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Nederlog

 April 4, 2016

Crisis: Patriotism, Panama Papers, Israel, Refugees, Dark Money
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
The Lie of Patriotism
2. The Panama Papers: 'Biggest Leak in History' Exposes
     Global Web of Corruption

3.
Fighting Israeli Occupying Forces Is “Terrorism.”
     Boycotting Is “Anti-Semitism.” What’s Allowed?

4. Countdown to Chaos: EU-Turkey Deal Will Send
     Refugees 'From Hell to Hell'

5. There's a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Afoot, Fueled by
     Dark Money

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, April 4, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Chris Hedges on patriotism, with extensions by me about my personal history; item 2 is about the Panama Papers, about which I expect to read and write more; item 3 is about Israeli propaganda: if you fight against Israel, then you are a terrorist; if you argue against Israel, then you are an anti-semite, and Glenn Greenwald does not agree; item 4 is about the fate of the Syrian and other refugees for war: they are excluded from Europe and locked up in Turkey, it seems; and item 5 is about a review of what seems to be an important book.

1. The Lie of Patriotism

The first item is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
When Rory Fanning, a burly veteran who served in the 2nd Army Ranger Battalion and was deployed in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2004, appeared at the Donald Trump rally in Chicago last month he was wearing the top half of his combat fatigues. As he moved through the crowd, dozens of Trump supporters shouted greetings such as “Welcome home, brother” and “Thank you for your service.” Then came the protest that shut down the rally. Fanning, one of the demonstrators, pulled out a flag that read “Vets Against Racism, War and Empire.”

“Immediately someone threw a drink on me,” he said when I interviewed him on my teleSUR show, “Days of Revolt.” “I got hit from behind in the head three or four times. It was quite the switch, quite the pivot on me. Questioning the narrative, questioning Donald Trump’s narrative, and I was suddenly out of their good graces.”
I say - or perhaps I do not.

And in fact I don't - but the reason is that I know these values and these reactions quite well, also from my own extended experiences, because I was called "a fascist" or a "dirty fascist" between 1977 and 1989 (not all years for I was also ill most of the time and could not study) because I had said that I liked Peirce better than Marx [1], and that I believed in science and in truth, whereas the vast majorities of both students and staff at the University of Amsterdam in these years pretended that they were "communists" or "sympathizers with Marx" (both lies), and did not believe in science ("a capitalist illusion") nor in truth ("everyone knows there is no truth"). [2]

For someone of leftist leanings, with two communist parents (both communists for more than 40 years also), with a communist grandfather who was murdered by the Nazis, and with a communist father who survived more than 3 years and 9 months of four German concentration camps, and who was also one of the two knighted communists in Holland, knighted for anti-fascism... it is strange and quite revealing having "studied" (and brilliantly finished, in spite of continuous illness and continuous discrimination) at the University of Amsterdam in the years that university was quite insane - and I am sorry, but a university in which the large majority of both students and staff insists (hypocritically, for the most part [3]) that "science is an illusion" and "everybody knows that truth does not exist", and does so from 1971 till 1995 is insane, although there also are good explanations for the insanity, notably that it made both teaching and getting a degree incredibly much easier, which is what both the staff and the students wanted a lot: Do almost nothing but nevertheless get well paid or get a degree by which you will be well paid
[4].

And this ideal state - for the lazy, the dishonest, the greedy, and the stupid - existed in the University of Amsterdam from 1971 till 1995, and was, year after year after year, democratically assured and confirmed by yearly elections, which from 1971 till 1995 were held in the university and in all faculties, where each student, each secretary, each toilet cleaner, each lecturer and each professor all got 1 vote (for "everybody has just the same value as everybody else") - which assured the absolute and totalitarian dominance of the students' party the ASVA from 1971-1995. [5]

Yes, I know I am talking about my own history here, but it is relevant. Also it is - for those who read Dutch - extremely well documented: See ME in Amsterdam ("ME" refers to my disease) and my Spiegeloog columns (also translated to English).

Here is one more quotation from the article:

Nationalists do not venerate veterans. They venerate veterans who read from the approved patriotic script. America is the greatest and most powerful country on earth. Those we fight are depraved barbarians. Our enemies deserve death. God is on our side. Victory is assured. Our soldiers and Marines are heroes. Deviate from this cant, no matter how many military tours you may have served, and you become despicable. The vaunted patriotism of the right wing is about self-worship. It is a raw lust for violence. It is blind subservience to the state. And it works to censor the reality of war.
Yes, indeed: This is how it goes, indeed also "no matter how many military tours you may have served".

There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended. Here is one more comment on the article: I thought of quoting Orwell here, who distinguished - rather sensibly - between "nationalism" (which he was against) and "patriotism" (which he was for), but I decided not to, mostly because Orwell's remarks are over 70 years old [6], and probably do not really refer to the present article, not even with a wide stretching of the imagination. (But they are important, and you should have read them if you are genuinely intelligent.)

2. The Panama Papers: 'Biggest Leak in History' Exposes Global Web of Corruption

The second item is
by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

An anonymous source, an enormous cache of leaked documents, and a year-long investigative effort by around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries have yielded the Panama Papers, an unprecedented look at how the world's rich and powerful, from political leaders to celebrities to criminals, use tax havens to hide their wealth.

The investigation went live on Sunday afternoon.

I say - this may get really interesting. As the quotation shows, the story was launched yesterday, but it is supported by hundreds of journalists, more than a hundred media organizations, and an incredible amount of data, so this certainly is not the last you will be hearing about this.

Here are some background details quoted from the Süddeutsche Zeitung:

Over a year ago, an anonymous source contacted the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous offshore companies around the world. These shell firms enable their owners to cover up their business dealings, no matter how shady.

In the months that followed, the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak. Ultimately, SZ acquired about 2.6 terabytes of data, making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked with. The source wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures.

The data provides rare insights into a world that can only exist in the shadows. It proves how a global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the estates of the world’s rich and famous: from politicians, Fifa officials, fraudsters and drug smugglers, to celebrities and professional athletes.

I say, again - and I noted the "global industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies", who take the lead in this dirty and greedy game.

Here is some more:

In a statement on Sunday, international anti-corruption organization Global Witness said the exposé had "once again shown the insidious role that tax havens, corporate secrecy and shell companies play in aiding widespread crime, corruption, and violence. These threaten the safety, security and well-being of people around the world."

The group pointed out that "despite stereotypes portraying the problem of tax havens and shell companies as an 'offshore' problem, this is a big and homegrown issue in the U.S. as well." To that end, Global Witness will join faith leaders, small business owners, voices from law enforcement, and other community activists from over 25 states in Washington, D.C. from April 11-13 to call on Congress to pass legislation that would end anonymous companies.

And I again point to the "tax havens, corporate secrecy and shell companies" that help widespread crime, corruption, and violence" - for indeed these are strongly responsible (and Google and Apple, for example, keep most of the taxes they ought to pay to the American government to themselves, by way of tax havens, e.g. in Holland).

Anyway - more is sure to follow, and this is a recommended article.

3. Fighting Israeli Occupying Forces Is “Terrorism.” Boycotting Is “Anti-Semitism.” What’s Allowed?

The third item is
by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
This starts as follows:

THAT “TERRORISM” IS a malleable term of propaganda, with no fixed meaning or consistent application, is now quite well-established. Still, its recent application to a spate of violence targeting Israel’s occupying soldiers in the West Bank is so manipulative and extreme that it’s well worth highlighting.

Actually, yes and no, and indeed mostly no. I explain, and first my no:

I do believe "terrorism" has been defined fairly clearly, e.g. thus: "terrorism" =df "attempt
to get one's way in politics or religion by violence and murder, directed especially at civilians", and especially if it is also pointed out that there are (at least) two kinds of terrorism:

That engaged in by states (and usually by their secret services, police or military) that is best called state terrorism; and that engaged in by non- states, that is usually called terrorism, even though state terrorists have made very many more victims (for example: states' concentration camps have taken the lives of tens of millions of victims, and yes, they were all victims of state terrorism).

Next, my yes, for Glenn Greenwald also is correct, especially if he would have added that he is speaking about "terrorism" as the term is used in the main media these days, for there indeed it is a propaganda term that is widely (and on purpose) abused.

Then there is this:

There have been Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians of course (while far more Palestinian civilians have died at the hands of the Israeli army), but in these specific cases, these Palestinians are attacking purely military targets, not civilians. Those military targets are soldiers deployed to their soil as part of an illegal occupying army. In what conceivable sense can that be “terrorism”? If fighting an occupying army is now “terrorism” simply because the army belongs to Israel and the attackers are Palestinian, is it not incredibly obvious how this term is exploited?

The U.S. has frequently done the same: invade and occupy countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan and then label anyone who fights their occupying armies as “terrorists,” even putting some in Guantánamo for that. Similarly, attacks against military bases of the U.S., U.K., and other Western countries are routinely labeled “terrorism.

In fact, Greenwald's asking "In what conceivable sense can that be “terrorism”?" is a bit inconsistent or disingenuous given his opening statement (which was: "THAT “TERRORISM” IS a malleable term of propaganda, with no fixed meaning or consistent application, is now quite well-established.")

I take it as an implicit admission that "terrorism" does have some independent meaning apart from those given by propagandists, but the rest of the quoted part is quite correct, and may be translated into my terms as saying that after
state terrorists have occupied a foreign land, those who resist these occupations (often in any way, also if they are only peaceful) are often called "terrorists" by the state terrorists, and indeed often based on no more than that they oppose the occupation of their own country. (As indeed were my father
and grandfather: Both were called "political terrorists" by Dutch judges who collaborated with the Nazis, and who were never punished in any way, and who judged on after the war, this time again as "true patriotic Dutchmen".)

This is from the last paragraph, and about this specific case:

If fighting Israeli occupying forces is barred as “terrorism,” and nonviolent boycotts against Israel are barred as “anti-Semitism,” then what is considered a legitimate means for Palestinians and their allies to resist and end the decadeslong, illegal Israeli occupation? The answer is: nothing.

That is, "You are damned if you do, and you are damned if you don't". It is true
that there are very many more examples of this, but it is also true that the Israel/Palistinian example is especially sharp.

4. Countdown to Chaos: EU-Turkey Deal Will Send Refugees 'From Hell to Hell'

The fourth item i
by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Less than 24 hours before Greece deports the first wave of refugees and migrants to Turkey under the maligned deal that sees humans turned into bargaining chips, officials are predicting chaos and violence as the agreement takes effect. 

According to Agence France-Presse, the Turkish interior minister said the country is expecting take in up to 500 migrants from Greece on Monday. The Greek state news agency ANA said some 750 refugees and migrants are set to be sent back between Monday and Wednesday.

I say. Or perhaps I don't, because I expected this:

The Europeans have twisted things in such a way that refugees from wars (made by the Americans) are not refugees anymore, but are illegitimate profiteers who want to grow rich on European dole money and free study possibilities.

And the refugees from wars are now learning what they are worth, and where they stand in order of importance:

They are worth nothing; they are the least important; and therefore now they are shipped like cattle from one country that doesn't want them to another that doesn't want them (but that gets a lot of cash to somehow stow them away at the border of Europe, where no European can see them or be bothered by them).

Here is some from the human side, so to speak:

On Friday, according to Reuters, "hundreds of migrants and refugees on the Greek island of Chios tore down part of the razor wire fence surrounding their holding centre...and began walking to the port in protest, police officials said."

"If they make me go back to Turkey I'll throw myself and my family into the sea," Mustafa, a Syrian waiting with his wife and children at the port of Chios told Agence France-Presse. "We went from hell to hell."

And here is some from the legal side:

Meanwhile, the United Nations, Amnesty International, and European officials continue to raise serious human rights concerns about the deal's implementation.

On Saturday, the UN secretary general’s special representative for international migration and development, Peter Sutherland, said the pact could even be illegal. In an interview with the BBC, he explained: "Collective deportations without having regard to the individual rights of those who claim to be refugees are illegal. Now, we don’t know what is going to happen next week, but if there is any question of collective deportations without individuals being given the right to claim asylum, that is illegal."
(...)
This week, Amnesty said the agreement was one that "can only be implemented with the hardest of hearts and a blithe disregard for international law."

I'd say they clearly are collective deportations, and therefore illegal. But
I am cynical enough to assume that the Europeans will change the law before they change the practice.

5. There's a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy Afoot, Fueled by Dark Money 

The fifth and last item today is by Eleanor J. Bader on Truthout

This starts as follows:'

Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, by Jane Mayer, Doubleday, 2016

Conspiracy theorists can breathe a sigh of relief. Turns out, there is a vast plot afoot, but it's not being orchestrated by "godless communists" or feminists eager to smash the patriarchy. Instead, it's coming from right-wing libertarians and ultra-conservative nationalists who have billions of dollars to spend and are willing to do whatever it takes to win.

Their agenda includes a desire to reduce government's function to a single item: Protection and promotion of business interests by eliminating things they consider roadblocks, such as taxes, unions, minimum wage laws, overtime protections and environmental regulations that limit toxic dumping and air and water pollution. To say that they're harkening back to the Gilded Age is an oversimplification, but it's close to the ideal put forward by a small cohort of unimaginably rich white men, and a handful of unimaginably rich white women, who are plotting to turn the US into a land of serfs and lords, with themselves in complete control of everything.

There is considerably more under the last dotted link. Also, in case you were
inclined to doubt it, the above continues as follows:

Jane Mayer's exhaustively researched look at this network makes for an essential though terrifying read.

This is a recommended article, for what seems to be a quite important book.

--------------------------
Notes
[1] I will explain myself briefly (and you can skip the first section if you don't want to know).

Here is a first explanation, that has to be seen against the background that I had a far better communist background and a far better anti-fascist background than anyone who made these - typically political, and completely unfounded - accusations of me. (They were typically from rich conservative backgrounds.
My parents were poor proletarians, and intelligent and honest communists for more than 40 years.)

The following happened at least three times, in 1977, in 1980 and in 1982, and each time my opponents were leading members of the ASVA and members of the Dutch Communist Party (to which my parents belonged, from the 1930ies or 1940ies onwards):

Step 1: I am asked, semi-politely, what I think of Marx.
Step 2: I answer, politely, that I have read him but consider Peirce a greater
philosopher.
Step 3a: I am asked who is Peirce and answer: An American philosopher.
Step 3b: I am accused of being "a fascist" or "like a fascist" because of the
following argument (that I have heard at least three times): "Peirce was an
American. Americans are fascists. Therefore you are a/like a fascist."

I am spelling this out because this sort of sick discrimination happened twelve years against me, and because nobody I knew (apart from my direct family) saw anything much wrong in this in the whole University of Amsterdam.

[2] The most important fact here is that I know, because of the yearly elections for the parliaments that ruled both the university and the faculties, in which the srudent party I had created took part and made some 5% of the votes with a very rational plan that was explicitly pro science and pro truth, whereas the opposition gained 95% with plain marxism and communism (and later postmodernism), that indeed 95% of both students and staff of the University of Amsterdam between 1977 and 1995 were against science and against truth all that time.

I also note that if you were a student of philosophy at that time you could get an M.A. (as I learned in 2002) almost only by taking part in demonstrations, in squatting, and in feminism workshops: Many M.A.'s in philosophy were given on the basis of this "education" (and after that, they were made staff members teaching philosophy at various places in various Dutch universities!).

[3]
This is a quite important point for someone who does want to understand the corruption of the Dutch universities between 1971 and 1995 (5 student generations!):

It was nearly completely based on hypocrisy, much rather than genuine conviction, as indeed - with my out-and-out communist background - I was aware of from 1977 onwards:

The staffs wanted to be paid well and do as little as possible for it, and got it; the students wanted diplomas without almost any studying and without almost any talents, and got that.

Most of the - quite fanatic, quite crazy - politics they engaged in was part of the hypocrisy, and if not belonged to the folklore of radical pretense that many 20-year olds have to go through, but that they know, also at that time, to be not really sincere or honest but make-believe.

As to communism: I liked my parents and knew they were genuine and true communists. I have seen a great amount of hypocritical pretensious quasi- communists, who also were members of the communist party (as they only admitted in 1992), but I did not meet any genuine communist in the UvA (like my parents) although I met many tens of quasi-communists.

[4] And that is the secret of the University of Amsterdam between 1971 and 1995, and the explanation of the enormous popularity of the theses that
"science is an illusion" and "everybody knows that truth does not exist":

It meant that no one did have to do anything to become a real scientist; it meant that no one did have to do anything to find deep truths; it meant that no one could ever be refuted in any way ("there is no truth" and hence no valid refutations); it meant that everyone could claim to be right in the most amazing falsehoods (for "there is no truth" and therefore no falsehood); it meant that M.A. degrees could be handed out for taking part in demonstrations or in squatting; it meant that everybody could do, and say, and think as they pleased without any criticism having any validity ("there is no truth", "science is an illusion") - and that sketches most of the activities in the University of Amsterdam between 1971 and 1995 quite well.

There were a few who protested, but not more than 5%. And of those who protested, most were bought later by a soft, cushy and well-paid university job, after which they ceased criticizing...

[5] And this paragraph sketched the reasons why this sick state of affairs could continue for 24 years: Everything was ruled by parliaments (both the university and all faculties); in these yearly elections the students always had
the absolute majority; and a charicature of "marxism" was combined with a choice of postmodernism ("there is no truth", "science is an illusion") and with political correctness ("you shall only speak in my approved terms, and if not you are a fascist") to make it appear as if it were reasonable.

[6] I am referring to Orwell's "Notes on Nationalism" that appeared in Volume 3 of "The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell"
(on p. 410-431 of my Penguin edition, that I bought and read in 1978). I do think these Notes are still quite relevant, but not for Hedges' article.

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