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]

Keeping you safe from travelling on the Hogwarts Express

“End of the line? Harry Potter train waits for ruling on Hogwarts route”, reports the BBC.

Steam journeys on the Harry Potter railway line could grind to a halt if a challenge to safety rules fails.

West Coast Railways (WCR), which operates the heritage route, challenged demands for central locking systems to be fitted to the carriage doors.

The owners of the Jacobite – which appeared as the Hogwarts Express in the boy wizard films – said implementing the new measures could cost £7m.

A judgement on the judicial review is expected in January.

The train operates on the West Highland Line on one of Scotland’s most iconic railway routes – from Fort William to Mallaig – from March to October.

It crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which became an attraction for a new generation of tourists after being featured in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

About 750 people per day travel to the end of the line at Mallaig every day in the peak season, with many more visitors travelling to the area to see the train go past.

What is the actual danger for any given person in using the same sort of carriage for one there-and-back journey (with a steward present on every coach) as I and millions of others used unsupervised every day for years on end? Minuscule, of course. Given that no one takes this journey because they must – it is all done purely for fun, because lots of people young and old love historic trains, Harry Potter, or both – why can’t they ask the people who choose to make the journey whether they consent to take this tiny risk?

Answer: because safetyists get their fun from making sure no one else has any. I mean that close to literally. No one whose goal was actually making people meaningfully safer would spend five minutes on this particular risk. But there is satisfaction to be had in controlling others, especially if you can tell yourself that you are overriding their own judgement of what they want to do for their own good.

What Tommy Robinson thinks

Tommy Robinson. EDL. English Defence League. Racists. Racism. Racist. Case closed, yes?

A few years ago at a loose end – in full knowledge that the above was true – I was browsing YouTube and I came across an interview with the man. I pressed play. Almost the first thing he said was something like, “I am not the person people think I am.” That seemed interesting – challenge your beliefs and all that – so I listened further. Boy, was I in for a shock. Since then I’ve read his book, Enemy of the State – available from obscure retailers – and followed him on obscure social media platforms. This is what I have gleaned:

  1. For a racist he has a suspiciously large number of black friends.
  2. For a racist he has a suspiciously large number of Jewish friends.
  3. He even has a Muslim friend.
  4. He doesn’t seem to like racists much, even telling them to **** *** out of his comments and burning their flags.
  5. They don’t seem to like him much, sometimes claiming that he is a Mossad agent.
  6. His main argument is that mass migration in general and large-scale Muslim immigration in particular represent a threat to Britain and the British.
  7. He utterly hates the police. A lot of this springs from an incident when (so he claims) he was attacked by an off-duty officer who subsequently lied in court. But there are plenty of other cases outlined in his book.

So why the hate? Or to put it another way, why does Robinson attract hate in a way that Douglas Murray does not despite the two having almost identical political views? I can’t help thinking that a lot of this is to do with class. In accent, dress and associates Robinson is unapologetically – for want of a better term – working class . It would appear that a lot of the MSM etc have much the same attitude to the working class as they do to ethnic minorities: they should be seen and not heard. They should accept the opinions that have been assigned to them and be grateful.

Another explanation lies in – how shall I put this? – his general attitude to authority. Take yesterday, for instance. An “Against Anti-semitism” march was being held in Central London. Robinson encouraged people to go along. The organisers – because they know nothing about the man and think that attempting to curry favour with the MSM is something other than a fool’s errand stated that his presence would not be welcome. He went along anyway. The police arrested him. The police’s actions were, of course, disgraceful but Robinson resisted arrest and got a face full of pepper spray for his trouble.

A further explanation lies in what might be described as “information management.” Robinson believes – as do I – that actions speak louder than words. So, he doesn’t believe he has to defend himself when smeared; his actions will speak for themselves. Except that – so far – they haven’t. This means that he hasn’t gone to the trouble of organising a defence of his beliefs in an easily retrievable manner. My gleanings above are the result of years of followship. His book is also terribly organised.

Robinson is the one on the left. The guy on the right is long-time political ally Danny Roscoe.

