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]

A visual illustration of how much money printing has been going on

 

As a supplement to Johnathan’s post. A couple of points:

  • This is M2 which is cash and bank deposits. There are other measures like M3 and M4 which measure other forms of money. I would have preferred to have used M4 because – if I recall correctly – it is the broadest measure, but I couldn’t find a graph for that.
  • The black line is money supply growth; the red line is inflation (CPI).
  • The percentage increase in 2020 was greater than at any time since before the Second World War. Even in the middle of a world war there was less money printing.

Update 10/5/22. As Douglas2 points out this is a graph for the US. Ugh. Luckily TomJ has found a graph for the UK which looks like this: 

This is very similar so long as you are aware that the blue line has been moved 18 months to the right. It also suggests that this bout of inflation is likely to be short-lived.

Samizdata quote of the day

“If you decided to stop working for the better part of two years, and to maintain your income solely through borrowing, you’d end up worse off. Almost everyone understands that on a personal level. But we struggle to extend the logic to the nation. During the lockdowns, the Government paid people not to produce things, and funded the difference by printing money. A decline in the production of real-world goods and services, combined with an increase in the number of pounds and pence in circulation, would mean inflation even without the Ukrainian conflict. Yet commentators and MPs who opposed every loosening of restrictions (including Starmer) now talk about the cost of living crisis as if it were some wanton act of ministerial sadism.”

Daniel Hannan, Sunday Telegraph (£)

The problem in my view is that on economics, or indeed on certain other topics where people need to understand cause and effect, the education system in this country, and indeed much of our culture, is against an understanding of cause/effect beyond the concrete experiences of daily life. People seem unable to think in terms of concepts. The question is whether there are sufficient people to point these links out between rising prices, poverty, and a policy of “work for nothing” paid for by printing money. Much hinges on making the case.

Samizdata quote of the night that identifies as a day

Kathleen Stock’s latest article in Unherd is titled “The emptiness of being queer” and subtitled “Sexual libertarians and rainbow bureaucrats created the perfect racket”. She should have subtitled it “Sexual libertines and rainbow bureaucrats created the perfect racket”, but given Stock’s own background and orientation, I happily overlook the minor misphrasing of her subtitle in view of the free-speech-forthrightness of her title.

Perhaps it won’t have escaped the reader thus far that there’s a biological element to all this too. The sexual libertarians are mostly men; the staff and trustees of Mermaids are nearly all female — no matter how they identify — and, in my experience, so are most other rainbow bureaucrats. Despite foundational intellectual myths, it turns out biological sex matters in the queer world too. And though they won’t like it, it’s tempting to see these two factions as part of a tediously conventional nuclear family, with rebellious jack-the-lad Dad and solicitous stay-at-home Mum, and with many confused children shunting between the two.

It was always inevitably a Stalin or a Mao who rose to rule any free-speech-hating communist party, unhindered by the purgeable presence in its early ranks of sincere types like Victor Kravchenko or Jung Chang’s father. I explained here why, similarly, groomers and pedophiles would come to control the free-speech-hating ‘identify’ movement, whatever other motives also helped start it.

However I forgot to add (as yet another example of oppressive tyrants pretending to be oppressed rebels, of those who hurt you pretending they help you) that the rainbow-bureaucrat-groomer side of that movement would aggressively self-identify as protective helpers.

Compared to that, it is indeed “no matter how they identify” otherwise.

Understanding the Ukrainian psyche

There is a Russian literary classic called “Mumu” by Turgenev, the story of a mute serf who bonded with a dog called Mumu, because that was all the serf could pronounce. But when his master ordered him to drown Mumu, despite this love for the dog, he obeyed…

If Mumu was Ukrainian
If Mumu was Ukrainian

How not to change minds on abortion

Last December Meghan McArdle tweeted,

“Looking at abortion opinion, it’s actually quite striking how little men and women differ on this question. The whole pro-life is about men telling women what to do with their bodies” schtick simply isn’t grounded in reality . . . Men are more likely to self-id as pro-life, and women as pro-choice, but when you drill down into specifics, it’s clear this stems from differences in labeling quite similar views.

She backed up her opinion with a link to this article by the polling organisation Gallup: “Abortion Trends by Gender”.

On specific questions relating to abortion, the opinions of American women and men were amazingly close. For instance, in this detailed survey from 2012, 71.5% of men and 69.4% of women said abortion should be legal if there is a strong possibility of a serious fetal defect, and 43.1% of men and 43.3% of women said abortion be legal for married women who don’t want more children.

