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Nederlog

Jul 1, 2016

Crisis: A film ALL smart persons OUGHT to see, Disintegration, Division
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Introduction

1.
Orwell Rolls In His Grave - The One Thing The Media
     Doesn't Like To Talk About

2.
We Live in an Age of Disintegration 
3. 
The Real Digital Divide Afflicting American Politics

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday, July 1, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 3 items and 7 dotted links. Item 1 is the film that I think ALL smart persons OUGHT to see: "Orwell Rolls In His Grave". I discovered it yesterday by accident and deeply regret that I did not see it in 2003, when it first appeared. It is still a very good documentary, that tells the tale of how the media got thoroughly corrupted: Watch it, for it will very probably explain or clarify a lot to you. This also has 5 links, of which 4 are to materials by its maker. Item 2 is about a good article about the Middle East; and item 3 is about a somewhat disappointing item about (especially) the "social media" (that in fact are a-social dataminers).

1
.
Orwell Rolls In His Grave - The One Thing The Media Doesn't Like To Talk About

The first item today is a film by Robert Kane Pappas (<-Wikipedia) that all smart persons ought to see:
I am not often enthusiastic about films (and indeed I don't have a TV since 1970: I dislike stupidity, ignorance and propaganda far too much to watch it, and have far better uses for my time than poison it with TV), but I watched  film yesterday that I think was very good and ought to be seen by everyone who is intelligent [1].

It is under the above link, is 1 hr 45 m long, is by Robert Kane Pappas, and dates back to 2003 - which makes it more amazing: I have missed this for 13 years, but this is a film I would have liked very much to have seen in 2003, because it made then most of the points I have since found out by other means, and it does make them very well indeed.

I will certainly return to this film, but I did not see it more than once now (yesterday).

To start with, a brief note on why this film is as important now as when it was first produced: The following quote is from
It is as follows (and there is more under th last dotted link):

Director Robert Kane Pappas’ ORWELL ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE is the consummate critical examination of the Fourth Estate, once the bastion of American democracy. Asking whether America has entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for the truth, Pappas explores what the media doesn’t like to talk about — itself.

Meticulously tracing the process by which media has distorted and often dismissed actual news events, Pappas presents a riveting and eloquent mix of media professionals and leading intellectual voices on the media.
(...)
ORWELL ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE provides a vital forum for ideas that will never be heard in mainstream media. From Globalvision’s Danny Schecter: “We falsely think of our country as a democracy when it has evolved into a mediacracy – where a media that is supposed to check political abuse is part of the political abuse.” New York University media professor Mark Crispin Miller says, “These commercial entities now vie with the government for control over our lives. They are not a healthy counterweight to government. Goebbels said that what you want in a media system – he meant the Nazi media system – is to present the ostensible diversity that conceals an actual uniformity.”

From the very size of the media monopolies and how they got that way to who decides what gets on the air and what doesn’t, ORWELL ROLLS IN HIS GRAVE moves through a troubling list of questions and news stories that go unanswered and unreported in the mainstream media.

In brief: You very probably did not hear about this film, as I did not hear about this film for thirteen years, simply because the film discusses the (American) mainstrean media itself and asks "a troubling list of questions and news stories that go unanswered and unreported in the mainstream media":

These are questions and answers that the mainstream media does not  honestly raise, does not
honestly discuss, and does not honestly answer (except in terms of lies, deceptions and propaganda).

The above last dotted link is to the site that comes with the firm. There is quite a bit more there that is interesting. Consider - e.g. because you might think that 1 hr 45 m is a long time - the following:

There is a lot more there, but here is the bit with which it starts, from Charles Lewis (<-Wikipedia) (who has a lot more to say in the film):

“The media controls whether or not a politician gets his mug on the tube, and that’s power. That’s the ultimate power in a political realm—controlling perceptions.”

“People sense, I think, that the financial elites and the political elites have become one [and] the same and that the people themselves have no voice in Washington, or in their state capitols, that they are somehow being left behind.”

“The gate keepers of the truth are not the reporters, they are the owners and the lackey editors who work for the owners and they’ll decide what flies and what works and what pays the freight in terms of advertising and the numbers.”

This is another file from orwellrollsinhisgrave.com:

Here is one bit of it:
Robert Kane Pappas: I think Mark Crispin Miller puts his finger on it in my film. To paraphrase him: “…we need antitrust activity, not for economic reasons, primarily, but because the crucial content of the news is corrupted by these large commercial entities.” Informing the public, while conceiving of it as a purely bottom line activity, has tragic consequences. Regulators and legislators, drunk on the “free market is god” mantra, are profoundly harming this country. In different countries around the world, including ours, politicians fear taking on Rupert Murdoch because he can destroy political careers.
And here is one bit from another file (with quite a number of reviews):

This is from "Entertainment Today" (picked because it is brief):
Director Robert Kane Pappas’ vivid and distressing documentary examination of the state of the fourth estate is a deeply fascinating must-see for anyone interested in the slow morphing of news into mind-numbingly faux-informative entertainment (see: local news) and tidbits of distraction and carefully apportioned acquaintance. It looks, with an angry head but mostly clear heart, at the manner in which systemic conflicts of new-media interest are not addressed in reportage; at how the political system is off limits (personality trumps substantive debate and ideas given the amount of money that exchanges hands between corporate America and those who cover it); and, essentially, how as a result news is largely managed, not deeply investigated and presented.
In brief: I think you ought to see this film, supposing that you are intelligent.

And I now have to add just two things:

First. What is missing from this film is Edward Snowden and his revelations - but this is missing because it happened 10 years after the film was made and published.

Second. The film fully supports everything Snowden said and it also gives a lot of essential background that clarifies Snowden's arguments.

So you really ought to see it. (And all I can complain about is that I did not see it 13 years ago, and - of course!! - did not hear about it, until I found it yesterday by accident.)

2. We Live in an Age of Disintegration

The second item is by Patrick Cockburn (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch:

This starts as follows (and is by a longtime Middle East correspondent):
We live in an age of disintegration. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Greater Middle East and Africa. Across the vast swath of territory between Pakistan and Nigeria, there are at least seven ongoing wars—in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and South Sudan. These conflicts are extraordinarily destructive. They are tearing apart the countries in which they are taking place in ways that make it doubtful they will ever recover.
(..)
All of these have a number of things in common: they are endless and seem never to produce definitive winners or losers. (Afghanistan has effectively been at war since 1979, Somalia since 1991.)
(..)
Add in one more similarity, no less crucial for being obvious: in most of these countries, where Islam is the dominant religion, extreme Salafi-Jihadi movements, including the Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, and the Taliban are essentially the only available vehicles for protest and rebellion. By now, they have completely replaced the socialist and nationalist movements that predominated in the twentieth century; these years have, that is, seen a remarkable reversion to religious, ethnic, and tribal identity, to movements that seek to establish their own exclusive territory by the persecution and expulsion of minorities.
Yes, indeed: Orwell's never-ending war seems to have arrived, especially in the Middle East, and it is also true that while there were many (more or less) socialist and nationalist movements in the Middle East in the 20th century, these have been replaced by religious (Islamic) groups.

Here are two important tendencies in the Middle East (especially):

Everywhere nation states are enfeebled or collapsing, as authoritarian leaders battle for survival in the face of mounting external and internal pressures.
(..)
In recent years, such countries were also opened up to the economic whirlwind of neoliberalism, which destroyed any crude social contract that existed between rulers and ruled.
Yes, indeed. And in fact it is especially "neoliberalism", which was imported by the West (and is better called neofascism, according to me).

Here is a restatement of the same point:

Though there are clearly many reasons for the present disintegration of states and they differ somewhat from place to place, one thing is beyond question: the phenomenon itself is becoming the norm across vast reaches of the planet.
(..)
Previously, national leaders in places like the Greater Middle East had been able to maintain a degree of independence for their countries by balancing between Moscow and Washington. With the break-up of the Soviet Union, this was no longer feasible.

In addition, the triumph of neoliberal free-market economics in the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse added a critical element to the mix. It would prove far more destabilizing than it looked at the time.

Note that "the break-up of the Soviet Union" ended "balancing between Moscow and Washington" for precisely the same reason as it ended the existence of many communist parties in the West: They did not get any
more money
.

And again, while I agree with the major impact of "neoliberalism" I say again this was and is far more than "economics":

It is essentially political, and the politics it favors is fundamentally and only pro rich, pro profit, pro authoritarianism, against the poor, against democracy, and in favor of its own kind of totalitarianism, in which everything gets managed in secret and behind the scenes - for which reasons (including the fact that "neoliberal free-market" consists of propagandistic lies only) it is much better called neofascism, for that is its true end.

Then there is this on the rather unique factor in the Middle East, oil (and gas and minerals):
Add in one more process at work making such states ever more fragile: the production and sale of natural resources—oil, gas, and minerals—and the kleptomania that goes with it. Such countries often suffer from what has become known as “the resources curse”: states increasingly dependent for revenues on the sale of their natural resources—enough to theoretically provide the whole population with a reasonably decent standard of living—turn instead into grotesquely corrupt dictatorships.
Yes, although I think more was involved, and indeed there were rather strong socialist movements (of quite a few kinds) in the Middle East in the 20th century. (Nasser in Egypt was one example.)

Here is the last bit I will review:
Neoliberalism was once believed to be the path to secular democracy and free-market economies. In practice, it has been anything but. Instead, in conjunction with the resource curse, as well as repeated military interventions by Washington and its allies, free-market economics has profoundly destabilized the Greater Middle East. Encouraged by Washington and Brussels, twenty-first-century neoliberalism has made unequal societies ever more unequal and helped transform already corrupt regimes into looting machines. This is also, of course, a formula for the success of the Islamic State or any other radical alternative to the status quo.
Those who believed that "neoliberalism" was (or is) "the path to secular democracy and free-market economies" either believed propaganda or made propaganda.

Indeed, it factually did the opposite, and "neoliberalism" was THE tool to make "
unequal societies ever more unequal and helped transform already corrupt regimes into looting machines" - and the main reason for this fact is
that "neoliberalism" is neofascism, which indeed is a lot clearer in the Middle East, where the real fighting happens, than it is in Europe or the USA, where
most people only see the flat-out
propaganda lies that "neoliberalism" is "democratic", "free market" and "liberal". It is none of these things, and never was - but try telling that to the average consumer who only gets his or her "news" from the purveyors of propaganda, deceptions and lies.

This is a recommended article.

3. The Real Digital Divide Afflicting American Politics

The third item is by Neal Gabler on Truthdig and originally on Moyers &

Company:

This is from near the beginning:

Once, for all our differences, we lived in an American community that was in many ways bound by the media. Today, also in some measure because of the media, we don’t.

I am talking first and foremost about the Internet and social media. Most of us know the clichés: Social media contribute to greater superficiality and less intellectual engagement, more impulsiveness, more opinion and less fact, and, perhaps most important, more polarization as the like-minded find one another and stoke one another’s prejudices and grievances, no matter what end of the political spectrum. It’s not that these things are not all true; there’s a good deal of evidence that they are.
Yes, they are true, and one thing Gabler doesn't mention and doesn't seem to consider at all is that there are between 3 billion and 4 billion people who are now using the internet (2 out of 3 in "the developed world", 1 out of 3 in "the developing world" [2]), which means that for the first time in history, the real average and sub-average in intelligences have the opportunity of publishing their own thoughts, values and feelings (and they do so, almost everywhere, though preferably in the "social media" that should be called the a-social stealing media).

What I saw - ever since I got internet 20 years ago - is an incredible amount
of "
greater superficiality and less intellectual engagement, more impulsiveness, more opinion and less fact" and interminable primitive scoldings of the crudest kinds of everyone who is not precisely similar in outlook to the - always bravely anonymous - scolds, trolls, degenerates and totalitarian nitwits.

And what I did not see is any sophistication, any wit, any real knowledge, or indeed any attempts at these. What I did see a very great amount of (and suspected since my teens but never could verify before the widespread use of internet) is totalitarianism: Whoever is not very much like the rest - also if he or she is a patient of some disease - gets actively discriminated, perse- cuted and scolded until he or she leaves. [3]

There is this on the 1960ies:
The ‘60s were a time of shared experiences and even of national conversations, since nearly everyone saw and heard the same things. It also was a time when network news divisions felt and evinced a deep responsibility to inform.  After all, that was a primary reason why they had been given the airwaves — the public’s airwaves — in the first place
(..)
It’s no accident that this occurred at a time when America had what historians have called the “American consensus” or the “liberal consensus,” or a sense of generally shared values. The media consensus and the political consensus, in fact, went hand in hand.
On balance (and I lived through the '60s, quite consciously) I say no, not so much because it is radically false, but because it is misleading and far too optimistic.

The real facts underlying the '60s are that (i) the networks were far less concentrated, while (ii) the news was still produced by journalists who had the impulse to find the truth and publish it, (iii) at a time when the truth still could be published without sanctions or denials from the editors or the owners. And see item 1 on how this differed from the present mainstream media.

Then there is this on "the social media" (that should be called the a-social datamining surveillors, deceivers and liars):
When we use social media, it usually seems less a way of connecting to others than of celebrating ourselves, less a dialogue with others than a monologue about us: what we’re eating, who we’re seeing, where we’re shopping, ad nauseam. Social media have helped create an America in which there is not only very little national conversation, common experience, sense of community or even very much desire to cross the boundaries that divide us; they have helped create an America of 300 million separate entities, each chronicling its own individual activities. You don’t have to imagine what this does to our politics. You’re living it.
In the first place: I do not use the a-social datamining surveillors, deceivers and liars who pose and propagandize themselves as something quite different,
and I never used them and never will: I am neither ignorant nor stupid.

In the second place: The
a-social datamining surveillors, deceivers and liars that propagandize themselves as "social media" are the natural means of the stupid, the dishonest, and the hypocritical, of whom there always is a solid majority, all through human history. [4]

In the third place: There are not "
300 million separate entities" - or only by a very crude first approximatiom. I know that many on the social media - in so far as these can be judged from their "comments" on almost anything - are stupid egoistic totalitarian scolds without any visible education or intelligence,
and while I suppose that most of their "communications" to their likes are about what they're eating, who they're seeing, and where they are shopping,
the main point is how much alike and how totalitarian these "social media" for partial, insecure, uncertain and immature "persons" are. [5]

There is also this, which is the last bit that I'll quote and review:

Under these circumstances, a healthy political system cannot really exist. I am not sure healthy individuals can either. Heffernan goes on to say that in this digital age of non-stop communication, “we’re all more alone than ever.” That may be the most profound and enduring effect of the media on our politics. We are now so divided we may not be able to unite; we are so divided we live within an aching metaphysical malaise of unconnectedness. We have more “friends” than ever, but feel more friendless.

Again I have to say no, on balance. Of course, I more or less agree that in the present circumstances "a healthy political system cannot really exist" - unless, of course, one speaks of "neoliberalism". I also - more or less - agree (and I am a psychologist) that most individuals I know of are not really "healthy",
especially not when they are stupid, ignorant and cocksure of their own stupid ideologies (but I much doubt that Gabler's idea of mental health and mine are the same or similar). [6]

As to the rest of this paragraph: No.

For one thing, I deny that the great mass of the stupid and ignorant who found their voices with internet and who gather on the a-social media are doing politics. Perhaps they are doing "politics" (which is screaming in print about your viewpoints without knowing almost anything about politics, philosophy, psychology, science or nearly anything else), but they are not doing rational
politics, which at least presumes that you have some ideas about politics and also read some books about it.

For another thing, while I agree ordinary people have been made much more egoistic, more greedy, more selfish and more stupid by the incredible amounts of propaganda they - often willingly, if somewhat blindly - consume, and usually also have been very badly educated (both at home and in school), I think they are able to unite (if often not for sensible ends), while ordinary people, and especially the half whose IQs are maximally 100, are certainly not living in "
an aching metaphysical malaise of unconnectedness" (in fact most will not even understand what this might mean). [7]

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

[1] Yes, I really am an enthusiast for the film, and I think that everyone who is really intelligent should see it. Also, as the rest of this Nederlog will make clear, I have excellent academical titles and I do not believe for one millisecond that "everybody is equal". I think everybody is unequal in fact (which is why equality in law is important and worthwile: if everybody were
equal in fact, that ideal would be pointless), and I think that one of the most important differences between human beings is precisely the differences in
capacities to understand, explain, read and think rationally. (You may disagree, but as long as you don't have an M.A. with only straight A's in psychology, or in some other academic subject, I simply won't take your disagreement serious.)

[2] The quote-marks in this paragraph are there because the terms are very propagandistic (for they suggest that "the underdeveloped world" will and should transform into the likes of "the developed world", which is a bullshit assumption).

[3] I have a brief experience with two "social media", because both of these are connected to the disease I have since 1.i.1979, M.E. I am speaking of Phoenix Rising and Meforums. I was a little over 4 months a member of the first, and left it myself; and was 2 months a member of the second, and was removed.

I learned
there a lot about ordinary people, and noted - with great disdain and considerable horror - that everybody who was clearly more intelligent than the average (around IQ 95) was actively persecuted by groups of likeminded extremely ordinary fanatics.

And I stress this did not only happen to me (who in fact was rather used to it, given very extensive experiences with loads of discrimination in the University of Amsterdam, where I was even denied the right to take my M.A. in philosophy because I had honestly said, in an invited speech, what I thought about my "teachers": that nearly everyone there was an incompetent parasite - which was honest and true, if not tactical) but also to quite a few others, even to the extent that these were granted to be considerably more intelligent than the average, but were much blamed for being more intelligent and for writing as if they were more intelligent (i.e. better than the extremely ordinary idiots), and for dealing with complicated subjects none of the ordinary people could conceivably take on. They were hunted off as well.

The ordinary men might as well have said (and maybe also said): "Get out of our domain, for we don't want you: You are too clever by far, and we only allow people here who are as stupid as we are." (For more, see groupthinking.)

I left very soon after I got this clear, in my case and in several other cases, and I never turned back and never will.

[4] Yes, "
all through human history". Here is the evidence of three extremely gifted historians and philosophers:

“Man is wicked and unhappy; everywhere prisons, hospitals, gibbets and beggars; history, properly speaking, is nothing but a collection of the crimes and misfortunes of mankind.”
    (Bayle)

"History is little else but the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind"
   (Gibbon)

"Presque toute l'Histoire n'est qu'une suite d'horreurs."
   (Chamfort)

Note the "follies" and the "horrors" these gave rise to.

[5] You may disagree. My judgment is that of a psychologist and a philosopher with excellent academic degrees. If you disagree and couldn't (even) finish a university, I am sorry: I am uninterested in your opinions.

[6] Again, I think I am quite justified in considering that stupid, ignorant fanatics are not mentally healthy, but I know this is a minority point of view. (There are far more stupid, ignorant fanatics than there are wise psychologists or philosophers, unfortunately.)

[7] Indeed, I myself do not know what might be meant by
"an aching metaphysical malaise of unconnectedness", although I know the meanings of each of the terms quite well, and also know English grammar well.

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