Yes, I agree - and
that is also why I have been writing crisis columns ever since I knew about Edward
Snowden, which was on June 10, 2013,
who indeed very strongly confirmed that a possibility that I
had only thrown up as hypothesis, on Christmas
Day of 2012, was fact, bitter fact.
Politics, if we take
politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and
laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our
traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the
two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not
democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that
calls, as a traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among
all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They
offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed
spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of
real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville
Yes, though "politics"
has many meanings. What is true, I agree, is that by now "our traditional political institutions (..)
including the two major political parties, the courts and the press,
are not democratic".
He says some more,
that I do not quite agree with, but then says this, which I do
The ideas that sustain
the corporate state are swiftly losing their efficacy across the
political spectrum. The ideas that are rising to take their place,
however, are inchoate. The right has retreated into Christian fascism
and a celebration of the gun culture. The left, knocked off balance by
decades of fierce state repression in the name of anti-communism, has
yet to rebuild itself (...)
Yes, indeed: "The left (..) has yet to rebuild itself" - and indeed has to do so fairly thoroughly: I have hardly
heard any realistic leftist comment on things going on since Bertrand Russell
died, in 1970 (and indeed it is to people like Russell that the left
should turn, much rather than to Karl Marx).
There is also this from
Chris Hedges, that I also agree with:
A rational response,
especially after your uprising
in Madison and the Occupy movement, would at a minimum include a
moratorium on all foreclosures and bank repossessions, a forgiveness of
student debt, universal health care for all and a massive jobs program,
especially targeted at those under the age of 25. But the corporate
state, by mounting a coordinated federal effort led by Barack Obama to
shut down the Occupy encampments, illustrated that the only language it
will speak is the language of force.
Yes - and indeed
these two things are quite recent, and seem to date mostly to circa
2008. For then two things became obvious, at least to politicians:
First, the enormous
betrayal of the common people by the banks and their managers could
be sold to the public as necessary to save the very banks who had
created the enormous mess; and second, it became clear, and
remained mostly hidden till 2013, that from 2008 onwards the U.S.
government "knows everything", because it surveils everything and
everyone anywhere, and quite successfully so.
Neither of these
projects was bound to win, but win they did, in part
because most people are not bright; in part because most
parliamentarians have been corrupted by lobbyists and money; and in
part because it is quiten strange, in the West, to have to
assume that you yourself, your neighbors, and everybody else is
an inspectable item for a couple of thousands or
tenthousands of willing servants of the NSA, and virtually nothing -
that is on a computer or cell phone - can be hidden from them.
Then Hedges says (and
I am skipping):
This is where we are headed.
I do not say this because I am a supporter of revolution. I am not. I
prefer the piecemeal and incremental reforms of a functioning
democracy. I prefer a system in which our social institutions permit
the citizenry to nonviolently dismiss those in authority. I prefer a
system in which institutions are independent and not captive to
corporate power. But we do not live in such a system. Revolt is the
only option left.
I believe he is
mostly right, though I disagree with "Revolt is the only option left":
My reasons to disagree
are mainly that (i) revolt without good ideas is pretty
hopeless, and (ii) it need not come so much to a revolt of the
downtrodden and discriminated against the strong and powerful, as to a
collapse of the economic system that so far has tottered and creaked
and groaned, but did not collapse - yet.
Indeed, I think it
may well collapse, but I agree this is mostly so (i) because it almost
did collapse in 2008, while (ii) the same conditions that led
to its near collapse are present today, and in worse form then
in 2008, for none of the things that are necessary to tame the
banks and their managers have been done.
Finally, the reason
that I expect more from a collapse than from a revolt without a prior
collapse: The system must be widely seen to have
collapsed and to have collapsed irrepairably; if so, most of the
politicians can be discarded as part of the problem and not part of any
solution; some sort of revolt is a necessity after a collapse; and a
collapse makes the revolt a lot easier.
This is from near the
We too are powerless. We
have undergone a corporate coup d’état in slow motion. It is over. They
have won. If we want to wrest power back, to make the consent of the
governed more than an empty cliché, we will have to mobilize, to carry
out sustained acts of civil disobedience to overthrow—let me repeat
that word for the members of Homeland Security who may be visiting us
this afternoon—overthrow the corporate state.
Yes, indeed we are
powerless, and a good part of the reason is that the leftist
politicians have betrayed their electorates, their leftness, and their
personal integrity, indeed mostly for pay; and yes: there has
been "a corporate coup
d’état in slow motion".
It depends on how you
date this coup d'état: it may be variously dated to the seventies
(Powell Jr.), the eighties (Reagan), the nineties (Clinton), the 2000s
(Bush, Cheney, Greenspan), or the 2008s and after (Alexander, Obama,
too big to fail), but it did happen, and indeed most of it dates back
to the 2000s and 2008s, at least for its successful implementation.
Finally, as to
overthrowing the corporate state: It may not be necessary, for it will
probably collapse, and if it collapses, it will collapse radically,
that is, without a hope it can be repaired and retained as is.
But OK - I do not
know either, and you can read all Chris Hedges has to say by clicking
the last dotted link.
5. Naomi Klein: ‘We don’t have another decade to
item is an article by Suzanne Goldenberg on The Guardian.
It seems that mostly
this is a review of Klein's "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate", that is to be published tomorrow.
This starts as follows:
is the star of the new American left. At 44, the writer and activist
has twice written blockbusters combining ground-level reporting and
economic analysis that challenged people to take a hard look at what
they took for granted: their shopping choices, America’s place in the
world, and the devastating effects of arcane trade policy and rampant
free market ideology. Along the way she gained a following that spans
academics, celebrities and street and factory protesters.
I must say Naomi
Klein is not a star of mine - but then I am 64 (though I look a lot
younger), not American, and I also am not at all a fan of "the new American left", which I am not because it does not appear to
be left to me - and my parents and grandparents were sincere
and intelligent marxists and anarchists.
Also, while I have
heard of her, I have not read her books, which is in good part because
I did not regard them as interesting, and it seems to me her last book
is based on a false premiss: That one can radically improve the
climate under capitalism. I think one cannot, simply because
the task is too big, and capitalism is too profit-oriented.
Anyway - I've read
all of the article, and I haven't learned much, though that may not be
TTIP deal hands British sovereignty to multinationals
item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This starts as
“It’s a serious threat to
British democracy from Brussels.” “Faceless EU bureaucrats threaten to
impose laws without the consent of the British people.” Both these
statements could succinctly, and accurately, describe the proposed transatlantic trade and investment partnership – TTIP –
between the European Union and the United States. But David Cameron is
not scuttling to Brussels to display his bulldog spirit as he vetoes an
attack on our country’s sovereignty. Nor will you catch Ukip issuing
chilling warnings about EU rule. On the contrary, the Ukip MEP Roger
Helmer says: “We have no alternative but to support the deal.”
And don’t expect any
front-page splashes from the Daily Mail – keen as it is to berate the
EU over everything from regulations on the shape of bananas to imperial measurements – about the TTIP threat. In fact,
there has been all too little media scrutiny of this menace, with the
notable exception of my crusading colleague George Monbiot.
Yes indeed - but one
reason may be that the TTIP is secret (which itself is totally
undemocratic). But some things are known about it, and here is Owen
It is presented as
a free trade agreement, but existing tariffs on either side of the
Atlantic are already weak because of common membership of organisations
such as the World Trade Organisation. The actual aim is to strip away
obstacles to large corporations making profits – such as regulations
that protect our privacy, the environment, food safety and the economy
from a rapacious financial sector. And – crucially – TTIP further opens
up public services to private companies motivated primarily by profit
rather than people’s needs.
Yes. Here is a last bit by
Owen Jones, that explains why the TTIP dealings are mostly in secret:
The majority of people
oppose privatisation: 84% believe the NHS should be run in the public sector; two-thirds say the same about railways, energy
and the Royal Mail. With such a consensus against running public
services for profit, no wonder TTIP’s promoters have worked in so much
There is considerably
more in the article, and I agree with Owen Jones that the TTIP is a
very dangerous and very anti-democratic plan: It serves only the rich,
and will do so by stealing from the poor, on the pretense that this is
NSA and GCHQ Campaign Against German Satellite
item is an article by the same authors of item 3 on The Intercept:
In fact, this seems
to be a somewhat rewritten version of item 3, with some additional material on
Since I have already
more than 60 Kbs, I leave it to your attention: It is interesting, but
also in part duplicates item 3.
Orwell and the English language
item is an article by Bruno Waterfield on Will Self's recent attack on
Orwell as a writer:
starts as follows:
'This whole imbroglio is
epiphenomenal.’ I wonder what George Orwell would have made of this
statement of Will Self’s to describe the closure of the News of the
World amid mounting hysteria against press freedom a few years ago.
It was easy to snigger,
and many did, when Self, a self-styled sesquipedalian (look it up),
recently launched an attack on Orwell as a mediocre bigot who sought
to impose his own Big Brother authoritarianism on the use of the
English language. (...) Self’s diatribe against Orwell cannot easily be
dismissed as the defensive posturing of Britain’s most pretentious
media commentator. Unfortunately, though wildly inaccurate and
downright dishonest, Self’s arguments about Orwell epitomise the
evasions and malaise at the heart of contemporary liberal intellectual
Actually, I think
Self's attack on Orwell can be dismissed as "wildly inaccurate and downright dishonest", and in fact I did so when I read the
attack, and therefore also did not report it.
But this is a decent
defense of Orwell, that I leave to you.
I only want to
clarify here what I like and do not like about Orwell:
I really like
six books of his, I think, which already is a lot more than from other
writers I do like: "Homage to Catalonia", "Animal Farm" and the four
volumes of "The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George
I like these both
because of their ideas and because of their language, which in either
case is simple and very clear, and I liked them from my teens and
twenties onwards, since I had read all of these by then.
Anybody who rejects
these will - unless he is Will Self, who is quite unclear - reject it
mostly because he disagrees a lot with Orwell's ideas and values, and
not because of the language, for the language is both simple and very
Also, I read most but
not all of his other books, and while I liked some, such as "Down and
out in Paris and London", I did not much like his novels, apart from
"Animal Farm": They seem to miss the great directness and clarity of,
especially, Orwell's journalistic writing, and while I like
"Nineteen-eighty four" it is, when compard to "Animal Farm",
considerably less, I think also in Orwell's own opinion, and for his
kind of reasons: He was in fact dying when he revised it, and ill when
he wrote it.
But as a journalistic
writer, very few are better than Orwell, and not to be able to see this
shows considerable blindness, even if you disagree with Orwell's ideas
Street’s Lies Brought To Light In Court & The
item is not an article but a video of 7 m 57 s by The Young Turks:
the following explanation under it:
"The Tea Party
regards Barack Obama as a kind of devil figure, but when it comes to
hunting down the fraudsters responsible for the economic disaster of
the last six years, his administration has stuck pretty close to the
Tea Party script. The initial conservative reaction to the disaster,
you will recall, was to blame the crisis on the people at the bottom,
on minorities and proletarians lost in an orgy of financial
misbehavior. Sure enough, when taking on ordinary people who got loans
during the real-estate bubble, the president’s Department of Justice
has shown admirable devotion to duty, filing hundreds of mortgage-fraud
cases against small-timers.
the bankers have committed makor fraud, and it is indeed corporate
fraud, which is well explained by Bill Black here.
But high-ranking financiers?
Obama’s Department of Justice has thus far shown virtually no interest
in holding leading bankers criminally accountable for what went on in
the last decade. That is ruled out not only by the Too Big to Jail
doctrine that top-ranking Obama officials have hinted at, but also by
the same logic that inspires certain conservative thinkers—that
financiers simply could not have committed fraud, since you would
expect fraud to result in riches and instead so many banks went out of