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. The Myth of the Free
Seizes Money From Guiltless Americans on Mere
3. Why Do Banks Want Our
Deposits? Hint: It’s Not to Make
4. Why income inequality is
America’s biggest (and most
5. Can Capitalism Co-exist
This is a Nederlog of Monday, October 27. It is a crisis log.
There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a
fine article by Chris Hedges on "the free press" (mostly dead, in the
main media); item 2 is in fact about the corruption
of the law and enrichment of the police or state bureaucracies; item 3 is about banks; item 4 is
about income inequality (which I think should be the main political
end, that is: to make them less by taxing the rich more); while item 5 points out, quite correctly, that "capitalism"
is - at least - ambiguous.
The Myth of the Free Press
item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Actually, I do not know
whether the first paragraph is true: I did see “All the President’s Men”, but that was in
the nineteenseventies, and it was a forgettable film - I merely
remember to have seen it. And I didn't see “Kill the Messenger”,
There is more truth about
American journalism in the film “Kill the Messenger,” which chronicles
the mainstream media’s discrediting of the work of the investigative
journalist Gary Webb, than there is in the movie “All the President’s
Men,” which celebrates the exploits of the reporters who uncovered the
The mass media blindly
support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the
myth of American democracy—even as we are stripped of civil liberties
and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall
Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They
slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of
patriotism. They select the specialists and experts, almost always
drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain
policy. They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations,
for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity
gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass
media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses.
The corporations, which own the press, hire journalists willing to be
courtiers to the elites, and they promote them as celebrities. These
journalistic courtiers, who can earn millions of dollars, are invited
into the inner circles of power. They are, as John Ralston Saul
writes, hedonists of power.
so I can't really judge -
except that, having read a fair amount from and about Chris Hedges, I guess
he is right. 
As to the second paragraph: I think it is quite true, and indeed have
seen the same development in Holland - and please note Hedges is
talking about the mass media, and not the rest: There
still are some good journalists and there still is good journalism, but
indeed rarely in the mass media, which do "inform" most ordinary people
and so do mostly by misleading them, if only
by the selections they offer, and those they choose not to show.
The rest of Hedges' page 1 is mostly concerned with Gary Webb, who was
a brave journalist who uncovered the CIA's complicity in smuggling tons
of cocaine to fund the CIA-backed contra-rebels, and then was
driven to suicide in 2004 by his "journalistic" "peers". I believe the
story, but skip it: You can read it under the last dotted link.
But on page 2 Hedges is back with criticism of the present mass media:
The mass media are
plagued by the same mediocrity, corporatism and careerism as the
academy, labor unions, the arts, the Democratic Party and religious
institutions. They cling to the self-serving mantra of impartiality and
objectivity to justify their subservience to power. The press writes
and speaks—unlike academics that chatter among themselves in arcane
jargon like medieval theologians—to be heard and understood by the
public. And for this reason the press is more powerful and more closely
controlled by the state. It plays an essential role in the
dissemination of official propaganda.
Yes, though I would have
put it differently, although I agree that an important part of the
present dysfunctioning of the media and the universities is
that only mediocre conformists
are offered promotions and chances, which is definitely
true for the universities in the studies I know about (psychology,
philosophy, sociology, at least).
He also mentions one of my sociological favorites C. Wright Mills
(because he could really think, he could really write, and he had real
courage: three characteristics that are each pretty rare among
academics, especially these conformistic
The mass media, as
Wright Mills pointed out, are essential tools for conformity. They
impart to readers and viewers their sense of themselves. They tell them
who they are. They tell them what their aspirations should be. They
promise to help them achieve these aspirations. They offer a variety of
techniques, advice and schemes that promise personal and professional
success. The mass media, as Wright wrote, exist primarily to help
citizens feel they are successful and that they have met their
aspirations even if they have not. They use language and images to
manipulate and form opinions, not to foster genuine democratic debate
and conversation or to open up public space for free political action
and public deliberation. We are transformed into passive spectators of
power by the mass media, which decide for us what is true and what is
untrue, what is legitimate and what is not. Truth is not something we
discover. It is decreed by the organs of mass communication.
That is mostly true, but
requires two remarks: First, C. Wright Mills died in 1962. He did not
write about today's media, though what he wrote mostly applies to them
as well. (And the last link, in the above paragraph, is good and
interesting - and yes, I read nearly everything Mills published, long
ago, also.) This is mostly to fix perspectives, but the second remark I
have is quite fundamental:
Second, the mass media write especially for the dumber half of
the population, that is, those with IQs maximally 100, but who indeed
make up half of the population. These people rarely read books,
and the books they do read are not demanding, and usually also are
neither science nor high literature. And they form the majority in any
country: convince them, and you have virtually won the elections. 
Thus the real role of the mass media is this - and mind this is rather
independent of the question whether the press is free:
Bridging the vast
gap between the idealized identities—ones that in a commodity culture
revolve around the acquisition of status, money, fame and power, or at
least the illusion of it—and actual identities is the primary function
of the mass media. And catering to these idealized identities, largely
implanted by advertisers and the corporate culture, can be very
profitable. We are given not what we need but what we want. The mass
media allow us to escape into the enticing world of entertainment and
But - as things are
- only because "we" want it, which indeed "we" do, for the most part,
if only because "we" are not intelligent enough or have to work to hard
to read good books that might give us good and sensible ideas.
Next, we arrive at the most important paragraph:
At the core of
this pseudo-world is the myth that our national institutions, including
those of government, the military and finance, are efficient and
virtuous, that we can trust them and that their intentions are good.
These institutions can be criticized for excesses and abuses, but they
cannot be assailed as being hostile to democracy and the common good.
They cannot be exposed as criminal enterprises, at least if one hopes
to retain a voice in the mass media.
Yes, indeed - and the
main point is the last statement:
The main dogma is "that
our national institutions, including those of government, the military
and finance, are efficient and virtuous", and the main implication
is that anyone who says or gives evidence they are not, cannot
be "virtuous" and deserves no hearing, reading or seeing. And
indeed they will mostly not get it. 
There is considerably more under the last dotted link, and I think you
should read all of it.
Seizes Money From Guiltless Americans on Mere Suspicion
item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig!:
This is here mostly
because it shows how the organs of the law are turning into organs of
theft and self-enrichment, both in the US and in Holland, although so
far (!) the mechanisms differ.
Here is the beginning
of the article that sketches the American situation, in one respect:
A controversial area of
law known as civil asset forfeiture empowers the IRS to confiscate
significant sums of money from “run-of-the-mill business owners and
wage earners without so much as an allegation” and “without ever filing
a criminal complaint,” leaving the owners “to prove they are innocent,”
The New York Times reports.
The law’s stated purpose
is to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking
their finances, the paper explains. But enforcement officers have
instead “swept up dairy farmers in Maryland, an Army sergeant in
Virginia saving for his children’s college education,” and other
guiltless Americans of modest incomes.
The point is that the
police currently can appropriate "significant sums of money" without any judicial process, merely
on the basis of some allegation,
after which those whose assets have been stolen have to prove they are
I do not think that
happens in Holland at present, but something else from the American
"practice of the law" has passed to Holland:
The clearing of big
corporations of all guilt, all responsibility for grave
crimes, and the freeing those responsible of having to appear in court
if only they hand over a part of their vast gains to the prosecuters of
That is the essence
of corruption - "You make millions by crime? Go ahead - we legal
bureaucrats will free you from all responsibility... for part of the
loot" - and it is now (and since a decade) widely practiced in
Do Banks Want Our Deposits? Hint: It’s Not to Make Loans
item is an article by Ellen Brown (<-
Wikipedia) that I found on Truthdig, but first appeared on Brown's Web
Note this is about the American
banks. Although I also do not get any interest (which
caused me to remove money from "my bank": I still have it if they go
broke) in Holland, I think the Dutch and European banks still work
The question is a good one -
and because I do not get any interest, I removed most of the money from
the bank, on the theory that it is far more likely to go broke
while I then have the money, than that I loose the money - and the
answer is that this simply is the cheapest way to get money
(and the banks do not pay their customers any interest).
Many authorities have
said it: banks do not lend their deposits. They create the money they
lend on their books.
Robert B. Anderson,
Treasury Secretary under Eisenhower, said it in 1959:
The Bank of England said it
in the spring of 2014, writing in its quarterly
When a bank makes a
loan, it simply adds to the borrower’s deposit account in the bank by
the amount of the loan. The money is not taken from anyone else’s
deposits; it was not previously paid in to the bank by anyone. It’s new
money, created by the bank for the use of the borrower.
All of which leaves us to
wonder: If banks do not lend their depositors’ money, why are they
always scrambling to get it? Banks advertise to attract depositors, and
they pay interest on the funds. What good are our deposits to the bank?
The reality of how
money is created today differs from the description found in some
economics textbooks: Rather than banks receiving deposits when
households save and then lending them out, bank lending creates
. . . Whenever a bank
makes a loan, it simultaneously creates a matching deposit in the
borrower’s bank account, thereby creating new money.
The rest of the article explains this and touts the advantages of
public banks, which I agree to but leave to your interests.
income inequality is America’s biggest (and most difficult) problem
item is an article by Sean McElwee on Salon:
This starts as follows:
I agree, indeed for the
stated reason: The few rich have appropriated a vast amount of
wealth over the last 40 years of deregulation, and they will neither
consent to more regulation nor to higher taxes.
Bold prediction: Rising
inequality of income and wealth will be the most important political
battleground over the next few decades.
Just take a look at the
figures. The share of income accruing
to the top 1 percent increased from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in
2011. The richest 0.1 percent controlled
7 percent of the wealth in 1979 and 22 percent of the wealth in 2012.
Meanwhile, there are a number of studies out there showing that the
most effective way to reduce this inequality would be higher taxes on
income and wealth, but the rich won’t let it happen.
And in fact I agree with more than is said in the article,
which I will leave to your interests:
It seems to me that income inequality must be the main
point of political contention, much rather than - say - the climate,
simply because 99% of the Americans are loosing money, and know
they are, and agree for at least 80%
that income inequality should be much less than it is.
This is a theme on which it should be easy to get a majority, indeed
quite possibly in spite of the millions the Koch brothers and others
spend on lying for the rich, simply because 99% know they get
less money and do more work.
Co-exist With Democracy?
item is an article by Don Quijones on Raging Bull-Shit:
In fact, the question
has an obvious answer: "Of course it can" - but that is not Don
Quijones point. His point is this, and relates quite explicitly to the
series of interviews that Chris Hedges had with Sheldon Wolin, that was
an item in yesterday's NL:
At least in the
segments I’ve seen, there’s a tendency for Hedges and Wolin to describe
“capitalism” as if it were unitary, when in fact it comes in different
flavors. For instance, Michael Hudson has depicted the German
industrial capital model versus the English (and now American) finance
driven capitalism. The Japanese variant of capitalism even now places
creating and preserving employment as a much more important goal than
Yes, indeed. In fact, I
distinguish between regulated capitalism, that may also be
regulated in different ways, and unregulated
capitalism, that now comes more and more to the fore in the U.S.
and England, and also elsewhere.
I think the distinction is a good and a sound one, also because it
explains how unregulated capitalism succeeded in further enriching the
rich few, at the cost of the poor many, and because it suggests
remedies that are known to work and to be feasible : Regulate the economy and tax the rich more.
Finally, not only is "capitalism" an ambiguous term: "democracy" is as
well. But "democracy" has many more meanings, and I shall only state
the sort of democracy I believe in but have never seen, which is the
reason I have not voted since 1971:
A state or
city is a democracy if and only if it is in effect, if not in
practice, governed by the free, informed and knowledgeable consent of
the majority of its adult inhabitants.
Here are a few glosses
on my criterions: "in effect if not in practice", because you cannot
rule a city or a state by asking all inhabitants what they think (at
least: that was sofar not the case - maybe it is nowadays, with
personal computers, though it never has been tried); "free", because a manipulated or forced population is not
free; "informed" because the consent of the many if this is uninformed
tends to be consent to a lie or delusion; and "knowledgeable" because you do not just require
generally informed citizens, you also require, for rational
decisions, that those deciding are at least somewhat knowledgeable
about what they decide on.
Since I clearly never lived in a society that was a democracy in that
sense, I have chosen not to vote rather than to vote, if only because
by not voting I am not responsible, not even a small bit, for all the
crimes, lies, self-enrichments, corruptions, lousy lying careers,
posturings, and bad decisions politicians are responsible for: I did
not elect them (and indeed usually think that those who seek
being elected - right, left and center - are a rather bad choice from
the worst possible candidates, rather than a somewhat decent
choice from the good possible candidates).
 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.)
 Actually, this is decent rational
thinking: I do not know, simply because I know I lack the required
evidence; so I guess, based on the evidence I do have
(which is less conclusive). I outline it here, because this mode of
reasoning happens to be pretty rare in politics.
 This is - so far as I can tell, and I
had a very poor background, and know poor people, and unintelligent
people, quite well, and a lot better than nearly anyone I met with an
"(upper) middle class background" - the simple truth.
I must guess that the reason that the vast majority does not want to
read or acknowledge this is that, while they are not as unintelligent
as half of the population, they also do not have an IQ over 150.
Well... that is too bad.
And in any case, however intelligent you are: The decisions in your
will be made by politicians who have been elected by a majority of the
 The point of "And indeed they will mostly not get it" is this: Most of the journalists that
remain are so much convinced "that our national institutions, including
those of government, the military and finance, are efficient and
virtuous" that they automatically discriminate anyone who is
not thus convinced, indeed rather as happened to me in the
University of Amsterdam, from which I was removed briefly before taking
my - excellent - M.A. in philosophy, while being a son of real
marxist parents and grandparents, because I was not a marxist. (The difference is that the journalists,
although probably stupid, are more sincere than the philosophers, who
all were crafty liars, without any talent, except for lying, deceiving
 In fact "remedies that are known to work and to
be feasible" tend to be
quite rare in radical politics, which is, like all politics,
more a matter of faith
than of knowledge, and is, again like all politics, quite like religion in that
and other aspects, and quite unlike science. (Again,
this was one of the reasons for me to quit politics when 20.)
Also, the reason why I am for regulated capitalism and not for
socialism is that I have seen both at work, as working systems also,
which again is quite unlike "knowing" something from some textbook, and
found that regulated capitalism was more free and richer than socialism.
You may protest all you please (though mail rarely reaches me the last
years, I must suppose thanks to the AIVD) but that is really what I
think. Finally, I am also willing to agree that some form of liberal
anarchism in all likelihood is better than regulated capitalism, if you
are willing to agree that this requires an average IQ of 130 or more,
and some more realistic and real moral attitudes than I see now on
And in any case, I have never seen that work, while I know that
all communities that did practice some form of liberal anarchism either remained small or
(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: