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 Royal Opera House did not perform as expected, and nor did a woman surrounded by a mob

Sometimes I start to make a Samizdata post and then that silly business of Real Life gets in the way and the post is left to languish as a draft. And sometimes Real Life comes back months later and tells me I was right the first time: there was a story there worth talking about.

That is how I come to be posting about a Times report dating from early June on August 27th.

On June 10th 2020, the Times reported:

Royal Opera House under fire for ‘silence’ on Black Lives Matter protests

The Royal Opera House has been described as an “unrelentingly white organisation” by a senior employee who said he was “ashamed” of its silence over the death of George Floyd.

Mark Dakin, the organisation’s technical director, said it had paid “lip service to the inclusion and progression of a black and minority ethnic workforce”.

In an email which has been posted on the Royal Opera House intranet Mr Dakin said he had “only an exhausting, burning rage and desolate sadness that still nothing has changed . . . you continue to exclude us”.

He said that during the Black Lives Matter protests over the killing of Mr Floyd the Royal Opera House was “silent and chooses to not even show public solidarity”.

Mr Dakin, who joined in 2016 to run Covent Garden’s technical and production department after 20 years with the National Theatre, said that unlike other organisations the Royal Opera House had not sufficiently supported #blackouttuesday on June 2.

Mr Dakin, who grew up as an adopted child in Bristol with a white family, also claimed that the Royal Opera House had continually declined to publicly support Black History Month.

In an open letter posted on the website of Stage Sight Mr Dakin said he was “ashamed the organisation for which I work has chosen to exercise the privilege of staying publicly silent about the racist murder of the African American George Floyd, proactively choosing to ignore #blackouttuesday, as it always publicly ignores Black History Month.”

Mr Dakin’s “burning rage” at the Royal Opera House for the horrible crime of not participating in his favoured hashtag campaigns that were utterly unrelated to opera seemed almost comical in June. Less so in August.

America’s Woke Red Guards Enforcing Goodthink by Harassing D.C. Restaurants Patrons

That was from PJ Media. A little to my surprise even the Independent seemed to have cottoned on to the idea that a mob surrounding a random woman and berating her for not making a gesture of solidarity at their demand might be a bad look. Interestingly the woman in the pink top, Lauren B. Victor, is herself a supporter of BLM but was commendably resistant to being coerced.

Edit: The story about the harassment of the diners has been reported worldwide.

Une foule agressive de manifestants BLM accostent des convives blancs à l’extérieur des restaurants de DC

Los huéspedes del restaurante estaban rodeados de manifestantes enojados de Black Lives Matter: “Un regalo para Trump”

„Heb deine Faust!“ – US-Aktivisten bedrängen Restaurantbesucherin

At the time of writing neither the BBC nor the Guardian had any mention of it.

Another edit: The Guardian is not merely declining to mention the Lauren Victor story, it is actively deleting mention of it by readers in comments to this opinion piece on the US election by Nathan Robinson. I assure you that my own two comments were polite and relevant but they were instantly deleted. I think I saw a couple of comments from other readers mentioning unsavoury behaviour by BLM supporters that, like my two, have now disappeared.

The culture wars, ctd

“Speaking personally, I am getting a little fed up with the shoe-horning of George Floyd into every aspect of our lives. The Minnesotan policeman accused of killing him is currently in prison awaiting trial for murder. Literally nobody on earth is defending his actions. So it is slightly galling that anyone, at the BBC or anywhere else, should try to present his killing as some sort of Murder on the Orient Express effort involving every white person on earth.”

Douglas Murray.

He, yours truly and many other people are fed up with all this. But for today’s Maoist culture warriors, even seemingly small things, such as the words accompanying “Land of Hope and Glory”, are worth crushing into silence, if their acts achieve the end of demoralising and destroying what they hate. (Check out this Elgar CD for the actual music.)

Ironically, the song Rule Britannia includes the line “Britons never, never shall be slaves”. That enrages some, for whom the object of their drooling political philosophy is to enslave humanity. Their hatred of such tunes is in fact a form of psychological projection and on a massive scale. They see evil imperialism in a desire not to submit to rulers.

This isn’t going to stop unless and until the structures that today’s Gramscian Left have captured – many universities, tax-funded arts bodies, the BBC, etc, must have their funds cut off, their staff fired, and the organisations forced to subsist on whatever private stipends they can obtain.

Meanwhile, the BBC has once again achieved the opposite of its intentions.

An Australian farce

The following article comes from a senior British academic and friend who has asked for his name not to be published. From my point of view (Jonathan Pearce) everything in this article, in terms of what I know about the cant of so much contemporary bank PR spin, this article rings 100 per cent true.

Western businesses like Australia’s ANZ have toyed with Chinese communism so much they have put themselves on an inevitable road to ruin. As a new Cold War between the West and China’s increasingly despotic and brittle communist regime comes into ever sharper view, one of Australia’s major banking groups has emerged as the world’s exemplar of what not to do when it comes to strategy and reputation.

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ) has long been mired in scandal and rumour. Predictably, it is currently facing court battles concerning share price fixing and cartel accusations.

However, under the leadership of CEO Shayne Elliott and the bank’s Chair David Gonski things have become so toxic that some observers are detecting unprecedented levels of incompetence.

Unable or unwilling to execute a coherent strategy, Elliott and his team have wasted several years honing a quintessentially woke public relations veneer in an attempt to disguise the bank’s massive involvement in totalitarian China.While publicly talking the talk of ‘diversity and inclusion’, ANZ’s leadership have made sure the bank is walking the walk of the CCP.

As China stamps on people’s freedoms at home, in Hong Kong, and further afield (not to mention its use of concentration camps and the forced sterilisation of minorities), ANZ has not only been left with oceans of increasingly questionable investments in China but it has also been exposed for having worked alongside China in its information warfare assaults on western free speech.

Shamefully, ANZ even fed the career of one of its own employees, the US citizen and star trader Bogac Ozdemir, to a Chinese disinformation operation because he dared to speak out against the Chinese Communist Party.

Similarly, while ANZ is headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, the bank’s leadership has placed the organisation’s key data centre in the Chinese city of Chengdu.

Despite Chinese cyber-attacks on Australia and the recent expulsion by China of US diplomats from Chengdu, this is the city that Elliott chose as the location for ANZ’s main data ‘hub’ – therein putting at risk vast amounts of their customers’ personal information (not to mention all manner of emails and other communications).

Indeed, so far reaching has ANZ’s involvement and exposure to China been that Brussel’s EU Reporter recently likened the bank to running “the risk of becoming a twenty-first century Krupps or IG Farben”.

Strategically, ANZ is caught between the spokes of an unsustainable strategy on China, an overheating mortgage market in Australia, and a US-led west determined to face down the CCP and its proxies.

While most observers now expect Elliott’s contract with the bank will not be renewed in October, one insider in Melbourne goes so far as to say “he is toast,” adding, “Gonski’s exposure to China is so big he will have to go too.”

Truly, if ever you wanted to see a western business toy with totalitarianism, and in so doing place itself on a road of economic and reputational ruin, then this is it.

Devoid of morality, coherence and basic common sense, the failings of ANZ are so great they should make an entertaining MBA case study for years to come.

If it wasn’t so tragic, it would be funny.

Samizdata quote of the day

Progressive mythology always demands a socialist valhalla; a nation to be idealised and held up as an inspiration. For years, Scandinavia, and particularly Sweden, played this role. The stereotype was never entirely accurate; Scandinavian social democracy is a far cry from full-throated socialism, yet it remained influential. In the face of the pandemic, however, the tables have turned; now it is the libertarian Right who are lining up to applaud Swedish exceptionalism, while progressives liken their controversial strategy to a form of eugenics. With Sweden consigned to the naughty step, the Left needs a new country to fetishise, and they have alighted on New Zealand.

Madeline Grant.

Samizdata quote of the day

We are sorry if our heterodox views serve to disappoint friends and colleagues in the United States and elsewhere. But we retain the belief that, in supposedly pluralistic societies, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. We urge other scientists not to follow the American example, and to resist the campaign to racialize science. While we admire many aspects of American culture, we reject its cultural imperialism—including the new form of ostensibly progressive cultural imperialism that serves to impose America’s own obsessive race tribalism on the rest of the world.

Our European experience provides no shortage of cautionary tales—including Renaissance Florence under the influence of Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, who imposed a regime of religious purity in the 1490s. Such was his sway that no less an artist than Sandro Botticelli was induced to burn his creations and give up painting. In all eras, the demands of ideological purity serve to suppress the pursuit of art and reason. Standing up to puritans is necessary if we are to protect the telos and soul of science.

Andreas Bikfalvi & Marcel Kuntz

Which do you want more, strict product liability or a Coronavirus vaccine?

The Brussels Times reports,

Coronavirus: Belgian experts ‘shocked’ as AstraZeneca seeks liability waiver for vaccine

A pharmaceutical firm developing a coronavirus vaccine of which Belgium has already secured millions of doses has made the “exceptional” request to not be held liable for any potential side effects.

As it enters the final stages of human trials in the development of a vaccine against the new coronavirus, drugmaker AstraZeneca has introduced several requests to be protected from future claims of liability.

The request was received with surprise by some observers in Belgium, with, health and medical law experts in Belgium referring to it as exceptional or even shocking.

Professor Thierry Vansweevelt is one of those most shocked.

“There is a European directive on product liability,” Vansweevelt said. “Any producer who places a defective product on the market is responsible for that without exceptions. You can’t escape that.”

For the sake of the people of Belgium, a country of which I am fond, I rather hope they can escape it. It is telling that even its supporters see this directive as something that people might want to escape.

I saw this story on Reddit UK politics. It is usually a bit of a left wing hive mind, so I was relieved to see that the highest-recommended comment was by someone going by the name “LiteralTory” who said,

I’m shocked he’s shocked. Developed under incredible pressure and speed. A novel mechanism of action compared to other vaccines. Going to be given to literally billions of people within months of release. Even extremely rare side effects could be numerous enough to destroy the company. And with no vaccine, who bears the risk? Governments, populations and economies. I can entirely see why in this instance they’d expect governments and populations to accept a certain share of the risk.

Does this professor have no imagination not to be able to see that?

Samizdata quote of the day

None of the arguments against rent controls are new. You can already find them all in Verdict on Rent Control, a book which the IEA published in 1972. The book is actually a collection of papers on the subject, some of which are much older than that. It contains one paper by Milton Friedman and George Stigler on wartime rent controls in the US, which were still lingering after the war had ended. It was first published in 1946, but they were already having the same arguments then that we are still having today.

The oldest contribution is a paper by Friedrich Hayek, on rent controls in interwar Vienna (which he obviously did not call “interwar”). Hayek shows how rent controls do not just lead to shortages of rental properties, but have all sorts of secondary effects that distort the wider economy, for example the reduction in labour mobility. This was first published in 1929, and yet, the parallels to today’s situation immediately stand out.

Economic papers often end on the more cautious note that “more research is needed”. You would not do this in a publication on rent controls, because the situation is too crystal clear. No more research is needed. We know – or rather, could know, and should know – everything there is to know.

What we need to do is finally accept it.

Kristian Niemietz

Welcome to our horrible racist university

Heather Mac Donald has written an important essay for City Journal, Conformity to a Lie. (Hat tip to Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.)

