April 2, 2013

Crisis: Hedges, Wolin, Maher, Monbiot, background reading
"It is only the outcasts and the rebels who keep truth and intellectual inquiry alive. They alone name the crimes of the state. They alone give a voice to the victims of oppression. They alone ask the difficult questions. Most important, they expose the powerful, along with their liberal apologists, for what they are."
-- Chris Hedges in 

    The treason of the intellectuals
"Most of the world's people are decent, honest and kind. Most of those who dominate us are inveterate bastards. This is the conclusion I've reached after many years of journalism."
-- George Monbiot in
Communism, welfare state - what's the next big idea?

1. Chris Hedges on the treason of the intellectuals
Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Incorporated reviewed
Bill Maher diagnoses shrivel liberties
George Monbiot on the destruction of the welfare state
5. Tips for general background reading

About ME/CFS


This is another item in the crisis series that mostly consists of links to items I each might have written a Nederlog on. Perhaps I will on some of them, but then my health or my eyes may not cooperate, or the decline of civilization [1] may happen so fast that merely charting it in the manner recommended by George Carlin - see A ticket to the freak show and A ticket to the freak show - text + my notes and I quote:
You know what? I say it this way: When you're born in this world, you're given a ticket to the freak show. And when you're born in America, you're given a front row seat. And some of us get to sit there with notebooks. And I am a notebook..."Aha, ooo, o my god, did you see that?". And I watch the freak show and I got my notes and I make up stuff about it and I talk about the freaks.
- may take all of my available energy.

Since this introductory item "Introduction" is being maintained by me, among other things, for making announcements such as the following, here it is:

I fixed the links to the 2013 index in the NL indexes for 2004 - ... - 2008. I should also fix some links and some files that relate to what's new on the site, since that effectively since ca. 2010 was done only in the summary files like this one, that go by the filename newsEnglish. Until 2008 or 2009 I did maintain separate newsfiles, in fact even two: one for what was new in Dutch and in English.

This last fix remains to be done, and this entry clarifies that I am aware of the problem.

And a final introductory comment, as a brief answer to the questions why I did not write about the DSM-5 recently and why I do not write more in Dutch. The main reasons are the same in both cases: The DSM-5 and the Dutch make me depressed, and I cannot write the truth about them as I see it without courting problems with what I consider sadistic fascist terrorist assholes.

1.  Chris Hedges on the treason of the intellectuals

I wrote repeatedly about Chris Hedges, who is a brave and intelligent man,  who is worth following and worth supporting if you want to see something done about  growth of fascism - thus als also called by Sheldon Wolin: See Crisis: Wolin on fascism + Greenwald on the Surveillance State and below - in the US.

His latest piece on Truthdig, where he writes regularly, is about the betrayal of the academics, that I am aware of since 1977, when I first protested it in writing in the University of Amsterdam, and immediately ran into problems, since when I wrote a lot more about it, e.g. here
and got into more problems, including being removed from the University of Amsterdam for asking philosophical questions in a faculty of philosophy filled to the brim with academic impostors, liars and parasites, who removed me briefly before being able to take the M.A. degree in philosophy for asking these questions:
In any case [2], Chris Hedges saw the same sort of things and wrote about them before, and did so again recently:
The link is to the article on truthdig, something declared to be impossible in the University of Amsterdam for some 20 years, since students of that university were told, quite systematically, in many faculties, by many professors and lecturers, and by its board of directors that "Everyone knows that truth does not exist".

And please note that - as Hedges makes clear in his article - the theme of the treason of the intellectuals is an old one: If it wasn't originally raised in precisely these terms by Socrates and
de La Boétie, it was by Julien Benda, in the 1920ies and by others since, for various reasons.

This certaintly is a theme I intend to return to, although it is quite depressing, especially because (1) this betrayal of truth, rationality and reason by the vast majority of tenured intellectuals cannot be excused - as it can be in the former Soviet Union and Mao's China - by having to survive in a totalitarian dictatorship and (2) it is too late to undo it (within several generations, at least): the universities and schools have been effectively destroyed, dumbed down, made into vocational education systems, where pupils and students have to pay large amounts of money for what is for the most part a fake education.

2.  Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Incorporated Reviewed

I discussed Sheldown Wolin's ideas recently:

and it turns out his ideas on inverted totalitarianism and the rise of a new kind of corporate fascism in the US are expounded in a book Democracy Incorporated that has been reviewed in May 2008 by one of his students in a three-part review, with a long discussion by readers, that starts here:
Note this is in three parts, of which I linked the first. It's also on truthdig, and it is in fact almost 5 years old, and antedates Obama's election, the possibilities of which are discussed in the comments.

And again it is my intention to return to Wolin's analysis - the least it is, is sensible, informed and courageous.

3. Bill Maher diagnoses shrivel liberties

This is for some lighter amusements - except that in the US it seem to be almost only comedians who can speak the truth and have a fairly large audience - and I am thinking here especially of the late George Carlin, and Jon Stewart and Bill Maher.

