1. Islamic Extremism Is a
Product of Western Imperialism
2. Susan Sarandon, Defender of Those Who’ll Vote for
Bernie Sanders Only
A Shocking 63 Percent of Americans Support Torture
—Do They Understand the Social
4. Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse
5. A New Right to Secrecy for Companies Must Be Rejected
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 3,
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item
1 is about islamic extremism, but I found it boring; item
2 is about a rather strange difference of opinion in some
voters for Sanders; item 3 is about the fact that
no less than 63 procent of all Americans now support torture; item 4 is about developments in China: it is growing
considerably more totalitarian; and item 5 is about
a new attack on democracy and national rights and the freedoms of the
press in Europe.
Extremism Is a Product of Western Imperialism
And today it is a sunday, which may explain the length of the present
Nederlog (although it still is well over 30 Kb). Also, I did not
finish the Nederlog I am writing about fascism, that will come later.
(And this afternoon I may go cycling, since it will be "springlike",
according to the radio, which is the first time this year, in Holland.)
first item is by Gary
Leech on Truthdig and originally on Counterpunch:
This starts as follows:
As we struggle to come to terms
with the latest terrorist attacks in Brussels, it is important that we
understand the causes of such extremism. After all, Islamic extremism
was virtually unknown fifty years ago and suicide bombings were
inconceivable. And yet today it seems that we are confronted with both
on a daily basis. So what happened to bring Islamic fundamentalism to
the forefront of global politics? While there are many factors
involved, undoubtedly one of the primary causes is Western imperialism.
Western intervention in the Middle East over the past century to secure
access to the region’s oil reserves established a perfect environment
in which Islamic fundamentalists could exploit growing anti-Western
sentiment throughout the Islamic world, with some establishing violent
extremist groups. The most recent consequence of this process is the
terrorist group known as the Islamic State, which emerged out of the
chaos caused by the US invasion of Iraq.
Actually, there is considerably more in the
article, but I admit I didn't like it because it remains at the
level of generalized platitudes, not only at the start but all through
It probably is well intended, but I did not get anything from it. You
can try if there is anything in it for you, but since I found it not
interesting I will skip quoting or discussing the rest.
2. Susan Sarandon, Defender of
Those Who’ll Vote for Bernie Sanders Only
is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Left-wing voters of principle have
endured insults and abuse in this presidential nominating season. A
large number of Bernie Sanders supporters—one-third, by some counts—have warned that they
will not vote for Hillary Clinton in the general election if she is the
Democratic nominee. This prospect has many Democrats terrified, as it
would seem to ensure at least four years of rule by Donald Trump or one
of his equally repugnant rivals for the Republican nomination, and
these Democrats have made no secret of their contempt for such spoilers.
But these voters have a renowned
defender in Academy Award-winning actress and activist Susan Sarandon.
Really now? This sounds pretty
exaggerated to me, starting also as it does with "Left-wing
voters of principle have endured insults and abuse".
For one thing, what is a "left-wing voter of principle"? I have little idea beyond people who have voted left
consistently. For another, this looks at least a bit as
if voting in the USA is a heroic act, which it isn't.
And for a third thing, all this
principled heroism seems now to have resulted in voters who want to
vote for Sanders but who refuse to vote for Clinton if she
gets the presidential candidacy.
Here is Susan Sarandon
On Mar. 28, MSNBC host Chris Hayes told Sarandon on his show, “All In With Chris Hayes”:
“In certain quarters there is growing concern that the folks that are
into Bernie Sanders have come to despise Hillary Clinton or reject
Hillary Clinton, and that should she be the nominee … they will walk
Sarandon did not dismiss these people.
“That’s a legitimate concern,” she said, “because they’re very
passionate and very principled.”
Hayes showed less restraint. “But isn’t
that crazy? If you believe in what he believes in?”
Sarandon continued: “Yeah, but she
doesn’t. She’s accepted money from all those people. She doesn’t even
want to fight for a $15 minimum wage. So these are people that have not
come out before, so why would we think they’re going to come out now
I say. This seems confused on several
First, to speak of mere voters as
if they are "very passionate and very
principled" seems to give them too much weight:
You are not "very principled" because you vote, nor are
you "very principled" because you can get quite hysteric for
your candidate, nor are you "very principled" because
you voted left consistently. That is: You may
be very principled indeed, but not for
these reasons - and besides, being "very principled"
ought to be at least a bit rare. 
And second, this is a classic fallacy: The
point is emphatically not whether Hillary Clinton is much like
Bernie Sanders. (I agree she isn't.) The point is whether Clinton - supposing
she gets the presidential candidacy - will be a better choice
(or for that matter: a less bad choice) than her Republican
I think she is a less bad choice than Trump or Cruz (or Ryan,
for that matter).
And I also think that this issue is mostly
an issue that will play between people who anyway do not do
much except voting.
A Shocking 63 Percent of Americans Support Torture—Do They Understand
the Social Consequences?
The third item is by
Richard Brouilette on AlterNet:
This starts as follows -
and Richard Brouilette is a psychoanalyst with a private practice in
New York, who in 2005 worked in Iraq with a NGO team, and taught
"Iraqi mental health professionals [..] the basics of treating PTSD
resulting from torture and war trauma":
Of course, 10 years ago American
officials felt obliged to be defensive about the word “torture,” and
used all sorts of euphemisms. In the States, there was a years-long
debate on the definition of torture and how it differed from enhanced
interrogation. Outside the States, the spectacle of our internal
semantics debate was cause for stunned ridicule.
But with the Reuters
poll just released on March 30, apparently Americans are now fine
with the word “torture”:
The poll asked respondents if torture
can be justified “against suspected terrorists to obtain information
about terrorism.” About 25 percent said it is “often” justified while
another 38 percent it is “sometimes” justified. Only 15 percent said
torture should never be justified.
So for the American public, things have
changed since the time of Abu Ghraib. My problem is that I can’t go
back to 2005 and revise our treatment curriculum to say that torture,
while sadistic and dehumanizing at an interpersonal level for both
perpetrator and victim, is “often” or even “sometimes” justified. What
I’m left with is the conclusion that, for a large percentage of
Americans, being sadistic and dehumanizing is completely justified
“often” or “sometimes.”
Yes and no, but mostly no: Yes, I think
this is fairly shocking, but no, I cannot believe that
most of the people questioned have a good understanding of what
torture really involves nor a good understanding of what PTSD -
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - is. 
And while I think the article is more or
less OK, and while I agree it is fairly shocking that most Americans
seem to know very little about torture, indeed including the fact that
torture is legally forbidden in all Western states, I also
think - as I said - that Richard Brouilette seems to confuse his own
understand- ings of torture and PTSD with the general
understanding of the same subjects,
which is far more superficial, and not adequate to the
4. Crackdown in China: Worse and Worse
The fourth item is by
Schell (<- Wikipedia) on The New York Review of Books:
This starts as follows:
“As a liberal, I no longer feel I
have a future in China,” a prominent Chinese think tank head in the
process of moving abroad recently lamented in private. Such refrains
are all too familiar these days as educated Chinese professionals
express growing alarm over their country’s future. Indeed, not since
the 1970s when Mao still reigned and the Cultural Revolution still
raged has the Chinese leadership been so possessed by Maoist nostalgia
and Leninist-style leadership.
First, I have to admit that while I am
interested in China, I did not know who is Orville Schell, who
seems an interesting man from the Wikipedia lemma on him.
And second, this is a good and serious article, that - in case
you are interested in China - I recommend you read all of.
Here is part of the reason (together with the facts that I do take
Orville Schell serious, who has been writing about China since 1970):
China has long been a one-party
Leninist state with extensive censorship and perhaps the largest secret
police establishment in the world. But what has been happening lately
in Beijing under the leadership of Chinese Communist Party General
Secretary Xi Jinping is no such simple fluctuation. It is a fundamental
shift in ideological and organizational direction that is beginning to
influence both China’s reform agenda and its foreign relations.
And this also seems to me a fairly direct
consequence from the totalitarian
way in which China is organized since Mao: With an all-powerful
communist party, that holds all powers there are in China, and
is itself again organized in a totalitarian way.
What China's history since the death of Mao shows is that the degree
of totalitarianism may vary rather a lot with the personality
of the supreme leader, the present
supreme leader Xi Jinping seems considerably more inclined towards
totalitarianism (and personal power) than most of his predecessors
As usual, the present growth of totalitarianism has a two-fold base,
one quite possibly reasonable, and the other totalitarian:
At the center of this retrograde
trend is Xi’s enormously ambitious initiative to purge the Chinese
Communist Party of what he calls “tigers and flies,” namely corrupt
officials and businessmen both high and low. Since it began in 2012,
the campaign has already netted more than 160 “tigers” whose rank is
above or equivalent to that of the deputy provincial or deputy
ministerial level, and more than 1,400 “flies,” all lower-level
officials. But it has also morphed from an anticorruption drive into a
broader neo-Maoist-style mass purge aimed at political rivals and
others with differing ideological or political views.
In case you doubt the totalitarian side of
these efforts, there is this (which is new since the 1990ies):
But what has been perhaps most
unexpected about this trend is the way that Beijing has begun to extend
its claim to control people and organizations beyond its borders.
Despite its stubborn defense of the sanctity of sovereignty, its agents
have begun reaching overseas to manipulate the foreign dialogue by
setting up hundreds of Confucius Institutes, newspapers, magazines, and
even TV networks that answer to the Central Propaganda
Department and the CCP.
The Chinese government is also denying
visas to “unfriendly” (buyouhao) foreign journalists and
scholars; blocking foreign websites with which it disagrees; demanding
that public figures like the Dalai Lama, Hong Kong activists, or
Chinese dissidents be refused foreign platforms; threatening the
advertising bases of overseas media outlets that challenge its
positions; and now even abducting foreign nationals abroad and
“renditioning” them back to China where it forces them into making
televised confessions. It is hardly surprising that Chinese have
started whispering about a new “climate of fear” (kongbude qifen),
what Eva Pils of King’s College London School of Law calls “rule by
There is a lot more in the article, which
is recommended. Also, this is a serious development, since
China has more than a billion inhabitants, and is the second most
powerful nation, after the USA.
5. A New Right to Secrecy for
Companies Must Be Rejected
The fifth item is by Staff at Truthout and
originally at Corporate Europe Observatory:
This starts as follows:
The proposed EU legislation on "Trade
Secrets Protection," which the European Parliament will vote next April
14, creates excessive rights to secrecy for businesses: it is a direct
threat to the work of journalists and their sources, whistleblowers,
employees' freedom of expression, and rights to access public interest
information (on medicines, pesticides, car emissions, etc.).
I am not at all amazed, I must say, if
only because by now I have written a lot about the TTP, the TTIP, the
TiSA, the CETA and am now writing about this coming horror, for that is
what it promises to be.
Here is part of the explanation:
What is the problem?
Trade secrets are everything companies
keep secret to stay ahead of competitors. A secret recipe or
manufacturing process, plans of a new product, a list of clients,
prototypes... The theft of trade secrets can be a real problem for
companies, and is already punished in all EU Member States. But there
was no uniform legislation on the matter at the EU level.
A small group of lobbyists working for
large multinational companies (Dupont, General Electric, Intel, Nestlé,
Michelin, Safran, Alstom…) convinced the European Commission to draft
such a legislation, and helped it all along the way. The problem is
that they were too successful in their lobbying: they transformed a
legislation which should have regulated fair competition between
companies into something resembling a blanket right to corporate
secrecy, which now threatens anyone in society who sometimes needs
access to companies' internal information without their consent:
consumers, employees, journalists, scientists...
I guess these "lobbyists working for large multinational companies" were in fact mostly their lawyers out to become the
judges of the world,
like their lawyerly comrades who did the same when they created the
fascistic "courts"  that are meant to destroy all
National governments, national
parliaments, and national judiciaries will all get
destroyed or made
wholly irrelevant, for any of their actions that threatens to
lessen the expected profits of the multi-national
corpo- rations will be
punished by fines of hundreds of millions or several billions of
dollars, to be paid by the inhabitants of these nations from their
That is fascism plain and simple, by definition .
Then there is this:
The European Parliament is expected to
vote on 14 April 2016 on the "Directive on the protection of
undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against
their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure." The text can no longer be changed. The directive
initially drafted by the European Commission favored companies'
economic rights at the expense of citizens' political rights.
Unfortunately, despite some improvements, the compromise text still
does the same. We think it is essential that MEPs reject it and ask the
Commission to come up with a better one, but they are under heavy
pressure from multinational corporations to adopt it.
agree that this new proposal ought to be rejected, but I fear it will
not, indeed in part because the European Union is corrupt. Besides, I
am a firm opponent of
passing unread or unmodifiable laws - but I also think most members of
the European parliament are careerists (and
certainly the Dutch are).
This is a recommended article with
considerably more text, but I fear the proposed "law" is too late to be
stopped. I hope I am mistaken, and will
know by April 15.
In fact, I guess an underlying difficulty may be that if I
say "very intelligent", "very stupid" or "very principled" I do
mean a relatively small group
in the considerably larger groups of the intelligent, the stupid or the
principled, while many others on the left don't mean this,
to believe (or plainly believe) that "everyone is of equal value" (and
especially in Holland).
I am not sure, but the quoted opinion definitely was very
popular in the University of Amsterdam from 1971-1995, and it was very
popular there because it was "a leftist" opinion. (It also made Marx the
equal in value of Hitler, but who on "the left" cares for logic?!
a few, but these tend to be real leftists, not mock "leftists".))
And no, I know "leftism" is not leftism, and that most on the
current "left" indeed seem to be "leftists" rather than leftists.
This is another difficulty that may be at the basis of the
problem of the article (we are in fact dealing with "leftists" rather
than leftists), but I will leave my explanation of the - considerable -
differences between the two groups to a later date.
 I think I
at least compared with most. My reasons come in three parts: (1) my
parents were communists who were in the resistance in WW II, in which
my father and his father (also a communist) were arrested in 1941 and
convicted - by collaborating Dutch judges, who never were punished - to
concentration camp punishments as "political terrorists", which my
grandfather did not survive. (2) My father survived over 3 years and 9
months as a "political terrorist" in four German concentration camps,
and did get PTSD from ca. 1960.
(3) I have studied philosophy and psychology, and got an - excellent -
M.A. in psychology. There may be - indeed, there certainly are - some
who know more about concentration camps, Nazism, and PTSD than I do,
but I never met them.
 Here is the definition of "fascism" I
use (from the American Heritage Dictionary):
1. often Fascism a.
A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a
dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the
opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of
belligerent nationalism and racism. b. A political philosophy
or movement based on or advocating such a system of government. 2.
Oppressive, dictatorial control.
The proposals of the lawyers who want special
"courts" to judge inhabitants of nations that had the impertinence
to adopt laws or regulations that might lessen the profits of multi-national
corporations involve a totally new type of government in
which the multi-national corporations have all powers, that
will have the abilities to control far more in a society or its
economy than previously, and that will also suppress nearly all
(namely by showing that opposition risks the achievement of the profits
that the CEOs of the multi-national corporations "expected", and
therefore is forbidden: Profits Are Holy).
You don't even need a dictator if you have these supra-national courts,
that soon may reduce all of Europe to a Texas or Kansas level of
"civilization". But yes, I do not doubt that the profits for
the CEOs will be maximal.