I have not seen
the interview yet, apart from a few bits from it. In the present
interview Snowden is - among other quotations - quoted to this effect:
Yes, indeed. There is
considerably more in the article and also a bit more on Snowden in item 5.
“I take the threat of
terrorism seriously. And I think we all do. And I think it’s really
disingenuous for the government to invoke and sort of scandalize our
memories, to sort of exploit the national trauma that we all suffered
together and worked so hard to come through to justify programs that
have never been shown to keep us safe, but cost us liberties and
freedoms that we don’t need to give up and our constitution says we
should not give up.”
Snowden said he did not
consider himself blameless. “I think the most important idea is to
remember that there have been times throughout history where what is
right is not the same as what is legal,” he said. “Sometimes to do the
right thing, you have to break a law.”
2. The Impossibility of Growth Demands a
New Economic System
item is an article by George Monbiot on Common Dreams:
This is connected to
the fact that growth is non-linear if constant (x% growth this year,
will be more growth next year even if the x remains the same,
more again next year and so on). Also, this concept
difficult for most human beings, who tend to consider things linearly.
Considering this fact
leads Monbiot to the following conclusion:
To succeed is to destroy
ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have
created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the
depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues were
miraculously to vanish, the mathematics of compound growth make
Economic growth is an
artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were
extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a
downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power
required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every
prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be
sustained(3). But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred
years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.
Note that the argument in
the first paragraph is at least as old as the 1972 Limits to
Growth report of the Club of Rome that
incidentally was updated in 1994 and in 2004. Also, the present issue
is not whether the reports were correct; the present issue is
exponential economic growth on a finite earth will fairly or very
rapidly get to
The second paragraph
explains how economic growth was, in fact, possible.
There is a lot more there
that I skip. I only quote the last two paragraphs of the article:
The inescapable failure
of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s
living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result
they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st Century’s great
taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours.
We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame,
fashion and the three dreary staples of middle class conversation:
recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands
Statements of the
bleeding obvious, the outcomes of basic arithmetic, are treated as
exotic and unpardonable distractions, while the impossible proposition
by which we live is regarded as so sane and normal and unremarkable
that it isn’t worthy of mention. That’s how you measure the depth of
this problem: by our inability even to discuss it.
I would not have
formulated it in this way, but it is a fact that the most obvious
problems are massively denied; it also is a fact that the present
economical system is bound to fail, and will fail spectacularly if
unchecked; and finally it is a fact that the problems are not only
mostly unchecked but seriously aggravated.
As I've said before:
The only possible "solution" I see is a source of energy that is
plentiful, cheap and not dangerous, and the only two directions I know
that may be effective are man-made fusion energy
and artificial photosynthesis.
Charles: Climate Crisis Demands 'Fundamental Transformation of
item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
Let me start with
saying that I sort of like Prince Charles, who is a mere two years
older than I am, but who looks 25 or 30 years older than I am: At least
he thinks about
serious problems, and some of his ideas make sense. Both are quite rare
for princes of the royal blood, it seems.
Also I should say that my liking of Charles dates back to 1989: I am
sensitive to architecture, and I intensely dislike almost all
modern architecture, so I was glad to see Charles thought the same, and
indeed published a book about it in 1989, which he also knew would not
opens as follows:
Perhaps irrelevant to
some—coming from a man who owes both his wealth and prestige to the
antiquated (though persistent) privilege of being born into a royal
family—Prince Charles of England again waded into quasi-radical
polemics on Wednesday as he told a crowd of financiers and global
elites that the "current form of capitalism" must come to an end if
humanity wants to save itself from the perils of global warming and
In a speech to a "stratospheric
group of financial, economic and business experts” at the Inclusive
Capitalism Conference in London on Tuesday—and an audience that
included IMF Chief Christine Lagarde and former U.S. President Bill
Clinton—The Prince of Wales pushed for those gathered to accept the
need for what he called the "fundamental transformation of global
"We can choose to act now
before it is finally too late, using all of the power and influence
that each of you can bring to bear to create an inclusive, sustainable
and resilient society," he said. "There will, of course, be hard
choices to make, and, take it from me, in the short term, you will not
be popular with your peers, but if you stand firm and take the kind of
action that is needed, I have every confidence the rewards will be
Again I say that he
is basically right about a serious problem, which is quite
rare for a man in his position.
There is more in the
of the IMF Says Inequality Threatens
Democracy. Here Are 7 Charts Proving She's Right.
item is an article by Erica Eichelberger on Mother Jones:
This starts as
After that, the charts
get displayed, which I think are quite effective: This is a good
article that you should check out yourself.
In his State of the Union
address in January, President Barack Obama promised to devote 2014 to tackling inequality.
When French economist Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the
Twenty-First Century was released in March, it pushed the problem
of growing income disparity further into the global spotlight. In
April, Pope Francis tweeted, "Inequality is the root of social evil."
Now Christine LaGarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund—best
known for lending money to developing countries on the condition that
the those states make policy changes—is taking on inequality too, warning in a speech Tuesday that rising inequality
is threatening global financial stability, democracy, and human rights.
"One of the leading
economic stories of our time is rising income inequality, and the dark
shadow it casts across the global economy," LaGarde said.
The richest 10 percent of
people in the world hold 86 percent of the world's wealth, and just 0.7
percent own 41 percent of global riches, according to the Credit Suisse 2013 Global Wealth Report.
Lawyer: 'Mutually Agreed Solution
with US Would Be Most Sensible'
item is an article by Hubert Gude and Jörg Schindler on the English
version of Der Spiegel:
First note that
"Snowden's lawyer" is in fact Snowden's German lawyer. The interview, which
is a good one, starts as follows:
Kaleck, German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, a member of
Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats, described
Edward Snowden as a lawbreaker during recent discussions with United
States government representatives in Washington. Did that surprise you?
Kaleck: It did
not surprise me, but I do find it shocking. Edward Snowden is a
whistleblower, someone who followed his conscience and went public with
a scandal that is global in nature: the threat intelligence services
represent to all Internet freedom. The issue should be approached with
SPIEGEL: Are you
suggesting that the interior minister hasn't done so?
scandalous to say, in some kind of gesture of submission to the United
States, "We understand that you are treating him as a criminal and we
view things similarly" -- when, at the same time, an investigative
committee is conducting work in parliament that would have been
inconceivable without Snowden. I am hopeful that there are people
sitting on the parliamentary committee and also in the German
government who will approach the problem in a more responsible way.
Yes, indeed. There is
rather a lot more that I will leave to your interests, but I will quote
one more brief bit:
client's temporary asylum in Russia expires in July. What will happen
Kaleck: We assume
that it will be extended. There is still enough time.
I do hope he is
right, but my guess is that he is, for the present year.
On the crisis series - 2
This last item
continues the similarly named item of May
26, that tries to bring together some reflections on the crisis series, that started on September 1, 2008, and meanwhile took
over 500 Nederlogs.
Fifth, about the
titles, the articles and the mistakes.
One of the things
that I do not like about the crisis series, and especially lately, is that
my titles are hard to comprehend. The main reason is that I use only
one line for titles while I generally cover at least 5 subjects, that
all come with their own titles. The only possibility to avoid that is
to split it over as many Nederlogs as there are titles (as indeed
originally planned in 2006, when I started the Nederlog series, that extended the
subject-matters of Nedernieuws,
that I wrote in 2004 and 2005), but (1) this would be considerably more
work, and I do not have much energy because I
am ill and (2) this would very probably make the items less well
read. So the net result is that my titles remain rather obscure, simply
because there is not enough space. I'm sorry, but this will continue.
Then the articles. I
have meanwhile reviewed thousands of articles relating to the crisis, and I think I have done that fairly, for the most
part: I have always listed the writers and provided a link; I have
almost never quoted all of the article and rarely most; what I have
quoted I have quoted because of the content and generally
because I had something to say about it; and as I have said
before: (1) I am more interested in the crisis than in journalism: I am not a journalist but a philosopher,
in the first place, but (2) journalism is almost the only way for me to
get informed about the crisis.
Finally the mistakes.
There are three kinds of mistakes that I may make and indeed
occasionally have made. Firstly, I may simply miss interesting stuff.
This definitely happened, but I am human, I am ill, I've checked over
40 internet sites daily and looked at hundreds of articles daily, and I
do not think I have missed very much on the 40+ sites I do check daily.
Secondly, I may be mistaken in my judgments. This happens occasionally,
but - presupposing my general values, that are best described as classic
liberalism informed by a lot of knowledge of the left, of politics,
and of real science
- I do not think I have made many mistakes. Thirdly, I may be mistaken
in what I write, and limit this here to writing and linking errors.
This certainly happened: I never use spelling
correctors because I hate the intrusion, and my links sometimes do not
work mostly because the html-editor I have to work with made
or did not get set properly. I do not think I can do a lot about
either: I will not use a spelling corrector, and there is only one
WYSIWYG html editor on Linux, which is a serious fault, but not mine
but of Linux. (I like Linux
a lot more than MS Windows, but it has its weak sides.)
Sixth, about the
spreading of the crisis items.
If you look at the
present three indexes for the crisis, you will find it is not
regularly spread: In 2008 and 2009 there were resp. around 30 and 50
Nederlogs about the crisis, but in 2010 and 2011 together there were
15. The main reason is that I wrote a lot about ME/CFS
and XMRV, and had little or no
time or health left to write about other things. But in 2012 it picked
up again with nearly 50 items, and from June 10, 2013 there are over 300
items, which were mostly caused by Snowden's
revelations, which I said in the
previous item was the worst political news I've ever heard.
Seventh, on the
future of the crisis series.
This is a bit
uncertain. Three important reasons for me to write the series
are that it charts the development of the worst political event that happened during
my life, in the West at least, for it means the West is turning into an
authoritarian police state, where the government spies on everyone,
and does so for itself and for the big corporations; I am ill, which means I cannot do more than
small bits each day; and nobody else does it, to my knowledge, and
certainly not as I am doing it. Also, I have more readers than I had
before, so I suppose it reaches some.
Then again, for me it
is at best philosophical journalism, and at worst journalism, which is not
where my prime interests lay, and which also means that I am dependent
on what journalists wrote.
I have several times
said that I may stop it, and there are several possible reasons why
My health may get
worse; journalism may get even worse than it is now; or I may either
have to give it up because I need to spend what little energy I have on
other things or because I've come to the decision that it is mostly
senseless for me to continue writing about the crisis.
At present, I simply
do not know, but indeed the main reasons to continue it is that
I lack the health to do what I like, and nobody else does it to my
knowledge, while this also has provided me more readers than I had.
Eight, on giving explanations.
As I said, I am not a
journalist but a philosopher,
and the task of a philosopher is to explain things. Also, I think I can
give explanations for the crisis or for aspects of it that few men give
or think of, and I will try to give some more in the next year
(counting from today), though indeed I do not expect to get more
popular or to be more read because of it.
So...these were some
reflections on the crisis series.