Prev-IndexNL-Next

Nederlog


  November
3, 2014
Crisis: Cameron, Shakespeare, Satire, Chomsky, Carol, Ventura & Martin
  "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.
David Cameron’s tax credo is incoherent, immoral and
     economically illiterate

2.
What Shakespeare taught me about Marxism
3. How Stewart, Colbert and Oliver Could Make a Surprising
     Difference This Election

4. Chomsky: A World in Crisis, from Isil to Ukraine
5. An Election Day Carol
6. Abby Martin Uncovers 9/11 | Jesse Ventura Off The Grid -
     Ora TV


About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 3. It is a
crisis log.

It has 6 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about Cameron's tax credo, which
I agree is totally false and illiterate; item 2 is about Shakespeare and Marx: I mostly disagree, but it is not very serious; item 3 seems to me mostly wishful thinking, but I'd like it if it were correct, though I don't think it is; item 4 is a recent bit on Chomsky, who is right about the world; item 5 is a fantasy piece
by Robert Reich, that seems to me a bit too kind to Supreme Court judge Anthony Kennedy and others; and item 6 is a friendly conversation between Jesse Ventura
and Abby Martin of some months ago, that I put up because I think both are
sensible persons, and because I did not see it earlier.

There also are two mostly Dutch autobiography files added today, but these were first published in Nederlog. Also, this Nederlog got uploaded considerably earlier than is normal for me.

Here goes:

1. David Cameron’s tax credo is incoherent, immoral and economically illiterate
 
The first item is an article by Will Hutton on The Guardian:

Let me start this - once more - with quoting the Supreme Court judge Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (<- Wikipedia):
"Taxes are what we pay for civilized society"
The reason to start with this is that it seems the fundamental difference between David Cameron and Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: Everyone has to pay some to be able to share in social cooperation in a complicated society, and the rich have to pay a higher percentage.

Here is the start of Will Hutton's article:

Believe the prime minister and it is morality, rather than economics, which requires him to cut taxes. In an important article in the Times last week that was factually incorrect, philosophically incoherent and economically bonkers, David Cameron set out the Tory credo. He was wrong on all counts. Trying to argue why every reader should vote Conservative, he instead revealed the darkness of the blind alley into which modern Conservatism has stumbled.

All Britain’s ills – a “ bloated, high-taxing, welfare heavy nation” – were rooted in a state that had grown too large because of an indiscriminate willingness to spend money that was not its own. This undermined incentives and, worse, it undermined morality. Only one sentence genuflected towards the moral good of the rich and able paying a “fair” share towards our “public services and safety nets”: the real enemy of morality was the principle of taxation itself.

Precisely. And what Cameron calls "morality" is in fact Tory ideology, which is deeply immoral. Here is Cameron's "argument", which is a howler:
“Every single pound of public money started as private earning,” he intoned. Building on what seems an uncontestable and homespun truth, he made the moral claim that because “every single pound of public money is private earning… what is morally wrong is [a] government spending money like it grows on trees”.
The reason this is a howler is that even if the premiss is admitted (and I don't, because "private earning" is undefined) nothing like the conclusion follows: It is a gross rhetorical statement that has no relation to the facts, or the ideas what government is for, or the rights of the English citizens.

As Hutton explains:

Even in Tory land no man or woman is an island. Human beings associate in societies because of a primeval need and fundamental instincts. As evolving primates, we first learned to speak because it was more effective to hunt in groups that could communicate.

In 2014, we are similarly social, acting together to get the best results. The physical expression of this social necessity is our public institutions and the resources they deploy are properly created by a fee everyone pays: taxes. Those who earn more contribute more because proportionality of contribution represents another fundamental human appetite: fairness.

And here is some more:
Economies and societies grow out of an interdependence between public and private: they need each other and taxation is the financial connecting rod. To echo the IFS, there is no sense in which “every pound of public money is private earning”: private earning becomes as high as it is only because of public investment. Taxes are the means by which we furnish public agencies the wherewithal to provide us with the universities, research, roads, railways, networks and all the rest that allow private companies to flourish.
This is a good article that you should read all of.

2. What Shakespeare taught me about Marxism 

The next item is an article by Paul Mason (economics editor at the British Channel 4):

I have to admit this is mostly here because my parents were - real, honest, intelligent - Marxists, and I was too, until I was 20, when I gave it up because
of Marx's labor theory of value, his dialectics and the totalitarianism that charact-
erized so much of the "really existing socialism", which indeed I had never accepted as socialism, since I had spent five weeks in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) in 1964.

Then again, Marx seems to be somewhat fashionable again, indeed because the capitalist economy has failed and is failing, and I really like Shakespeare, so here goes. It starts as follows:

If you could watch Shakespeare’s history plays back-to-back, starting with King John and ending with Henry VIII, it would, at first sight, be like an HBO drama series without a central plot: murders, wars and mayhem, all set within an apparently meaningless squabble between kings and dukes.

But once you understand what a “mode of production” is the meaning becomes clear. What you are watching is the collapse of feudalism and the emergence of early capitalism.

Really? I do not think so, and I have read considerable parts of Marx and all Shakespeare's plays at least thrice. More precisely, I think one can read Marx into Shakespeare (and Marx also was a great lover of Shakespeare), but this really is interpreting Shakespeare rather than reading him, it seems to me.

But OK - there is considerably more, and Paul Mason wrote a book, "Postcapitalism: A guide to our future", and the following seems a bit more sensible to me:
Another 150 years would pass until merchant capitalism, based on trade, conquest and slavery, would give birth to industrial capitalism.

For this reason, whenever I want to stop myself being too Marxist, I think about Shakespeare. Armed with a few history books and a profound humanism, he described the society around him with peerless insight, and tried to explain to his audience how they’d got there.
As I said, there is more under the last dotted link. (But if you want to know about Marx's economy, you should read Steedman's "Marx after Sraffa".)

3. How Stewart, Colbert and Oliver Could Make a Surprising Difference This Election 

The next item is an article by Sophia A. McClennen and Remy M. Maisel that I found on AlterNet but appeared originally on Salon:

Let me start this with saying that I do not believe the title - or rather, since "could make" is so vague as to amount to almost nothing: I think it unlikely that
comedians or satirists will make a difference in tomorrow's elections, though indeed I would be pleased if they do.

But they do tell me some things I didn't know such as this:

Americans under 40 get more of their news from satire than any one other source. Further research by the Pew Research Center from 2012 showed that among younger millennial-aged voters satire news was not only more common than traditional news, but also more trusted. Also this generation is decidedly liberal with half leaning towards the Democrats and only 34% identifying as Republicans.  Of those that lean towards the GOP, most are significantly less conservative than the rest of the party.

I say - and in fact this is mostly a comment on the rottenness of the news as covered by the main media, which I agree is propaganda rather than news.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link, but as I said: I do not believe it, not because I would not want it to be true, but because I do not like
wishful thinking.

4. Chomsky: A World in Crisis, from Isil to Ukraine  

The next item is an article by Noam Chomsky on AlterNet:

Actually, this is an interview with Chomsky conducted by the Plymouth Institute for Peace research. I think the title is correct, and I will quote only one bit:

A second no less chilling observation is the alacrity of the rush to war on all sides, in particular the instant dedication of intellectuals to the cause of their own states, with a small fringe of notable exceptions, almost all of whom were punished for their sanity and integrity -- a microcosm of the history of the cultivated and educated sectors of society, and the mass hysteria that they often articulate.

Yes, indeed: Chomsky seems right to me about "the instant dedication of intellectuals to the cause of their own states, with a small fringe of notable exceptions, almost all of whom were punished for their sanity and integrity"
- and see item 6 for two such exceptions.

5.
An Election Day Carol

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:

Actuallty, this is a carol: It is a fantasy piece, that makes Supreme Court judge Anthony Kennedy have a dream. Here is a small part of it:
“You decided that corporations are people under the First Amendment, and that independent campaign expenditures, even when made by giant corporations, don’t give rise to corruption or even the appearance of corruption,” the ghost says. “How could you have been so naïve?”
And a bit further on there is this:

“What … happened?” the Justice asks meekly.

“‘Citizen’s United,’ allowed a few giant corporations, Wall Street banks, and very wealthy people to buy American democracy. And once they bought it, there was no longer any need for Election Day. That’s why they party every year on this day.”

But as I said: This is a fantasy piece, and in fact I do not believe it: I believe Judge Kennedy knew quite well what he did, and he wanted to do it as well.

In the end, my reason is that the decisions to make corporations people (in fact with more rights than people have, and without any personal responsibility) and to make money free speech are so insane that I cannot believe that the justices of the Supreme Court did not want to make these decisions, in majority.

Final question: Do the Supreme Court judges who made the decision think it is insane? Of course not: once you are a supreme court judge you are at least as sane as anybody else. But they took a political and ideological decision, as did the Supreme Court that stopped the recounting of the Florida votes, which gave the presidency to Bush Jr., who in fact had narrowly lost, and neither decision was
sane or legal, and all three were political and ideological decisions rather than legal ones.

6. Abby Martin Uncovers 9/11 | Jesse Ventura Off The Grid - Ora TV

The next and final item for today is not an article but a video:
This is 17 minutes of video with Abby Martin being interviewed by Jesse Ventura on the latter's [2] show. It is from September, but I did not see it earlier. Also,
the two widely agree, which means the interview is a conversation between friends.

I put it up here because I like both, without agreeing with either one also, but they are sincere, intelligent and courageous, which itself is a pleasure in these
days of propaganda "news", and also I tend to agree with them on 9/11: It seems
to me considerably more probable it was a false flag operation than anything else.
But I have no proof, and indeed such a proof will be hard to give with so much
classified material.
---------------------------------
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]
I like the "'s" to indicate a genitive.


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