Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


  August
12, 2014
Crisis: Free Press, Simon Leys, Quiz, Blue Gold, Medicine, Corporations
  "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.
In Stand for Free Press, Pulitzer Journalists Declare
     Support for James Risen

2. The Man Who Got It Right 
3. Quiz: Who Said This? Hillary Clinton or Benjamin
     Netanyahu?

4. Blue Gold: World Water Wars
5.
Illinois Suspends Medical License of Leading Prescriber of
     Antipsychotic Drugs

6. If Corporations Are People...

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, August 12. It is a crisis log. There are six items, with eight dotted links.

This is a crisis log but it is slightly different from other ones in listing three videos (I think that is a first time in a crisis log, but I may be mistaken) and in having a piece on Simon Leys, which is the alias of a Belgian sinologist I have read since 1972. I grant this is not a real crisis item. It is here because I like Leys, and also because it gives me a reason to say something about my turning away from the marxism of my - intelligent, sincere, honest, just, working class - parents in 1970.

Otherwise, and in general, in a
crisis log - as most of my Nederlogs have been since June 10, 2013, when I first got aware of Edward Snowden and his revelations - I simply relay what I have found on the crisis, as I understand that term, for which understanding (broader than normal) see here and here.

Finally, since I am speaking about generalities: I am in terms of academic degrees a philosopher and a psychologist (all with straight A's, while I was ill, which I still am) and I differ from most other leftists in insisting that the main problem of mankind is the average human stupidity, which is a position I share with George Carlin, Bill Maher, and Frank Zappa, but which, for some reason, most leftists, including intellectuals, do not agree with or do not see [2].

Anyway... on to today's articles.
 
1. In Stand for Free Press, Pulitzer Journalists Declare Support for James Risen

The first item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams (who seem to have finished the redesign of their site: I like it):

This starts as follows:

Fourteen Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists on Monday issued statements declaring their support for New York Times reporter James Risen, who has vowed to go to jail rather than reveal a confidential source despite the U.S. Justice Department's dogged insistence on his testimony. 

Risen has been ordered by the Justice Department (DOJ) to testify in the prosecution of a CIA officer accused of leaking classified information about U.S. efforts to undermine Iran's nuclear program, information that Risen revealed in his 2006 book State of War.

According to fellow reporters, Risen's case has in many ways already done "substantial and lasting damage" to the state of journalism in the United States and threatens the very notion of our First Amendment right to Freedom of the Press. The statements were released ahead of a Thursday press conference at the National Press Club during which many of the major U.S. press freedom organizations will deliver a petition with over 100,000 signatures calling on the DOJ to drop their subpoena.

In early June, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene on Risen's behalf, despite his claim that his First Amendment rights were violated.

Yes, indeed - and as to the Supreme Court: That is in majority - it seems to me - currently a mere willing tool of the big corporations. (And I am not talking of the minority.)

There is considerably more in the article. And in case you need reminding: Without a free press, there is no democracy.

2. The Man Who Got It Right 

The next item is an article by Ian Buruma on The New York Review of Books:

This is about Simon Leys - real name: Pierre Ryckmans - who turned out to have died yesterday. It is by a Dutch writer, who lives outside Holland, Ian Buruma. If you do not know who Leys was (as I shall call him, since I did not know his real name until much later), you should read the last Wikipedia link.

First, a quotation from the beginning of Buruma's essay:

The most interesting thing, to me, was the anecdote related by Leys at the end of his account, about sitting in an Australian café minding his own business while a radio is blaring musical and spoken pap in the background. By chance, the program switched to a Mozart clarinet quintet, for a moment turning the café “into an antechamber of Paradise.” People fell silent, there were looks of bafflement, and then, “to the huge relief of all,” one customer “stood up, walked straight to the radio,” turned the knob to another station, and “restored at once the more congenial noises, which everyone could again comfortably ignore.”

Leys describes this event as a kind of epiphany. He is sure that philistinism does not result from the lack of knowledge. The customer who could not abide hearing Mozart’s music recognized its beauty. Indeed, he did what he did precisely for that reason. The desire to destroy beauty, according to Leys, applies not just to aesthetics but as much, if not more, to ethics: “The need to bring down to our own wretched level, to deface, to deride and debunk any splendour that is towering above us, is probably the saddest urge of human nature.”

Yes, indeed - and in my opinion this strong tendency of the stupid majority (half of mankind has an IQ under 100): "The need to bring down to our own wretched level, to deface, to deride and debunk any splendour that is towering above us" is one of the saddest and most problematic features of mankind, and may well do it in, because nobody except for a few intellectuals and a few writers sees it or is opposed to it - and indeed opposing it is risky everywhere, as I found in Holland.

