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."
doesn't want you to limit its ability to follow you
around the internet
2. If we can have just war,
why not just terrorism?
3. ‘Ex-Chief of C.I.A. Shapes Response to
Lessig Tells Chris Hedges About His Project to
Seize Control of Politics from
This is the Nederlog of
July 27. It is a crisis log.
It is a Sunday, and I found four items today. Believing this is a bit
little, and feeling tolerably well, while it is less warm, I decided to
throw in a bit about George Orwell at the end.
Here it all is:
Google doesn't want you to limit its ability to follow you around the
item is an article by Dan Gillmor on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Yes, I have the same
experience, indeed with the same causes, which Dan Gillmor explains
Every now and then, when
I try to read an online article, I see nothing but a blank space where
the article should appear. Because I run software to block third-party
tracking cookies, the publication blocks my access to the article. When
I give such sites – and there are a number of them – full permissions
on my browser, the articles become visible.
My inability to read one
article isn't just annoying – it's part of a global effort to end
internet users' "free lunch" of content. Behind our screens, there is a
technological race to extract a price for what we read and watch on the
web: our personal information and browsing habits. And as Silicon
Valley and the advertising industry continue to merge, the incentives
to collect and use that information will only grow.
In my case,
I use blocking software to prevent third-party advertising networks –
firms most people don't even realize are watching – from installing
"cookies" to monitor my activity elsewhere on the web. Those cookies
"watch" as you surf in order to, their designers insist, put more
relevant ads in your face.
Well... for me "ads" are always
carefully crafted lies and deceptions, for even if
they contain only "the truth" (which is extemely rare these
days) they distort it, exaggerate it, enlarge it, beautify it, and
photoshop it, and I just do not want to see any
advertisement that does not pay me at least an English pound to read
these lies. Advertisements these days are sick and parasitic lies.
In any case, there is a lot more, and it ends (almost) with this:
So what's an angry
– or worried – internet user to do? Check out tools like Privacy Badger, Ghostery, AddBlock Plus, BetterPrivacy
and Disconnect, which offer a
variety of approaches to restore some privacy to your web browsing,
even if you aren't a particularly advanced computer programmer.
These are good and true
tips, amd indeed I use several of these myself. Also, I never use
have not and I will not - I much rather avoid you if you have these
we can have just war, why not just terrorism?
item is an article by Giles Fraser on The Guardian:
This starts as
For decades now the
United Nations has been unable to agree a definition of terrorism. Even
our own supreme court recently concluded that there is no
internationally agreed definition. The stumbling block has been that
western governments want states and state agents to be exempt from any
definition. And a number of Islamic counties want some national
liberation movements exempt.
Or, to put it in terms
of today’s news: the Israelis won’t have any definition that would make
them terrorists for bombing old people’s homes in Gaza, and West Bank
Palestinians won’t have any definition that will make them
terrorists for fighting back against occupation with petrol bombs.
This is true, but
then again these are political organizations. According to my own
definition of terrorism,
this is terrorism (and it is quite simple):
The attempt to get one's
politics or religion by violence and murder.
That seems clear and
true enough to me, although I can see why no state wants to subscribe
to such a definition - and I quote myself again:
One of the functions of
is to protect its population from
terrorism, which often happens by denying the population the right to
bear arms. The great danger of states is that state-terrorism has
been by far the most dangerous and succesful form of terrorism:
Hundreds of millions of individual human beings were murdered in the
20th C alone by state-terrorism. (Fascism, Communism).
The states just do
not want to admit that they are or may behave like terrorists, and that
they do command a large amount of soldiers, policemen and
weapons of all kinds, that may very well be seen as terrorist
by those who are their victims.
Giles Fraser asks:
If we can have just war,
why not just terrorism?
It is nonsense to think that being a state grants some sort of
blanket immunity from the charge of terrorism – and certainly not from
the moral opprobrium we attach to that term.
As to the first
question: Yes - except that "just terrorism"
tends to be called "freedom fighters" or something similar: For more
see the beginning of my On The Logic Of
Moral Discourse: In
general those we oppose we call "terrorists" and those we do not oppose
we call "freedom fighters", "liberators" etc. even if both effectively
do the same: kill their enemies.
And Fraser is quite
correct that in fact states are the typical terrorists much
rather than groups of people without a territory, without
a professional army, but with serious griefs.
To say or suggest
that states cannot be terrorists flies in the face of all
historical evidence: Very many more people have been murdered
by persons acting in the name of some state than by any other means,
and it is just not sane to suggest the people murdered were terrorists
while those murdering them cannot be terrorists because they are
employed by some state.
terrorist organizations, among other things, if only because they have
to oppose terrorist organizations. The one difficulty is what you like:
Violence you like, you call "freedom fighters"; violence you dislike
you call "terrorists" - and without knowing what the real facts are and
what your real values are both terms are real, though the "terrorist"
term scares more.
3. ‘Ex-Chief of C.I.A. Shapes Response to
item is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as
A tentatively titled and
reported New York Times article glimpses former agency director George
Tenet’s efforts to suppress and discredit a report accusing “former
C.I.A. officials of misleading Congress and the White House” about the
agency’s detention and interrogation program.
The article is tentative
because the enormous question at its center—whether CIA officials
tortured people in the course of the agency’s counterterrorism
work—appears only in passing and well into the piece.
The source is a New
York Times article (<-link) that is quoted i.a. as follows, and
refers to the Senate's report on the CIA, that still has not been
The detention and
interrogation program was conceived on [Tenet’s] watch and run by men
and women he had put in senior positions. After virtually disappearing
from public view since leaving the C.I.A. in 2004 except for a brief
period promoting his memoir, Mr. Tenet is working behind the scenes
with many of the same people to develop a strategy to challenge the
report’s findings. And he is relying on his close relationship with Mr.
Brennan to keep him apprised as the report moves through a glacial
declassification process. Mr. Brennan rose to the C.I.A.’s senior ranks
during Mr. Tenet’s tenure, and served as one of the former C.I.A.
chief’s most trusted advisers during the post-9/11 period.
Will it ever
be published? And if it ever is published, will it only be in a heavily
redacted form, in which almost anything bad about the CIA has
4. Lawrence Lessig Tells Chris Hedges About
His Project to
Seize Control of Politics from Corporations
item is an article by Chris Hedges on AlterNet and The Real News
is from July 16, and I missed it. This is a long interview with
Lawrence Lessig, who teaches law at Harvard.
This is from the beginning, with Lessig talking about his project, that
gets discussed in the rest of the interview:
And the work that
I'm doing right now with this thing called the Mayday PAC--where
"Mayday" comes from the distress call mayday, a mayday on this
democracy--is to build, really, a super PAC that will engage in the
election cycle of 2014 and in 2016 with the ultimate objective of
getting a Congress in 2016 committed to fundamental reform.
There is a whole lot
more, and at the end there also are three videos of nearly 19 minutes
each that contain the whole interview. I read all of it and found it
interesting, but I realize this is mostly for politically interested
In any case, this also is a real debate, because Hedges and Lessig do
not agree (Hedges is more radical than Lessig). Here is just one remark
HEDGES: How do you
handle candidates like Barack Obama who did talk about public financing
in 2008, along with many other issues, including closing Guantanamo and
revisiting NAFTA, etc., etc., protecting--rolling back the egregious
violations of civil liberties under Bush, and then, once he got into
office, these turned out to be, you know, essentially lies, public
relations gimmicks in order to win an election, but he had no
intention, we know, because he immediately brought in Larry Summers and
others? How do you deal with the fact that so often in an election
cycle, because of the polling, because they take the pulse of the
American public, because they're very good at feeding back to us what
they know we want to hear, that as soon as they get into Congress they
do the bidding of corporate lobbyists?
Lessig is aware of the
problem - say: that of natural born liars and power seekers of
considerable personal charm and intellectual talents - and thinks he
can circumvent it. I
do not know, but I think Lessig is right that he at least has to try.
For more, click on the last dotted link.
5. Learning from Orwell
(<-Wikipedia) is in the news, although he died over 64 years ago.
The main reasons for his being in the news are the activities of the
NSA (and the Five Eyes), which tend to making the USA an authoritarian
police state, plus the great rise in economic inequalities between the
few rich and the rest, plus the persistence of the crisis for over six
years now. (The stocks are up on the moment, but that serves only
the people who trade stocks, which is a small and usually rich
I welcome the interest in Orwell, because Orwell is one of my favorite
writers, certainly in the 20th Century, and he is so ever since I read "Nineteen
my (communist) teens, in the late Sixties, although I had been told
several times, always by persons who had not read him, that I should not
read him because he was "a traitor" and "a liar". (He did contribute to
my giving up communism, though he was not the main reason: The main
reason was science.)
In fact, I have read almost all of his published works, and this also
is the subject of the present piece, that has the following theme:
while I like "Nineteen
Eighty-Four" and love "Animal Farm" and "Homage to
Catalonia", I really believe Orwell's best work is the Collected Essays, Letters and Journalism
of George Orwell.
This is in four volumes,
and was published between 1968 and 1970 by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus.
I bought these volumes in the Penguin edition on 8.viii.1978 and read
them immediately, which I have done several more times since.
Now I should start with saying that it seems that literary editors hold
that this four volume edition has been overtaken by The
Complete Works of George Orwell in twenty volumes, revised and
printed between 2000 and 2002.
That may be so, in some sense at least, but (1) I have never
seen that edition (2) I probably do not have the money to buy it, and
also (3) "The Complete Works" of any dead writer tend to be
read only by literary folks, which means that far fewer will
have read these than have read the four Penguins, while (4) I also tend
to take the sayings of Literary Editors of anything and anyone with
considerable doses of salt: They do tend to exaggerate. (This
is not to say the Complete Works is not well done; it is only to say
that I did never see them, and I also do not think very many have read
very much in it: it may be the definitive edition, but it rarely is the
most widely read one.)
So I refer to the edition I know well, that also has been widely read
and bought, and will now try to explain briefly why I like
these four books better than any of the other books Orwell wrote.
My main reasons are these: Orwell was more of a journalist, a
pamphletist, and a thinker, than he was a novelist; much of his best
work consists of relatively short pieces and essays, that are
mostly in the Collected Essays, Letters and Journalism; and
also these four volumes are quite varied as they are ordered by date,
so you do get essays, letters and journalism in considerable
abundance, thrown together in these four volumes, which benefits
a realistic and political writer like Orwell, whose life also was in
one piece, for he did try to live as he wrote, which is something very
few really do.
As I said: I really love Animal Farm and Homage to Catalonia
and I like Nineteen Eighty-Four, but I also have to grant that
I did not much like Orwell's earlier novels, and indeed have
not read all of them: He really was a realist and a political activist
much more than a novelist, and in fact the three books I just mentioned
are all inspired by real events and real themes, although two are
And again, the Collected
Essays, Letters and Journalism stand out because they contain and
capture many more aspects and ideas of the real Orwell than any of his
novels, and also because many of the essays still are quite
alive and quite relevant.
To illustrate this last point, I take just one of his London Letters to
Partisan Review, which were written during WW II for American readers.
I take nr. 83 in volume III, p. 335-341, which is a bit special and
reflective because, after nearly four years of writing these London
Letters Orwell says, in December of 1944:
(..) I have
told you several times that I would like to write one letter whcih
should be a sort of commentary on the previous ones. This seems to be a
He begins by admitting
that while "I have tried to tell the truth in these letters" and
believes himself to have rendered a more or less correct picture of
what happened, he also wrote the first two years from a quite mistaken
In 1940 I
had written, 'Either we turn this into a revolutionary war, or we lose
it', and I find myself repeating this word for word as late as the
middle of 1942.
(..) I fell
into the trap of assuming that 'the war and the revolution are
inseparable'. There were excuses for this belief, but still it was a
very great error.
