Jun 12, 2016

Reich on Trump + What happened to "the left"?

1. Robert Reich on Donald Trump

2. On the near-complete disappearance of the left


This is a Nederlog of Sunday, June 12, 2016.

This is another non-crisis issue that does have crisis-like items. There are two of them: item 1 is about a recent article of Robert Reich about Donald Trump (I mostly strongly agree), and item 2 is about what happened to "the left": I say that the classical left was almost - not: quite - completely undone by political leaders like Clinton, Blair and Kok, and by its replacement in ordinary people by a combination of political correctness and identity-politics (both of which are - incidentally - quite totalitarian).

1. Robert Reich on Donald Trump

The first item today is about an article by Robert Reich on Donald Trump, on Reich's site:
In fact, this would have been a crisis item if this Nederlog would have been about the crisis. But Nederlog isn't anymore nearly only about the crisis, as it was the last 3 years, as I explained yesterday.

Then again, this is a fine article, as often with Reich, and so it is here. To start with, I will list the eight reasons, but without their accompagnying texts, which you can find by clicking the above dotted link.

Here are the eight reasons, with a brief introduction, but without texts (and the boldings and links are all in the original):
The Republican Party still has time to change its mind. Right now it’s supporting for President of the United States a man

1. who divides us by race and ethnicity and religion.
2. whose incendiary lies are inciting violence across this land, but he excuses them.
3. who bullies, humiliates, and threatens those who dare cross him.
4. who spreads baseless conspiracy theories.
5. whose hateful and demeaning attitudes toward women and boastful claims of sexual dominance have been filling the airwaves for years.
6. who believes climate change is not caused by humans, contrary to all scientific proof.
7. who proposes using torture against terrorists, and punishing their families, both in clear violation of international law.
8. who wants to cut taxes on the rich, giving the wealthiest one tenth of one percent an average tax cut of more than $1.3 million each every year - exploding the national debt and endangering the future of Social Security and Medicare.
All of the above is quite true to the best of my - rather extensive - knowledge. And as I said, in case you are not convinced, you can start with reading the texts that support these 8 points, namely by clicking the above dotted link.

The article ends as follows:

This man is Donald Trump, and the Republican Party wants him to be President of the United States.

Why are there so few statesmen left in the Republican Party? Are there no principled Republicans whose loyalty to the nation is greater than their eagerness to win back the White House? No Republican leaders with the courage to stand up and say this is wrong – that this man doesn’t have the character or the temperament to be president, and his election would endanger America and everything we believe in and stand for?

If not, shame on them.

Republicans still have time to dump Trump. For the good of the country and the world, they must.

Actually, I much doubt that the Republicans will dump Trump, though they might. Also, there are a few "principled Republicans" (as Reich calls them)
who have repudiated Trump, like the Bushes and Romney, and there are more.

Then again, I quite agree with Robert Reich that
this man doesn’t have the character or the temperament to be president, and his election would endanger America.
And indeed my own view of Donald Trump - and I have a brilliant M.A. in psychology - is (and look over the above list of mostly factual points) that he is a mad man, a lunatic, a narcissist and a bully with an exceedingly firy temperament, and just for these reasons alone, which he also has illustrated himself for decades, is completely unfit and unqualified as president of the USA.

However, while I agree with Reich's points, and myself would fail Trump as psychologically completely unfit for the presidency, indeed not because he is a Republican, but simply because he is too narcissistic and too tempera- mental, I am afraid that there are not enough "principled Republicans" to replace him with another Republican candidate, and that he has to be beaten in a presidential election.

Which he might win.
(Though I agree that - so far - this is less probable.)

2. On the near-complete disappearance of the REAL left

This is the (partial) repeat of a title and theme of yesterday, that indeed will be more repeated in the future, because I think it is a quite important theme, about which I also happen to know a lot more than most people, mostly because (i) both of my parents were communists for some 45 years or more (and there are very few with parents like that, who also resisted the Nazis in WW II, quite unlike the vast majority of the collaborating Dutch [1]) while (ii) the near-complete disappearance of the REAL Left makes it a whole lot more difficult to contradict the greedy, egoistic and immoral propaganda from the right. [2]

To start with, here is a link to an article I wrote on April 23, last:
The link is to item 3 there, in which there is a text that is revised here, that lists four of the most important differences between the world as it seems to be now and the world I grew up in, that started to disappear around 1980.

I indent them here, though the text is mine:
1. the disappearance of most of the free press;
2. the morphing of the U.S. government into a collaboration with the multinational corporations (especially banking and computing, at least in this administration: it was oil in the previous one);
3. the constant secret surveillance of everyone by the secret services, that probably dampens the enthusiasm of many to protest the government;
4. the rather complete disappearance of any real "leftist ideology" in the mainstream media, and its exchange to a mostly linguistic position of political correctness.
All four differences are quite noticeable if you are my age and have a decent memory and considerable knowledge, and it is important to realize that those
who are now in their thirties or younger lack the knowledge of how it really was before 1980. It is also important to realize that all four differences correspond to social tendencies, that have been consciously furthered by the right and the conservatives.

Also, the fact that these are social tendencies (they did not change suddenly; they are and have been changing steadily for some 35 years now) also makes it possible for people (especially if young or with bad memories) to deny them or to undervalue them, and to do so honestly.

Here are some remarks on each of these important tendencies.

The disappearance of most of the free press

I think this has mostly happened, and it did happen mostly in this century, and the main reason was the collapse of most advertisements in papers with the arrival of the internet-for-the-many-non-techies, which happened between 1995 and 2005, mostly.

Also, while this has happened, you will not see any positive statement about it in the - quite changed! - printed press: They act as if they still are the same, even though most of their advertisements disappeared; the papers themselves got new owners and new editors; and much of the contents were revised, although usually in silence.

The differences between then (say 1980) and now are especially in (i) there are far fewer investigative reporters, and there is also far less money for investigative journalism, and in (ii) the whole attitude of most journalists seems changed: they don't ask difficult factual questions anymore, and most of "the news" the government produces (which is propaganda always) is served-as-given by most of the main media.

Also, there are these days far more articles in the printed press that either are plain amusement or are mere journalists' opinions (often served as if these journalists are Important Thinkers, which they never are: if they were, they would not be journalists).

Finally, while most of this has happened, it is still going on.

The morphing of the U.S. government into a collaboration with the multinational corporations

As Eisenhower's 1961-speech on the dangers inherent in the military-industrial complex shows, this tendency is old, and by the 2000s (40 years later) many of the most important men in government either came directly from or had strong ties with some of the most important American firms.

Under Bush, these were mostly related to oil, and under Obama these were mostly related to banks, and especially Obama opened the swinging doors, through which top-executives in business get into top-functions in government,
after which they return again to business.

Indeed, here is a picture of the so-called Iron Triangle that shows how this currently works:

Again, this mostly has happened, is at least 55 years old, and still is growing stronger and stronger as real democracy disappears.

3. The constant secret surveillance of everyone by the secret services

To start with, when I say "everyone" I mean absolutely everyone on earth, and when I mean "secret" I really mean secret: Very much about what the NSA (and - it seems - 16 other secret services in the USA) does is unknown simply because it is secret.

It also should be mentioned here that while citizens of the USA are - in principle, although this has been mostly set aside by all US governments in
this century - protected by the Fourth Amendment, no non-US citizen is:

As far as the American secret services are concerned any non-American person
may be completely plundered of all his private information without any consequences whatsoever for those who steal it. And besides, due to the very
wide cooperation between the secret services of the five English-speaking countries, in fact it seems as if the secret services of one nation try to get
all they can get from the inhabitants of another nation, and then exchange
what they found, while insisting with a stolid face to parliamentary inquirers
"that their services did not investigate any of our own inhabitants".

For me, this is one of the most important changes in politics, in governmental powers, and in policing that that is more important than there has ever been, and it is extremely dangerous, for all secret services are their states' own terrorists, and no secret service can be believed about anything whatsoever (without objective and external proof, that is usually totally absent).

It is extremely dangerous because secret services are almost completely beyond parliamentary control; because secret services have great amounts of money and personnel; and because having given them the powers to steal everything from anybody (with a few easily skirted restrictions), the secret
services have more information about everybody than anybody else.

If you think those enormous amounts of - also secret - information about anybody and everybody is going to be used honestly and honorably, all I can do is deplore your utter ignorance of human history (the secret services of merely Stalin and Hitler helped murder something like 50 million persons) and remind you of Lord Acton's

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
4. The rather complete disappearance of any real "leftist ideology"

For me, this started happening in 1978, in the University of Amsterdam, where "the univerity-year" 1978 (that ran from August 1978 till August 1979) was officially opened by a professor who intoned the Holy of Holies of postmodernism, namely the utter lie that
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist."
I agree this was quite early, but this was in part because of the environment: It happened in a university, and in fact most things happening there rarely have a non-university public, and this also happened to this quoted bullshit.

But it was quite well-understood inside the universities, and it also was rapidly copied by many students: While in 1978 most Dutch students still were - more or less - traditional leftists or marxists, by 1983/4 most were postmodernists,
which they became (I think) because nobody could refute them anymore and
because it made studying and making a degree a lot easier. (What is there to learn if there is no truth, after all? [3])

Then again, so far I spoke of the Dutch situation, which was rather special in that the students in fact "owned" and ruled in the Dutch universities from 1971
(when they were "given" the universities by a parliamentary decision, including
all the hullabaloo of yearly voting for at least two "parliaments": one for the
university and one for the faculty in which one studied) till 1995 (when all they
were "given" was taken away from the students, and the full power was handed to the bureaucracy).

The radical decline of a leftist ideology also went slower outside Holland but came to - postmodernistic! - fruition between 1990 and 2000, indeed also outside universities, and around the same time that Clinton and Blair killed socialism as an end, and mostly killed the left (in their countries) by turning to what they called the "Third Way" (really: neoliberalism) instead of the previous more or less classical somewhat leftist programs their parties had defended for many years.

What radically declined was especially the moral vision of the left: That real
democracy, real equality, real justice, real fairness, and actual beliefs based
on science rather than on religion or on prejudice or on ignorance would and could make a radical difference, if adopted, in the actual rights and actual possibilities of human individuals.

What it got replaced with was mostly political correctness that centered around the (false but widely pretended) "equality of all" and that for the most part consisted of linguistic incitements not to hate, not to say unsympathetic things, not to insist that if you are ill you are less worth ("Not at all! You are equal in value to any healthy one!" [4]), and to deny all really existing differences and inequalities that existed between people for many factual reasons: These could not exist, for "we are all equal". And they could not even be discussed, often, firstly because
"everybody knows that truth does not exist", and secondly honest discussing implied mentioning factual inequalities that just were denied to exist.

And next to political correctness there was one other thing the postmodernists strongly supported: identity politics. Suddenly most questions were resolved by deciding which "identity" you had (in terms of: belonging to some social group) and this would then solve all questions of personal identity, for these were supposed to coincide with your social identity (as defined by your belonging to some social group).

In brief: All the radical ideals of my parents and of most of the classical left were simply completely done away with by both the political leaders on "the left" (usually for reasons of personal prominence and personal wealth) and also by most former classical leftists, and were replaced by very easily practisable but utterly nonsensical ideas that turned around being politically correct and by engaging in identity politics.

So this is what made "the new "left"" (of the 2000s, that in fact was not left): postmodernism and identity politics.

More later (not today).



[1] I am Dutch, my parents were Dutch, all my grandparents are Dutch, and I disagree with The Heroic History of The Dutch Resistance, that has been
put together after the Nazis were defeated, by "a Jew" (I don't know whether he had the faith, but it is true he had the background) who never passed more
than 2 days of war in Holland (and then fled to England, where he stayed during all of WW II). (Indeed, I don't mind him being Jewish; I do mind him not knowing anything from personal experience about how it was to live under Nazism, though I agree again that he was much saver England.)

Some of the reasons that I disagree with "the history" that the Dutch compiled mostly to saveguard their own interests are these:

  • more than 1% of the total Dutch population was murdered during WW II (much more than in nearly all other Nazi-occupied nations);
  • the reasons they were murdered were that they were supposed to be of "the Jewish race" and that they were poor;
  • that they were poor enters because they were rounded up with large amounts of help from the Dutch Jewish Council to the SS, help that came especially from its president and vice-president: the two rich Jews David Cohen and Abraham Asscher;
  • these rich Jews were given the choice by the SS: Help us to round up the poor Jews, and be rewarded or don't help us and be warned: they
    chose the first alternative (and were rewarded with both their lives and most of their wealth: I agree this was a difficult choice);
  • the only groups that went into the resistance in Holland was the complete Communist Party (that lost around 3000 of its members in WW II) and some - much smaller - groups of Dutch protestants;
  • six times more Dutchmen went as volunteers into the Dutch SS (nearly all were killed in Russia) than went into The Resistance;
  • the vast majority of the Dutch collaborated in WW II (which may have been inevitable for many, but this is the fact);
  • immediately after WW II most Dutchmen were or seemed prepared to announce that they were leaders or members of the Dutch resistance;
  • within three or four years after WW II all communists again were discriminated as "traitors of Holland" (and so were my parents);
  • within ten years (and after the murders of 6 million Jews were known) since the end of WW II the Dutch were more anti-semitic than ever.

To the best of my knowledge, the above points are all facts - but it is very hard to find them back in "the official Dutch history of WW II" (which is very sanitized, from the official point of view; very boring; and very long).

[2] This is a point - the exceptional increase in all propaganda and all advertisements - that is very important but not treated here and now.

[3] The question is quite justified but it got unpacked in practice in the universities in different ways. Thus, as far as my knowledge goes, there was
little difference for students of physics or mathematics or medicine, but there
were considerable advantages for students of philosophy or sociology, and
I was told in the 2000s what I did not know before, because I did not often have the health to go to the university: One could become an M.A. in philosophy in the 1980ies, in the University of Amsterdam, simply by squatting, attending demonstrations, and taking part in some teachings of and by feminists. This was told on the radio, by two M.A.s in philosophy who had
made their M.A.s in precisely that way, and told laughingly about it.

[4] In repeats of "Politically Incorrect" (a show by Bill Maher) from the 1990ies I saw a pretty amazing bit with some - physically healthy - actress who quite hysterically defended her view that invalids are "of equal value" to anyone else, also if they lack the use of their legs etc. It also became clear
she did not want to help them in any way, because they were "of equal value". (And this is how it really works: You deny the invalids any help, by
insisting they are all "of equal value" as your healthy person. What have the invalids then to complain about?!)

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