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."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. The Rules of Revolt
2. "Extremely Troubling"
The CIA's cute first tweet can't cover its bloody tracks
4. Glenn Greenwald: No Place to
Hide - Edward Snowden,
the NSA, and the U.S.
This is the Nederlog of June
9. It is an ordinary crisis log.
1. The Rules of Revolt
item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This is a much better
article than the previous one that counseled everyone to be(come) a Zapatista
- and I provided the last link for those who don't know what that is.
Also, here is a link to my review.
The present article starts as follows:
There are some
essential lessons we can learn from the student occupation of Beijing’s
Tiananmen Square, which took place 25 years ago. The 1989 protests
began as a demonstration by university students to mourn the death of
Hu Yaobang, the reformist Communist Party chief who had been forced out
by Deng Xiaoping. The protests swiftly expanded to include demands for
an end to corruption, for press freedom and for democracy. At their
height, perhaps a million people were in the square. The protests were
crushed on the night of June 3-4 when some 200,000 soldiers, backed by
tanks and armored personnel carriers, attacked. Hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of unarmed demonstrators were killed.
Yes, indeed. Next, Chris
Hedges does name and discuss 12 lessons, which I will take up in a
briefer format, but first I want to make an initial point about revolts.
Since I am the son of revolutionary communists and was born in 1950, I
have been in many leftist demonstrations in my teens (much less
so from 1970 onwards, for I had then given up on communism, and also
lost most of my interest in politics),
quite a few of which also got violent, that usually led to some arrests.
But none of the violence ever felt like a revolt or a revolution except
for the indeed also quite massive violence in Paris in May, 1968. I am
talking here about my own appreciations of events, which may be
unlike that of many others, and it is also a bit difficult to explain,
although I assume that nearly all who took part in any of the many
violent demonstrations I also took part in did not believe the
demonstration or the violence were in any realistic sense revolutionary.
In Paris this was different. It was a large revolt; it had some support
of labor and of workers who also had organized strikes and had occupied
factories; and especially the atmosphere in the streets was different:
everybody talked with everybody, which was quite unlike any other
demonstration I took part in, for in the other demonstrations there
were the demonstrators, with one point of view, and the rest of the
population, that for the most part was either not interested or
I am still not quite certain about the causes of the difference in
feelings in Paris of May 1968, but I am rather certain of the following
1. Nobody knew what would happen - quite unlike the
many other demonstrations, where it was clear that at the end ordinary
order would be fully restored, and life would go on as before; 2.
everybody (well: many more than usual) talked with everybody,
mostly simply looking for information, also mostly in a kind way, even
if the partners disagreed - quite unlike the many other demonstrations, where only
the demonstrators talked with each other; 3. most thought, in
the early days of May of 1968, in the center of Paris, that absolutely
anything might happen - again quite unlike the many other demonstrations.
Then again: This is the only more or less revolutionary
situation I've been in and indeed also that revolt or revolution simply
failed, and failed rapidly and radically. But it really felt and was
different while it was happening from any other leftist demonstration
or violence I have seen, and there were several reasons for this, some
of which are listed in the previous paragraph. 
Now to the twelve points of Chris Hedges, which I will excerpt and
comment on, but you should realize that I only excerpt small bits
and that you can read all using the last dotted link - and all the
points of Chris Hedges are given more text than I quote:
Lesson No. 1.
A nonviolent movement that disrupts the machinery of state and speaks a
truth a state hopes to suppress has the force to terrify authority and
create deep fissures within the power structure.
Yes - but this is not
true of "any" movement or indeed of "most" movements, and it also needs
to be pretty large (normally) to disrupt "the machinery of state".
Lesson No. 2.
An uprising or a revolution usually follows a period of relative
prosperity and liberalization. It is ignited not by the poor but by
middle-class and elite families’ sons and daughters, often
Yes - one needs the
young well-educated ones, it seems, at least if it is about making
revolution (rather than - say - deciding a labor/management conflict).
Lesson No. 3.
