29, 2014
Crisis: Assange, Snowden, Pope, Revolution, Press, Hedges &Wolin, 15 signs
  "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

 Swedish officials weigh up option to question Assange
     ahead of court ruling

Ed Snowden Taught Me To Smuggle Secrets Past
     Incredible Danger. Now I Teach You.

3. Amazing: Pope Believes in Evolution and Says God Is Not
     a Magician

4. The Coming Revolution: Evolutionary Leap or Descent
     Into Chaos and Violence?

5. How the Washington Press Turned Bad
6. Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted
     Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy

7. 15 Signs That We Live During A Time Of Rampant
     Government Paranoia

About ME/CFS


This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, October 29. It is a
crisis log.

This has 7 items and 8 dotted links: Item 1 is on Assange's plight; item 2 a bit on Snowden with an extra link on how to communicate with your privacy in tact; item 3 about the pope, who believes in evolution and the big bang; item 4 is about the coming revolution (which is presented more strongly than I would have); item 5 is on the radical decline of the free press, and dates it's start  plausibly as around 1980; item 6 is about part 4 of the interview Hedges had with Wolin (and is the most interesing in this Nederlog, I think); and item 7 is a list of 15 signs that are supposed to support that the U.S. government is paranoid, while
I take it they are not so much paranoid as implementing a program, indeed away
from democracy, and implemented for and by the rich.

Here goes:

1. Swedish officials weigh up option to question Assange ahead of court ruling

The first item is an article by David Crouch on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

Sweden’s chief prosecutor said on Tuesday she was seriously considering an invitation by the British government to question Julian Assange in London, before a court ruling in Sweden on whether to lift the warrant for his arrest.

The Foreign Office said on Tuesday it would welcome a request by the Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny to question Assange inside the Ecuadorian embassy and would be happy to facilitate such a move, which is seen by Assange’s lawyers as an important step towards breaking the deadlock surrounding the case.

The appeal court in Sweden is due to rule as soon as next week on a request by Assange’s lawyers that the warrant against him be rescinded, but the timing of the Foreign Office’s remarks appeared to be accidental.

I say. It probably is some progress, but bureaucracy is slooooow and likes to be as secretive as possible, also in Sweden. The rest of the article makes clear that it is a some progress, but that one should not be overly optimistic.

2. Ed Snowden Taught Me To Smuggle Secrets Past Incredible Danger. Now I Teach You.  

The next item is an article by Micah Lee on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

Late on the evening of January 11, 2013, someone sent me an interesting email. It was encrypted, and sent from the sort of anonymous email service that smart people use when they want to hide their identity. Sitting at the kitchen table in the small cottage where I lived in Berkeley with my wife and two cats, I decrypted it.

The anonymous emailer wanted to know if I could help him communicate securely with Laura Poitras, the documentary filmmaker who had repeatedly cast a critical eye on American foreign policy.

And a little later (skipping some) there is this on the intention of the article:
Until now, I haven’t written about my modest role in the Snowden leak, but with the release of Poitras’ documentary on him, “Citizenfour,” I feel comfortable connecting the dots. I think it’s helpful to show how privacy technologists can work with sources and journalists to make it possible for leaks to happen in a secure way. Securing those types of interactions is part of my job now that I work with Greenwald and Poitras at The Intercept, but there are common techniques and general principles from my interactions with Snowden that could serve as lessons to people outside this organization.

It's a decent story, that you can read for yourself. In case you are interested in encryption, Micah Lee also wrote this (as he tells us in the article):

This is a good guide, though it is now nearly 1 1/2 years old (and yes, I found myself - as did Glenn Greenwald - that "Unfortunately, PGP is notoriously hard to use", though it probably will be a bit easier with this guide).

3. Amazing: Pope Believes in Evolution and Says God Is Not a Magician 

The next item is an article by Sarah Gray on AlterNet:

This starts as follows, and is here mainly because the Catholic Church still has over a billion followers:

In an exciting declaration,  Pope Francis I stated that God should not seen as a “magician with a magic wand,” while unveiling a statue of his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Pope Francis also stated that evolution and the Big Bang theory are both true and not incompatible with the church’s views on the origins of the universe and life.

“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so,”  Francis said, according to the Independent. Francis continued by stating that God “created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment.”

“The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it,” Francis explained. ”Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

I say. While I am not as excited as Sarah Gray appears to be (and also I am not a former Catholic: I come from a family of atheists, and like that), it is nice that the present pope supports evolution and physics (and he even seems surer of the Big Bang theory than I am).

4. The Coming Revolution: Evolutionary Leap or Descent Into Chaos and Violence? 

The next item is an article by David DeGraw on AlterNet:

This starts as follows (and is part 3 of a series, that in turn got selected from the book "The Economics of Revolution"):

A new paradigm is organically evolving: new economic systems, sustainable communities, solar energy, organic farming, liquid democracy, worker co-ops and new media. For all the problems we are confronted by, there are existing viable solutions. There is much to feel positive about. A decentralized global uprising is undermining systems of centralized and consolidated power. A new world is being born.

However, as exciting as the evolution presently occurring is, after extensive research I am forced to confront the fact that I do not see how emerging solutions will reach a critical mass and create the needed change before the affects of inequality, poverty and the overall deterioration of society will lead to widespread chaos and violence. As much as I wish this wasn’t the case, as much as I want to just disengage from the status quo and focus on the implementation of local solutions, we cannot ignore the urgent need for significant systemic change on a mass scale now.

As to the first paragraph: Yes and no. Yes, because I agree there are feasible solutions to many social problems; no, because while they are theoretically feasible (which is quite something, to be realistic) they are not practically feasible for the most part, simply because the rich have bought most they needed to buy to get nearly all of the power, and they do not want it to happen: it is not profitable for them.

Indeed, the second paragraph - sort of - concedes this. There are quite a number of statistics and numbers that are quite interesting, and there is this:

The government’s policies and actions in dealing with the growing epidemic of poverty are the very definition of tyranny. It couldn’t be more blatant. Just when the economy has reached a point where there are not enough jobs that generate an adequate income to sustain the cost of living for the majority of the population, the government is cutting billions of dollars from assistance programs and pouring billions of dollars into the military and prison industry.

An out of control private military complex is fueling violent conflicts abroad. A perpetual state of never-ending war is exhausting public wealth, with trillions of dollars diverted from social programs into the pockets of war profiteers. Here at home, the police force is being militarized and the private prison industry is growing at a shocking 1600% rate. We already have the largest prison population in the world. The current per capita rate is worse than the darkest days of the Soviet Gulags. On top of that, many cities are now criminalizing poverty. As ominous as it may sound, a tyrannical assembly line of incarceration is now in place.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link. I do not know how much I agree or disagree, though I do not really think there is such a thing as "The Economics of Revolution", for a quite simple reason: A period of revolution is
one of social chaos.

5. How the Washington Press Turned Bad

The next item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortium News:
This starts with the following summary:
There was a time when the Washington press corps prided itself on holding the powerful accountable – Pentagon Papers, Watergate, Vietnam War – but those days are long gone, replaced by a malleable media that puts its cozy relations with insiders ahead of the public interest, writes Robert Parry.
There is rather a lot on Ben Bradlee and Gary Webb that I skip, but the following is quite relevant:

How this transformation of Washington journalism occurred – from the more aggressive press corps of the 1970s into the patsy press corps of the 1980s and beyond – is an important lost chapter of modern American history.

Much of this change emerged from the political wreckage that followed the Vietnam War, the Pentagon Papers, the Watergate scandal and the exposure of CIA abuses in the 1970s. The American power structure, particularly the Right, struck back, labeling the U.S. news media as “liberal” and questioning the patriotism of individual journalists and editors.

But it didn’t require much arm-twisting to get the mainstream news media to bend into line and fall on its knees. Many of the news executives that I worked under shared the view of the power structure that the Vietnam protests were disloyal, that the U.S. government needed to hit back against humiliations like the Iran-hostage crisis, and that the rebellious public needed to be brought back into line behind more traditional values.

I say. This means - and I believe Parry - that the corruption of the free press in the United States started already with Reagan. And there is this on the stealing of the presidency from Al Gore, who did win in 2001, except for the Supreme Court:
This pattern of bias continued into last decade, even when the issue was whether the votes of Americans should be counted. After the 2000 election, when George W. Bush got five Republicans on the U.S. Supreme Court to halt the counting of votes in the key state of Florida, major news executives were more concerned about protecting the fragile “legitimacy” of Bush’s tainted victory than ensuring that the actual winner of the U.S. presidential election became president.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link. And I do take it Robert Parry is mostly right on the press in the U.S.

6. Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy

The next item is an article by Yves Smith who reports on part 4 of the 6 part interview that Chris Hedges had with Sheldon Wolin:
To start with, my own take on parts 1 - 3 is here: it helps if you read this, if you didn't already. I will quote one bit of it, which is a dotted summary I made of the points made by Hedges and Wolin (mostly in their words):
  • Democratic rituals and institutions are these days largely a facade for unchecked global corporate power.
  • Academics, intellectuals and journalists these days function as echo chambers for elites, courtiers and corporate systems managers.
  • The corporations have succeeded in seizing nearly all forms of political and social power.
  • All the institutions that make democracy possible have been hollowed out and rendered impotent and ineffectual.
  • What is especially missing as regards ideas is a crucial, continuous opposition that has coherent ideas.
  • What is especially missing as regards facts is any effective organized opposition: The "left" has become "Third Way", i.e. right wing lite, and helped destroy the trade unions and helped installing austerity for the poor.
  • Capitalism, or at least its ideologists, wants an autonomous economy. It wants a political order subservient to the needs of the economy, and has reduced economy to the question "what is most profitable for the rich".
  • The vast majority of the academics have sold out, already in the 80-ies,
    and have destroyed the universities and remade them into colleges were almost anyone with an IQ higher than 100 can get some sort of diploma, if only in "multimedia studies", provided he or she has the money to pay for it.
As I said then:
I think that is mostly correct - and it means that I see little grounds for hope, apart from another major economic collapse. In fact, that is almost the only hope I have, for I think a major economic collapse is likely, though this also will lead to
much harm, much repression and much poverty for very many.
Now to part 4, about which Yves Smith says as introduction:
Yves here. We’ve been featuring what we consider to be standout segments in an important Real News Network series, an extended discussion between Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on capitalism and democracy. This offering focuses on what Wolin calls “inverted totalirianism,” or how corporations and government are working together to keep the general public in thrall. Wolin discusses how propaganda and the suppression of critical thinking serve to a promote pro-growth, pro-business ideology which sees democracy as dispensable, and potentially an obstacle to what they consider to be progress. They also discuss how America is governed by two pro-corproate parties and how nay “popular” as in populist, candidate gets stomped on.
Also, you can see the video on the last dotted link, though I didn't, simply because I read a lot faster than people talk.

This is from the beginning of part 4, and addresses the meaning of "inverted totalitarianism", which is a concept originated by Wolin:

HEDGES: (...) I wanted just to go through and I’ve taken notes from both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, of the characteristics of what you call inverted totalitarianism, which you use to describe the political system that we currently live under. You said it’s only in part a state-centered phenomenon. What do you mean by that?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by that that one of the striking characteristics of our age is the extent to which so-called private institutions, like the media, for example, are able to work towards the same end of control, pacification, that the government is interested in, that the idea of genuine opposition is usually viewed as subversion, and so that criticism now is a category that we should really look at and examine, and to see whether it really amounts to anything more than a kind of mild rebuke at best, and at worst a way of sort of confirming the present system by showing its open-mindedness about self-criticism.

HEDGES: And you said that there’s a kind of fusion now of–and you talk a lot about the internal dynamics of corporations themselves, the way they’re completely hierarchical, even the extent to which people within corporate structures are made to identify with a corporation on a kind of personal level. Even–I mean, I speak as a former reporter for The New York Times–even we would get memos about the New York Times family, which is, of course, absurd. And you talk about how that value system or that structure of power, coupled with that type of propaganda, has just been transferred to the state, that the state now functions in exactly the same way, the same hierarchical way, that it uses the same forms of propaganda to get people at once to surrender their political rights and yet to identify themselves through nationalism, patriotism, and the lust for superpower itself, which we see now across the political landscape.

As I see it (which may not be as Wolin or Hedges sees it) the main reasons for this development is the realization that (1) propaganda - lying - works, for the vast majory can be deceived (2) this propaganda is mostly quite irrational and simpleminded, and (3) most propaganda works by treating people and politics as if they are family, as if they are one's own kind - which is a lie in several respects: It is not only simply false, it also very much simplifies things. And in fact, this development mostly goes back to Edward Bernays (<-Wikipedia) whose "Propaganda" is on my site.

Also, Hedges is quite right that the corporations use the same system of lies to try to make the people who work for them feel as if they are family through working for the same corporations. And note this really is an enormous, completely false propagandistic simplification of politics, economics, and religion to a personalized family-scheme of values that even the most stupid TV-viewer can understand.

Then there is this:

HEDGES: You also talk about inverted totalitarianism as not only signaling the political demobilization of the citizenry, but how it’s never expressed conceptually as an ideology or objectified in public policy. What do you mean by that?

WOLIN: Well, I mean by that that it hasn’t been crystallized in just those terms, that it’s operational. Its operation is really a combination of elements whose interlocking and coherence together have never been either properly appreciated or publicly debated in any sustained way.
I am not certain I understand this, but I would say, given what I wrote above on the propagandistic treatment of everyone as family (or else as terrorist: you are loyal or disloyal, and the loyal have nothing to fear), the reason this never chrystallized as a public policy is simply that it is far too irrational: it needs to be able to support the boss and the party in many inconsistent ways, and it does this in the end by false loyalties, that are rarely explicated but all the time used in advertisements and propaganda.

Then there is this on the power holders:

HEDGES: You said that in inverted totalitarianism, it is furthered by power holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions. What I find interesting about that statement is you say even the power holders don’t understand their actions.

WOLIN: Yeah, I don’t think they do. I think that’s most–I think that’s apparent not only in so-called conservative political officeholders, but liberal ones as well. And I think the reason for it isn’t far to see. The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody’s caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so.
Well...yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I agree with Wolin that most politicians and CEOs I have heard talking indeed cannot be suspected of understanding much or anything of politics or economics in any high rational way. But no, in the sense that they all do know who to serve: the interests of their own rich kind. Thus,
politicians and CEOs are against higher taxes for the rich, simply because this would loose them some money, and they do not want to pay for civilizing anyone else than their own - rich - family. (
"Taxes are what we pay for civilized society", Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.)

Next, there is this - which is rather important for me because I have for 12 years tried to stop and undo the politication of the Dutch universities (in which I totally failed, simply because most students and most staff found it much easier, and much more pleasant to teach or learn left-wing politics rather than real science, until 1995 in Holland, since when
most students and most staff found it much easier, and much more pleasant, to teach right-wing politics rather than real science):
HEDGES: We’d spoke earlier about how because corporate forces have essentially taken over not only systems of media but systems of education, they’ve effectively destroyed the capacity within these institutions for critical thinking. And what they’ve done is educate generation–now probably a couple of generations of systems managers, people whose expertise, technical expertise, revolves around keeping the system, as it’s constructed, viable and afloat, so that when there’s a–in 2008, the global financial crisis, they immediately loot the U.S. Treasury to infuse a staggering $17 trillion worth of money back into the system.
Yes - and I objected against this from 1977 onwards, but I was one of the very few, in fact because I was one of the very few who was really interested in real science. But Hedges is quite right that (1) the decline of the universities and schools also started in the late Sixties and Seventies and (2) it consisted in considerable part in replacing science by propaganda, while pretending the propaganda - like Diederik Stapel's utter and complete bullshit - was "real science".

Then there is this on the Republican Party:

WOLIN: (..) I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers’ purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they’ve got it. There hasn’t been anything like that in American history. To be sure, powerful economic interests have influenced political parties, especially the Republicans, but this kind of gross takeover, in which the party is put in the pocket of two individuals, is without precedent. And that means something serious. It means that, among other things, you no longer have a viable opposition party.  (..)
This is a direct consequence of the Supreme Court's decisions that corporations are people, and that money is free speech, both of which are completely false,
conservative articles of faith, that only help the very rich.

Finally, there is this on the Democratic Party:

HEDGES: Well, didn’t Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane?

WOLIN: Yeah, it’s true. Yeah, I mean, it’s true that beginning with the Clinton administration, the Democratic Party has kind of lost its way too.

Precisely - and Clinton did so by insisting that his propaganda was the Third Way, which was and is an utterly false amount of pure bullshit (also quite unreadable for anyone with a decent logical mind) that only served to obscure that what he really did was destroying the left, as did Tony Blair in England.

There is a considerable lot more under the last dotted link.

7. 15 Signs That We Live During A Time Of Rampant Government Paranoia

The next and last item of today is an article by Michael Snyder:
This starts as follows (with boldings in the original):
How does it feel to live under a government that is getting even more paranoid with each passing day?  Yes, we live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable, but that is no excuse for how ultra-paranoid the federal government has become.  Today, every single one of us is viewed as a “potential threat” by the government.  As a result, the government feels the need to intercept our emails, record our phone calls and track our expenditures.  But they aren’t just spying on individuals.  The government keeps tabs on thousands of organizations all over the planet, it spies on our enemies and our allies, and it even spies on itself.  The American people are told that the emerging Big Brother police state is for our safety, but the truth is that it isn’t there to protect us.  It is there to protect them.  Our government has become kind of like a crazy rich uncle that is constantly spying on everyone else in the family because he believes that they are “out to get him”.  The following are 15 signs that we live during a time of rampant government paranoia…
Actually - being a psychologist - I don't think that the American government is paranoid: I think they are implementing a program that favors the rich and the goverment at the expense of everybody else, and they also know quite well what they are doing, at least on the level of who favors whom, if indeed not on the level of rational economics or rational politics.

In any case, the fifteen signs are interesting, though regular readers know quite a few. Here is part of the last sign:

#15 Last, but certainly not least, there is the matter of the NSA constantly spying on all of us.  The NSA is monitoring and recording billions of our phone calls and emails, and most Americans don’t seem to care.  But they should care.  I like how an article in the New York Post described what is happening to our society…

Through a combination of fear, cowardice, political opportunism and bureaucratic metastasis, the erstwhile land of the free has been transformed into a nation of closely watched subjects — a country of 300 million potential criminals, whose daily activities need constant monitoring.

[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.)

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)

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)
Maarten Maartensz
Resources about ME/CFS
(more resources, by many)

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