As to Holland, here is Buruma, who is 1 1/2 years younger than I am:

In one of his essays, Leys refers to the first Communist decades in China as “thirty years of illiterates’ rule,” which might be construed as snobbish; but the relative lack of education among the top Communist cadres is not actually the main issue for Leys. His targets are never uneducated barbarians, people too ignorant or stupid to know what they are doing. The objects of his devastating and bitterly funny barbs are fellow intellectuals, often fellow academics, most often fellow experts on China, people who faithfully followed every twist and turn of the Chinese Communist Party line, even though they knew better. (...)

I recognize the type, since they were to be found among the Dutch professors who taught me Chinese literature and history at Leyden University in the early 1970s, when the Cultural Revolution was still raging. None of them was a Maoist, in the sense that they would have advocated Mao’s politics in their own country. But China, whose unique culture my professors spent their lives studying, was different.

I did not study Chinese, but I am Dutch and I recall especially professor Wertheim of the University of Amsterdam, who knew - also for many years afterward: he died in 1998 - how to explain everything Mao did in glowing terms. (And indeed I see now, in the brief article on him in the Dutch Wikipedia, that he started as a Stalinist and ended as a Maoist, which was not clear to me while he lived.)

And it was not just Wertheim: Most Dutch leftists were pro-Mao in the 1970ies, while the whole pro-Stalinist attitude in the Dutch CP (that my parents were members of since 1935 and 1940) gravely upset my trust in communism, already when I was 14, when I was only not kicked out from the communist German Democratic Republic because I fell ill and had to be hospitalized there, for I am very much an individualist who is against totalitarianism of any kind.

The problem is that relatively few are: Most men are not individualists, and indeed are also not much of individuals (with their own non-standard interests, readings, knowledge, tastes, and preferences, that they acquired by their individual efforts) - most men take pride in being "like everyone else", and the whole nation of Dutchmen said with proud consent, millionfold repated from 1970-2000, that "everybody knows that everybody is equal", and many tried to bring down anybody who stood out as more gifted in anything other than sports or singing (in Dutch). [3]

Back to Buruma on Leys:

Unlike in the 1970s, few people now dispute that Leys was right about the horrors of Mao’s regime. Even the Chinese government admits that more than fifteen million people died of starvation as the direct result of Mao’s deranged experiments in the late 1950s. Recent scholarship shows that the real figure might be as high as forty-five million deaths between 1958 and 1962 (see Frank Dikötter’s Mao’s Great Famine, 2010). The Cultural Revolution, although Mao’s own leading role in it can still not be discussed openly, is commonly referred to as the “great disaster.” One of the questions raised by Leys is why most people got it so wrong when Maoism was at its most murderous. Was it a matter of excusable ignorance about what was then a very closed society?

This is a very good question, which you may consider for a moment, while I recall that I got Leys's first book in 1972, and was reading it in my little room in an attic above the Amsterdam Vondelpark, and enjoyed the style, the clarity, the civilization, and also the courage, for indeed Leys at that time was mostly an outcast, precisely because of his ideas. In Holland, everyone swore by Joris Ivens, who was a personal friend of Mao, and had shot a 763-minute (!!) propaganda documentary about the Cultural Revolution, that also was shown on TV: "How Yukon Moved the Mountains": Ivens knew, the Dutch thought! The Cultural Revolution was A Great Leap Forward For Humanity!

Now to answer Leys's question:

So why were the “China experts” (we might as well leave other famous dupes, such as Shirley MacLaine, aside) so obtuse? As in the case of the man who couldn’t tolerate Mozart, Leys dismisses ignorance as an explanation. His answer: “What people believe is essentially what they wish to believe. They cultivate illusions out of idealism—and also out of cynicism.”

Yes, quite so - unless they have a scientific outlook, that may be native, since I met even in Holland, that has been very free during most of my years, very few who have it - and indeed judging simply by one's values is much more easy than trying to judge by the best factual information, which takes a lot more trouble, and is less subjectively certain. (See: wishful thinking.)

Finally, as regards propaganda, "public relations", advertising, and other forms of lying and deceiving ordinary people, that have grown gigantically the last 35 years:

When Confucius was asked by one of his disciples what he would do if he were given his own territory to govern, the Master replied that he would “rectify the names,” that is, make words correspond to reality. He explained (in Leys’s translation):

If the names are not correct, if they do not match realities, language has no object. If language is without an object, action becomes impossible—and therefore, all human affairs disintegrate and their management becomes pointless.

Quite so - or it gets taken over by the liars and deceivers who produce the propaganda, which I agree will not work in the long run, but which will create enormous havoc and destruction in the short run, and riches for few, and poverty or death for many.

Anyway - the article is a lot longer, and if you are interested in China or in clear thinking, you should read all of it.

3. Quiz: Who Said This? Hillary Clinton or Benjamin Netanyahu?

The next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:

This is just what the title says it is. It consists of 16 quotations, that the reader should assign the right speaker to, Clinton or Netanyahu.

I take it the main lesson will be that there really is no way to tell who said what (which I agree is a bit odd, to say the least).

