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Nederlog

May 22, 2016

Crisis: Surveillance State, Facebook, Nazi Hunters, Business CEO, Maher & Moore
Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. 
The Nefarious Surveillance State Dangerously Inhibits
     Self-Expression and a Healthy Democracy

2. Facebook's Monopoly & Surveillance Antithetical to
     Free Press and a Free Society

3. The Nazi hunters who wouldn’t give up: “Many war
     criminals… simply went back and resumed their lives”

4. Business Insider CEO: 'There Are No Must-Read
     Publications Any More'

5. Real Time with Bill Maher: Michael Moore – Where to
     Invade Next (HBO)

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, May 22, 2016.

This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about the Surveil- lance State (with two S's, quite correctly); item 2 is about Facebook and quite good; item 3 is about Nazi hunters (about whom I know a fair amount: this seems a good article); item 4 is by some Business CEO whom I initially misjudged; and item 5 is about a nice video in which Bill Maher interviews Michael Moore about his latest film (yes, it is relevant to the crisis).

1. The Nefarious Surveillance State Dangerously Inhibits Self-Expression and a Healthy Democracy

The first item is by Kali Holloway on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
The nefarious brilliance of the surveillance state rests, at least in part, in the fact that it conveys omniscience without the necessity of omnipresence. Since even its verifiable actions are clandestine and shadowy, revealed not through admission but by whistleblowers such as Chelsea Manning, Edward Snowden and Jeremy Hammond, its gaze can feel utterly infinite. To modify an old phrase, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not watching you—especially given that you now have proof. But if you never know precisely when they’re watching or exactly what they’re looking for, can you ever be paranoid enough?
Hm, hm. The opening statement also "conveys" the impression that the fascist spies who spy on you [1] also can do so if you have no internet connection on your computer (it is, say, air gapped: Never had any connection with internet).

But that is just false baloney. So no: This - that the internet "
conveys omniscience without the necessity of omnipresence" - is not the "nefarious brilliance of the surveillance state". That briilliance exists, but is wholly different from what it is presented as in this article.

"The nefarious brilliance of the surveillance state" basically consists of three points, each of which corresponds to a very similar systematic breaking of the laws that governed all by both the governments, the politicians who supported them, and the big banks:
  • Most people were terrified by "terrorism, Terrorists, TERRORISTS!!, We From Your Trusted Goverment Assure You", and these - mostly totally unfounded - fears were abused to push through a great many anti-democratic authoritarian laws;
  • The internet was designed by US Defense that - intentionally or not -
    made everything unencrypted, which means that anybody who could
    access the internet cables could access everything;
  • The basic human rights everybody had were systematically denied and falsified by both the big governmental secret dataminers and the big corporate secret dataminers, and every basic right people had was transmorphed to a duty to assist "your government" in "The War Against Terrorism".
It was not technical brilliance that allowed Facebook, Google and the NSA and GCHQ to find out absolutely everything about you. I was a matter of design of the unencrypted internet combined with deregulating all laws that prevented spying and protected privacy. [2] And this was all done very intentionally, from the very beginning, because the US governmental spies already in the 1960ies foresaw the internet they wanted, and systematically planned for it ever since. (See here for some proof.)

The backgrounds to the systematic pervasive spying on all the billions who have internet computers is the systematic design by "our" governments,
"our" politicians, "our" mathematicians, engineers and technicians, and "our" lawyers
of a totally open, totally unencrypted private computers, that could be spied upon by anyone with sufficient money (like: the governments and multi- national corporations), together with very many deregulated laws and many redesigned "laws" [3] that made this spying on everyone "legal" [4].

But OK - I am not a journalist, and Kali Halloway probably means well. Also, apart from this introduction, the article is recommended, for it conveys facts like these:
This is, to some degree, the concern of many Americans, according to a new study from Oxford University. The Washington Post reports researcher Jonathon Penney found that Snowden’s leaks about government surveillance had a “chilling effect” on American adults’ internet habits. Penney looked at Wikipedia searches conducted after June 2013, when news of NSA spying programs so thoroughly dominated headlines that 87 percent of Americans became aware of them. In the wake of the story, he found “a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned ‘al-Qaeda,’ ‘car bomb’ or ‘Taliban.’” The traffic for those pages dropped precipitously after the Snowden files came to light, and continued to slide over the next year, suggesting a “longer-term impact from the revelations.”
That is: "the concern of many Americans" is that they are afraid of their own governments and its (secret or non-secret) police forces - and as the above quotation conveys, about 1 in 5 of all Americans took steps to prevent that the government would find out that they have interests that the government might not like (now or later).

In other words: 1 in 5 of Americans behaved as if they are already living in a totalitarian state, and prove they do by not reading anymore in a public encyclopedia about stuff they would have read if they did not think that doing so would endanger them (or their children, or their children's children).

Here is more evidence of the same:
Even the most innocuous online behaviors have been tempered since the NSA’s sweeping data grabs became public. The U.S. Department of Congress polled 41,000 internet-using households about the way privacy and security concerns influenced online activities. Approximately 18 percent named “data collection by [the] government” one of their foremost fears. In a May 2016 press release, the agency states that, along with other trust-eroding issues such as identity theft and fraud-related topics, “45 percent of online households reported that these concerns stopped them from conducting financial transactions, buying goods or services, posting on social networks, or expressing opinions on controversial or political issues via the internet, and 30 percent refrained from at least two of these activities.”
This is again the 20% that was found in the research reported in the previous paragraph (which may well be the 20% of Americans that is both reasonably educated and reasonably intelligent), while nearly half did not do "financial transactions, buying goods or services, posting on social networks, or expressing opinions on controversial or political issues via the internet".

It so happens that I do not do these things by internet either, simply because I could not and cannot trust it from the very beginning (I have internet for nearly 20 years and a PC for nearly 30 years), indeed apart from my "
expressing opinions on controversial or political issues via the internet", which I do because I love freedom and do not have any children. [5]

2. Facebook's Monopoly & Surveillance Antithetical to Free Press and a Free Society

The second item is b
y Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

This starts as follows:
On Wednesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg met with top conservative media figures, including Glenn Beck, Dana Perino and Tucker Carlson, after his company was accused of suppressing news stories on political grounds. Former Facebook workers told the website Gizmodo they routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers by keeping them out of the "trending" stories section on the sidebar. "The concerns are legitimate," says media analyst Robert McChesney, "but the real question is: Should we have a private monopoly that has so much political influence and political power?" McChesney also discusses Facebook’s surveillance and access to user’s data, and whether such companies could be nationalized.
I am not interested in Suckerbug's meeting the idiot Beck, but I agree with Robert McChesney (<-Wikipedia): Facebook is very dangerous, and the title of this article is completely justified.

Here is some more by McChesney:
ROBERT McCHESNEY: Well, it’s a real problem, in the sense that the issue here is the one that’s not being talked about, the elephant in the room, the two-ton elephant, which is Facebook is a monopoly, and they have monopolistic power, as do a number of these digital giants that are the largest companies now, in terms of market value, in the world economy. And so, what Facebook does, or Google or Amazon, has immense influence over how people see the world and understand the world. And so, the concerns are legitimate, if you feel you’re getting the raw end of the stick. But really, the real question is: Should we have a private monopoly that has so much political influence and political power? I think democratic theory is unequivocal on this point: no. This is really antithetical to anything remotely close to a free press and a free society.
Yes, quite so. And my own answer is quite clear: No, such private monopolies should be forbidden, indeed like corporate monopolies; the reasons are that they have far too much power and far too much money concentrated in the hands of some very few; this is totally against all democratic notions; and it is also totally against "a free press and a free society".

If you want a free press in a free society, you must forbid Facebook, Google, Amazon, and quite a few more. If you do not want to
forbid Facebook, Google, Amazon, and quite a few more, you are against a free press and against a free society. It really is as simple as that.

Here is some more McChesney:

AMY GOODMAN: So what should happen to Facebook, do you think?

ROBERT McCHESNEY: Well, I think this is the great discussion of the next generation. There’s nothing on the table now. But as a society, we have to consider, as we move into this heavily digitized economy—and we have, you know, four, five, six companies that dominate it, and the largest companies in the world in terms of market value, and they’re privately owned, and they own the politicians—is this acceptable? And if it isn’t, where do we go from here? And I think that’s the great discussion we’re going to have, because the status quo isn’t going to work.

Yes, I agree: I don't want giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and a few others to own the internet and secretly find out everything about anyone. This is not acceptable to me, indeed.

But I think the situation is probably already so bad and so incredibly unequal that "discussion" probably will not change much, simply because the billions, the monopoly powers, and the freedom to spy on everything anyone does, have already been acquired by some ten or so extremely powerful incredibly rich individuals. They will not give up these extra-ordinary powers and the extra-ordinary riches these entailed for them. And they have the riches and the
powers to hold on to them, especially since most politicians these days seem corrupt.

Here is the last bit I'll quote from this article:

AMY GOODMAN: How much Facebook knows?

ROBERT McCHESNEY: Yeah, exactly, and that’s another issue. We’ve got these digital companies, aren’t just monopolies in the sense that a train company is, but they’re a monopoly in the sense that they actually are doing surveillance. They have all the data on all of us. And they have a very strong interest in being on good terms with the federal government and the national government. They’re really joined at the hip. And the national government, once you get away from election time and once the door closes, has a real clear record of not being especially interested in civil liberties of citizens.
Again quite so. And this is also why I do not think much will change without one of the following changes: Either a radical, honest and competent innovator gets elected in the USA as president, or else the whole Western economy goes into a major collapse, as it did in 1929.

Otherwise I am pessimistic about changes for the good in the present internet:

Far too much has happened to further the bad, and those favoring the bad - knowing everything about everyone; bombarding them with "free advertise- ments"; manipulating the news and the opinions one sees - have already assembled far too much powers and incredibly amounts of money for the very few very rich.


3. The Nazi hunters who wouldn’t give up: “Many war criminals… simply went back and resumed their lives”

The third item is
by Scott Timberg on Salon:

This starts as follows - and is quite interesting for me, whose grandfather was murdered in a German concentration camp, and who father survived more than
3 years and 9 months of the same, both for being members of the Dutch communistic resistance against the Nazis [6]:

Detailed, dramatic, and at times gripping, Adam Nagorski’s “The Nazi Hunters” looks at about a dozen men and women who kept pushing at a time when the world was trying to move on. Hunters like Simon Wiesenthal and Serge and Ben Klarsfeld are characters here, as are Gestapo chief Klaus Barbie, Auschwitz commandant Rudolf Hoess, “Angel of Death” Josef Mengele, “Bitch of Buchenwald” Ilse Koch, and the notorious Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann.

Much of the book chronicles various hunts and tells the stories of those who led them. But it also considers the larger moral issues around the effort: Were these hunters motivated by vengeance? What could be gained by arresting rickety old camp guards, decades later? How much were the villains responsible for their actions?

In fact, this article is an interview with Andrew Nagorski (<-Wikipedia), who seems to be around my age, and had Polish parents (who emigrated to Scotland, and then to the USA). I do not know more about him.

As to myself: Both of my parents were communists (real ones, and not quasi ones [7]) and had become communists in the thirties or forties because of the
arisal of Nazism. I was born in 1950, and recall the 1950ies mostly as a rather
poor time (which did not strike me as much then as later, because almost everyone I knew was poor), in which one of the things both of my parents were
much concerned with was anti-fascism.

And two of the things I was rather amazed at were that (1) very few other people than those who had been hit personally in a radical fashion by the Nazis
wanted to do much against them, and (2) the (ex-)Nazis themselves defended
their positions during WW-II by denying the validity of any concept of inter-
subjective objective truth
: That did not exist, they argued, and therefore they could not be blamed.

There is much more I could mention here, but both of the facts I mentioned were known to me by 1958, and indeed I was rather amazed at both of them.

