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. New Zealand Spied on WTO
2. Journalism as Subversion
3. If We Don’t Overturn
Become Paid Employees of the
Isn’t (and Shouldn’t Have to be) for
5. The New Authoritarianism
This is a Nederlog of Monday,
March 23, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about New Zealand's spying on the WTO to advance its own
candidate in secret; item 2 is about Chris Hedges
on P. Sainath, who is an interesting Indian journalist; item
3 is about an attempt of Sen. Bernie Sanders to get rid of Citizens
United; item 4 is about Robert Reich's explaining
that "college is not for everyone"; and item 5 is
about a theory about the new authoritarianism, that depends much more
on propaganda and deception than on terror.
1. New Zealand Spied on WTO Director
item is an article by Ryan Gallagher on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:
New Zealand launched a
covert surveillance operation targeting candidates vying to be director
general of the World Trade Organization, a top-secret document reveals.
In the period leading up
to the May 2013 appointment, the country’s electronic eavesdropping
agency programmed an Internet spying system to intercept emails about a
list of high-profile candidates from Brazil, Costa Rica, Ghana,
Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Mexico, and South Korea.
New Zealand’s trade
minister Tim Groser was one of nine
candidates in contention for the position at the WTO, a powerful
international organization based in Geneva, Switzerland that negotiates
trade agreements between nations. The surveillance operation, carried
out by Government Communications Security Bureau, or GCSB, appears to
have been part of a secret effort to help Groser win the job.
Groser ultimately failed
to get the position.
I say. In fact, the
Brazilian candidate got the position, but meanwhile this is good
evidence that the morally degenerate leaders of New Zealand abuse their
own secret services to spy on the WTO so as to give their own
candidate all possible secret advantages they can give him.
There is more in the article, that also includes this "boilerplate
response" by a spokesperson for New Zealand's prime minister:
intelligence agencies have been, and continue to be, a significant
contributor to our national security and the security of New Zealanders
at home and abroad”
O Lord! I take it he
must have been referring - among others - to the grossly corrupt Sir Malcolm
Rifkind (<- Wikipedia), about whom the Wikipedia says (minus
In February 2015
Rifkind claimed to have no salary and to be self-employed when
discussing with what he thought were representatives of a Chinese
company that wanted to buy influence in the UK parliament. Rifkind
offered to get them access to British ambassadors for £5,000 to £8,000
per half day's work. The people turned out to be journalists for The Daily Telegraph and Channel 4 News who recorded the
As a result Rifkind was suspended from the party while the matter is
(In fact, he also
lied about his having "no
salary": It seems - see
Wikipedia - that he was receiving at precisely that time at least £
145,000 a year, in salaries, from Unilever, Adam Smith International,
and L.E.K. Consulting. I admit he very well may have thought that to be
very little, for a man of his abilities, according to himself. )
2. Journalism as Subversion
item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as
The assault of global
capitalism is not only an economic and political assault. It is a
cultural and historical assault. Global capitalism seeks to erase our
stories and our histories. Its systems of mass communication, which
peddle a fake intimacy with manufactured celebrities and a false sense
of belonging within a mercenary consumer culture, shut out our voices,
hopes and dreams. Salacious gossip about the elites and entertainers,
lurid tales of violence and inane trivia replace in national discourse
the actual and the real. The goal is a vast historical amnesia.
The traditions, rituals
and struggles of the poor and workingmen and workingwomen are replaced
with the vapid homogenization of mass culture. Life’s complexities are
reduced to simplistic stereotypes. Common experiences center around
what we have been fed by television and mass media. We become atomized
and alienated. Solidarity and empathy are crushed. The cult of the self
becomes paramount. And once the cult of the self is supreme we are
captives to the corporate monolith.
As the mass media, now
uniformly in the hands of large corporations, turn news into the
ridiculous chronicling of pseudo-events and pseudo-controversy we
become ever more invisible as individuals. Any reporting of the
truth—the truth about what the powerful are doing to us and how we are
struggling to endure and retain our dignity and self-respect—would
fracture and divide a global population that must be molded into
compliant consumers and obedient corporate subjects.
In fact, this is the
introduction to the Indian journalist P. Sainath
(<- Wikipedia), who is an interesting man.