The essay contains much that saddens and enrages me, but in places it is funny. After quoting several examples of college presidents and deans craving pardon for the racism of their institutions, she writes,

All such institutional self-accusations by college presidents leave out the specifics. Which faculty members do not treat black students fairly? If that unjust treatment is so obvious, why weren’t those professors already removed? What is wrong with an admissions process that lets in thousands of student bigots? In other moments, college presidents brag about the quality of their student body and faculty. Are they lying? Shouldn’t they have disclosed to black applicants that they will face “racist acts” and “systems of inequality” should they attend?

Edit: Thinking about it, this is a smaller scale example of the rule that in time of revolution it is safer to be a Tsarist than an Old Bolshevik.

Samizdata quote of the day

“It’s extraordinary that a state that struggles to provide essential services like public health and education somehow thinks it can be the vanguard of a new technological revolution. British ARPA is destined to fail because it is built on a fundamental myth: that state-funding for scientific research magically turns into marketable innovations and economic growth.”

Matthew Lesh

A half hour video of the incident in Portland on 16th August 2020

If I have understood correctly, this video of the incident involving Adam Haner and Marquise Love, in connection with which Mr Love is being sought by Portland Police, was taken by a man called Drew Hernandez. Here is his twitter post directing viewers to the YouTube channel where the video is hosted.

This Daily Mail story includes a much shorter (1 minute 49 seconds) video of the same incident.

Obviously, both videos show scenes of violence.

I am a strong believer in the presumption of innocence, so I will say no more than “Watch for yourselves”.

Edit: “It’s a stain on the movement”: Portland Protest Organizers Condemn Truck Driver Assault, reports the Portland Mercury. However at the time of writing the Twitter account of the national (US) Black Lives Matter movement has said nothing about it.

I look forward to next week’s study on the superiority of male leaders in economic crises

The Guardian reports,

“Female-led countries handled coronavirus better, study suggests”

Countries led by women had “systematically and significantly better” Covid-19 outcomes, research appears to show, locking down earlier and suffering half as many deaths on average as those led by men.

The relative early success of leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen, Taiwan’s Tsai Ing-wen and Finland’s Sanna Marin has so far attracted many headlines but little academic attention.

The analysis of 194 countries, published by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum, suggests the difference is real and “may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses” adopted by female leaders.

[…]

“In almost all cases, they locked down earlier than male leaders in similar circumstances. While this may have longer-term economic implications, it has certainly helped these countries to save lives, as evidenced by the significantly lower number of deaths in these countries.”

[…]

She added that while female leaders “were risk averse with regard to lives”, locking their countries down significantly earlier than male leaders, that also suggested they were “more willing to take risks in the domain of the economy”.

Now that the Great and the Good (you can’t get much greater and gooder than the Centre for Economic Policy Research and the Word Economic Forum) have officially endorsed the idea that sex based differences exist and it is OK to mention them, and that stance has been warmly endorsed by the Guardian, I look forward to reading the follow-up report on the superiority of male leaders when it comes to protecting the economy. After all, 99% of the time we are not in a pandemic and the economy is the political issue that most affects people’s lives.

An architect is struck off

I originally read this story about the striking off of the architect Peter Kellow by the Architects Registration Board (ARB) on page 19 of my paper copy of today’s Times. The headline reads “Architect struck off for Jewish ‘cult’ claim”. However an online search of the Times website yields no such story, and no mention of Peter Kellow. Strange. Fortunately, and embarrassingly for both papers, the Daily Mail version is almost word for word the same:

Award winning architect is struck off after he claimed Judaism is a ‘cult’ and called for ‘restraints’ to be placed on Jews who should be banned from holding public office

An award-winning architect has been struck off for claiming Judaism is not a race but a ‘cult’.

Cambridge-educated Peter Kellow called for ‘restraints’ to be placed on Jewish people including banning them from holding influential public office.

In a public Facebook post, he said there was ‘no such thing as the Jewish race’ and accused them of creating ‘resentment and suspicion’.

