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Nederlog


  November
24, 2014
Crisis: Crisis, More Poor, Revolutionists, NSA, Citizenfour, Medicine
  "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.
Bailouts, bail-ins and the banks: why we can’t afford
     another financial crisis

2.
Record numbers of working families in poverty due to
     low-paid jobs

3. Why We Need Professional Revolutionists
4. Campaign Seeks to Dry Out the National Security Agency
5.
Filling the Blanks in Snowden’s ‘Citizenfour’
6. promises, promises…

About ME/CFS


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 24. It is a
crisis log.

There are 6 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about the lack of money to use in case of a further crisis (I mostly agree); item 2 shows the situation is worse than
item 1 sketches: there are many more British poor; item 3 is on Chris Hedges call for professional revolutionists (I disagree, and this is today's main item); item 4
is about an attempt to stop the NSA I don't believe will succeed; item 5 is a good
review of "Citizenfour"; and item 6 is about the enormous corruptions - worth tens of billions of dollars every year - in modern medicine.


And here goes:

1. Bailouts, bail-ins and the banks: why we can’t afford another financial crisis

The first item today is an article by Larry Elliott on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:

A look into the future: David Cameron’s nightmare has come true; the slowdown in the global economy has turned into a second major recession within a decade.

In those circumstances, there would be two massive policy challenges. The first would be how to prevent the recession turning into a global slump. The second would be how to prevent the financial system from imploding.

These are the same challenges as in 2008, but this time they would be magnified. Zero interest rates and quantitative easing have already been used extensively to support activity, which would leave policymakers with a dilemma.
There is a considerable amount more, but it seems as if Larry Elliott is concluding that there is no way to prevent the next global slump, if it arrives.

And I think that is wholly correct, though I have two additions:

(1) a considerable part of the reason is that the last global slump, that of 2008, has not been properly resolved, ever, but instead has turned into a way for the big banks to shift their losses to the taxpayers, and continue their crazy and risky policies, which they also have done, and
(2) it seems rather misleading to me to speak of "another global crisis": The present one, that started in 2008, is going on and on and on for everybody who does not belong to the 1% or the 10% of the richest persons.

To see this, one way is to consider the next item, also from The Guardian:

2. Record numbers of working families in poverty due to low-paid jobs 

The next item is an article by Gwyn Topham on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

Insecure, low-paid jobs are leaving record numbers of working families in poverty, with two-thirds of people who found work in the past year taking jobs for less than the living wage, according to the latest annual report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The research shows that over the last decade, increasing numbers of pensioners have become comfortable, but at the same time incomes among the worst-off have dropped almost 10% in real terms.

Painting a picture of huge numbers trapped on low wages, the foundation said during the decade only a fifth of low-paid workers managed to move to better paid jobs.

There is also this:

Nearly 1.4 million people are on the controversial contracts that do not guarantee minimum hours, most of them in catering, accommodation, retail and administrative jobs. Meanwhile, the self-employed earn on average 13% less than they did five years ago, the foundation said.

Average wages for men working full time have dropped from £13.90 to £12.90 an hour in real terms between 2008 and 2013 and for women from £10.80 to £10.30.

Poverty wages have been exacerbated by the number of people reliant on private rented accommodation and unable to get social housing, the report said. Evictions of tenants by private landlords outstrip mortgage repossessions and are the most common cause of homelessness.

The report noted that price rises for food, energy and transport have far outstripped the accepted CPI inflation of 30% in the last decade.

I conclude that the crisis is going on and on and on - but yes: "only" for the 90% and not for the 10%, who shifted their burden to the 90%. And there is more in the article, that also ends with a blatantly false govermental statement, but the above is the gist: If you are poor, you are fucked in Cameron's Great Britain.

3. Why We Need Professional Revolutionists

The next item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:
No revolt can succeed without professional revolutionists. These revolutionists live outside the formal structures of society. They are financially insecure—Vladimir Lenin spent considerable time in exile appealing for money from disenchanted aristocrats he would later dispossess. They dedicate their lives to fomenting radical change. They do not invest energy in appealing to power to reform. They are prepared to break the law. They, more than others, recognize the fragility of the structures of authority. They are embraced by a vision that makes compromise impossible. Revolution is their full-time occupation. And no revolution is possible without them.
Well... I disagree, and I think I have very good reasons to disagree: My parents were professional marxist revolutionaries for some forty years. They also were sincere, intelligent, hard working and meant really well. But they failed to make anything like a revolution, as the Dutch Communist Party also completely failed, and indeed it was also completely shut down in 1989.

Now I realize that this argument is both partial and personal, and it also might  have been otherwise outside Holland, but I did spend considerable time reading and thinking about revolutions, socialism, communism, and anarchism, and it seems that my conclusions hold beyond Holland and beyond my own experiences.

But I cannot possibly lay out my own thinking in this brief review, so I will take up only a few points, and that partially.

First then: "
No revolt can succeed without professional revolutionists."

Well, no: Not in my experience. I have been in one revolt, in May and June of 1968 in France, that could have easily succeeded, but failed mostly because the French CP did not want a revolt, and that revolt by the students was certainly not made by "professional revolutionists", but by students who had been radicalized in the previous months. [2]

Next, here is some more by Chris Hedges:

The revolutionists call on us to ignore the political charades and spectacles orchestrated by our oligarchic masters around electoral politics. They tell us to dismiss the liberals who look to a political system that is dead. They expose the press as an echo chamber for the elites.

The revolutionist is a curious hybrid of the practical and the impractical. He or she is aware of facing nearly impossible odds. The revolutionist has at once a lucid understanding of power, along with the vagaries of human nature, and a commitment to overthrowing power.

For me, that sounds very radical, but it does not ask the right questions: Why should you believe the revolutionists? And note that the problem is not so much about "the need for a radical revolution of some kind", that many people may agree to in some sense (though the senses tend to vary with the people): the problem is about the actual analyses of the revolutionists, and about the personal integrity of their leaders.

And I have never read an actual analysis by revolutionists that made much sense to me, on any intellectual, theoretical or plannings stage (but yes: I do know a lot about science and methodology since I was 19, and few do): instead it was usually a selection from the writings of revolutionaries who had died long ago, whose ideas were supposed to support a number of recent demands. [3]

Also, I have seen most revolutions that "succeeded" the previous century, that brought about the Soviet Union and Communist China, among other things, fail horribly and very soon turn into absolute dictatorships, led by "professional revolutionists" - which then repressed more than a billion people for forty or more years.

Chris Hedges is aware there are major problems:
Movements within the revolutionary body compete for power, fight over arcane bits of doctrine, dispute tactics, form counterproductive schisms, misread power, overreach and collapse or fall victim to the insidious black propaganda that despotic authority excels in producing.
Yes, indeed - and yes I have seen an enormous amount of fights "for power, fight over arcane bits of doctrine, dispute tactics, form counterproductive schisms, misread power": in fact, it often appeared to me as if the radical students (whose radicalism I have seen from 1967 till the middle 1980ies) were mostly dedicated to that - infighting about who is to be The Leader - rather than "the revolution", which indeed never arrived, after 1968, when it failed.

But Chris Hedges is a romantic:
There is nothing rational about rebellion. To rebel against insurmountable odds is an act of faith. And without this faith the rebel is doomed. This faith is intrinsic to the rebel the way caution and prudence are intrinsic to those who seek to fit into existing power structures. The rebel, possessed by inner demons and angels, is driven by visions familiar to religious mystics. And it is the rebel alone who can save us from corporate tyranny. I do not know if these rebels will succeed. But I do know that a world without them is hopeless.
To which I say: No, no, no!

First, there is a lot that may be quite rational about rebellion: The present schema of economics is a sick schema of exploitation of the many poor by the few rich; the sales of most commodities is based on enormous amounts of propaganda and lies; the sort of work the majority of men and women are doing is sickening, poorly paid, and prevents their development in nearly all respects;  very much of nature is being wilfully destroyed forever for the sake of present profits of a few rich owners of petrol companies and such; very many of the ideals of this society are either plainly false or for the most part corrupted - and there is a lot more that I could mention.

Second, faith is blind, misleading and not necessary, if only because there is a great amount of rationality and justice that underlies calls for radical change: You don't need billionaires, CEOs who earn tens of millions, or exploitative wages and long hours of work merely to survive for the workers, nor do you need to destroy
nature, to name only two fairly self-evident things.

Third, the social rebels of any kind I know a lot about - marxists, socialists, anarchists - are not "mystics" and were not "
driven by visions familiar to religious mystics". In fact, most were not religious but were atheists or agnostics.

Fourth, it is not "
the rebel alone who can save us from corporate tyranny" just as it was not "the rebel alone" who could save us from capitalism - and in fact here I agree with Marx, who wrote "Capital" to prove - not validly, I think, but he might have - that (1) capitalism will necessarily come to grieve over its own contradictions, and that (2) real revolutionaries wait until capitalism is in crisis.

I'd suggest the same holds for corporate tyranny, which indeed does seem the most likely future for the U.S. and the West at present, but which must come to grieve over what it does to nature and the planet we live on, though indeed this
may also kill mankind (especially through an atomic war) or throw it back for hundreds of years.

In fact, I have quoted only from Chris Hedges' first page. There is a second one, much of which consists of quotations from Sheldon Wolin, that I agree more with.

For the moment I have said enough: I am no believer in professional revolutionists; I believe social systems will fail out of their own accord (though I agree this may last a long time and kill many); I am not a romantic; I insist that
the abstract need for some kind of revolution can be quite clearly explained - but one problem is that the average is neither intelligent nor well educated; and I not only lack any faith, I am against it.

But I like Chris Hedges, although I believe he is mistaken about the revolution and about revolutionaries.

4. Campaign Seeks to Dry Out the National Security Agency

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly

This starts as follows:

“The American surveillance state has an Achilles Heel,” organizers of the OffNow campaign say. “We can thwart mass surveillance without relying on Congress or [the] Supreme Court” by passing legislation that stops “the flow of state supplied water and electricity to federal agencies conducting mass, warrantless surveillance.”

The campaign began in 2013. “These spy-programs cannot continue to expand without participation and assistance from the state and local level,” the organizers continue.

I have read about this before, and reported it also, somewhere in Nederlog, I think indeed in 2013.

There is more in the article, but I think this will not work: Evidently, "the federal agencies" will decide on - say - "the human rights" of those who spy on everyone to have water and heath.


5. Filling the Blanks in Snowden’s ‘Citizenfour’

The next item is an article by James DiEugenio on Consortium News:

This is a fairly long and decent review of Poitras' film "Citizenfour" (that I still have not seen: maybe this week). It is well worth reading, but I quote only one bit of it, namely Senator Frank Church's words from 1975, because he really saw deeply and accurately:

“If a dictator ever took over, the NSA could enable it to impose a total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back. That capability could at any time be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left, such is the capability to monitor everything: telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn’t matter.  There would be no place to hide.

“I don’t want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision, so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”

And yes: Thanks to generals Haydon and Alexander, and presidents Bush Jr. and Obama, the Americans have entered that abyss, and indeed as yet there is no return from it.

6. promises, promises…

The next and final item for today is an article by 1 boring old man (in fact an American psychiatrist with a good mind and some individual courage):

This is about the crisis in health, especially - though certainly not only - in the U.S. I will quote only one paragraph, because this describes how so called "medical research" these days, and the previous three or four decades, is carried out:
Industry funded Clinical Trials are often called "research," but a better term is "product testing" since lucrative profits are on the line depending on the outcome. In theory. the Clinical Trial is heavily structured. A Protocol defines how it will be conducted and what endpoint parameters will be analyzed to reach the final conclusions. The Subjects and Investigators are blinded to the medications until the blind is broken at the end of the actual trial and the results are analyzed by the Authors according to the a priori Protocol specifications. We all know, that’s not what happens. The results are turned over to the corporate sponsor who analyze the results and use medical writers to produce the article. In many cases, the physicians and other scientists on the Author By-Line are primarily a ticket into a peer-reviewed journal, and have little if any input into the actual production of the article. And since the reader of the article can’t see any of the process that goes into the creation of what they’re reading, the data can be subtly manipulated to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. It not only can happen, it has happened in epidemic proportions – yielding enormous profits and more importantly has resulted in doctors prescribing many ineffective or sometimes harmful medications. The time for simply decrying this state of affairs has long passed. It’s time to put a stop to it, but that’s proving to be a very thorny task.
This is also why I, since I learned about this, since 2010, have completely lost my faith in "medical science", and also want to have as little to do with it as I can [4], for I do not even know that drugs that are prescribed to me are not manipulated, lied about, or misreported, though indeed I know why this is and has been done "in epidemic proportions": it very much improves the earnings of the doctors, the "corporate sponsors" and their "medical writers".

Unfortunately, it leaves the patient alone: He cannot even know whether the drugs he gets prescribed will help, will not have side-effects, and is better than alternatives, and there also is no one who, even if he wanted to, as most medical
doctors do not, can say so, with any rational confidence.

It's a very sick major medical scam, but since the doctors and the corporations profit, and profit for tens of billions of dollars also, each year, that the patient has to pay, remain ignorant, and gets treated to endless series of lies, nonsense, bullshit and propaganda.

---------------------------------
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 have spent part of the months of May and June in France, and it seems to me - still - that my analysis of it is correct: There very well might have been a revolution in France, if only the French CP and its trade unions would have supported the students. But they did not, and thus De Gaulle won.

Again, would France have turned into a marxist, socialist, anarchist or communist state had the French CP supported the students? It's speculative, but very probably not, though it would have introduced a leftist state instead of a rightist one, mostly because the rest of Europe was not ready for a real socialist revolution, and the French were internally much divided and not really clear.

[3] I do not say there are no good analyses by revolutionaries, but they are rare. Also, I have read a good amount of Lenin, of Guevara, of Mao, of Dutschke and of others, and I was never much impressed, and was regularly offended, mostly by what these supposed smart leaders clearly did not know though they should have.

Finally, as to the revolutionary prose of the late 1960ies: This was nearly all trash, I am sorry to say - wishful thinking, often composed of quotations of Marx and Lenin, that were supposed to be deep analyses but were not, combined with demands by students, that were not supported by the analyses.

[4] I realize that is difficult, but I am serious. Also, I realize few people will believe me or 1 boring old man, and the reason is basically that the great majority of people do not have my health problems since 36 years, and also
do not know anything relevant about medicine. Well, now I do know the last,
and for me the lesson is: Avoid it as best as you can, for your doctors, even
if they are good and mean well, also are in no position to say anything decently rational about recently developed medicines.



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)



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