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Dear Perry De Havilland…

Well, yesterday I managed to trigger Perry de Havilland’s narcissistic personality disorder and get banned from Samizdata for, er, agreeing with (respected Samizdata and CCinZ writer) Paul Marks, over a very curious matter- the not particularly controversial observation that Oxford’s PPE degree is a feeder for the State apparat. Davey Boy Cameron has one, Ed Balls has one, the Millipede Brothers have them, the BBC writes articles about it, Wikipedia has a great long list of them and casually and correctly states in its article on PPE that it was created as a more modern replacement for “Classics”, the previous booster degree into the Civil Service, politics etc.

But none of that’s good enough for young Peregrine because, er, “a writer” at Samizdata has one. So apparently therefore criticising it is a deeply wounding insult to Samizdata, or “the writer”, or Perry de Havilland, or Libertiarans everywhere, or something. I have no idea which. Anyway, if you’re interested in watching the unedifying spectacle of young Peregrine once again lapsing straight into furious denunciation while entirely bypassing any attempt at a rational discussion, throwing his toys out of his pram and pulling the “I owns this site, you is BANNED” thing (you can just see him typing that with his chest puffed out and shouting PWNED at his spittle coated monitor), feel free to read the thread.

Anyway, I wouldn’t have posted this except for how the thread continued after my removal from the company of decent folks. Another commenter, “will”, posted a supportive (to my comments) comment and young master Peregrine replied with something which initially mystified me-

I will continue to show people the door who are wilfully acting like jackasses on Samizdata “Will” (yeah right).

What can he mean by “”Will” (yeah, right)”? I thought for a moment it might be something to do with a pun on the word “will” but I couldn’t think of one. Then after puzzling for a moment, and looking at the rest of young Peregrine’s deranged ranting, I realised that he thinks that “Will” is me, using some sock puppet screen name.

Yeah, right, Perry.

Hence his franting keyboard banging like this, directed at Will-

You are only a ‘dissenter’ in the sense a obnoxious drunk at a party is a ‘dissenter’, tearfully complaining on the cold side walk about how his right of ‘free speech’ (on someone else’s property) have been cruelly trampled when he get kicked out the front door for being a boorish nuisance.

You fail to understand a great many things… education is only about “what professions require what” if that is what you wish to be educated for. Some people take the view that specialisation is for insects and in libertopia people will take courses that do not meet with your approval much as they do now.

Sorry Perry, it isn’t me. You’re a paranoid loon, mate. I recommend you use that advanced degree-honed brain of yours to check the IP addresses, but if you’re not up to that, you can see both myself and Will in this thread at the Libertarian Alliance blog.

I like the delusions of grandeur in the above quote as well, as young Peregrine divides the world into people like himself and, er, “insects”. If the blogging doesn’t work out, he can always get a job as a megalomaniac Bond villain, or something. I wonder if he passes the time in front of a mirror practicing phrases like, “I will crush you… like an egg!” and “They laughed at me the fools, but they won’t be laughing any more!!!111!111!”

So anyway, I’m just pointing that out here, because I can’t point it out there, because, as we are all constantly reminded, Perry owns it, property rights, etc etc.

Now, back to your normal diet of insightful libertarian commentary from the CCinZ team. Apologies for this interruption.

66 Comments

  1. Ian B says:

    Oh my, now there’s an example of how offense gets caused. I didn’t use the word “welch” as a pun on “welsh”, it’s a coincidence. Unless there was a “welsh” neurone active in my brain at the time that influenced me to choose the word. I certainly didn’t mean to imply you’re an “ineffectual dick” either. Sorry. You know I’m the world’s worst for getting posts together. It was just meant as a gentle nudge since I’m interested to see what you have to say on the matter, from other comments you’ve made about the subject.

    I’ll go off and listen to some Hawkwind, shall I?

  2. John B says:

    The concept of individual freedom and individual responsibility – liberty – is gracious.
    If that is what libertarianism is about then I am happy to be identified with libertarianism.
    Where those who claim to be libertarians but in fact seem to have more in common with the coercive jackboot of Marxism or fascism and presenting personal preferences as absolute truths, I am not.
    It seems to me that the political aspect of libertarianism is drawing ever more political animals into its association. Politics, being about power, ie, telling other people what to think and what to do, is almost antithetical to liberty, in my opinion, especially when the coercive aspect becomes overt.
    Crypto Marxists and fascists are, I suppose, inevitable as coercive, political people will tend to invade and hijack any association of people.
    As far as I am concerned liberty is the focus and any form of coercion, or trying to tell other people what to do or think instead of just presenting them with facts and allowing them to make up thir own minds, is the enemy of freedom.

  3. john east says:

    I have been a frequent reader, and infrequent contributor to Samizdata for many years. I must admit finding it quite claustrophobic over there on occasion with an atmosphere of smug complacency and conservatism with a small “c”. I too have earned Perry’s wrath by demanding free speech on a thread, something that I personally find central to libertarianism, only to be slapped down for not toeing the approved line.

    Sorry to see this latest spat. Hopefully, time will heal all bruised egos.

  4. NickM says:

    “So my conclusion in fact is one that I have been thinking a lot about lately, in terms of debate in general. It is that we have grossly divergent conceptual models of the world, which lead us to speak different languages which happen to both use the words and grammar of English. Thus when I write a sentence, the meaning you take from it is completely different to the one I intended.

    I think this is really the source of all ideological difference. We live in different worlds which overlap.”

    Ian, you coming out as a Kuhian? That sounds very close to his concept of incommensurable paradigms. Popper fans wouldn’t like that – if you know who I mean ;-)

    And as a Hawkwind fan!

  5. Bod says:

    No, I don’t like that.

    Oh? You didn’t mean me?

  6. NickM says:

    Bod,
    Somewhat cryptic?

  7. Bod says:

    Popper, and megalomania.

    Along the lines of:

    fx: sound of phone being dialled.
    “Hello? Magalomaniacs Anonymous? It’s me!”

  8. Johnathan Pearce says:

    I hope IanB is allowed back into the building, but he may not want to do so. Anyway, no one died. I would happily re-admit Ian as he is a good fellow from what I can tell. These things happen.

    One other random thought: a lot of libertarians, like David Davis over at the LA blog, put the idea that many of our institutions, such as universities, have been subverted, Gramsci-style, by the left. And so the argument is made, in similar vein by Ian, that what is needed is to defund, and also perhaps close down, said institutions that he thinks are breeding grounds for people/ideas he despises. I have already said I agree about the tax funding part (tax is theft, after all!), but I am not so sure that if the funding is removed from the taxpayer, that there will not still be significant institutions left, including the fusty ones that the “libertarian Leninists” dislike so much.

    These “Leninist Libertarians” are, to some degree, driven by desperation, understandably, perhaps, given how the world is going. The thinking goes that trying to persuade the public does not work or is incredibly long-term; the ruling “elites” control many of the means of idea/culture transmission, so we need somehow to smash it, build an alternative power base, etc. This is an enduring debate between libertarians, between the “smash it up” types and the incrementalists (I tend towards the latter side).

    But if the left can “infiltrate”, then why cannot “we”? As I said in the update to my main posting, a lot of libertarians/conservatives have these liberal arts degrees; some now teach in universities and colleges in the UK and abroad, run think tanks, work in the media/finance world (as I do) etc. And Perry’s friend who did the PPE is a highly effective businessperson and networker for key ideas, etc. It seems to me that we should start playing the leftist at their own game, only smarter. I want to see more libertarians in our universities, news organisations, etc. If we take the purely defeatist, Eyeorish approach, then naturally the kind of venting that IanB engages in will be the dominant tone of voice that comes out from “our side”. I think we can do a bit better than that without selling our souls along the way. (Maybe Ian is worried that even good guys are being “turned” by their desire to go to posh universities, for example).

    And although IanB is adamant that it is not inverted snobbery that drove part of his his first comments – and I will accept that – that is certainly the impression that comes across. Now, of course, there is, within the libertarian tradition, particularly in history, a strong, “bottom-up” approach, that despises elites, values self-help, stresses class issues, etc. The trouble, however, is that once a “them” and “us” approach infects all discourse, it can start to get out of hand in ways that are very unlibertarian. There is collateral damage (such as sneering at PPEs can upset libetarians who did the degree and have no intention of being civil servants but just wanted to get a recognised examination).

  9. Bod says:

    Johnathan – I think that one of the barriers to mounting an effective counterattack (if I can use such belligerant language) is precisely that the unifying spirit of ‘libertarianism’ is adherence to a pretty simple philosophy. In contrast, I think that socialism (for example) relies on what amounts to a ‘playbook’. Some people can be convinced of its justice by an appeal to ‘fairness’ – promising an outcome that superficially and immediately looks all nice and good, while hiding or ignoring the horrible second-order results (this obviously excludes those outcomes which don’t appear fair and just even as first-order results).

    Consequently, my frustraion is twofold.

    Yes, we’ve got the entrenched statist hegemony, repressing us and revealing the violence inherent in the system which gives us a steep and long hill to climb if we wish to overcome it (and while as a group, libertarians may well band together and storm the ramparts armed with torches and pitchforks, once the deed is done, we’ll all sit around counting the number of angels that COULD dance on the head of a pin, if there were such things, and if there were, whether they’d want to, etc etc).

    The other, more abiding concern is that at its heart – forget ‘indoctrination’ – some people are genuinely incapable/unwilling to assume the mantle of responsibility for their own destinies. It’s been discussed before (both here and at the ‘data), but do enough people even WANT the ideas we’re selling, and if they don’t want them, how much proselytizing can we really do?

    Libertarianism lacks a cohesive central playbook (and people like Sean Gabb aren’t going to be the people who construct one) from which to conduct a campaign, and so it’s inevitably an asymmetric conflict, where we’re ideologically and dispositionally incapable of competing face to face with our opponents.

    It wasn’t until I watched Firefly recently that I realized just what a (possibly accidental) genius Joss Whedon is. To be childishly dramatic, we’re the Browncoats, thrust out to the edges of society, eking out an existance and surviving because statism is usually inefficient, even when trying to stamp out its detractors.

  10. John W says:

    The willful idiocy and wickedness of the liberal elite exposed to public ridicule-

    http://roarmagazine.wordpress.com/2011/02/23/gaddafi-held-desai-lse-plagiarism-phd/

  11. Paul Marks says:

    J.P.

    Perhaps defunding the universities and so on (not forcing the taxpayers to fund the left) would not work.

    But let us give it a try and see.

    After all if everyone rushes to give the left lots of money (so they can keep their jobs) no harm has been done – because they have got those jobs as things are now.

    And if people do not rush to give them money……………………

    Bod – yes we are the Browncoats.

    “That means you side with the Confederacy of 1861 – 1865″ screams some random leftist. No I do not – I have been writing and speaking against the Slave Empire for 30 years.

    I am fan of the “Independents” in J.W.s back story – and of the characters in his Firefly and Sererityt (at least one of the main “goodie” characters supported the “Commonwealth” purple during the war).

    The Independents – being explorers on the edge are more like the West than the South anyway.

    And if there is any Southern inspiration – it is the South as it should have been, not how it was.

    Not by accident is the second in command on the ship black and female.

    If conflict with the centre ever becomes unavoidable black (and hispanic) and female people will have to be supported.

    People like Colonel (Congressman) West (good name). And many other new black Congressmen from the South (more black Republican Congressmen now than at any time since the 1870s).

    And like Senator Rubio.

    And the Governors of Nevada and New Mexico.

    The left will try and divide people – as the always do.

    The elephant must reject the donkeys of division (as in the old cartoon) – whether between “rich and poor” or on the basis of race or sex.

    For, paradoxically, only if people are united can political centralization be challenged (the centre, such as the education system and the msm, will seek to create and exploit divisions).

    By the way Southern culture does have one advantage – a knowledge of the reality of evil.

    Whether it was government upheld slavery (and it would not have lasted without government support) or the horror of the Confederacy (and it made Lincoln’s statist Union look good by comparison) or the vast corruption of “Reconstruction”, or the segregation from the age of the Populists to the 1970s……

    The northern de fault assumption that whilst there might be corruption in the big cities, government is basically honest (if misguided) is not common in places like South Carolina or Alabama (in fact it produces a smile) – for they know that government is always corrupt, and normally a lot worse than corrupt.

    Places like North Caralina and Virginia are not that Southern in culture. They lack the basic knowledge that evil (not just lack of good – actual evil) is a common thing in the world.

  12. Paul Marks says:

    John W.

    Yes Lord Desai is clearly a corrupt shit – as well as being a leftist.

    In bed (for money) with a mass murderer.

    As for “Rockefeller the robber baron”.

    I suppose the noble Lord means John D. Rockefeller – not David or Nelson (who were piles of shit – as is the present David Rockefeller).

    John D. was not perfect (far from it) – but to call him a “robber” shows that Lord Desai knows nothing about him (or is a liar).

    And I do not just mean that John D. never went to university to study for a doctorate.

    He WORKED for his money.

    He did not rob people.

    Someone who calls John D. (or the others) “robber barons” is really saying the following.

    “I do not produce what these men produced, so I am not as rich as they were – but rather than admit they were better men than me, I am going to pretend they stole their money”.

    Whoever does that (whether it is Lord Desai or Kevin Carson) is a SHIT.

  13. John W says:

    @Paul Marks. The ‘robber baron’ smear is, indeed, very revealing. I do not believe it is possible for an honest person to form such opinions on the basis of historical record:

    http://www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=reg_ar_robber_barons

  14. 14n says:

    I was banned at Samizdata some time ago for being rude. This was just after a post in which Perry described Peregrine Worsthorne as “a typical example of the sort of châteaux bottled shit that floats at certain rarefied levels of British society exuding a miasma of highly articulate ignorance from every orifice. ”

    I did intend to write something about the hypocrisy of it, but in the end I couldn’t be arsed…

  15. I stumbled on this post–following a totally unrelated Google search. I won’t comment on the main issue, but I noticed that some of you might be slightly paranoid re the Samizdata ‘Smite’ system.

    As I am the one who designed it, back in the last century (Internet Time), I thought I’d take the liberty to clear up your doubts: this is purely code-driven, and without human intervention. The whole point of the thing is precisely to send ‘suspicious’ comments into the moderation limbo preemptively, i.e. freeing humans from the tedious task of watching each and every comment as they get posted.

    Being operated by a machine, yes, it can be overzealous at times. Being designed by humans, its ‘choices’ on what gets held can feel a bit irrational at times.

    My memory is a bit sketchy, since I implemented that back in 2006 (and don’t have the time to dig up my notes), but I can assure you all that great care was taken by Perry and myself to make sure this solution wouldn’t turn into a bigger problem, and avoid false-positives as much as possible before I deployed it.

    So unless it’s been modified since (I haven’t had a hand in Samizdata for many years now, and so I can’t tell), rest assured that when smitten you’ve been so by the god in the machine, not the guy behind the keyboard.

  16. I stumbled on this post–following a totally unrelated Google search. I won’t comment on the main issue, but I noticed that some of you might be slightly paranoid re the Samizdata ‘Smite’ system.

    As I am the one who designed it, back in the last century (Internet Time), I thought I’d take the liberty to clear up your doubts: this is purely code-driven, and without human intervention. The whole point of the thing is precisely to send ‘suspicious’ comments into the moderation limbo preemptively, i.e. freeing humans from the tedious task of watching each and every comment as they get posted.

    Being operated by a machine, yes, it can be overzealous at times. At the same time, and being designed by humans, its ‘choices’ on what gets held can feel a bit irrational.

    My memory is a bit sketchy, since I implemented that back in 2006 (and don’t have the time to dig up my notes), but I can assure you all that great care was taken by Perry and myself to make sure this solution wouldn’t turn into a bigger problem, and avoid false-positives as much as possible before I deployed it.

    So unless it’s been modified since (I haven’t had a hand in Samizdata for many years now, and so I can’t tell), rest assured that when smitten you’ve been so by the god in the machine, not the guy behind the keyboard.

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