Andy Duncan
Monday, October 27, 2003

The NHS - Our own little Soviet Union

Alas, it appears the stress of working hard enough to pay all of Gordon's taxes, so the chief executive of Bradford City Council can get his or her well-earned £200,000 deserved annual salary, for all the hard and necessary work that they do, has got to me. And I've had to turn to my last link to socialism, the NHS, for a stress-induced problem, which has prevented me from having enough time to blog anywhere. I shall report back, soon though, God willing, on a diary of NHS incompetence as seen from the naughty end. Have you ever seen long posts on Samizdata? Well, ya ain't seen nothing yet. 
Tuesday, September 09, 2003

The vice is closing

And so, the ratchet screws down ever closer. We'll have ID cards for children? I wonder if these will propagate to adults, so the state can watch over us better, for our own good? We have the EU constitution about to frame the rightful rule of an everlasting ruling class of omnipotent bureaucrats to lord it over us, forever. We have Union barons about to break loose again, we have polls showing the majority of the UK's dumb population in favour of ID cards, and would you believe it, the Swedish Euro vote appears to be heading for a dramatic 'Yes' result, though nobody can explain why this should so suddenly have changed (I wonder if they'll count ballot boxes in from the Swedish parts of Reunion). It doesn't matter. Even if the Swedish population get it wrong, despite this mysterious growth in the 'Yes' vote, they'll have further opportunities to get it right. Endless opportunities to get it right. Everything is going horribly wrong for believers in freedom, and what do we have opposing it, in the UK? Yes, that's right, our friends the Conservatives, who are slipping, yes slipping, in the polls against Labour. Just what is it that they're afraid of? Losing again? How badly this time? Why don't they just stand on the roof-tops and shout this message out all over London: "Above all, freedom." So instead of being flummoxed by James Naughtie on the Today program about whether they will leave 'Europe', if Tony Blair takes us into the EU constitution without a referendum, instead of umming and ahhing, and saying 'you'll find out our position at the appropriate juncture', just say 'Yes, we will.' You see, it's easy if you try hard enough. 
Monday, September 08, 2003

Time, and the world's lack of it

Although Neuro Linguistic Programming, mentioned below, will help me overcome all of the following time-induced problems, it's a helluva three month period coming up before Christmas. I have to read through eight O'Reilly books on Java, and thoroughly familiarize myself with Java Struts, Java Ant, and Java Extreme Programming. I also have to re-familiarize myself with Java Tomcat, JavaServer Pages, Java Servlets, and UML. And all this before October, or mid-October at the latest. I also have to learn the whole of Learning Tree's Technical Writing course, which is about to go through a major review, and teach this mother, for the first time, in the second week of October. And somehow, in there, I have to keep knocking out the world's greatest ever first-time novel. Oh, and keep a family, and body and soul together. If anyone out there has a time dilator, where you can squeeze about six months into two, I'd be willing to pay at least fifty pence for it! :-)

Oh well, better to be busy, than comfortably esconced within the torpid sinecures of the ruling class, rolling in at ten, rolling off at four, taking two hours lunches, four day weeks, doing the Guardian Quick Crossword, and waiting patiently for my promotion to Chief Under-Nabob Secretaryship to the Local Authority Regional Authority Creche supervisory regulatory EU board.

It may be a burden paying 40% taxes for all these legions of at best useless and at worst interfering ruling class parasites, who live off the fat of the land while the rest of us produce this fat, but at least when we face our maker we're the ones who can say we've done something useful with our lives. 

Neuro Linguistic Programming

Having just spent a week in the presence of Richard Bandler, the world's leading hypnotist, and Paul McKenna, the world's second leading hypnotist, and Michael Breen, the world's third leading hypnotist, I'm now reading for anything the world can throw at me. Except of course, for socialists, racists, collectivists in general, Guardian Readers (who love the Guardian), and psycho-the-rapists. They can all go to hell! :-) 
Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Blimey, IT contractors!

Have you seen Jobserve recently? Lordy. When I last looked, three months ago, there were 2 jobs matching my skills, and requirements, with ridiculously low rates. Today, with the same search criteria, there were 100 jobs, with rates more than twice what they were! I'm stuck in this current contract until at least the middle of September. I can't wait to get back out there again. We may (touch wood) be over the worst. 
Tuesday, August 19, 2003

The Irish State is Back

(Also appears on Samizdata)

After nearly a decade in which many Big Government restrictions have been lifted from Ireland, making it into the Celtic Tiger, it seems Big G is back again.

Irish pub landlords will now be fined up to thousands of pounds if they allow their customers to become drunk (no, I'm not kidding). Happy hours are also banned, when landlords can decide what prices to charge for their drinks, at any particular time of day.

This should raise another nice little line of regulation for another bunch of twerpish bureaucrats to supervise, rather than working for a living.

Pub landlords will also be deemed responsible for anyone who is drunk, after they have left their premises. Which is nice. It seems even Ireland, for millennia a land of little or no government, is getting Big G back with a vengeance.

If we dug a little further would you suspect the EU is under this somewhere? I wonder. 
Monday, August 18, 2003

The Liberty Gene

(Also appears on Samizdata)

A thought struck me a few minutes ago while reading Mr Stephen Pinker's excellent book, The Language Instinct, and its chapter, Language Organs and Grammar Genes. This discusses the direct effect of genes on the human cerebral cortex. Here's an annotated quote from that chapter which kicked off my own cerebral cortical units into a bit of a grey-matter spin:

Could there really be a gene for sneezing in elevators? Presumably not, but there does not have to be…First, a single gene does not build a single brain module; the brain is a delicately layered soufflé in which each gene product is an ingredient with a complex effect on many properties of many circuits. Second, a single brain module does not produce a single behavioural trait. Most of the traits that capture our attention emerge out of unique combinations of kinks in many different modules…Perhaps the sneezing-in-elevators gene complex is the one that specifies just the right combination of thresholds and cross-connections among the modules governing humour, reactions to enclosed spaces, sensitivity to the mental states of others such as their anxiety and boredom, and the sneezing reflex.

Which begs the immediate question; is there a Liberty gene? Or a Liberty gene complex? Some researchers claim that up to thirty thousand genes are used to create the human brain. Could there be some regular patterning of this combinatorial soufflé process to create libertarians?

There's not many of us about, admittedly. My own ragged guesstimate sets any typical libertarian population at around 2% for any given western population. If that.

And maybe even this is some kind of necessary upper limit, for a race which is still essentially stuck mentally in the pure socialist stone-age. Biologically we were essentially the people we are now around 200,000 years ago. And for most of the time since, everyone alive was expected to fill a single tribal pot, and the tribal chief decided what we got afterwards, after taking out the best stuff for himself and his friend, the shaman, the clever one amongst us who educated the tribe into believing that the chief always knew best; which was remarkably handy for the chief, and his friend and willing servant, the shaman.

But did the chief and the shaman need the libertarians more than even they realised?

In a stone-age sense, were libertarians the ones who invented the fire sticks, the ones who invented the wheels, and the ones who invented the card games to play in the evening when everyone else was wondering what to do with all this new-fangled firelight? Are libertarians the ones who had the gene to discover new valleys beyond the mountains, the ones who could think of better ways to kill mammoths and sabre-toothed tigers, and the ones who ultimately helped pull the other members of the tribe away from the parasitic and violent influence of the shamans and the tribal chiefs? Change would not have been good for any members of this ruling gang structure, the politicians and the intellectuals, as with total power already in their hands, any change could only lead to their having less power.

But without this human action ability to change, we could have become one of those extinct fossil communities on one of the bushy dead-end sub-branches of human evolution. Maybe that's exactly what happened? Were we the lucky ones, because we had the liberty gene? Without it would we have been the ones who didn't make it, who didn't get through the ice ages, who ultimately neither knew how to invent nor even how to change a domestic light-bulb? Change is necessary and invention is necessary, especially in times of crisis, such as ice ages, and all of this change needs individuals who are prepared to break the rules of convention, who are able to overcome their political masters, and who are able to do it alone, against all the odds, if nobody else in the tribe will support them. It needs libertarians.

In the modern sense, later libertarians invented classical Athens, the Roman Republic, and the United States. All three of these incrementally advanced things were later swamped by the older human types of Spartan numskull warrior slave-masters, Roman Caesar imperial slave-masters, and deficit-funding Washington slave-masters, the chieftains and the shamans exacting their revenge. But still the libertarians persevere, hiding out now on the Internet, and in small businesses, still inventing things, still taking risks, and still dragging the rest of humanity behind them, kicking and screaming, with its general will to wipe out and destroy the libertarians in its primal urge to return to the paternalist comfort of the tribalist stone-age, the shade behind the chieftain's spear, and the incantations of the Guardian-reading shaman, who still has his cup filled every day by the chieftain from the tribal pot of violently obtained taxes, in return for propagating the rule of this very government violence.

Is this then the spirit of humanity, the thing which ensured it was our particular species of humanity which crawled out of Africa, leaving behind all the pure socialist tribalists who died in their caves while watching us strip out their resources with our superior economic methods, which even now the shamans hate? Is there, in short, a Liberty gene? Do we all possess it? Is it switched on when the time comes, in all of us, at times of great need? Is this what makes us different from all those other human sub-groups which died out? Is it somehow tied to the very same gene complexes which allow us to speak in our fabulous human languages?

I don't know. But Mr Pinker writes damn fine books. 

Crossroads Motel

Well, it's been a while, and I've hit this crossroads. Should I push forward on the writing front, or hang back and try to revive the IT development career? Or should I extend the IT soft skills and training career, and try to add on NLP? Decisions, decisions. Maybe I should be all post-industrial and go for all of them! :-) 
Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Novel Progress

I meet my man in the publishing trade, next week, who should give me a good report on what he thinks on what I've written so far. Must try to get all 27,000 words polished, before he gets it. So I may be offline from here, for a while. 

The Unbearable Lightness of Clots, Part II

Just adding to the article below, I was thinking on the train home last night, that every political position could claim at least some of that below. But there is a difference. Most other political leanings are chosen first, and then the arguments are sought to bolster it. For instance, I may choose to be a socialist at 14, because some other 14 year old, who's richer than me, steals the girl I was after, because he can afford to take her to the cinema, and I can't. I have therefore chosen to be a socialist, because of emotional reasoning. From then on, I apply my logical mind to locating all of the written arguments why it is good to be a socialist, and bad to be anything else.

But whatever happens, and whatever I read, I always remain a socialist. I am unprepared to change, possibly even remain incapable of changing, because my brain has been fixed at a young age, by an initial powerful emotion. So even if God himself comes knocking on my door, and tells me socialism is bunk, I will still cling to it. Even though the Soviet Union failed, even though the Gulag was caused by it, even though Cambodia was caused by it, even though Britain's long decline after the war was caused by it, even though Africa's modern poverty is caused by it, whatever it is, we cannot shake it. Whatever the evidence, we stick with socialism. The needle is stuck, clicking forever in the same groove. And we only listen to, or accept, arguments which leave us comfortably where we are, or which convince us, even more, that we are correct. So we may tend to become more, and more, extreme, in our socialism, until reason is left a long way behind. Some even go so far, of course, that they'll blow themselves up in the cause, or murder others - for the good of society! Try telling that, of course, to the relatives of the murdered victims.

So socialists get stuck, whereas classical liberals are both prepared to change their views, in the face of the evidence, and remain capable of changing their views, until after a process of Popperian experimentation with ideas, they come to a general stable resting point, which cannot be shaken by further past argument. Though if it is, new arguments are welcomed, which may still shift this position.

Hence, virtually every classical liberal holds certain principles to be self-evident (people have a right to life, and a right to property, for instance), but good-natured argument and debate is allowed between each person. For instance, the debates between the Randites, the Rothbardians, the Hayekians, the Popperians, and so on. In fact, it is impossible to classify any single group of classical liberals, into a strictly defined sect. Because each one individual is different, having arrived at their position independently, by themselves, helped with mixtures of the acknowledged greats (Von Mises, Hayek etc), to make up their individual position.