Radical mass movements often begin by appealing respectfully to
authority for minimal reforms.
Yes indeed, and this
also happened elsewhere, such as in France in 1968, and in other
places. (This may be connected to the previous point.) Also, perhaps
more importantly: Radical mass movement often start in an ambiguous
fashion, that makes both for size and for (initial) hesitant treatment
by the government.
Lesson No. 4.
Once déclassé intellectuals make alliances with the working class a
regime is in serious danger.
Yes, perhaps. One main
reason for my skepticism is that it didn't help in France; another is
that, in general, it depends on the insights and plans of the déclassé
intellectuals. In brief, they may both add and detract a lot.
Lesson No. 5.
The most potent weapon in the hands of nonviolent rebels is
fraternizing with and educating civil servants as well as the police
and soldiers, who even though they suffer from the same economic
inequality usually are under orders to crush protest.
Again: Yes, perhaps. It
depends a lot, and normally the chances are not good. My own view is
that generally it seems wiser to invest most energy in
making one's points and demands as widely known as possible.
Lesson No. 6.
When a major authority figure, even in secret, denounces calls to crush
a resistance movement the ruling elites are thrown into panic.
Yes, although the main
reason for the "panic" (distress, difficulties, etc.) seems to be the
recognition that the rulers no langer stand and act in a united way.
Lesson No. 7.
The state seeks to isolate and indoctrinate soldiers and police before
sending them to violently quash any movement.
Yes - and that may work.
Lesson No. 8.
Secrecy is self-destructive to a nonviolent resistance movement.
Openness and transparency expose the endemic secrecy and deceit used by
regimes to maintain power
Yes, indeed. One does
need leaders and spokesmen, but one can and should
avoid almost all secrecy.
Lesson No. 9.
The state on the eve of breaking a rebellion with force seeks to make
police and soldiers frightened of the protesters. It does this by
sending in agents provocateurs to direct acts of violence against
symbols of state authority.
Yes, that also seems
Lesson No. 10.
After deadly force is used to end a revolt, which happened when Deng
Xiaoping sent more than 200,000 soldiers to gun down protesters
in Beijing, the state invests tremendous energy to foster historical
Yes, indeed, and there
are quite a few other examples.
Lesson No. 11.
Once a movement is put down, wholesale retribution occurs. It is
estimated that 4 million people were investigated by state security
after the Tiananmen Square massacre on suspicion of involvement in the
Again yes, though this
also depends on the type of state. Finally:
Lesson No. 12.
Nonviolence does not protect demonstrators from violence. It also does
not always succeed. Nonviolence requires—despite what those who
advocate violence contend—deep reserves of physical and moral courage.
Yes, quite so - and
indeed non-violence often does not succeed, which does not mean it was
the wrong choice: it usually is the best choice.
Anyway - if you found this at least a bit interesting, you should read
all of the article.
Troubling" Documents Show How Obama Administration Embraced Foreign
Detention of Terror Suspects
item is an article by Nick Baumann on Mother Jones:
This starts as follows:
What happens when
an FBI agent steps into a foreign prison to interrogate a US citizen?
For several years, even as the FBI has cooperated with foreign
governments to question Americans locked up in countries such as Kuwait, South Sudan, and Yemen, the Obama administration has been
tight-lipped about the rules that govern such interrogations. FBI
officials have told Congress that the same rules apply when FBI agents
interview suspects at home and overseas. But an internal bureau
interrogation manual suggests that the truth is more complicated—and
new information from the FBI shows that key edits were made to the
manual as the Obama administration shifted away from the Bush-era
practice of questioning terrorism suspects at Pentagon- or CIA-run
facilities, and toward outsourcing detentions to foreign regimes.
Actually, I am also
interested in non-US citizens, while I think the following snippet,
that dates back to circa 2008 and quotes an American CIA-agent
concerned with "terrorism" and "terrorists". He was quoted as having
said that interrogating such people was very difficult, until
"one sends them to
Egypt: once they're loosing some nails, they are a lot more free with
I heard this on the
radio and am not certain of all the words, but this was the gist: Once
our allies start torturing them for real, we CIA-men hear something.
