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."
Act Reform Curbed NSA; Cybersecurity Bill Would
We Know (and Don’t
Know) About This Year’s
3. Chris Hedges and Robert
Scheer: Rebellion and the
4. 8 Ways the Supreme Court
Has Been Destroying
Text Shows Big Pharma Bullies Using TPP To
Undermine Global Health
is a Nederlog of Friday June 12, 2015.
is a crisis blog,
and indeed a fairly ordinary one, though with interesting items. There
are 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about a -
meanwhile failed - attempt of Mitch McConnell to expand
domestic surveillance; item 2 is about the next
Bilderberg conference, where the leaders of the world congregate in
secrecy; item 3 is about an interview Robert Scheer
did with Chris Hedges about the latter's new book (and I found this
quite interesting); item 4 is about an interesting
article that shows the American Supreme Court has been quite harmful
in more ways than it would appear; and item 5 is
about another leaked document
about the TTP, that shows no one in his right mind (who is not very
rich and also is not Obama, who loves the TTP) wants this.
Act Reform Curbed
NSA; Cybersecurity Bill Would Empower It
item is an article by Lee Fang on The Intercept:
This starts as
The good news is the "Update".
The rest is about yet another load of crap, and I do not mean Lee Fang
or The Intercept, but what McConnell and Burr tried to push through the
Only a week after
reforms to the Patriot Act ending the National Security Agency’s
metadata phone collection program, Senate Majority Leader Mitch
McConnell, with the help of big business allies, is moving
to expand domestic surveillance of a different type.
On Tuesday, McConnell and
Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., announced plans to attach the Cybersecurity
Information Sharing Act to the National Defense Authorization Act. (Update:
On Tuesday afternoon, McConnell failed
to get the 60 votes necessary to proceed with that particular way of
passing the act.)
Though touted as a
measure strictly to enhance cybersecurity through information sharing,
privacy advocates say CISA is actually about cyber
surveillance. The bill provides liability protection for
businesses that voluntarily share “cyber-threat” data with the
government. Big business has lobbied for CISA because companies
see it as a way to shift some anti-hacking defenses onto the
government, which would save them money.
Here is some more on that CISA that - once again - shows surveillance
is really not about terrorism, at
all, though that is the pretext: it is about getting all knowledge
about everyone, so as to be able to control them forever:
essentially a cyber-surveillance bill that would empower the NSA and
FBI by giving them access to vast new troves of Americans’ information,
and let them use that information for investigations that have nothing
at all to do with cybersecurity.”
As we noted
earlier this year, CISA’s vague definition of a cybersecurity threat
that triggers information sharing with the government includes “an
imminent threat of death, serious bodily harm, or serious economic
harm,” or information that is potentially related to threats relating
to weapons of mass destruction, threats to minors, identity theft,
espionage, protection of trade secrets, and other possible offenses.
But OK - this threat
by McConnell has been thwarted. I do not think he will give up, and
indeed he is after the biggest catch the rich few have ever
What We Know (and Don’t
Know) About This Year’s Bilderberg Meeting
control of everyone, by knowing everything they think, want,
say, write, and do.
item is an article by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
This starts as
This year’s Bilderberg
conference begins Thursday.
The secretive gathering
of global elites is the stuff of conspiracy theorists’ dreams. Held at
the Interalpen-Hotel Tyrol in the Austrian Alps—less than 20 miles away
from the summit of leading industrial nations known as the Group of
Seven, or G-7—Bilderberg has an attendee list that reads like a who’s
who of imperialism and global capitalism.
The heads of Deutsche
Bank, Lazard, Banco Santander and HSBC will be joined by Benoît Coeuré,
a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank. The vice
chairman of BlackRock will also be attending, along with the CEO of J.P.
Morgan Asset Management and the president of the Royal Bank of
Big business is also
well-represented, with the heads of Michelin, Royal Dutch Shell, BP and
Siemens Austria expected to attend.
Political leadership probably will represent the largest contingent,
with the prime ministers of the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium
attending. They will be joined by Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO;
Heinz Fischer, the president of Austria; and David Petraeus—the
disgraced former CIA director now working in the private sector—who can
enjoy a cozy chat with Henry Kissinger.