I say some more about
him below, but first want to say something about the above. I more or
less agree with it, but I also have one difficulty with it: A good part
of the explanation must be that "the mass media" can "turn news into the ridiculous chronicling of pseudo-events
simply because those they deceive with their propaganda are on average too
stupid to see through it. 
But OK... this is a
quotation from Sainath on the Wikipedia:
That's when I learned
that conventional journalism was above all about the service of power.
You always give the last word to authority. I got a couple of prizes
which I didn't pick up because I was ashamed.
And this is a
quotation from Sainath from the article:
"The great journalists
are all dissidents. They spoke the truth against power and about power.
The journalism of dissent is the richest journalism we have. And the
Third World and ex-colonial countries have far richer traditions than
Europe. In the colonies, journalism was the child of the freedom
Yes, indeed. There is
rather a lot more in the article.
3. If We Don’t Overturn Citizens United,
Congress Will Become Paid Employees of the Billionaire Class
item is an article by Sen. Bernie Sanders
(<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig:
This starts as
introduced an amendment at the Senate Budget Committee. It was pretty
simple. It asked my Senate colleagues to begin the process of
overturning the disastrous Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United, and
to bring transparency and disclosure to the political process.
Here’s what I asked my
Senate colleagues to consider:
Are we comfortable with
an American political system which is being dominated by a handful of
Are we a nation that
prides ourselves on one-person, one-vote, or do we tell ordinary
Americans you’ve got one vote but the Koch brothers can spend hundreds
of millions of dollars?
Do we want a political
system in which a handful of billionaires can buy members of the United
Who are those members of
Congress elected with the help of billionaires going to be
representing? Do you think they’re going to be representing the middle
class and working families?”
The answers seem clear to
me. Unless the campaign financing system is reformed, the U.S. Congress
will become paid employees of the people who pay for their
campaigns—the billionaire class. Needless to say, not everyone on the
There is a video in
the article of slightly more than 7 m, and it emerges from that and
from the rest of the article that Sanders' amendment did not make it:
it got voted out with 12 against and 10 for.
In fact this is better than I expected, but indeed I also tend
to think that the Senate and the Congress have already been bought,
although I do not know this.
In any case, I agree with Sanders, but I do not think that he will win
the vote - even though I also think he would win if the
questions were put to a Congress that had far fewer effectively bought
But we shall see...
College Isn’t (and Shouldn’t Have to be) for Everyone
item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
This is from the
There is considerably
more on American colleges
(<-Wikipedia), but I have to admit that I do not know much about
them, which is in considerable part because
Competition for places
colleges is absurdly intense.
With inequality at record
and almost all the economic gains going to the top, there’s more
ever to get the golden ring.
A degree from a
university can open doors to elite business schools and law schools –
and to jobs
paying hundreds of thousands, if not millions, a year.
So parents who can afford
sums to give their kids an edge.
the educational system in the U.S. is quite different from what
it used to be in Europe, while also the European system has changed a lot,
and has grown considerably worse since I went to university
(when it already was quite bad).
One of the things that - still, somewhat - amaze me is that the word
"intel- ligence" does not at all occur in Reich's column,
although once upon a time at least universities were supposed
to educate the most intelligent to become intellectuals.
But then I have to grant that I also have seen a very strong tendency,
that started in Holland already in 1965, to make universities and
This did not quite succeed (and part of it also was propaganda
but it is true that modern universities are - apart from a few studies
that require a real talent, such as mathematics, physics and
chemistry - a lot simpler and easier to finish than 25 years
ago, let alone 50 years. 
also this from the end, after Reich has explained the U.S. might be
better if more people get a good technical education:
Well... yes and no.
First yes: I'd say that one should not go to university if
one's IQ is less than 130. And my reason is simple: You will not have
much of a chance on the really good jobs against those whose IQ is over
130, and it will cost a whole lot of money. And next no: One
problem is that there also seem to be few good technical
educations in the U.S. (and indeed in Holland), and so it seems you
still have some chance on a better job with a college degree
than without it, even though the job will probably be none of the best
(because so many more people are "college educated" than there used to
be), and you may need to pay back a whole lot of money.
Instead, we continue to
of our young people through a single funnel called a four-year college
education — a funnel so narrow it’s causing applicants and their
excessive stress and worry about “getting in;” that’s too often ill
suited and unnecessary,
and far too expensive; and that can cause college dropouts to feel like
failures for the rest of their lives.
It’s time to give up the
every young person has to go to college, and start offering high-school
seniors an alternative route into the middle class.
5. The New Authoritarianism
The last item
today is an article by Sergei Guriev and Daniel
Treisman on naked capitalism (and originally on VoxEU):
This starts as follows:
I more or less agree, but I
would like to have an explanation - and it seems to me this is
quite easy: "in recent decades" the press has become much
less free, indeed mostly through a combination of loosing many
advertisements, the growth of the internet, and being bought by big
corporations, which thus has become much more corporate, and
has started censoring itself, so as to please the corporations that
bought them, while it also has a lot more bullshit. 
Dictatorships are not
what they used to be. The totalitarian tyrants of the past – such as
Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot – employed terror, indoctrination, and
isolation to monopolise power. Although less ideological, many
20th-century military regimes also relied on mass violence to
intimidate dissidents. Pinochet’s agents, for instance, are thought to
have tortured and killed tens of thousands of Chileans (Roht-Arriaza
However, in recent
decades new types of authoritarianism have emerged that seem better
adapted to a world of open borders, global media, and knowledge-based
economies. From the Peru of Alberto Fujimori to the Hungary of Viktor
Orban, illiberal regimes have managed to consolidate power without
fencing off their countries or resorting to mass murder. Some bloody
military regimes and totalitarian states remain – such as Syria and
North Korea – but the balance has shifted.
But this is my own guess. I can give some statistical evidence
(there are far less independent papers, and many that have been
bought), but it would have been nice to get some more.
There is also this:
Yes - but why are so
many people taken in? It seems to me from a combination of two factors,
both of which have several branches that I will not consider here:
In a recent paper, we argue
that the distinctive feature of such new dictatorships is a
preoccupation with information (Guriev and Treisman 2015). Although
they do use violence at times, they maintain power less by terrorising
victims than by manipulating beliefs. Of course, surveillance and
propaganda were important to the old-style dictatorships, too. But
violence came first.
First, the majority is not well educated, and does not read
much nor know much; and second, there are far fewer independent
sources of news that are easily available to them that may tell
them the truth, or at least a part of it.
Again this is my own guess, for which I have some statistical evidence,
and again it would have been nice to get some more.
There is considerably more in the article (but I found it a bit
disappointing, and perhaps the article should have been longer).
 In contrast, for me - whose degrees are better
than Sitr Malcolm's, I am sure - that is about 30 years of dole. (It's
true I am ill, but not according to the
P.S. Mar 24, 2015: I fixed a note number's link. ()
to recent statistics, the average American now watches more than 4
hours of TV every day.
And yes, this makes or keeps you stupid
(which does not necessarily mean one must be unintelligent:
stupidity is a marked
or a marked presence
of unconscious ignorance.)
me remind the reader what I
have learned about how universities - and I know colleges need
universities, but I also know the term "college" is much abused and
very vague - were in the past, and in Holland before 1971, for they
certainly are no longer like it.
This is mostly the Dutch situation as was and as is:
At most 5% or so of the people of the right age got
their IQs were about 125 or higher; they had a good pre-university
with 3 or 5 foreign languages, and with mathematics, physics,
chemistry, biology, history and geography all examined both in writing
and verbally, and indeed with exams in 14 or 16 subjects.
That is as was. As is:
or so of the people of
the right age got into university; their IQs are on average less than
had a bad pre-university education with 1 or 2 foreign
mostly without mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, history or
geography; and most who got into the university were examined in 6 or 7
subjects, all taken and examined on a much lower level than
before. Also, the "universities" now take half the time of what
they did 40 or more years ago.
But they keep calling them "universities", though they educate far
less, and though those they educate are on average considerably less
intelligent than used to be the case, and they also start these days
with a much worsened pre-university education.
The above describes the Dutch situation, which I know best, but similar
things happened all over Europe, except - it seems - in Finland.
And I should also say that without a real free press, that is
also popular and widely read, a real democracy will die, simply because
the people lack the
information to make honest and rational choices.