And I think that may well be correct, and may well be the reason why
Obama's government seems quite good at it.
Anyway - the article
tells the tale of an FBI manual, known in a heavily redacted form and a
later and unredacted form, with the following results (inter alia):
In recent years, the
Obama administration has continued to shift away from unilateral
measures such as drone strikes, and toward working with foreign allies
through means like proxy detention.
Which means that the
CIA can go much further with torturing people than inside the US and
also that the US government can much better pretend it is guiltless and
does not know what happened in other - secret, or not - prisons.
3. The CIA's cute first tweet can't cover its
item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as
In the latest CIA coup,
America's leading spooks have sent the Twittersphere into a frenzy with
their chucklesome debut on social media: "We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first
tweet." How droll! More than a quarter of a million people have
retweeted what has been described as "the best first tweet possible".
No wonder: it's one of the world's most secretive organisations being
self-deprecating, light-hearted, even – dare I say it? – cute.
Here's a story that isn't
quite so cute. My parents were among many South Yorkshire families who
took in refugees fleeing Augusto Pinochet's Chile in the 1970s. Sylvia was a
Chilean woman with two kids. Her husband had been murdered, she had
been tortured and – traumatised – she would end her life by jumping
from a Sheffield tower block.
Here was just one victim of
a junta installed on 11 September 1973 with CIA support after Henry
Kissinger declared: "I don't see why we need to stand by and watch a
country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people."
Dissidents had electrodes attached to their genitals.
As I have said
before: I do not do Twitter and do not do Facebook, and never did and
never will. Also, I do not like contacts with worlds where everybody or
nearly everybody is an anonymous alias, and in fact you do not
know anything about anyone. That is just puppetry and
blind man's bluff.
I also know that
ordinary men and women seem to live for Facebook and Twitter, and are
"hugely impressed how much information can be conveyed in 140
characters" (yes, that is a common quote), but I am more intelligent
than ordinary men, and to me it seems like a very large amount of
anonymous toddlers who have purposefully damaged and falsified their
means of communication, and twit (is the verb, from "Twitter") their
wit at the rate of 140 characters max, which also means all formal
argument ceased completely.
In short, twitting
and facebooking seem activities for the less than 130 IQs, but since
the vast majority falls under that description (49 out of 50, roughly)
these are the preferred occupations of the ordinary minds. I dislike
and deplore it, but I am in a small though intelligent minority.
One reason for this
brief exposition is that I know that I live in an extremely
democratized age, where anonymous aliases drive most
discussions, and where propaganda/PR is
the norm and successful PR the ideal for anyone taking
Here is more from
Of course, the CIA is far
from alone in trying to lighten up its image: PR offensives are all the
rage among tyrants, too. Are you a bloodstained despot who wants to
polish your sullied reputation? Your first port of call is surely Bell
Pottinger, run by Thatcher's publicity guru, Lord Bell. The
dictatorships of Bahrain and Belarus, the Syrian dictator's wife,
Pinochet himself – all have had their reputations spruced up by the
firm. Its services include cleaning up those embarrassing Wikipedia
articles and Google search results. Kazakhstan's pro-western dictator, Nursultan
Nazarbayev – who locks up dissidents and massacres striking oil
workers – is a pro at PR campaigns, hiring Tony Blair at vast expense.
Yes, indeed - and my
oh my: Am I amazed at finding Tony Blair as an eager and very
well paid propagandist for the rich and powerful! (Not really.)
Owen Jones also tells
"Terrorism" is normally
used when referring to acts of violence committed by non-white people
hostile to the west. But if we're understanding the term to mean acts
of terror committed for political ends, then the CIA is surely the
greatest terrorist organisation on earth.
