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."
promised ‘transparency’ around TTIP has been a
3. Alaska Becomes Backdrop as
Contradictions Laid Bare
4. Thought Policing
5. Dark Germany, Bright Germany:
Which Side Will Prevail
Under Strain of Refugees?
This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
September 1, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about a piece by a (Green) European Member of Parliament (MEP),
which I thought rather revealing, though not quite in the way the MEP
seems to believe; item 2 is about an idea of Robert
Reich to realize a Keynesian dream (I am afraid this doesn't combine
well with capitalism and private property); item 3
is another illustration
that Obama often says X and does not-X; item
about a book by one academic philosopher that is reviewed by a former
academic philosopher that shows - if well understood - how academic
philosophy works (rather like propaganda, if that term is
understood); and item 5 is about an article written
by a committee on Spiegel On Line, that has the weaknesses committees
tend to have.
1. The promised
‘transparency’ around TTIP has been a sham
The first article is by Sven Giegold on The Guardian:
This has a quite
The most important
documents about the TTIP talks are unavailable to us MEPs as well as
the public – and it suits big business to keep it that way
For this says quite
clearly who has the real power now, both in the USA and
Europe: The big corporations, much rather than any parliament,
and indeed any government.
And their power is so big that they can keep parliamentarians
even from reading the laws they are supposed to decide on,
while if -
at long last - some of the things kept secret from parliamentarians
(once supposed to be the effective heads of power in democratic
are "made public" what the parliament- arians get are pages like this
(and this is one from many more similar pages):
Indeed, the above
picture is from a
site (you can also click the picture to get there) where there are
I will be so free as to suppose that the blacked out pages of proposed laws
parliamentarians are supposed to judge rationally are as many
statements from the corporate lawyers whose menials blacked them out,
that say in fact:
"we despise parliamentarians, and here is our proof:
Read this, you assholes!"
But indeed the parliamentarians of these days are for the
most part so corrupted that they don't care, they don't protest, and
they swallow anything from their bosses, the corporate lawyers.
Here is the beginning of the article:
Are you concerned
about the implication of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment
Partnership (TTIP)? Don’t worry! Only this month, the EU trade
commissioner Cecilia Malmström promised another offensive on TTIP transparency: even
more documents from the negotiations would be made available.
And I reproduced one of many
similar pages that were released as if they were "even more documents",
it seems to me with this underlying message: "Fuck you,
European parliamentarians! We don't need you! This is all you get, and
we know you will approve it unread! And you better do, or we will
withdraw your money!"
Her promise was put to
the test only a few days later: the corporate transparency nerds of
Corporate Europe Observatory finally received documents on exchanges
between the tobacco lobby and the Brussels institution concerning TTIP
and the EU-Japan trade talks. The punchline of the story? Most of the
documents were redacted. An exercise in black humour, in the most
literal sense possible. A picture of the blackened documents received thousands of shares and likes on social media
This is too wild? Well... there is this in the article:
(...) the most
important TTIP documents are still unavailable. No one knows what the
US government is really asking from Europe. This is why many positive as well as
negative claims cannot be substantiated (...)
That is modern "democracy" in
action. (Obama approves!) And in fact, it is considerably worse:
most politicians in the European parliament are as much in the dark as
ordinary citizens. We MEPs may get access to a few more documents in
the parliament’s reading room than those searching the EU commission’s
website. Nevertheless, the most important ones containing the demands
of the US government are kept secret, even from MEPs. Even worse,
although there are thousands of pages of documents, readers are not
allowed to take any notes. Non-native English-speaking MEPs are further
deterred by highly technical trade-law jargon. And while we could
employ staff who are better trained to read the documents, they are not
allowed to access the reading rooms. Therefore, the right of access to
documents for MEPs is largely a sham.
Precisely - except that
"largely" is an enormous understatement, for there is also no
majority of parliamentarians who say: "WE are the boss in a
mentary democracy! Nothing gets passed by us that we have not fully
and leisurely read, taken notes on, and discussed among ourselves!
is our duty! That is what we get paid for! Fuck you
And why not? The article is written by a Green MEP, who seems a bit
Green MEPs have
consistently demanded that full transparency of trade negotiation
should be made a precondition for their progress. I simply do not
understand that – in particular – conservative, liberal and socialist
colleagues applaud the continuation of negotiations that they cannot
Well... I simply
do not understand that you simply do not seem to understand
that the majority of your colleagues has been bought by money
or by promises by the corporate lawyers who also hand them blacked out
pages and tell them how to vote. 
For otherwise they would, in majority at least, do their
duties and declare what I just said they should declare.
The Green MEP also has this:
TTIP, CETA and other bilaterals are much more than
traditional trade agreements. They are deals aimed at harmonising or
mutually recognising regulations and standards for goods and services.
This touches the very heart of our democracies in Europe.
But as long as the
majority of MEPs decided not to pay attention, democracy in
Europe is dead in fact, even if there
are hundreds of MEPs who pretend it is otherwise. No, it is not,
for it if were otherwise the text of the TTIP would be known,
and the TTIP had no chance of being passed unread, undiscussed,
As it probably will.
2. Labor Day 2028
next article is
by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
And for the most part
are not taking home more money than they did in the late
their payments are corrected for inflation. How come?
In 1928, famed British
John Maynard Keynes predicted
that technology would advance so far in a
hundred years – by 2028 – that it will replace all work, and no one
to worry about making money.
“For the first time since
creation man will be faced with his real, his permanent problem – how
his freedom from pressing economic cares, how to occupy the leisure,
science and compound interest will have won for him, to live wisely and
agreeably and well.”
We still have thirteen
years to go
before we reach Keynes’ prophetic year, but we’re not exactly on the
way to it. Americans
are working harder than ever.
Capitalist private property, that guarantees that
those who owe the factory - though not: the country, the city,
infra-structure, its peace, its laws, its education and its citizens -
privately owns every penny of profit they can squeeze out of it:
But he overlooked
one big question:
How to redistribute the profits from these marvelous labor-saving
so we’ll have the money to buy the free time they provide?
That is one answer. Here is
Without such a mechanism,
us are condemned to work ever harder in order to compensate for lost
due to the labor-replacing technologies.
The economic model that
predominated through most of the twentieth century was mass production
for mass consumption by many.
But the model we’re
rushing toward is unlimited production by a handful, for
consumption by the few able
to afford it.
I do not know whether
the last alternative is really where it is at: I think there still
is mass production by many - except the many now live in the third
world countries (as they were once known) where wages are a
tenth or less from the
wages in the West, which makes profits correspondingly higher
for the rich Western owners of the factories that make them.
The western factories
have moved to the third world, where labor is extremely cheap, and the
children of the Western laborers are "re-educated" as "service-
workers", with lower wages and more, longer and more boring "work".
Robert Reich considers shortening the periods of patents, but then hits
on another idea about them:
Instead of shortening the
patent period, how about giving every citizen a share of the profits
patents and trademarks government protects? It would be a condition for
receiving such protection.
Say, for example, 20
percent of all
such profits were split equally among all citizens, starting the month
In effect, this would be
minimum income for everyone.
The sum would be enough
everyone a minimally decent standard of living – including money to buy
that would free them up from the necessity of working.
Well... it is a nice
idea, but it will not work because it is at fundamental variance with capitalist
private property: the owners of patents and factories will never
agree to it, and they have the power.
I agree it would be
Such a basic minimum
people to pursue whatever arts or avocations provide them with meaning,
enabling society to enjoy the fruits of such artistry or voluntary
We would thereby create
the kind of
society John Maynard Keynes predicted we’d achieve by 2028 – an
age of technological abundance in which
no one will need to work.
But we will not do
so, and one important reason has been recognized around 200 years ago:
3. Alaska Becomes Backdrop as Obama's Climate Contradictions
If mankind had
wished for what is right, they might have had it long ago. The theory
is plain enough; but they are prone to mischief, "to every good work
-- William Hazlitt: On the
Pleasure of Hating
next article is
by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as
There is more in the
article, but this is easily sufficient to provide yet another
instance of Obama's saying X (whatever he thinks his votes or
supporters love to hear) and doing not-X (whatever serves the
interests of his big corporate backers), and meanwhile changing the
meanings of terms, wherever possible in a politically correct
Though President Obama made
headlines Sunday night by signing an executive order that
officially renames Alaska's Mt. McKinley to Denali—the name used by
Indigenous people and most Alaskan residents—his visit to the country's
most northern state remains clouded for many by a contradictory stance
in which he calls for strong climate action on one hand while
simultaneously championing offshore Arctic drilling with the other.
In restoring Mt.
McKinely's name as Denali—which at 20,320 feet is North America's
tallest mountain—Obama was instating, as the Associated Press
a moniker Alaskans have informally used for centuries. The name means
"the high one" in Athabascan.
With Obama and Secretary
of State John Kerry now in Alaska for a three-day visit, however, the optics
are a challenge to the two men who have used powerful speeches to
indicate the administration's understanding of the threat posed by
human-caused global warming, but continue
to come up short, in the eyes of experts and environmental
campaigners, when it comes to taking concrete steps.
- The president changed the name of McKinley to "a moniker Alaskans have
informally used for centuries" (how many "Alaskans"? I guess 1 in a 1000,
except in the 18th C and before) to "Denali"
- Meanwhile, he gave Royal Dutch Shell the right to destroy the arctic
search for more oil, but
- he also likes you voters/supporters to know how much
sincerely - cares for human-caused global warming.
In brief: Typical Obama. He serves the rich in law, and serves
("Change! Change! Change! Yes, we can!")
4. Thought Policing
next article is
by David Johnson (an ex-academic
philosopher) about a book by an academic
philosopher, that seems - in so far as I could see - mostly -
highly pretentious, many-syllabled - nonsense:
The subject is a book by
Jason Stanley (still an academic philosopher) who wrote a book that he
called "How propaganda works", although a much better title
have been "How I think what I call "propaganda" might
work", for he
certainly has his own meaning of "propaganda", that is totally
new, and not at all what propaganda is according to others
(like Chomsky) who studied the subject with some care.
This is the third paragraph of Johnson:
One of my Michigan
colleagues during that year was Jason Stanley, a distinguished
philosopher of language and epistemology. Although we didn’t chat about
topical issues at that time, it’s clear from his subsequent writing
that he, too, was deeply disturbed by the same political moment. In
2011, Stanley, now a professor at Yale, began writing a series of
pieces related to propaganda, ideology, and democracy for The Stone,
the New York Times’ philosophy opinion blog. His new book, How
Propaganda Works, is the fruit of his turn from his core
specialties to politics.
That is: 10 years
9/11 Stanley started writing bits about propaganda, and 4 years
that he had enough for a book. Here is one question Stanley raises in
The lead-up in
2003 to the Iraq War again raised the philosophical mystery of the
power of propaganda. A Washington Post poll in September 2003
found that almost 70 percent of Americans believed that Saddam
Hussein was personally involved in the 9/11 attacks on New York City. .
. . How is it that propaganda can thoroughly convince the majority of
the country of something that later appears to have been obviously
false at the time? The questions of the effectiveness of ideology and
propaganda bear the characteristic hallmarks of philosophical problems.
I would answer that
question as follows: 70 percent of the Americans believed falsehoods,
because they were told falsehoods, and were given little or no evidence
that it were falsehoods. Indeed, that is what propaganda is
- but not
according to Stanley, who insists that telling falsehoods to further
your own ends is a "
philosophical mystery" and
has "the characteristic
hallmarks of philosophical problems".
Indeed, here is Johnson on this academic philosophical book:
Works runs into trouble early on, when it seeks, in its second
chapter, to define its basic terms of inquiry. Stanley begins by
rejecting the “classical sense of propaganda” as derived from Immanuel
Kant—which holds that propaganda is “manipulation of the rational will
to close off debate”—as well as the closely related “biased speech”
definition advanced by Noam Chomsky: that propaganda is “speech that
irrationally closes off certain options that should be considered.” In
Stanley’s view, neither account explains the popular appeal of
propaganda, especially in a liberal democracy, or its relationship to
If so, Stanley is a
fool, who first discards over 200 years of more or less correct use of
the term "propaganda" because he cannot see how lying to
own interests "explains
the popular appeal of propaganda", and who also cannot see what the "relationship to ideology" might be - and I presume the last is so because he also
has a completely personal definition of "ideology".
To end, here is Stanley's definion (?) of "propaganda":
“The essence of
political propaganda,” Stanley argues, “is that it is a kind of speech
that fundamentally involves political, economic, aesthetic, or rational
ideals, mobilized for a political purpose.”
In brief: it is speech (not:
written language, it seems) that is used for a political purpose
(nothing with economical, religious or artistic ends, to name a few,
can possibly be "propaganda", in Stanley's sense) that appeals to
ideals. Also, it
seems there are no lies, deceptions, attempts to mislead, or
Stanley's sense of "propaganda" (and indeed Stanley may be one of those
who doesn't believe in lies
because he doesn't believe in truth).
In brief, it is 100% academic
philosophy, that has nothing to do with
the real world, and mostly consists in using perfectly familiar
in totally new senses.
Bright Germany: Which Side Will Prevail Under Strain of Refugees?
The last article of
by Spiegel Staff on Spiegel On Line:
In fact, this
was written by a committee of no less than 12 journalists, and the
result is pretty tasteless or bland. This is from the beginning:
I say: There are 81 million
Germans, and there are some differences between them!! (The "young
policeman" is from the - American-style - beginning: Begin with A
Personal View By A Real Person. You can check it out yourself.)
Germany, in this late
summer of 2015, can be a confusing place. There are migrants in uniform
who have to protect the chancellor, herself from East Germany, from an
eastern German mob.
The attacks on refugee
hostels in Germany have reached a shocking level this year. By July 6, there
were fully 199 of them, and the attacks have shown no signs of
stopping. At the same time, though, Germans seem more willing to help
than ever before. They visit refugee hostels, bringing along clothes
and toys. They cook together with the Syrians and Sudanese. They invite
migrant boys to join the football teams where their own children play.
Which Germany will prevail?
The Germany of racist chants from the roadside? The Germany of rioters
and drunken rock-throwers? "Dark Germany," as President Joachim Gauck
calls it? Or will it be the new, bright Germany, represented by the
young policeman with his roots in Afghanistan?
Here is a fact (sort of, in view of "may" and "likely"):
As many as 800,000
refugees and migrants may arrive in Germany this year, according to
Interior Ministry forecasts. And even if we don't really know how
things will develop in coming years, one thing is certain: The numbers
aren't likely to drop appreciably.
I accept there may
arrive as much as nearly 1% of the German population as "refugees and
migrants" in Germany, which I agree is quite a lot. But we don't learn
much more about their reception from the committee that wrote this, for
their judgement seems to be this:
There's never been
as much hate, but also never as much helpfulness -- it's a simple
formula that accurately sums up the new Germany. The silent majority
falls between these two poles.
That is: there are the
haters and there are the lovers and there is the silent majority, and
the rest is up to you.
Maybe fewer journalists should be engaged in writing the piece
- 12, in
this instance - if you want an opinion?
I think he understands it: He just doesn't want to admit it, and indeed
if he admitted it, his whole role as an MEP stands revealed for what it
has become: A mere sham of "democracy" that the ladies and gentlemen
MEPs have allowed Europe to become, where it is not they who
things, but American
and European corporate lawyers (who despise them and who trample