As a result of his behaviour, he was hauled before a disciplinary panel, found guilty of misconduct and kicked out of the profession after 47 years.

The Architects Registration Board hearing was told that Mr Kellow made the comments in April 2019, as then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced accusations of anti-Semitism.

He wrote: ‘There is no such thing as the Jewish race. This is one of the many stunts that Judaists have pulled on non-Judaists who have swallowed it whole. There is only the religion/cult of Judaism.

‘There is no doubt that Judaists have suffered from unfair and cruel treatment at many times in history but this was never racially motivated until the late nineteenth century and bloomed in the ideology of Adolf Hitler.

‘It is not far from the truth to say the Judaists were the inventors of European racism for they asserted they were racially different to the rest of us. Judaists have got themselves into a lot of trouble throughout history being subject to pogroms, ghettos and expulsions.

‘I am not saying this was justified, but why do we see this consistent pattern?

‘The problem people have and always have had with Judaism is not about race.. It is because Judaism is a cult.

‘What do I mean by a cult? A cult is a set of people, normally unified by a religion or quasi-religion, who try to create a society within the general society.

Mr Kellow also included freemasonry and Sunni Islam in his definition of cults.

He wrote: ‘Cults work against the interest of the general society as its members, in subscribing to a society within the society favour each other over the rest of us.

‘This naturally creates resentment and suspicion. How can you trust such people?’

‘How should society deal with people who through their cult activity weaken the bonds that the society needs to function well? We must put restraints on their ability to create a society within a society.’

Mr Kellow suggested creating a public register of Jewish people, banning them from public office ‘where they could discriminate’ between Jews and non-Jews and ban from being judges.

He also suggested banning Jewish faith schools and the wearing of religious clothing other than a skull gap.

The Times version really was amazingly similar, although it did say “skull cap” rather than “skull gap”.

You can read the original wording of the offending Facebook post on this archived version of the proceedings of the ARB disciplinary panel.

He began,

This business of “anti-semiticism” [sic] in the Labour party which is held up as racism. What is it all about really?

The Mail and the Times cite the most important points, but I thought it was worthwhile to quote Mr Kellow’s recommended policy towards what he calls “Judaists” and to believers in other religions that he deems to be cults:

First of all there is no question of banning them. I believe in freedom for the individual as a fundamental ideal and so if someone wishes to belong to a cult like Judaism or Freemasonry they must be free to do [sic]. But we must put restraints on their ability to create a society within a society. The main ones should be as follows

1. Registration of the cult in a public register
2. Registration of all adult members in a public register
3. No cult member can hold an important public office where they are in a position to descriminate [sic] between cult members and non-cult members. For instance it is totally unacceptable lo [sic] have a Freemason or Judaist as a judge as their decisions will very like [sic] work in favour of fellow cult members. Their strong bond in their society within the society will ensure this
4. Whereas adults are free to choose to belong to a cult, the same cannot reply [sic] to their children. The assumption that the children of cult members will be “born into” the cult is not acceptable in a civilised society. To this end, no cult can run its own “faith” schools
5. It must be against the law to wear cult clothing in public – except something worn on the top of the head like a hat [eg Sikh turbans or Judaist skull caps]. However, penalties will only be applied when a separate law [such as a driving evidence [sic] or bank robbery] is violated.

It is clear that Mr Kellow adheres to most of the usual tenets of twenty-first century Corbynite anti-semitism, given the customary veneer of progressive respectability by being anti several other religions as well – though he would have done better on that score to include Christianity in the list of “cults” to be restricted by law. To advocate that faith schools be banned is now fairly mainstream in left wing circles, and not only among them. The way he presented laws against Jews holding public office as being an anti-discrimination measure was clever. He only really slipped up by advocating that a register of Jews be compiled. That bright idea carried an overtone of Nazism too strong to ignore.

Peter Kellow has some nasty opinions. But should they stop him practising as an architect?