Actually, I never
used or understood the word "terrorism" in the first form, that
according to Owen Jones these days is normal. Here is my own definition
of the term in my Philosophical Dictionary (from 2004):
Terrorism: Attempt to get one's way
politics or religion by violence and murder.
There is rather a lot
more there, and I never even considered the "normal" racialist
twist ("acts of violence
committed by non-white people"),
which is utter nonsense and totally false propaganda.
But apart from that,
I agree with Owen Jones: The CIA is a terrorist organization,
and indeed a state terrorist organization, for it is funded by
the US government, which it is also supposed to work for.
And this is an
interesting article that deserves full reading. Here is its final
It's in the CIA's
interests to craft a cuddly new image: as a team of glamorous, James
Bond-style spooks who can take a joke. Given the abject failure of much
of the western media to scrutinise its actions – at least until it's
too late – it may believe it can get away with it. But its record of
torture, murder and subverting democratic governments speaks for
itself. However savvy its Twitter campaign, that must not be forgotten.
Greenwald: No Place to Hide - Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S.
item is not an article but a video with Glenn Greenwald and Noam
It is here because of "No
Place to Hide", and I must admit that I have only seen the first 25
minutes or so of it, which are Glenn Greenwald's, and which also are
I stopped with Noam
Chomsky, not because I do not like him (I do), but because he is not a
great speaker, and I had heard his story before.
Incidentally: If in Youtube
you type "Glenn
Greenwald" you get access to 175 videos, and I must say they are not
very often seen (for I regard 234, 449 and 655 viewers as not many, for
such a famous journalist, who also is a good speaker - but it is true
there also are quite a few videos with more viewers).
The previous item was the last crisis item for today. Here are some further references, to
persons I have mentioned before on Nederlog:
Bill Maher: It turned out one Nicole Po has made a
nice compilation of pieces from Bill Maher videos. It starts here:
There are 18 more there,
that I have mostly seen the last days, though I skipped nearly all
"Back Stage" interviews, of which there are quite a few, and also
skipped some more.
I like Bill Maher: He is
intelligent and witty
(and the two are not the same), and the discussions are often
interesting. Also, I like his
program quite a bit more than I do Jon Stewart's or Stephen Colbert's,
because it is more real, and it has different people both stating and
discussing different opinions. And Maher states his own opinions, and
does so quite well, both realistically and comically.
And no: Of course I do not always agree with Maher. But I like his
program, and also more than others, including Dutch ones: Maher and his
staff of writers are more witty than most.
Gore Vidal: I discovered Vidal in 2012, briefly after
he had died (and no, I am not an American, nor a homosexual, and I am
also not much interested in recent American literature, nor do I have a
TV since 1970, which taken together explain my ignorance). He was a
sensible and clever man, and Truthdig has four interesting pages with
selected essays and videos, that start here:
These are well worth reading
or viewing: He knew a whole lot about politics, had been friends with
John Kennedy and his wife, and he was quite witty.
Abby Martin: I have mentioned her before: She does a
daily series, on weekdays, of half hour shows called "Breaking the set"
(link) and she is good.
Here are three bits of earlier programs. First, there is this:
This is from January.
You may look at it and learn some, because Snowden's Q&A are not
widely reported. (And I do not quite agree with Seaman, who has more
trust in US law than either Snowden or I.)
And there is this, which is a bit private:
It's a bit private for
me because my father and grandfather spent years as political prisoners
(aka: terrorists) in German concentration camps, where my grandfather
also got murdered, while my father got knighted after the war (which
was in fact "not done", for communists like him, but he had royal
support) namely for making an exhibition about the German concentration
camps, and indeed one of my father's points was the enormous services
big corporations did for Hitler.
This is Abby Martin in August 2013, after making 200 "Breaking the
It is about what motivates her.
 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.)
Also, while I do not boast of having been in many demonstrations, I
have been, and one thing I have learned is that nearly all my fellow
Dutchmen, of nearly every age, have at most the experience with
revolutionary situations and feelings that I have: two weeks of Paris
in 1968, in May and in June.
(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: