1. Reform or
Noam Chomsky Reveals The Hypocrisies of Capitalism in
the Financial Capital of the
3. Why Trump Might Win
4. High-Ranking Official Reveals How Pentagon
Blowing the Whistle: Former US Official Reveals Risks
Faced by Internal Critics
This is a Nederlog of Monday, May 23,
is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an interesting article by Chris Hedges (which allows me several precisifications of my own views); item 2 is about Noam Chomsky on capitalism; item 3 is about a Robert Reich article that seems to me to misdiagnose Trump (though I agree he might win the elections); item 4 is about a good article on Common Dreams on a recent whistleblower about the Pentagon; and item 5 is about a bad article on Spiegel International, that's nominally about the same case as item 4, but in fact almost completely about the personality of the whistleblower: The important social facts he revealed are virtually "forgotten". (And that is one of - many - reasons why I don't believe anymore in "a free press" if it belongs to the main media.)
1. Reform or Revolution
The first item is by Chris Hedges
This is from the beginning (after
a sketch of
Luxemburg (<- Wikipedia) was murdered, nearly a hundred years
The political, cultural and judicial
system in a capitalist state is centered around the protection of
property rights. And, as Adam Smith
pointed out, when civil government “is instituted for the security of
property, [it] is in reality instituted for the defense of the rich
against the poor, or of those who have some property against those who
have none at all.” The capitalist system is gamed from the start. And
this makes Luxemburg extremely relevant as corporate capital, now freed
from all constraints, reconfigures our global economy, including the
United States’, into a ruthless form of neofeudalism.
Wage slavery and employment are not
determined by law but by the imperatives of the market. The market
forces workers to fall to their knees before the dictates of global
profit. This imperative can never be corrected by legal or legislative
Democracy, in this late stage of
capitalism, has been replaced with a system of legalized bribery. All
branches of government, including the courts, along with the systems of
entertainment and news, are wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate
state. Electoral politics are elaborate puppet shows. Wall Street and
the militarists, whether Trump or Clinton, win.
Yes, that is mostly correct I think,
although I also have three comments.
The first is about property rights and
capitalism: There is a notion that property rights antedate capitalism,
and a related notion that (i) naturally (!) everybody owns his
or her own body, and (ii) capitalism is based on and
further extends these
natural rights of property, that begin with self-ownership of one's
The second comment is that I think all of that is ideological baloney. Of
was something like personal property before capitalism, and
feudalism, and also before the invention of money, but it functioned
all rather differently from how it does today, and since
hundreds of years,
which is in a system with legal norms, legal fines, legal
and extensive texts of law that very few really know,
but that colors everything it touches on.
And third, property rights just are not "natural rights".
"Self-ownership" is a legal construction and is not
is born with because he or she has human genes. It is true that your
body is "your own", but primitively not
in any legal sense of "property", for these are again legal
because you - your brain - is what has the command over your body.
Then there is this:
Capitalism searches the globe to exploit
cheap, unorganized labor and pillages natural resources. It buys off or
overthrows local elites. It blocks the ability of the developing world
to become self-sufficient.
Meanwhile, workers in the industrialized
world, stripped of well-paying jobs, benefits and legal protections,
are pushed into debt peonage, forced to borrow to survive, which
further enriches global speculators.
Yes, but with one qualification, namely my
distinction of capitalism-with-a- human-face and
capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face: I think the distinction exists;
it is real; and I lived under both systems - namely
from 1965-1985 (or from 1950-1985) in the
first system, since then more and more in the second system, that was
created on purpose by the very rich and those in their
Also, the transformation from the first into the second system was very
intentional and consisted of the conscious shedding of all laws
that protected the many from the attacks of the rich few. These laws were
mostly introduced from the thirties till the
Then there is this:
In an understanding that eludes many
Bernie Sanders supporters, Luxemburg also grasped that socialism and
imperialism were incompatible. She would have excoriated Sanders’
ostrichlike refusal to confront American imperialism. Imperialism, she
understood, not only empowers a war machine and enriches arms merchants
and global capitalists. It is accompanied by a poisonous ideology—what
social critic Dwight
Macdonald called the “psychosis of permanent war”—that makes
Hm, hm. I like Bernie Sanders, and I am
rather sure that he knows Luxemburg's theses as well as I do, and probably since about the same time as I
did: In the late Fifties and early Sixties. Also, I guess that Bernie Sanders would
reply more or less as I do: Both "socialism" and "imperialism" are intellectual
idealizations of far more complicated social systems of social ideals,
and in real life one usually stands somewhere between both
idealizations, indeed also normally without conclusive information about where
Then there is this:
Capitalism is an enemy of democracy. It
denies workers the right to control means of production or determine
how the profits from their labor will be spent. American workers—both
left and right—do not support trade agreements. They do not support the
federal bailouts of big banks and financial firms. They do not embrace
astronomical salaries for CEOs or wage stagnation. But workers do not
count. And the more working men and women struggle to be heard, the
harsher and more violent the forms of control employed by the corporate
state will become.
Again I draw your attention to my
distinction of capitalism-with-a-human-face and
capitalism-with-an-inhuman-face. One of the main principles that made
the former is that - somehow - not a single tendency or group in society did
have the powers to further its own interests against the rest, while the main principle
that made the latter is that - somehow, again - the very rich succeeded in
corrupting most politicians, who in turn deregulated most of the laws that kept the rich
from the full exercise of their powers.
Then there is this:
Yes, I quite agree, and social revolutions,
if real, are not made by design of some small group. Also, Luxemburg
and Lenin were opposed on this - quite fundamental - point ever since
Lenin published "What is to be done?" (<- Wikipedia) in 1902.
Luxemburg distrusted disciplined,
revolutionary elites—Lenin’s vanguard. She denounced terror as a
revolutionary tool. She warned that revolutionary movements that were
not democratic swiftly became despotic. She understood the peculiar
dynamics of revolution. She wrote that in a time of revolutionary
ferment, “It is extremely difficult for any directing organ of the
proletarian movement to foresee and calculate which occasions and
factors can lead to explosions and which cannot.” Those who were
rigidly tied to an ideology or those who believed they could shape
events through force, were crippled by a “rigid, mechanical,
Finally, here is the last quotation I'll discuss:
“Without general elections, without
freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, without
the free battle of opinions, life in every public institution withers
away, becomes a caricature of itself, and bureaucracy rises as the only
deciding factor,” Luxemburg said.
The consequences of not carrying out a
revolution against corporatism are catastrophic. This makes Luxemburg
I'd say there still are general elections,
while there mostly ceased to be a free press: The result is manipulated
general elections; there still is freedom of speech, but by now most
has been taken by trolls, lawyers and professional deceivers who appeal
to the vast masses of the stupid and ignorant, who now can make "their own voices" heard, for the first time in history; while
the "free battle of opinions" has long ceased to be, and has been
replaced by the forces of paid propaganda, advertisements, and bullshit.
Finally, I like Rosa Luxemburg, especially
when compared to Lenin, but she died nearly a 100 years ago, and it
does not seem to me to be true that revolutions can be made at will:
one has to wait for a revcolutionary situation, and these are rare. For the least you need are both a large number of people willing to risk their lives and a situation in which the forces of the government - police, military, secret services - are weaker than normal.
Chomsky Reveals The
Hypocrisies of Capitalism in the Financial Capital of the World
This is a recommended article.
second item is by
Alexandra Rosenmann on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
Both points - the financial sector is basically tax-funded, and Apple and Microsoft simply appropriated most of the findings that were made by others
NOAM CHOMSKY: One of the paradoxes of
neoliberalism is that it’s not new and it’s not liberal. (applause)
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Exactly. Exactly.
NOAM CHOMSKY: If you look at what you
describe is a form of hypocrisy but the same is true of saying that we
should not support tax-funded institutions. The financial sector is
YANIS VAROUFAKIS: Of course.
NOAM CHOMSKY: You recall the IMF study
of the leading American banks, which determined that virtually all
their profits come from their implicit government insurance policy,
cheap credit, access to higher credit ratings, incentives to take risky
transactions which are profitable but then if it’s problematic, you
guys pay for it, or just take the basis of the contemporary economy,
which actually I’ve been privileged to see developing in
government-subsidized laboratories for decades. MIT, where I’ve been
since the 1950s, is one of the institutions where the government, the
funnel in the early days was the Pentagon, was pouring in money to
create the basis for the high-tech economy of the future and the
profitmaking of the institutions that are regarded as private
enterprises. It was decades of work under public funding with a very
anticapitalist ideology. So according to capitalist principles, if
someone invests in a risky enterprise over a long period and thirty
years later it makes some profit, they’re supposed to get part of the
profit, but it doesn’t work like that here. It was the taxpayer who
invested for decades. The profit goes to Apple and Microsoft, not to
in universities - seem quite true to me. (Apple's Steve Jobs - to give one example - got the whole idea of windows and a mouse from Smalltalk, all without paying any money.)
There is more under the last dotted link, and this is a recommended (though not a long) article.
3. Why Trump Might Win
The third item is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
Since he cinched the Republican
nomination two weeks ago,
Trump has been the object of even more unfavorable press than he was
before – about his treatment
of women, his propensity to lie, his bizarre policy proposals.
Before this came months of news coverage
of his bigotry, megalomania, narcissism,
xenophobia, refusals to condemn violence at his rallies, refusals to
himself from white supremacists, and more lies.
So how can Trump be pulling
even with Hillary Clinton?
I do have a quite good explanation, but
that seems to be rejected by 4 out of 5 American voters: It is that 4
out of 5 American voters are mostly stupid and ignorant compared to the remaining 1 in 5, and indeed have been made that way in considerable part through bad education and religion.
Clearly, that is not politically correct, and indeed may very well be construed as "hate speech", which is the dominant sin in "leftist" circles for more than 25 years now.
Well... I don't think that a "left" that defines itself in terms of political correct- ness is the real left, and I think my explanation is factually correct. (And in case you doubt this: I don't like it at all that there are so many fools, but I
am not wilfully blind to the fact that these exist.)
Here is Robert Reich's explanation for Trump's arisal:
I think this explanation is mistaken: The "Washington
insiders, corporate executives, bankers, and media moguls" all - and very clearly as well! - are forces of the right; while "people who think the game is rigged against them" are or may be forces of the left.
Trump’s rise suggests a new kind
of politics. You might call it anti-politics.
The old politics pitted right
against left, with presidential aspirants moving toward the center once
cinched the nomination.
Anti-politics pits Washington
insiders, corporate executives, bankers, and media moguls against a
number of people who think the game is rigged against them. There’s no
hostility and suspicion.
Americans who feel like
they’re being screwed are attracted to an authoritarian bully – a
who will kick ass.
Besides, I have heard the story that "The Left and the Right are forces
from the past now: We are neither left nor right nor ... etc." so many
times now, nearly always mouthed by people who don't know shit about
real politics and real economics, to say plainly that this is ideological bullshit. 
The Right amounts to most of the very rich and their well-paid tribes of lawyers and protectors and parasites and servants; the Left should cover everyone else who is not very rich nor a lawyer nor a protector of the rich, nor a greedy parasite or a servant. And this has been so ever since 1789 at the latest, though the rich and their sources of richness have varied a lot since then. Even so: There always - the last 2500 years - were a few rich and many non-rich. 
This fundamental opposition has always been there and presently in the West amounts to this: Either you make or hope to make a million or more a year, and you belong to the rich (ca. 3%); or else you don't make a million nor even $300,000 a year (97%) and you do not belong to the rich.
Here is the last bit by Reich that I will quote:
I do not agree with the first paragraph, because I don't believe there is "anti-politics". Donald Trump simply is a rich man taking up for the rich, and what makes him peculiar is not so much his own force of character, originality,
Donald Trump has perfected the
art of anti-politics at a time when the public detests politics. Which
so many experts in how politics used to be played have continuously
And why Trump’s demagoguery
– channeling the prejudices and fears of Americans who have been losing
– makes him the most dangerous nominee of a major political party in
or honesty, but much rather that the free press mostly ceased to exist, while most of the main media have protected him, and his 75% of lies, simply because he made the press prosper financially. This also made the press not discuss his very many lies: the press - the main media, that is - now likes to be corrupted itself far more than doing its duties of truly informing the many.
Then again, I agree with the second paragraph - and Trump is very dangerous
because he is irresponsible, uninformed and a rich wastrel with psychological problems.
High-Ranking Official Reveals
How Pentagon Punishes Whistleblowers
The fourth item is by Nika Knight on Common
This starts as follows - and yes, I know this article and the next are nominally about the same subject, although (as you shall see) they are very different.
First then, the story of Common Dreams:
Pentagon officials tasked with
protecting whistleblowers have lied under oath, illegally destroyed
documents, and gone out of their way to ruin people's careers and lives
for attempting to raise concerns about government abuses of power,
according to a high-ranking Department of Defense (DoD) official, John
Crane, who went
public with his story on Sunday.Yes, that is how I read the story (from several sources). Here is more:
Crane's explosive revelations are being
released in coordination by the Guardian,
Spiegel, and Newsweek Japan.
"We need iron-clad, enforceable
protections for whistleblowers, and we need a public record of success
stories," whistleblower Edward Snowden
responded to Crane's revelations in
the Guardian. "Protect the people who go to members
of Congress with oversight roles, and if their efforts lead to a
positive change in policy—recognize them for their efforts. There are
no incentives for people to stand up against an agency on the wrong
side of the law today, and that's got to change."
Yes, indeed - and Snowden's response was quite sensible as well. Finally, here is a quote by Mark Hertsgaard (also an author of the next item), that is quite good:
Again, quite so - and indeed people like William Binney, Thomas Drake and Edward Snowden are (more) credible to me precisely because they did not start as leftwingers at all.
"We are now
becoming a police state," Diane Roark said in a 2014 television
interview. Referring to herself and the other NSA whistleblowers, she
added, "We are the canaries in the coal mine. We never did anything
wrong. All we did was oppose this program. And for that, they just ran
saying, 'We’re doing this to protect you,'" Roark’s fellow
whistleblower William Binney told me. "I will tell you that that’s
exactly what the Nazis said in Special Order 48 in 1933 – we’re doing
this to protect you. And that’s how they got rid of all of their
strong statements – comparing the actions of the US government to Nazi
Germany, warning of an emerging "police state" – so it’s worth
remembering who made them. The NSA whistleblowers were not leftwing
peace nuts. They had spent their professional lives inside the US
intelligence apparatus – devoted, they thought, to the protection of
the homeland and defense of the constitution.
political conservatives, highly educated, respectful of evidence,
careful with words. And they were saying, on the basis of personal
experience, that the US government was being run by people who were
willing to break the law and bend the state’s awesome powers to their
own ends. They were saying that laws and technologies had secretly been
put in place that threatened to overturn the democratic governance
Americans took for granted and shrink their liberties to a vanishing
point. And they were saying that something needed to be done about all
this before it was too late.
And in any case, this was a good article that is recommended. Now I turn to the last item, which is an article on Spiegel International that has Mark Hertsgaard as one of its writers, but that turns out to be completely different:
Blowing the Whistle: Former US Official Reveals Risks Faced by Internal
The fifth and last item today is by Mark Hertsgaard, Felix Kasten,
Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark on Spiegel International:
This starts as follows:
This is the crass bullshit I am much opposed to since first meeting it in the New York Review of Books fifty years ago:
John Crane doesn't live far from CIA
headquarters on the south bank of the Potomac River, with its verdant
forest and rolling hills. The Pentagon is just a few miles upstream.
Crane, as a child of the US military-intelligence complex, feels at
home here. He served as a part of the system for more than 25 years and
he still believes in it -- even if it has since declared him as its
Crane is sitting in his kitchen. In front
of him lies a leather briefcase embossed with the US seal.
The "journalists" are no longer describing the publicly important facts of the case, but are instead portraying one person who got some popularity as if his person and career and personal opinions, and personal income, and personal house, and personal living room all belong to the essence of the case, indeed to such an extent that they crowd out almost all mentioning of the important social facts for the public.
Here is more on some personal views of some persons:
The row stems from the fact that Crane
disputes the version of events still put forward today by President
Barack Obama and Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary
Clinton when discussing Edward Snowden, the most prominent
whistleblower of our times. Snowden didn't have to go underground and
he didn't have to take his story public -- that's the message the US
government constantly repeats. The system works, the error was made by
Snowden: That has been Obama's subtext.
For somebody who knows something about the subject, as both I and Mark Hertsgaard do, it is clear that Obama is plainly lying. But no: Such politically
incorrect statements seem to be no longer desired by Spiegel International - much rather than saying he is an evident liar, Obama now has a "subtext".
Of course, Spiegel International doesn't want to quote anyone who says the present USA is a police state (as claimed in the previous item): That might disquiet the readers (I suppose). Instead, they give a lot more personal details about the personal situation of one of the persons involved:
After completing his university studies,
Crane worked for a Republican Congressman named Bill Dickinson, a
leading member of the Armed Services Committee. Dickinson had been one
of the proponents of the idea of establishing an Office of the
Inspector General. Once the position was created, Crane became one of
the first employees in the office of the newly named inspector. During
his career, he worked under around a dozen different inspector generals
and helped build the so-called "hotlines" for whistleblowers. For
Crane, whistleblowers are a pillar of the democratic system and he is
convinced that they help improve the work of government.
These are all facts that Spiegel International finds far more interesting to report than the socially important facts reported in the previous item.
Here is the last bit of personal detail I will quote from this personal report (by no less than four no doubt very well-paid journalists of Spiegel Inter- national) on the person of Crane:
So this is how the very same case that was reported quite well in Common Dreams, these days is reported by a part of the formerly free press: The socially important facts are almost all weeded out; nearly all interests focus on personal details of one of the persons involved in this socially important event; and the general impression that is delivered is that a person of this kind - some sort of whistleblower, after all - has some personal
Why did Crane rebel after a
quarter-century as a loyal civil servant? Why did he risk his career,
his reputation as an irreproachable civil servant, his friendships and
He strolls through Lady Bird Johnson Park
near the Pentagon. Crane has a lot of free time now that he no longer
has to go to the office each morning. He holds his arms crossed behind
his back as he walks.
problems and oddities, although that is also not clearly stated.
That is what I make of it - and yes: Both cases treated in item 4 and item 5 are about precisely the same facts.
I'd say that on the basis of my understanding, Common Dreams scored 9
out of 10, and Spiegel International 2 out of 10. The report of Common
Dreams is about socially important facts; the report in Spiegel
International is about the
quirks in one of the persons who got involved.
This kind of bullshit is also what moved me to give up NRC Handelsblad by the end of 2010, after reading it for forty years: I don't want to be brushed away as if I
am an idiot who only craves information about personal quirks of
persons involved in some enormous social scandal that is hardly
 One of the things I recall was Tyler Ventura, who on Real Time advertised (in a wooden voice) all or most of the things he and his fellow presenters were not: Not left, not right, not old, not young, not ... etc. etc. etc. (for a looooong time), without ever saying what they were for, and especially not saying that one of his co-presenters was both the son of Oliver Stone (like Ventura is the son of Jesse Ventura) and a Shia muslim.
I don't really care much that he is both the son of Oliver Stone and a muslim, but I do care if this is left out in a minutes long sum-up that only says what
the presenters suppose themselves not to be (which in the end is the whole universe minus them).
 So yes: I am very classical in insisting that the basic social opposition is between the few rich and the many poor, and that fundamental opposition exists now for over 2500 years. The opposition is clearly fact based (there always have been a few rich and many poor, the last 2500 years), and while it is not true that all the rich oppose the poor, nor true
that all poor oppose the rich, in reality most of either group mostly act like most in their group - and indeed that serves their interests usually as well.