May 2, 2016

Crisis: Socialism, May Day, FBI, Gop Nihilism(?), Democracies & democracy
Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. The Socialist Alternative
2. Demonstrators at May Day Rallies Worldwide Demand
     Workers’ Rights

3. Letter Details FBI Plan for Secretive Anti-Radicalization

Stop Calling Them Conservatives! The New GOP of
     Trump & Cruz Is the Party of Nihilism

5. Democracies end when they are too democratic.

This is a Nederlog of Monday, May 2, 2016.

This is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Chris Hedges, that is mostly about the ideas of Kshama Sawant, who is of the American Socialist Alternative Party: I agree and I disagree; item 2 is about May Day; item 3 is about the FBI, that still has a neofascistic plan to let
civilians do t
heir intelligence work for them; item 4 is about a so-so article that wrongly insists that the Republicans are nihilists; and item 5 is about a good article by a conservative Catholic (!) about Trump and what he stands for.

1. The Socialist Alternative

The first item is
by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows [1]:
The disintegration of the ruling political parties, along with the discrediting of the established political and economic elites, presage radical change. This change may come from the right. It may result in a frightening proto-fascism. If it is to come from the left it must be pushed forward by dogged activists and citizens who are willing to accept that stepping outside the system will mean surrendering all hope of power for perhaps a decade. To continue to engage in establishment politics, especially attempting to work within the Democratic Party, will further empower corporate capitalism and extinguish what remains of our democracy.
Yes and no: Yes, the main American political parties are in disarray, and parts of the - often corrupt - practices "of the established political and economic elites" are discredited, and from the right threatens a kind of neofascism (as I think is the more correct term), but no: While there is a substantial part of the American populations whose ideals can be fairly described as leftist and indeed sometimes as socialist, there is hardly any rational leftist politics.

And there
is hardly any rational leftist politics because the traditional left has died circa 1995, when Bill Clinton, rapidly followed by Tony Blair and Wim Kok, denied socialism as an end of socialist or social democratic parties, and turned pro-capitalist and pro-rich, while still pretending to be willing to emancipate the poor and the workers, while in effect doing the opposite (for Clinton destroyed social security).

This is a real problem because Clinton's false and deceptive "Third Way" (<-Wikipedia) denied many of the plans to emancipate the workers and the poor; denied any kind of socialism; was strongly pro-capitalist and pro-rich; and retained from the real left only a desire that everyone would be "equal" by insisting that they were - on a verbal, politically correct, totally imaginary and false level.

And this is also the problem of the currently existing left: There is no really leftist political ideology (with a few rare exceptions, indeed); there is no real political ideal outside capitalism, or even outside capitalism-with-an- inhuman-face as we are now getting; and most "leftist politics" is about attributing, assigning or imposing fake verbal "equalities" on people who are definitely not equal to most (in terms of income, education, intelligence, knowledge or character).

Then there is this:
Willingly entering the political wilderness requires a vision that is worth sacrificing and fighting to achieve. It means that some of those who begin the revolution against corporate capitalism will not live to see its culmination. It will mean marginalization, harassment, persecution, prison and, if the movement becomes effective, state violence. History has taught us that. But given the alternative—the planet’s ecosystem destroyed by the fossil fuel and the animal agriculture industries, greater pillaging by corporate oligarchs and the rise of a global security and surveillance system that takes from us all pretense of liberty—the battle is worth it.
I mostly agree with this, although I do not see much of the "vision" - which is the problem of "the left" mentioned above: it has given up on real alternatives
(of many kinds also: anarchism, socialism, capitalism-with-a-human-face with
strong laws protecting the poor, all of which come in many variants) and instead is mostly only verbal or limits its radicalism to environmentalism and acting for sexual equalities of various kinds.

Also, the main reason I mostly agree is that the rich have now conspired, mostly very successfully, in part thanks to the great help given to them by the Clintons, the Blairs, the Koks and other "leftist" professional political careerists, to a kind of super capitalism that only works for the rich and for the government(s), and that is only interested in one value that transcends any other value: The greatest profit for the multi-national corporations, and these corporations also are to exercise their greed and destruction preferably without any legal restraints or limits, and indeed these legal restraints and limits also have to be deregulated away, again very much helped by the Clintons, Blairs, Koks and their kinds of greedy, dishonest professional political liars and deceivers. [2]

The rest of the article is mostly given to quotations from
Kshama Sawant, who is the socialist City Council member in Seattle and who works for the Socialist Alternative Party.

I think she may be - somewhat - like a real socialist, but I do not know enough about her. I select a few bits on which I have comments.

First there is this:

“American is left wing,” she insisted. “America is angry at the corporate domination of politics. America is disgusted with the U.S. Congress and the two-party establishment. America wants social change that will have a transformative impact on people’s lives and the environment.”
No. "America" is not left wing, nor is it right wing: it is divided. And none of the things attributed to "America" in this paragraph is true of America (the continent, the nation, the republic), simply because each of these things is true of a group of - ill-defined - "left wingers", that in some respects are consider- able, but are definitely not "America".

Then there is this:

“If Sanders had decided to run as an independent, he would have been marginalized by the media establishment,” she conceded. “There is no question about that. This is the conundrum we face. But we have to realize that we cannot build an effective movement with one presidential campaign. As long as we remain married to the false idea that social change can come through one presidential campaign, we stymie ourselves. By that logic lesser evilism continues ad nauseam.”
Again mostly no: She is right about Sanders - who still is not beaten, and who effected many millions - but she is mistaken about presidential campaigns and
mistaken about a long haul, presumably campaigning for eight or more years:

Presidential campaigns may vote in fairly rare persons (like F.D. Roosevelt, like Abraham Lincoln) who can cause great changes in a few years; the present presidential campaign threatens with real possibility of electing a president who is a moron and totally unfit for the presidency; and talking of social changes that may be achieved by some long haul seems to forget that (i) there is no widely agreed upon leftist, socialist or social democratic set of ideals, ideas and ends, and (ii) even if it exists in some small American socialist party (or parties) then it is not widely shared by many Americans.

Then there is this:
“A lot of the people who are voting for Trump are doing so because they are angry at the establishment,” she said.
Again yes and no, but mostly no: It is not the anger that is characteristic for those "voting for Trump", but it is the combination of great stupidity and almost
complete ignorance that is characteristic for them - which tends to be denied by
those on "the left", because they think everyone is equal.

No, everyone differs from everybody else, and equality-in-law is not the same (not at all!) as equality-in-fact: The first is a highly desirable social ideal; the second a thoroughly falsified dream.

But I mostly agree with the last part of the article:

“Europe is a guide,” she said. “The roots of the European Union were entirely pro-capitalist, pro-banker and pro-bond holder. It was sold as an experiment in democracy and equality. That was a sham. Britain is looking at dropping out of the European Union. The framework of capitalism does not provide a solution to the refugee crisis. The right wing is offering solutions and gaining ascendancy in countries such as Sweden, France and Greece. This is not because people are predisposed to be right wing or anti-refugee. It comes from the vacuum of a real socialist alternative to capitalism. This vacuum creates the fodder for the right wing. It is precisely because of the rise of right-wing movements that we need to build a genuine left-wing movement. The right wing won’t be countered by supporting Clinton.”
She is right about the European Union (and no, you cannot trust any European professional politician: they are nearly all liars mostly interested in their own riches); right about refugees; right about there being a "vacuum of a real socialist alternative to capitalism" (bolding added), mostly because the social democrats nearly all became "neoliberals" around twenty years ago; and she is right that one reason the right wing soared is that the left is mostly vacuum + political correctness.

Then again, I think she is partially mistaken about Hillary Clinton: If the choice is between her and Trump (which is not certain yet), everybody who is not an evident neofascist should vote Clinton, simply to block the moronic fool Trump, whose election will probably kill the USA, and transform it into something much worse.

2. Demonstrators at May Day Rallies Worldwide Demand Workers’ Rights

The second item is
by Andrea Germanos on Truthdig, and originally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

Workers on Sunday marked May Day across the globe with rallies in cities from Paris to Istanbul to Manila.

I say. I recall May Day from my youth, in the 1950ies, when my communist father would proudly hang the red flag in front of our house (as one of the very few Amsterdammers who still did so), but since then it mostly went down and down, although this year - it turns out - there was a May Day demonstration in Amsterdam (organized by a trade union) in which 7000 or 9000 people participated. [3]

There is also this:

And in London, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attacked the politics of austerity, criticizing at a rally “a government that is more interested in tax relief for corporations, and tax relief at the top end of the scale,” and saying, “We’re here today to defend the national health service free at the point of service as a human right for all.”

In the U.S., despite the holiday’s origins in Chicago, many may not even know about the day.

As to the last bit: That is at least in part explained by a massive campaign of many tens of years in the USA that was directed against socialism and trade unions.

3. Letter Details FBI Plan for Secretive Anti-Radicalization Committees

The third item is
Cora Currier and Murtaza Hussain:

This starts as follows:

Of the plans put forward by the federal government to identify and stop budding terrorists, among the least understood are the FBI’s “Shared Responsibility Committees.”

The idea of the committees is to enlist counselors, social workers, religious figures, and other community members to intervene with people the FBI thinks are in danger of radicalizing — the sort of alternative to prosecution and jail time many experts have been clamoring for. But civil liberties groups worry the committees could become just a ruse to expand the FBI’s network of informants, and the government has refused to provide details about the program.

I have written about this several times already: see here and here. This item is here mostly to give some more information - and as the above summary indicates, it sounds to me like a neofascist plan of a police force that believes it can and should control everyone, also by manipulating them in secret.

In case you doubt(ed) my diagnosis, there is this:

The Intercept has obtained a letter addressed to potential committee members from the FBI, outlining how the process would work. While the letter claims that committees will not be used “as a means to gather intelligence,” it also makes clear that information from the committees may be shared widely by the FBI, including with spy agencies and foreign governments, and that committee members can be subpoenaed for documents or called to testify in cases against the people they are trying to help. At the same time, committee members are forbidden even from seeking advice from outside experts without permission from the FBI.

The letter implies that Shared Responsibility Committees (or SRCs) would emerge organically, as “multidisciplinary groups voluntarily formed in local communities — at the initiative of the group and sometimes with the encouragement of the FBI.” The FBI would refer “potentially violent extremists” to the SRC, whose members would design an intervention plan, possibly including mental health or substance abuse treatment and help with education or housing.

These are the beginnings of a real police state in the USA: The police demands a presence in all kinds of citizens' groups in order to see whether these behave themselves as the government thinks they should.

Here is some more, that shows that the FBI really has all the powers, and also seems to consider itself as consisting of superhumans, who do not need any real ties with those they lead and mislead in the interests of the government:

According to the letter, the FBI “may or may not” inform the committee of any ongoing investigation, and law enforcement could also decide to arrest or charge the referred individual without telling the SRC. If committee members give information to the FBI, “the FBI may share any information the SRC provides with other law enforcement agencies, members of the U.S. intelligence community, and foreign government agencies as needed.”

SRC members, in contrast, must sign confidentiality agreements, and cannot consult outside experts on treatment plans. The committee members get no special legal protection, raising concerns they could be held liable if an individual they are helping turns violent as feared.

So there you are: Even as an assistant of the police, you do not have the rights the police has; you get no special legal protection; and any information you find may be shared (in secret, of course) with any "law enforcement agency", indeed including the secret services of other countries.

4. Stop Calling Them Conservatives! The New GOP of Trump & Cruz Is the Party of Nihilism

The fourth item is by Conor Lynch on AlterNet and originally on Salon:

This starts as follows:
In a candid and often funny interview currently making the rounds, the recently retired Speaker of the House John Boehner let’s everyone know how he truly feels about the state of his own party, and what he thinks about some of the more extreme characters that exist within it. Not surprisingly, Boehner’s amusing assessment of Ted Cruz, whom he called a “miserable son of a bitch” and “Lucifer in the flesh,” made all of the media headlines.
I did know Boehner's disqualification of Cruz, that is probably fair if not correct, but I dislike Boehner too much, while I also think that he is not anymore a real force in the Republican party, to care to read interviews with him.

There is this about Mike Lofgren:

Mike Lofgren, a Republican who worked in Washington for thirty years as a congressional aide, notably under current presidential candidate John Kasich, recounts in his book “The Party is Over” how the GOP went from being a traditionally conservative party to a radical right party:

By the 2000 election, and certainly after 9/11, the Republican party was no longer a conservative party in the traditional sense, as that word has been understood in Western political culture. Its belief in polarizing language and tactics, a militant and militarized foreign policy, and a constant search for moral enemies, foreign and domestic alike, qualifies the current GOP as a radical right-wing party, not a conservative one.
I agree with Lofgren, and like to point out that (i) this development in the Republican Party started in the early 1970ies, and that (ii) it was much helped by Bill Clinton's pro-bankers pro-rich policies that deregulated the banks while
he also slashed social security, while (iii) this radical right-wing party was set in movement by Bush Jr. and Cheney, and was much helped by their "anti- terrorist" campaign of surveilling everyone anywhere, and by the laws that ended real democracy in the United States: The Patriot Act and its recent successor under Obama (who is most like a black Clinton: all talk of "Change!" served his being elected, while Obama once in office made little real changes, and mostly governed - it seems - for the rich bankmanagers, who indeed profited very much from his policies).

There is this on the GOP and Gingrich:

The GOP’s degeneration into a party of extreme nihilists and egotistical showmen can be traced back to the ’90s, when Newt Gingrich virtually led the party as Speaker of the House. The former speaker was Ted Cruz’s spiritual predecessor, a loud, hypocritical, destructive, egomaniacal demagogue who relentlessly attacked President Clinton—who ended up signing some of Newt’s most reactionary legislation into law—over petty matters, including his sexual life. (Of course, Newt was a serial adulterer himself.)
This is correct in so far as it goes, but it seems the surface of a much deeper and more complicated process that happened underneath, which may be indicated (but not explained) by the phrase "since Reagan, the GOP turned more and more rightwards".

But it is incorrect in calling the rightist Republicans that now dominate the party for some twenty or more years "nihilists": They are not nihilists [4]; they have a definite rightist ideology they call "neoliberalism", that also is behind most of their plans and proposals.

This article ends as follows:

Now, the George Will’s and David Brooks’ of the Republican party have widely condemned Donald Trump as a fake conservative, and they’re not wrong. Trump is clearly not conservative—but neither is the Republican Party. And as troubling as this may be for Charles Koch and the scribblers at National Review, Trumpism is the future of the party. (...) Over the past several decades, the party has become an increasingly friendly place for the Trumps and Cruzes and Carsons of the world—the kind of characters who used to make up the John Birch Society. But no longer are these outlandish characters considered fringe. And for the sake of John Boehner’s mental well-being, he is lucky he got out when he did.
I agree that the Republican Party is no longer conservative in the sense it was a fairly long time. It is now very rightist (in so far as Trump, Cruz and also Kasich are concerned), and may be described as "neoconservative", "neoliberal" or - as I maintain is correct - "neofascist" (or also, indeed: "the kind of characters who used to make up the John Birch Society") though the last term doesn't cover all Republicans.

And no: this is not nihilism (in any plausible sense): it is - at the very least - extreme pro-capitalist pro-rich rightism, also with a definite "neoliberal" ideology.

5. Democracies end when they are too democratic.

The fifth and last item today is
by Andrew Sullivan (<- Wikipedia) on New York Magazine:
This starts as follows:
As this dystopian election campaign has unfolded, my mind keeps being tugged by a passage in Plato’s Republic. It has unsettled — even surprised — me from the moment I first read it in graduate school. The passage is from the part of the dialogue where Socrates and his friends are talking about the nature of different political systems, how they change over time, and how one can slowly evolve into another. And Socrates seemed pretty clear on one sobering point: that “tyranny is probably established out of no other regime than democracy.” What did Plato mean by that? Democracy, for him, I discovered, was a political system of maximal freedom and equality, where every lifestyle is allowed and public offices are filled by a lottery. And the longer a democracy lasted, Plato argued, the more democratic it would become. Its freedoms would multiply; its equality spread. Deference to any sort of authority would wither; tolerance of any kind of inequality would come under intense threat; and multiculturalism and sexual freedom would create a city or a country like “a many-colored cloak decorated in all hues.”
First about Andrew Sullivan (<- Wikipedia), whom I only found out about today:

He is a Catholic, a conservative (but see below), an Englishman who lived longer in the USA than in England, and a homosexual (none of which has appeal for me: I am an atheist, a social liberal, a Dutchman and a hetero), but whose politics get described as follows on Wikipedia (minus note numbers):
Sullivan describes himself as a conservative and is the author of The Conservative Soul. He has supported a number of traditional libertarian positions, favouring limited government and opposing interventionist measures such as affirmative action. However, on a number of controversial public issues, including same-sex marriage, social security, progressive taxation, anti-discrimination laws, the Affordable Care Act, the United States government's use of torture, and capital punishment, he has taken positions not typically shared by conservatives in the United States. In July 2012, Sullivan said that "the catastrophe of the Bush-Cheney years ... all but exploded the logic of neoconservatism and its domestic partner-in-crime, supply-side economics."
This shows that he has a mind of his own, and while I am definitely neither
a conservative nor a libertarian, I agree with him on the "
controversial public issues" about which Sullivan disagrees with ordinary conservatives.

As to Plato, who gets discussed in the above first quotation, I agree and disagree with Sullivan (who has a doctorate in philosophy, but who very probably read less of it than I did):

I agree that Plato did argue more or less as summarized, but I also dislike Plato ever since reading him aged (just) 18: He seemed to me to be an extremely intelligent man, who also was a very fine writer, but with most of whose positions I could find very little sympathy.

I still think so (and I read most of Plato's work in the 1970ies), and indeed I had and have much more use for Aristotle, Leucyppos, Democritos and Epicuros than for Plato, but I also agree that this is, in part at least, a matter of personality - and I am definitely not "a Platonist", while granting that he was
a great philosopher and a great writer.

This indeed is Plato on democracy and tyranny, which is a correct rendering:
And it is when a democracy has ripened as fully as this, Plato argues, that a would-be tyrant will often seize his moment.
But one should keep in mind that Plato spoke of far smaller states than there are at present, and that the Greece he knew was divided in many states, that
were mostly cities plus their environment, which numbered from several thousands of inhabitants to several tenthousands at most.

Here is Sullivan about his personal experiences concerning Trump:
And so, as I chitchatted over cocktails at a Washington office Christmas party in December, and saw, looming above our heads, the pulsating, angry televised face of Donald Trump on Fox News, I couldn’t help but feel a little nausea permeate my stomach. And as I watched frenzied Trump rallies on C-SPAN in the spring, and saw him lay waste to far more qualified political peers in the debates by simply calling them names, the nausea turned to dread. And when he seemed to condone physical violence as a response to political disagreement, alarm bells started to ring in my head. Plato had planted a gnawing worry in my mind a few decades ago about the intrinsic danger of late-democratic life.
Mine were a bit similar, but I did not think of Plato, but instead thought of Orwell, Russell, Mosca, Mill and some others. Also, I was (and am) less worried about "the intrinsic danger of late-democratic life" than about the clearly visible
stupidity and ignorance that moves very many - "democratic" - voters (which I agree may destroy such democracy as currently exists in the USA).

Next, this article is long, interesting and recommended. I will make some further selections and provide comment, but the article is too complicated and
too long to do this well in the context of a Nederlog that also analyzes other

First then, there is this:
What the 21st century added to this picture, it’s now blindingly obvious, was media democracy — in a truly revolutionary form.
No, I'd say that "media democracy" is a misleading term. What happened in terms of "democracy" was this: (i) in the early 2000s most Westerners (at least) got some kind of personal computer with internet connection, and
realized that everyone now could try to make his or her voice heard, while many who did so, did so by scolding, discriminations, damnations and other troll-like behaviors, for they could do it all anonymously; (ii) at the same time, and in part because of the personal computers (etc.) that most Western men now had, the paper press mostly collapsed for lack of advertise- ments, and was mostly bought by a few rich billionaires; while also (iii) the TV grew more stupid, less factual, and far more ideological than before: there is now no main media news program that gives most of the important facts in an objective way, while instead most main media offer colored and partial selections of only those parts of the news that they would like their audiences to know, and that roughly as told by the main media.

There is more to be said about "democracy", but the above sketched three kinds of events - personal computers, end of free press, arisal of propagandistic press - are at least a bit clearer than "media democracy".

There is this, that I also partially disagree with:

And what mainly fuels this is precisely what the Founders feared about democratic culture: feeling, emotion, and narcissism, rather than reason, empiricism, and public-spiritedness. Online debates become personal, emotional, and irresolvable almost as soon as they begin.
It are not "feeling, emotion, and narcissism" that are bad (well...except narcissism), but feelings and emotions that are not founded on any rational convictions, any knowledge of any science, or any real intelligence that are dangerous: it are stupidity and ignorance that are the main enemies of reason and rationality, much rather than feeling and emotion.

There is this on fascism that I partially disagree with:
To call this fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion. This is the Weimar aspect of our current moment.
First, I believe Trump is more correctly called a neofascist rather than a fascist. Second, fascism also is not very coherent. And third and most important: Trump hasn't yet won the presidency, is campaigning, and tries, in his own way, to please as many Republican voters as he can, by saying the things he thinks they like to hear.

But this is correct:

For, like all tyrants, he is utterly lacking in self-control. Sleeping a handful of hours a night, impulsively tweeting in the early hours, improvising madly on subjects he knows nothing about, Trump rants and raves as he surfs an entirely reactive media landscape.

Then there is this, that forgets one important part of "this dynamic":

Those who believe that Trump’s ugly, thuggish populism has no chance of ever making it to the White House seem to me to be missing this dynamic. Neo-fascist movements do not advance gradually by persuasion; they first transform the terms of the debate, create a new movement based on untrammeled emotion, take over existing institutions, and then ruthlessly exploit events.

The part that Sullivan forgets is that US education is overall very bad, especially of the many who tend to vote for Trump, who never had the chance to go to college or university, and who got "an education" that should rationally disqualify them from making many judgements, but does not, alas. So again it
are the
stupidity and the ignorance of the many that are dangerous.

And there is this that I consider mostly correct:

An American elite that has presided over massive and increasing public debt, that failed to prevent 9/11, that chose a disastrous war in the Middle East, that allowed financial markets to nearly destroy the global economy, and that is now so bitterly divided the Congress is effectively moot in a constitutional democracy: “We Respectables” deserve a comeuppance. The vital and valid lesson of the Trump phenomenon is that if the elites cannot govern by compromise, someone outside will eventually try to govern by popular passion and brute force.

For there is an elite (or several: economic, militarily, scientifically, politically etc.), however much people deny it should exist, and most of the political elite nowadays seems to have been bought by the rich, and this includes most Democrats.

Here is the end of this article:

For Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.

I think that is mostly correct: Trump is a real danger to any genuine democracy, even if it is a very partial and quite unequal one, as in the United States, and indeed if he wins the elections, this may very well be "an extinction-level event" - which I understand in this sense: If Trump does get to be - honestly or dishonestly - president of the USA, it is likely the USA will become an extremely authoritarian neofascist state.

And as I said before: This is a quite interesting article, that is rather long, and
that I recommend you read all of.
[1] Incidentally: There was no column by Chris Hedges on Truthdig the previous week. I still do not know why - illness? disagreement? holidays? - but he is back this week, which I like because - while I disagree with him on quite a few points - he is honest, a radical and a real leftist.

As to "real leftists": Most "leftists" I have seen since ca. 1980 were not real leftists - as my communist parents and communist and anarchist grandparents undoubtedly and convincingly were, which is also one reason I am very certain of this - and indeed were hardly leftists except in so far as they were politically correct egalitarians, whose political activities were mostly limited to (i) supporting their elected leaders, and (ii) correcting everyone's speech so that the speech would not discriminate anyone.

I am not politically correct, and never was, and I am a strong opponent of false egalitarianism: There are great differences in individual talents and individual intelligences, and to try to deny this is anti-civilized, anti-democratic,
and anti-scientific, besides being very dishonest posturing: Just as some are really taller than others, some are really smarter than others, and some know really a lot more than others.

Also, I am a strong proponent of legal egalitarianism (which I am afraid most consumers reject, most probably from a combination of egoistic greed and lack of political knowledge):

I want society rearranged on the principles that (i) no one earns more than 20 times as much as the lowest income
(in dollars or euros), and on this lowest income one should be able to live tolerably, and (ii) no one owns owns more property than equals 1 million (dollars or euros). Both are to be legal rules, that seek to regulate the boundless greed and boundless egoism of a few, by simply forbidding anyone to excel financially over others by more than twenty times.

This would not make any loss to 97% of the current Western populations; it would mean considerable gains for most of them; and it would in one - major - move get rid of all super rich, capitalists, CEOs, etc.  whose enormous wealth is essentially stolen from the 99% of the poor and non-rich who produced it.

Probably I also am a proponent of some exceptions to rules (i) and (ii), but only for those with real talents of some kind (like a large acting ability etc.), and provided these persons do not use their extra money in politics.

[2] This paragraph summarizes a lot, but in case you believe in Clinton and Blair, you should realize neither is a socialist in any real sense, while the Clintons now owe at least $120 million dollars, and Blair owns at least $80 million pounds. I'd say they got what they set out to get, by hook or by crook.  

[3] This is also to say that I wasn't much interested in May Day from 1971 till 1995 (or later), which is also the time that I was definitely more interested in science than in politics. (I still am, but less so, mostly because of the great political dangers I write about in the
crisis index.)

[4] For "nihilism" is (according to my Shorter OED) "1. Negative doctrines in religion or morals; total rejection of current religious beliefs or moral principles. 2. Philos. A form of scepticism, involving the denial of all existence."
This is not what the rightist Republicans are, for they normally have (or pretend) strong religion and strong morals.

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