Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


 October
28, 2014
Crisis: British Stasi, Brand, Poor, Grayling, EDD?, Snowden 2, Greenwald
  "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.
These Stasi-style outrages show just how low Britain’s
     spies will stoop

2.
Revolution by Russell Brand review – the barmy credo of
     a Beverly Hills Buddhist

3. Today’s Britain: where the poor are forced to steal or beg
     from food banks

4. House of Lords votes against Grayling’s plans to restrict
     judicial review access

5. Empathy Deficit Disorder
6. Snowden 2.0: Report says FBI Has Identified "Second
     Leaker" of Govt Secrets

7. Greenwald: Harper Government Exploiting Recent
     Attacks to Expand Powers


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, October 28. It is a
crisis log.

There are 7 items with 7 dotted links: Item 1 is on the Stasi that is currently operating in the UK; item 2 is on Russell Brand, whom I can't take serious though he probably is honest; item 3 is about the British poor and the British parliamentarians; item 4 is about Grayling's defeat (for now) in the House of Lords; item 5 is about Robert Reich's qualification of U.S. parliamentarians, that I think is to friendly (but I am poor and ill, unlike Reich); item 6 is about Snowden 2 who may have been found; item 7 is about Greenwald on the Canadian government, and introduces a question about fascism that I have.

Here goes:

1. These Stasi-style outrages show just how low Britain’s spies will stoop

The first item is an article by Zoe Williams on The Guardian:
First note the radicalness of the title - which I think is quite justified, but do not recall seeing before. And this has the following subtitle, which is also quite justified, as I will explain:
Revelations of never-ending surveillance suggest that police and MI5 consider radical views criminal in themselves
The article starts with the case of Jacqui, who got impregnated by an undercover cop in the mid nineties. I'll skip that - I agree that was quite horrible, but she did get 425,000 pounds - and pick things up at the spying for decades on two English academic marxists, who were spied upon for over thirty years simply because they were marxists, and for no other reason:
When, for that matter, did MI5 realise that Eric Hobsbawm had no intention of defecting to Russia, and was simply agitating for radical left possibilities within UK politics? When did it realise that Christopher Hill was not intending to restart the English civil war, with a mind to recreating a Leveller revolution three centuries later? These two men were academics and communists, and last week it emerged that they were trailed by security services for more than three decades. The extent of this surveillance is still considered too incendiary to be released fully into the public domain, with sections still redacted.
Here is one explanation for these facts:
One plausible explanation is that, to the police and the security services, to have radical views at all is to be de facto an enemy of the state. Reasonable grounds to suspect a crime are rendered unnecessary when the entire mindset is considered criminal.
Yes, I think that is quite true. Indeed, it doesn't even have to be "radical views":
anybody who disagrees with the government "may" be a danger to the government, especially if somehow "leftist", which justifies spying on him or her - as happens these days, according to the best information that is available on the practices and motives of the GCHQ.


And here is an alternative:
The alternative explanation for these Stasi-style outrages (which may be rare, or may only be rarely discovered) is that once you start spying on somebody, it is incredibly difficult to stop. It doesn’t really have anything to do with politics – you could be trailing a communist agitator or an environmentalist, a potential jihadist or a suspected white supremacist. Once you’ve started, the piece of evidence that comprehensively proves innocence doesn’t exist. All that exists is absence, the lack of definitive proof of guilt. One more push might be all it takes.
Actually, I think it is quite likely both explanations are true - and yes, I quite agree that the GCHQ is working in Stasi-style, except that they know a whole
lot more about people than the Stasi did.


2. Revolution by Russell Brand review – the barmy credo of a Beverly Hills Buddhist 

The next item is an article by Nick Cohen on The Observer:

I have been seeing a lot of Russell Brand pictures lately, mainly on The Guardian,
and I have been avoiding him because he seems to be a rich ex-junkie who wants more attention.

He now wants to make revolution, and wrote a book that is called "Revolution" to propagandize it. The following is from a review of the book on The Guardian:

The rich can buy anything in Britain, and they have now brought us their own opposition. Russell Brand is the voice of the discontented wealthy. He tells us that money can’t buy you love – which I already knew – and that only the complete overthrow of the existing system and embrace of mysticism can take us from “the shallow pool of the known” to the “great untamable ocean” beyond.

This indeed sums up some of the reasons I am not interested in Brand: He is very wealthy; he has hardly any education; he is proposing very radical measures; and he is a spiritualist or a mystic of some very vague kind - which means that he is much like the hippies I knew around 1970, of course except for the wealth, and their points of view did not interest me, also not in 1970, in spite of - what may have seemed to the naive - some verbal agreements.

Next, his writing seems none too clear:

His writing is atrocious: long-winded, confused and smug; filled with references to books Brand has half read and thinkers he has half understood. At one point, he discusses whether our perception of reality is a mentally constructed illusion (don’t ask me why). (...) At another, Brand argues that spirituality is the road to revolution, a belief that would have baffled every revolutionary leader in modern European history.

I would guess myself that his concern whether "reality is a mentally constructed illusion" derives from his seeing The Matrix (and the basic mistake is that our views of reality must be in part illusory, but that says nothing about reality).

As to spirituality: That is very likely to be mostly nonsense, in spite of the fact that Brand meditates and is a vegetarian, for the same reason as all religions (possibly except one, but they also have no proof) must be mistaken: they all contradict each other.

As to leftist populism, Nick Cohen says:

I am not saying that there is not a need for a left populism to confront financial power and environmental degradation. But Brand is a religious narcissist, and if the British left falls for him, it will show itself to be beyond saving.

From what I know of Brand (which is not much, but then I do have a truly revolutionary family background and read at least 10.000 books, nearly all academic, philosophy, logic, mathematics or high literature) that seems fair enough. That is: I am quite willing to agree that Brand mostly believes what he says, but I doubt his motives, and he certainly does not have the requisite knowledge to outline a revolution.

Here is Cohen's last judgement that I'll quote:

Brand is offering his Beverly Hills Buddhism as a political programme, not a self-help guide. Everything is corrupt, his theory runs. All politicians are the same. Reforms won’t do, and no one can expect him to relinquish his fortune until there has been “systemic change on a global scale” (a useful condition that last one).

My guess is that this may be a little unfair, as may be the whole review, but
in any case it did not warm me for the cause of Russell Brand, which I suspect
to be Russell Brand's fame, if only because it contributed a lot to that, while
it is very unlikely to further a revolution.

3. Today’s Britain: where the poor are forced to steal or beg from food banks 

The next item is an article by Aditya Chakrabortty on The Guardian:
This has the following subtitle, that seems quite justified to me:
MPs who fiddled thousands got off lightly, yet they have created a system where the hungry go to jail
Yes, indeed - and a country where that is the case (it is) is one that does not differ much from fascism [2], for absolutely nothing like having to steal to be able to remain alive is necessary, but it is "necessary" according to the Etonian bully-boys and millionaires who lead the present English mass spying government.

Here is part of the case:

Iain Duncan Smith has denied setting staff targets for sanctioning benefits claimants; but this paper has found evidence, not only of targets but even league tables for job centres to compete against each other in keeping claimants away from their money. Do that on a big enough scale and some are bound to choose to steal rather than starve.

Because, rest assured, Hill’s not the only one. Last week, Ian Mulholland of Darlington was in court. After having his benefits “sanctioned” and spending nine weeks with nothing to live on, the 43-year-old had stolen some meat from the local Sainsbury’s. That crime got him six weeks in prison. A theft worth £12.60 means the taxpayer will spend over two grand to keep Mulholland behind bars.

When you read of such sentences, remember that this is the same country in which – just a few years ago – over 300 parliamentarians were found to have claimed expenses to which they weren’t entitled; hundreds of thousands handed over to some of the richest people in the country for duck houses, moat repairs and heating their stables.

A mere handful were sent to prison. For others, the punishment was just a career break.

Precisely! England has been transformed, by sick, corrupt, degenerate, thieving parliamentarians into a nation where parliamentarians can behave like sick, corrupt, degenerate, thieving parliamentarians and get off with barely a scratch, while people who starve and steal some meat are sent to prison for six weeks.
(And yes, I've totally lost my trust in the English parliament since I know about
the great many utterly impertinent thieves in parliament, and learned about what happened to them: Hardly anything.)

In fact, here is a fine example of this major corrupt sickness:

David Laws, an architect of the cuts we are living through, resigned after it was discovered that he had funnelled over £40,000 of public money as rent to his landlord, who was also his lover. He was back as a minister within two years and is in charge of drafting the Lib Dem election manifesto.

Ah, those honest Lib Dems! You can trust Nick Clegg! And here is another example of this major corrupt sickness:

Lord Freud, a welfare minister, pretended that the spread of hundreds of food banks was because people like a free meal. When the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs received a report on food banks that showed Freud’s argument was “not based on robust evidence”, it sat on it for as long as possible. Whatever intentions you ascribe to Freud and IDS and Cameron, there can be no doubt they have engineered Britain’s crisis of hunger, simply by blocking their ears to all the evidence and pressing ahead.

Yes. As to the motives: Freud and Cameron are millionaires, and they basically don't care what happens to poor people, also if they made them poor themselves: The poor owe their poverty to themselves, in the eyes of the grandson of the fraud Freud, and they can be lied about by their millionaire leaders as much as the millionaire leaders like to. It's their own fault: if they were rich the treatment they would get would be very different. Really!

4. House of Lords votes against Grayling’s plans to restrict judicial review access 

The next item is an article by Alan Travis on The Guardian:

In fact, this is the first positive news of today, and it starts like this:

The justice secretary, Chris Grayling, has suffered a defeat in a key House of Lords vote on his plans to curtail access to judicial review, which would have made it harder to challenge government decisions in court.

Peers voted by 247 to 181, a majority of 66, to ensure that the judges keep their discretion over whether they can hear judicial review applications after a warning from a former lord chief justice, Lord Woolf, that the alternative amounted to an ‘elective dictatorship’.

“It’s dangerous to go down the line of telling the judges what they have to do,” he told peers.

Quite so!

5. Empathy Deficit Disorder

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:

Commenting on a recent student suicide at an Alaska high school, Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young said suicide didn’t exist in Alaska before “government largesse” gave residents an entitlement mentality.

“When people had to work and had to provide and had to keep warm by putting participation in cutting wood and catching the fish and killing the animals, we didn’t have the suicide problem,” he said. Government handouts tell people “you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing.”

Don Young is a liar because Alaska has more suicides than any other U.S. state, while having welfare has little or nothing to do with it (the light may have, as it probably also has in Norway).

In any case, Young's statement is especially worthwile because he clearly says what he thinks about poor and ill people like me:
“you are not worth anything but you are going to get something for nothing”. (Note that I am not worth anything because I am poor (and ill); the bank managers are worth tens of millions a year because they are rich.)

Then there is this:

Young has since apologized for his remark. Or, more accurately, his office has apologized. “Congressman Young did not mean to upset anyone with his well-intentioned message,” says a news release from his congressional office, “and in light of the tragic events affecting the Wasilla High School community, he should have taken a much more sensitive approach.”

Well-intentioned? More sensitive approach?

Of course he was well-intentioned when he said poor people are not worth anything, and I am quite sure he means it.

Robert Reich has this explanation for Young and his quite widespread political likes:

Call it Empathy Deficit Disorder. Some Democrats have it, but the disorder seems especially widespread among Republicans.

These politicians have no idea what people who are hard up in America are going through.

No, I don't think so: I think he knows quite well what he said, since this sick and degenerate baloney goes back to Ayn Rand: Greed is good, selfishness is good, egoism is good, and who disagrees might as well be dead, especially if poor.

So I don't call it "
Empathy Deficit Disorder": I call it greedy egoistic selfishness, that is also quite conscious. (And I have read Ayn Rand.)

6. Snowden 2.0: Report says FBI Has Identified "Second Leaker" of Govt Secrets

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

This starts as follows:
The U.S. government has identified the person it believes is the so-called "second leaker" who has given over classified national security documents to some of the same journalists who have reported on many of the documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden this year, a news report claimed on Monday.
I say. If so, it is a great pity. But there is little more in the article, although a fair amount is explained that I take my regular readers to know, and therefore will skip.

In fact, I will only quote the last two paragraphs, that quote John Cook, the editor-in-chief of The Intercept:

In a response to the Huffington Post regarding Isikoff's reporting on Monday, The Intercept's editor-in-chief John Cook stated, "Without commenting on any purported sources: Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux’s reporting for The Intercept on the federal watchlisting program brought crucial information about this preposterously overbroad and inefficient system to light, and has been repeatedly cited by civil liberties groups and civil rights attorneys who are seeking the intervention of federal courts to reign in its excesses.”

Cook added that "any attempt to criminalize the public release of those stories benefits only those who exercise virtually limitless power in secret with no accountability."
Quite so.

7. Greenwald: Harper Government Exploiting Recent Attacks to Expand Powers

The next item is an article by Nadia Prupis on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows

The Canadian government is exploiting last week’s attacks against soldiers in the country to push sweeping national security bills into law and give the state ever-more invasive surveillance powers, investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald said in Ottawa over the weekend.

Terrorism is "the most inflammatory, but also the most meaningless word in our political lexicon," Greenwald told an audience of over 1,000 during a speech on privacy and state surveillance on Saturday. "We’ve allowed this word terrorism to take on such profound meaning that right before our eyes governments dismantle the protections and defining attributes of western justice in order to keep us safer."

Well...yes and no. I agree with the first paragraph, but the second again covers me under the "we" and the "us", and I really do not belong to that class of "we" and "us" for I have already in 2005 said, in Nederlog, in Dutch, said that "terrorism" definitely was a pretext to introduce all these legal, semi-legal and illegal changes that were and are only in the interests of the governments and the rich.

I suppose Glenn Greenwald would agree to this, and indeed I would have agreed with him had he said "most of us" rather than "we".

In any case, for me "terrorism" was and is a pretext (and also an extremely distasteful and fascist one), for which reason I am not at all amazed to read:

"The speed and the aggression and the brazenness and the shamelessness with which the prime minister moved to manipulate and exploit the emotions around these events to demand more power for himself was... almost impressive," Greenwald said.

"These attacks are instantly seized upon as a way to further dismantle civil liberties and core principles of western justice," he continued.

This is quite correct, in my view (and "terrorism" = "a pretext for governments
to do as they please, without any democratic control: spying on everyone was their aim from the very outset of 9/11 and indeed long before that").

And there is this:

Greenwald, a champion of privacy rights and civil liberties and Pulitzer Prize winner who has published many of the key stories based on a cache of documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, said the surveillance tactics exposed by those revelations are not just a threat to privacy—they are a threat to democracy itself.

The abuse of power by the shadowy security agencies of the so-called "Five Eyes" governments—which include Canada, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, and the UK—is "stunning," Greenwald said. "[T]hese five governments... have instituted a system of mass surveillance as self-evidently consequential, with such profound, far-reaching implications, as a system of mass surveillance, without a whiff of disclosure or debate among the citizenry that are supposed to hold them democratically accountable."

Quite so. And not only did these sick governments spy on the many millions who elected them:

They also did everything they could do to defend the rights of the rich and the very rich; to extend the incomes of the rich and the very rich at the costs of the poor; to defend the mega-corrupt bank managers; to defend the mega-corrupt Big Pharma by refusing to prosecute these as well, and instead offering them freedom from all guilt and all prosecution when they handed over part of the profits; they militarized the police to defend themselves (in the U.S.) and forced everyone to identify himself to any bureaucrat because "one might be a terrorist" (in Europe); and they organized many wars that only serve to keep the U.S. the policeman of the world, that fights for the American rich in the name of democracy.

If fascism is the coalescence of the big corporations and the state, how does this differ from fascism?

I merely ask, since I am identified as "a fascist terrorist" by lazy degenerates who kicked me from the university in 1988, briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy, because I dared to attack they phony false hypocritical quasi- marxism, and although I have many times asked an explanation, my letters and mails were never answered, although I also complained that I was gassed and threatened with murder (five times!) by the drugs dealers that the sick and degenerate mayor Ed van Thijn had given permission to deal in illegal drugs from the bottom floor of the house where I lived, I do not know for what percentage in the turnover. (The dealers are still there, and have been there 27 years now.)

For more, see note [2].
---------------------------------
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] As my regular readers may know, I am somewhat of a contradiction, according to others:

I am "a fascist terrorist" (since 1988, at least) becauseI objected to a university where most acted as if they were marxists, while they were at best quasi- marxists, and where the main things all students learned, from 1971-1995, were 1. "everybody knows there is no truth" (so 1+1=11 is as good as 1+1=2) 2. "everybody knows everyone is equal" (so you and Eichmann and Einstein all are equals) and 3. "everybody knows all morality is totally relative" (so the Soviet Union, Communist China, Nazi Germany, and capitalist Holland are all quite the same, apart from ill-informed judgements.) It also turned out most students were very satisfied: By 1. no one could refute them; by 2. they were the equals of anybody, however much a genius, and by 3. anything they believed about politics
was as true as anything else.

And I have been called "a fascist", "a filthy fascist", "a male fascist pig" many more times than I can recall, especially because I also was a student leader who tried to reinstall the teaching of real science, in which I did not succeed.

Yet that has raised some questions to me, because, firstly, I know I am not a fascist nor a terrorist and have never been one (and in my communist days - my late teens - I was the only one who refused to throw stones at the police), while both my parents were for over forty years members of the communist party; were heroes of the resistance in WW II, that also had my father and his father locked up as "political terrorists" in German concentration camps, that my grandfather did not survive; while my father was knighted after WW II as one of the only two Dutch  communists to whom this happened; and I had a very poor childhood because my parents were very poor, and my father regularly out of work, because when working he organized strikes for better pay. (This last fact is mentioned because the many who called me "a filthy fascist" in the University of Amsterdam knew absolutely nothing about me, but were nearly all from the upper middle class, in spite of their behaving as if they were marxists, simply because that furthered their careers and self-images, since marxism was very popular in the University of Amsterdam from 1971-1995.)

Secondly, now that I see fascism or what really does not make much of a difference arise in the United States, England and Europe as a governmental response to (the pretext of) "terrorism" and the crisis, I see hardly anyone who
dares to protest, whereas everyone who called me "a fascist" these days is very well off, nearly pensioned or very well pensioned, and since 10 or 20 years "a neo-conservative", "a pro animal activist", "a libertarian" or God knows what else, but not an anti-fascist, like my parents and myself.

Why is that? Are they too rich? Too stupid? Too dishonest? Too cowardly? Too degenerate?

(And yes: Of course I am angry. Who wouldn't be if his life and health has been utterly ruined since 1988 because he spoke the truth about the university and the truth about the drugsdealers?!)


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)



       home - index - summaries - mail