I believe I have mentioned this item before in Nederlog, but it is well worth seeing: It's brief, to the point and amusing as presented, while frightening in its implications:
(No, not a typo: A play on words.)

4. George Monbiot on the destruction of the welfare state

I thought that I had written earlier about the destruction of the welfare state in England, but I can't find it, and it may have been in e-mail rather than in Nederlog. In any case, my source then was an article by Polly Toynbee in The Guardian of March 28:
Well... the monday arrived, and it happened, and George Monbiot took up the issue, also in The Guardian:
He started with the passage I quoted above, and in fact with this first paragraph:
Most of the world's people are decent, honest and kind. Most of those who dominate us are inveterate bastards. This is the conclusion I've reached after many years of journalism. Writing on Black Monday, as the British government's full-spectrum attack on the lives of the poor commences, the thought keeps returning to me.
Most religious founders seem to have been less optimistic about ordinary men, and I agree with Ecclesiastes rather than with Monbiot, but then I agree with Monbiot's second statement, and indeed said yesterday that
A democracy is one of the best means to help scum gain power: The worst of men can become the most popular of leaders; the most conformist morons can become government bureaucrats.
and that

It's not only a bitter truth about men that all power corrupts, but also that the corrupt seek power most - and very often get it.

The main problems of all rational and reasonable men are these

  • rational and reasonable men are in a small minority always and everywhere
  • their opponents are far more numerous, and avail themselves of irrational and unreasonable means
  • their opponents invariably position themselves as honorable reasonable friends of the people
  • the people are in vast majority easily deceived
Monbiot's title is motivated by his question and his implied belief that new ideals are needed: "So where do we look for the idea that can make hope more powerful than fear?"

He may be right, but one idea that may rapidly arise, that has the merit of being true, although it doesn't offer much hope itself: "We have been had!".

For that's what happened: The politicians, the intellectuals, the academics, the middle class - they all betrayed civilization, the interests of ordinary men, the ideals of justice and the welfare state, the merits of fair sharing, the desirability of honest media
, and the ideals of science, truth and honesty.

And they did it because doing so improved their chances or incomes, or because they believed they could make it while others' chances on a decent life were actively and cruelly being destroyed.

Tips for general background reading

Coming from a - sincere, brave, honest - communist family, I spend a lot of time reading about and around politics, and also philosophy and psychology, in which I also hold degrees. [4]

If you have a lot of time and are interested in politics, civilization, and history, I recommend that you read the books on this list, which all have the merit of being well-written and sensible, which is the reason I have listed them:
It's a lot of reading, and if you want to do a briefer course, I recommend that you read Thucydides, Suetonius, Tacitus [5], Machiavelli (not only The Prince, but also - especially - the Discourses) and de La Boétie: It's all over 500 years old, but most that is relevant is there. And if you want to know about the decline of civilization, I recommend Gibbon:
That is also a lot of reading, but his volumes are among the most interesting and best written books it was my privilege to read.

P.S. Apr 3, 2013: Undid some typos and added some links


[1] Being a very bookish sort of person, I also owe the two volumes of Spengler's "Der Untergang des Abendlandes" ("The decline of the West"), published almost a century ago. But I have read only part of the first volume, and that long ago, when there was less visible decline. Maybe I should read some more in his volumes, since he wrote well, and was right in some ways. Also, he did have the guts to say "No" to the Nazis while they were in power, and foresaw correctly that Hitler's empire would not last long.

[2] Why do I list these writings that are meanwhile 25 years old? Because they are mine; because I did have the clarity of mind and the courage to write them and say these things in public, even while I knew I would be discriminated for writing and speaking as I did, and even while I was ill; because they did make me an outcast, and kept me in that position for 25 years now, that I had to spend ill and without help on minimal dole; and because almost no one else had the courage or the clarity of mind to do the same - and that in a university and a city (Amsterdam) where 25 years ago almost all academics and students pretended to be Revolutionaries, Leftists, Marxists, or at the very least Progressives, and to be the equivalents of the best minds and the bravest of men. They all either lied or were far too stupid for the positions they held.

[4] For the record: At least 99% of what I know I did not learn in a university but by my own efforts, and at least 90% of what I was offered in the University of Amsterdam as required reading for getting my degrees in philosophy and in psychology was bullshit, rot, or worthless. (I would agree that had I studied physics or mathematics, that last proportion, at least, would have come out differently.)

[5] An item that is not in my
Introductory texts to politics because I had not read it when I compiled that list is Plutarch's Parallel Lives. There are good translations in Penguin Classics.

About ME/CFS (that I prefer to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate
search machines) which is a disease I have since 1.1.1979:
1. Anthony Komaroff

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)

4. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2003)
5. Consensus (many M.D.s) Canadian Consensus Government Report on ME (pdf - version 2011)
6. Eleanor Stein

Clinical Guidelines for Psychiatrists (pdf)

7. William Clifford The Ethics of Belief
8. Malcolm Hooper Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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