from Iron Mountain"
I am still paying back my walk of almost 4 weeks ago, so I
am still not
feeling very well. But it may be improving some, and here is another
As I have said yesterday, when I published my Dutch essay "Over geestelijke gezondheid en gestoordheid"
i.e. "On mental health and being disturbed", I have some
physical improvements, and used that mostly to dive into old papers and
Today there is no translation of the Dutch essay, but some brief
reviews of some old books, that I bought and read between 1969 and
1983, and that all are still - somewhat to very - interesting. I will
discuss them in the order I bought them.
1. "Introduction to logic"
This is the first book
about logic that I bought, on August 4, 1969, which is also the month I
read most of it. This is nearly 44 years ago (and was then my 239th
book that I bought).
Also, this is not just an introduction: It is by Alfred Tarski,
one of the greatest logicians of the previous century, and in fact I
bought its Dutch translation made by the by far greatest Dutch logician
and philosopher of the previous century, Evert W. Beth.
(About the only
time I bought a translation into Dutch: I was 19 at the time, and my
English was not as good as it is now, having lived in England and
spoken it for years as my main language).
This book really influenced me, turned me away from my parents'
and started a very long haul on logic, mathematics and philosophy
of science, that in fact was "ended" on 1.1.1979, when I fell ill,
in what was effectively the second year of my studying, and never
recuperated - except that I did not know it then, and also that it did
not stop my reading in these subjects, or any other subjects, at all,
though it must have slowed my pace, and totally destroyed my desire to
publish, on paper at least. 
However, because logic - especially mathematical logic - seems to be a
severely impopular topic, I will not say more about it, except that
this is a really good introduction.
"Report from Iron Mountain"
This is something quite
different from the previous one, and caused a scandal, because (1) it
was widely assumed to be a secret 1967 report by the US government,
that (2) contained judgments like this - and I quote the first
paragraph of its "Summary and Conclusions" (and you have to read
The Nature of
And from the beginning, by the
writer of its Forword: This is by
War is not, as is widely
assumed, primarily an instrument of policy utilized by nations to
extend or defend their expressed political values or their economic
interests. On the contrary, it is itself the principal basis of
organization on which all modern societies are constructed. The common
proximate cause of war is the apparent interference of one nation with
the aspirations of another. But at the root of all ostensible
differences of national interest lie the dynamic requirements of the
war system itself for periodic armed conflict. Readiness for war
characterizes contemporary social systems more broadly than their
economic and political structures, which it subsumes. (p. 111)
a commission 'of
the highest importance'. Its objective was to determine, accurately
and realistically, the nature of the problems that would confront the
United States if and when a condition of 'permanent peace' should
arrive, and to draft a programme for dealing with this contingency.
It was much like Herman Kahn's
books, such as "Thinking about the unthinkable" (?!) and "On
Thermonuclear War", and fairly well-written if clearly also in
Its contents are on summarized as follows on Wikipedia in "The
Report from Iron Mountain":
footnoted report concluded that peace was not in the interest of a
stable society, that even if lasting peace "could be achieved, it would
almost certainly not be in the best interests of society to achieve
it." War was a part of the economy. Therefore, it was necessary to
conceive a state of war for a stable economy. The government, the group
theorized, would not exist without war, and nation states existed in
order to wage war. War also served a vital function of diverting
I bought this on 24 April
1972, and read it almost immediately, at that time not knowing
it was a hoax prepared by Leonard C. Lewin.
In fact, that came out only on March 19, 1972, and then there was no
internet (so I may not have known that till the 2000s). Also, to this
day the fact that it was a - clever, successful, in 15 languages
translated - hoax is sometimes denied, it seems mainly by GOP rightwing
extremists, as you can find from the last two links.
What is my point mentioning it here? There are at least two reasons:
The main reason for both
facts are that no one knows everything or the majoirty of what there is
to know, even if we restrict this to important things, and most know
very little, so that most reports are judged, by both journalists and
the public, by the plausibility of the language, rather than by
intimate knowledge of the subjects treated. (And this cannot be helped.)
- While it definitely is a
hoax, it is not less plausible than many other (usually secret)
reports for the US government (which is in fact how I took it in 1972,
though indeed I did not take it very seriously), and
- there are many
reports and books that are quite fraudulent if not hoaxes, such as the DSM-5.
"The Dying Generations"
This I do not know when
I bought it. It is from 1971, and I probably bought it in the late
1970ies, when I read about half of it.
In fact, this is a very small part from the quite large interest in
ecological subjects that then had started, after Rachel Carson
had initiated that in 1962, but that only started blossoming from 1970
onwards for publishers, and it seems a fairly good choice,
because it has many contributions from all over the political spectrum,
also including three by Henry David Thoreau.
Its flap says, possibily a bit over the top (I say, 42 years later):
We now know
that 20th-century man's misuse of nature has damaged it and him -
perhaps irreparably; the generations now on earth may be the last.
Then again, it may
have been right, in principle. My own view is uncommon,
and dates back to the early seventies: I do not think
mankind can do much about it, simply because the sums of money
and the work required to do it are beyond the present governments and
Can we survive this self-created danger? What are the
technological, political and psychological problens that must be solved?
Note that I am not denying the magnitude of the problem - on
the contrary! - : What I am doing is to deny that men, as they are and
are organized, can do much about it, other than take a few not very
effective measures. Also, I am not saying these measures should not be
taken: I am saying that such measures as can and have been taken will
do little to solve the problems.
This is by James Burnham,
and it is a - minor - classic. It turns out that I bought this on the
20th of April 1983, which is over 30 years ago, read part of it, and
then laid it aside, I think because I found it a bit too semi-marrxist, and then
lost it, until May 19, 2013.
I may return to this, or to a later book of his, that I consider a lot
better: "The Machiavellians".
Here and now I will only make a few points:
If I return to this book by
Burnham, I will probably treat him together with Orwell, who was
considerably influenced by him, and wrote at least one essay
- In 1941, when Burnham
first published the book, he had just ceased to be a Trotskyite and a
- He thought then - and
that is what the book is about - there was a fundamental change going
on, that he guessed would be finished within a generation, of capitalism
to managerialism: The owners of the means of production cease
to be the rulers; the managers take their place.
- He certainly was
mistaken about many details and about the speed of the revolution.
- He may not be wholly
mistaken about managerialism, but
- if so, he was mistaken
about the speed of the transition, and about many of its details.
Maybe I should say why: I was removed, briefly before taking my M.A.
from the faculty of philosophy, and after some years decided that I
then would take an M.A. in psychology - but found it not a real
science, small parts excepted. (I did take an excellent M.A. in
psychology, but finished mostly on logic, mathematics, programming and
Apart from all that, and being ill, rather seriously also since 1991,
although it is lately a bit less, I am in the dole since 1984, and cannot
publish anything and receive payment for it.
So... since I am kicked out from philosophy - the only student
to have been removed for his opinions since 1945 from a Dutch
university, and here
these opinions are - and do not regard most of psychology as a real science, and do
not really like any Dutch writer that lived while I lived, I have had singularly
little stimulus to publish.
For which reason more than 21 books of
philosophy, and 2500 or more Dutch and English
essays, in spite of being ill, all published on my site, must be counted as something.
ME/CFS (that I prefer
to call M.E.: The "/CFS" is added to facilitate search
is a disease I have since 1.1.1979: