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Nederlog

July 7, 2015
Why no uploads (7) + Crisis Materials + Jay&Scheer 8 + Treason of Intellectuals
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton















Prev- crisis -Next

 Sections

            Introduction
1. Why there are no uploads on my site since June 29
2. Crisis materials (links, without reviews or with short
     reviews)
3.
VIDEO: Robert Scheer: Foreign Entanglements Derailed
     the American Experiment (Part 8/10)

4.
The Treason of the Intellectuals 


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday July 7, 2015.

This is not a normal crisis file or Nederlog because while I can write it, I can't upload it, and this also may take some days to sort out.

I explain this in a little more detail in item 1, which you can skip if you read it before, though it is a bit new today.

Here are today's items: item 1 is a (shortened) explanation on why there are no uploads; item 2 contains four articles with brief reviews; item 3 is a longer review of Part 8 of the interview Paul Jay did with Robert Scheer; and item 4 is a longer
review of an article by Chris Hedges on "The Treason of the Intellectuals".
  
1. Why there are no uploads on my site since June 29, 2015

The basic reason is this: The programs I use for uploading the sites, which happens with FTP (<-Wikipedia) stopped suddenly and unaccountably on June
29, and since then I have not been able to start them again.

There is more here but I am shortening this section, since it repeats.

Now that the heat is gone, I succeeded in getting new FTP passwords installed,
but I did not yet succeed in installing the new FTP program.

Ah well... I keep trying, and I think the passwords were one hurdle (and probably the biggest one) that I have passed.

Incidentally, the site does have more visitors this month.

2. Crisis materials (links, mostly without reviews or with short ones)

The next item today is a list of articles with links. I will keep looking every morning at around 40 sites and collect interesting articles, but for the moment I will not review most of them: I merely list them.

This has two advantages: Less work for me, but possibly more articles for my readers. I found four articles that I will review briefly and that are in this section, and two that I will review a bit more extensively, in the next two sections.

Here they are: Titles + links + author(s) + site:

This is by Cora Currier and Lee Fang on The Intercept. This starts as follows:

The FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Army have all bought controversial software that allows users to take remote control of suspects’ computers, recording their calls, emails, keystrokes and even activating their cameras, according to internal documents hacked from the software’s Italian manufacturer.

The company, Hacking Team, has also been aggressively marketing the software to other U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies (...)
There you are: Soon the ACLU and other opponents of universal spying cannot rely anymore on its own site, emails, or anything, for they are or may be hacked... (and yes, I really think that is possible now, although I have no evidence it is being done now).

Next, there is this:

This is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. This starts as follows:

In Fayoush, Yemen this morning, just outside of Aden, “a massive airstrike” hit a marketplace and killed at least 45 civilians, wounding another 50. Officials told the AP that “bodies were strewn about following the strike.” The bombing was carried out by what is typically referred to as a “Saudi-led coalition”; it is rarely mentioned in Western media reports that the U.S. is providing very substantial support to this “Saudi-led” war in Yemen, now in its fifth month, which has repeatedly, recklessly killed Yemeni civilians.

Because these deaths of innocents are at the hands of the U.S. government and its despotic allies, it is very predictable how they will be covered in the U.S. None of the victims will be profiled in American media; it’ll be very surprising if any of their names are even mentioned. No major American television outlet will interview their grieving families. Americans will never learn about their extinguished life aspirations, or the children turned into orphans, or the parents who will now bury their infants. There will be no #FayoushStrong Twitter hashtags trending in the U.S. It’ll be like it never happened: blissful ignorance.

This is the pattern that repeats itself over and over.

And this non-mentioning of the non-American victims of American actions is of course a strong form of propaganda.

But yes... it is a well-known and very widely practised form of propaganda: The victims We make among Them are never mentioned other than very briefly and very impersonally; the victims They make among Us are written about extensively and in considerable personal detail.

Next, there is this:

This is by Staff and agencies on The Guardian. This starts as follows:

The sell-off on Chinese stocks continued on Tuesday despite government efforts to bolster the markets amid investor unease that premier Li Keqiang failed to mention the deepening crisis in a statement on the economy.

Before the market opened, Li said in comments on a government website that China had the confidence and ability to deal with challenges faced by its economy, but had nothing to say on the three-week plunge that has knocked around 30% off Chinese shares since mid-June.

This is not good news, but I should add (from other sources) that over the last year the growth in values of the Chinese shares was 120%.

Next, there is this:

This is by Aditya Chakrabortty on The Guardian. This starts as follows:

The challenge facing Europe today goes far wider and deeper than how to handle a small bankrupt country holding only 2% of the EU’s population. No, the bigger question is this: can Europe handle democracy, however awkward and messy and downright truculent it may be? The answer to that will probably decide whether the euro lives on as the currency of 19 nations.

This is a reasonable article, but I am more pessimistic than Aditya Chakrabortty:

The EU is not a democracy; many of its leaders are not elected; and "austerity" simply is the policy the world's leading banks love to see, and do see, even though there is no democratic support.

Then again, Aditya Chakrabortty sees this as well:

Austerity is not some policy mistake the eurozone’s leaders have absent-mindedly made – like a weekend motorist blindly following the satnav into a cul-de-sac. On the contrary, the bone-headed and self-defeating policy of forcing Greece to make severe spending cuts amid an economic depression is a direct product of the eurozone’s lack of democracy.

And he also sees "that the euro is ruled by institutions that are almost entirely unelected and unaccountable":

Whatever the charges against Tsipras and Syriza, however, they are dwarfed by those that could be laid against the eurozone’s elite. The problems here are not just personal; they are structural. It remains the case that the euro is ruled by institutions that are almost entirely unelected and unaccountable – the ECB and the European commission are not directly answerable to the millions of Europeans who have been impoverished by their handling of the crisis. Then there is the Eurogroup of finance ministers. To see how close these ad hoc summits get to democracy, imagine ministers from 18 other governments telling your country how its next budget should look. That is what eurozone democracy often looks like to a Greek or Portuguese or Irish finance minister.

It is no democracy; it was no democracy; it was never meant to be a democracy:

Europe is led by an unelected group of mostly unelected leaders who try to do what the biggest banks want them to do, and that state of affairs - it is no democracy; it was no democracy; it was never meant to be a democracy -
also was intended to be so from the beginning.

3. VIDEO: Robert Scheer: Foreign Entanglements Derailed the American Experiment (Part 8/10)
This is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This is part 8 of a series of 10, of which I have reviewed the first seven parts. Part 7 is here and you can find some more details there.

I immediately jump in with a part of Alexander Reed Kelly's summary (and "TRNN" = "The Real News Network"):
(...) Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer tells TRNN Senior Editor Paul Jay that over time, American leaders have “lost sight of the essential wisdom of the American experiment,” which was that if you enable prosperity “for your own people, and if it’s good, others will follow it.”

How did the U.S. get into this predicament? “Because of the very thing that George Washington warned about, the impostures of pretended patriotism,” Scheer says. “We get into it because we haven’t avoided foreign entanglements. So we see we get crazed with hysteria—oh, they did that to us. They’re the enemy. They’re going to get us. They’re going to blow us up. They’re going to—you know, irrationality. Nationalism has an irrational side. Warmaking appeals to people. There’s a culture that supports warmaking and stupidity and simplicity.”

Yes indeed: "There’s a culture that supports warmaking and stupidity and simplicity" - and no, it isn't just American, though indeed there is a lot of stupidity and simplicity in the United States (and also some quite intelligent
and informed people, but not in a majority, while there voices tend to be not
heard as soon as they say something that doesn't fit the dominant propaganda).

This is from the beginning:

PAUL JAY, FOR TRNN: So we ended the last segment talking about how do we get to this saner, more rational kind of society. And maybe you can even contextualize it a bit in terms of what’s happening with the destruction of democracy, both through snooping and what’s happening to the electoral system.

PROF. ROBERT SCHEER, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR: But why are they snooping? They’re snooping because they say we have enemies everywhere. And why do we have enemies everywhere? Because we put ourselves up as this nation that can determine everything for everyone. Okay? And we lost sight of the essential wisdom of the American experiment, you know, which was our framers, which is do it here, do it for your own people, and if it’s good, others will follow it.
Yes - but they are not snooping on everyone because "we have enemies everywhere": They are snooping on everyone because they can, because
the president helps keeping it all very secret, and because this will give
the government more power over its population than any government has ever had
. It is as simple as that: They are spying in order to get absolute power over anyone.

Here is a bit of Scheer lifted from a much larger argument:
SCHEER: I am a big believer in the American experiment, not as something that has succeeded in every respect or has the answer for everyone else, but there are some very good qualities.
Yes, and I quite accept that. Also, Robert Scheer has some good personal arguments for his position. (I don't think I quite agree with him on the U.S.A. but then my parents were not quite like his parents were: Very poor immigrants from very poor countries.)

There is this on a quite radical change in values and priorities in the USA:

SCHEER: You now have a situation where in every American city the people who are going to be the most successful have mostly turned their back on the public schools, the most sacred American institution. You know, if you go back to Jefferson or anyone, it was a notion of public access to ideas, to books, to education.

We have lost that idea. We have a tiered system. And you go to the good school, you’ll get ahead. You go to this school, you won’t get ahead.
I selected this because I think good education is very important, but the reason that there is no more good public education in the USA is part of the radical change in values and priorities in the USA that effectively meant the end of democracy, democratic values and fair sharing, and the start of authoritarianism,
bankmanagers' values, and profit as the only criterion.

Also, I think this project of changing the whole orientation and repealing the democratic values that were active from 1945-1980 was quite deliberate and
a major success: The bankmanagers have won - dishonestly, unfairly, by corrupting people, by buying people, by false propaganda, but they have won.

This is how it was, plus an explanation for why it changed:

SCHEER: So if we got back to a notion of what excited de Tocqueville in writing about America or any of the other visitors, it was a social network, (..) and that opportunity was built into the network, a certain classlessness, the idea that anyone could sort of get ahead, survive, succeed. And we’ve lost that. And we’ve lost that because our resources have been taken off to foreign adventure.
Well...yes and no.

First about the "classlessness" of the "social network". I agree there is something to this from, say, 1830-1930, judging from the books I have read (that include De Tocqueville's "Democracy in America" and the books of Mark Twain and Walt Whitman, among quite a few others), but I think especially the classlessness was
more ideology than fact, and in so far it was fact, it was mostly due to the two
facts in the background that (i) there were very many poor immigrants in these
hundred years, who all started very poor and quite hopeful, and (ii) there were good schools, that were accessible to most of their children.

Second, the USA has lost that mainly because its rich decided that they could rule mostly without
democratic input, but instead through propaganda, advertisements, deception and the educated stupidity of the masses, and it succeeded in realizing most of that from 1980 onwards, starting with Reagan (and continuing through all its presidents since: Reagan, Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama).

Here is Robert Scheer on the current situation:
SCHEER: Instead of having a rational discussion about how can we minimize our involvement with all that, which is real, because we are sticking our stick in the eye of all of these things—religious fanaticism, nationalism, what have you. You know, we’re somehow off on this crazy crusade to get as many people angry with us as we possibly can. It’s the only rhythm or logic to our foreign policy.
Again, yes and no, and indeed Paul Jay has a sound point here:
JAY: But it’s not just lunacy. And they’re not trying to solve a problem in Iraq. They’re trying to make money. The current situation is making money for a very top stratum of people, historic amounts of money in historically few number of hands. It’s not total lunacy. It works for them.
Yes, precisely: the policies of the "very top stratum of people", which is to enrich the very top stratum of people, works because they succeeded in getting rid of nearly all democratic control and nearly all legal restraints on profiting.

The very rich live and prosper because they do not have to answer to their governments anymore, because the government is composed from the very rich,
and they can essentially do what they want because they succeeded in deregulating all controls on their actions.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link.


4. The Treason of the Intellectuals

This is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
I should start by saying Truthdig decided to republish this article from March 31, 2013. I missed it then (and didn't track the crisis as closely as I did since June 10, 2013) and will review it now.

This starts as follows:
The rewriting of history by the power elite was painfully evident as the nation marked the 10th anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. Some claimed they had opposed the war when they had not. Others among “Bush’s useful idiots” argued that they had merely acted in good faith on the information available; if they had known then what they know now, they assured us, they would have acted differently. This, of course, is false.
Yes - and it is "of course, (..) false" because leaders of opinion these days nearly always got to be leaders of opinion (with daily or weekly columns in the main media, or daily or weekly appearances on TV) because of their remarkable abilities and willingness to lie, to pretend, and to deceive.

They are nearly all personal careerists who pretend to be "servants of the people" but whose public activities all are undertaken to benefit their own incomes.

And there is considerably more, for the modern leaders of opinion not only lie and deceive for their own interests: they also try to wrack the careers of anyone who opposes their points of view:

These apologists, however, acted not only as cheerleaders for war; in most cases they ridiculed and attempted to discredit anyone who questioned the call to invade Iraq. Kristof, in The New York Times, attacked the filmmaker Michael Moore as a conspiracy theorist and wrote that anti-war voices were only polarizing what he termed “the political cesspool.” Hitchens said that those who opposed the attack on Iraq “do not think that Saddam Hussein is a bad guy at all.” He called the typical anti-war protester a “blithering ex-flower child or ranting neo-Stalinist.” The halfhearted mea culpas by many of these courtiers a decade later always fail to mention the most pernicious and fundamental role they played in the buildup to the war—shutting down public debate. Those of us who spoke out against the war, faced with the onslaught of right-wing “patriots” and their liberal apologists, became pariahs. In my case it did not matter that I was an Arabic speaker. It did not matter that I had spent seven years in the Middle East, including months in Iraq, as a foreign correspondent. It did not matter that I knew the instrument of war. The critique that I and other opponents of war delivered, no matter how well grounded in fact and experience, turned us into objects of scorn by a liberal elite that cravenly wanted to demonstrate its own “patriotism” and “realism” about national security. The liberal class fueled a rabid, irrational hatred of all war critics.
Yes, except that I would have written "liberal", that is, liberal between quotes - but I am aware this is a vague term, that also is used a bit different in American English from how it is used in Europe.

But Chris Hedges is right that nearly all proponents of the war did try to shut "
down public debate", and mostly succeeded (as testified by - among other things - Hedges' loosing his job on The New York Times).

Incidentally, I wonder what are the main causes for this fact: the attack on 9/11/2001; the out and out propaganda of the Bush government; the collapse (mostly achieved by 2001) of a strong free press paid by paper advertisements; or the - anyway existing - strong tendency for most "public intellectuals" to be - in fact, although they never honestly say so - careerists: that to be a successful public intellectual requires in most a strong careerist interest in one's own financial well-being coupled with a considerable dishonesty. (I really don't know which is the most important.)

Then there is this:
The power elite, especially the liberal elite, has always been willing to sacrifice integrity and truth for power, personal advancement, foundation grants, awards, tenured professorships, columns, book contracts, television appearances, generous lecture fees and social status. They know what they need to say. They know which ideology they have to serve. They know what lies must be told—the biggest being that they take moral stances on issues that aren’t safe and anodyne. They have been at this game a long time. And they will, should their careers require it, happily sell us out again.
I would not have used the term "power elite", because journalists and public intellectuals very rarely belong to the power elite: they belong to an elite, but
it is the elite of the well-paid servants of the power elite.

Chris Hedges also quotes Edward Said, who might have been describing the Dutch journalistic elite (nearly all former leftists):
“Nothing in my view is more reprehensible than those habits of mind in the intellectual that induce avoidance, that characteristic turning away from a difficult and principled position, which you know to be the right one, but which you decide not to take,” wrote the late Edward Said. “You do not want to appear too political; you are afraid of seeming controversial; you want to keep a reputation for being balanced, objective, moderate; your hope is to be asked back, to consult, to be on a board or prestigious committee, and so to remain within the responsible mainstream; someday you hope to get an honorary degree, a big prize, perhaps even an ambassadorship.”
Precisely - and the most successful of these government propagandists did "get an honorary degree, a big prize", also in Holland.

And here is Hedges quoting Baran:
“The desire to tell the truth,” wrote Paul Baran, the brilliant Marxist economist and author of “The Political Economy of Growth,” is “only one condition for being an intellectual. The other is courage, readiness to carry on rational inquiry to wherever it may lead … to withstand … comfortable and lucrative conformity.”
I agree: it needs both a strong interest in the truth and a strong interest in being a non-conformist if this is required for knowing or telling the truth.

But I also know this is for the few:  My father's father ended up as a courageous non-conformist, and was locked up in a German concentration camp for resisting the Nazis, where he was murdered; my father was a non-conformist from age 22, and
was locked up in a German concentration camp for resisting the Nazis; I was a non-conformist from birth, and was removed from the University of Amsterdam briefly before taking my (brilliant) M.A. in philosophy because I insisted, as an
invited speaker, that truth exists (nearly everyone at the time in the University of Amsterdam insisted that "everybody knows that truth does not exist") and that I was not a communist (while at that time most leading philosophy-students were communists) and I also was the only persom since WW II ended who was removed from a Dutch university - while being a serious invalid! - for saying
- politely - what he thought). [1]

Also by now (and different from my thirties) I believe that there always are only a few real non-conformists, just as I believe now (
again different from my thirties) that only a small percentage is capable of and interested in knowing scientific truth (in any detail).

In both cases, this is at most 1 in 10, and probably fewer.
[1]

-----------------------------------------------------------
Notes

[1] How rare were these positions? Here are some indications: My father and his father were 2 of the around 3000 persons who went into the armed resistance against the Nazis; in contrast, there were 25,000 Dutchmen who volunteered for the Waffen-SS and succeeded in joining it. In the University of Amsterdam, my student party got 1 seat; the other student parties - all opponents - had around 15 seats.
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