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. How Much Surveillance
Can Democracy Withstand?
3. The Next Crisis – Part
4. Syria Becomes the 7th
Predominantly Muslim Country
Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace
5. Ian Martin on Labour: ‘I
can’t remember a more
6. Why Are We Bombing Syria?
This is a Nederlog of Wednesday,
September 24. It is a crisis log.
This crisis log is also a bit more theoretical than most others, which
I like, but may not be to everyone's taste.
In any case, the first item is by Richard Stallman, and is quite good
and quite long; the second is by Chris Hedges, also good; and the third
is by Golem XIV, on the present and the next crisis, with some
interesting facts and figures, and all three are a bit more theoretical
than is normal (but quite interesting, I think).
The other three articles are less theoretical and are on Syria (twice,
once by Glenn Greenwald, once by Denis Kucinich), and on the British
Labour party, which for me has finished already since Tony Blair in
1997, and as it seems to have now for Ian Martin.
1. How Much Surveillance Can Democracy
item is an article by Richard Stallman on Gnu:
I wish I had read this
sooner, since the original is from October 2013, but that is just my
mistake. Anyway, here goes - and as this is a pretty fundamental
article, I will copy a lot of it. I will not copy all, and you are
recommended to read it all by clicking the above dotted link.
Quite so. Also,
Address was delivered in 1863, and ends with this statement (as
quoted on Wikipedia):
Thanks to Edward
Snowden's disclosures, we know that the current
level of general surveillance in society is incompatible with human
rights. The repeated harassment and prosecution of dissidents,
sources, and journalists in the US and elsewhere provides
confirmation. We need to reduce the level of general surveillance,
but how far? Where exactly is the maximum tolerable level of
surveillance, which we
is not exceeded? It is the level beyond which surveillance starts to
interfere with the functioning of democracy, in that whistleblowers
(such as Snowden) are likely to be caught.
Faced with government
secrecy, we the people depend on
us what the state is doing. However, today's surveillance
intimidates potential whistleblowers, which means it is too much. To
recover our democratic control over the state, we must reduce
surveillance to the point where whistleblowers know they are safe.
It is rather for
us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from
these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve
that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under
God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the
people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
As is, there is no
"government of the people,
by the people, for the people"
in the U.S.: Most senators are mllionaires, and the whole House listens
to thousands of lobbyists far more than they listen to "the
people", who indeed cannot pay the sums the rich 1% can
pay to have their political desires gratified.
And since money is in
politics, and since corporations have human rights, that is what the
government is of, and by, and for: Of the corporations, by the
corporations, for the corporations.
But then the government must be returned to the people, and the
criterion Richard Stallman proposes is a sound one: The people must
know what the state is doing, and if they cannot, the state has ceased
to be a democracy.
Next, there is this:
don't dare reveal crimes and lies, we lose the
last shred of effective control over our government and institutions.
That's why surveillance that enables the state to find out who has
talked with a reporter is too much surveillance—too much for
democracy to endure.
Yes, indeed - and that
is the fundamental importance of whistleblowers, and the reason Obama
is so much against them: They tell the truth about his government.
Then there is this (and I am skipping, trying to take only the
Yes, precisely. Next,
there is this:
Surveillance data will
always be used for other purposes, even if
this is prohibited. Once the data has been accumulated and the state
has the possibility of access to it, it can misuse that data in
dreadful ways, as shown by examples
Total surveillance plus
vague law provides an opening for a massive
fishing expedition against any desired target. To make journalism and
democracy safe, we must limit the accumulation of data that is easily
accessible to the state.
Again, quite so, and
these indeed are things you can do yourself. And there is this:
To have privacy, you must
not throw it away: the first one who has
to protect your privacy is you. Avoid identifying yourself to web
sites, contact them with Tor, and use browsers that block the schemes
they use to track visitors. Use the GNU Privacy Guard to encrypt the
contents of your email. Pay for things with cash.
Keep your own data; don't
store your data in a company's
Indeed. Since I switched to
Ubuntu, I have used Windows only two times, and never connected to the
internet. It is quite possible (though I know Ubuntu does not satisfy
all Stallman's rules) to avoid nonfree (open source) software, and with
Ubuntu I also got more possibilities, also all for free, than I
had on MS Windows.
For privacy's sake, you
must avoid nonfree software since, as a
consequence of giving others control of your computing, it
as a software substitute; as well as giving others control of your
computing, it requires you to hand over all the pertinent data to the
Protect your friends' and
give out their personal information except how to contact them,
and never give any web site your list of email or phone contacts.
Next, there is this principle:
If we don't want a
total surveillance society, we must consider
surveillance a kind of social pollution, and limit the surveillance
impact of each new digital system just as we limit the environmental
impact of physical construction.
Yes, I like this: surveillance
is social pollution, and must be limited as much as is both possible
and reasonable - which is very far less than is allowed now
the governments and many internet corporations.
And there is also this principle:
privacy, we should
ban the use of Internet-connected cameras aimed where and when the
public is admitted, except when carried by people.
Then there is this fundamental principle:
The goal of making
journalism and democracy safe therefore requires
that we reduce the data collected about people by any organization,
not just by the state. We must redesign digital systems so that they
do not accumulate data about their users. If they need digital data
about our transactions, they should not be allowed to keep them more
than a short time beyond what is inherently necessary for their
dealings with us.
Yes, indeed - and this is the
condition of freedom: A free people does not
oversight or surveillance, except in special legal situations,
stated by the Fourth Amendment.
And a people that tolerates that it is
oversighted and surveilled,
is no longer free.
There is this on smart
Many mass transit systems
use some kind of smart cards or RFIDs for
payment. These systems accumulate personal data: if you once make the
mistake of paying with anything but cash, they associate the card
permanently with your name. Furthermore, they record all travel
associated with each card. Together they amount to massive
surveillance. This data collection must be reduced.
I agree. And there is this
on internet providers and telephone companies:
Quite so - and indeed that is
again a matter of principle: A free people has the
right not to be
monitored; a people that is monitored is not free.
providers and telephone companies keep extensive
data on their users' contacts (browsing, phone calls, etc). With
mobile phones, they
the user's physical location. They keep these dossiers for a long
time: over 30 years, in the case of AT&T. Soon they will
the user's body activities. It appears that
collects cell phone location data in bulk.
is impossible where systems create such
dossiers. So it should be illegal to create or keep them. ISPs and
phone companies must not be allowed to keep this information for very
long, in the absence of a court order to surveil a certain party.
There is this, in application:
For the state to
find criminals, it needs to be able to investigate
specific crimes, or specific suspected planned crimes, under a court
order. With the Internet, the power to tap phone conversations would
naturally extend to the power to tap Internet connections. This power
is easy to abuse for political reasons, but it is also necessary.
Fortunately, this won't make it possible to find whistleblowers after
the fact, if (as I recommend) we prevent digital systems from
massive dossiers before the fact.
Quite so: In fact, the only
personal dossiers that should be allowed are those overseen by a public
judge, for reasons as given in the Fourth Amendment. That is democratic; what is more than this
is not democratic, but is - at least - authoritarian.
Next, there is this,
that again is quite fundamental:
are not people, and not entitled to human rights. It is
legitimate to require businesses to publish the details of processes
that might cause chemical, biological, nuclear, fiscal, computational
(e.g., DRM) or political
(e.g., lobbying) hazards to society, to whatever level is needed for
public well-being. The danger of these operations (consider the BP
oil spill, the Fukushima meltdowns, and the 2008 fiscal crisis) dwarfs
that of terrorism.
However, journalism must
be protected from surveillance even when
it is carried out as part of a business.
Finally, there is
Quite so - and as long
as people are surveilled as they are now, what they will get, probably
a lot sooner than they realize, is a country that is much more
like the Soviet Union and East Germany than it is like the U.S. until
Digital technology has
brought about a tremendous increase in the
level of surveillance of our movements, actions, and communications.
It is far more than we experienced in the 1990s,
more than people behind the Iron Curtain experienced in the 1980s,
and would still be far more even with additional legal limits on state
use of the accumulated data.
Unless we believe that
our free countries previously suffered from
a grave surveillance deficit, and ought to be surveilled more than the
Soviet Union and East Germany were, we must reverse this increase.
That requires stopping the accumulation of big data about people.
As I said, this is a really good article, and I recommend you read all
of it, by clicking the first dotted link.
item is an article by Chris Hedges on AlterNet:
It turned out that this
is mostly the rough text for Hedges' "The Coming
Climate Revolt" that I reviewed yesterday. But since I liked most of
it and my one major disagreement may be due to my not living in the
U.S., and also since there is not much in journalism that I like, here
are three quotes.
First, on the present political situation in the U.S.:
Second, on Bill Clinton,
Bush Jr. and Obama:
We are governed, rather,
by a species of corporate totalitarianism, or what the political
philosopher Sheldon Wolin describes as “inverted
totalitarianism.” By this Wolin means a system where corporate
power, while it purports to pay fealty to electoral politics, the
Constitution, the three branches of government and a free press, along
with the iconography and language of American patriotism, has in fact
seized all the important levers of power to render the citizen
The old liberal class, the
safety valve that addressed grievances and injustices in times of
economic or political distress, has been neutered. There are
self-identified liberals, including Barack Obama, who continue to speak
in the old language of liberalism but serve corporate power. This has
been true since the Clinton administration.
By the time
Clinton was done the rhetoric of self-professed liberals was a public
relations game. This is why there is continuity from the Bush
administration to the Obama administration. Obama’s election did
nothing to halt the expanding assault on civil liberties—in fact
Obama’s assault has been worse—the Bush bailouts of big banks, the
endless imperial wars, the failure to regulate Wall Street, the hiring
of corporate lobbyists to write legislation and serve in top government
positions, the explosion of drilling and fracking,
the security and surveillance state as well as the persecution of
Incidentally, as to how
Clinton (and Blair, and Wim Kok and others) operated: See the Third Way (<-
Wikipedia), and indeed "the third way" is one of the great examples of intentional
- and here is Bill Black on it, also from the Third Way:
William K. Black said that "Third Way is
this group that pretends sometimes to be center-left but is actually
completely a creation of Wall Street--it's run by Wall Street for Wall
Street with this false flag operation as if it were a center-left
group. It's nothing of the sort."
Quite so. Finally, on
Party speaks to us “rationally.” The party says it seeks to protect
civil liberties, regulate Wall Street, is concerned about the plight of
the working class and wants to institute reforms to address climate
change. But in all these areas, and many more, it has, like its
Republican counterpart, repeatedly sold out the citizenry for corporate
power and corporate profits (...)
Yes, indeed - or more
precisely: The "plight of
the working class and (..)
reforms to address
climate chang" like their
stated desires "to protect
civil liberties" and "regulate Wall Street" are - it may be said after six years which
saw the continued exploitation of the working class, no
climate change, many destroyed civil liberties, and a totally
deregulated Wall Street that can do as it pleases - just the
leftist sounding propaganda
by which the rightist Democratic political leaders flimflam
3. The Next Crisis – Part one
item is an article by Golem XIV on his site:
This starts as
The present global
financial ‘crisis’ began in 2007-8. It is not nearly over. And that
simple fact is a problem. Not because of the life-choking misery it
inflicts on the lives of millions who had no part in its creation, but
because the chances of another crisis beginning before this one ends,
Yes - both parts are
correct: The crisis continues, and indeed it very well may be followed
by another crisis. (Indeed it will: the only question is when.)
Then a number of crises are listed, which leads to this conclusion:
America has had a
major home-brewed financial crisis every ten years. If you consider
that none of these events happened in isolation nor limited their
effects to the country of origin then we have to conclude that the
global financial system is prone to crises. You can, if you see
the world through resolutely libertarian glasses, blame everything on interfering governments
– it matters little. The fact remains that the system as is, is
unstable and run by the myopic, the greedy and the corrupt.
Well...yes and no: Since
Roosevelt the crises that have occurred did not have
consequences or a world wide extent; but since Clinton deregulated the
banks, the crisis of
2008 was world wide and had enormous consequences.
To see the
consequences of bailing out the banks, all with tax money from the
ordinary people, here are the official figures of the European
Union, where the green bars are debts as percentages of the GDP before
the banks were bailed out, and the blue bars the percentages of the GDP after the banks were bailed out:
This is a very interesting statistic - but
the matters it charts are often lied about:
almost doubled and again the ONLY thing that happened was bailing out
the banks. The government claims that UK public debt was out of control
due to spending on public services is just WRONG. UK government debt
against GDP had not gone up in 7 years. Then when we bailed out the
banks it nearly doubled. That is the fact as opposed to the propaganda
of what happened and why.
And this is on the moral integrity and
honesty of nearly all European politicians, left, right and center:
explosion of European sovereign debt is the direct and indisputable
result of all our political parties deciding they would safeguard their
mates’ and their own personal wealth (it is the top 10% who hold the
bulk of their wealth in the financial products which would be destroyed
in a bank collapse. NOT the rest of us!) by bailing out the private
banks and piling their unpaid debts on to the public purse.
There is considerably more - and I
recommend you read the original - but there also is a part two, that I
will deal with tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.
Becomes the 7th Predominantly Muslim Country Bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace
item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as
The U.S. today
began bombing targets inside Syria, in concert with its lovely and
inspiring group of five allied regimes: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United
Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Jordan.
That means that Syria
becomes the 7th predominantly Muslim country bombed by 2009 Nobel Peace
Laureate Barack Obama—after Afghanistan,
The utter lack of
interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is
telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for
whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya even after
explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few
people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional
constraints are not for warriors and emperors).
indeed - and Obama's reasons do not matter: what matters is the
Constitution, and Greenwald is quite right that (1) the Constitution
got betrayed while (2) very few seem to have minded that, in
their hysteria - I quote a Fox anchor, on ISIS - to "Bomb them! Bomb
them! Bomb them!"
Then there is this, which I think is also correct:
Six weeks of bombing hasn’t
budged ISIS in Iraq, but it has caused ISIS
recruitment to soar. That’s all predictable: the U.S. has known for years
that what fuels and strengthens anti-American sentiment (and thus
anti-American extremism) is exactly what they keep doing: aggression in
that region. If you know that, then they know that. At this point, it’s
more rational to say they do all of this not despite triggering
those outcomes, but because of it. Continuously creating and
strengthening enemies is a feature, not a bug. It is what justifies the
ongoing greasing of the profitable and power-vesting machine of Endless
Yes, for on every bomb made
and every bomb thrown a profit is made. Now that may not matter
much if the U.S. is directly attacked, but it matters a lot if the
countries that are bombed do not attack the U.S. - and they don't.
And then it is quite
reasonable to ask: If it is not to protect the U.S., who profits from
all the bombing? (The answer is, in general terms: The military-industrial
complex, and you should read that Wikipedia lemma if you haven't
done so already.)
Martin on Labour: ‘I can’t remember a more spineless
next item is an article by Ian Martin on The Guardian:
This is British, and I will leave it to you, although I
have two remarks.
First, I've never pined for a political party,
basically because I only was a member for two years of the Dutch
Communist Party, from 1968-1970, which I became a member of not
because I liked it (I did not), but because of a girl I very
much loved, who also was the daughter of a party leader (but she did
not want me, and I decided communism was totalitarian and mistaken -
and yes: the two events were quite unrelated).
Since then, I stopped voting as soon as I legally
could, in 1971, and the main reason for that, and its continuance to
this day, is the appalling level of the politicians of all
parties (and yes, I have a very high IQ and an excellent M.A. and B.A.:
it is not because I am stupid or ignorant).
Second, as to the appalling level of politicians:
I think the Labour Party these days can be honestly
described as a top level of deceivers, who all dream of being Tony
Blairs, and getting 60 million pounds like him, and who standardly lie
and deceive; a middle level of activists, who hope to join the ranks of
the deceivers, although here and there there may be a - fairly to very
stupid - mostly honest one among them; and a lower level of voters, who
believe the bullshit, lies, deceptions, evasions, and the incredible
amounts of double talk they are served by the first level, and who get
deceived and used.
Also, in case you consider me "a cynic": My judgement
on the Labour Party would have been different before Tony Blair
gutted it, and made it an instrument for his own career. When he said,
in May 1997, after winning the elections "It's a new dawn!" what he
meant was: In 10 years I am going to have 60 million pounds - and he
did, and nearly everyone who voted for him got poorer.
6. Why Are
We Bombing Syria?
The final item today is an article by Denis Kucinich
(<- Wikipedia) that I found on Truthdig, but that originated on the
This starts as follows:
response to the conjunction of this weekend’s People’s Climate March
and the International Day of Peace?
1) Bomb Syria the
following day, to wrest control of the oil from ISIS which gained its
foothold directly in the region through the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar,
Turkey and Jordan funding and arming ISIS’ predecessors in Syria.
2) Send the president to
UN General Assembly, where he will inevitably give a rousing speech
about climate and peace, while the destruction of the environment and
the shattering of world peace is on full display 5,000 miles away.
Indeed - the acts contrasted with the phony rhetorics
of power. There is also this:
Last week Congress acted
prematurely in funding a war without following the proscriptions of
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. (The day of the vote, I
urged Congress to resist this dangerous and misguided legislation.)
But even while the funding was given, the explicit authorization to go
to war was not. To authorize a war, Congress must vote for war. It has
not done that yet.
To sell its case, the
administration is borrowing from the fear mongering tactics of the Bush
administration. ISIS poses no direct, immediate threat to the United
White House even said so yesterday, just hours before bombing
commenced - yet we are being sold make-believe about ISIS sleeper
This attack on Syria,
under the guise of striking ISIS, is by definition, a war of
aggression. It is a violation of international law. It could lead to
crimes against humanity and the deaths of untold numbers of innocent
civilians. No amount of public relations or smooth talking can change
And yes, members of this
Democratic administration, including the president who executed this
policy, must be held accountable by the International Criminal Court
and by the American people, who he serves.
Yes - although I
believe that the chances that Obama appears before the International Criminal Court are even less
than that Kissinger does. But indeed he did break the Constitution that
he pledged to uphold, and he started wars he had no right to start.
Here is the last paragraph
The American people, who
in 2008 searched for something redemptive after years of George W.
Bush’s war, realize in 2014 that hope and change was but a clever
slogan. It was used to gain power and to keep it through promoting
fear, war, the growth of the National Security state, and an autumnal
bonfire of countless billions of tax dollars which fall like leaves
from money trees on the banks of the Potomac.
Incidentally, Kucinich was a presidential candidate in 2008. It may be
look at what he proposed, but indeed he was defeated by Obama.
 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
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
from is quite pertinent.)
(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: