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]

The devil you know

Chris Bertram has taken Steven Den Beste to task for his ruggedly anti-tranzi views. Chris has pointed out that Steve’s attack on the tranzis for their promotion of ‘group’ rights over individual rights is flawed by the resultant support for the Nation State which, in itself, is an exercise in ‘group’ rights over individual ones.

I am not jumping to Steve’s defence here because I am sure that he is more than capable of fighting his own corner, but I think the real grist of the complaint about tranzi ideology lies not so much in its collectivism but its basis
…continue The devil you know

Why the US fights the way it does

There is a lengthy article on USS Clueless about why the US military is the best practitioner of high initiative warfare, tracing it to the empowering influence of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. I disagree on many levels starting with the fact I do not think the US military is the best (or even particularly remarkable) at ‘high initiative warfare’.

The US military does not achieve its results as Steven Den Beste suggests, by empowering individual soldiers and harnessing their brains and initiative more than any number of armies I could mention, but rather it achieves results by
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What next, indeed?

Steven Den Beste provides what I think is a plausible analysis of thinking behind the latest Israeli tactic of occupying more of the West Bank in response to terror attacks on Israeli Civilians; a sort of ‘You bomb, We conquer’ strategy.

Steven takes the view that the purpose behind the strategy is to make the Palestinians pay a price in land for every attack, even to the point of rolling them into reservations and keeping them there. Given that the bombers are prepared to sacrifice their own lives they will have to consider the well-being of the families and communities
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Hot under the collar in Europe

It was bound to happen. Writers in Europe have woken up to the fact that Americans do not regard the European chattering classes with particular fondness and respect. Paul Gottfried in a singularly bad-tempered article in this week’s edition of The Spectator magazine, broadly tries to argue that there is a right-wing smear campaign in American intellectual and political circles to discredit Europe and to portray Europeans as anti-Semitic, cowardly, cynical, socialistic idiots.

Well, Gottfried makes a few decent points, and it is undoubtedly true that there has been a strain of hostility towards Europe in some of the commentary
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“This picture seems strangely symbolic”

I sometimes find myself agreeing with Steven Den Beste’s articles but sorry Steven, this is one of the dumbest pieces you have written in a while.

When he is right, he is sometimes very right and when he is wrong, he does tend to descend into crude history-by-Hollywood-stereotype. The picture he displays of two Royal Marines sparing with boxing gloves and an automatic weapon toting US soldier in the background is indeed symbolic… of the fact Steven does not know the slightest thing about modern British attitudes to war, British military culture or British military history.

The symbolism isn’t fair
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The fatal flaws of stasis capitalism

The music industry is a wonderful example of how established players in any market often feel they have a vested interest in stasis rather than dynamic change. Rather than see new technical innovations as potential boons, the industry has spent a fortune trying to use the state to defend its existing business models with an army of lobbyists and lawyers, attempting to un-invent the technologies that they (rightly) see as shattering the current structure of its multi-billion dollar industry. Steven Den Beste has a good article on the subject and makes an excellent point regarding the self-defeating culture in the
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Help required

Can anybody think of any historically-significant cultural or technological innovation to have emerged from Continental Western Europe since World War II?

[Editor: does Catherine Deneuve count?]

[Other Editor: how about the World Wide Web?]

[Reader Ken Hagler: “How about the VAT? You didn’t say it had to be good…”]

[Reader & blogger Mark Byron: SCUBA, Velcro]

[Reader & blogger Steven Den Beste: Audio cassette, laser disc]

[Reader Aaron Dickey: ABBA] hmmmm.

Update: Of course although the World Wide Web was created in CERN (Switzerland) Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor, was an Englishman

Airwars over Blogistan

Steven Den Beste has replied to my remarks about World War Two aircraft. Tally ho!

Perry’s British sensibilities do not need to be defensive about that, because the British contributed nearly as much to the success of the Mustang as did the Americans.

It has nothing to do with my ‘British sensibilities’ but I do know a thing or two about aerocraft of the era.

As a Brit, it was inevitable that Perry should be nostalgic about the Spitfire. In 1940 there was no better air defense fighter in existence, and the UK damned well needed it. Twice as many
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‘The best’ is a term all historical aeropundits should use very sparingly indeed

Steven Den Beste treads where 100,000 aeropundits have gone before

Ultimately, they switched to the Mustang, which was the prestige fighter of the European theater; beautiful, fast, deadly and long ranged: it was the best fighter the Allies had in Europe, and for bomber escort they needed every bit of it, especially after the Germans began to fly the Me-262.

Best fighter is truly meaningless unless it is stated what specific role it was best for. The P-51 Mustang was without doubt the most effective long range piston engined daylight escort fighter of World War II. Of the mid-to-late war
…continue ‘The best’ is a term all historical aeropundits should use very sparingly indeed

Somalia again

USS Clueless gives a series of baffling remarks about Somalia. As far as I can figure, Steven seems to think the USA was the primary aggrieved party in 1993 when it tried to carry out the UN’s behest and help impose a central government on Somalia at gunpoint. Forget the daft movie, read the excellent book for a more balanced view.

So if the Somali government is now to be the next target, where exactly is this ‘Somali’ government? Exactly why is Somalia about to be attacked and in what manner? Somalia does not have an army like the Taliban
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USS Clueless’ warp drive goes off-line

USS Clueless has a lengthy article about US unilateralism which makes some interesting points. He also makes some rather dubious ones.

We gave Europe one chance, after WWI, to dictate their own terms and the result was another bloody war. So the second time, we did call the tune — and the result was a hell of a lot better.

As for Britain and France dictating its own terms, what about Woodrow Wilson’s role in dismembering the Austro-Hungarian Empire and trashing all vestiges of the potentially stabilising old order? America shares some of the blame for the instability in Europe
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