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Nederlog

December 3, 2015
Crisis: France, Terrorism, American Constitution, Socialism in the USA
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Introduction

Introduction

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, December 3, 2015.

This is a crisis file.

It also is a crisis file "new style" that will rely less on following the news and more on explaining the backgrounds of the news. This file consists of
4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about France's state of emergency (and the sick "European Convention on Human Rights" that is no such thing at all); item 2 is about terrorism; item 3 is about a warning that the American Constitution is being targetted for - neoconservative - rewriting; and item 4 is about a video by Abby Martin on socialism in the USA.

1. A State of Emergency in France

This first item is by Bianca Jagger on Common Dreams:
This is from two days ago, and is indeed by an ex of Mick Jagger, but it may be important and it is a decent article. Here are four quotations from it.

First, there is this that set the background:

Following the horrific November 13th Paris terrorist attacks, which killed 130 people, the French government declared a.I hope that President Hollande will restore France's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and that these measures will be just a fleeting, authoritarian parenthesis during his Presidency. As the French political philosopher Montesquieu said: 'There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.' state of emergency for 12 days, which was then extended for three months, dating from November 26th. What is deeply disturbing is that France has written to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, making an official request to suspend their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights because the country's 'state of emergency' is "likely to necessitate exemption from some of the rights guaranteed... due to public danger that threatens the life of a nation.' The French government has derogated the ECHR. Article 15 of the European Convention permits derogations in times of war or other public emergencies that threaten the life of the nation, to the extent required by the exigencies of the situation. In other words, restrictions to liberty must be proportionate to the threat.

Yes, indeed: This is what happened.

I have one addition: The European Convention on Human Rights is definitely no such thing, for what it does, indeed under this name, is to give the secret services of the European governments all the exceptions and all the means to do what they like to almost anybody they designate as an enemy or terrorist.

If you compare the "
European Convention on Human Rights" with the real thing, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, you will see that the European Convention is mere legal cheatery that gives the European governments all the means to spy on their inhabitants as they want, but indeed in the name and under the pretext of "human rights". [1]

Here is some of what happened in France:

The state of emergency laws allow the French government to impose house arrest without authorization from a judge, conduct searches without a judicial warrant and seize any computer files it finds, and block websites deemed to glorify terrorism without prior judicial authorization. According to Radio France Internationale since the state of emergency was initiated there have been 1,616 searches of premises, 211 arrests, 161 people charged and 293 weapons seized. Human Rights Watch was among the first organizations to sound the alarm, stating that 'these powers interfere with the rights to liberty, security, freedom of movement, privacy, and freedoms of association and expression.'

I completely agree with Human Rights Watch, but at the additional explanation (see above) that the "European Convention of Human Rights" is not and never was about guaranteeing the human rights of Europeans, but is and always was about guaranteeing that Europeans can be secretly investigated in masses by the secret services of their governments. [1]

Then there is this:

Many people in France are concerned that the government is using the uncertainty and fear created by the attacks to institute draconian laws. Governments often justify excessive security measures, claiming that they are critical to maintain national security and that the people they are targeting are the terrorists; in this case the 'salauds' who massacred 130 people on November 13th. Unfortunately, they are also been used against climate protesters.

Yes - and besides "salauds" is not a criminal term, and whoever is called a "bastard", a "terorist", a "criminal" or indeed a "salaud" still has rights, or perhaps: still should have rights under the older and properly legal conventions, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The article ends as follows:

I hope that President Hollande will restore France's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights and that these measures will be just a fleeting, authoritarian parenthesis during his Presidency. As the French political philosopher Montesquieu said: 'There is no crueller tyranny than that which is perpetrated under the shield of the law and in the name of justice.'

I fear this is too optimistic: The European Convention on Human Rights" is not about human rights but about the rights of the police, the secret services and the military to break human rights more or less as they please (see [1]), and president Hollande abused the convention as soon as he had a pretext.

And while Montesquieu was quite right, Hollande has his "
shield of the law (..) in the name of justice" in the European Convention, which gives him all that his secret services, police and military need to lock up anyone they want.

2. 'Global War on Terror' Coincides with Dramatic Increase of Terrorism

The second item is Tharanga Yakupitiage on Common Dreams (originally on IPS News):
This starts as follows:

In 2014, the number of lives lost to terrorism around the world increased by 80 percent, the highest level ever. The majority of such terrorist activity occurred in the largest refugee-producing nations, a Global Terrorism Index (GTI) showed.

The GTI, developed by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), comprehensively studies the patterns and impacts of terrorism globally.

The 2015 GTI, released on 17 Nov, has recorded the rise in terrorism, with a nine-fold increase in terrorism-related deaths since 2000. In total, 32,658 people were killed in terrorist attacks in 67 countries in 2014.

Even in the wake of the 13 Nov Paris attacks, the majority of terrorism-related deaths do not occur in the West. Most of these deaths, over 78 percent, transpired in just five countries: Iraq, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria.

I am not amazed, for the actual fighting is being done in these countries, much rather than in Europe or the USA. Incidentally, rough division shows that this means on average around 500 deaths in each of the 67 countries, which shows that terrorism is still not a great danger in most countries (e.g. when compared to deaths by car accidents).

Then again, this averaging is not always fair (and incidentally - I much dislike these abbreviations - "IDPs" = "internally displaced people"):

From just the five countries with the highest levels of terrorism, there were over 16 million refugees and IDPs in 2014. This includes Syria which has seen a surge in terrorism and conflict since 2011, displacing and forcing millions to escape.

There are currently over seven million IDPs and four million refugees from Syria. Syrians also constitute the majority of asylum applicants in the European Union (EU).

Here it should be said that the politicians of the European Unity in great majority are doing their best to keep the Syrians out of Europe while pretending to help them.

Here is the conclusion of the article:

However, to tackle terrorism successfully, the underlying drivers of extremism must be addressed, the study underscored.

“This includes reducing state-sponsored violence, diffusing group grievances, and improving respect for human rights and religious freedoms, while considering cultural nuances,” stated Killelea.

For one thing, I would say much "state-sponsored violence" is just another euphemism for "state terrorism", that so far has killed many more "terrorists" than the "terrorists" have killed "state terorists". (I quoted all terms. And it seems that Bush Jr., Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair had over a million Iraqi's killed.)

For another thing, while I agree on a verbal level with Killelea, e.g. "religious freedoms" and "cultural nuances" do not correspond well to what Isis or Boko Haram want: They want the opposites, or so it seems.


3. Pro-Democracy Group Warns of Secret Right-Wing Push to Rewrite Constitution

The third item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This is about a so far mostly hidden attempt to try to rewrite the American Constitution:

Under the radar of corporate media and general public, a "dangerous proposal" is bubbling up in state legislatures throughout the country—one that could trigger "political chaos that would make past upheavals like the Watergate scandal and the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton seem tame by comparison."

So warned the grassroots, pro-democracy group Common Cause on Wednesday, in a new report entitled, The Dangerous Path: Big Money’s Plan to Shred the Constitution (pdf). 

The threat comes in the form of a constitutional convention, assembled under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, one of several mechanisms that enables future amendments. Article V requires Congress to call such a gathering once 34 state legislatures submit petitions to do so; new constitutional amendments agreed to at the confab would then be sent back to the states for ratification.

Twenty-seven state legislatures have already passed resolutions calling for a convention under the guise of balancing the federal budget, according to Common Cause. Action in just seven more would force Congress to comply.

Here are some of the things that the right-wing groups that want to get rid of the Constitution have in mind:

With pro-corporate, right-wing lobby groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Citizens for Self-Governance—not to mention a number of 2016 Republican presidential hopefuls—pushing for such a convention, those who care about everything from environmental regulation to same-sex marriage to fair taxation have reason to be wary.

For one thing, the report cautions, there are no settled rules or procedures to govern an Article V convention and experts say (pdf) it cannot be limited in scope—meaning "there is nothing to prevent the convention, once convened, from proposing additional changes that could limit or eliminate fundamental rights or upend our entire system of government."

Incidentally, it seems to me as if the plan of The Young Turks to get money out of politics also tries to get sufficient states together for some kind of convention. I do not know
whether this is the same kind of convention, though it seems to be.

Here is what Common Cause and others fear:

A coalition of reform groups, including Common Cause, went even further in a statement this April, warning that "the call of a convention would place all of the constitutional rights and protections of individuals up for grabs. This includes protections that exist for civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, voting rights, privacy, and many others. The role of the courts in protecting the rights of individuals and minority interests would also be subject to change."

They may well be right.

4. America's Unofficial Religion — The War On An Idea

The fourth and last item is a video by Abby Martin in her new series "The Empire Files":
The idea that America warred on is the idea of socialism.This is here mostly for two reasons: I like Abby Martin, and I know a lot about socialism and com- munism, and I do the last because both of my parents were - real! [2] - communists for 45 years, included taking part in the resistance against the Nazis in WW II (which took the life of my grandfather and cost my father more than 3 years and 9 months of being a prisoner in German concentration camps).

In fact, I am not a communist nor a socialist since I was 20 (in 1970), mostly because I disagree with Marx, I disagree with totalitarianism, and I disagree with
the socialist notion of "social ownership" (which seems to me - normally at least - a recipe for ownership of everything by the leaders of the one admissible party).

Then again, my disagreements are based on a fairly sophisticated and extensive readings of
Marx, socialist literatures, and political texts, that is rather abnormal (in the sense that few have it).

Abby Martin's video is a documentary of 25 minutes about socialism and communism in the USA, where these movements were rather popular in the first half of the 20th Century, but were mostly destroyed in the second half of the 20th Century, when terms like "socialism" were equated with "communism", and both
were styled as "unamerican" and "treasonous".

I don't think 25 minutes is enough to give a more or less faithful reconstruction of "socialism in America", but for those who care here is my appreciation of my communist parents:

They were quite intelligent idealists, with noble ideals and ends, who spent most of their lives trying to help the poor and the repressed. They also were sincere patriots, they meant very well, and were quite honest and quite fair. That the beliefs they had were not rational is something they share with almost anyone who has political (or religious) beliefs of any kind.

I've always considered them and their friends (all communists, mostly of Jewish backgrounds) as honest, honorable, intelligent persons who wanted the good and did their best to bring it about.

And while I do know some communists and socialists whom I despise, my parents and their friends never belonged to these groups, and indeed it is my own guess that most of the communists and socialists of their generations who did not make it as (semi-)professional party leaders were similar: Of good will, with high moral ideals, and with considerable courage, but unfortunately mistaken like almost anyone with any political ideals.
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Notes

[1]
In case you disagree, here are the articles which deal with privacy. First there is the fine article in the Universal Declaration:

Article 12.

  • No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
No exceptions and a clear formulation.

Here is next its sick and degenerate replacement in the European Convention:


Article 8 – Right to respect for private and family life

1. Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

2. There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

Here the only "right" Europeans get is "respect", and that respect is subject to the following list of freedoms for the secret services or the police or the military of European states:

These are the six cases when the police, the secret services, the military or the government need not even show "respect":
  • the interests of national security, or
  • public safety or
  • the economic well-being of the country, or
  • for the prevention of disorder or crime, or
  • for the protection of health or morals, or
  • for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others

In each of these six cases the secret services, the police or the military, and the government, can wipe their asses with any "respect", and can do as they please with those accused or suspected of breaking any of the six conditions.

This is not a convention of human rights: it is a convention on the rights of spying and terror of the governments. And clearly it has been intended to be such.

[2] I like to point out a considerable difference I see between the communists (and socialists etc.) of my parents' generation and the "communists" I have known from my generation:

My parents were members of the CP for 45 years; were in the resistance in WW II; and were quite intelligent but not highly educated; the people of my own age who were "communists" generally were members of the CP (if at all) for at most 5 to 10 years; did not do anything in any real resistance; and were almost all not really intelligent although they were mostly highly educated.

I do not consider the last group as real communists. (Also see [4])

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