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Nederlog


  September
3, 2013
Crisis: heroes, degrees, what's at stake, arrest leaders, one superpower
  "Those who sacrifice liberty for
   security deserve neither."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
    "All governments lie and nothing
    they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone.








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Sections

Introduction
1. Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange: our new heroes
2. The College Degree Is Becoming the New High School Diploma
3. Before the Battles Resume in Washington: A Reminder about What’s Really at Stake
4. Arrest US ‘leaders’ as ONLY legal response to ongoing War Crimes
5. Tomgram: Engelhardt, Alone and Delusional on Planet Earth 
About ME/CFS

Introduction

This is a mixed bag, though all links are related to the crisis, in various ways. It is a mixed bag mostly because it is varied and because I disagree with various items, and especially with 1 and 4.

1. Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange: our new heroes

To start with, a link to an article by the Slovene philosopher, "communist, in a qualified sense" and "radical leftist" Slavoj Zizek (written without diacritical marks), that I found in the Guardian:
It starts as follows:

We all remember President Obama's smiling face, full of hope and trust, in his first campaign: "Yes, we can!" – we can get rid of the cynicism of the Bush era and bring justice and welfare to the American people. Now that the US continues its covert operations and expands its intelligence network, spying even on its allies, we can imagine protesters shouting at Obama: "How can you use drones for killing? How can you spy even on our allies?" Obama murmurs with a mockingly evil smile: "Yes, we can."

But simple personalisation misses the point: the threat to freedom disclosed by whistleblowers has deeper, systemic roots. Edward Snowden should be defended not only because his acts annoyed and embarrassed US secret services; what he revealed is something that not only the US but also all great (and not so great) powers – from China to Russia, Germany to Israel – are doing (to the extent they are technologically able to do it).

In the fourth paragraph, we meet Karl Marx, who in 1843 "exactly" described "our situation today" and in the fifth paragraph Immanuel Kant appears. I'll save you these and related paragraphs, and merely quote the ending:
(..) we need a new international network to organise the protection of whistleblowers and the dissemination of their message. Whistleblowers are our heroes because they prove that if those in power can do it, we can also do it.
I don't like Zizek, but I will not explain why: you can consult Wikipedia on him. But I will explain why his conclusion is nonsense: "a new international network" is a vague piece of bombastic grandiosity, especially as the network is there: the international laws and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - the problem is that it isn't used; and I do not want to do what "those in power can do": I want them to stop doing it.

2. The College Degree Is Becoming the New High School Diploma 

Next, a piece on the decline of education - or that is how I take it. This is by David Sirota, and I found it on Alternet:
The first two paragraphs are as follows: 

Whether or not President Obama's recent education-themed speeches are in direct response to Matt Taibbi's must-read Rolling Stone magazine article on the college loan crisis, it is great news that the White House is now taking the crisis more seriously. The credit bubble in college loans has ballooned into a systemic threat to the nation's economy. Additionally, as Taibbi documents, economic and political trends are now forcing an entire generation into a truly no-win situation: Either don't get a post-secondary education and harm your job prospects, or get a post-secondary education and condemn yourself to a lifetime of debt.

The economic trend fueling this perfect storm is about job credentials. Peruse employment data and you'll see that the New York Times was right when it declared that "the college degree is becoming the new high school diploma: the new minimum requirement, albeit an expensive one, for getting even the lowest-level job." Though the Times notes that the weak economy means the job outlook for college grads "is rather bleak," it is even more bleak if you don't have a post-secondary degree.

I do not believe this is Sirota's point, but my own reading of this is as part of the forty+ years of educational declines I have been witnessing. This is certainly not the only factor, but it does enter.

3. Before the Battles Resume in Washington: A Reminder about What’s Really at Stake

Next, an article by Robert Reich, from his site:

Here are his third and fourth paragraphs:

For much of the past century, the basic bargain at the heart of America was that employers paid their workers enough to buy what American employers were selling. Government’s role was to encourage and enforce this bargain. We thereby created a virtuous cycle of higher living standards, more jobs, and better wages. And a democracy that worked reasonably well.

But the bargain has been broken. And until it’s remade, the economy can’t mend and our democracy won’t be responsive to the majority.

And here are most of his concluding two paragraphs:

The only way back to a buoyant economy is through a productive system whose gains are more widely shared. The only way back to a responsive democracy is through a political system whose monied interests are more effectively constrained.

We must remake the basic bargain at the heart of America.

I agree, but I do not see this happen.

4.  Arrest US ‘leaders’ as ONLY legal response to ongoing War Crimes

Next, a piece from Washington's Blog, by Carl Herman:

This centers on the following proposition, that is bold in the original:

Therefore: the only legal response available to anyone serious about upholding the US Constitution is to arrest US government leaders as obvious criminal suspects for obvious War Crimes.

In fact, Carl Herman does give considerable support to his thesis. My problem with it is that it is wholly impractical: It really is wishful thinking.

5. Tomgram: Engelhardt, Alone and Delusional on Planet Earth

Finally, a link to an interesting piece by Tom Engelhardt, on his own site:

This is a fairly long but interesting piece, that well explains why Orwell was mistaken in one of his main projections. I will not quote it, except for its conclusion:
What, after all, are we to make of a planet with a single superpower that lacks genuine enemies of any significance and that, to all appearances, has nonetheless been fighting a permanent global war with... well, itself -- and appears to be losing?
That surely is part of the problem: A single superpower that lacks major enemies and nevertheless is in a state of continuous global war.
---------------------------------
Note
[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, that the governors do not rule, or at least, should not rule: The laws rule, and the government, if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald:
It is more proper that law should govern than any one of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place the supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servants of the laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

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)

2. Malcolm Hooper THE MENTAL HEALTH MOVEMENT:  
PERSECUTION OF PATIENTS?
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)
9.
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)



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