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Nederlog


  May
31, 2014
Crisis: Capitalism, Ellsberg, Greenwald, Extinctions, Snowden
   "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
















Prev- crisis -Next
Sections
Introduction

1. Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself
2. Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden would not get a fair trial – and
     Kerry is wrong

3. Greenwald’s Finale: Naming Victims Of Surveillance
4. 'The Cause Is Us': World on Verge of Sixth Extinction
5. Snowden and NSA Go Tête-à-Tête over Internal Emails

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is the Nederlog of May 31. It is an ordinary crisis log.

I think this is a more interesting Nederlog than yesterday's, though indeed here too several things are reprised. But the first article is quite interesting and new, and so is the fourth - and besides, I can 
only serve what I find.

Tomorrow there may not
be a crisis log but instead a Nederlog dedicated to another theme, though this again will depend on what I find.

1. Savage capitalism is back – and it will not tame itself

The first item today is an article by David Graeber on The Guardian:
This is an interesting article. I skip the introduction about Russia and Piketty (you can read them yourself if you want to) and start here:
Capitalism does not contain an inherent tendency to civilise itself. Left to its own devices, it can be expected to create rates of return on investment so much higher than overall rates of economic growth that the only possible result will be to transfer more and more wealth into the hands of a hereditary elite of investors, to the comparative impoverishment of everybody else.

In other words, what happened in western Europe and North America between roughly 1917 and 1975 – when capitalism did indeed create high growth and lower inequality – was something of a historical anomaly. There is a growing realisation among economic historians that this was indeed the case.
Yes, although the "1917" seems too early to me: this seems to forget about the 1929 crisis.

Also, there is a fairly good explanation why life got better and better for the middle class between (roughly) 1935 and 1980 - and perhaps you ought to see my four part series
Crisis: On "American Averages" that I started on April 24 last year, for that shows quite well what life was like in the US in the 1970ies, and it indeed is in the crisis series for that reason.

Here is my explanation, that has four main parts, each with its link to Wikipedia:
  • The great depression of the thirties: This almost destroyed capitalism, indeed through the main mechanism that caused the crisis of 2008: Unregulated greed of the rich.
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Roosevelt became president because of the crisis, and was an extremely intelligent man of goodwill, who started to regulate the greed of the rich:
  • John Maynard Keynes: Keynes was "the most intelligent man" that Bertrand Russell ever knew, and he had a theory of economics and associated policies that regulated the greed of the rich from 1945-1975.
  • World War II: This war also almost destroyed capitalism, mostly because it destroyed much of Europe.
There is a lot more I could say about this, but this is not the place, so I return to Dan Graeber. He says this:
The period when capitalism seemed capable of providing broad and spreading prosperity was also, precisely, the period when capitalists felt they were not the only game in town: when they faced a global rival in the Soviet bloc, revolutionary anti-capitalist movements from Uruguay to China, and at least the possibility of workers' uprisings at home. In other words, rather than high rates of growth allowing greater wealth for capitalists to spread around, the fact that capitalists felt the need to buy off at least some portion of the working classes placed more money in ordinary people's hands, creating increasing consumer demand that was itself largely responsible for the remarkable rates of economic growth that marked capitalism's "golden age".
To this I say: Yes and no. Yes, because it does contain truth, but - more importantly - no, because it does not mention any of my points, that each seems more specific than what Graeber says, who just doesn't really explain why taxes on the rich were much higher in the period in which almost everybody's life in the West got better: Because of the depression and WW II, and because of the policies and ideas of Roosevelt and Keynes - and yes, that also simplifies things, but it does mention specific causes, persons and theories.

This is how Dan Graeber ends:
The 1% are not about to expropriate themselves, even if asked nicely. And they have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics to ensure no one will do so through electoral means.

Since no one in their right mind would wish to revive anything like the Soviet Union, we are not going to see anything like the mid-century social democracy created to combat it either. If we want an alternative to stagnation, impoverishment and ecological devastation, we're just going to have to figure out a way to unplug the machine and start again.

Graeber does mention one thing here that is quite important:

The rich "
have spent the past 30 years creating a lock on media and politics", and indeed these efforts may very well have started with the secret
of 1971.

But Graeber seems to be misleading about "social democracy": This did not exist because of the Soviet Union, and indeed was there long before the Soviet Union, indeed well before 1900. (See: Kautsky, Bebel).

And it was destroyed by persons who pretended to be of that movement, or close to it: Clinton, Blair, the Dutchman Kok, and other persons interested in getting rich themselves at the cost of everybody else, while pretending to be "leftist". (This is called "The Third Way": extremely dishonest propaganda bullshit. It worked very well for these now quite rich very ably lying persons.)

Also, the leaders were not on their own: At least in Holland from the 1970ies onward almost everybody who got some local fame for being "a leftist" was in fact a careerist, who spoke with the widely shared politicial ideological illusions, because they all wanted to advance themselves and were capable of almost anything to do so. [2]

Finally, as to finding "
a way to unplug the machine and start again": I agree that is necessary, for I agree thay the 1% will not make any change that hurt their own incomes or freedoms (from paying taxes, among other things), and are quite capable of destroying anything and anyone if only they can stay on top of the power and income pyramids.

But I am considerably less convinced that there is a way within the system, especially since the system is now served and protected by the NSA, the GCHQ and other secret services, that operate beyond the pale of the law but with protections and secrecy from the governments:

The very few who currently head governments, generally for the big corporations, now know, for the first time in history, everything about everyone, in principle at least, and are out to deny, deceive, degrade and destroy anything and anyone who opposes them, by any means.

So that is why, having learned of the NSA etc. mostly through Snowden (though I was there myself in 2005 and in 2012, but without the evidence to back this up, which Snowden provided), I currently am hoping for another and major economic crisis, which will destroy the present capitalism, and very probably ill me as well, but which may give the chances to undo the enormous damages the few rich and their corporations have done.

2. Daniel Ellsberg: Snowden would not get a fair trial – and Kerry is wrong

The next item is an article by Daniel Ellsberg on The Guardian:
I start with quoting the subtitle or introduction, simply because it seems quite true if not complete:
Edward Snowden is the greatest patriot whistleblower of our time, and he knows what I learned more than four decades ago: until the Espionage Act gets reformed, he can never come home safe and receive justice
In fact, the situation currently is very much worse in the Obama years than it was around 1970 in the Nixon years.

Ellsberg says, among other things, the following:

Snowden would come back home to a jail cell – and not just an ordinary cell-block but isolation in solitary confinement, not just for months like Chelsea Manning but for the rest of his sentence, and probably the rest of his life. His legal adviser, Ben Wizner, told me that he estimates Snowden's chance of being allowed out on bail as zero. (I was out on bond, speaking against the Vietnam war, the whole 23 months I was under indictment).

More importantly, the current state of whistleblowing prosecutions under the Espionage Act makes a truly fair trial wholly unavailable to an American who has exposed classified wrongdoing. Legal scholars have strongly argued that the US supreme court – which has never yet addressed the constitutionality of applying the Espionage Act to leaks to the American public – should find the use of it overbroad and unconstitutional in the absence of a public interest defense. The Espionage Act, as applied to whistleblowers, violates the First Amendment, is what they're saying.

Yes, indeed. He also says:

Without reform to the Espionage Act that lets a court hear a public interest defense – or a challenge to the appropriateness of government secrecy in each particular case – Snowden and future Snowdens can and will only be able to "make their case" from outside the United States.

As I know from direct chat-log conversations with him over the past year, Snowden acted in full knowledge of the constitutionally questionable efforts of the Obama administration, in particular, to use the Espionage Act in a way it was never intended by Congress: as the equivalent of a British-type Official Secrets Act criminalizing any and all unauthorized release of classified information.

Quite so. Here is the last paragraph:

John Kerry's challenge to Snowden to return and face trial is either disingenuous or simply ignorant that current prosecutions under the Espionage Act allow no distinction whatever between a patriotic whistleblower and a spy. Either way, nothing excuses Kerry's slanderous and despicable characterizations of a young man who, in my opinion, has done more than anyone in or out of government in this century to demonstrate his patriotism, moral courage and loyalty to the oath of office the three of us swore: to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Clearly, Kerry is disingenuous, to keep it polite, or indeed less polite: He talks like a sadistic bully, and uses "slanderous and despicable characterizations" of Snowden, who evidently is a far better man than Kerry is, or indeed was.

3. Greenwald’s Finale: Naming Victims Of Surveillance

The next item is an article by Toby Harnden on Popular Resistance:

The main reason this article is here is because it is a decent article that does contain the latest updates about Greenwald.

I will not quote from it, because that would be repeating myself, from other sources, but if you know less about Greenwald than I do, and have not read the last 30 or 40 Nederlogs, this may be a decent place to start.

4. 'The Cause Is Us': World on Verge of Sixth Extinction

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

A new study showing that the human activity has driven current rates of species extinction to 1,000 times faster than the natural rate is "alarming" and "should be a clarion call" to work towards greater conservation efforts, an environmental group charges.

The study, published Thursday by the journal Science and led by conservation expert Stuart Pimm, also warns that without drastic action, the sixth mass extinction could be imminent.

From habitat loss to invasive species to climate change to overfishing, humans are contributing to the plummet in biodiversity.

"This important study confirms that species are going extinct at a pace not seen in tens of millions of years, and unlike past extinction events, the cause is us," stated Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity, who was not involved in the study.

There is considerably more in the article, and I suppose the study is correct.

5. Snowden and NSA Go Tête-à-Tête over Internal Emails

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows (and Tête-à-Tête = Face to Face: a strange choice of terms, also because in fact they do not, but OK):

The National Security Agency and Edward Snowden have entered a public battle over the 30-year-old whistleblower's claims that he repeatedly raised "official" concerns about surveillance overreach while employed by the government.

Following Snowden's reassertion in his Wednesday interview with NBC that he did, in fact, attempt to voice objections over U.S. surveillance practices using internal channels with superiors, the NSA responded on Thursday afternoon by releasing a single—and they say "only"—email exchange they can find.

Though the agency has previously said that it could find no record of any such emails, Thursday's disclosure—made through the office of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, came less than twenty-four hours after the NBC interview in which Snowden boldly repeated his claim that such documentation did exist.

Here are some of Snowden's own words on the differences:

Still, the fact is that I did raise such concerns both verbally and in writing, and on multiple, continuing occasions - as I have always said, and as NSA has always denied. Just as when the NSA claimed it followed German laws in Germany just weeks before it was revealed that they did not, or when NSA said they did not engage in economic espionage a few short months before it was revealed they actually did so on a regular and recurring basis, or even when they claimed they had “no domestic spying program” before we learned they collected the phone records of every American they could, so too are today’s claims that “this is only evidence we have of him reporting concerns” false.

There is considerably more in the article, and indeed it is extremely likely that the NSA lies (or indeed that it is a mess on their computers - but I take it they are lying, as usual).

---------------------------------
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.)

[2] I am very certain of that, about Holland:

I know hardly anybody in the country where I have to live and was born who got any importance in or around politics who has not turned out to be a glib, egoistic liar about very many things.

This also is about the only thing I learned at the University of Amsterdam, that was a quasi-"marxist" university from 1971-1995, that is, apart from these gems, that were upheld, also in public lectures, from 1978-1995 by most professors and lecturers:

    "everybody knows truth does not exist",
    "everybody knows everybody is equal" and
    "everybody knows all societies are equally rational and equally good"

which were taught to everyone, and were mostly gladly received, namely as politically correct, and which I have heard hundreds of times, from many mouths, and especially the first two, that were extremely popular.

Add to this that I - the invalid son and grandson of heroes of the Dutch resistance, who were sent to the concentration camp as "political terrorists" by collaborating Dutch judges, who were never punished - was cried out as "a fascist terrorist" by 16 academically employed "philosophers" after they had heard my
questions, which also got me removed briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy because, as an invited speaker, I posed questions (only questions!) about these sick and sickening, degenerate, fascist and terrorist lies by these grossly sadistic liars and scarcely human degenerates and parasites. (Yes, I am angry, and/because I have 25 years of nearly constant pain.)


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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