This is a Nederlog
of Monday, December 21, 2015.
is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item
1 is about an article by Chris Hedges, who expounds on the villainy
of American politics; item 2 is about an article by
Jim Hightower I only partially agree with; item 3
is about how the US may be changing into a police state; and item 4 is about socialism or "socialism", for once
again it is discussed but not defined.
1. The Creeping Villainy of American
first item is
by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
rise in hate crimes against Muslims since the Paris and San
Bernardino attacks and the acceptance of hate speech as a legitimate
form of political discourse signal the morbidity of our civil society.
The body politic is coughing up blood. The daily amplification of this
hate speech by a commercial media whose sole concern is ratings and
advertising dollars rather than serving as a bulwark to protect society
presages a descent into the protofascist nightmare of racism,
indiscriminate violence against the marginalized, and a blind
celebration of American chauvinism, militarism and bigotry.
This seems mostly correct from
my own point of view - yes, hate speech is popularized by the
commercial media; yes, these media are moved mostly by ratings and
advertising dollars; yes, this threatens something like fascism,
authoritarianism, militarism and/or chauvinism - but it omits one or two
items that seem to me equally relevant:
First, half of the Americans
have an IQ that is at most 100, and second, most Americans are badly
educated (for 60% believe in the truth of Noah's Ark story, in 2015).
Also, while I think almost
nothing can be done about one's capacities, because one is born with
them, I also think almost all education I know about is rotten, and
that could have been avoided the last 50 years, at least in the USA and
the rich West, but it wasn't. On the contary, nearly all education was
a lot worse the last 50 years than before. 
Next, here are some of Chris Hedges' -
dark - anticipations of things to come:
The mounting attacks on Muslims,
which will become a contagion when there is another catastrophic
terrorist attack, are only the beginning. There is a long list to be
targeted, including undocumented workers, African-Americans,
homosexuals, liberals, feminists, intellectuals and artists. We are
entering a new dark age, an age of idiocy and blood. These hatreds,
encoded in American DNA but understood as politically toxic by the
liberal wing of the capitalist class, have been embraced by an enraged
and disenfranchised white underclass. Our failure to curb this hate
speech will haunt us. Once a civil society tolerates the intolerant, as
Popper wrote, “the tolerant will be
destroyed, and tolerance with them.”
Quite possibly so - but the reasons the "white underclass"
adopts these myths are basically three: It is very badly educated; much
of it is intellectually quite stupid, simply in the sense of knowing
very little, and having no ideas of science, ethics, or rationality;
and it is also systematically lied to and misled by the mass media.
Also this large class of the relatively
uneducated and the relatively stupid has always
been there. The reason it gets these days more attention in the press
(which is itself not a part of the white underclass) than it got
previously is - it seems to me - that the press has turned
ideological and conservative, for the most part, which happened, in
part at least, because the papers lost a lot of money and power to the
Here is a sketch of Hedges how hate grows or
The anti-Muslim virus begins
slowly. Step by step the hate talk moves from insults, stereotyping and
untruths to incendiary calls for vigilantes to attack women wearing the
hijab, men wearing kufis, mosques, Islamic centers and schools,
and Muslim-owned businesses. It makes sense to many in the white
underclass —especially because they have been sold out by the liberals
who preach tolerance—that the violent purging of a demonized group from
U.S. society can cure the society’s malaise and restore safety and
American “greatness.” But soon all marginalized groups will be at risk.
Such a process is what happened in the Weimar Republic. It is what
happened in Yugoslavia. It is what happened in Israel.
I take this seriously in part because Chris
Hedges has been a reporter in crisis zones like Yugoslavia and
several Arabic countries. Then again, I also think that the mere
violent purging of a demonized group from U.S. society can cure the
society’s malaise and restore safety and American “greatness.”"
is so stupid, so uncivil and
so illegal that it must be rejected out of hand by anyone who is
neither stupid nor uncivilized (though indeed this also may seem to be a bit
Then again, I mostly agree
with Chris Hedges that we live in dire and interesting times, with very
many quite credible threats to civilization, freedom and equal rights
for all, instead of rights just for the rich. It may be I am a little
less pessimistic than he is, but then again I haven't spent 20 years
reporting from war zones were most of society had collapsed.
There is considerably more in the article that I leave to your
interests. I liked it, but it is not optimistic.
2. Partnering with the Devil
The second item is by
Jim Hightower on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows
As a raker of muck, it’s my job to root
out the nefarious doings and innate immorality of the corporate
But these days I’m being
rendered obsolete by how ordinary corporate nefariousness has become.