Yes, indeed - but this
kind of honest statement of his earlier errors is one of the things
that makes Orwell rather unique: most politically engaged people either
do not do this at all, or do this several decades
after the facts  and even then in a
half-hearted manner that's full of excuses for themselves.
That is, more precisely:
It seems to
me very important to realize that we have been wrong, and say so. Most
people nowadays, when their predictions are falsified, just impudently
claim that they have
been justified, and squeeze the facts accordingly.
Yes. But in fact what
people then did, which is what the vast majority now does, even though
they are called differently, is this:
Popular Fronters, Communists, Trotskyists, Anarchists, pacifists, all
claim - and in almost exactly the same tone of voice - that their
prophecies and no others gave been borne out by the events.
Particularly on the Left, political thought is a sort of masturbation
fantasy in which the world of facts hardly matters.
This is also what
removed me so radically from communism in 1970 ,
though I was the only one of my generation and background who did so: I
had acquired a vast respect for the facts, whatever they are; I had
acquired a scientific world view rather than a political one; and I
found that everyone with political interests only cared for
such facts as they might distort to support their positions, and acted
as if the rest did not exist.
Orwell comes to this conclusion:
The most one
can say is that people can be fairly good prophets when their wishes
are realizable. But a truly objective approach is almost impossible,
because in one form or another almost everyone is a nationalist.
In fact, what he means
by "a nationalist" is better rendered as totalitarianism
(as he himself not much later realized):
or totalitarian state is a political system in which the state holds total authority over the society and seeks to
control all aspects of public and private life wherever possible.
That is the Wikipedia,
and these days we see it in the actions and the very many secrets of
the U.S. government and the NSA, and we see it also in Great Britain.
In neither case it has progressed as far as in the Soviet Union or
Hitler's Germany, but surely there is a strong kinship and the same
To return to Orwell. What most people do in fact is this:
at any situation, they do not say, 'What are the facts? What are the
probabilities?' but, 'How can I make it appear to myself and others
that my faction is getting the better of the rival faction?'
I did write the present
tense - "do" - advisedly: It was so then, in 1944; it is so now, in
2014, and it has always been so all the years inbetween, for almost
anyone with an active political agenda, of any kind, whether Left,
Right or Center.
Indeed, this makes politics still extremely difficult for me, for I do
not have such a mind, while the great majority does - and also
does not want to admit they do, which makes it all even more difficult.
Again, there was then and there is now the following:
worse, to me, is the contempt even of
intellectuals for objective truth so long as their own brand of
nationalism is being boosted.
Precisely - and Orwell
never saw whole universities, and nearly all intellectuals
employed there (on very good conditions, also) turn
into quasi-marxists and semi-totalitarians, all in peaceful
circumstances, and mostly by public voting, as I saw happen in Holland
So... I think there still is a whole lot to be learned from Orwell, but
I really do fear that the only ones who may learn it must be, as Orwell
himself was, uncommonly gifted intellectually, for that is my lesson from nearly 45
years of trying to speak the truth to persons who told me, without
knowing anything of me, that I was "a fascist
terrorist" simply because I had different ideas, and a better command
of language than they had, and also was ill nearly all the time.
This is also what makes me pessimistic for the coming decades, although
I likely will not see much of them: There are far too many people, also
and especially intellectuals, of far too little real talents of any
kind, and this makes communication, planning, and rational thinking
extremely difficult, rare and also usually discriminated.
 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.)
 As did the many myriads of Dutch
quasi-marxists, quasi-communists and quasi-leftists, who had ruled the
Dutch Left and the Dutch universities from the late Sixties till the
early Nineties, when they realized, after the fall of Gorbacev,
that it had become time for them to become neo-conservatives, which
they nearly all did, with a despicable booklet called "Alles moest
anders" i.e. "Everything had to be different".
 While my parents and grandparents were
either communists or anarchists, it should also be mentioned, who had
behaved quite heroically (and quite uncommonly!: people are not
"equivalent", as the lying Dutch quasi-lefties had it for more than 25
years) in the Dutch resistance against Nazism, which I agreed with and
(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: