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]

Stephen Davies on the Wealth Explosion (1): How Europe was and was not exceptional

About two hundred and forty years ago, the human species began to experience a wealth explosion. Poor people, who had been living and dying on the edge of starvation for millennia, began to get less poor, and slightly richer people started to become even richer, and much more numerous. Every graph measuring human comfort, wealth, progress, length of life, and so on, switched – historically, in the blink of an eye – from being a nearly horizontal line to being a nearly vertical line. This wealth explosion began in North West Europe, and quickly spread to other parts of Europe
…continue Stephen Davies on the Wealth Explosion (1): How Europe was and was not exceptional

Leaving the EU – a Jersey jaunt and a Guernsey gallivant

Rightly not trusting our leaders to deliver on their statements (there were, IFUC, no promises about leaving the EU from Mrs May), the Sage of Kettering and I have left the EU in that recently, we have visited our nearest escape hole, the Channel Islands. A fleeting visit, one day in each, but we have seen a future, and it works, more or less. For our more distant readers, Jersey and Guernsey are ‘Crown Dependencies’, historically part of the Duchy of Normandy, owing allegiance to the British Crown but not part of the UK. The UK government has arrogated to
…continue Leaving the EU – a Jersey jaunt and a Guernsey gallivant

Let’s be blunt: classical liberalism is losing

I put this comment up on a group page on Facebook about the latest comments from the young Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, quoted approvingly by two academics in the US, and re-post them here, with some adjustments:

The problem, as I keep noting, is the zero-sum mentality. For such an approach, creating wealth is incomprehensible, and that therefore having much wealth must be evil. She carries the assumption that for A to be richer than the average, B must have been robbed in some way. There’s no sense of a rising tide of wealth, or any grasp of the division
…continue Let’s be blunt: classical liberalism is losing

From the Great Peace … to the ordeal of Adam Lyth at the Oval cricket ground

Between 1945 and about 1965, atom bombs and then hydrogen bombs were devised and demonstrated by the two biggest Great Powers, and then manufactured and attached to rockets in sufficient numbers to cause any all-out war between these two superpowers very probably to be a catastrophic defeat for both, to say nothing of being a similar catastrophe for all other humans, within a few hours. This new kind of destructive power also spread to a small club of lesser Great Powers.

This did not happen overnight. It didn’t all come about in 1945. But it happened pretty quickly, historically in
…continue From the Great Peace … to the ordeal of Adam Lyth at the Oval cricket ground

Thomas Piketty wants a war (sort of)

There are already plenty of reasons to take a dim view of Piketty’s leveling ideas on wealth. Here’s another (H/T, Econlog):

I think it would be a big mistake to oppose the objective of global progressive taxation of income and wealth with the objective of class struggle and political fight, for at least two reasons. First, making this tax reform possible would require a huge mobilization. This has always been the case in the past. All the big revolutions engendered a big tax reform. Take the French Revolution, the American Revolution, or World War One: although it was not a
…continue Thomas Piketty wants a war (sort of)

We’re the only game in town

A small reminder to people who are fond of referring to the human race as a plague on the planet (or as a disease, or as a danger to the “natural order”) and who think life would be better off without us and our technology:

The only long term hope of survival life has is humans and our successors moving it through the cosmos.

In the “natural order of things” C3 photosynthesis will become impossible on earth in 600M years, and by about 800M years from now there will be no more multicellular life. Eventually the last evidence that there
…continue We’re the only game in town

George Reisman on Thomas Piketty

Economic progress tends to increase insofar as the savings result in a larger supply of capital goods, which serves to increase production, including the further production of capital goods. The rate of return on capital tends to fall because the larger expenditure for capital goods (and labor) shows up both as larger accumulations of capital and as an increase in the aggregate amount of costs of production in the economic system, which serves to reduce the aggregate amount of profit. Our problems today result largely from government policies that serve to hold down saving and the demand for capital goods.
…continue George Reisman on Thomas Piketty

It’s Friday, so let’s Fisk the Evening Standard

For part of what passes for the chattering class in the UK, the idea that having “too much” wealth is so ingrained that it comes as a shock when the right to own as much property as one can in a free society is asserted. For example, I’d be willing to bet that most “liberals” these days (I use that word in its corrupted, American sense) take it as a given that the “rich” (chose your definition) should be taxed far more heavily, proportionately, than everyone else, in order to redistribute gains that, they assume, are in some way
…continue It’s Friday, so let’s Fisk the Evening Standard

Mark Littlewood and the future of the Institute of Economic Affairs

The Institute of Economic Affairs is the mothership of the free market think tanks, certainly in Europe. Or, it was. Because now, the IEA’s reputation is almost entirely based on the stir that it managed to make when it was presided over by the stellar duopoly that was Ralph Harris and Arthur Seldon. Those two men ensured that the classical liberal intellectual tradition remained alive in Britain, and they brought it, and the developing tradition of Austrian school economics, to bear on the failed Keynesian consensus of the 1960s and 1970s, laying the intellectual foundations for the Thatcherite economic rescue
…continue Mark Littlewood and the future of the Institute of Economic Affairs

A trip to Chernobyl and the USSR

The following is an account of a visit to Chernobyl I made over the summer. However, first an only slightly related personal plea, if anyone in our wonderful techie readership has expertise in the electrical systems of Hitachi hard drives, or knows a business with specific expertise in data recovery from such drives, could you please read this and get back to me. I would stress that expertise is more important than location: if you are or know someone really good in Taipei or Fresno, that is still greatly helpful.

In 1986 I was in my final year of
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A tangled web of differentiations

This morning, my twitter network delivered a bit of a red herring argument due to lack of differentiation between the internet and the web. So it helps to say first what is internet and what is web (these are not proper official definitions but will have to do for the purposes of this post):

The internet is a set of open protocols that have given rise to a specific type of network – a heterarchy. By heterarchy, in this case, I mean a network of elements in which each element shares the same “horizontal” position of power and authority, each
…continue A tangled web of differentiations

Islam’s long siesta

The perception of Islamic science, perhaps properly called natural philosophy, has been shaped by Bernard Lewis and his strong programme of senescence instead of renaissance. The development of scientific knowledge follows a pre-ordained path to scientific revolution and those cultures that failed to ignite need to be explained. Is not exceptionalism the oddity? A review in the Times Literary Supplement adds to our understanding:

After all, the scientific and industrial revolutions did not occur anywhere in the world except in Europe, and therefore one needs to explain the peculiarity of European history, rather than adduce some kind of Islamic brake
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