4.  Blue Gold: World Water Wars

The next item is an article by Don Quijones on Rage Against The Bullshit:

In fact, it is a brief introduction to a film. Here is his introduction:
There is perhaps no greater example of collective human insanity than what we are currently doing to the one element — or more accurately put, compound — that we as a species need the most to survive on this beautiful blue planet: water. As the following documentary, Blue Gold: World Water Wars, lays out in the clearest possible terms, if we don’t change course soon, it will already be too late.
You can see the film on his site - and again I must say I am glad I was born in 1950, and not considerably later.

5. Illinois Suspends Medical License of Leading Prescriber of Antipsychotic Drugs

The next item is an article by Charles Ornstein on ProPublica:

This is here mostly because I wrote about this before. Here is the beginning of the article:
llinois medical regulators have indefinitely suspended the medical license of psychiatrist Michael Reinstein, who prescribed more of the most powerful and riskiest antipsychotic drug clozapine than any other doctor in the country.

The decision by Illinois' Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, signed Friday, suspends Reinstein's license for a minimum of three years, at which time he can apply to have it reinstated.

The state's medical disciplinary board recommended the sanction in May after determining that Reinstein, 71, received "illegal direct and indirect remuneration" from the maker of generic clozapine; did not consider alternative treatments for his patients; and disregarded patients' well-being because of potentially life-threatening side effects of the drug. Reinstein's motion for a rehearing was denied Friday, making the matter public.

Clozapine is approved to treat patients who don't respond to other medications. But it can have dangerous side effects, including seizures, inflammation of the heart muscle, and a drop in white blood cells. The drug is considered particularly dangerous for elderly patients.

This speaks for itself, but there is considerably more in the article, including the fact that this psychiatrist averaged 20,000 prescriptions a year of Clozapine from 2007 - 2009, which works out as 55 a day, presuming he worked 365 days a year.

Then again, I'd say American psychiatry anyway is dead as a science or indeed as medicine: Most American psychiatrists mostly prescribe drugs for one of over 400 "disorders" most of which simply do not exist, as they were invented since 1980, and made up from thin air, bullshit, and nonsense, without any real discussion, and on the basis of no real knowledge.

It's a great shame, but Reinstein is one of many, though he probably transgressed more than most. Besides, it seems to me he was hardly punished at all: Three years of non-"doctoring", at 71, seems hardly a punishment at all.

6. If Corporations Are People...

The last items of today are in fact two videos from The Young Turks (TYT), that are related, and that I thought quite good. First, there is this:

This takes 5 m 47 s. Here is a part of TYT's written comment under the video:
"If companies are claiming the rights and privileges of people, maybe people should start claiming the rights and privileges of corporations. Rights harmonization, in other words, should flow in both directions, since we’re now all indistinguishable, equally protected “persons” — in the court’s eyes, anyway."
Their source is Catherine Rampell, who wrote an excellent story on this theme in The Washington Post, which is here (it may load slowly, by the way - it did for me):
Note that in fact corporations are more than people now, since the US Supreme Court decided they are people: They have far more rights than any one man, as is made clear in the video.

Next, and it seems in continuation of the previous video, there is:

This explains how corporations have all of our human rights, plus a lot more, that enables them to do what no man may do, such as giving a million dollars to Mitt Romney. All you need to do is make a corporation, and the corporation can do it for you:

   


This is a quote from the Huffington Post. And "LLC" = "Limited Liability Corporation" - with all the rights human beings have, plus some further rights, and also the right to give unlimited amounts of money to anyone they like.

As Cenk Uygur asks: Do you really think the United States is a democracy?


---------------------------------
P.S. Aug 13, 2014: I made a few small corrections and added a few words in clarification.

Notes
[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]
Actually, I think I know the reason: Most simply are more stupid than Carlin, Maher or Zappa. There are some other reasons, but this really is the main one. As to the other reasons, here are two: Most intellectuals who are interested in politics are political persons, rather than scientific persons - they either lost or never really had a sound grasp of real science. And besides, most politically interested intellectuals like to pretend that non-intellectuals are like them, if only because they need non-intellectuals to realize most of the things they want to see realized.

I think both reasons also are illusions, but I grant that the first may be more a matter of character (I am a scientific person much rather than a political one, but in fact I met only very few persons I can say the same about) than it is of conscious choice. (And note that a scientific person is interested in the truth; a political person is interested in what works, and tends to care for the truth only in so far as it supports his or her political beliefs.)

[3] I am not exaggerating, and also I am not willing - here and now - to consider what all these millions meant by "equality", though I am quite capable of contrasting "equality of all" and "equality in law". The reason I am not willing to consider this, is mostly that hardly any Dutchman ever considered it, to my knowledge: they were being intentionally vague (in so far as they saw the difference), but in practice "equality" in Holland meant that anyone who did not share in the values and assumptions of a group was cast out as a member.

Also, this attitude that "everyone knows everyone is equal" was not so for sports' heroes and "singers" (in Dutch, especially): These were revered by millions of Dutchmen as "geniuses", and no one else ever was, to my knowledge.


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)



       home - index - summaries - mail