"They who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin 
| "All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
1. Lawrence Summers Will
Not Chair the Federal Reserve
2. Happy Birthday Occupy
Myth of the “Free Market”
4. President Launching
Banality of Systemic Evil
There wasn't much on the
crisis today, although that still may come. After all, it isn't even
fall yet. But I have five items, and they are all a bit reflective.
Summers Will Not Chair the Federal Reserve
start with a negative piece of news, that is, a report on an event that
might have been but is not. It is by Peter Scheer on Truth Dig:
reasons to have it - at all - are that he was a very serious candidate
of president Obama, and I agreed with quite a few economists and such
that he was about the worst possible candidate for the job.
are the first two paragraphs:
Over the screaming
objections of members of his own party, President Obama seemed
determined to appoint Wall Street groupie Lawrence Summers to head the
most important bank in the country. On Sunday, Summers “reluctantly”
withdrew his name from consideration for the post.
In a letter to the
president quoted by The Washington Post, Summers wrote, “I
have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for
me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal
Reserve, the Administration, or ultimately, the interests of the
nation’s ongoing economic recovery.”
but that I leave to you. He withdrew himself, so that must be counted
in his favor, although it may have all manner of reasons.
2. Happy Birthday Occupy
Next, here is the
first of two columns by Robert Reich:
It starts as follows:
The rest of the piece is about
the fact - or so it seems - that without organization, discipline and
strategy, you will not get far. I think that is true, but I also would
agree (which is a point Reich does not raise) that the left has to
Two years ago the “Occupy” movement roared
into view, summoning the energies and attention of large numbers of
people who felt the economic system had got out of whack and were
determined to do something about it.
Occupy put the issue of the nation’s savage
inequality on the front pages, and focused America’s attention on what
that inequality was doing to our democracy. To that extent, it was a stirring success.
eschewed political organization, discipline, and strategy. It wanted to
remain outside politics, and outside any hierarchical structure that
might begin to replicate the hierarchies of American society it was
It has been very badly damaged through a succession of events:
Clinton, Blair, and Kok in Holland, who redesigned "leftist" policies
as if it all was and is mere propaganda (which they probably believe
themselves), without any real content; and then it has been largely swallowed up by
postmodernism, that insisted that "everybody knows truth does not
exist", that still has plenty of phony academics in universities, some
of whom still are pundits as well.
But OK - I am here mainly dreaming out loud. It may happen, but it also
3. The Myth of the “Free Market”
Next, here is another piece
by Reich, who takes on an important myth:
This starts as follows:
Yes. And if these people die,
as they well may, the market has decided they must die, for they were
losers. There are no rules; there are no regulations, and God is The
Market, and that is it. Bury the
losers, and get on with Making Money!
One of the most deceptive ideas continuously
sounded by the Right (and its fathomless think tanks and media outlets)
is that the “free market” is natural and inevitable, existing outside
and beyond government. So whatever inequality or insecurity it
generates is beyond our control. And whatever ways we might seek to
reduce inequality or insecurity — to make the economy work for us — are
unwarranted constraints on the market’s freedom, and will inevitably go
By this view, if some people aren’t paid
enough to live on, the market has determined they aren’t worth enough.
If others rake in billions, they must be worth it. If millions of
Americans remain unemployed or
their paychecks are shrinking or they work two or three part-time jobs
with no idea what they’ll earn next month or next week, that’s too bad;
it’s just the outcome of the market.
Actually, it is all a stunning bit of trash: A "free market"
exists if and only if it is maintained to exist, and it exists only
through the maintenance of rules and regulations. As I put it
in my article on liberalism in the Philosophical Dictionary:
There are no
free markets without state protection and legal rules, not within
states, and not between states. Each and every free market either was
maintained by the state or by a city, or else existed only because and
in the times of a relative balance of power between states or cities.
Robert Reich's argument goes
another way, which you can check out your self, and with which I do not
The point I wanted to make here is that there simply are no (free)
markets without rules and regulations. And the reason for that is
that a "free market" without rules and regulations is neither free nor
a market: it is war or plunder.
4. President Launching Kickstarter Campaign?
Next, I return to an item I put up on September 14, and my
reason to do so is that TYT aka The Young Turks also plug it:
The point of the video is, as
Cenk Uygur says: Think for yourself! And do not accept
logical howlers that "it is so ... because Obama".
