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Nederlog


  September
17, 2014
Crisis: Scotland, Klein*2, Chomsky, Perpetual War, Equal Pay, Engelhardt
  "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.
How the media shafted the people of Scotland
2. Naomi Klein on the Great Clash Between Capitalism and
     the Climate

3. Naomi Klein: 'Ferocious Love' and the Climate Fight To
     Come

4. Noam Chomsky: Why Americans Know So Much About
     Sports But So Little About World Affairs

5. The Lost Logic of ‘Perpetual War’
6. Senate Republicans: No Pay Equity for Women
7. Power Drain

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, September 17. It is a
crisis log.

There are 7 items with 7 dotted links.

1. How the media shafted the people of Scotland

The first item is an article by George Monbiot on The Guardian:
This starts as  follows:

Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – that supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.

There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction, except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction, requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion. What distinguishes the independence campaign is that it has continued to prosper despite this assault.

I do not know whether the first paragraph is true, for I do not live in England, and the only English paper I follow daily is The Guardian, but I suspect it is more true than not.

In any case, in the next paragraph Monbiot starts explaining his first paragraph, and I must say his "nothing unusual" is a bit strange: For example, when did it start that "
almost the entire battery of salaried opinion" (journalism, in Great Britain) supported "market fundamentalism and planetary destruction", and nothing else, except, of course, their own financial well-being?

I really do not know. And I am rather willing to believe something like it, mostly because I know that (i) the free press has radically declined (also in Holland) - and by "the free press" I mean papers that are well written, that are foremost interested in reporting the truth, and that are written by a large staff of informed and capable journalists, and (ii) at least neo-liberalism (to pick a term, though I think the "liberalism" in the term is mistaken: either it should be "conservatism" or "libertarianism") has grown into a fairly important ideology - but it should be clear that it is an ideology, and is definitely not science.

But I don't know, and George Monbiot doesn't clearly explain. There is considerably more in the article, and while it may be true, I simply don't know, though I agree that the English press has been almost completely for "No" about Scotland.

2. Naomi Klein on the Great Clash Between Capitalism and the Climate

The next item is an article by Don Hazen and Jan Frel on AlterNet:

In fact, this is the first of two reviews of Naomi Klein's "This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate", that I have been told was published yesterday, of which the next review also follows the present one.

This one starts as follows:
Naomi Klein's new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs The Climate is coming out just as the UN is meeting on climate change, and a massive rally to protest the lack of progress on global warming is shaping up in Manhattan on Sunday. Klein is the author of The Shock Doctrine, one of the most influential books of the past 50 years. She sees her new book as the natural successor to The Shock Doctrine as she deepens her critique and insists we need to fundamentally rethink our approach to climate. The inconvenient truth about global warming is that it isn't really about carbon, but rather capitalism. Our economic model is waging war on the earth, and unless capitalism is dramatically changed, we are doomed. Yet Klein is no pessimist.
And this contains - at least - four statements I find puzzling.

First, "
we need to fundamentally rethink our approach to climate": Who is the "we"? How are "we" going to "fundamentally rethink"?

These are serious questions: I am convinced the climate poses very serious problems ever since the early 1970ies, but while I have two excellent university degrees, know more statistics than most, and also more mathematics and physics than most, I could not follow most of the science - but I do know much of what I read was a mixture of science and ideology, that in the end was mostly ideological. (As e.g. in "the flap of a butterfly's wing may cause enormous crises". [2])

My own answers are that it is extremely naive and misleading to state or propose that
"we" must be going to "fundamentally rethink" the climate.

Second, Naomi Klein seems to have discovered a truth that has been hidden 45 years: "
it isn't really about carbon, but rather capitalism". But to me that is baloney: Of course it was and is about capitalism! And that is not just me, but that accords with many others of the left. Here I could pose further questions, but instead move to the third puzzling statement:

Third, she claims that "
unless capitalism is dramatically changed, we are doomed". Here I note the following puzzling things: (i) that is rather clear to me since 45 years - and I am certainly not the only one. However (ii) one important problem is whether capitalism can be "dramatically changed" (and I think not, not as regards the climate, at least); (iii) another important question is whether the fundamental change in climate policies has to wait (mostly) till after capitalism is "dramatically changed" (I think yes - but who is going to "dramatically change" capitalism?!).

Fourth, we have the puzzling statement that "
Klein is no pessimist": It would seem to me that anyone must be a pessimist who concludes that "unless capitalism is dramatically changed, we are doomed": A "dramatical change" in capitalism must be a revolution; nearly all revolutions fail (even if they succeed: only very rarely is the original plan realized); and a revolution in capitalism is going to cause many millions to die.

In fact, this was just the first paragraph of a fairly long decent interview, that I will leave to you because none of the above questions were answered, and there also is another Naomi Klein piece coming up:


3. Naomi Klein: 'Ferocious Love' and the Climate Fight To Come 

The next item is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, and this is also the second item on Naomi Klein's new book, that I like less and less the more I read about it:
If there's a way to adequately condense the central tenet of Naomi Klein's new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, it's the observation that just as the rise of global greenhouse gas emissions coincided with the emergence of neoliberal globalization as the dominant economic paradigm in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, it's also possible that the growing and various social movements that have been building up to counter those dual forces are now converging at just the right moment to help save us from the destructive path humanity now walks.
Well... it is "possible" (But is it probable? More probable than 1/2?) that "dual forces are now converging at just the right moment", but how can we know? And is it not much like assuming "But in the end God will provide in His Wisdom for all of us", if we do assume, in fact on no grounds at all, that we are on "just the right moment to help save us"?!

Again, I have read all of Jon Queally's piece, but none of the above questions are answered. I also noticed that Naomi Klein, although she ranked 11th in "the top global intellectuals of 2005" (?!) she did not finish her degrees (although she was healthy), and that she is 20 years younger than I am; that she is the child of communist parents, as I am; but that she took a rather different road than the one I took.

Anyway - you now have had two reviews of Klein's latest book. They convinced me I don't need to read it, but yes: I know a whole lot about politics and it seems to me Klein's approach is different from my own.

4. Noam Chomsky: Why Americans Know So Much About Sports But So Little About World Affairs  

The next item is an article by Noam Chomsky on AlterNet, which in fact was taken from "The Chomsky Reader", that was first published in 1988:

This is here both because of the question and the person asking it. I start it with Chomsky's first answer:

CHOMSKY: Well, let me give an example. When I'm driving, I sometimes turn on the radio and I find very often that what I'm listening to is a discussion of sports. These are telephone conversations. People call in and have long and intricate discussions, and it's plain that quite a high degree of thought and analysis is going into that. People know a tremendous amount. They know all sorts of complicated details and enter into far-reaching discussion about whether the coach made the right decision yesterday and so on. These are ordinary people, not professionals, who are applying their intelligence and analytic skills in these areas and accumulating quite a lot of knowledge and, for all I know, understanding. On the other hand, when I hear people talk about, say, international affairs or domestic problems, it's at a level of superficiality that's beyond belief.

In part, this reaction may be due to my own areas of interest, but I think it's quite accurate, basically.

Yes, I agree mostly that this is a fact: Ordinary people, without much of an education, rather often do know quite a lot about sports.

But as I think that my explanation is different from Chomsky's, here is a little of my relevant  background:

My parents and grandparents were communists and anarchists, and were quite intelligent (e.g. both of my parents had IQs over 130, and my father was the head of the communist education in Amsterdam from 1950-1969) but they were not able to attend university, and they were definitely not intellectuals, although (unlike most of the people of their class and background) both spoke a relatively good ("posh") Dutch, and both read considerably more than most of the members of their class and background.

Also (and this is where the relevance enters) my parents and the grandparents I have known were quite able to discuss politics, and often did so, and did this also quite well, albeit always from a communist or anarchist point of view.

And here is my explanation for the fact that many ordinary men know rather a lot about sports, but not much about politics

There are several causes, one of which indeed is lack of interest, but the main cause is lack of intelligence. This seems to be quite impopular among "the left", but it is the only explanation that explains why my parents and their friends were quite capable and quite interested in discussing politics, and why those similar in background and education were not: my parents and their friends were quite simply considerably more intelligent than ordinary people normally are, and thus could easily deal with abstractions that less intelligent people find quite difficult to deal with.

Please note that I do have a real proletarian background, quite poor also, and most discussing politics do not. And most who do discuss politics, normally basically because they are at least middle class and university educated, have also deeply committed themselves to the false belief that "everybody is equal" (which they themselves should not believe, since they earn more and are better educated than the great majority, but believe so nevertheless, it seems from mistaking "is" and "ought to be" and mistaking "equality of all" and "equality in law").

In any case, Noam Chomsky does not appear to see it as I do (and indeed his parents were intellectuals).

Here are the last question plus answer - and I corrected "dissidence" to "dissonance":

QUESTION: You have said that most intellectuals end up obfuscating reality. Do they understand the reality they are obfuscating? Do they understand the social processes they mystify?

CHOMSKY: Most people are not liars. They can't tolerate too much cognitive dissonance. I don't want to deny that there are outright liars, just brazen propagandists. You can find them in journalism and in the academic professions as well. But I don't think that's the norm. The norm is obedience, adoption of uncritical attitudes, taking the easy path of self-deception. I think there's also a selective process in the academic professions and journalism. That is, people who are independent minded and cannot be trusted to be obedient don't make it, by and large. They're often filtered out along the way.

I agree that "most intellectuals end up obfuscating reality" and I more or less agree that "[m]ost people are not liars" - but the conflict isn't just between lying and speaking the truth: it is between speaking the truth, lying and various kinds of hypocrisy, intentional ignorance, cowardliness, self-interest, chosen silence, and (self-)deception.

And I met enormous amounts of hypocrisy, intentional ignorance (looking away, wanting not to know), cowardliness, self-interest, chosen silence and (self-)deception in the University of Amsterdam, from which I was removed briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy [3], apparently simply because I tried to speak the truth in a university where THE main teaching to all students was, from 1978-1995, that "everybody knows that truth does not exist" [4] - which in fact almost no one believed, while almost everyone pretended to believe it, because that was the condition for becoming a faculty member, which was very well paid, and was normally for life (in the 1970ies).

So indeed I did not make it, but not out of lack of talent, but because of major opposition of morally and intellectually completely dead "academic philosophers" (who never published anything of any value, while earning more than 15 times as much as I did).

Also, while I had an M.A. in psychology with only A's, I was denied the right of taking the Ph.D., by denying me 10 euros a week to help me clean the house I lived in, by the mayor of Amsterdam Job Cohen, whose "answer" was that in case I needed anything, I should go to the Salvation Army.

5. The Lost Logic of ‘Perpetual War’

The next item is an article by Nat Parry on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

Officials in Washington are inadvertently providing some insight into the strange logic of their nebulous war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, in contradictory and puerile statements about whether the military action should be called a war, or perhaps something else.

Backtracking on an earlier statement that the action against ISIS is simply a “counterterrorism operation,” Secretary of State John Kerry clarified in an interview on Sunday that it is, in fact, a “war.”

“In terms of al-Qaeda, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah, we are at war with al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” Kerry said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”

“And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense. But I think it’s a waste of time to focus on that,” Kerry said, adding that there’s “kind of tortured debate going on about terminology.”

There is a considerable amount more, but this is all that I am going to need, for I do not think that the question whether military action is to be called war is "puerile".

In fact, it is quite essential to be unclear about the terminology: Kerry wants all the advantages he can get doing "war", except that he does not want to call it "war", mostly because if he does that, there may be serious troubles with Congress (that should have the say so in declarations of war) and with the United Nations, that has lots of laws relating to war.

So for me Kerry is just lying, as is Obama: They want to fight a war without calling it a war, because that way they can do it on their own.

6. Senate Republicans: No Pay Equity for Women 

The next item is an article by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

I suppose that I am mostly not a (modern) feminist, and my main reason is that all the feminism I have seen since the Sixties were heavily ideological movements with lots of wishful thinking and little realism, that also, in so far as it met my eyes, was almost only done by Dutch female intellectuals who were either quasi-marxist or postmodernistic in basic orientation and outlook, and who were in fact mostly out to advance themselves or their quite small class of similar female intellectuals.

But I like women, I like Mary Wollstonecraft and Emma Goldman, and I never saw any good reason why a woman should earn less than a man for the same job. And in fact that seems to have been the basic demand with which feminism started in the Sixties, since when there have been at least two more so-called "feminist waves" (which in Holland coincided with a quasi-marxist and a postmodernistic wave).

Well, here is Democratic leader Harry Reid:

"In 2014, more than 50 years after the passage of the Equal Pay Act, it is simply unacceptable that American women take home on average 77 cents for every dollar their male colleagues earn for doing the same work. But Republicans do not see this as a problem."

The reason to quote Democratic leader Reid is that the Republicans have blocked for the second time this year the Paycheck Fairness Act to move forward. And indeed it is easy to see why:

“Not only is the wage gap in our country unfair, but it also hurts our economy. Pay inequality will cost the average working woman $464,320 over her lifetime," Reid stated."

I do not know that number is correct, but something like it will be, and as almost half of the labor force in the U.S. is female, yes: Paying them 77 cents for every 100 cents paid to males, means an enormous economic advantage to the bosses, the rich, and the managers.

7. Power Drain

The next item is an article by Tom Engelhardt on tomdispatch:

The main reason Tom Engelhardt wrote this article is that he has just published a new book, with a foreword by Glenn Greenwald. Here is a review of it by Noam Chomsky:

“In his regular, incisive, and often searing columns, Tom Engelhardt has uncovered layer after layer of deceit, fraud, and distortion to reveal to us harsh truths about power and its exercise that we must comprehend, and resist, and reverse, if there is to be any hope of decent survival. Shadow Government is essential reading.”

I haven't read the book, but Chomsky usually makes sense.

---------------------------------

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] Here my underlying point is that if "the flap of a butterfly's wing may cause enormous crises" is both true and fairly probable, that is the end of much of climatology, since the outcome depends essentially on chance, and if not then either it is a hoax or something quite improbable.

[3] Let me note again that those who removed me knew I was ill; knew I was the child and grandchild of two Dutch communist heroes of the resistance; and knew that my father was a prominent communist - but nevertheless removed me as the only person ever to be removed from a Dutch university since WW II because of his publicly outspoken opinions, and namely because that was precisely the reason the Board of Directors of the University of Amsterdam, who also knew I was one of their few opponents, supported my removal, and did not deny I was "a fascist" and "a terrorist" (which in fact was an insane, crazy, and cruel slur).

As an aside: This is also the reason why I ended up as an M.A. in psychology: I also had studied that, and also had a B.A. in that, and I wanted an M.A.

[4] Yes it was. Here are the three theses that were taught everywhere in the University of Amsterdam from 1978-1995:
  • everybody knows truth does not exist
  • everybody knows everybody is equivalent
  • everybody knows all morals are completely relative
This are as anti-intellectual and as pro-authoritarian bullshit theses as I ever knew - but these were the goodies every student of the University of Amsterdam was taught, and nearly all believed:

From the first, no one could refute them; from the second, no one was any better than they were themselves; and from the third, socialism - that existed until 1989, and after in China - was at least as good as cvapitalism, and certainly not worse.

These consequences also were the reasons these theses were very widely embraced, by students and academic professionals in the University of Amsterdam between 1978 and 1995. (And since then, the universities have been halved in years required to take a degree in Holland, which now is possible for nearly anyone with an IQ of 105: "
everybody knows everybody is equivalent". Progress!).


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)



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