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. The country is screwed, the electorate is evil ... but here
are nine reasons to be cheerful
2. A nightmarish result – but a politics of hope could rise
from these ashes
3. Election 2015 live: results
day – as it happened
4. Democracy is a religion
that has failed the poor
5. Edward Snowden says
Australia’s new data
laws are 'dangerous'
6. The Trans-Pacific
Partnership: The Dirtiest Trade Deal
You’ve Never Heard Of
This is a Nederlog of Saturday, May 9,
There was an earlier file today, but that
was mostly a repeat of a similar file I wrote precisely 5 years ago.
The present file is a crisis
blog, but it is not quite ordinary, because the first four
items are about the British elections of May 7.
Here is a brief survey of the items: Item 1 is
about a bullshit piece by The
Guardian's new humorist (?) (who isn't funny, at all); item
2 is a serious
piece by The Guardian's Owen Jones; item 3 is from
a survey on The Guardian
about the elections; item 4 is a fair though quite
disappointed article by an Anglican priest, also on The Guardian. Item 5 is the first item that is not about the British
elections: it is about Edward Snowden, and is interesting, while item 6 is a
good 3 minute video on the TPP.
I am sorry if there was too much on the British elections, but I did
quote some different views, and if you don't want to read them, you're
free to skip them.
Tomorrow there will again be a normal crisis file (is my guess).
country is screwed, the electorate is evil ... but here are nine
reasons to be cheerful
item today is an article by Stuart Heritage on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
Look, I know. It hurts.
None of us were expecting this. And, upon glancing around this morning,
the overwhelming instinct is to succumb to outright despair. The
country is screwed. The electorate is evil. The UK has become a flat,
ugly, smouldering disaster zone, and by the year 2020 we’ll all be
dressed in rags and feasting on abandoned placentas for sustenance,
like the people in Threads.
This is all absolutely true. However, we are human beings. We’ve got
this far by weathering countless storms, by picking ourselves up after
being knocked down, by finding chinks of light in oppressively grey
skies. We’ve endured worse than this.
I do not know who
Stuart Heritage is. He seems to be someone who got stuck in
exaggerations, over the top claims, and general silliness, but he may
be the future top commenter of the Guardian. I don't know, except that
he is not serious and I don't like his "style".
Here is the ending of
the piece (minus a picture of a pie):
Also, we’ll all be dead
We live on a coldly
rotating speck in an ocean of total nothingness, and nothing we do can
ever truly matter. All is blackness and abstract cruelty. There is no
point to us, and soon we will be gone. The universe will spin on,
Yummy! Admittedly it’s
only National Coconut Cream Pie Day in America, and also coconut creme
pies sound legitimately disgusting, but that doesn’t matter! Pies are
fun! Whee! Let’s all eat a coconut cream pie! Eat it! Eat the pain
away! Never stop eating! Eat the pie! Eat the damn pie! Eat it!
I hope you liked this
piece on The Guardian...
2. A nightmarish result – but a politics of hope could rise
from these ashes
item is an article by Owen Jones on The Guardian:
This is a serious piece,
and it starts as follows:
It is a victory most
Tories could never have dreamed of, and a defeat beyond
the nightmares of most of their opponents.
The collapse of Labour in Scotland, and the stirring of English nationalism, Ed Miliband’s personal ratings, the blame
directed at Labour for the economic crisis, the lack of a coherent
Labour alternative, the Tories’ devastatingly effective messaging: all
could be ignored, fingers in collective ears, because the polls
consistently suggested David Cameron was heading for the exit.
The polls seemed to defy
gravity, but after the great 1992 polling calamity, it seemed
impossible they could be so monstrously wrong. And so, in the final
weeks of the campaign, the doubts could be suppressed in the name of
evicting the Tories, an outcome that seemed tantalisingly close. Well,
Because the Tories won the
elections, and in a way no one had expected.
Here is the end of the
It is beyond delusional
to believe that narrowing the political gap with the Tories will win
back SNP, Green and Ukip voters. Labour faces what happened to its
social democrat equivalents in Greece and Spain: there, they have been
challenged by more radical elements. Here, it is the SNP, the rightwing
populism of Ukip, and the Greens.
There will be a big
debate now over the future of the Labour party, and what the left does
next. This country desperately needs a politics of hope that answers
people’s everyday problems on living standards, job security, housing,
public services and the future of their children. That is needed more
than ever, no matter what happens with the Labour leadership.
What is needed is a
movement rooted in the lives of working-class people and their
communities. The future of millions of people depends on it.
I left out a good
lot, which I also don't quite agree with. I agree with the last part,
although I have two questions - and no, I really don't know the
First, while I
agree with Owen Jones that it "is beyond delusional to believe that narrowing the political
gap with the Tories will win back SNP, Green and Ukip voters", I have no idea whether the
current or next Labour leaders see it in the same or similar
Indeed, I deny that
Labour-since-Blair is a "social democrat"
party: Blair and Clinton did away with socialism and with social
democracy and pretended that what would work out very
men like themselves would also work out for the very
poor and middle class voters they deceived. (The same is true
of "social democracy" in several other European countries, and
especially in Holland.)
And since most of the
policies Labour touted since Blair were not at all socialist or
social democratic, and since most of Labour's leaders since Blair were careerists,
I have no idea where Labour will be.
Personally - and I am
not a socialist or a social democrat, and indeed have
hardly seen a real one in politics since 1980, at the latest  - I'd say that the present times are a lot
for really socialist or social democratic policies, but I also
know this may well be beyond the present supposedly "social
democratic" parties (for they presently are much like the left wing of
the liberal conservatives, and have been so for a long time).
So I really don't
Second, I have a
rather serious question about "working-class people":
Do these still exist?
I suppose there still
are a few, in their sixties or seventies, but I sincerely doubt the
forty-year olds or the twenty and thirty-year olds (i) have the
education their parents or grandparents had (and if they are poor and
not highly educated, their education seems in fact worse) and
they work as "working class" (making something in a factory,
rather than answering the phone in an office) or indeed (iii)
whether they would want to be regarded as "working class": even
if they solidly are, in terms of income and education, for it
would seem to
me that most have "learned" that they are "consumers" who don't owe any
solidarity or allegiance to anything like a "working class".
But again I really don't know.
2015 live: results day – as it happened
item is an article on The Guardian by many journalists that charted the
British elections as they happened:
The latest entry is
Nearly 12 hours have
passed since that Westminster-shattering exit poll flashed on our TV
screens like a bad joke. Perhaps Jeremy Vine has cocked up his CGI?
Nope, it’s on Sky too ... well, perhaps the poll will be wrong. Of
course, it was wrong. The Tories did even better than the bombshell
poll predicted, and Labour fared worse.
Now, for many, Britain
looks and feels like a different place, as if emerging from a night in
hospital after being treated for concussion. The 11.3 million who voted
Conservative may well be snuggling into the security blanket of a
majority government tonight. But those voters who didn’t back the
Tories are likely left feeling exposed, chilled by the uncertainty
about what might unfold. Ripping up the Human Rights Act, bringing in
the snoopers’ charter, risking an exit from the European Union.
What will these
fundamental changes mean to the future of the country? And what fresh
designs will be drawn up for Britain in the corridors of power, as the
Conservatives embark on five years of near-unfettered reign?
I don't know, except
that the England I have known for 45 years (and where I lived for more
than half a year, in the seventies and eighties) will be destroyed.
The other news I saw
in this article:
Ed Miliband resigns after
accepting responsibility for Labour defeat
Farage quits as Ukip leader after losing seat but may stand for
Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls loses seat to Tories
disappeared (I have been looking at this since early yesterday) or
moved somewhere downwards, and I'll leave them to your interests. I do
have two remarks, though:
item is an article by Giles Fraser on The Guardian:
Although I think Ed Miliband was less bad than Blair and Brown,
was no "socialist" or "social democrat" leader in any sense
that I have
seen, and I don't mind to see him leave.
And one of the very few things I liked about this election was
Farage gets no seat, and Ukip got but one seat.
4. Democracy is a religion that has failed the poor
I think the religion fits in because
Giles Fraser is "a priest-in-charge at St Mary's Newington in south
London", but this article seems mostly correct (and a whole lot better
than item 1).
This starts as follows:
Right now I feel
ashamed to be English. Ashamed to belong to a country that has clearly
identified itself as insular, self-absorbed and apparently caring so
little for the most vulnerable people among us. Why did a million
people visiting food banks make such a minimal difference? Did we just
vote for our own narrow concerns and sod the rest? Maybe that’s why the
pollsters got it so badly wrong: we are not so much a nation of shy
voters as of ashamed voters, people who want to present to the nice
polling man as socially inclusive, but who, in the privacy of the
booth, tick the box of our own self-interest.
Yes, indeed - and yes:
that Englishmen mostly voted "for [their] narrow concerns and sod the rest" seems at least one decent
for the outcome of the elections: "If you are poor or ill, too bad for
you, but fuck you!" 
There is also this:
miserable thought strikes me that Russell Brand just might have been
right. What difference did my vote make? Why indeed do people vote, and
care so passionately about voting, particularly in constituencies in
which voting one way or the other won’t make a blind bit of difference?
And why do the poor vote when, by voting, they merely give legitimacy
to a system that connives with their oppression and alienation? The
anthropologist Mukulika Banerjee suggests a fascinating answer:
elections are like religious rituals, often devoid of rational purpose
or efficacy for the individual participant, but full of symbolic
meaning. They are the nearest thing the secular has to the sacred,
presenting a moment of empowerment.
Well... Russell Brand in
the end called for voting Labour (yes, he did). As to Banerjee's
suggestion: Yes, more or less. In any case, I did not vote since
I did not have to, anymore, (in 1971), and my reason not to
was and is
that I think it utterly ridiculous to have a country's policies
decided by the outcome of elections in which at most 1 in a 1000 knows
enough about the
issues to rationally vote on them (and where a vote like mine
away by tenthousands of votes by my fine countrymen who every
sang in soccer stadiums that "All Jews Must Be Gassed!" etc. ).
But OK - these were some reflections on the last British elections.
5. Edward Snowden says Australia’s new data
item is an article by Oliver Milman on The Guardian:
This starts as
Edward Snowden has called
Australia’s new data retention laws
insisted mass surveillance has allowed acts of terror to occur rather
than foiled attacks.
whistleblower who revealed the extent of surveillance conducted by the
US National Security Agency, told a Melbourne audience Australia is adopting data retention laws that
“have been proven not to work”.
“Australia’s role in mass
surveillance around the world is similar to the UK and the Tempora
program,” Snowden said via satellite from Moscow.
everyone’s communications, it’s called pre-criminal investigation,
which means they are watching everyone all the time. They can search
through that information not just in Australia but also share with
overseas governments such as the US and UK. And it happens without
Yes, indeed. Here is
He also criticised
Australia’s attorney general, George Brandis, claiming he “doesn’t even know what metadata is”, and said
people who say they don’t worry about their privacy because they have
nothing to hide “is like saying I don’t care about free speech because
I have nothing to say”.
Again, yes indeed -
but it seems to me also likely that this position ("I don’t care about free speech because I have
nothing to say”) (1) is
the position of the great majority of computer owners, who
very little to say that is in any way interesting, and that (2) will be
- "de-mo-cra-tic-al-ly" - abused to shut up everyone who
belongs to the thinking minorities
of some kind (academics, writers, highly educated people, highly gifted
people, highly original people...).
Trans-Pacific Partnership: The Dirtiest Trade Deal You’ve Never Heard Of
item today is not an article but a video, although I will provide a
link to the file that contains the video, which is an article by Raging
Bull-Shit on his site:
Here is the video, that once again explains
the TPP, and does so quite well and in 3 minutes:
 There is a - also so-called - Socialist
Party in Holland that still may be "socialist" in some senses, but it
is not large, and it arose from a maoist-marxist- leninist group going
back to the 1970ies. That heritage is mostly discarded, but they are
still both pro socialism and too totalitarian
for my - leftist liberal - tastes.
 I have met that attitude merely 37 years in
which I was really physically ill and could not even get that
accepted, also not while I was an M.A. with a truly brilliant degree
(that not even got me 10 euros a week to have y house cleared).
 Historically quite true. This
is the Dutch
expression: "Alle Jo-den Aan 't Gas!", "Alle
Jo-den Aan 't Gas!", "Alle
Jo-den Aan 't Gas!". It may be this is a bit less now - it went
on for several decades (!) - but I can't say because I never go to
soccer stadiums. But this attitude does correspond relatively
well to the
level of the average Dutch education.