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."
markets fall as new fears raised over China's
2. Marxism Today: the
forgotten visionaries whose ideas
could save Labour
3. Labour’s bitter
refuseniks risk being stranded by the tide
4. Carly Fiorina endorses
waterboarding 'to get information
that was necessary'
5. Will TTIP Get Terminated? Negotiations Falter as Europe
This is a Nederlog
September 29, 2015.
This is a crisis
blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1
is about China and Asian markets: they are not doing well; item 2 is about a "long read" on The Guardian about "Marxism
Today", that I found rather disappointing and ideological; item 3 is about an article by Polly Toynbee on The
Labour, that seemed a little optimistic about Blairism
item 4 is about Carly Fiorina, who seems
to this psychologist to speak like a sadist; and item 5
is about the TTIP: it has found considerable opposition, but is not
fall as new fears raised over China's economy
item is an article by Justin McCurry on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
And that is about it, while
the last paragraph explains why the item is in this crisis series:
China is a very big market and a very big producer, and
it is signficantly slowing down.
Concern over the health
of the Chinese economy has again struck Asian markets, with shares in
the region plummeting to their lowest level for more than three years,
after weak Chinese data prompted sharp losses on Wall Street.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei
stock index fell more then 600 points in morning trading, continuing
the downward pressure felt overnight in Europe and the US.
MSCI’s broader index of
Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slumped 2.2%, touching its lowest levels
since June 2012 and extending early declines after Chinese shares
China’s blue-chip CSI300
index and the Shanghai Composite Index were both down 1.8%.
Asian markets were again
feeling the fallout from China, where a survey of industrial firms
published Monday showed an 8.8% year-on-year decline in profits in
“It’s a statistic that
usually doesn’t affect stock markets, but due to the breadth of the
fall, the outlook on China’s slowdown and its likely global effects has
darkened significantly,” Chihiro Ota, general manager of investment
research at SMBC Nikko Securities, told Kyodo News.
There is more in the article.
2. Marxism Today: the forgotten visionaries whose ideas
could save Labour
article today is
Harris (<- Wikipedia) on The Guardian:
First some words in
This is "a long
read", i.e. it is announced as such, and indeed it is fairly long, for
which reason I cannot excerpt it very well, while it is here because my
parents were Marxists
(both for some 45 years), while I gave up Marxism the year after John
Harris was born, when I was 20 a few months, and had decided - among
other things - that I believed in science and truth far
more than in politics
as the way to emancipate mankind.
This also was in part
a personal choice, although I did have quite good
arguments against the Marxists (see my
long letter from August 1976, for example, that is here and here).
Anyway... I have read
all of the article, and here are some selected bits. First, here are
the third and fourth paragraphs that outline what "Marxism Today"
I say, but not really.
What emerged from the
debates and discussions was an array of amazingly prescient insights,
published in a visionary magazine called Marxism Today. In the early
21st century, that title might look comically old-fashioned, but the
people clustered around the magazine anticipated the future we now
inhabit, and diagnosed how the left could steer it in a more
progressive direction. Soon enough, in fact, some of Marxism Today’s
inner circle would bring their insights to the Labour party led by Tony
Blair, as advisers and policy specialists. But most of their ideas were
lost, thanks partly to the frantic realities of power, but also because
in important respects, Blair and Gordon Brown – both of whom had
written for the magazine when they were shadow ministers – were more
old-fashioned politicians than they liked to think.
At the core of Marxism
Today’s most prophetic ideas was a brilliant conception of modern
capitalism. In contrast to an increasingly dated vision of a world of
mass production and standardisation, the magazine’s writers described
the changes wrought by a new reality of small economic units,
franchising, outsourcing, self-employment and part-time work – most of
it driven by companies and corporations with a global reach – which
they called “Post-Fordism”. Computers, they pointed out, were now being
built from components produced in diverse locations all over the world;
iconic companies had stripped down their focus to sales, strategy and
what we would now call branding, outsourcing production to an
ever-changing array of third parties.
And what I see is something rather different. Marxism
Today was in fact the theoretical magazine of the British
Communist Party, that was written by a fairly small number of
academic marxists and leftists, who were quite as ideological and
as the rest of the CP, and who had no really interesting ideas (I am
sorry, but that is the case), but who - probably - wrote
a bit better than the Morning
Star, which was for ordinary workers rather than for and by a few
leftist and marxist academics.
I see no interesting ideas, and in fact it seems I also see
only a quite small group, that happened to miss two
things that were quite prominent in "the academic left" in Holland and
John Harris, who seems to have been part of the group around Marxism
Today to some extent for the last couple of its years, sees it
later, the impact of the economic and social changes that Marxism Today
identified is undeniable – and the politics it prescribed are, if
anything, more relevant today than ever before. But apart from a few
cosmetic updates, today’s Labour party still essentially clings to the
same old shibboleths. Indeed, with the election of Jeremy Corbyn, its
collective faith in them looks to have been renewed.
I think that is the old ideology of Marxism
Today rather than reality, but OK: Most people who engage in
politics engage in it in an ideological way, that really has
not much in common with (real) science.
Here are three final points. The first is this:
Marxism Today was attracting huge attention and selling around
20,000 copies a month, partly thanks to the fact that it was stocked by
In comparison, my site is written by precisely 1 ill
man, and got over 225,000 visitors and over 1,7 million hits last year.
I don't know how fair that comparison is, and I also don't sell
anything; I don't try to be popular in any way; nor do I
advertise anything, but if 1 ill man can do so in 2014, I
suggest that the Marxism Today of 1988 was not at all a big
The second point is this:
1989, as communist Europe underwent a series of largely
peaceful revolutions, the “tankies” were in abeyance, and the politics
of Marxism Today dominated what remained of the CPGB, whose membership
was now down to around 7,500. A new party mission statement, titled
Manifesto for New Times, was being put together.
In fact, "socialism" (in
fact: the dictatorship of the leaders of the communist parties) was destroyed,
mostly from within, and indeed - apart from Rumania - mostly
peacefully. Two years later, the Dutch
Communist Party (<- Wikipedia, in English, quite well done) -
which had about the same number of members as its British counterpart,
around 1987 - was terminated.
I've seen in the
Wikipedia that the same happened in Great Britain, though - as also
happened in Holland - there are a few old-style Leninists who
something like it, but that is much smaller than the also small Dutch
Communist Party (deceased).
The third point is this, which I found in the Wikipedia lemma on Robert Conquest:
He said (who was a Marxist at age 20):
"I found the
communists very dull and rather stupid"
The same holds for me,
although my parents were far from stupid. But they had no
education beyond age 15, and they were strongly influenced by the
Nazist occupation of Holland, in which both were in the resistance
(which resulted in 3 years 9 months and 15 days of being locked up in
four German concentration
camps as a "political terrorist" for my father).
Also, the stupidity was in large part the result not of a lack
in intellectual ability, but of (i) lack of a good scientific
education of most members, coupled with (ii) democratic
centralism, that made it virtually impossible to hold any other
opinion than was held by the party leadership, which in Holland, at
least, was mostly strongly pro-Soviet Union.
But OK - in the end this was a rather disappointing article, although
that is in part due to its title.
bitter refuseniks risk being stranded by the tide
next article today is
by Polly Toynbee on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
What a shocking
disappointment. We assembled in Brighton for a bloodbath, for gunpowder plots,
sectarian skulduggery and the starting pistol fired for the great
Labour civil war. But it didn’t happen – or not as I write. The press
room here is dazed, confused and feeling cheated – though most deliver
the headlines they’d pre-cooked anyway.
I say. And my main
reason to be - a little - amazed is that Polly Toynbee, like most other
journalists who write in The Guardian, with the exceptions of Owen
Jones ans Seumas Milne, was against Corbyn, before he was
Jeremy Corbyn’s triumph
sent Labour MPs into a slough of despond, the future grim, no way out.
Some over-hastily walked away eschewing contamination with a Corbyn
shadow cabinet. Surely the far left would impose impossibilist policies
and doom Labour forever?
But that hasn’t happened.
Corbyn has done exactly what he said he’d do, though no one who
remembers the 1980s Militant nightmare had any reason to expect it. He
is proving so far to be the consensual, democratic leader he said he’d
be. What a surprise. Politics is being done differently, as promised.
No MP need parrot mantras they don’t believe, free to disagree
amicably. Sensible policy has emerged, though by what means isn’t
Here is another bit:
Actually, the last
paragraph seems considerably too strong, at least in the liight of the
many prominent Blairites
(<- Wikipedia) who are still members of the Labour Party: In the
last Wikipedia lemma, I counted at least 67 named
prominent Blairites, apart from Blair himself.
Moderation and consensus
– that’s not what was expected. Can Corbyn keep up this air of unity,
while letting his frontbench pick and mix their support? The political
rulebook says no, but that iron law is rusting away. Free votes on some
issues may do no harm, fresh air not chaos. McDonnell jokes that he’ll
join Boris Johnson lying down in front of bulldozers against a new
Heathrow runway, even if party policy backs it – and why not? It’s a
long way to the next manifesto.
As for the moderates, the
Corbyn refuseniks were yesterday urged to return to the fold. Now they
look like rebels without a cause, beached on the Brighton shore waiting
for their boat to be floated by a red tide that never quite rolled in.
So no: Neither Blairism
is dead, and it will take a considerable while for this to happen, if
it happens, for Corbyn also still may fail.
4. Carly Fiorina endorses waterboarding 'to
that was necessary'
The next article today is
by Ben Jacobs on The Guardian:
This starts as
presidential candidate Carly Fiorina has endorsed waterboarding, the
controversial interrogation method that has been called torture, as an
important tactic that was used only “when there was no other way to get
information that was necessary”.
First of all, it has not just "been called" "torture", it is
torture, according it two persons who were thus treated:
Christopher Hitchens and Jesse Ventura. Besides, it has been
used as torture for over 400 years, so I find this
sudden care for words not sympathetic.
Second, it seems fair to me - as a psychologist also - to call American
presidential candidates who support torture sadists.
Third, there is also this (again with this suspect sudden care
for words, that would probably not have been there if Ben
Jacobs had had the guts Christopher Hitchens showed, who denied it was
torture, until he was exposed to it):
The 2014 Senate report that called waterboarding –
in which water is poured over a cloth on a prisoner’s face in order to
simulate the feeling of drowning – tantamount to torture and said it
produced little useful intelligence. Fiorina called the report
“disingenuous” and “a shame” that “undermined the morale of a whole lot
of people who dedicated their lives to keeping the country safe”.
Naureen Shah of Amnesty
International told Yahoo of Fiorina’s comments: “This is completely
rewriting the history of what happened.”
I side with Naureen
Shah, and should like to add that "the morale of a whole lot of people who dedicated their
lives to keeping the country safe" included willing torturers, while the US has
signed agreements that forbid torturing. But OK - these are
facts, and Fiorina probably doesn't do facts in her propaganda for
herself and the right wing of the Republicans.
Finally, there is
this bit, that supposedly shows Fiorina's patriotic heroism:
detailed how, as head of Hewlett-Packard, she provided the National
Security Agency with a significant number of computer servers in the
aftermath of the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. Then-NSA chief
Michael Hayden phoned Fiorina and told her: “Carly, I need stuff and I
need it now,” she said. The servers that she provided were used by the
NSA to implement a warrantless surveillance program called Stellar Wind.
The last link - Stellar Wind - is quite interesting. Also see William
Binney on the merits of Stellar Wind, who according to Wikipedia
(minus note numbers)
estimates that the
NSA (particularly its Stellar Wind
had intercepted 20 trillion communications "transactions" of Americans
such as phone calls, emails, and other forms of data (but not including
financial data). This includes most of the emails of US citizens.
Binney disclosed in an affidavit for Jewel
that the agency was "purposefully violating the Constitution".
Binney also notes that he found out after retiring that the NSA was
pursuing collect-it-all vs. targeted surveillance even before the 9/11
5. Will TTIP Get Terminated? Negotiations Falter as Europe
item today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
opposition to the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership
(TTIP)—the massive proposed "trade" deal between the European Union and
the United States—has grown steadily since negotiations started two
years ago, new signs suggest that official government backing is also
faltering across Europe.
In an interview with
French regional newspaper Sud Ouest published
Monday, Junior Trade
Minister Matthias Fekl said TTIP negotiations were favoring American
interests and "either weren't advancing or were progressing in the
"If nothing changes, it
will show that there isn't the will to achieve mutually beneficial
negotiations," he said, before adding: "France is considering all
options including an outright termination of negotiations."
I say - that seems
Good News to me, although it is no more than an intermediate
result. The same holds for the following bit:
Meanwhile, a group of
more than 55 UK members of parliament (MPs) has signed
onto a motion expressing major concerns about the mammoth trade
pact, which civil society groups have dubbed a corporate giveaway.
Caroline Lucas, the Green Party MP, put forward the Commons motion, and
it has now been signed by every member of the Scottish National Party
group at Westminster, as well as the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and
his Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell.
And again the same
holds for this:
Almost 3 million people
across Europe have
signed a petition calling on the Commission to scrap the agreement.
Last week, the
Oxford-based group 'We Own It,' which deals with national issues
surrounding public services, held
a demonstration against the proposed TTIP, warning that it could
lead to private businesses being too heavily involved in public
Cat Hobbs, an organizer
with the group, told the Oxford Mail: "The idea is that it
would open up new markets to private companies and the reality here is
that it’s going to open up public services to private companies.
Multi-national corporations’ rights will become more important than
Quite so. And the
reason is more specifically this: It seems - for the TTIP and the TTP
are both secret and classified, although they concern
the rights of something like a billion people - that anything
which hurts the profits of multi-national corporations can be
undermined and destroyed by them, because they can start special
"court"-cases in special "courts", manned by lawyers from the
That means that all
laws approved by parliaments to protect the population are
up for grabs, and may be "rewarded" by enormous claims for
restitutions to the
corporations for hurting their (purported) profits.
The numbers are just for the Danish site. For the Dutch site I
get no numbers, but I take it that is twice as many, since I am Dutch and the site exists longer.