwhelmingly other-party coalition made him largely powerless domestically, so he concentrated on foreign policy: Ramsay MacDonald was the pacifist PM of the UK during Hitler’s first three years in power. This was very useful to Hitler as he moved from its being a military parade to remove him in 1933 to having 36 infantry divisions and 6 armoured ones with which to object in 1936. That precedent is not encouraging.

2) For better: precisely because May is putting up such a sneaky fight, Brexit has proved a stronger lever than I ever hoped for exposing those who are Tory in name only, and enraging the party against them. I doubt anyone is joining the Tory party at this moment but urge all who are there to stay, pro tem. Tearing up your party card in public is a great way to warn, but remember you must not actually resign if you are to use your (imminent, I hope) chance to compel.