Yes, Leave voters probably were on average less intelligent than Remain voters

If the philosopher A. C. Grayling ever had ambitions to stand for elected office, this tweet will have killed them stone dead:

As usual, here is the text of that tweet in case it disappears:

A C Grayling #FBPE #Reform #Rejoin #FBPR
U of Bath study: “only 40% of people with the lowest cognitive ability voted Remain, while 73% of those with the highest cognitive ability voted Remain…people with lower cognitive ability and analytical thinking skills are more susceptible to misinformation and disinformation”.
10:23 PM · Nov 23, 2023

The replies, unsurprisingly in this egalitarian age, are overwhelmingly hostile. But since I, like Professor Grayling, have no political ambitions, I can admit that he is probably right. It would be a strange chance if the average IQs of Leave and Remain were perfectly equal. If they were not equal, one group had to be cleverer on average. Because I assume that people usually vote in their class interests, I assume that the cognitive elite, whose intelligence usually translates well into wealth and prestige, voted to perpetuate the status quo. Alas for them, the lesser folk also had a vote and had a pretty good inkling that it was not a good idea to remain under the increasingly immovable rule of a class of people who despised them.

While Professor Grayling’s first sentence is probably true, the three little dots that he put between the claim that the stupider-on-average (can I stop adding the “on average” now?) people voted Leave and the conclusion that they did so because they were particularly susceptible to disinformation are doing so much work that they ought to bring a claim under the EU Working Time Directive.

I was about to quote Orwell’s line about “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them” when a fortunate burst of insecurity led me to check the quote and find out that Orwell never said it; it was Bertrand Russell. Clever bloke, Russell. Also frequently a twit, though capable of being embarrassed by his own previous excesses. Whoever said it, it’s true. It is proverbial among those who study scams that the easiest people to scam are those who think they are too clever to be scammed.

Edit 27/11/2023: In the comments, Rich Rostrom has supplied the phrase with a very similar meaning that George Orwell actually did say, namely “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” It occurs in Orwell’s 1945 essay “Notes on Nationalism”. Change a few words and the whole paragraph could be re-used today:

“It is, I think, true to say that the intelligentsia have been more wrong about the progress of the war than the common people, and that they were more swayed by partisan feelings. The average intellectual of the Left believed, for instance, that the war was lost in 1940, that the Germans were bound to overrun Egypt in 1942, that the Japanese would never be driven out of the lands they had conquered, and that the Anglo-American bombing offensive was making no impression on Germany. He could believe these things because his hatred for the British ruling class forbade him to admit that British plans could succeed. There is no limit to the follies that can be swallowed if one is under the influence of feelings of this kind. I have heard it confidently stated, for instance, that the American troops had been brought to Europe not to fight the Germans but to crush an English revolution. One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.”

A related point was made by Dominic Cummings in his famous “Frogs before the storm” blog post:

“Generally the better educated are more prone to irrational political opinions and political hysteria than the worse educated far from power. Why? In the field of political opinion they are more driven by fashion, a gang mentality, and the desire to pose about moral and political questions all of which exacerbate cognitive biases, encourage groupthink, and reduce accuracy. Those on average incomes are less likely to express political views to send signals; political views are much less important for signalling to one’s immediate in-group when you are on 20k a year.”

Samizdata quote of the day – we are at the joke stage

The Soviet Union collapsed when the lies of the ruling class were so obvious they became laughable. The liberal world order – with the ‘religion of peace’, ‘woman with a penis’ ‘effective vaccines’ and ‘17 months to save the planet’ is at the joke stage.

– ‘Polish Housewife

Samizdata quote of the day – Frank Lloyd Wright edition

The story goes that Frank Lloyd Wright was once summoned to testify in a lawsuit. When he took the witness stand, a lawyer asked what his occupation was. He answered, “I am the world’s greatest architect.” Afterwards, his embarrassed wife told him he should be more modest. “You forget,” he replied. “I was under oath.”

Timothy Sandefur, from his article: Frank Lloyd Wright: Rebel Architect.

“Despite police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive”

“Violence in Dublin after five hurt in knife attack” reports the BBC:

There are violent scenes in Dublin after an earlier knife attack in the city centre in which five people were injured
It is not clear exactly what caused the disturbances – involving clashes, and reports of a number of vehicles set on fire

The BBC’s line about it not being clear exactly what caused the disturbances is disingenuous. It is entirely clear what they are rioting about. From the Telegraph:

Violent anti-immigration protesters descended on Dublin city centre on Thursday night after five people were injured in a knife attack outside a school. At least three small children were injured in the attack in the Irish capital, as well as a man and a woman. A five-year-old girl sustained “serious injuries” and was receiving emergency treatment, police said. Despite police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive, far-Right thugs emboldened by “misinformation” descended on the streets of the capital, setting fire to a police car, a tram and a double-decker bus, among other vehicles, and throwing fireworks at officers.

The only thing that is not entirely clear is whether the rioters are correct in thinking that the man who stabbed the children and adults is an Algerian migrant, as believed by those replying to this tweet by Micheál Martin, the Tánaiste (the deputy head of the Irish government).