The wrongdoings of major corporations, and even entire industries, are
now so commonplace that one hardly has to root them out at all. Their
corruption is constantly oozing to the surface of today’s fetid
corporate swamp on its own.
What’s happened is that
a profiteering imperative has taken hold of the executive suites. Not
content with merely making a profit, CEOs are out to make a killing —
no matter what it costs the rest of us.
This has turned them
into rank thieves — who are richly rewarded for exploiting America’s
workforce, plundering the environment, and corrupting our government.
Top executives have seen that they’ll pay no personal price for
rapacious behavior, since the corrupted political and judicial systems
show no serious interest in prosecuting perpetrators who get caught.
I am not a muckraker but I do not
think "muckraking" is "obsolete". Also, I do not think that
"The wrongdoings of major corporations,
and even entire industries, are now so commonplace that one hardly has
to root them out at all."
For while I agree that
many major corporations - banks, pharmacy, to name two examples - have
turned into "rank thieves", this is hardly ever mentioned in the main
media, which indeed are quite as corrupt as many of the major
So this makes muckraking quite necessary: There are rather
objective standards of truth and honesty in reporting politics and in
politics that have to be honored, also if - especially if - most of the
press have lost sight of these standards, or deny their applicability.
Then again, I agree with Hightower
on his ending:
An ethos of “anything goes” now rules
the top floor of suites of most major corporations. Blatant lies, PR
cover-ups, and a culture of total impunity are now central to the
corporate business model. They don’t care if they get caught. Profit
has taken ethics prisoner, and corporate elites now call the devil
But again this does not say
to me that one should not try to expose the "Blatant
lies, PR cover-ups, and a culture of total impunity" that
now are the corporate norms, or that one should agree to the sick
notions of profit that rule everything.
3. The Logic of the Police State
third item is by Matthew Harwood on Tomdispatch:
This is from the introduction to the article
by Tom Engelhardt:
Yes, indeed. But the "police-state
frame of mind" has not been blocked. On the
In these years, the
militarization of the police has taken place amid a striking upsurge of
protest over police brutality, abuses, and in particular the endless killing of
young black men, as well as a parallel growth in both the powers of and
the protections afforded to police officers. As TomDispatch regular Matthew
Harwood, who has been covering the militarization of the police for
this site, reports today, all of this could easily add up to the
building blocks for a developing police-state frame of mind.
Well... anarchy may be coming, but it is not
the fault of the activists. As Harwood explains, what is really
happening is this:
If you’ve been listening to
various police agencies and their supporters, then you know what the
future holds: anarchy is coming -- and it’s all the fault of activists.
In the simplest terms, there is
no war on the police. Violent attacks against police officers remain
at historic lows, even though approximately 1,000 people have
killed by the
police this year nationwide.
This means, especially in view of the fact of
how very few police officers have been prosecuted for these killings,
that there is something like a war of the US police on the American
population, or at least on its black part.
As Harwood explains (and as you get in considerable more detail in the
Indeed, a closer look at
law enforcement arguments against commonsense reforms like
independently investigating police violence, demilitarizing police
forces, or ending “for-profit policing” reveals a striking disregard
for concerns of just about any sort when it comes to brutality and
abuse. What this “debate” has revealed, in fact, is a mainstream
policing mindset ready to manufacture fear without evidence and promote
the belief that American civil rights and liberties are actually an
impediment to public safety. In the end, such law enforcement arguments
subvert the very idea that the police are there to serve the community
and should be under civilian control.
And that, when you come right down to it,
is the logic of the police state.
Yes and no, it seems to
me: Yes, in so far as the police itself is concerned (check out “for-profit
policing” in case you doubt this), but not quite in so far as the state
is concerned, for a real police state is a police state all the way,
from the government down to the police.
But I agree it is frightening. Finally, there is also this:
In May, the Obama administration
suggested modest changes to the Pentagon’s 1033 program, which, since
1990, has been redistributing weaponry and equipment to police
departments nationwide -- urban, suburban, and rural -- in the name of
fighting the war on drugs and protecting Americans from terrorism.
I agree that the Pentagon's program was and
is quite insane, or so it seems to me, but then again the Pentagon belongs to the military
much rather than the civilian branch, and the police should belong to
the civilian branch.
Even the idea that the police shouldn’t
sport the look of an occupying army in local communities has, however,
been met with fierce resistance.
4. How Could Socialism Be Boring?
It's a System Run By and For People
fourth and last item today is by Mark Karlin on Truthout:
To start with, the title
is confused if it isn't bullshit: All human systems are run by humans,
most of whom say they are doing it for humans - and so fascism, crime,
degeneracy and the inquisition can't be "boring" either. Besides, who
cares if some stupid or prejudiced people think "socialism" is "boring"?
Here is Danny Katch, who says he is a socialist, and wrote a book about it:
Danny Katch: I meant
the subtitle to be both humorous and earnest - like the rest of the
book. Presenting a "brief guide to human liberation" is ... ambitious,
to put it mildly. But it's important to bring back words like
"liberation" that have faded from our vocabulary. As our energies have
shifted almost entirely to defensive struggles to preserve our rights
and standard of living, our expectations about the possibility of a
fundamentally better world have been relentlessly lowered.
I am sorry, but Katch is not
speaking for me with his "our": My desires for a better world indeed
have been more or less the same the last 45 years (!) - in which I have
also known that they were the desires of a small and intelligent
minority rather than of any majority, and therefore were and are quite
unlikely to be practised while I live.
But this doesn't mean they are
unreasonable, even though they are unpopular.
Next, there is this passage that relates
to various meanings of the word "socialism", which was not defined by
Katz in any clear way (which is a considerable problem):
Bernie's socialism is based on
the model of Scandinavian social welfare states. I'm thrilled that
Sanders is using the platform of the presidential election to educate
millions of Americans about their universal health care and paid family
leave policies - those are exactly some of the higher expectations that
The first part refers to Bernie Sanders
concept of "socialism", that in my European eyes (1) looks a lot more
like what I call "social democracy" and (2) does not promise
nor rely on a violent social revolution to realize its aims: if a social
revolution is necessary, it can be organized by way of
Besides, I definitely know that I do not want
"socialism" in the classical sense, where the rich are expropriated and
all their property becomes the property of "the state" or "the people",
and I don't want it simply because property of the state or the people means property of
the very small class that are in power.
Indeed, for me that never was
"socialism" in a sense I agree to; it clearly was undemocratic and
dictatorial (in the Soviet Union and its allied "socialist states", and
in China and North-Korea); and it was based on the power of the very
few who headed the local communist party, and in fact commanded all.
But then this last rejected conception of
socialism - and see my "On Socialism" -
seems to be the preferred notion of Danny Katch, who surely is
historically wrong that his version of "socialism" is "more "democratic"", and is right about
the partial taming of capitalism that gave rise to
"Scandinavian socialism" - which is much better styled
Beyond that, the difference between
"Scandinavian socialism" and the Marxist vision that I put forward
isn't that the former is more "democratic" but actually that it is less
so. Power and wealth is still concentrated among Scandinavian elites -
they have just been forced to hoard less of it than their counterparts
here in the US.
I have to choose from these three: (1) rightwing profit oriented
capitalism -without-a-human-face; (2) capitalism-with-a-human-face
(falsely called "socialism") as exists in Scandinavia; and (3) state
socialism in the Soviet or Chinese tradition, I choose the second alternative, and I also believe this is historically the one with the best evidence that the majority of the population will be well treated.
I am 65 and got the highest official diploma (the M.A.) with the
highest marks, besides an equally good B.A. in another subject, while
all the studying I did was done while I and the woman I lived with were
I really know what I am talking about, and
one of my problems is that most journalists are younger than I am and
do not know anymore about the relatively good education
I got, as the last one of 100 years of decent education (from
1865-1965) in the country in which I was born, and besides nearly
all journalists are less well educated and know less than I do.
So I merely repeat what I found the last 50
years: A widespread and successful attack on any education
that maintained intellectual standards
from both the right (that doesn't like highly educated persons with
non-right ideas) and the left (that insists that all are equal, and
desires to see all treated equally, also if this means handing
out M.A. degrees to people with an IQ of 100).
 This also means that
many papers could be bought cheaply by a few rich tycoons, who then
also changed much of the staffs of the papers.
In any case, it seems that the classical
notion that there is not much of a real democracy without a real free
press is correct - which means that real democracy is dying or dead.
 Namely because the
left - part of it - has similar ideas: "If only we could kill -
"expropriate" - the rich, we could start the project of real democracy,
real socialism, real equality" etc."
The problem with this is rather similar to
the rightist notions Chris Hedges discusses: it appeals to standards of
violence and of rightness that are pretty extreme and pretty partial.