Opinion has also been remarkably consistent over the years. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1995 60% of Americans thought that abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Now it’s 61%. In 1995 38% of Americans thought abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. In 2022 it is 37%.

Why are the lines so flat? Over the same period church attendance has dropped. Support for other ideas once considered the preserve of the radical left, such as gay marriage, has steeply increased. The standing joke is that the Right won on economics and the Left won on culture. So why did the Left’s advance falter on that one issue?

By the way, although I talk about abortion as a left-right issue, because it certainly is one in US politics and to a lesser extent in politics across the Anglosphere, in this post I am not making an argument for or against abortion. If you wish to read my slightly indecisive thoughts on the issue you can do so here: “Thinking aloud on a mountainside”.

I am just interested in the Left’s relative failure to change the minds of Americans on abortion when in the same period it did so well in changing minds (including mine) on issues usually bundled with abortion.

I think it was because in the US and the UK, the pro-choice side almost never engaged with what their opponents actually believed. Over the years I must have read hundreds of Guardian articles on abortion, mostly in its US section because abortion is such a live issue there. I do not recall a single one that argued against the main sticking point of the pro-life side, namely that abortion takes a human life – let alone argued for it. On other issues the Guardian would occasionally let the odd Conservative or other non-progressive have their say about fossil fuels or the nuclear deterrent or whatever, and would often feature writers who, while left wing themselves, at least knew enough of the right wing view to argue against it. However when it came to abortion the line always was, and judging from Twitter in the last few days, still is, that opposition to abortion arises (a) only from men and (b) only from men who wish to control women’s bodies.

It works, a bit. Some men who read that will decide that they do not want to be that sort of man, others will decide that they do not want to be thought to be that sort of man. But an argument that does not even acknowledge the existence of female opponents of abortion will obviously not change their minds. Nor will silence reassure women who are not firmly pro or anti. If the Left will not talk to them about their doubts, then by definition the only arguments they hear will come from the other side.

How about male opponents of abortion and/or men who are not sure what they think? In most cases they simply will not feel that this charge that they want to control women’s bodies has any relevance to them. It’s like being accused of bank robbery when the most you’ve done is put non-recyclables in the recycling bin. Or like being accused in the modern fashion of misogyny rather than sexism: a conscientious man might examine himself and admit that some unjustified assumptions about women might be lurking in his subconscious, but that does not mean he hates women. All in all, that way of presenting the abortion argument is great for firing up those who already agree, but ensures that practically no women’s minds will be changed, and few men’s.

The above “model” is just my supposition, of course. But the remarkable stability of US opinion on abortion over decades is a fact that needs explaining, and that would explain it.

How close are we to nuclear war?

Interesting exposition by Perun about the risk of nuclear war

When dangerous fantasies come true

Famously, while Nigel Farage was debating Nick Clegg in April 2014, the latter said that the idea of an EU army was a “dangerous fantasy”. Ed Miliband repeated the line a year later.

Three days ago, the man who was the EU’s Brexit Guy – the EU Parliament’s former Brexit Coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt MEP – tweeted,

BREAKING — Conference on the Future of Europe approves radical overhaul of the EU: end of unanimity, abolishment of veto’s, launch of Joint Armed Forces of the Union, transnational lists and many other reforms…

Now, just because the Conference on the Future of Europe says a thing, that does not necessarily mean it will come to pass. Wikipedia describes the Conference thus:

The Conference on the Future of Europe is a proposal of the European Commission and the European Parliament, announced at the end of 2019, with the aim of looking at the medium to long term future of the EU and what reforms should be made to its policies and institutions. It is intended that the Conference should involve citizens, including a significant role for young people, civil society, and European institutions as equal partners and last for two years. It will be jointly organised by the European Parliament, the EU Council and the European Commission.

In other words, the usual cheerleaders duly led the cheers. Nonetheless the very fact that the “young people, civil society and European institutions” who took part in the Conference were pre-selected for their obedience means that when they say they want an army that means that the leaders of the EU now want an army.

Discussion point: Watching Clegg and Farage spar over Vladimir Putin’s 2014 aggression against Ukraine, does anyone feel a newfound sympathy with Clegg’s position? These are dangerous times. It is no longer a matter for us in the UK to decide, but maybe the EU does need an army.

