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. Top of
British society is a racket for the privileged
2. Closed shop at the top
in deeply elitist Britain, says study
3. On Art and Politics: A
Letter to the Millennials
4. The Guns of August
5. Jon Stewart finally gives
Fox the takedown we’ve been
600th crisis log since September 1, 2008
This is a Nederlog of
August 28. It is a crisis log.
The crisis log is ordinary, but the last section pays some attention to
the fact that this is - as I numbered - the 600th file in the crisis series.
Top of British society is a racket for the privileged
item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as follows
(and is by the same author as yesterday):
I say. I knew Great
Britain is "a class society", still, but these figures are quite stark:
"7% in Britain are
privately educated" while "71% of
senior judges, 62% of the senior armed forces" are privately educated.
Much of the upper crust
of British society is a racket for the privileged in defiance of the
democratic wishes of the majority. That really is the core of Elitist
Britain, that while 95% of Britons believe "in a fair society every
person should have an equal opportunity to get ahead", the figures in a government report published on Thursday reveal an
Only 7% in Britain are
privately educated, and yet this section of society makes up 71% of
senior judges, 62% of the senior armed forces and 55% of permanent
secretaries. It is quite something when the "cabinet of millionaires"
is one of the less unrepresentative pillars of power, with 36% hailing
from private schools.
The statistics should
provoke Britain's media into a prolonged period of self-reflection.
They probably won't since 54% of the top 100 media professionals went
to private schools,
and just 16% attended a comprehensive school – in a country where 88%
attend non-selective state schools. Forty-three percent of newspaper
columnists had parents rich enough to send them to fee-paying schools.
Note also that private education anyway is nearly completely for
children with rich or at least well to do parents: The others cannot
afford it. Indeed, the whole branch of private education is typically
English - it does not exist in the rest of Europe (not in the sense it
does in Great Britain, at least).
But - it may be objected - although this is unfair, life is unfair, and
the rich tend to be the talented. First, even if life is unfair, it
does not need to be unfair in the British way; second, it is certainly not
true that the rich are all talented, nor that the
poor and middle
classes have not similarly talented persons among them; and third, here
is Owen Jones' explanation why selecting so many sons and daughters of
the rich to powerful positions tends to have unpleasant consequences
for the poor and middle classes (who are the solid majority):
Why does the
unfairness highlighted by the report matter? As it points out, elitism
leaves "leading institutions less informed, less representative and,
ultimately, less credible than they should be", meaning they focus "on
issues that are of salience only to a minority but not the majority in
society". If there are so few journalists and politicians who have
experienced, say, low wages or a struggle for affordable home, then the
media and political elite will be less likely to deal with these issues
adequately. Instead, they will reflect the prejudices, assumptions and
experiences of the uber-privileged.
Yes. And besides, there
is no good reason to have a class of uber-privileged, and especially
not as they are, as a class, not special: They are just rich,
but are not more gifted on average, though indeed their riches
them with the chances for a considerably better education.
Also, if the ideology of "the
strongly tends to be neo-
liberalism, were meant seriously and honestly, the uber-priviliged
would be far more
heavily taxed, in order to give many more people equal chances
rich at the start of their lives. Instead, neo-liberalism functions as propaganda
only, and makes the rich richer, and the poor
and the middle-class poorer. Which is also what it is intended
2. Closed shop at the top in deeply elitist
Britain, says study
item is an article by Andrew Sparrow on The Guardian:
This starts as follows
(and is another view of the same report that caused item
Actually the last
paragraph - although I have not read the report - sounds rather stupid:
How can "schools,
universities, (..) and even parents" do this if they lack the money?
Britain is "deeply
elitist" because people educated at public school and Oxbridge have in
effect created a "closed shop at the top", according to a government
report published on Thursday.
The Social Mobility
and Child Poverty Commission said its study of the social background of
those "running Britain" was the most detailed of its kind ever
undertaken and showed that elitism was so embedded in Britain "that it
could be called 'social engineering'".
Alan Milburn, the Labour
former cabinet minister who chairs the commission, said that, as well
as being unfair, this situation was unacceptable because "locking out a
diversity of talents and experiences makes Britain's leading
institutions less informed, less representative and, ultimately, less
credible than they should be".
The commission's 76-page
report mostly focuses on analysis, but it does include recommendations,
saying government, schools, universities, employers and even parents
all need to play their part in promoting social diversity.
Isn't it rather obvious that the main thing that should happen is an
increase in taxes on the rich, and a major attack on economic
inequality? (But I agree there tendsd to be a huge gap between
should be and things that are.)
Anyway, here are some more figures:
also have a stranglehold on top jobs. They comprise less than 1% of the
public as a whole, but 75% of senior judges, 59% of cabinet ministers,
57% of permanent secretaries, 50% of diplomats, 47% of newspaper
columnists, 44% of public body chairs, 38% of members of the House of
Lords, 33% of BBC executives, 33% of shadow cabinet ministers, 24% of
MPs and 12% of those on the Sunday Times Rich List.
3. On Art and Politics: A Letter to the
item is an article by Jonathan Taplin on Truthdig:
I selected this
because of its title.
First about Jonathan Taplin.
Jonathan Taplin must
be around 3 years older than I am; is billed as "clinical professor at the University of
Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism", and no: I have absolutely no
what "clinical" means here; started out, in 1969, being a
manager for Bob Dylan and The Band; while the reason for this article
(or letter) is that he is going to teach a 16 week course on "innovation, entertainment, and the arts".
All of the previous
paragraph is from the article itself or from a link there. Now I am
going to quote and comment some, mostly from the first of three pages.
It starts (almost)
(..) without the art, no
amount of technological innovation or entertainment marketing savvy is
going to get you to go to the movie theater.
Without wanting to
discuss the meaning of "art", which is too difficult a subject,
although I do want to give my definition of it: 'Art is the applied,
cultivated, material expression of human fantasy', I should say this
sounds a bit misleading:
Firstly, because most
of the art that does move people is being exploited and
implemented by the propagandists
that call themselves "public
professionals"; second because as a matter of fact few are interested
in the high arts; and third, because "entertainment marketing" does
use art, though indeed not high art.
Next, there is this:
Without the art, none of
the innovation matters—and indeed, it may be impossible—because the art
is what gives us vision, and what grounds us to the human element in
all of this.
Well... I'd say it is
less art, even if this is defined as an expression of human
fantasy, than talk that "gives us vision". Of course, the talk may get influenced by
all sources, including art, but it really are the ideas that
move us, including ideas about values and priorities,
and ideas are mostly rendered as talk.
Next, there is this:
My generation had dreams
of how to make a better life that have remained woefully unfulfilled
(leaving many of us cynical and disillusioned), but at the same time
your generation has been saddled with the wreckage of our attempts and
are now facing what may seem to be insurmountable odds.
Actually, since I am
of the same generation as Jonathan Taplin, and indeed consider the
years from 1965-1980, when I was between 15 and 30, as the best years
of my life (though this gets much influenced by the fact that I
fell ill on 1.1.1979 and never got better), I must say that I think "my
generation" owes much of the destruction that has taken place since
1980 mostly to itself, and especially to its lack of
In fact, I have seen nearly
everyone of "my generation", which in my case is from
several preceding generations of intelligent anarchists and communists
in Amsterdam, betray their pretensions and chose capitalist
careers that benefitted themselves much rather than
anything else. And yes, that held for the children with a communist or
leftist background as much as it did for others.
Then there is this on
the period 1965-1980:
So one of the things I
want to teach you about is a time from 1965–1980 when the artists
really ruled both the music and the film industries (...) if you look
at the quality of work that was produced, it was extraordinary; in
fact, most of it is still watched and listened to today. Moreover, in
that period the most artistic work also sold the best (...)
This seems to me
certainly true for pop music. Whether it is true for film I tend to
doubt: I tend to see the films of the forties and fifties as more
intelligently written, if also more cramped by censorship (as regards
sex, but also some other things).
But I do agree these
were fifteen special years, also in my experience. Here is Jonathan
It may be that those
fifteen years your parents and I were lucky enough to experience was
one of those renaissance moments that only come along once every
century, so perhaps it’s asking too much to expect that I’ll see it
occur again in my lifetime.
Yes, I think these
were the best years of the century in Western Europe and the USA. But much
more went into making these years special than just art:
became more leftist, in many ways also), economics (people got rather a
lot more money from 1965 onwards, till 1980), the idea that society
could be changed radically and soon (which was new, for the
most part, but quite popular, especially among university students),
psychology (that was fermenting, without ever coming to a conclusion),
education (that was radically changed, and made more equal, and less
difficult), and more.
Next, there is this
economic consideration, that tells a lot:
In 1969, the
median salary for a male worker was $35,567 (in 2012 dollars). Today,
it is $33,904. So for 44 years, while wages for the top 10% have
continued to climb, most Americans have been caught in a “Great
Stagnation,” bringing into question the whole purpose of the American
capitalist economy (and, along the way, shattering our faith in the
I am not certain
these figures are correct, but if they are not quite correct, they
certainly seem to be mostly correct. The main explanations are that (i)
my babyboom generation misled itself about many things, and the leaders
mostly sold out, and got well paying academic or political positions
(indeed in Holland my generation, that got elected in the
academic positions, held them for life, and are now
and (ii) the rich developed a counter initiative to the left, and
succeeded from 1980 onwards, indeed to the extent of keeping 90% poor,
and making them poorer.
That was the last
quote from page 1. Page 2 (from three) starts with this statement:
So this is the source
of boomer disillusionment.
Actually, I am not
certain whether I got Taplin's argument, but as I said: My own
view is that
my baby boomer generation mostly owe it to themselves, although I am
willing to agree that the main things that were lacking - intelligence,
- are mostly innate, and the
majority of my generation were deluded rather
than anything else, as
indeed was the majority of any generation. Even so, they had far
better chances than the previous generations to radically change the
economy and many other things, and they blew it.
Here is a last
quotation, this time not by Jonathan Taplin but by someone he quotes,
Charlie Kaufman (and the following is only part of the quote):
They’re selling you
something. And the world is built on this now. Politics and government
are built on this, corporations are built on this. Interpersonal
relationships are built on this. And we’re starving, all of us, and
we’re killing each other, and we’re hating each other, and we’re
calling each other liars and evil because it’s all become marketing and
we want to win because we’re lonely and empty and scared and we’re led
to believe winning will change all that.
I think we are being
sold, indeed, by the propaganda of marketeers and media, and I agree
this is almost completely false and phony, and I also agree this makes
the chances and the lives of the 90% more evil and more poor than they
might be, but I also like to point out, impopular though this is, that
I do not think the majority can do much better if left merely
to their own
Then again, I also
believe that major changes are necessary to prevent the
civilization in the West - but I do not know this will happen before
the collapse, also because I think they need to be made fast.
item is an article by Amy Goodman that I found on Truthdig:
This starts as
follows, and explains its title:
In her epic,
Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Guns of August,” historian Barbara
Tuchman detailed how World War I began in 1914, and how the
belligerence, vanity and poor policies of powerful leaders led millions
to gory deaths in that four-year conflagration. Before people realized
world wars had to be numbered, World War I was called “The Great War”
or “The War to End All Wars,” which it wasn’t. It was the first modern
war with massive, mechanized slaughter on land, sea and in the air. We
can look at that war in retrospect, now 100 years after it started, as
if through a distant mirror. The reflection, where we are today, is
grim from within the greatest war-making nation in human history, the
I read Tuchman's book
and liked it. And Amy Goodman is right that it "was the first modern war with massive,
mechanized slaughter on land, sea and in the air". Also, I do not think either World War seem to have
taught those who survived it a lot - or if it did, what was learned was
not made into policies or politics.
One reason is this:
The United States spent
$640 billion on arms in 2013, according to the Stockholm International
Peace Research Institute, out of a global total of $1.7 trillion.
Increased arms expenditures in other nations, notably China and Russia,
indicate they aren’t comfortable with the United States being the sole
And these amounts are
being decided by the government and the Congress of the United States,
and no one else (though lobbyists and the military-industrial complex
have far too much to say to influence these decisions).
Here is Amy Goodman's
The millions killed
pointlessly in World War I are mostly forgotten, a century on. Barbara
Tuchman closed “The Guns of August,” closer to the 50th anniversary of
that war, writing, “The nations were caught in a trap ... a trap from
which there was, and has been, no exit.” But there is a force more
powerful than the governments of all these nations: the power of people
everywhere, saying no. War is not the answer to conflict in the 21st
I like the
sentiments, but "the power of the people" the last 100 years, in spite
of democracy and considerably increased welfare in the West, has not
been able to stop two World Wars, and very many smaller conflicts.
5. Jon Stewart finally gives Fox the
takedown we’ve been waiting for
item is an article by Prachi Gupta on Salon:
In fact, this is a mere introduction to
a video by Jon Stewart of over 10 minutes.
I do not think he "finally gives Fox" what they have been waiting for
(have they?) but it is a fair statement on racial issues in the U.S.
600th crisis log since September 1, 2008
Finally, on the crisis.
In fact, the present
file is the 600th (sixhundredth) in a series that I started on September 1, 2008 (in Dutch: the
first 81 of the 600 were in Dutch, which changed in the beginning of
I had at that time -
6 years minus three days ago - no idea it would last as long as it has
lasted, and I certainly also had no idea that the situation presently
is worse than it was in 2008, for the very banks that caused
the crisis, and were saved from tax money, have continued and increased
their crazy unregulated policies, because no one in the
the desire and the ability to stop them (while most Congress men and
women seem to be in the pockets of the banks'
- sorry: "governmental relations professionals").
Also, I do not know
of anyone else who has written such a series, which is no guarantee at
all that no one did, but which is pretty certain knowledge this is a
rare project and a rare series.
Anything else? Well,
I could say a lot here, but will not. Instead, I give some links to
some English files that explain my sense of the term "crisis", for that
is more comprehensive than the economy, and also explain something
about its causes and the main tools:
Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis
Deception - 1
On Deception -
Deception - 3: postmodernism, public
Deception - 4: More
Stupidity Is Destroying the World"
on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald
TV and average intelligence
On "American Averages" (1st from 4)
Actually, I did
learn quite a lot, reading and writing about the crisis, and I will
soon try to write some more about the crisis in fairly general terms.
The above is just a selection of what I have written on the crisis, and
it also seems all files are either from 2012 or 2013.
Here is a brief
"Hypotheses" gives my
hypotheses in a file (originally) dated December 25, 2012, that dated
back to the beginning of November of that year: I had no idea these
hypotheses were to be very much confirmed from June 2013 on by
Snowden's revelations; "the deregulation" gives the main cause; "On
Deception" treats the main tools; "Stupidity" and "TV" the main human
weaknesses; and "American Averages" is the first of four consecutive
files that summarize the 1970ies, which was probably the best decade in
the U.S. and the West in the previous century.
I hope they are of
interest, and in any case I did my best. 
 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.)
 I really did - and one highly
complicating factor for me is that my eyes have been very bad till
somewhat bad since June 2012. They are currently less bad than they
were the last two years, but I still feel them (painfully), and they
still bother me, though indeed less than before. I may write something
about this on September 8, when I planned to continue my supplement
(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: