who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
| "All governments lie and
say should be believed."
tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. My site exists 19 years
A. How much did I write?
Why did I not publish on paper?
2. On inverted
This is a Nederlog
of Wednesday, November 11, 2015.
It is a bit special, because the site started 19 years ago. That is item 1. And there is just one other item, not
surprisingly called item 2, which also made this
Nederlog a crisis item, for there I reflect on inverted
totalitarianism, which is an idea and a term from Sheldon Wolin, who
died a few weeks ago. There are 5 dotted links in item 2, which provide
links to the eightfold series of interviews with him that Chris Hedges
made in 2014, and that are all well
1. My site exists 19 years
The title is quite true, but
it also needs a few corrections and elucidations. I'll give them below.
But first a little
I did this before, and I
also left it out before. It also doesn't mean much, I'd say, but then
again it is also true that the site does exist 19 years now; it
is the fruit of the main work I've done over the last
19 years; and I have produced a serious, well-written
(without any advertisements)
that is currently over 500 MB,
which means that on average I added about 25 MB per year.
much did I write?
This may not look like
much, but in fact that consists, if written out as txt and not as html
(which is what it nearly all is) 25 books of ca. 350 pages each. Every
Now it is not as much as
that. First, the site isn't txt but is mostly hml, which probably
diminishes it by about 20% or more (for html formatting, that is part
of the source) but if I subtract that, I did write something like 20
But that is also not quite
First, since ca. 2009 -
when I first heard about XMRV (that was later classified as spurious
contamination: see here, in case
you care) - I wrote most in NL, and what I wrote there also contained
quite a few quotations (mostly from journalists).
And second, most the rest
of my site is in the philosophy-section,
where I write philosophy in a way that I think other philosophers should
follow but don't: I quote complete texts (of many
famous philosophers) and annotate these, in separate files. (This is
possible with html, and it is by far the fairest way of
explaining and criticizing philosophers, but even so it is hardly used.
If I subtract these bits
and books that I did not write, but that are available on my site, it
still seems as if I wrote about 10 books a year, simply
measured as text, and that seems a fair estimate. (I write every day,
and have too little health to be able to do much else. And it may be a
bit less, but not very much.)
did I not publish on paper?
Actually I did, but indeed
not much: Two pieces in a daily in 1971; a booklet ("Publiceren in de
psychologie") as a student in 1980 ; and 8
columns in Spiegeloog
The main reasons are that
(1) I was in the dole from 1984-2015, that absolutely
refused to say I was ill, which created many
for me, and (2) forbids publising on paper. Or at least: I think it
does, and if formally it doesn't, it would have in my case, for
which I did not have the health. Besides, the stuff I did want to
publish on paper was extremely unlikely to give me any money,
and extremely likely to cause me much harm, by way of the Amsterdam
dole, and therefore I didn't.
I may now, since I turned
65 half a year ago, which finally liberated me from the dole, but
haven't done anything so far, which is mainly caused by the twin facts
that it still is quite unlikely to bring me any money,
while I still do not have much health. (Besides, Holland is a
very small country, and my opinions are not popular.)
The rest of
today's Nederlog is given to a somewhat serious consideration of the
meaning of the phrase "inverted totalitarianism".
First, here are some
links to Sheldon
Wolin, who died recently, but who also made a series
of interesting interviews with Chris Hedges.
The first is here (I link
to my Nederlog) and the rest (there were 8) folllow:
I think these all bear
(re-)reading: It is an interesting series of interviews with an
Next to "inverted totalitarianism". The Wikipedia lemma on "inverted
totalitarianism", which is my main source, starts as follows:
totalitarianism is a term
coined by political philosopher Sheldon Wolin in 2003 to describe the
emerging form of government of the United States. Wolin believes that the
United States is increasingly turning into an illiberal democracy, and uses the term
"inverted totalitarianism" to illustrate similarities and differences
between the United States governmental system and totalitarian regimes such as Nazi
Germany and the Stalinist Soviet
That is not much help. I know
quite well what "totalitarianism" is (here is my
own take on it, and this is the
Wikipedia's) and indeed it is one of the main reasons I broke with communism (in which
I was educated) aged 20 (in 1970), but how that can be "inverted" (and
still be "totalitarian") is a bit of a riddle.
Besides, I have another problem: There is the concept of "repressive
tolerance", that was coined by Herbert Marcuse.
This is explained as follows on the Wikipedia:
that the ideal of tolerance belongs to a liberal, democratic tradition
that has become exhausted. Liberal society is based on a form of
domination so subtle that the majority accept and even will their
servitude. Marcuse believes that under such conditions tolerance as
traditionally understood serves the cause of domination and that a new
kind of tolerance is therefore needed: tolerance of the Left,
subversion, and revolutionary violence, combined with intolerance of
the Right, existing institutions, and opposition to socialism.
(...) Revolutionary minorities hold the truth and the majority has to
be liberated from error by being re-educated in the truth by this
minority. The revolutionary minority are entitled, Marcuse claims, to
suppress rival and harmful opinions.
That term and idea I know
since the second half of the 1960ies, but I disagreed with it, and still
of another's ideas is always good in my opinion, and intolerance of
another's ideas is always wrong (speaking broadly and a bit vaguely). 
There seems to be some sort of linkage between "repressive tolerance"
and "inverted totalitarianism", but I did not get it. Here is
some more on the meaning of "inverted totalitarianism":
totalitarianism, every natural resource and every living
being is commodified and exploited to collapse as
the citizenry is lulled and manipulated into surrendering their
liberties and their participation in government through excess consumerism
The problem with this is
that the three linked terms in the last quotation are all Marxist or
Leftist, and that they tend to be not well explained. I will give here
an explanation of commodification.
As I understand it, "commodification" comes down to three theses:
(1) everything of human interest has and should have a price, in money;
(2) everything that has a price, embodies some profit;
(3) for the sellers of priced things, all that matters is the profit
The first means that things like freedom, welfare, tolerance,
knowledge, education, truth, love, honesty, fairness, integrity,
religion, and science (and many more) all have their prices,
like toilet paper, washing powder and bread (which seems a gross and
false simplification of most human ends); the second
means that all things that are sold realize some profit (which is
false, but this may be saved by stipulating that losses are "negative
profits" - which is done by banks, for example); and the third
makes profits the main end of any economy (which again seems a
gross and false simplification, that is mostly of service to the
richest people, who profited the most from all the others).
But then nothing like this
is given in the "inverted totalitarianism" lemma. That continues with a
quote from Wolin - and by "Superpower" he means in fact the United
While the versions of
totalitarianism represented by
Nazism and Fascism consolidated power by suppressing liberal political
practices that had sunk only shallow cultural roots, Superpower
represents a drive towards totality that draws from the setting where
liberalism and democracy have been established for more than two
centuries. It is Nazism turned upside-down, “inverted totalitarianism.”
While it is a system that aspires to totality, it is driven by an
ideology of the cost-effective rather
than of a “master race” (Herrenvolk), by the
material rather than the “ideal.”
This does give some
clarification, but not much, at least to me, for this mostly introduces
Why is it totalitarian
if it is based (to some extent, that also may be partially falsified)
on "liberalism and democracy"; why is it more like Nazism than
like other forms of totalitarianism; while also American
Exceptionalism and the still rather repressed position of many
blacks suggests there is something like a master race -
specifically: the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant - that is still active
in the United States (amidst a lot of lies, is also true).
I merely listed these questions here, and will not answer them.
Instead, I go on with the text of the lemma:
This - at last - gives
specific grounds for the term "inverted totalitarianism", and I indeed agree
with the first point (and I also agree with the suggestion that
this is in fact corruption, and is not normal).
According to Wolin, there
are three main ways in which
inverted totalitarianism is the inverted form of classical
- Whereas in Nazi
Germany the state dominated economic
actors, in inverted totalitarianism, corporations through political contributions
dominate the United States, with the government acting as the servant
of large corporations. This is considered "normal" rather than corrupt.
- While the Nazi regime
aimed at the constant political
mobilization of the populace, with its Nuremberg rallies, Hitler
Youth, and so on, inverted totalitarianism aims for the mass of the
populace to be in a persistent state of political apathy. The only type
of political activity expected or desired from the citizenry is voting. Low electoral turnouts
are favorably received as an indication that the bulk of the populace
has given up hope that the government will ever help them.
- While the Nazis openly
mocked democracy, the United
States maintains the conceit that it is the model of democracy for the
The other two points are associated with the first one, but are not
logically implied by it. My problem with them is that, while I agree
both points seem true of the United States between 2001 and 2010, I see
no real reason
why they should last.
I may be mistaken, and we have found some sense for "inverted
totalitarianism": The corporations dominate the state, rather than that
the state dominates the corporations, and besides the population is
made apathic, while at the same time is supposed to be democratic.
Then there is this:
reverses things. It is all
politics all of the time but a politics largely untempered by the
political. Party squabbles are occasionally on public display, and
there is a frantic and continuous politics among factions of the party,
interest groups, competing corporate powers, and rival media concerns.
And there is, of course, the culminating moment of national elections
when the attention of the nation is required to make a choice of
personalities rather than a choice between alternatives. What is absent
is the political, the commitment to finding where the common good lies
amidst the welter of well-financed, highly organized, single-minded
interests rabidly seeking governmental favors and overwhelming the
practices of representative government and public administration by a
sea of cash.
That is much too
I think what should
have been said - rather than using two senses of "the
political" - is that under inverted totalitarianism almost all politics
is trivialized, as if it is about different persons, or their
different interests, and not about matters of life and death,
health and happiness; honesty and dishonesty; science and bullshit;
fairness and fraud; richness and poverty, and so on - which indeed is
what real politics are about.
That would (or could)
have been a lot clearer, and indeed I agree that almost all politics is
Then there is this:
Wolin believes the
democracy of the United States is
sanitized of political participation, and describes it as managed democracy:
"a political form in which governments are legitimated by elections
that they have learned to control".
managed democracy, the electorate is prevented from having a
significant impact on policies adopted by the state through the
continuous employment of public relations techniques.
That seems to be
mostly true: "governments
are legitimated by elections
that they have learned to control", indeed also if it is not so much "they" who
do the controlling, but the public
relations corporations, that are dedicated to spreading the
falsehoods that serve the corporate rich (including advertisements).
And there is this:
Wolin believes the United
States resembles Nazi Germany in
one major way without an inversion: the essential role propaganda plays
in the system. According to Wolin, whereas the production of propaganda
was crudely centralized in Nazi Germany, in the United States it is
left to highly concentrated media
corporations, thus maintaining the illusion of a "free press". According to this
model, dissent is allowed, though the corporate media serve as a
filter, allowing most people, with limited time available to keep
themselves apprised of current events, to hear only points of view that
the corporate media deem "serious".
I think that is
mostly true as well, but it should also be said that the modern propaganda is quite
different from the Nazi-propaganda:
explicitly political and authoritarian, whereas public-relations
propaganda mostly is a-political and economical: "We are bettter
because we make better more satisfying products that
are non-expensive - look: an i-phone for $500! Isn't it beautiful?
Aren't you proud of that ex-cep-tio-nal American genius Steve
Also, this kind of propaganda
depends on there being enough money
available to most to buy these things, and that seems to grow less and
less (and see
the second point in the next and last quotation).
Again, Wolin seems to
have been mostly right about the "free press", though I question how
long this will last.
Here is the last of
the points I quote from "inverted totalitarianism":
I agree both are facts
(mostly) and indeed both are totalitarian (in some sense), but I don't
know how they support "inverted totalitarianism", and especially not
the second point, which implies that the majority of Americans are
growing more and more poor, and thus cannot buy most of the
advertisers put forward. And while I agree this may make them "feel
helpless", it seems to me that there must be an end to this
impoverishment of the majority of the
American population: they will not swallow this forever (I hope).
According to Wolin, the
United States has two main
What is the sum-up of this brief investigation of the concept of
I did my best, but I did not fully clarify it. As is (I may
change my opinion later) I think Wolin was right in stressing that the
United States is growing
totalitarian, corporatist, and indeed in some senses fascist - which
was also acknowledged by Wolin, for in the same year that he
published about inverted totalitarianism, he published
about a new kind of fascism that he saw arising in the United States. 
I think now that the concept of "inverted totalitarianism" may be right
to describe the transition from what I call
capitalism-with-a-human-face (that lasted from 1946-1980, roughly) to
capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face (that started around 1980 and is still
continuing), but I guess it is merely true of the transition, and not
of the end, which is simply that the corporations take full power, and
tell everybody what
to do, or else.
But we will see - and perhaps Wolin saw it correctly, and the
American population may be constantly bamboozled and deceived
by the hope that they too
will be rich.
14, 2015: Reformatted.
The basic reason why academic philosophers do not put philosophical
classics on their own sites and comment these is that they are academic
philosophers: They are being well-fed academics, very much rather than
Also, I think myself philosophy is dead, except as a very small
discipline (which it is anyway) that is mostly concerned with the
history of ideas. It is very unlikely that real academic
philosophers will write anything that is of scientific, ethical or
moral value: They usually lack the science for doing real science, and
they lack the talents for writing interesting literature about ethical
or moral subjects.
This doesn't mean such works are not written anymore - it only means
that other people (mathematicians, physicists, artistic writers) write
By the way, here is what modern academic philosophers do do:
There is an enormous project that exists since 20 years
now, that is called the "Encyclopedia of Philosophy" that to this
day has no article
about socialism, no item "communism", and no item
"Marxism" (though a brief lemma on "Karl Marx").
There also is no
item "fascism", nor "nazism", which means that none of
the philosophies of the major social systems that
comprised more than 2
billion people in the 20th Century has any lemma.
does not exist in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy while
currently a mere 37 items on various aspects of "feminism"....
That is a very good indication what philosophy is really
like, in the 21st Century: Totally irrelevant, and - I definitely think
- intentionally so: They really try to avoid having to write about
painful moral and factual issues (apart from feminism, of course).
 This was made part of a university series, and not by
me. It is very likely that the whole series was disappeared
around 2000. I may have a copy, but not even that is certain.
In any case, here is the main lesson on psychologists of 1980:
The average Dutch psychologist (with an M.A. degree) published in a
working life of ca. 40 years slightly more than ... 2
academic papers, nearly all of which were published in little read (and
now almost all completely disappeared) Dutch "academic journals" (which
generally published everything they received for publication).
I do not know what is the case today, but my guess is - with very
many more Dutch psychologists, that on average are rather more dumb and
considerably less well educated (they study half as much as I
had to do, and all had a much worse school education)
than their predecessors who were educated before 1980 - that it is not
better now than in 1980 (when it was pretty frightful, in my opinion,
 I definitely do not say that
you ought to like what you tolerate, and I also do not mean
that you ought to tolerate what the law forbids (e.g. pedophilia).
First, real toleration does require you to tolerate
quite a few
things that you believe should not be the case (whatever they
which you tolerate rather than forbid (say: other religions or
religious practices than those of your own). Second, you don't need to
tolerate what the law forbids, though indeed you may, in case the law
is wrong. Third, there is a proviso in my statement that tolerance is
always good, which is easy to illlustrate but difficult to draw
clearly: You do not need to tolerate ideas according to which
it is good that anybody can do as he likes, also if he
is in some sense crazy. (And these were merely brief clarifications.)
 I have the - quite brief - article,
from Common Dreams. But it disappeared there, and I do not know for
which reason, so I merely mention it here.