Samizdata quote of the day

The West is raising a crippled generation. People born in the past 5 to 25 years are more obese, less intelligent, more depressed, less happy, more conflicted, more prone to drug abuse, less proud of their country, and less encouraged by the authorities than those born even 10 years prior. A monstrous generation, ideologically besieged by what external observers looking for our weaknesses call a ‘bizarre horde of savages,’ is currently being shaped by our schools, media, and propagandists. Our youth have been taught to hate themselves, their own culture, and their own history. Their weak intellectual ability means they will struggle to decipher what has happened to them or who they are. Relative to generations as recent as Generation X, our youth are unhealthy, anxious, socially shy, prone to flee towards online gaming and offline drugs, stuck in victimhood narratives, angry at the world, and lonely.

What is this crippled generation going to do once it gains adulthood and power? We know they will have low productivity, low social skills, and a poor understanding of the world. What about their hearts though – will they at least have humanity and compassion for their fellow man? Sadly, what we have taught them in this area leads us to predict that when the going gets tough, they are not going to blink twice about sending millions into death camps if their weak minds can be manipulated into thinking that doing so will save them. We are producing a Frankenstein generation.

Paul Frijters, Gigi Foster, Michael Baker

Woke rage reveals a fact about the transition pipeline from schools to social services

Some Texan childcare social workers are so “distraught” that a new law regulates their handling of trans kids that they say they will resign! (We’ll see if woke bureaucrats’ promises to resign are worth more than woke celebrities’ promises to quit the US if Reagan/Bush/Trump became president.)

If anything could be more where all is most in their self-revealingly woke article, it is the moment (about half-way through) where a social worker tells of their horror at the thought of having to investigate a report of a parent giving their child trans drugs. Previously any such report had instantly been marked ‘priority: none’ and the agency only ever investigated (vigorously, it would appear) any report of a parent hesitating to give their school-groomed child the woke-prescribed trans drugs.

The pipeline starts at school.

– The woke-about-everything school teaches the child that their white skin condemns them to a life of inherited racial sin – but don’t tell their parents. The school then offers a way out: pupils can escape their otherwise-ineradicable guilt by adopting a marginalised sexual identity – but don’t tell their parents.

– Instead or (usually) as well, the school can affirmatively teach the kids a lot of pornography:

To girls who are pressured into regurgitating how fantastic and progressive porn culture is, the very idea of being a “woman” becomes repulsive.

In these and other ways, a child’s un-parental-informed consent to being transitioned is obtained and puberty blockers are prescribed. The day after the kept-in-ignorance parents finally discover this is happening, the school questions the child and informs the social services of the parents’ insufficiently enthusiastic response. The social workers then ‘investigate’ – and that’s where we came in at the start of this post.

There are several things wrong with this. In the rest of this post, I’ll focus on just one.

“I do not for a moment regret the act of change. I could see no other way, and it has made me happy. In this I am one of the lucky few. There are people of many kinds who have set out on the same path, and by and large they are among the unhappiest people on the face of the earth.”

The quote is from ‘Conundrum’, a book written in 1974 by Anglo-Welsh writer, Jan Morris, who from birth to mid-forties was known as James Morris (and served with the British army in Italy in WWII), before undergoing surgery. In the pages of Conundrum, “the unhappiest people on the face of the earth” are joined by

“the poor castaways of intersex, the misguided homosexuals, the transvestites, the psychotic exhibitionists, who tumble through this half-mad world like painted clowns, pitiful to others and often horrible to themselves.”

In short, the odds of becoming “one of the lucky few” were not good even in the old days.

  • Back then, Jan Morris’ books on Oxford characters and the like were popular enough. That the dust-jacket often had a summary of the author’s unusual life and circumstances didn’t seem to prevent decent sales.

  • Back then, the modern view that sexual identity was merely social was already being experimented with on children and the results lied about to preserve the narrative.

    “It was like brainwashing … I’d give just about anything to go to a hypnotist to black out my whole past. Because it’s torture. What they did to you in the body is sometimes not near as bad as what they did to you in the mind – with the psychological warfare in your head.”

    He is referring to the extraordinary medical treatment he received after suffering the complete loss of his penis to a botched circumcision when he was 8 months old. On the advice of experts at the renowned Johns Hopkins medical center, in Baltimore, a sex-change operation was performed on him, a process that involved clinical castration and other genital surgery when he was a baby, followed by a 12-year program of social, mental and hormonal conditioning to make the transformation take hold in his psyche. The case was reported as an unqualified success, and he became one of the most famous (though unnamed) patients in the annals of modern medicine.

    [The sad story told by that (long) account is in some ways typical of today: the doctor with a ‘progressive’ agenda – and compliant colleagues; the easily-published papers boasting of a success that never was; the decades it took for the facts to emerge. But in other ways the woke of today are uglier than the progressives of half-a-century ago. The link is to a page on the wayback machine. The facts came out in the late ’90s but are now being forced back in again.]

But, along with all that, back then, those who were “pitiful to others and often horrible to themselves” did not have the encouragement of hate speech laws and ‘microaggression’ theory. The doctors in my link above felt elite because the common herd did not share their ‘advanced’ opinion that sex was socially conditioned, not innate – and, back then, the common herd were not at all afraid to say so. So those who nevertheless presented themselves for the procedure were much more likely to have tried something (or everything) else first. Their chance of joining Jan’s “lucky few” was therefore far better than today, now the group is swelled by propagandised schoolkids, by asbergers assured it will solve their problems, by people kept grossly ignorant of trans-regret and by many a “misguided homosexual, transvestite and/or exhibitionist” who back then would have chosen another way to express themselves. In that group, the proportion of Jan’s “lucky few” will be few indeed – meaning, the woke will have ruined many lives for each one of them.

Abuse of power is greatest where the laws fail to anticipate it. (Montesquieu)

Just as woke-trans cancel culture makes grooming more likely by forbidding you to expect it, so being forbidden to notice the immense improbabilities of woke-trans recruitment methods makes it more likely their targets will end up among “the unhappiest people on the face of the earth”.

What happens if Putin uses a nuclear device?

In the course of the Ukraine War, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s dictator, has from time to time hinted that he is prepared to use nuclear weapons. There is a tendency to downplay this. Many believe these are idle threats. When I hear this sort of talk I am reminded of the words of the late Helen Szamuely, “They mean it!” she would say. Having been partially educated in Moscow Szamuely knew what she was talking about. Not that we need her wise words. Just before the war, Mark Steyn interviewed his old boss, Conrad Black, on GB News. Black opined that Putin’s sabre rattling was “Kabuki theatre” or some such. As we now know, it wasn’t. He meant it.

But whether he means it or not we should at least be prepared.

What would he do first? Would he, for instance, use a tactical nuclear weapon to eliminate Ukrainian forces in front of him? Or we he indulge in nuclear blackmail: surrender or Kiev gets it? And what does the West – by which I suppose I mean the United States – do? If it’s a tactical nuke I suppose it could offer to supply Ukraine with tactical nukes of its own. But how keen would Ukrainians be to nuke their own territory? If it’s the blackmail option, does the West really threaten a nuclear response? Would such a threat be credible?

In the Cold War I was never particularly worried. I knew that if the Russians dropped the bomb on us we would drop the bomb on them. And I knew that the Russians knew that, so they wouldn’t. Now, things are not so clear.

Update 2/5/22

It’s very difficult to argue with Niall when he says, “The logic of deterrence is as valid as ever it was. The more the west radiates a will to react, the less likely Putin is to act. And the best way to radiate a will to react is to have the will to react.”

Also, thank you to Subotai Bahadur for his lengthy comment in which he points out that the nuclear club – both official and unofficial – is likely to get quite a bit bigger.

My dear friends on the Left: what happened to you?

Half a century ago, when I was a young man, you were the ones celebrating individuality and anything-goes self-expression.

Back then, you were the ones burning the draft cards and defying authority. Today you’re a masked lump sitting on an airport bench, scolding with narrowed eyes anyone who delights in the air touching her face. What happened to you?

Back then, you were the ones demanding to be heard, saying the things the establishment didn’t want to hear, speaking truth to power. Today the phrase “free speech” terrifies you, and you offer a dozen excuses why we’re better off muzzled and restrained by those in power, like some kind of pet.

Henry Racette

(h/t David Foster)

Samizdata quote of the day

“It says a great deal about the impotence of the European Union’s response to the Ukraine crisis that Poland should have emerged as the bloc’s most effective cheerleader in confronting the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. It was only a few months ago that Brussels was seeking to demonise Poland as a rogue state over accusations that it was violating the EU’s democratic agenda. This led the European Court of Justice to rule in favour of denying Warsaw access to more than 75 billion euros in funds. Today, with Poland taking the lead role in condemning Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, the EU’s attempts to humiliate the Poles appear ill-judged, to say the least.”

Con Coughlin, Daily Telegraph (£)