Next, as to the questions posed at the end of the last quoted paragraph:

"Were these hunters motivated by vengeance?": Of course they were - and I do not see anything wrong with that, if your family has been gassed, and your friends were cruelly murdered, starved or worked to death. Then again, while this was a personal motive, there also was two more comprehensive motives, namely justice and the desire to inform people what had happened in the camps and during WW II. Again, both motives are quite respectable and decent, and the second was there because all through the fifties and most the sixties Nazism was presented as "a thing of the past", that it was unwise to stir up.

"What could be gained by arresting rickety old camp guards, decades later?": Justice, in one word. Besides, in the 1950ies and 1960ies most were not old, for most Nazis had been born between 1900 and 1920. As to the justice involved: Why is it just that somebody who smoked marijuana gets 10 years imprisonment and somebody who killed a 100 Jews and helped killing tenthousands more gets no punishment or a few years imprisonment? (Etc. etc.: The Nazis ran one of the most systematic mass murdering schemes ever designed.)

"How much were the villains responsible for their actions?": They were personally responsible if they had a personal free will. There are extenuating circumstances (most Germans were pro-Hitler), but in the end those who decided it was their duty to murder Jews, communists, socialists and any other opponents of Hitler or Nazism, decided to do so themselves. (And see Christopher Browning's "Ordinary Men", which is about a company of quite ordinary Germans that killed on average 165 Jews a man, only because they
were Jews.)

Here is some background, especially on the 1950ies and 1960ies:

The United States and Britain were more concerned with the Soviet Union. We were trying to put this stuff behind us, and West Germany was an ally at this point.

Yes, West Germany was an ally. We wanted people to not antagonize the Germans at this point. I talked to a man who had been in charge of the first CIA base in Berlin after the war. He was from a German-Jewish family and had gotten out as a boy in the ‘30s and eventually ended up in the United States. He joined the army and the OSS, the forerunner of the CIA, and then joined the CIA and becomes the head of this base. I asked him about his attitude towards Nazis at that point when the Cold War set in and he said, “None of us were interested in fighting the last war. What we had to do was done in Nuremberg and the Dachau trials, and now we had two urgent concerns: Russians the crackers' governments also deregulated all they could, and
ambiguated and falsified the rest
snatching scientists and trying to maintain support in West Germany for the cause of the Western Alliance.”

People forget how quickly this was put on the back burner. Even Israel, after it was created, was not necessarily in the business of hunting Nazis. That’s one of the great myths, that there were Israeli Nazi hunters everywhere.
Yes, indeed: That is also how I recall it. There were a few Israeli Nazi-hunters, and a few Jewish Nazi-hunters, but indeed they were either not considered at all in the ordinary press (until Eichmann got arrested and convicted) or they were portrayed as "fighting the last war" and - perhaps - not quite sane.

In my experience this only changed around 1970. Here is some more about WW II:

Part of the thing about the trials was that the notion was that this was not going to be vengeance. First of all, you owe it to the victims to put some people on trial, but also, you owe it to history and to our understanding of history to put it on the record. Because our understanding of genocide, of the Holocaust, of the horrors of World War II, is, to a large extent, the product of these efforts of the Nazi trials, a few of which continue today. Without that, I think the tendency, certainly within Germany and Austria, was to say, “Oh, it was a war. Bad things always happen in a war.” At the end of most wars, the victors might execute a bunch of the vanquished and pillage and rape and so forth, and then that would be over.

But here it was to establish some international norms, to show that this was no ordinary war, that to say you were just following orders was not acceptable, and in fact, in some ways condemned you. Because you clearly knew that these were orders that defied every notion of human rights and international norms. So it set knew principles. Now, whether we have lived up to those principles or not is a different matter, but it was unprecedented, what happened.

Yes, indeed. I agree that "our understanding of genocide, of the Holocaust, of the horrors of World War II, is, to a large extent, the product of these efforts of the Nazi trials", and indeed the Holocaust (<- Wikipedia) was a return to a barbarism - the planned murder of some 11 million persons, of which over 6 million were murdered - that was quite unique.

And it is also true that - especially, though not only - the Nuremberg trials made it clear that "this was no ordinary war, that to say you were just following orders was not acceptable, and in fact, in some ways condemned you. Because you clearly knew that these were orders that defied every notion of human rights and international norms."

Here is the last bit I'll quote:

But it’s also true that aside from some of these really top Nazi criminals who feel they need to flee Europe and hide elsewhere—Klaus Barbie, Josef Mengele, those kinds of people—there are many, many war criminals who simply went back and resumed their lives, often taking ordinary jobs, some in the civil service. That was true in both East Germany and West Germany, even though the Soviet side always claimed that all the war criminals were in West Germany.

The best way in East Germany to prove your loyalty to the new regime, if you had been a Nazi party member or a member of the Gestapo, was to serve the new regime and join the Communist Party or the Stasi, the secret police.

Again quite true. And besides, many of those who were punished by the Nuremberg trials and who were not hung, were often released after surprisingly short sentences, of 3 to 6 years imprisonment.

This is a good article that is recommended.

4. Business Insider CEO: 'There Are No Must-Read Publications Any More'

The fourt
h item is by Isabell Hülsen on Spiegel International:
This is here because it was selected on the basis of a mistaken choice. I thought the person interviewed - one Blodget - had some interesting things to say, but in fact he seems to exist to make himself rich.

But OK - I have selected it, and give three bits. Here is the first:
Blodget: First of all: Digital is profoundly different than television, radio or print. Buzzfeed and other digital companies are capitalizing on that difference. You could not have a TV show where all you do is wrap rubber bands around a watermelon for 45 minutes. But for people who are bored at work or at school it was perfect drama, a digital media event.
In brief, digital is far more stupid than the printed press, but because there are far more stupid people who can publish their stupid and ignorant idiocies, We Who Like To Get Rich, say that "Digital is profoundly different". Next bit:

SPIEGEL: The fact that serious news publications have to compete for eyeballs and advertising money with digital-only publications that focus more on reach than on journalism is nothing to worry about?

Blodget: Again, successful publication is all about the mix. What Buzzfeed discovered was that people like cat pictures.
Translated: Not at all. We Who Make Money By Advertising just love stupid and ignorant consumers! Here is the last bit I'll quote:

SPIEGEL: Your headlines are often bullish, vigorous and colloquial. What about the more quiet and reflective tones?

Blodget: The reason is that in print, once readers have bought the paper, it actually doesn't matter if they read the story. We have to draw readers into every single story. In the early years we did a lot of training around that. What happened typically was that somebody would spot a great story and say it to the newsroom. Everybody would say, oh, that's great, write it. And the journalist would write it, with a formal newspaper headline that nobody would want to read. And we'd say: No. Go back to what you said. And by the way, that's also the tweet. People love our conversational voice.

Translated: We Who Make Money By Advertising (And Lying And Deceiving And Propaganda Of All Kinds, From Medicines To Our Exceptional Government) insist
we are doing excellent work by dumbing down everything as far as we can. And you know: These
stupid and ignorant billions of "People love our conversational voice."

5. Real Time with Bill Maher: Michael Moore – Where to Invade Next (HBO)

The fifth and last item today is a video by Bill Maher (<-Wikipedia). It is an interview with Michael Moore about his latest film:

It is here because I like Maher and Moore (without agreeing on everything with either) and because Moore made a movie about the things the Europeans excel in (but shall not any more after TTIP is accepted as law).

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

[1] I am sorry: My grandfather was murdered in a Nazi concentration camp; my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months of Nazi concentration camps; I have been called "a dirty fascist" from 1977-1988 because I was for
science, for truth, and not a Marxist - and I am supposed not to call the completely corrupt utter moral degenerates who are secret spies on everyone
"fascists"?! I will, and those who disagree can go to court - and mind you: I judge you relative to my father, who was an anti-fascist hero and was knighted, as one of the only two communists ever knighted in Holland.

And I will want the same money from you as I want from the City of Amsterdam after gassing me because I opposed the illegal drugsdealers that were protected by Amsterdam's mayor, Amsterdam's aldermen, Amsterdam's district attorney, Amsterdam's lawyers, and Amsterdam's ombudsman.

[2] I think these are the main two reasons everyone is now fully known by both the government and the multi-national corporations Facebook, Google, Amazon etc.: It has been designed to be cracked with the least possible difficulties, and the crackers' governments also deregulated all they could, and ambiguated and falsified the rest (like the First and Fourth Amendment, that are now supposed to give freedom to the crackers, while the Fourth Amendment is supposed to be about opening paper envelopes only).

Given the evidence I know now, I think both were quite intentional.

[3] Again: Both were intentional.

The deregulations were in place since 1980, and were taken up with a vengeance by Bill Clinton, who seems to have deregulated everything that served as a barrier against exploitations by the rich (which he called "Freedom!", without adding the very true "for the few rich to exploit you poor all they can and make me a multi-millionaire").

The redesigns were often done by some lawyerly signature that meant that - according to that lawyer, the White House desired - a certain term used in laws suddenly meant something quite different than the dictionaries said they meant. Again, these were generally accepted over the dictionary-meanings, simply because "lawyers" said so, and the White House was claimed to approve.

[4] I put quotes around "legal" simply because I hold both deregulations and redesigns were grossly and intentionally illegal, and also were implemented in illegal ways. I simply do not accept "laws" that were accepted because of unacceptable illegal means.

[5] Yes, indeed. As to my not having children: I think the NSA and the GCHQ are two of the most fascistic organizations there have ever been, and I think they are and have been preparing for neofascism since decades now.

Also, if you gather all information you can get on anyone anywhere, it is not because of "terrorism" of a few Islamists: It is because you are state- terrorists who are extremely heavily funded to find out everything about the sub-humans they spy upon because this will give you all the power you need and very much more power than anybody ever had.

You are sick and you are Exceptional. Precisely like Heydrich and Himmler, who called my father and grandfather "political terrorists".

[6] I have written about this (mostly in Nederlog) quite a few times now, both in English and in Dutch. Here is a bit of news about my family (both of my parents, one grandparent) being communists or else anarchists (two other grandparents):

I am not a communist since I was 20, and gave it up fundamentally because (1) I had found mistakes in Marx's economy (I was right, and the best exposition I know is in Ian Steedman's "Marx after Sraffa"); because (2) I thought that the plans and ideas of the leadership of the Dutch CP were both false and stupid; and because (3) I was quite sickened by the totalitarian atmosphere in the CP.

Besides, I had found Bertrand Russell (<- Wikipedia) by 1969/1970, and I liked him better as a philosopher and as a liberal socialist than I did the CP. This also played an important role, but more in the background.

My parents both were communists for something like 45 years. I do not blame them for it (and never did) because while I think they were intellectually mistaken, they were no intellectuals (neither went to school after age 15); they were not more mistaken than most of their contemporaries who chose some different political faith, but usually with fewer justifications (for especially my father at least knew his Marx, Engels and Lenin); and they were much distinguished by being in the resistance against the Nazis, which few Dutchman
dared to do.

Finally, as to the risks they ran: My grandfather was murdered as a "political terrorist"; my father spent more than 3 years and 9 months imprisoned as a "political terrorist"; my parents were discriminated (very falsely) as "traitors to Holland" for decades because they were communists; and the Dutch CP lost 2000 of its members in WW II (circa 1 in 5 members) and was the only Dutch political party to go into the resistance from the capitulation onwards (and before Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union).

[7] The distinction between real communists, like my parents and grandparent, and quasi communists, like everyone I met in the University of Amsterdam who claimed being Marxists (they were generally silent about their
being members of the CP, but many were), is quite fundamental to me, especially because I have been much opposed to the quasi-communists who ruled much of the University of Amsterdam between 1971 and 1995, when all
Dutch universities were formally and factually in the hands of the students
(who made an enormous totalitarian mess out of it). For more on this, see May 17, 2016, especially note [2] and [3].

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