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. No One Is Free Until All
2. As China Rises, What Game
Is President Xi Jinping
3. Will Obama Finally Order
Corporations With Federal
Contracts To Reveal Their
Publishes Call to Bomb Iran
5. Moneyballing Justice:
Reforms Ignore Real Evidence
This is a Nederlog of Monday,
March 30, 2015.
This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about the latest column of Chris Hedges; item 2
is about China and president Xi Jinping; item 3 is
about Obama; item 4 is about the very much sunken
standards in the American press; and item 5 is a
fine article on (so-called) "evidence-based" criminal reforms that are
hardly based on real evidence, as indeed is the case with most
psychology and - especially - psychiatry.
1. No One Is Free Until All Are Free
item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows, and
sounds indeed rather like the title:
The scourge of male
violence against women will not end if we dismantle the forces of
global capitalism. The scourge of male violence exists independently of
capitalism, empire and colonialism. It is a separate evil. The fight to
end male violence against women, part of a global struggle by women,
must take primacy in our own struggle. Women and girls, especially
those who are poor and of color, cannot take part in a liberation
movement until they are liberated. They cannot offer to us their
wisdom, their leadership and their passion until they are freed from
physical coercion and violent domination. This is why the fight to end
male violence across the globe is not only fundamental to our movement
but will define its success or failure. We cannot stand up for some of
the oppressed and ignore others who are oppressed. None of us is free
until all of us are free.
First the title: I disagree
with it because it is a gross overstatement.
There are quite a few ways
to see this (if you don't), and two of these are very simple
observations: (1) very few people know more than a few hundreds
of persons somewhat well (and most know fewer) and (2) there are three
times more persons in the world than there are seconds in
the life of a 70 year old.
The third is an inference
from these two basic facts:
Even if one agrees to the
sentiment in the title, there are very many more people than
one ever can get to know, and freedom is mostly local and legal
i.e. it depends in considerable part on the ethics and morality of the
people one deals with in one's life, which in turn depends in considerable part on the society one lives
in, its laws, and the extent to which these are factually practised.
Second, the statement that "Women and girls, especially those who are
poor and of color, cannot take part in a liberation movement until they
are liberated" also is a gross
Liberation movements are not
only maintained by liberated persons; what and who is "liberated"
anyway is a difficult question, although it is clear there are very
many degrees of liberation, and quite a few kinds; and indeed if I
translated the statement to males it seems rather a lot like saying
that a man like my father, who was a quite intelligent marxist for some 45
years (with an IQ over 135), could not take part in the communist
movement until he had finished a university (for which there was no
money) in which he would have learned to liberate himself of his lack
of - say - academic economic knowledge.
It so happens that I think
my father was mistaken, but then so are all people in quite
serious ways as well (and there are as many ways to be mistaken as
there are human mistakes), while he did as well as he could and as he
So while I agree with some
of Chris Hedges' sentiments and indeed agree with
him on prostitution more than not, it seems to me this first paragraph
is seriously exaggerated in some points.
Here is some background (and Hedges' article is put together from the
speech he made at Simon Fraser University):
On Friday night at Simon
Fraser University—where my stance on prostitution, expressed in a March
8 Truthdig column titled “The
Whoredom of the Left,” had seen the organizers of a conference on
resource extraction attempt to ban me from the gathering, an action
they revoked after protests from radical feminists—I confronted the
sickness of a predatory society.
This is quite true: On March 9 I reviewed the mentioned column,
with some praise and some criticisms, but more praise than criticism,
and on March 15 I angrily dismissed the
attempts of (it seems: anonymous) "sex workers" to deny Chris Hedges'
right to speak.
Here is - to start with
- Chris Hedges' appreciation of neoliberal capitalism:
These vast predatory
enterprises hold up the possibility of personal wealth, personal
advancement and personal power at the expense of everyone and
everything else. They create a huge, permanent divide between the
exploiters and the exploited, one that is rarely crossed.
I mostly agree, and
indeed would add that the propagandists
of neoliberal capitalism,
the so-called "public
relations" corporations, have widely spread the complete
lies that "personal
wealth, personal advancement and personal power"
are there for everyone, and succeeded in convincing especially
the many who are dumb and poor that they too may get rich.
And this is Chris Hedges'
extension of his theme to prostitution:
Sexual slavery—and not
incidentally pornography—is always one of war’s most lucrative
industries. This is not accidental. For war, like destroying the planet
for plunder, is also a predatory endeavor. It is a denial of the
sacred. It is a turning away from reverence. Human beings, like the
Earth itself, become objects to destroy or be gratified by, or both.
They become mere commodities that have no intrinsic value beyond
monetary worth. The pillage of the Earth, like war, is about lust,
power and domination. The violence, plunder, destruction, forced labor,
torture, slavery and, yes, prostitution are all part of unfettered
capitalism, a single evil. And we will stand united or divided against
this evil. To ignore parts of this evil, to say that some forms of
predatory behavior are acceptable and others are not, will render us
powerless in its face. The goal of the imperialists and corporate
oligarchs is to keep the oppressed divided. And they are doing a good
I do not quite agree, but
surely this is more correct than its denial, also in view of the
following, that seems mostly correct to me:
Imagine what it would be
like for your mouth, your vagina and your rectum to be penetrated every
day, over and over, by strange men who called you “bitch,” “slut,”
“cunt” and “whore,” who slapped and hit you, and then to be beaten by a
pimp. This is not sex. And it is not sex work. It is gang rape.
Back to (neoliberal)
capitalism and its offshoots:
The object of corporate
culture, neoliberal ideology, imperialism and colonialism is to strip
people of their human attributes. Our identity as distinct human beings
must be removed. Our history and our dignity must be obliterated. The
goal is to turn every form of life into a commodity to exploit. And
girls and women are high on the list.
You may think this is also
exaggerated, but it certainly is the case that "(t)he object of corporate culture" "is
to turn every form of life into a commodity to exploit" - or perhaps rather to insist that what
cannot be made a fine profit on
must be quite worthless (which I completely disagree with, but
which is the dominant value of neoliberal capitalism).
My final quotation is about
what the ethics of neoliberal capitalism - whatever is not profitable
is worthless; whoever does not make big profits is worthless; greed is
good, and selfishness is moral - will lead to:
I mostly agree (though I am not
a great fan of "the communal" or "the
sacred"), although I am cynical
enough to believe that the very rich may succeed in destroying
90% of mankind and may try to live ever happily afterward.
The ethic peddled by
capitalist and imperialist elites, the cult of the self, the banishing
of empathy, the belief that violence can be used to make the world
conform, require the destruction of the communal and the destruction of
the sacred. This corrupt ethic, if not broken, will mean the end of not
only human society but the human species. The elites who orchestrate
this pillage, like elites who pillaged parts of the globe in the past,
probably believe they can outrun their own destructiveness. They think
that their wealth, privilege and gated communities will save them.
2. As China Rises, What Game Is President
Xi Jinping Playing?
This is mostly a review
of an article by Natalie Nougaryede in The Guardian, but since I think
she is neither clever nor has the right intellectual equipment (I am
sorry, but that is what I think) I skip that, and merely quote
the former PM of Australia, Kevin Rudd, who summed up Xi Jinping as
item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
That seems fair enough -
and China probably will overtake the U.S. this century, and become the
strongest nation in the world (which may and probably will change a lot).
First, in the face of
“endemic corruption ... concerns about China’s ability to maintain
strong growth” and rising “pollution levels that can provoke public
outrage,” Xi wants to maintain the central authority of the Chinese
Second, “Xi wants to
re-gear China’s economy from an old (export-led) economic model to a
new (domestic consumption-led) model. ... a huge task, especially when
growth rates are slowing down.”
Third, “China wants to
continue to seize what its official lexicon calls a ‘strategic
opportunity’ to increase its global influence.” This requires a
commitment by China to lower tensions between Asian nations.
Obama Finally Order Corporations With Federal Contracts To Reveal Their
item is an article by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
This startd as follows:
After years of fruitless
negotiating with Republicans, the White House has turned to the power
of its pen — executive orders — to make progress on many needed
So why is President Obama
still hesitating on what should be a no-brainer: requiring corporations
with federal contracts to reveal their political spending?
Corporations owned by
David and Charles Koch, which have received
an estimated $100 million from the federal government in recent years,
would be affected. The libertarian industrialists have put hundreds of
millions into an array of pro-GOP groups in recent years, according to
They are perhaps the best-known example of using very big money to tilt
electoral outcomes, but they are hardly alone in today's political
I selected this
article because I wanted an answer to the question its title asks, but
this I did not get.
And I cannot forego
the opportunity to ask why President Obama supported the banks'
managers, why President
Obama and his government did not prosecute the completely corrupt and
fraudulent bank's managers, why President Obama supports the TTP, and why President Obama supports the TTIP?!
(My answer: Because he wants to. He wanted power, not
"Change!", and he got it.)
Publishes Call to Bomb Iran
item is an article by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
Indeed. I agree with
Robert Parry that this is quite crazy, but nowadays seems to be accepted
in the top of the leading papers in the U.S.
If two major newspapers
in, say, Russia published major articles openly advocating the
unprovoked bombing of a country, say, Israel, the U.S. government and
news media would be aflame with denunciations about “aggression,”
“criminality,” “madness,” and “behavior not fitting the Twenty-first
But when the newspapers
are American – the New York Times and the Washington Post – and the
target country is Iran, no one in the U.S. government and
media bats an eye. These inflammatory articles – these incitements
to murder and violation of international law – are considered just
normal discussion in the Land of Exceptionalism.
On Thursday, the New York
Times printed an op-ed that urged the bombing of Iran as an alternative
to reaching a diplomatic agreement that would sharply curtail Iran’s
nuclear program and ensure that it was used only for peaceful
purposes. The Post published a similar “we-must-bomb-Iran” op-ed two
There is considerably more in the article, that is good.
Moneyballing Justice: "Evidence-Based" Criminal Reforms Ignore Real
item for today is an article by Nancy A. Heitzeg and Kay Whitlock:
This starts as follows:
There is a lot more, for
this is a long article, that is also quite good, and that deserves to
Proponents of the new
wave of "criminal justice reform" claim that their efforts are
nonpartisan, non-ideological and "evidence- based."
frame asserts that mass incarceration and "overcriminalization" will be
remedied by a handful of sentencing reforms affecting "low-level"
offenders. An essential element of such reform is the widespread use of
"evidence-based risk-assessment" instruments to purportedly help
authorities objectively determine who is "dangerous" - and therefore
must remain in prison - and who is not.
This isn't a miracle
cure; it is a lavishly funded public relations campaign advancing
unfettered free-market "solutions" to criminal justice dilemmas and the
politics of austerity. "Bipartisanship" is driven by a right-wing agenda and support from a constellation
of libertarian and neoliberal economic interests. It is funded by Koch
Industries and a handful of foundations and deep-pocketed donors. Yes,
some high-profile people and groups considered liberal have signed on -
but to messaging and strategic direction already established by the
In fact, I selected this article because it contained the term
(including the quotation marks) ""Evidence-Based"",
since I know that as soon as "a science" insists it is "evidence-based"
it is using a purely propagandistic term ("evidence-based") that very strongly suggests
that the "science" (if it ever was a real science) is no longer
being used in a really scientific way. 
I will explain, but must start this explanation by pointing out that I
have an excellent B.A. in philosophy and an even better M.A. in
psychology (average: 9.3 out out of 10 maximal), while in both studies
I was mostly interested in mathematical logic, philosophy
of science and statistics, and I know a whole lot
of these subjects (that I will not use in this section, but
which is a quite relevant fact).
Also, while the article - very correctly - finds fault with
"evidence-based" criminology (which in fact is not a real
science) I found out what is wrong with "evidence-based" "science" when I researched psychiatry,
that also is not and never was a real science.
(It is a pseudoscience,
"science" means is this - and I present it as a series of steps that a
supposed "scientist" who is employed in some university may follow:
(1) pick out a theme that interests journalists and politicians (2)
select some 14-18 "volunteers" and a p-value (3) reduce the theme to 8
or 10 multiple choice questions (4) let the ca. 15 "volunteers" -
usually first-year students - answer the 8 or 10 questions (and
steps (2)-(4) are glossed over by Diederik Stapel
and his many dishonest "scientific" mates: they make their own
evidence, in secret) and (5) calculate whether the p-value is
contradicted (6) if it is, send in the paper for publication and phone
or mail a journalist or two (and inform some politicians); if it is
not, forget about it and try another theme.
And that is it - and with some luck you become "a world famous
scientist" like Diederik Stapel, and you can "prove" that
in the streets leads to discrimination
which again will be used
by politicians to motivate spending millions on this and
that is supposedly "scientifically justified" by this crap. Or
alternatively, you can "prove" that psychiatric medicines "work".
Meat-eating leads to boorishness and anti-social behavior
wrong with this? In brief: Everything. This is not science but fraud:
Your theme should not be chosen as one that interests
journalists; the volunteers are far too little and generally
also not varied enough; the p-value, that is supposed to measure the
chance that you are right, is generally completely unlike any
p-value physicists use (1 in 20 versus 1 in 10 million are good
examples) and far too small; the questions that reduce the
theme to experiment are complete reductions of the theme to "empirical
outcomes", and are generally false and misleading; the reason to
publish - "Wow! We are 95% correct! This is publishable!" - is
generally bullshit (for real science you need experiments with
a much higher probability), and this whole way of doing
"science" is fundamentally fraudulent - but is the
norm in "sciences" like psychology and psychiatry.
For more, see my "The excellence
of Dutch science & psychology: Diederik Stapel" and Paul Lutus's "Is psychology a
science?" As to Stapel:
No journalist ever got a chance for a really decent
interview; he has not been punished for 15 years of
scientific fraud and at least 55 fraudulent articles; he has a
new job in which he makes again good money; he avoided being
prosecuted; he did not cooperate to establish which of his
articles were frauds; and his book "Derailment", in which he
tried to excuse himself, seems again full of lines that were not
thought of by himself but by James Joyce and Raymond Carver.
In brief: Fraudulent science pays very well, and the few who
get caught - at least if they are Dutch - are hardly punished. Besides:
one may be a fraudulent scientist without being dishonest (or just a
little), which is also what Diederik Stapel says.
 Here is the reason "evidence-based" is propaganda
(that is also wholly apart from the fact that the methodology of "evidence-based" is total bullshit):
It very strongly and quite falsely suggests that the
"science" or science before
it was formally declared to be "evidence-based" was not based on evidence - which is completely
false (i) because every real empirical science is based on
evidence, and (ii) because the evidence it was based on was in general not
a carefully crafted fraudulent method that forced decisions on the
basis of reductive statistical tests with a p-value that can be
"tested" with 16 or so "volunteers" on the basis of some