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Nederlog

January 24, 2016

Crisis: Postmodern Bullshit, Dump Trump, Reich, Wealth & Power
Sections                                                                      crisis index    
Introduction   

1. Why Do We Expose Ourselves?

2. ‘Stop Hate, Dump Trump’: Celebrities and Activists Join
    Campaign Against Donald Trump
3. Robert Reich’s Hilarious Crusade to Save Capitalism and
    America’s Middle Class (Part 1)

4. Bernie’s Movement
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, January 24, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about a review of a postmodernistic book filled with nonsense (I am afraid), for which reason I list a few points about my own background and fights with post- modernism, which in my case let to my being  denied - briefly before taking it - the right to take an M.A. in philosophy, and my being removed from the faculty of philosophy (as a student) of the University of Amsterdam (where I was one of the best students, in spite of being ill all the time); item 2 is about a campaign I hadn't heard about, which I like ("Dump Trump"); item 3 is about a laudatory article about Robert Reich, that I also like; and item 4 is about the last column of Reich, that I again like.

In brief: I like 3 out of 4 articles today (which is a rare event in the crisis series) and indeed I don't even dislike the first article, although I freely (and proudly) admit that I hate and despise the bullshit that is postmodernism, ever since I first heard of it, which was in 1978.

Also, I did upload a somewhat better
crisis index yesterday, up to the end of 2015.

1. Why Do We Expose Ourselves?

The first article is by Astra Taylor on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:
AMONG CRITICS OF TECHNOLOGICAL SURVEILLANCE, there are two allusions so commonplace they have crossed into the realm of cliché. One, as you have probably already guessed, is George Orwell’s Big Brother, from 1984. The other is Michel Foucault’s panopticon — a vision, adapted from Jeremy Bentham, of a prison in which captives cannot tell if or when they are being watched. Today, both of these touchstones are considered chillingly prophetic. But in Exposed: Desire and Disobedience in the Digital Age, Bernard Harcourt has another suggestion: Both of them are insufficient.
Hm, hm, hm. In my opinion (and Chomsky's opinion, and in the opinion of quite a few others who really know philosophy) Foucault was little better than a fraud.

In fact, I studied philosophy, but I was removed - also while seriously ill - from the faculty of philosophy of the University of Amsterdam, briefly before taking my M.A. there. (I do have an excellent B.A. in philosophy.) [1]

The reason was that I had attacked the frightening amounts of postmodernist utter bullshit; the extra-ordinary dishonesty and incompetence of my "teachers"; and the fact that
from 1978 till 1995 (certainly, but maybe still) in the University of Amsterdam it was very widely held that - and I quote, literally also (in translation) -
"Everybody"
- who wanted a job and no harassment at the University of Amsterdam, that posed that it was a university i.e. that it was dedicated to science and truth -
"knows that truth does not exist"
which was pronounced by the postmodernistic historian professor Brandt, opening the academic year 1978-1979. [2]

This logically implies very many things, notably that everybody who says - for example - that Jews were being gassed in Auschwitz by Nazis must be talking nonsense (for
"there is no truth"), but which - nevertheless? - ruled the University of Amsterdam from 1978 till 1995, and was never retracted.

Also, this was after I had been called "a fascist", "a dirty fascist" and "something like a fascist" very many times by the quasi-communists (for they were mostly members of the Communist Party) from the ASVA (who now - and since 1991 - all claim to be neo-conservatives, it seems, or at least that is how they like to be seen), mostly because I had designed a student party that opposed the mostly communist student-party the ASVA, that ruled the UvA from 1971-1995. [3]

There is considerably more on my site about these events:

I wasted 10 years in the University of Amsterdam; I am the only student who was ever removed from
any Dutch university since 1945 because I stated my honest opinions: that was not possible in the UvA from 1971-1995 without extreme sanctions and discriminations, like being scolded "a dirty fascist" - which was the more offensive for me since I must have had by far the best leftist background anybody ever had who studied in the University of Amsterdam:

My whole family - parents and grandparents - consisted of anarchists and communists, though I gave up communism aged 20, in 1970, but I still have the leftist outlook and morals of my communist parents and communist and anarchist grandparents: I just disagree and disagreed with Marx, Lenin and Stalin, and not with my parents or their morals; my grandfather was murdered in a German concentration camp; my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months as a communist in German concentration camps, and he is also one of the just two communists who got knighted in Holland - but even so: the University of Amsterdam threw me out, denied me the right to get an M.A. in philosophy, and refuses to answer my mails for 21 years now. [4]

So yes, I do know philosophy, and I suffered greatly because I studied it at the stalinist (o, yes!!) - from 1971-1995 - University of Amsterdam, that was all the years I studied there ruled by communist or postmodernist students and a board of extremely sick and sickening directors from Dutch Labour. [5]

Next there is this:

(...) Harcourt’s contribution is uniquely indebted to critical theory. Riffing on the work of another French philosopher, Gilles Deleuze (...)
O, lord: another postmodernist bullshitter.

Now, before I go on, I don't blame Astra Taylor. But I did study philosophy, and my background is more leftist than anyone I know of (except my brother), and I simply deny that Foucault and Deleuze are serious philosophers, and I also deny they are leftists: They were obscurantist bullshitters who made a well paying career by writing a lot of bullshit, which indeed is quite possible and quite common in philosophy (also outside postmodernism).

Here is one bit of nonsense of Harcourt:

One of the book’s more important chapters takes on the seemingly self-evident nature of the term “surveillance state,” which Harcourt argues is misleading. What we have, instead, is an “amalgam of the intelligence community, retailers, Silicon Valley, military interests, social media, the Inner Beltway, multinational corporations, midtown Manhattan, and Wall Street” that “forms an oligarchic concentration that defies any such reductionism.”
This is nonsense not because I don't believe in "oligarchic concentrations", although that seems to me a lot less clear than "surveillance state", but because
not all of the diverse entities referred to spy on computer users, while the term
"surveillance state" is quite adequate in sofar as spying and the state are concerned: The American state, after all, does pay a great amount of money to guarantee that its own secret spies can get everything anyone does with a computer, indeed in spite of the fact that this is plainly forbidden by the Fourth
Amendment to the Constitution. [6]

But I do understand that postmodernists glorify in nonsense and bullshit. After all, they maintain that
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist"...

Finally, I will briefly answer the question the title asks:

People expose themselves by their computer for two main reasons:

Firstly, the great majority - still - has no idea about what their computers do behind their backs. The great majority can't program; is not very intelligent; does not know much about computing; does not know how much they miss that is being done by their computer that they can't see; and probably also is far too trustful of whoever supplies them with
closed source code, apps etc.

Secondly, many are more or less forced: Facebook, Google, Linkedln and many other "free services" not only look slick and are free, they also belong to the
closed source one is recommended almost everywhere to use, again usually by
people who do not know what computers really do and are capable of nor how
much of one's privacy is being stolen by completely anonymous thieves.


2. ‘Stop Hate, Dump Trump’: Celebrities and Activists Join Campaign Against Donald Trump

The second item is by Roisin Davies on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

Dozens of celebrities and activists have joined a new campaign called “Stop Hate, Dump Trump” aimed at derailing the presidential prospects of GOP front-runner Donald Trump and the “politics of hate and exclusion he represents.”

Michael Moore, Kerry Washington, Rosie O’Donnell, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Dylan McDermott, Roseanne Barr and Lily Tomlin are among the film and television stars who have pledged to “speak out in every way possible” to prevent Trump from becoming the next president of the United States.

Other notable signatories on the campaign include Noam Chomsky, Connie Britton, Rosanna Arquette, Reza Aslan, Ani DiFranco, Danny Glover and the playwright Eve Ensler. The campaign has already received over 14,000 signatures.

I say - which I say because I did not know this, and I like the idea. Here
is a bit from the website (<- that's where it is):

We believe Trump is a grave threat to democracy, freedom, human rights, equality, and the welfare of our country and all our people.

We have witnessed Trump inciting hatred against Muslims, immigrants, women, the disabled. We have seen him evidencing dangerous tendencies that threaten the bedrock of democracy: unleashing a lynch mob mentality against protestors, calling for the expulsion of Muslims from the country, bullying, and fear-mongering.

History has shown us what happens when people refuse to stand against hate-filled leaders.

We pledge ourselves to speak out in every way possible against the politics of hate and exclusion he represents.

I agree.

3. Robert Reich’s Hilarious Crusade to Save Capitalism and America’s Middle Class (Part 1)

The third item is by Danny Feingold on AlterNet:

This has the following in the beginning:
Reich has no intention of bludgeoning his audience with bleak statistics and grim predictions. “As you can see, the economy has worn me down,” says the 4-foot-11-inch Reich, pausing as laughter spreads across the room. “Really, before the Great Recession I was, you know, 6-foot-2.”

Moments earlier, when I met Reich in an empty banquet room and asked if he preferred to be called “Professor” or “Bob,” he answered in a deadpan voice: “‘Your Highness.’” I had traveled from Los Angeles to trail Reich for a couple of days to better understand the man who has become at once the most visible, and most entertaining, critic of the nation’s unequal economy.

In fact, this article mostly consists of praise for Robert Reich, which I also think is deserved. (I don't always agree with him, but he is intelligent and fair-minded, and most others either are not or are less so. Also, he is a good explainer.)

If you like or dislike Reich, I recommend you read it. I take three more quotes, mostly for documentary reasons. The first is this:

As he nears 70, Reich is explaining at a furious pace, with a nonstop output of blog posts, op-eds, videos and lectures. (He has even appeared in an animated video for Capital & Main.) “I don’t want to do anything else,” he told me the day after the Silicon Valley speech. “This is extremely satisfying. I have the best job in the world.”
I am glad he likes it. In fact, I suppose he has other motives as well, but it is nice to know that he does what he likes.

The second is because of the quotation, which is fine and new to me:

On a wall hung a frame with Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis’ famous quote: “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”
Quite so. Finally, there is this, which seems a considerable change:
“Anybody who thinks that the answer is found in policy has not been paying attention,” he said, revealing a major shift in thinking for a man who has championed his share of policy prescriptions. “Good policies are a dime a dozen. The real issue now is a matter of power. How in the world do you get good policies enacted and enforced?”
Indeed - and I am not done yet with Reich, because the next and last item is about Reich's most recent column:

4. Bernie’s Movement

The fourth and last item is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman yesterday warned Bernie supporters that change doesn’t happen with “transformative rhetoric” but with “political pragmatism” – “accepting half loaves as being better than none.” He writes that it’s dangerous to prefer “happy dreams (by which he means Bernie) to hard thinking about means and ends (meaning Hillary).”

Krugman doesn’t get it. I’ve been in and around Washington for almost fifty years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized, and determined to make it happen.

I agree with Robert Reich. Also, I like to mention that I have been following Krugman daily for nearly three years now, but have found very little in Krugman's writings that I thought worth quoting or remembering. I guess he is one of the better economists; he writes clearly, mostly; and I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree, but no: he is not really inspiring to me, and indeed his
coming out for Clinton is a mistake, by my (and Reich's) lights.

And Reich is right:

Which means getting big money out of politics and severing the link between wealth and political power – the central goal of the movement Bernie is advancing.

Incidentally, it may be worth remarking that "big money" is inside politics since 2010, and that "the link between wealth and political power" has grown very many times stronger than it was since 1980, in part because this was since 1980
a major goal of all presidents, both of the Republicans and of the Democrats.

---------------
Notes

[1] Note that I am talking about the Seventies and the Eighties and about Holland. At that time, the study of philosophy officially took 6 years (and few made it, and fewer still did it within 6 years), and the same holds for the study of psychology (in which I do have a - brilliant - M.A.)

Presently, in 2016, it seems both studies are reduced to something like 4 years, and all the academic titles one can earn differ, as do the students, for these days the students arrive with about half (or less) of the knowledge that was required until 1970.

Also, these days one can become a dr. with a mere B.A., but when I studied one
had to have an M.A. to be able to qualify as a doctor.

Finally, my marks, in spite of being ill all the time, with a girlfriend who was ill all the time, were excellent: An 8+ for my philosophy B.A. (an A in American terms, while most Dutch students scored a 6) and a 9.3 for my psychology M.A.

[2] Maybe I should explain that "Everybody knows that truth does not exist" is and was a typical political lie (often made by neo-nazis) that is definitely out of place in a university?

[3] Everything I say in this paragraph is literally true, as is the following background information, that is very probably quite difficult to understand:

From 1971 until 1995 (24 years) all Dutch universities were formally in the hands of the students. They had been given that power by the minister and the parliament, who had ruled that from 1971 onwards all Dutch universities were to
be lorded over by a parliament, called the "Universiteitsraad" in Dutch, with sub-
parliaments in each faculty ("Faculteitsraad"), and with all parliaments (quite a lot, in view of the many different faculties) having to be elected each year, on the following principle:

Every student, every professor, and everybody else who worked for the university in any capacity (secretaries, doormen, cleaners etc.) was counted by the principle "1 man = 1 vote" (so a full professor of 58, a cleaner of 25, and a first year student of 18 each had 1 vote), and the diverse parliaments were elected by the ordinary majority of votes.

This meant that the students always had the absolute majority, and indeed from 1971-1985 (appproximately) most students who got elected were members of the Dutch Communist Party.

This was especially (but certainly not only) the case in Amsterdam, where especially philosophy students (and sociology students, and politicology students) had become members of the Dutch CP, and remained so till into the 1980ies.

I know that if one is not Dutch almost all of this will seem quite crazy (and indeed it was completely undone, again by a minister and a parliamentary decision, in 1995) but this is really how it was done in Holland in the time that
I studied there.

[4] All of this is again the literal truth, and I suppose that in terms of communist and anarchist and resistance backgrounds I am the foremost student
who ever studied in the University of Amsterdam, and probably also in any Dutch university:

Few students had one communist parent, but both of my parents were communists, for 45 years also; hardly any student had anarchist grandparents, but
two of my grandparents were anarchists, and one grandparent (who was murdered
in a German concentration camp) was a communist; hardly anyone who studied had any parents or grandparents in the resistance, but my mother, my father and
my grandfather were all part of the communist resistance; and finally there were
only two communists ever who were knighted, and my father was one of them (and the other headed the resistance in the province of Northholland).

So... why did I not convert back to communism, and why did I not explain this to the many members of the ASVA (the communist-dominated student party)?

Answers: I did not want to make a career based on lies; I believed and believe in the truth; and the truth is that Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin were mistaken. And I did not even attempt to explain this to the members of the ASVA because I knew that most of them were just liars who tried to make a career based on lies (and communism was quite popular until 1983), and I wanted to save my parents
(whom I always liked and respected, as they did me, regardless of my ideas about Marx) the trouble to have to answer to these lying careerists.

[5] I will probably repeat my demands for money from the UvA this year, which was very difficult to do until I got my pension (half a year ago now), because I was in the dole; no bureaucrat ever declared I was ill; and I could get thrown out of the dole for all kinds of reasons - which would have forced me to suicide for lack of income and health.

[6] Which is this (and cannot be revoked, though it is these days massively falsified):

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
-- Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution


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