Whereas collectivists are easy to lump together. In fact, if some collectivist is in a "lump", and in some conversation comes up with something not held by the rest to be "in line with the party", they are quickly persuaded to change their views accordingly, indeed they are often happy to do so, to get on the correct road to the truth, the way, and the path; though without the unnecessary process of their own thoughts on the matter, getting in the way. So all socialist workers hold one party line, all trotskyite militants hold one line, all Hitlerites follow one line, all New Labour spin-doctors hold the same line, unserweiter, unserweiter.

(This is the major thing which sometimes disturbs me about the Randites, which to me brings them close to socialism. You sometimes see debates among them, where they don't know the "Party" line, because Rand didn't write about the particular topic. It is only when a Randite scholar discovers some obscure thing she said, in a meeting in 1961, to clarify her position on this particular issue, that they seem to be able to relax. Because they have found out, from the one true God Rand, what to think!)

These "party lines" are therefore imposed upon the mind of the collectivist, in addition to their initial emotional impulse to adopt a position close to this particular line, when their minds were still capable of change. So let's say 100 individuals decide, usually in emotional teenagerhood, to become Trotskyites. They start reading Trotsky, and come to a point where they hold 100 different views on what Trotsky wanted. At this point, they're almost like classical liberals, in that they have independently arrived at an individual position (though a position they deliberately sought to reach, before they'd researched any evidence.) They then get serious, and decide to join a group to further their aims.

Let's say there are four groups, the Trotskyite Workers, the Trotskyite Activists, the Trotskyite Spartacists, and the Trotskyite Militants, and that 25 of our original socialists all join each group. It will not take very long, before each group of 25 will hold identical views to all of the others in their particular group, regardless of where they came from, and regardless of how different their individual minds are. At this point they become true mindless slaves to socialism, and it becomes almost impossible, for most of them, for the rest of their lives, to shake off this mind-numbing infliction. They have, in effect, stopped thinking. It is only if they start thinking again, that they can be saved.

And it is sites such as Samizdata which can kick-start this re-thinking process. We draw them on, in their hope that they can shout us down, and we hold such a strong position, based upon evidence long worked over, that we can sometimes, very occasionally, shake off the socialist layer of control which is holding these intelligent minds trapped within, under a deep layer of unreasoning fury, aggression, and emotion. Or, at least, rattle them sufficiently that their awoken thinking processes can do this job for them, internally. They may even challenge their group-held positions, cause socialist schism within their group, or even break away from it entirely, back towards the light of reason.

And if they can maintain this attitude of thinking, for a decent period of time, something they abandoned at 14, we can even save them entirely, and bring them entirely over to the light side, where they can hold an individual position of classical liberalism.

Some see this disunity within us, the classical liberals, as a weakness. I see it as a strength. It means we're the only group who actually think for ourselves. And given the choice of another group, who are told what to think from some book, or some prophet, I know which group I'd rather be in.

You know, the more I think about the Matrix films, the more I see them as an excellent allegory on this exact process, as we welcome just a few of these blinking, thinking, ex-socialists, to the real world! :-) 
The woolly ramblings of a quasi-Randite neo-Popperite proto-Rothbardian

06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003 / 07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003 / 08/01/2003 - 09/01/2003 / 09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003 / 10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003 /

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Freedom and Whisky
The Cure for Socialism:
Economics in One Lesson
Free to Choose
Capitalism and Freedom
New Ideas From Dead Economists
The Wealth of Nations
How the West Grew Rich
The Tyranny of Numbers
The Road to Serfdom
The Fatal Conceit
The Constitution of Liberty
Animal Farm
Human Action
Ludwig von Mises' "The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality"
The Fountainhead
Atlas Shrugged
Captitalism The Unknown Ideal
Philosophy Who Needs It
New Intellectual
Return of the Primitive
The Advanced Cure For Socialism:
The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 1
The Open Society and Its Enemies, Vol. 2
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