28, 2014
Crisis: British elite *2, To Millenials, War, Stewart, 600 crisis files
  "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

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
     waiting for

6. The 600th crisis log since September 1, 2008

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, 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.
1. Top of British society is a racket for the privileged

The first item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:

This starts as follows (and is by the same author as yesterday):

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 ingrained unfairness.

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.

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.

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 do provide them with the chances for a considerably better education.

Also, if the ideology of "
the uber-privileged", which 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 to get rich at the start of their lives. Instead, neo-liberalism functions as propaganda and bullshit only, and makes the rich richer, and the poor and the middle-class poorer. Which is also what it is intended to do.

2. Closed shop at the top in deeply elitist Britain, says study

The next 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 1):

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.

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?

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 things that should be and things that are.)

Anyway, here are some more figures:
Oxbridge graduates 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 Millennials 

The next 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 idea 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) with this:

(..) 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 relations 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 rational intelligence.

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 Taplin:

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:

Politics (everything 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 “American Dream”).

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 seventies in academic positions, held them for life, and are now being pensioned) 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, knowledge, rationality and benevolence - 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 devices.

Then again, I also believe that major changes are necessary to prevent the collapse of 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.

4. The Guns of August

The next 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 United States.

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 global superpower.

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 last paragraph:

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 century.

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

The next 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.

6. The 600th crisis log since September 1, 2008

Finally, on the

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 2010).

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 government had the desire and the ability to stop them (while most Congress men and women seem to be in the pockets of the banks' lobbyists - 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:

Crisis: Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis

Crisis + DSM-5: It's the deregulation, stupid!

On Deception - 1

On Deception - 2 + Propaganda techniques

On Deception - 3: postmodernism, public relations, propaganda

On Deception - 4: More about propaganda

Crisis: "Human Stupidity Is Destroying the World"

Crisis: More on stupidity, the rule of law, and Glenn Greenwald

Crisis: The TV and average intelligence 

Crisis: 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 overview:

"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. [2]

[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 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 story.

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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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