Then again, many people on the
left (and also many people on the right) do accept logical
The Banality of Systemic Evil
To end with today, a piece by an academic philosopher, namely Peter
Ludlow, who writes on Common Dreams:
It starts like this, under a
composite picture of Snowden, Hammond, Swartz and Manning:
In recent months
there has been a visible struggle in the media to come to grips with
the leaking, whistle-blowing and hacktivism that has vexed the United
States military and the private and government intelligence
communities. This response has run the gamut. It has involved attempts
to condemn, support, demonize, psychoanalyze and in some cases canonize
figures like Aaron Swartz, Jeremy Hammond, Chelsea Manning and Edward
I say. I take it that
Ludlow means that the younger generation has not lost its moral
compass. And he may be right. On the other hand, the majority of them may
believe that there is no such thing as a "moral compass" (and
that they are each and all free consumers, who live their own branded
lives, if they can pay it, and should disappear, as losers, if they
can't pay it).
In broad terms,
commentators in the mainstream and corporate media have tended to
assume that all of these actors needed to be brought to justice, while
independent players on the Internet and elsewhere have been much more
supportive. Tellingly, a recent Time magazine cover story has pointed
out a marked generational difference in how people view these matters:
70 percent of those age 18 to 34 sampled in a poll said they believed
“did a good thing” in leaking the news of the National Security
Agency’s surveillance program.
So has the younger
generation lost its moral compass?
No. In my view, just the
I do not know, and I am clearly older than Peter Ludlow. Also,
I am not quite clear what he wants to establish, which I will leave to
you, but I have two more quotations.
The first is a good one. It is by Robert Jackall, who is a sociologist
who wrote a book called "Moral Mazes", that I do not know. He describes
the middle management as follows - and the beginning is by Peter Ludlow:
managers that he spoke with were not “evil” people in their everyday
lives, but in the context of their jobs, they had a separate moral code
altogether, what Jackall calls the “fundamental rules of corporate
This is well put - and quite
familiar to me since 45 years or so, when I learned it, if not
quite in these words, from Vance Packard and C. Wright Mills, who also
were radical sociologists, but in the 1950ies.
(1) You never go around
your boss. (2) You tell your boss what he wants to hear, even when your
boss claims that he wants dissenting views. (3) If your boss wants
something dropped, you drop it. (4) You are sensitive to your boss’s
wishes so that you anticipate what he wants; you don’t force him, in
other words, to act as a boss. (5) Your job is not to report something
that your boss does not want reported, but rather to cover it up. You
do your job and you keep your mouth shut.
Again, I do not know what Jackall's point is, but I suggest - strongly
- that it has always been like this with mid-level managers, in
any organization, and indeed in any society,
for thus it also worked in the Soviet Union. (See Zinoviev.)
This is also what makes Edward Snowden special: He is one of the few
who did not reason like that. But most do, for which reason it may be a
mostly happy thing that average persons only very rarely make policies.
But here there is part of the problem: Most people are neither very
smart nor very independent, and do not even make it to the level of
middle manager. Hence, they live lies, for their work.
The second quotation is a bad one, but it is intended to be, no doubt:
The former United
States ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, argued that
Snowden “thinks he’s smarter and has a higher morality than the rest of
us … that he can see clearer than other 299, 999, 999 of us, and
therefore he can do what he wants. I say that is the worst
form of treason.”
This is flatly and
totally mistaken in more ways than I will point out:
Clearly, a United States ambassador will rarely or never be a genius,
but he or she certainly will be smarter - even if he is
John Bolton - than 3 billion persons, for there are more than 3 billion
persons with an IQ less than 100.
Secondly, it shifts the question from Snowden's arguments to Snowden's
person, and while that is a fallacy, it also is a fallacy to believe
Snowden did what he did because he thinks he is special. (Maybe
he did - and may be he is special. Then again, neither is very relevant
to his actual arguments.)
Thirdly, even if all of what Bolton says so far were right, his
"therefore" is invalid - and indeed I have seen no evidence of
any kind that Snowden thinks that "he can do what he wants".
Fourthly, nothing John Bolton said argues in any way
Snowden is a traitor, let alone "the worst".
Anyway... I quoted this
mostly because I do not really know what Peter Ludlow wanted to argue,
but then that is one of the difficulties I have with most academic
But I will try to return to this "banality of evil", for while I do not
wholly agree with Hannah Ahrendt, I think that is one of the few
sharp thing she wrote: That most of the evil that is done, is done by
everyday people, for everyday reasons.
And that certainly is a problem.
 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
if good, is part of its executive power. Here I quote Aristotle from my
More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn
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
from is quite pertinent.)
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: