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Nederlog

 April 17, 2016

Crisis: Revolution, Hillary vs Bertie, Sanders, Uygur, European Parliament
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
 Revolution Is in the Air
2. Does the Hillary, Bernie Battle Matter That Much?
3.
In Vatican City, Bernie Sanders Speaks Out on Economic
     Injustice

4. Cenk Uygur and His Team at The Young Turks
5.
European Parliament’s vote turns health into a trade
     secret
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 17, 2016.


This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is a fine article by Chris Hedges about revolution (and I explain some differences between his and my positions); item 2 is another fine article by Les Leopold, who explains the differences between Hillary and Bernie quite well; item 3 is yet another fine article about, and in part by, Bernie Sanders (who went to the Vatican: I think it is quite interesting); item 4 is about Cenk Uygur and TYT (and I explain that I still like them, but less than in 2009, which is in part because they are a lot bigger now, and in part because they deradicalized some); and item 5 is an interesting and very frightening article about health in Europe: The European Parliament has decided to make Europe like Texas and give pharmaceutical corporations rights and powers they should not have. (You may not realize how dangerous this is, but then it is extremely unlikely that you are ill as I am: over 37 years now.)

This also is a long Nederlog, that appears a bit later (though still in the Dutch afternoon).

1. Revolution Is in the Air

The first item is b
y Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

The sustained, daily civil disobedience at the Capitol by demonstrators denouncing the capture of our political system by corporate money is part of one of the largest and most important movements for social justice since the Occupy uprising. Join it.

Six hundred of the protesters have been arrested, and I was among 100 arrested Friday.

The protesters, organized by Democracy Spring, have converged on Washington from across the country. Young. Old. Black. White. Brown. Native American. Asian. Christian. Jew. Muslim. Buddhist. Atheist. From the left. From the right. Some marched for 10 days along a 160-mile route from Philadelphia to Washington.

I did not know this, and I agree with Chris Hedges that this may be the beginning of something big, although I am also a bit careful: most politics I engaged in or followed with positive interests the last 45 years failed. [1]

There are quite a number of reasons for the failures I saw, but many relate
to two things (beside others):

First, there was a great and well-organized opposition from the rich, the corporates, and many professional politicians - left, right and center - who supported the rich, often for pay or for power.

For the rich got organized since the 1970ies, and did that a whole lot better and also a whole lot more synchronized than the left. [2]

And second, much of "the left" (also ever more increasing with time, especially among the "professional politicians") are no longer part of the left that I know, quite intimately also, for both of my parents were for over 40 years of their lives members of the Dutch CP (from the middle thirties and early forties onwards), and they were both intelligent although not well educated, and they were also quite classical leftists. [3]

Then there is this:

The hundreds of arrests this past week have been largely ignored by a corporate media whose lobbyists, along with those of other corporations, are a familiar presence on Capitol Hill. The mass media’s blackout of the largest number of arrests at the Capitol in decades is one of innumerable examples of our corporate coup d’état. And until corporate power is overthrown—and it will be overthrown only from the streets in sustained acts of civil disobedience—the nation will continue to devolve into an authoritarian police state. Corporations will continue to strip us of our remaining rights, carry out the deadly assault on the ecosystem, impoverish workers, make a mockery of our democracy and cannibalize what is left of the country. The system of corporate power is incapable of reform. It must be destroyed.

I think this is mostly quite true, and I think so because it went that way mostly since 1980/1, when Reagan got to be president of the USA, and from then on the governors of the USA, including Clinton and Obama (both of whom got a whole lot of money from the big banks), were on the side of the big corporations (with the Republicans mostly in oil, and the Democrats mostly in banks, though both kinds of corporations invest in both parties).

What I am a bit doubtful about is Hedges' statement that "The system of corporate power is incapable of reform": I agree the corporates don't want any reform they don't support, and I also agree they have an enormous amount of both power and money, but capitalism in the 20th Century has been moved both rightwards (e.g. by Reagan and Friedman) and leftwards (e.g. by Roosevelt and  Keynes), and the changes were considerable, though the system was "capitalistic" in both forms. I don't see much reason why this could not happen again. [4]

Then there is this:

Democracy cannot be sustained if it cannot be seen. Those in power must be made to fear movements that are willing to disrupt the machinery of state. The elites must be kept in check.

The question, as the philosopher Karl Popper pointed out, is not how to get good people to rule. Most people attracted to power, Popper wrote, are at best mediocre and usually venal. The question is how to build movements to stop the powerful from doing sustained damage to the citizenry, the nation and the environment. It is not our job to take power. It is our job to keep power constantly off balance and fearful of overstepping its reach to pillage on behalf of the elites.

Mostly yes, though with a few remarks.

First, I think Popper was correct that professional politicians are rarely really good intellects, and indeed are usually venal. But - I would say - if you are for "a revolution" your job is to take power. (You almost certainly will not get it,
even if your group succeeds, but that is what you should aim for - if you want
a revolution.)

Also, you may not be much for "a revolution", while being a leftist, in considerable part (as holds e.g. for me) because you know very well that nearly all attempted revolutions have failed, while those that "succeeded" almost always produced systems (like Soviet or Chinese "communism"/"socialism") that have little if anything to do with the ideals of the original revolutionists.

But this mostly touches upon an ambiguity, that is also realistic, for no one can confidently predict the course of history.

Then there is this:

It was the pressure of radical movements and independent parties such as the Progressive Party and the Communist Party that saw Franklin Delano Roosevelt create the New Deal, which delivered a series of social and economic reforms that only the Nixon presidency would rival. Roosevelt warned his fellow oligarchs that they had better part with some of their money to create public works projects, Social Security and some 12 million jobs during the Depression or face the prospect of a revolution in which they would lose everything. Roosevelt later said that one of his greatest achievements was saving capitalism.

I think that is mostly correct. The same holds for the following bit:

The corrupt institutions of power have, for decades, successfully used empty political theater to create the fiction of democracy. In our managed democracy, usually only corporate-approved candidates—including Barack Obama, who was anointed by the Chicago political machine—are able to get elected to state or national office. It is nearly impossible in our system of inverted totalitarianism to vote against the interests of ExxonMobil, Bank of America, Raytheon or Goldman Sachs. On all of the major structural issues, from the failure to regulate Wall Street to imperial wars and the evisceration of our civil liberties, there has been complete continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations. 

As there has been a continuity between Bush Sr. and Bill Clinton, and as there was a continuity between Reagan and Bush Sr. And the continuity consisted in
always being kind and helpful to the corporate interests - which were therefore extended, and extended and extended, and currently seem to rule most in government, through the device of "the revolving door": Extremely rich bankers who cease banking for a few years to do politics, that will then give them even more money, after which they return again to their extremely well paying banking jobs. (Etc. ad inf.)

But in any case, this is a good and recommended article.

2. Does the Hillary, Bernie Battle Matter That Much?

The second item is
by Les Leopold on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows, expanding on the above title:

But is the fighting really that warranted? Is there something at stake that runs deeper than personality differences, the first woman president, Clinton fatigue, or pie-in-the-sky Bernie? Since both candidates are so much better than the Republican crazies, does it really matter all that much whether Hillary or Bernie gets the nod?

Yes, it matters.

We are witnessing the first campaign since 1933 that directly challenges the essential features of our economy. We are now living through a 40-year neoliberal dystopia. Finally it is under assault. Any objective observer would note that Hillary operates within that neoliberal order while Bernie is its attacker.

Quite so, and I mostly agree with the last paragraph, though I would also say that Bernie Sanders (as others also have said) is less of "a socialist" (judged by his program) than he is of a Rooseveltian proponent of capitalism-with-a- human-face, that is of a style of capitalism that is bound by the laws and by public morality to be more or less fair and just to the many, and not just for the rich few. (Also, the possibilities for capitalism-with-a-human-face have been more or less systematically deregulated, disrupted and destroyed over the last 40 years, so even returning to that will be quite difficult.)

Neoliberalism refers to the set of theories and practices that swept through our political system (and many others) in the late 1970s. Put in its most simplified terms, it argues that prosperity for all will occur only if we 1) cut taxes (especially on the higher income brackets); 2) cut government regulations on the private sector, and; 3) cut/privatize government social programs. This combination of policies, it is argued, maximizes economic efficiency and increases economic incentives which together continually improve and expand our economy.

By the time Reagan came into office, both political parties had adopted this model. In short, order trucking, airlines, telecommunications and finance were deregulated. Taxes on the highest income earners were slashed. Cuts in welfare became the order of the day. Both parties tripped over themselves to “unleash” the private sector.

Again quite so, but with an addition: The whole program of cutting taxes for the rich, cutting regulations (laws), and cutting social programs was an obvious ideological fraud that really meant to make the rich a lot richer; to make the powerful a lot more powerful; and to make the weak and the poor a lot weaker and a lot poorer.

And it spectacularly succeeded, indeed since Reagan: The few rich got a lot richer and a lot more powerful, and the many poor got a lot poorer and a lot weaker.

Here is a short summary of what was reached for the few rich:

Both parties also oversaw cuts in government employment and the privatization of government services. Corporate taxes as a percent of state and local revenues fell by half. Both parties acted as if any and all jobs in the private sector, by definition, were more wholesome than those in the public sector. And both parties competed strenuously for Wall Street campaign funds by eviscerating New Deal controls on speculative activity and the size of financial institutions. Goodbye Glass Steagall — Hello too-big-to-fail banks.

Precisely. And that was combined with this:

That set in motion a generation of runaway inequality as the incomes of the wealthy skyrocketed while the wages of the average worker stagnated. In 1970 the gap between the top 100 CEOs and the average worker was $45 to $1. Today it is an incomprehensible $844 to $1. (All data for this article comes from Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice.)

Note that the gap between the rich CEOs and the average worker increased 19 or 20 times since 1970 (and compare note [4]).

Here is the first of the two last parts I'll quote, that is about the incredible power of a few managers (all multi-millionaires) from Wall Street:

Not only did runaway inequality crash the financial system in 2007-08, but by then Wall Street was so large and so powerful that it could extract trillions of dollars in bailouts. Today the biggest banks are even bigger than before the crash. And during the current seven year recovery, 95 percent of all the new income created in the entire economy has gone to the top 1 percent. Runaway inequality is the new normal.

I do like to point out here that I am writing about the crisis since September
1, 2008
, and wrote nearly 1200 articles on it since then, and also that I find it
difficult or impossible to speak of "a recovery" when this means that "
95 percent of all the new income created in the entire economy has gone to the top 1 percent": For me - and I am poor and always have been - the crisis started in 2008, and continues ever since, and this seems to be the case for most poor.

Finally, there is this on the ever more crumbling American infrastructures, and on the very widespread tendency of the rich to park their money where the taxes can't get them (which is plain theft, but the rich are allowed many things that are denied to the poor):

Meanwhile, we live in a perpetual fiscal crisis as large corporations and the wealthy shift their money off-shore. The richest country in the history of the world faces a crumbling infrastructure, barely potable water, decaying schools and a deteriorating environment. We lead the world in prisoners, but are second to last among developed nations in childhood poverty and labor rights, last in paid family leave and holidays, and nearly last in upward mobility. And we’ve mortgaged the future by placing our children under $1 trillion in student debt.

In brief, this is a very good article that is strongly recommended (and there is more in it that I did not deal with, that is also good).

3. In Vatican City, Bernie Sanders Speaks Out on Economic Injustice

The third item is
by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

Before meeting with Pope Francis on Saturday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders told delegates assembled at the Vatican for a conference on the social costs of unregulated capitalism that Francis “has given the most powerful name to the predicament of modern society: the globalization of indifference.”

“Almost without being aware of it,” Sanders said, reciting the pontiff’s words, “we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own.”

Yes, indeed - although I should add that (i) "the globalization of indifference", although correct in a way, has two words of 5 or more syllables, while (ii) it seems to me to come down mostly to a global immorality (lack of morals, lack of care for others), which came about mostly through the propaganda of advertisements:

Many more people than before have grown very egoistic and greedy, and simply reject anything that would demand any sacrifice or any payment from them to someone they don't know and personally care for, and many more also look upon themselves as consumers, who are also quite happy to be consumers. [5]

There is this, which comes from a larger part attributed to AP:

(...) Sanders said he had the chance to tell the pope that “I was incredibly appreciative of the incredible role that he is playing in this planet in discussing issues about the need for an economy based on morality, not greed.”

Yes, indeed - and to put this point in related but other terms:

The economy must be based on the law; the law must regulate the behaviors of people by forbidding and allowing things; and that is the main way in which public morality is served in society.

In contrast, to pretend to base an economy on egoism and greed; to deregulate the laws that are fair; and to admire and protect almost any greed from the rich, is to undermine both society and economy, and to make it into a society in which only the few are very rich and the many have nothing, while they must work all day to merely eat and sleep.

Here is what a deregulated economy based on egoism, greed and lies produces - within a few decades also (and all of the rest that gets quoted in this item is from the text of the speech Bernie Sanders made in the Vatican):

In the year 2016, the top one percent of the people on this planet own more wealth than the bottom 99 percent, while the wealthiest 60 people – 60 people – own more than the bottom half – 3 1/2 billion people. At a time when so few have so much, and so many have so little, we must reject the foundations of this contemporary economy as immoral and unsustainable.

I agree that "this contemporary economy" is both "immoral and unsustainable".
Whether you agree that it is immoral is up to your values and tastes, but it ought to be quite clear it is unsustainable: There simply are too many people who want so much that the earth is being destroyed to satisfy their wants.

Next, here are two bits from Pope John Paul II's encyclical "
Centesimus Annus", in part in summary, in part quoted:

Furthermore, society and the State must ensure wage levels adequate for the maintenance of the worker and his family, including a certain amount for savings. This requires a continuous effort to improve workers’ training and capability so that their work will be more skilled and productive, as well as careful controls and adequate legislative measures to block shameful forms of exploitation, especially to the disadvantage of the most vulnerable workers, of immigrants and of those on the margins of society. The role of trade unions in negotiating minimum salaries and working conditions is decisive in this area. (Para15)

The essential wisdom of Centesimus Annus is this: A market economy is beneficial for productivity and economic freedom. But if we let the quest for profits dominate society; if workers become disposable cogs of the financial system; if vast inequalities of power and wealth lead to marginalization of the poor and the powerless; then the common good is squandered and the market economy fails us. Pope John Paul II puts it this way: profit that is the result of “illicit exploitation, speculation, or the breaking of solidarity among working people . . . has not justification, and represents an abuse in the sight of God and man.” (Para43).

I agree, apart from the bits about God, but then (i) I don't think He is essential to the argument, and (ii) these are words of the pope (who has the right to speak of his faith, and to defend it - in my opinion - though I don't agree with him).

Then there is this, which is quite important and fundamental:

We need a political analysis as well as a moral and anthropological analysis to understand what has happened since 1991. We can say that with unregulated globalization, a world market economy built on speculative finance burst through the legal, political, and moral constraints that had once served to protect the common good. In my country, home of the world’s largest financial markets, globalization was used as a pretext to deregulate the banks, ending decades of legal protections for working people and small businesses. Politicians joined hands with the leading bankers to allow the banks to become “too big to fail.”

Again, this is quite correct and a good political analysis. I agree with everything said, except that I incline to say that it started happening in 1971, with Lewis Powell Jr.'s secret memo, that exhorted the rich to look better after the interests of the rich, and that had huge successes (for the rich) ever since the 1970ies.

There is this on "the economy":

Rather than an economy aimed at the common good, we have been left with an economy operated for the top 1 percent, who get richer and richer as the working class, the young and the poor fall further and further behind. And the billionaires and banks have reaped the returns of their campaign investments, in the form of special tax privileges, imbalanced trade agreements that favor investors over workers, and that even give multinational companies extra-judicial power over governments that are trying to regulate them.

Again I agree, and add that the last bit refers to the TTP, the TTIP, the TiSA and CETA, that are all plans, hidden in quite obscure, often secret "treaties" abbreviated by the above acronyms, to give fascistic powers to the multinational companies, and to undermine and destroy most of national governments, most of national parliaments, and most of national laws and judiciaries:

All will be made subject to the decisions of "courts" manned by lawyers of the rich, who have one and only one criterion to convict whole nations to pay hundreds of millions or several billions to multinational companies: That their governments, their parliaments, or their laws or judges took some decision that diminished the expected profits of the multinational corporations.

This ends as follows:

The challenges facing our planet are not mainly technological or even financial, because as a world we are rich enough to increase our investments in skills, infrastructure, and technological know-how to meet our needs and to protect the planet. Our challenge is mostly a moral one, to redirect our efforts and vision to the common good.

I agree. And again, this is a very good and highly recommended article.

4. Cenk Uygur and His Team at The Young Turks

The fourth item i
s by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

This starts as follows - and is in the context of awarding a "Truthdigger Of The Week" award, which is less important to me, but I did view quite a lot of The Young Turks, at least in 2009 and 2010:

Cenk Uygur (pronounced “Jenk YOU-Grrr”), CEO of the media network The Young Turks and energetic host of the increasingly popular progressive Internet news show of the same name, was one of hundreds arrested Monday during the Democracy Spring protests on Capitol Hill.

I got fast internet in the summer of 2009. Before that I had a veryslow telephone modem (since 1996), and had to pay every tick. This was quite expensive, even with little surfing, that as a rule also did not produce much, because of the slowness of the modem (maximally 28 Kb per sec, and that maximum wasn't often reached).

Very soon after getting fast internet I discovered The Young Turks, which I really enjoyed, and watched quite a lot of. I am still daily watching their main outlet on Youtube, but I am also watching far fewer of their shows, for reasons that I will explain below, at the end of this item.

The above quoted bit continues as follows:

“I’m risking arrest today at our nation’s capital because our representatives don’t represent us anymore,” Uygur had said in a written statement. “We have asked them to take action countless times to get money out of politics. We want something very simple: Restore free and fair elections. Because of their inaction, we take action today. It is obvious that Congress is awash in corruption. Today we begin civil disobedience against that corruption.”

With his arrest, Uygur, whom The Guardian recently called
“one of the sharpest and most thoughtful political commentators in the United States,” breaks a cardinal rule of modern journalism: pretending to be neutral about whatever one is reporting. I say “pretending” because only someone who has undergone indoctrination by birth into the ruling class, higher education or the mind-blunting combination of ambition and time in the professions can acquire the spiritual numbness that would enable him or her to report the slaughter of children, the impoverishment of a continent or the extinction of the future without feeling compelled to do something about it.

I mostly agree and will not explain what I disagree with (which may be a matter of wording). But I do agree with Alexander Reed Kelly on neutralism, which he explains as follows:

It’s not that we wish to distort facts or omit those inconvenient to our purpose. It’s that we know so-called neutrality is not neutrality at all. Power has a direction, and what is regarded as neutral or objective is almost always a perspective and a manner of presentation that does not upset stockholders of both media conglomerates and say, firearm companies. “Neutrality” is really just a strategy for the maintenance of power and property.

Put otherwise: Neutralism pretends to be neither for nor against almost anyone or anything, because this allows the journalists to skirt around any painful or contentious subject, and do his or her "job" without risking anything or hurting anyone, and especially not those with power or money.

Finally, there is this on Cenk Uygur and TYT:

For a profile of him and his network, Uygur recently told The Guardian: “As Bernie Sanders is the political revolution, we are the media revolution. … We didn’t get to be this popular [2.8 million viewers subscribe to the network’s flagship show on YouTube] because I’m such a great host. That’s not how something this big arises. We got this big because we believe the same thing that the majority of the American people believe, and we’re almost alone in the media believing it.” (“Almost alone” is right.)

This is fair enough. And I said I would explain why I look a whole lot less at what they put up for viewing than I did in 2009 and 2010:

There are several reasons. First, while I like Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian (the other main host of TYT), TYT has expanded quite a lot since 2009, and I don't much like most of "the new talent" they hired. (This may be - in part - a question of age. I don't feel like it, but I am 65.) Second, it seems to me part of the reason TYT expanded is that it deradicalized somewhat, and that it produces a lot more videos about stuff that either does not interest me or that I much rather read about than view as video. Third, most of the additional programming they have (apart from their main video outlet) doesn't interest me, for it tends to be addressed to people who are both a whole lot younger than I am, and who also know a whole lot less.

Then again, most of the points in the previous paragraph are due to me, and
TYT still is a lot better than ordinary TV.

5. European Parliament’s vote turns health into a trade secret

The fifth and last item is by or from 1 boring old man, who is a partially pensioned psychiatrist in his mid-seventies, who is one of the few of his brotherhood (of psychiatrists) I can still take seriously.

But he didn't write it: He put the following up (and the EPHA is the European Public Health Alliance, which exists since 1993):

Trade Secrets Directive opens the way for shady TTIP negotiations
epha
14 April 2016

Brussels, 14 April 2016. The European Parliament approved today a new Directive on Trade Secrets, a position that would signal that trade secrets outweigh the public interest. The impact will be negative for health, by declaring information on safety of medicines commercially confidential and to be kept secret from patients, regulators and the public. The Trade Secrets Law would gag journalists and whistle-blowers, undermining freedom of expression and preventing vital information reaching the media and public. With regard to public health, the new rules would erect a barrier to public access to data on the safety and efficacy of medicines.

I say! I wonder how much money the corrupt degenerates of the "European Parliament" got for their eagerly willing services to the rich. In any case: Whoever protects the sickeningly corrupt and degenerate pharmaceutical corporations must be a moral degenerate. And it seems the "European Parliamentarians either were paid enough to help the pharmaceutical corporations or were born as the lying and deceiving shits they anyway seem to be.

For consider: What these parliamentarians want, desire, and made possible is this - and I quote:

declaring information on safety of medicines commercially confidential and to be kept secret from patients, regulators and the public

That is: the pharmaceutical corporations may poison you with their drugs, because you are not allowed to know what is in them, and neither is your doctor and nor is any regulatory body, because - TTIP! TTIP! - 'this might lessen their expected profits'.

And rest assured that your doctor will not know either (or if he knows, will not be allowed to tell you by the pharmaceutical corporations), for I have been following medicine somewhat, and 1 boring old man in particular, because there are still some medical people who worry about these things, and the pharmaceutical corporations have been playing this game since the 1980ies.

This is what it will do for Europe: it will make it into Texas:

As a result, Europe could soon be stripped of its hard-won global leader position on clinical trials transparency. The proposals for the Trade Secrets Directive are clearly intended to increase commercial confidentiality in the interest of drug makers who seek to keep clinical trials results secret, and would weaken patient safety protection and halt further research and independent analyses. The worrying lack of legal guarantees preventing companies from abusing the concept of trade secrets opens the way for unethical repetition of clinical trials on people, and the injection of public resources spent on therapies that are no better than existing treatments, do not work, or do more harm than good.
Yes, indeed. And as soon as the TTIP is accepted in Europe, there will be demands of the pharmaceutical corporations for all manner of advertisements for all their wares (which now also are beyond control, for even medical doctors may not know what the pills they are supposed to prescribe (!!) really contain: "trade secret").

Here is Nina Renshaw, who heads the EPHA:
“This vote weakens recent efforts by European Institutions to increase sharing and transparency of essential health data. Clinical trials data transparency is key for patient safety, for access to affordable medicines, for public health research and innovation.” stated Nina Renshaw, Secretary General of the European Public Health Alliance. “Today’s vote is clearly designed to undermine the Clinical Trials Regulation, on which the ink is barely dry, which was huge progress for patient safety and access to medicines, but has always been opposed by the pharmaceutical industry which prefers to conduct trials in secrecy. It also seems to be aiming at smoothing the way for the pharmaceutical industry in the EU-US TTIP negotiations, and would lower transparency requirements in the EU to be closer in line with much weaker rules in the US.
Precisely. Exit patient safety: It is less important than pharmaceutical profits.
Exit affordable medicines: It is less
important than pharmaceutical profits. Exit public health research: It is less important than pharmaceutical profits. Exit innovations (unless approved by a pharmaceutical CEO): It is less important than pharmaceutical profits.

Europe must be destroyed and made like Texas, and the European parliament- arians work proudly to do so. I suspect they get paid in secret, but I don't know that (for if it happens, it will be again ... a pharmaceutical secret). I do know they are an overpaid, sick, and morally degenerate lot.
--------------------------
Notes
[1] This needs at least two explanatory remarks.

First, I mostly withdrew from politics in 1970. Until 1970 - when I was 20, which was then a year before legal adulthood at 21 - I had been a communist or - as I  preferred it since I was 17 - a neo-marxist. I gave that up at 20 because I had diagnosed serious problems in Marxism, in which (it turned out) I was quite right. This was also a radical change in values, but I did remain a leftist, at least in part because, while I rejected my parents' intellectual constructions, I still admired - and admire - their personal morals: they were very much for honesty, decency, equality and justice, and much more so than nearly all other adults I knew, and indeed they had been so since their twenties.

Second, while I spent much more time in science, philosophy and mathematics than in (leftist) politics, I remained interested, and indeed played a somewhat important political role in the University of Amsterdam in the early 1980ies.

What I saw (included what happened to me as "a student leader") was this:
I was removed from the right of taking an M.A. in philosophy, simply because I truly said - in an invited public speech - what I honestly taught about the teachings in philosophy); and almost everything else the university offered was almost as disappointing, in all these 45 years since 1970: The real left simply collapsed, and it was replaced by the politically correct "left", whose "politics" consisted of politically correct speech, and hardly anything else.

[2] This seems to have a lot to do with a secret memo by Lewis Powell Jr. from the early 1970ies, who exhorted his fellow rightists to combine forces and oppose the dangers of the left. And they did combine forces, and gained a great number of successes ever since Reagan.

Also, one of their main successes were Clinton and Obama: Both were not leftists and perhaps also not rightists (though like Blair they are or soon will be multi-millionairs): They were personal careerists out for power and money, and it was especially Bill Clinton who changed the left into "the left" (which he headed), namely by taking out all socialism, all trade unionism, and almost all pleas for justice, and replacing them by capitalism, individualism, inequalities of incomes, powers and rights, and of "justice" according to the corporations.

(See Clinton's, Blair's and Kok's - utterly fraudulent, false and intentionally falsified - "Third Way". And incidentally: Margaret Thatcher said that Tony Blair was her greatest gift to England, because he was no longer a revolutionary, nor a socialist, nor a leftist.)

[3] I should also say that my experiences with "the left" that pretended to be the left probably occurred quite a bit earlierthan for most others with the same experience: It started in 1977 in the University of Amsterdam, where I was immediately declared to be "a dirty fascist" only because I said, quite politely also, that I had read Marx but liked Peirce better, as a philosopher, and again in 1978, when the man who made the official opening of the academic year insisted on saying that - in a university, as a professor! - "everybody knows that truth does not exist", that since was repeated many times by other professors, in quite a few different studies also.

And I will not further explain why I distinguish between "the left" and the left, but I do. It will be explained later.

[4] This seems to me also to be one of the differences between Chris Hedges and myself:

Chris Hedges wants - it seems to me, and I do not hold this against him, for it is quite similar to what my parents wanted, and worked 40 years for, mostly without any payments - a real socialist revolution.

My position is a bit more complicated: I am quite doubtful about socialism, if only because "the socialism" I have seen (in the GDR, personally, and in the whole Soviet system, that also comprises China) was/is not socialism at all, by my lights (and that of many other leftists); I am quite doubtful about revolutions, if only because I know almost all revolutions have failed, often quite bitterly as well; and I am rather certain (from having lived under both systems) that there are at least two styles or kinds of capitalism:

Capitalism-with-a-human-face, because it is bound by laws and publicly and legally maintained justice and decencies, and capitalism-without-a-human- face that is not bound by laws nor by justice nor decencies.

The differences are quite deep and fargoing, and may - for example - be seen quite clearly when comparing England or Germany of the 1970ies with the same countries in the 1920ies (or indeed in the 1890ies or before): the differences are quite striking, yet both were capitalist systems.

[5] Already in 1971/2 (after reading "The Population Bomb" and "The Limits to Growth") I realized that there were then about 3 1/2 billion persons who almost all wanted (at least) the same riches that middleclass Americans had, and realized that really was impossible (and there were then about 220 million Americans). A mere 45 years later, there are twice as many persons as in 1970, and nearly all persons still want to be (at least) as rich as Americans... (So no: consumption is not a solution: it is a very major problem.)

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