It does not excuse the riots in the least if the rioters are correct to think that the would-be child murderer is any or all of a migrant, legal or illegal, or a Muslim, or from an ethnic minority. But the obfuscation from the Irish authorities and media on this point is making the situation worse.

The usual flashpoint for riots throughout history has been a rumour of crimes committed by a member of Group A against Group B. The riots in the Lozells district of Birmingham in 2005 have been almost forgotten because whites were not involved, but they were a typical example of the type, having been sparked by a completely unsubstantiated story that a black girl had been gang-raped by a group of South Asian men.

Sometimes the rumour is true, sometimes it is not.

If, as in that case, the inciting rumour is not true, the best tool for squelching the false claim and quelling the violence is a trusted press, taking the term “press” in a wider sense than just newspapers. If the rumour is true, the best tool for quelling the violence is still a trusted press. It can do things like publicising condemnations of the crime from leaders of the group to which the perpetrator belongs. What a pity that Ireland, like much of the Western World, no longer has a trusted press because it no longer has a trustworthy press.

It’s not “Despite police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive, far-Right thugs emboldened by “misinformation” descended on the streets of the capital”, it’s a damn sight closer to “Because of police not revealing the suspected knifeman’s identity or motive, far-Right thugs emboldened by “misinformation” descended on the streets of the capital”. If the official sources of information won’t do their jobs, don’t be surprised when people turn to unofficial sources instead.


Related posts: “Try not lying” – about the sexual assaults in Cologne and other German cities during the New Year celebrations of 1 January 2016, “If you do not want to see the BNP vindicated, try not proving them right”, and “Politically correct evasiveness fails on its own terms”.

Samizdata quote of the day – Thucydides once said…

The society that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools.

― Thucydides

Samizdata quote of the day – the poison of identitarianism

What is happening in London cannot be laid solely at the feet of the anti-Israel protest movement. The poison of identitarianism must assume the bulk of the blame for the cultural dismemberment of society. We have a mayor who constantly preaches difference over unity. We have a Metropolitan Police so paralysed by fear of being called racist that they make endless excuses for anti-Semitic demonstrators. And we have a national broadcaster that refuses to call Hamas terrorists, while happily instructing non-white children that they are under the yoke of ‘white privilege’.

We are confronted with a choice right now. We can continue pushing children into silos of racial and religious hatred. Or we can start forging a society free of identity politics which aims to bring people of all backgrounds together. I know which path the London of my childhood would choose.

Ike Ijeh

Samizdata quote of the day – lets give Willy Hutton a kicking edition

But we can and should go further than that. We all know there’s a vast amount of investment happening in this going green stuff. Maybe that’s a good idea, maybe not, that’s for another day. But the point of what is being done is to address an externality – those environmental damages, costs of emissions, which do not show up in prices and therefore are, again, not in GDP. So, we solve those externalities – and maybe we should! – and we create green jobs while doing so.

Cool. So, now we have the same output – say a GW of ‘leccie, even a GWhr – with the same value as before but we’ve used more human labour to produce it – those green jobs that the energy transition creates. By definition productivity has declined. Again, by definition productivity has declined.

Tim Worstall

So let me get this straight…

Javier Milei elected in Argentina is being called “far-right“?

So, presumably he is obsessed by identity groups and demands everyone must be viewed collectively according to the status of their group; wants pervasive state control over every aspect of life (everything within the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State); wants a state directed economy; and will refuse to have further elections after this one?

Or does he sees all rights as individual rights; wants to slash the size of the state; reduce taxes; wants to promote free enterprise; and has no problem with elections?

Because our media class seem to think both of those things are “far-right”

Samizdata quote of the day – truth about science

We are so far down the slippery slope of “having not been allowed to speak the truth about science because it must be subsumed to ideology” that re-entry into any sort of objective assessment is going to be incredibly jarring.

The foundations of modern technocracy are invalid and if your stock in trade has, for decades, perhaps centuries, lain in deriving authority and influence from peddling uncriticizable frameworks to induce others (and perhaps yourself) to inhabit hallucinations. this return to reality poses grave threat to currently ascendant political & ideological power bases.

This, of course, dovetails right into the heart of the omnipresent octopus of the government industrial censorship complex, the other group deeply insistent on getting to be the one who decides what’s true and what may be spoken. it too fears unmoderated content perhaps above all else as unfettered facts are technocratic kryptonite.

El Gato Malo

Samizdata quote of the day – policy based evidence making

The COVID enquiry has been policy based evidence making

– Gawain Towler