January 31, 2014

Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis

   "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin [1]
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone.
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

crisis -Next  

1. Ten hypotheses (plus one)

2. Personal remarks

About ME/CFS


Actually, this is the first day in a long time - some seven months - that I did not find any crisis file at the thirty or so places I normally look, each day. Or more precisely, I did find a few files, but nothing really interesting.

Today I am therefore going to do something else: I am trying to formulate and discuss hypotheses about the causes of the crisis.

So this is a crisis file, but it differs from most other crisis files in (1) being explicitly about the causes of the crisis and in (2) explicitly listing my theses as hypotheses that explain the causes of the crisis.

Here it should be stressed that I am formulating my ideas quite explicitly as hypotheses, and indeed as scientific hypotheses, which also means that I am very clear that I am not certain.

Also (3) my source is the file I published on December 25, 2012 (<- link), which was written at a time that I did not know anything about Snowden or his revelations: This happened only on June 10, 2013 and later.

In fact, I also think that my hypotheses of 2012 were strongly confirmed by Snowden's revelations, indeed in a way and to an extent that is rare in the social sciences.

This indeed does not mean that I am right, but it does mean that the hypotheses are more probable than they were, though that also doesn't need to mean very much. [2]

Finally: this is a reworking, and to some extent a shortening of
December 25, 2012. And I have kept the original notes, that now appear in a different order in the text. What follows is copied from December 25, 2012 when indented, or when a note that starts with "N.".

1. Ten hypotheses (plus one)

First some fixing of terminology (that you may skip):
Some definitions of some key terms, and some relevant distinctions: [N.15]

As to the corporations: Corporations are groups of persons that seek to acquire and retain property (goods, commodities, and powers that help acquiire these) by taking property from others.

One must distinguish corporations as social institutions, and keep apart the corporate Úlites, the corporate executives, the corporate staff, and the corporate employees, since each of these are different

As to states, in the sense of governments: States are groups of persons that seek to acquire and retain power over others (influence, renown, force, military might, weapons) by taking power and possibilities from others.

In the present text, "state" is used as "government", that in addition to the above may be characterized as almost invariably being recruited from some existing social or economical Úlite, in order to run the daily doings of the most powerful organization on some territory, through a staff of bureaucrats and (semi-)military personnel.

Both corporations and states work mostly by propaganda (including advertisements, popular spokespersons, special publications) in times of peace, that also is directed at their own staffs, if perhaps not in the form this reaches the masses who do not belong to the staff or personnel.
What you should realize, though, are the enormous amounts of propaganda, advertisements, and public relations, all of which are always intentional lies or misrepresentations, that everybody who lives in the West is exposed to, and that most of the people consider "natural" and "informative", and also like to live up to, without being forced, because they think they are better and more happy men and women when they walk in branded expensive shirts and shoes. [3]

Hypothesis 1:
In principle, corporate fascism - defined as: the state is de facto owned and run by and for the major international corporations, that are multinationals and beyond state or judicial control [Note 1] - in combination with the surveillance state - defined as: the state's surveillance and recording of the activities, interests, concerns, ideas, values, of its population - means effective absolute power for small corporate Úlites plus their executives, and effective slavery for the rest. [N.7]
Note this is mainly a matter of definition, and as such is ept or inept rather than true or false. What is true or false (and merely probable or improbable when taken hypothetically) is that what I call corporate fascism (which is a fairly classical definition), together with what I call the surveillance state, aim at absolute power for the corporate Úlites and their executives, and effective slavery for the rest. (And of course no politician or bureaucrat will ever admit this - and they also do not need to, for much has succeeded by now.)

If you want support for this notion: The wages have hardly risen for 30 years in the U.S.; the middle class(es) are rapidly disappearing; there are ever more poor and very poor people; the economic inequalities are growing enormously and have never been as large; the banks' managers seem to be all multimillionaires and get paid enormous sums; none of the bankmanagers has ever been punished for anything; the big corporations pay extremely little taxes, as do the rich; and hardly any government does anything real against these facts.

Hypothesis 2 (plus sub-hypotheses):
Everything ordinary citizens do, desire, think, write, mail - their internet activities, their phones, their bankaccounts, their interests, their identities, their pictures, their fingerprints, their families, their friends, their opinions, their education, the things they bought and sold, and more - has been thoroughly recorded and filed, whenever and wherever possible, since 9/11/2001, namely for the eventual use, by unknown anonymous persons, possibly acting, for unknown ends, for obscure or secret organizations, or for mostly secretively acting corporations, all possibly at unknown locations, for much or all that has been collected in one country gets - explicitly or deviously - shared with the US and with  the police or security forces in other countries. [N.3]

This "sharing of information" happens both by political agreements, where governments agree with US state organs like the FBI or CIA that they will share data on what are claimed to be (potential) "terrrorism suspects", and by brute force: Whatever happens on the internet may be tracked, traced and stored. [N.3.1]

In this "We the people" have been systematically betrayed by politicians of all stripes: Their rights not to be spied upon, except perhaps after a court order, issued by an independent judge, have been completely destroyed. [N.3.2]

Likewise, and apart from that, the internet activities of everyone have been secretively tracked, traced, datamined, and stored for the benefit of corporations, not only for targeted advertizing, but to get all possible information on anyone who either may eventually become a customer, an employee or an opponent. [N.4]
This is all as I formulated it in 2012, and has been massively confirmed by Snowden's revelations. Also, it should be noted that I consider all this spying on all persons illegal, immoral, reprehensible and fascistic: A government that spies on all or on a large part of its citizens is a fascist government, and none of its spokespersons can be relied on in any way.
Hypothesis 3 (plus sub-hypotheses):
The corporations have taken over the states by propagandizing and/or by buying the states' bureaucrats and politicians. [N.1]

This has been going on for a long time - decades, and certainly since Eisenhower mentioned the dangers of the military-industrial complex - and has mostly succeeded since 9/11/01: The majorities of those who should control the states (politicians and bureaucrats) now are controlled by people working for the big corporations. [N.1.1]

This was and is not merely a matter of corruption and buying: Part was effected through propaganda. [N.1.2]

This also holds for European states in EU, and explains why prominent politicians in diverse parties sound as if they are singing from a GOP hymn sheet, and use GOP tactics, such as nominally taking over the moral stances of those they oppose. [N.1.3]
This again is all as I formulated it in 2012, and has been massively confirmed by Snowden's revelations. And this certainly goes back - at least - to the 1970ies (the Powell memorandum) and has a long history. To what extent the European politicians in diverse parties have been bought I do not know, but I do know that many "liberals", "socialists", and "christian democrats" - all between quotes, because the one thing I know about them is that they are all liars - sound very often as if they are singing from the same hymn sheets that the American Republican politicians also sing from.

Hypothesis 4
(plus sub-hypothesis):
The states of Western Europe and the US have been turned into surveillance states where anonymous state bureaucrats in principle know all there is to know about all ordinary citizens. [N.2]

This has been going on for since before 9/11/01, that much increased it, and is not only done by state organizations but also by corporations, and in both cases was possible because there are hardly any rational laws that can be effectively applied to the internet. [N.2.1]
This also is all as I formulated it in 2012, and has been massively confirmed by Snowden's revelations. However, I grant less is known about Europe than is known about the U.S., but that is more a reflection on the secrecy and lack of constitutional principles under which the E.U. works, than it is based on positive knowledge that the European situation is "less bad" than the American one. I think it is probable that everywhere some secret service has probably vacuumed up all the information there can be gotten from the internet and from cell-phones.

Hypothesis 5 (plus sub-hypotheses):
Most that what ordinary people - the badly educated "democratic majority" - get offered in the public media, and especially TV, is middle of the road propaganda, that stonewalls, avoids or lampoons all that is not middle of the road trivialities, and that systematically avoids (almost) any really intelligent and informed discussion of the themes that matter to a free society inhabited by free citizens who are not controlled and spied upon and propagandized by both state organs and corporations. [N.5]

Education has been systematically simplified, stupefied and leveled, and teaches hardly any real intellectual skills. [N.6

High culture and high civilization and high art of all kinds: science, art, independent media, music, in so far as these existed, have been cut or replaced by middle brow or low brow stuff that nominally does the same, and is more effective as propaganda for the masses. [N.6.1]

Additional reasons may be that strangling high art and civilization, that often need subsidies to exist, cost less and helps preventing that intellgent persons get ideas or find a public for spreading their ideas. [N.6.2]
These hypotheses have not been confirmed by Snowden's revelations. Even so, I think they are quite right and quite relevant, and the simplification and stupification of the education on all levels has been going on now in the West since the late 1960ies, and also have been very little protested against.

Hypothesis 6:
The primary end of the CF+SS I am talking about:

Power to the corporations, over the state and over the ordinary population, by buying, taking over, and/or turning into commercial markets what once were the states' powers and institutions, and to manage the majority of the ordinary citizens by propaganda, control, surveillance, and force. [N.13]
This is in fact hypothesis 1 in a specific form ("CF+SS" = "corporate fascisim + surveillance state") - and it should be noted that all of what hypothesis 6 says is and was deeply anti-democratic: The state, in a democracy, gets elected by the people, and is controlled by parliaments; the new state has officials that are paid by the corporations, and/or do their biddings, and the parliaments are mostly ineffective.

Hypothesis 7:
The secondary end of the CF+SS I am talking about:

A long lasting authoritarian empire controlled by the corporate Úlite for the corporate Úliteś benefit, with features of Stalinism, but much strenghtened by the Surveillance State's absolute surveillance of all.
This also is the other part of hypothesis 1 in a specific form. Note that this is not yet quite there, though a lot of it is at least in place.

Hypothesis 8:
The ideology of the corporate Úlite that is behind the efforts to realize CF+SS is difficult to discern, except that clearly these folks - and their spokesmen, as can be found in Fox News - believe they ought to run and own the world and have an authoritarian and conservative agenda:

That those who control the corporations should control the states, the people and the world, presumably because they have the right and duty to impose their ideology on others, while their actions must be good, because by rising to control the corporations they have shown themselves to be the best, and because any force used by the best for an end declared good by the best must be good.
This seems to me to be a quite good guess at the ideology of the corporate Úlites. Again, this is not quite there yet, although speakers for the Republicans are often quite close to hypothesis 8.

Hypothesis 9:
"The war on terror" is - or seems much like - a program to introduce corporate fascism by taking over the state and by introducing the surveillance state, that watches, tracks and records all activities of all ordinary citizens, so that these ordinary citizens can be controlled, manipulated and propagandized.
This is in part a restatement of the hypothesis 1, and explains "the war on terror" as not being primarily directed against "Al Qaeda" (which anyway is ridiculous), but as being primarily directed against the democratic institutions and against the ordinary people of their own countries.

Hypothesis 10:
There may be, and soon may be many more, (secret) concentration camps, secret disappearances, secret renditions and secret prisons, because that is and always was the nature of state terrorism, and because most of the propagandized and ill-educated democratic majorities support terrorism against those who have been styled terrorists, especially if the latter do not belong to their own groups. [N.10]
This is also something that is (or may) not quite there yet, although there are many signs of it, including the threats against Snowden and Greenwald; the non-persecution of the Congressional liar Clapper; and the defense of the stealing of everyone's private information, regardless of any judge's opinion that the person committed probably a crime, by Obama.

Extra hypothesis 11:
Whoever controls the internet controls the world, at least implicitly.

Namely in four ways, at least:
    1. Governments and corporations need the internet as information processors: Whoever gains some control over some aspects of this - as do Google and Facebook, for example - controls part of the content and the data mining that is possible through that.
    2. The internet is based on physical computers, cables and broadcasters: Whoever can control these, as can the state organs on whose territory these items exist, has control of the functioning of them.
    3. The internet, in so far as it is controlled, is controlled by states and their organs: Whoever controls the parliamentarians, ministers or chief bureaucrats can shape legislation.
    4. Whatever runs on any computer can be taken over by whoever can get control over the computer: corporate or state secret spies, or state representatives such as the police.
This is thrown in because the internet is central to everything the NSA does, and because it is very weak in terms of laws and regulations.

2. Personal remarks  

As I said, this is a reworking of December 25, 2012. The notes I used then are below, and I am not fit enough to renumber or cull them, which anyway would serve a merely esthetical end only.

Also, I say again these are my hypotheses, my best guesses about some of the main causes of the crisis: they are not certainties. Also, they do not list all of the causes of the crisis: there are further ones, such as deregulation, which is the main reason for the economic crisis and for the enormous salaries of bank managers and other topmanagers.

Finally, it all can be prevented or undone, but the longer the crisis lasts the more difficult it will be. [3]


Notes to the hypotheses

The following consists of some notes to the above hypotheses, that are meant to serve as clarifications. These notes are from December 26, 2012.

[N.1] By stressing "have" I do mean to convey this has happened. The additional hypothesis is that it was done mostly by lobbying - which need not just involve buying senators, members of congress, parliamentarians, or leading bureaucrats, but also influencing them in other ways: providing contacts, access to conferences and leading personalities, providing funds or man power for re-elections, paying holiday trips etc. See e.g. Jack Abramoff

[N.1.1] This hypothesis is especially about those who formally have the power as either high elected politicians (members of parliament, ministers) or as high nominated bureaucrats. Note that numerically and proportionally this is a quite small group with large powers. The members of these groups, in diverse states, are much easier to find and contact with the means the internet provides.

[N.1.2] That is: it is not merely corruption, and may not involve corruption at all. At least part also is a matter of conviction, that may be sincere, and may also have distinct motives (religious, free trade, conservatism, the conviction that leaders are natural born superior people etc.)

[N.1.3] Being Dutch, I know most about Dutch politicians, but it has struck me already around 2004 how many Dutch politicians sound remarkably like GOP spokesmen. Since these Dutch politicians cannot be suspected of having original minds or great intelligence, they must have it from others.

[N.2] It seems likely this has happened, at least in principle. See e.g. "The Spy State Tightens Its Grip" from which I quote:
The latest NSA whistleblower, William Binney, a 32-year agency veteran who quit over the agency’s failures that resulted in the 9/11 attacks, warns: "It didn't take but probably a week or so after 9/11 that they [NSA] decided to start spying on the U.S. domestically, on all U.S. citizens they could get." Going further, he insists that the new facility will be able to monitor everything: it "pretty much means all the communications in the world, for roughly a hundred years."
[N.2.1] This is an elementary and important point: It is the internet that allows government officials and corporations to spy on people in ways that are wholly new, and far more total - as in "totalitarian" - then ever was possible before the internet.

This has happened - the only unanswerd questions are what the present extent of secret data gathering is and who will be going to use it for what ends. The probable answers are: In principle, everybody's internet activities are being monitored and stored - see the link in [N.2] to "NSA keeping details about data center quiet" and see the Wikipedia lemma on NSA.

As outlined in "
The Spy State Tightens Its Grip" one major problem is that virtually all government decisions and presidential directives are state secrets, as in an unfree society:

One must accept in practice, if not in theory, that whoever works for the state is somehow a morally and intellectually superior person, to whom things are allowed that are forbidden to other folks, and indeed would be called "terrorism" if these other folks do these things.

[N.3.1] One reason for this is that the internet makes this possible, and there is no effective legislation against its abuse. As to rendition and sharing of information on people branded as "terrorists" or "terrorist suspects": Horrible and quite illegal things have happened, and have been done as a matter of course, by government officials or (semi-)military men.

[N.3.2] These were and are acts of betrayal, and must be quite conscious, which suggests there is a plan behind it. As hypothesized in Hypothesis 9 of the second series the whole "war on terror" either was a subterfuge from the very start, or very soon was transformed into a pretext for state terrorism, and for vastly extended mostly secret state powers, in the name of "the war on terrorism", that is plain bullshit: The dangers of "Al Qaeda" never have been as large as 1% of 1% of 1% of the dangers that were constituted by the Soviet bloc plus China from 1950-1990 - when there were no anti-terrorist measures. (For readers of Dutch, see my 2005 text "Over terrorisme".)

[N.4] Google and Facebook make their enormous profits through data mining, which is spying on people, for money, and which happens in the industrial case mostly to be able to target individual persons by personalized economic propaganda aka advertisements. One of the many frightening things about this is that a large percentage of ordinary people seem to welcome this: That anonymous folks in faraway corporations track all they do in order to provide them with personalized ads for just the very type of better bagel and tasty condoms they want themselves.

[N.5] Here lies a very large theme: What TV and bad public education have done to the mental capacities of human beings. (Stunted and falsified them, is my - perhaps overly optimistic - guess.)

[N.6] I'm sorry, but if you think differently, it is because you are not very intelligent. The fact is that starting in the 1960ies, initially probably because of demographic pressures - "the babyboomers generation" - the level of public  education in both schools and universities have grown much lower on average, and with a few exceptions, as in mathematics and physics, on university level, and in some elite universities. And again this is a very large theme: What does this stupefication to a society and its individuals?

[N.6.1] This merits a similar note as the last one: If you do not see this, it is because you don't know much about high civilization.

[N.6.2] Idem. As far as Holland is concerned, I would not be amazed if part of the motive that strangles orchestras, theaters, art houses etc. "because we live in a time of crisis" is, in actual fact, envy and revenge by uncultivated and stupid but powerful bureaucrats who reason on the pattern "What good has mathematics |"physics | classical music | Shakespeare's plays ever done to me? Nothing: Off with its head!". It is often motivated on strict market principles: If it cannot make a profit by itself, it is worse than useless, and should be terminated - as if all that is of human value is a monetary profit in an account book. Another principle used here is that what the democratic majority does not like - or is supposed not to like - does not merit existence or maintenance "in our democratic society". ("If you ain't stupid, you surely should be! Most folks won like it if you are not like them!")

[N.7] This may be considered the main hypothesis. Note that I do define my terms, and note also that I do not agree with much social science I have read. (There are exceptions.)

[N.7.bis] The principles that follow seek to sketch postmodern totalitarian values.

[N.8] All three dystopias are very much worth reading, as is Zinoviev's "Yawning Heights". The same applies to studies of Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia and Mao's China: It is not as if the 20th Century lacked totalitarian states!

[N.8.1] I think that the importance of sadism and malice as motives for politicians and bureaucrats have been much underrated by most writers on the subject of totalitarianism, Orwell excepted.

[N.9] It also became very much easier to find, target and propagandize individuals with power in governments and governmental institutions.

[N.10] What with terrorist states who spy on their populations while keeping their decisions secret, this also may be happening in secret.

[N.11] Together with - cultivated - fear this may well be one of the main reasons a project to introduce corporate fascism + the surveillance state may succeed: "The people" in democratic majority, "want it", in part because they are, in democratic majority, neither intelligent nor learned, and in part because they have been propagandized, manipulated, pressurized and under-educated.

[N.12] Russia and China are totalitarian countries, and India is a caste society. These are not pleasant social systems, but their existence makes world dominance by the US+EU - under any governmental system - quite unlikely.

[N.13] This is formulated as if this is a planned process, directed from somewhere, e.g. from one or several Republican think thanks. This may not be so, but then the interesting thing is that it nevertheless works that way - and indeed the more power a government or corporation acquires, the easier it is to acquire yet more power.

[N.14] If there is no primary end, there is no secondary end, but then [N.13] still applies: These tendencies exist, whether or not they have been created and are maintained on purpose.

[N.14.4] I don't mind being regarded as a cynic. And there is a vast population problem, that may be much lessened by killing a vast number of people. One way is by denying them the necessities to live, while keeping them repressed by military forces. This has happened before, e.g. in the Ukraine Famine aka Holodomor and in the Great Famine in Ireland.

[N.15] I do like to define the terms I use, and these are attempts to provide clear and brief definitions. As noted before, I am insufficiently impressed by most of the social sciences I read to even try to follow any of these. I do admit I could provide more precise longer definitions, but these would not differ much in intent from those I do provide: Corporations exist to make their leaders richer, and governments exist to keep the ruling Úlite in power


[1] Here it is necessary to insist, with Aristotle, thay 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 of the citizens: upon the same principle, if it is advantageous to place supreme power in some particular persons, they should be appointed to be only guardians, and the servant of laws.
(And I note the whole file I quote from is quite pertinent.)

[2] Since I believe in science and scientific hypotheses, I should add two clarifications: (i) that the hypotheses got more probable is a theorem from probability theory: if 0 < pr(F|H)=x <1 then verifying F implies pr(H|F > pr(H) - and so that is certain, but (ii) I have not fixed pr(H) in any case, and these may have been quite low in several cases, while the amount by which pr(H|F > pr(H) also is not fixed.

So in fact my reasoning and my probabilities are qualitative only - which I think is much more often justified in the social sciences than it is used.

Also, you are free to put in your own hypotheticial values - indeed: you generally need to fix three: pr(F|H)=x, pr(F|~H)=y and pr(H)=z - and draw your own conclusions, and I quite willingly agree that if you fix pr(H) small enough, it will not get raised much.

[3] Here is the main reason why I am inclined to pessimism: The average intelligence is low, and there is nothing anybody can do about that.

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 Komarof

Ten discoveries about the biology of CFS(pdf)

3. Hillary Johnson

The Why  (currently not available)[2]

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
Magical Medicine (pdf)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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