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. Paris is a warning:
there is no insulation from our wars
2. The Labour party of my
dreams would stand up for
poorer people. Where is it?
Source of Barack Obama’s Power to Trick Us Comes
from Our Willingness to Be
Arrests a Comedian For His Facebook Comments
without an end…
This is a Nederlog of
January 15, 2015.
This is a crisis log. There are
5 items with 5 dotted links. Item 1
about how the European political leaders made from the demonstration in
Paris a show for themselves; item 2
is about a real Labour party as
conceived by Simon Jenkins and David Marquand; item 3 is about the real
Obama (and from 2012); item 4 is
Glenn Greenwald on the selectivity of
"free speech"; and item 5 is a
a pensioned psychiatrist on the history of psychiatry since 1980.
Also, earlier today there was a fairly long Nederlog called "On Philosophical Assumptions".
is a warning: there is no insulation from our wars
The first item today is an
article by Seumas Milne on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
response to every jihadist-inspired terrorist attack in the west since
2001 has been to pour petrol on the flames. That was true after 9/11
when George Bush launched his war on terror, laying waste to countries
and spreading terror on a global scale. It was true in Britain after
the 2005 London bombings, when Tony Blair ripped up civil liberties and
sent thousands of British troops on a disastrous mission to
Afghanistan. And it’s been true in the aftermath
of last week’s horrific killings at Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish
supermarket in Paris.
Yes, indeed. And here is
The absurdity was there
for all to see at the “Je suis Charlie” demonstration in Paris on
Sunday. A march supposedly to defend freedom of expression was led
by serried ranks of warmongers and autocrats: from Nato war leaders
and Israel’s Binyamin Netanyahu to Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s
foreign minister, who between them have jailed, killed and flogged any
number of journalists while staging massacres and interventions that
have left hundreds of thousands dead, bombing TV stations from Serbia
to Afghanistan as they go.
The scene was beyond satire.
Yes, I found the
press reports the next day also rather revolting, precisely because
they were mostly about "our leaders", and much less about the people or
Then again, it also
seems to me as if the majority wants this (and no, I myself do not want
this, and indeed do not like any "political leader" I know of).
Labour party of my dreams would stand up for poorer people. Where is it?
The next item is an article by
Simon Jenkins on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
There is the
moment in an election campaign when I crave a choice, not an echo. That
moment is now. For starters, I want a real Labour party. I know what
the Tories are about. I have watched them at it for years. But against
them the nation surely deserves a party of what is conventionally
called the left. Where is it?
The brief answer to that
is: Tony Blair killed the Labour Party, as was, and did so that he
could succeed, which he did (he owns at least 20 million pounds
now, and possibly a lot more: he was very successful, for
The longer answer is considerably more complicated, but since - in my
view - it agrees with the brief answer, I will not try to give it here.
Simon Jenkins has quite a few paraghraphs describing what a "Real
Labour" would be, and do, and say, and propose, and you can read them
using the last dotted link, but since the real Labour party is quite
dead, I will not copy them.
He also says:
I do not advocate a vote
for such a party; I merely suggest it as a true opposition to the
ideology of the right. It would recall the radicalism of the left yet
remain within the bounds of modern electoral plausibility.
be between real options, not between leaders who disguise their fear of
radicalism with waffle about transformative authenticity, realism and
Yes, indeed. Jenkins
also has a reference to a book called "Mammon's Kingdom" by David Marquand (<- Wikipedia), which has a
review on The Guardian, from which I quote this:
- MM] is pure polemic, a raging against the dying light of a more
decent age. The last three or four decades have, in Marquand's
analysis, witnessed the defeat of decency at the hands of a hedonism.
Widening inequality, rising poverty, consumerism, decline of public
trust, class snobbery, family breakdown – all symptoms of the same
disease: "moral individualism".
While I do not think I
quite agree with Marquand (for one thing, he is too sympathetic to
David Cameron) the above quotation seems right to me.
The fall of three elites
– an intellectual clerisy, public service professionals, and
working-class leadership – paved the way for the rapid triumph of an
atomistic, relativistic individualism, market logic in economics, and
supine obedience in the civil service. These "decent elites", Marquand
laments, were replaced by "new elites, with little or no sense of
public duty. Money and celebrity became society's chief yardsticks of
merit and achievement, endlessly celebrated by a gawping media."
And in any case, there is no real Labour party anymore.
Source of Barack Obama’s Power to
Trick Us Comes from Our Willingness to Be Tricked
next item is an article by Matt Stoller on Naked Capitalism:
I should first note
that I found this thanks to a link yesterday on Naked Capitalism, but
that the article appeared there on June 25, 2012. I don't agree with
all of it, but it does give an interesting picture of Obama.
On the one hand, there is this, that most men who are at least faintly
progressive or liberal seem to believe:
On the other hand, there
is this, when you look closer to Obama's real policies and speeches:
Politicians play hardball
all the time. They lie on a regular basis, it’s one of the tricks
of the trade. But Obama’s politics, and his career, are
built on an exquisitely and brilliantly constructed narrative of
integrity and progress. He is the outsider become the insider,
the multi-racial meritocrat whose black and white heritage came
together into the ultimate conciliator and political leader. His
is the story of America, that of a brilliant Harvard Law school
educated striver with roots in community organizing, who became a
powerful orator, and then America’s first black President.
But there is another
narrative, a real narrative about Barack Obama and his administration.
Obama is the ultimate cynic, a dishonest, highly reactionary
social and corporate ladder climbing con artist. Obama is the guy
who calls a female reporter “sweety”, who plays poker with the guys,
and who thinks that his senior advisor’s
decision to cash out after making a “modest” salary of $172,000 at
the White House is just natural.
He runs on populism with a worse record than George W. Bush on income
inequality. His narcissism, and the post-modern ironic sense of
self-awareness of how his narrative is put together and tended, is his
defining character trait. It’s not just that he’s a liar.
Lyndon Johnson was a liar, but LBJ lied us into a war in Vietnam
as well as a war on poverty. FDR lied all the time, for good and
ill. Obama’s entire edifice is based on lying almost entirely to
help sustain his image, with almost no interest in sound policy-making.
Obama reads Paul Krugman – he studied the left intensely and spent
years as a community organizer. He understands his opposition,
those crying out for justice against the powerful, and finds them
laughable, finds in them weakness at best, a punchline at worst.
(...) Obama understands Saul Alinsky. He gets left-wing
ideas. But he hates the left, with the passion of any bully
towards his victims. To him, they are chumps, weak,
pathetic, losers. They are such pathetic losers, in fact, that
they will believe anything he tells them. And Obama has no
better nature, he is what he’s done in office, someone who murders
children with drone strikes and then jokes about it to his rich friends.
Note this is just a
selection. There is considerably more in the article, that also
contains this on America's pretenses:
institutions are no better, and in many ways are more malignant, than
those of many other countries. Yes, our political leaders, our
press, our military leadership, operate in service to sociopathic aims.
Yes, our freedoms are often an illusion, unless you fit a very
narrow criteria. Yes, our banks are run to rob us, yes, our CIA
spies on us, and yes, our government is fundamentally anti-democratic.
Yes, our President is a con artist, and yes, nearly every
reporter who writes about him participates in this set of lies, because
of careerism, social financial reasons, or a simple lack of competence
As I said: I don't
agree with everything, but this is an interesting article.
4. France Arrests a Comedian For His Facebook
Comments, Showing the Sham of the West’s “Free Speech” Celebration
next item is an article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
Forty-eight hours after
hosting a massive march under the banner of free expression, France opened
a criminal investigation of a controversial French comedian
for a Facebook post he wrote about the Charlie Hebdo attack, and then
this morning, arrested
him for that post on charges of “defending terrorism.” The
comedian, Dieudonné (..), previously sought elective office in
France on what he called an “anti-Zionist” platform, has had his show
banned by numerous government officials in cities throughout France,
and has been criminally prosecuted several times before
for expressing ideas banned in that country.
The apparently criminal
viewpoint he posted on Facebook declared: “Tonight, as far as
I’m concerned, I feel like Charlie Coulibaly.” Investigators concluded
that this was intended to mock the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan and
express support for the perpetrator of the Paris supermarket
killings (whose last name was “Coulibaly”). Expressing that
opinion is evidently a crime in the Republic of Liberté, which
prides itself on a line of 20th Century intellectuals – from Sartre and
Genet to Foucault and Derrida – whose hallmark was leaving no orthodoxy
or convention unmolested, no matter how sacred.
Incidentally, it is
not that Glenn Greenwald likes Dieudonné, for he doesn't: it is that
Glenn Greenwald is for freedom of expression - and he is right that
saying that one feels "like Charlie Coulibaly" is at most in bad taste,
and is not fit for being prosecuted for at all.
Glenn Greenwald also correctly diagnoses what "free speech" these days
is supposed to mean:
(..) “free speech,” in
the hands of many westerners, actually means: it is vital that
the ideas I like be protected, and the right to offend groups I dislike
be cherished; anything else is fair game.
Yes. For more, use
the last dotted link.
without an end…
The last item today is
article by 1 boring old man on his site:
This will not belong to the
crisis as most people understand it, but it is by a pensioned
psychiatrist and about psychiatry, and it is a a fairly long reflection
on psychiatry since the DSM-III of 1980.
Here are two possible narrative schemes:
The main narrative
is of a revolt against the dominant ideology of the time,
psychoanalysis, and a move into the world of "Evidence
Based Diagnosis and Treatment" – the scientific mainstream
of medicine. A contrary version describes it as the unfounded
assumption of a biological causality for mental illness and the primacy
of medication in treatment, fueled by grossly inappropriate commercial
In case you have read
parts of my DSM-series (the last
link contains most of what I wrote about it, while DSM-5: Medicine is a very sick business in the US - 2 is a good beginning), you will know
that I hold that "evidence based medicine" is an ideological slogan;
that psychiatry never was a real science and still is a pseudoscience;
that the DSMs cannot be distinguished from fraud (and yes, I do have excellent
degrees in psychology and philosophy - and see my long but thorough: DSM-5:
Question 1 of "The
six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis"); and that the "contrary version"
mentioned above at least has the merit of being true (though I also
disagree with most that the vast majority of all psychiatrists that I
have read have claimed).
Anyway - I found this an interesting post, and that is why it is