I admit that I took
this item for two reasons: First, it is about the Bilderberg
conference, that gathers the most powerful people in the world in a
conference that is completely secret, apart from the fact that
it takes place, and second it
comprises "the prime
ministers of the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium" and
also David Petraeus.
And while I do not
know what makes Petraeus and the prime ministers of Finland and Belgium
electable as participants, I can make a guess about the
presence of the Dutch PM:
The Dutch comprise
some of the richest individuals there are; the structure of division of
the social product - who gets what - is much more American than
most other European countries; and some (partially) Dutch corporations,
like Royal Dutch Shell, are very important players in the
But I am guessing (and the structure of division of the social product
seems to be a closely guarded Dutch secret) while also there isn't anything
one really knows, other than that one's "democratically
elected" PM may make or help make all manner of decisions no one
will know anything about, except those who attended the
It also gives one such great
trust in the efficacy of The Democratic
While we know who will be
there and that they will discuss topics ranging from
cybersecurity to chemical weapons threats to Greece, that’s really
all we know.
That’s because no notes are
taken, and no information is released to the public. No interviews are
given, and journalists trying to interview participants at previous
meetings have been arrested.
3. Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer: Rebellion
and the Freedom Act
item is an article posted by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
Basically, this is another
interview between Chris Hedges and Robert Scheer, and this time Scheer
interviews Hedges, and the subject is Chris Hedges' new book “Wages of Rebellion”.
As I have said before, I
like both men, and I think both are among the most important
living American journalists, so I will be following this exchange again
fairly closely, both because of the persons involved and because of the
This starts as follows:
You can find my review of
Hedges on Marx here, and as I say
there: I come from a real and sincere Marxist family,
and know a lot about Marx,
whose teachings I gave up when I was 20, while I also think that very
few really read Marx (and this is also true of many
intellectuals I know who advertised their own Marxism, in the 1970ies
and 1980ies, especially).
Robert Scheer: So,
let me begin by asking about—before we get to your book, “Wages of
Rebellion,” you had an article this week on Karl Marx. And when I saw
the article and I started reading it, I thought, “This is great, but no
one’s going to read it.” And in fact, I think we’ve had over 100,000
people come to Truthdig to read it. Is that surprising to you that
there would be interest, that—
Chris Hedges: Yes. It
is. I had the same reaction you did.
Then again, turning to the interview, I was not amazed that
Hedges on Marx was popular: Hedges is a well-known journalist, while
Marx is still by far the best known left wing revolutionary
thinker, while the living in America has been grown steadily more and
more difficult for the many non-rich.
Somewhat incidentally, here is a bit about Chris Hedges and books:
CH: Well, I
think I write for a peculiar kind of reader often—I mean, I try to gear
my columns toward people who probably read books. You know, I write
columns in the same way that I write books, which is ultimately for
myself; I mean, I love books, I have 5,000 books in my house; the only
rooms that don’t have bookshelves are the bathrooms and the kitchen.
And I often will go to used-book stores, and I live within walking
distance of the Princeton University Library, one of the great research
libraries in the country. And I love just pulling, discovering a book
that I’ve never heard of—pulling it off the shelf of a bookstore, a
used-book store or a library.
It so happens that this is
just the same for me: I don't write for people who don't read books; I
have considerably more than 5,000 books; I really love books
and reading; my house is full of books; and I buy and bought most books
I owe second hand (which is also the only way I could have
assembled my library).
Here is another opinion of Hedges:
You cannot be
literate about economics if you haven’t read “Capital.” And his
political writings—“The Civil War in France,” “The 18th Brumaire [of
Louis Bonaparte],” “The Communist Manifesto”—are brilliant and
No, I disagree - and I have
read all the works Hedges mentions, simply because my Marxist parents
owed them. Indeed, part of the reason is that I believe Hedges has also
read them, but then he is the only one I know of, other than my
own late father, who did read them, for I have met many a quasi-marxist in the
University of Amsterdam, but none who had read all of these, or
indeed most of these: The vast majority of the many academic
"marxists" I have met only knew "The Communist Manifesto".
And I also disagree that the reading of "Capital" will teach you much about modern economics: If you
want to understand modern economics, from a mostly Marxist point of
view also, you should read the very much thinner "Producing of
Commodities by Means of Commodities" by Piero Sraffa.
(But again you will very probably meet very few who read and understood
it. I met no one, though I have superficially known hundreds of
Hedges also says:
I diverge, as you
correctly point out, very dramatically from Marx in that I don’t
embrace this notion that time is linear, that human progress is
inevitable, that we are going somewhere that is greater and more
glorious than where we have been. I don’t share that. And I think that
comes out of my own kind of dark understanding of human nature—partly
inculcated in the heavy Protestant Calvinist theology in which I was
raised—but I think even more significantly influenced by my 20 years as
a war correspondent in some of the most brutal conflicts (...)
With this I agree,
indeed without agreeing with Hedges on Protestant Calvinist theology,
for I am an atheist,
and my mother's family were atheists since around the 1850ies. 
Then there is this by Robert Scheer:
your book is an attempt at optimism, because you’re singling out people
who are in struggle—individuals who challenge the system. But you liken
them to religious mystics; you make them seem almost as if they’re
acting compulsively, without hope, without reason. They have to do it.
This is mostly about
modern leftist leaders. Chris Hedges may be right about them (and I
don't know) but it is not something I agree with, and indeed it
also was not what inspired my parents to be Marxists: The
crisis of the Thirties and the rise of Nazism (and the occupation of
Hedges also says (and "Niebuhr" is written as I do it):
And I think that
that is the quality of a rebel. They kind of never conform—even to
their own. They’re kind of eternal heretics. And yet they’re absolutely
vital in moments of seismic change.
I think that is too
romantic - and I have really known a lot of real marxists,
mostly though not only in or around the Dutch Communist Party, of which
my parents were prominent members, and also a great lot of mostly
especially in the University of Amsterdam, that was in the hands of
the students  from 1971-1995, and where marxism was the
dominant faith, that was apparently practised by many academics
Again, Hedges may be right about some of the leaders, but he is not
most of the many real and quasi marxists I have known, who
indeed also differed
widely in their motives.
Here is another bit by Hedges, on "the best and the brightest" of
So that, you
know, the humanities, which were once the kind of core mission of
institutions like these, are just appendages. Fewer and fewer majors,
diminished resources, and it’s all about building technical systems,
including business schools, that produce classes of service managers
for corporate power. I mean, we had at one point—I don’t know what the
figure is now—but not very long ago, we had 49 percent of the
graduating class at Harvard going into the financial services industry,
and that didn’t count all the people who went to law school to become
corporate lawyers. At that point you’re probably talking 60 or 70
percent. And Princeton is no different.
I am not amazed,
and a considerable part of my reasons not to be amazed is that I think
that the great majority of men, including most of "the best and
the brightest", are followers: They
may be smart, but they are neither original nor individualistic.
This doesn't hold for me, but then I am really an exception, not only
intellectually, but also in terms of the family I come from. Then
again, this is
another reason why I hold history is always made by minorities,
whether from the left, the right, or the center: the great majority
always follows their leaders,
indeed mostly regardless of the facts, the evidence, or the moralities
Indeed, here is
one example of that thesis (and not an example that will contribute to
your feelings of happiness):
this is the problem: It doesn’t matter what we want. I mean, there’s no
question. People don’t want corporations to—they want campaign finance.
People didn’t want bailouts for banks; constituent calls were 100 to 1
against those bailouts across the political spectrum. But they passed
anyway. When I challenged Obama in federal court against section 10-21
of the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA], opinion polls were a
97 percent disapproval rating of section 10-21, which allows the
military to be used as a domestic police force, but it passed anyway.
Because it doesn’t matter what we want.
This is quite true, though I
should also say why these - and many other - quite impopular measures are
getting passed by the Senate and the House: Mostly because "We The
People" have been succored, propagandized
and misled into
accepting many schemes of deregulation
that effectively disfranchised them (and this happened both by
Republicans and by Democrats).
Here are Robert Scheer and Chris Hedges on the American elite:
And so really, what you are suggesting is that these people, despite
their education that formed this elite, are stupid. That they are so
shortsighted, they don’t understand that they are creating the means of
their own destruction, and rendering meaningless the culture of the
life they have celebrated. Isn’t that basically what you are saying?
CH: Yes. I went to
school with them. They are stupid. I mean, they’re not stupid in terms
of being able to manage complex systems—economic systems, technical
systems—but they’re kind of stupid as human beings. In that they don’t
stop and think of what matters in life. Because what matters to them
are—and let’s go back to my divinity training—are their idols. The
monuments they build to themselves, either in terms of power or money
or maybe fame. And they’re absolutely blinded by their own hubris, and
this goes right back to classical Greek tragedy.
This seems to me mostly
correct and it also ties in with the point I made about the fact that
most people, including the intelligent ones, are followers rather
than individualists (and indeed the last is considerably more
Here is a question by
RS: In your book,
“Wages of Rebellion,” you stress that those movements have to remain
basically nonviolent, and that there’s been a corruption of violence in
your experience in revolutionary movements that led to becoming
oppressive movements. How do you defend that view, when you consider
how limited the power of nonviolence is against a whole state apparatus
I agree that
movements for radical change (let's say) need to be mostly non-
violent, and indeed part of my argument is that the state is extremely
powerful, and quite capable of crushing most armed dissent - but it is not
capable of crushing or killing millions, even if they are
willing to try.
But yes, the main
problem is: How to set these millions into movement? (They're not there
Finally, here is
Chris Hedges on Marxism:
I agree that most people
I saw who were Marxists - many, compared with most -
struck me as being involved in a political religion rather
than in rational science. And I think that is a pity, firstly because
Marxism is not a religion, originally, and secondly because if
it is regarded as a political religion, as it usually is, it will
probably fail, because - also in politics
- most illusory systems will fail, simply because they contradict the
I think many people talk
about Marxism as a kind of religion; I don’t think that’s wrong, the
belief in the inevitability of history, the dialectics of history to
reach a certain point, it gives you a kind of faith. But I do think
that’s an important element, and I think that it’s gonna be very hard
to resist without it.
But I liked this interview, and there is a lot more text under the last
dotted article. Recommended!
4. 8 Ways the Supreme Court Has Been
item is an article by Steven Rosenfeld on Alternet:
This starts as
Most people have little
idea how badly the U.S. Supreme Court has damaged American democracy.
It’s not just watching a
handful of billionaires drive the Republicans’ 2016 presidential
contest from the inside out, as a result of the Court’s Citizens
United ruling in 2010 and others that followed. There’s been a
long line of anti-democratic rulings going back decades that have
narrowed who can — and cannot — participate in politics, from citizens
to candidates to parties and reformers.
These maddening problems
and their source fill the pages of a striking new book about the First
Amendment and what the Bill of Rights is really about from New York
University legal scholar Burt Neuborne. It’s called Madison’s
Music, named after the Bill of Rights’ author James Madison.
Neuborne explains how core democratic rights have been shredded by
decades of narrow-minded rulings that intentionally ignore Madison’s
tapestry envisioning a populist, people-centered, activist politics.
I say, although I am not
very amazed. But this is an interesting article that is well worth
reading. And I will quote the eight ways Neuborne sketches, but without
the texts that explain them:
1. First big
mistake: making free speech the top right.
2. Giving the rich disproportionate political power.
3. Thwarting efforts to balance big money
4. Giving corporations more political power.
5. Ensuring the two major parties are
6. Weakening effective third parties.
7. Makes elections uncompetitive via
8. Allowing the governing class to
suppress the vote.
For more, see the
last dotted link. Recommended.
Leaked Text Shows Big
Pharma Bullies Using
TPP To Undermine Global Health
item is an article by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as
criticisms from public interest groups, newly leaked sections of the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) show how Big Pharma is employing "an
aggressive new form of transnational corporatism" to increase profits
at the expense of global health.
The TPP's "Healthcare
Annex"—which seeks to regulate government policies around medicines and
medical devices—would give big pharmaceutical companies more power over
public access to medicine while crippling public healthcare programs
around the world and "tying the hands" of the U.S. Congress in its
ability to pursue Medicare reform and lower drug costs.
There is rather a lot
more under the last dotted link which is well worth reading.
Here is the ending, that seems correct to me:
publisher Julian Assange urged readers to consider the latest leak in a
In a statement released
alongside the leaked text, Assange said, "It is a mistake to think of
the TPP as a single treaty. In reality there are three conjoined
mega-agreements, the TiSA, the TPP and the TTIP, all of which
strategically assemble into a grand unified treaty, partitioning the
world into the west versus the rest."
He continued: "The Great
Treaty is taking shape in complete secrecy, because along with its
undebated geostrategic ambitions it locks into place an aggressive new
form of transnational corporatism for which there is little public
Yes, indeed. For
considerably more click the last dotted link. Recommended.
June 13, 2015:
As to item 3 above, and Chris Hedges' fascination
with Karl Marx: I think the best explanation of what I
thought was wrong with Marx's theories (which I gave up in 1970, when I
was 20) is from August
1976. Note this
is 83 Kb, was originally 13 typed pages, and mentions rather a lot of
things - e.g. Sraffa's "Producing of Commodities by Means of
Commodities", Mills, Russell's "Power", Lewis Mumford, Robinson &
Eatwell, Stegmüller, Woodcock, Huxley, William James, and more,
and see the "Postscript on literature" also of August 1976 - that I had
all read by then, and that were not (and are
not) often read by ordinary marxists or quasi-marxists.
Indeed, there are three points to be made about Marx and Marxism (and the
last two are links to lemmas in my Philosophical Dictionary):
1. I come from a real, sincere and deeply Marxist family, unlike
most I have
met who claimed to be Marxists. Both of my parents were in
the communist resistance in WW II, and my father and his father both
were arrested in the summer of 1941, and convicted to the concentration
camp as "political terrorists",
by Dutch collaborating judges, which my grandfather did not survive.
2. In part because of this background, in part because I very early
read deeply in
Marx, and in part because most of both the
students and the lecturers and professors I met in in the University of
Amsterdam said they were Marxists (mostly
because the UvA was then owned by the students, and Marxism was very
fashionable then and there, though much less so outside
I very soon learned that most Marxists I met (i) knew hardly any of
Marx's writings and
indeed (ii) were mostly merely doing and saying what was fashionable, I
I could take at most only a very few seriously: Most were quasi-marxists
by my standards, were it only for the first reason (though I rarely
said so). Besides:
3. Although I definitely gave up Marxism in 1970, and that simply
because I had
seriously investigated it and refuted it, I
did not fall out with my parents.
I thought they were intellectually mistaken, but I also thought that
nearly all men must be, when speaking about philosophy, politics, or
religion, and I did not blame them, the more so since they
were really sincere and quite honest and quite moral, which again is a
fairly rare experience
in my meetings with other people.
So these three points, together with what I wrote in August
1976 (nearly 40 years
ago), are my reasons for not
being a Marxist, and also for not being able to take most who
claimed they were Marxists serious.
Actually, I have never had great faith in The Democratic Institutions,
basically because I think that democratic elections in which everyone
has one vote
makes it a virtual certainty - with half of the electorate having an IQ
that is maximally 100, while having almost no rational or well informed
ideas - that the governors they elect will be usually second and third
raters at best.
Then again, while granting that, the one living alternative of having the
rich few decide almost everything is far more unpalatable,
indeed in considerable part because they decide secretly and for
There really are better ways to run a state, but it seems there
are too few interested in alternatives to push these through.
 This had a special reason - a
great-great-grandmother got swindled out of her farm by Catholic
priests - but it is a fact, which means my mother's family was one of
the first atheist
families in Holland.
 This fact - that the Dutch universities
were formally in the hands of the students between 1971 and
1995 - made for a unique situation in the world, but
unfortunately no one wrote its history (apart from what I did),
and it seems that
in general the present University of Amsterdam pretends that these
years either did not exist or that nothing of any importance happened