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Nederlog

Jul 9, 2016

Crisis: On "Neoliberalism", Iraq War, NATO & WW III, Ironies (TTIP etc)
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Introduction

1.
On "Neoliberalism"
2. Iraq War, Based on Lies, Rages On
3. NATO Marches Toward Destruction
4. The mother of all ironies
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, July 9, 2016.

This is a crisis log. There are 4 items with 4 dotted links: Item 1 is a clarifica- tion of the term "neoliberalism", and is composed of a diagram that I do not know the source of but which is quite good, plus text by me from April 29, last (and do not miss note 2 if you are interested at all); item 2 is a review of a good article by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on the war in Iraq; item 3 is a review of how the NATO is creating the conditions for WW III; and item 4 is about the TTP, TTIP and CETA, which are - I insist - neofascistic laws that will rapidly introduce neofascism when they are adopted.

1
. On "Neoliberalism"


The first item today is by an unknown and by me. The reference for me is
This is from April 29, 2016 (with an abbreviated title); the unknown is the person who made the following diagram, that I found in a directory of unsorted bits and pieces on my hard disk that I cleaned out yesterday.

I am sorry I lost your name (if I ever had it) and the text this came from but the following diagram is quite close to my attempts to reason out the causes of the crisis, that first was here: December 25, 2012 , when I referred to the product of the tendencies I distinguished as "corporate fascism", which I still think may be a better name than either "neofascism" or "neoliberalism".

First the diagram (which itself can be enlarged easily, at least on Linux):
           
You may not agree with everything (I don't), but overall this is - in my opinion that may be mistaken, and certainly is partial (I dislike the rich on principle, even while I grant some of them may be personally pleasant), but also is very
well-informed - a fine diagram that I wish I had seen earlier.

Also, today is Saturday, and I found few interesting articles, while I do like to clarify what I mean by the terms "neoliberalism" (itself a propaganda term); "neofascism" (which has various meanings) and "corporate fascism" (a term I did not see much use of since I used it in 2012).

So this first item is an attempt to clarify what I mean by the terms "neoliberalism" and "neofascism" and consists of the above diagram and the text between two "--------------"s that was written on April 29, 2016.

The only observation I now wish to make about the diagram is that all points in it are checked, except (correctly) one: "Subordination of Individual & Corporation to the State".

Here is part (not all) of the text I wrote on April 29, last (which was written in review of an article by George Monbiot, who started his article with the statement that "most od us" do not know the term "neoliberalism"):

--------------

I have heard of "neoliberalism" (since a long time, also) and so has George Monbiot, and so have quite a few of his readers. Then again - I don't know, but he might be correct - it is possible Monbiot is correct in saying that "most of us" (presumably: Westerners, living in Europe or the USA) do either not know the term at all, or find it difficult to say what it stands for (though the first of these strains my credulity).

In fact, I certainly have heard of it since the 1970ies, and so have many others who were alive then. Here is the first paragraph of the item "neoliberalism" on Wikipedia (without note numbers):
Neoliberalism (or sometimes neo-liberalism) is a term which has been used since the 1950s, but became more prevalent in its current meaning in the 1970s and 80s by scholars in a wide variety of social sciences and critics primarily in reference to the resurgence of 19th century ideas associated with laissez-faire economic liberalism. Its advocates support extensive economic liberalization policies such as privatization, fiscal austerity, deregulation, free trade, and reductions in government spending in order to enhance the role of the private sector in the economy. Neoliberalism is famously associated with the economic policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in the United Kingdom and Ronald Reagan in the United States.The implementation of neoliberal policies and the acceptance of neoliberal economic theories in the 1970s are seen by some academics as the root of financialization, with the financial crisis of 2007–08 one of the ultimate results.
There is a lot more in the Wikipedia article, but this first sum-up is fair.

Next, the second paragraph: I think Monbiot is correct in attributing "a major role" to "neoliberalism" "
in a remarkable variety of crises", but he makes no distinction at all between the several "we"s he makes attributions to.

The least he should have done is distinguishing between (i) the masses of quite ordinary people, without a university education, and often with little real education (which is not their fault: education is lousy) and (ii) the politicians and governments who lead them.
[1]

For the latter group knows very well what neoliberalism is, and why nearly every professional politician these days seems to love it: it strengthens their own ideology, it increases their powers, and it increases their incomes.

But here is a description of neoliberalism:
So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that “the market” delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning.

Attempts to limit competition are treated as inimical to liberty. Tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised. The organisation of labour and collective bargaining by trade unions are portrayed as market distortions, that impede the formation of a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Inequality is recast as virtuous: a reward for utility and a generator of wealth, which trickles down to enrich everyone. Efforts to create a more equal society are both counter-productive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.
Again I object to the thesis that "we seldom even recognise it as an ideology": Who are "we"? But Monbiot is quite correct in saying that it is an ideology (I am a philosopher, and I think that to say it is a philosophy is to praise it too much), and he would have been correct in saying it arose in 1938, and was adopted by people like Hayek and Friedman.

The description of it is fairly correct, although it should be said that "liberty" does not mean what it seems to mean (in my Shorter OED that sense is defined as: "Freedom from arbitrary, despotic, or autocratic rule or control") for the neoliberals only protest the restrictions on their personal "liberty" to do as they please from the state or government, but favor "arbitrary, despotic, or autocratic rule or control" by the multi-national corporations, that is by non-elected non-governments.

Here is a point by point outline of "neoliberalism":

  • neoliberalism is against the state and governments: it objects to their laws, and insists these restrain personal freedoms (including those of the rich and the powerful to do as they please, without any legal restrictions whatsoever);
  • neoliberalism sees only one source of freedom: the freedoms delivered by the markets, which give consumers the right to choose from 32 different kinds of bagels or 40 kinds of car;
  • neoliberalism insists that taxes are bad and should be minimal; that all legal regulations should be minimal; and that public services should be privatized (so that people can make a profit from "caring for the poor and the ill and the mad");
  • neoliberalism is against trade unions, labor organizations or collective bargaining: all of these destroy the liberties of the rich (in their opinion);
  • neoliberalism insists that all inequalities are fair and deserved, and should be furthered, and promises that the riches given to the few (e.g. by cutting their
    taxes) will "trickle down to the many" (which is a lie);
  • neoliberalism insist that only the markets and only profits will deliver whatever is fair for anyone, and that poverty is a just punishment for laziness, and that whoever is poor owes it to themselves. [2]
In other words, neoliberalism is the ideology of the rich careerists, the immoral profiteers, the sadistic exploiters, and the egoistic and greedy speculators, and indeed a far better term for it then "neoliberalism" or even "neoconservatism" is neofascism:

Neoliberalism = Neofascism


Fundamentally it is an ideology of the rich and of careerists who would like to be extremely rich, and who disregard or damn all legal or moral restraints on their desires and their decisions to make them rich. It is a kind of fascism, because it explicitly sides with the rich against everybody else, and because it denies all morality and all moral restraints in the fights ("the competition") for a greater size of the markets and for a greater net profit. Besides, it denies the values of democracy, equality, science and freedom for all (rather than just the freedom of the rich and their lawyers to do as they please: these "freedoms" are much admired and much craved by the "neoliberals").

It is an ideology of the rich for the rich, that pretends to be for "liberty for all" in order to make the rich as free as possible, while damning everybody else as lazy loosers.
--------------

The above was written on April 29, 2016 (where there is more text), and should be compared with the opening diagram that I do not know dates from when (but probably from the beginning of 2016).

And all I will do here is to add one major difference between "neoliberalism" on the one hand, and "fascism" on the other had: For fascists, the national state is all-important and supreme to every inhabitant; for neoliberals, the multi-national corporation is all-important and transcends all states and their inhabitants.

There will be more on the subject later: The present item was merely a clarification of terminology, and if you did not read note [2] you missed part of the clarifications, for this specifies what anti-neoliberalism is, which I support.
2. Iraq War, Based on Lies, Rages On

The second item is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Democracy Now!:

This starts as follows (and is here mostly because it is a good summary):

A devastating report on the U.K.’s eager participation in the invasion and occupation of Iraq was released this week, as corpses are still being pulled from the rubble in the aftermath of Baghdad’s largest suicide truck bombing since that ill-fated 2003 invasion began. The document is known as “The Chilcot Report,” after its principal investigator and author, Sir John Chilcot. The inquiry was commissioned in 2009 by Britain’s then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Chilcot released the 6,000-page report Wednesday morning, seven years after the work began. It offers a litany of critiques against former Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Cabinet, exposing the exaggeration of the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and Blair’s unwavering fealty to President George W. Bush. “It is now clear that policy on Iraq was made on the basis of flawed intelligence and assessments. ... They were not challenged,” Chilcot writes in his statement that accompanied the report’s release.

Yes, indeed. And although the report was also limited in certain respects in which it should not have been limited (investigating legal responsibilities, for example) it also shows not all of democracy is dead in Great Britain. [3]

Here is some more, on the casualties:
The British military suffered far fewer casualties than the Americans, with 179 killed, compared with 4,502 from U.S. forces (seven of whom were killed in 2016). Trillions of dollars have been spent on the invasion and occupation, and trillions more will be spent on the lifetime of care for the wounded and emotionally damaged veterans. But by far the largest, the most incalculable toll has been paid by the Iraqi people. As this most recent, incredibly massive bombing attests, the war in Iraq has not ended. Several efforts have been made to count the number of war dead, with the low end of those estimates at 160,000-180,000 killed. Some studies have put the number at several times that. The exact number is impossible to determine, but the effect on the people of Iraq has been devastating, and the damage will be felt for generations.

One question one might pose is: What is a "war dead"? And when do you start counting them? I don't know, and it seems Madeleine Allbright agreed in 1996 (under Clinton's government) that in Iraq 500,000 children had died, because they lacked medicines due to trade blocks imposed by the USA, and that she responded to a relevant question on TV as follows:

"We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?" and Albright replied "we think the price is worth it."

This certainly happened, but before Bush Jr.'s war, while Allbright later sought to qualify her statements.

In any case, many Iraqis died, and this is a recommended article.

3. NATO Marches Toward Destruction

The third item is by John V. Walsh on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s cry of distress is that of a man watching a tidal wave of destruction gathering force, similar to ones that have engulfed his country twice in the Twentieth Century.

Commenting on NATO’s recent military exercises in Poland and the Baltics, Steinmeier said, “What we shouldn’t do now is inflame the situation further through saber-rattling and warmongering. … Whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance’s eastern border will bring security is mistaken. … We are well-advised to not create pretexts to renew an old confrontation. .. [It would be] fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence.”

His dread is not to be dismissed since it comes from a man who is in a position to know what the U.S. is up to. His words reflect the fears of ever more people across all of Eurasia from France in the West to Japan in the East.

Under the euphemism of “containment,” the U.S. is relentlessly advancing its new Cold War on Russia and China. Its instrument in the West is NATO and in the East, Japan and whatever other worthies can be sharked up.

Steinmeier seems to be one of the few politicians who raised his - perfectly valid - points. Here is more on why this is quite important:

All the European NATO countries would be on the front lines. In the East, the conflict would take place in the Western Pacific in the region of China’s coast and in the peninsulas and island countries in the region, including Japan, the Philippines and Indochina.

In each case, the U.S. would be an ocean away, “leading from behind,” as Barack Obama’s staff might put it, or engaged in “offshore balancing” as some foreign policy “experts” might term it.

Assuming that the conflict would stay “conventional” – i.e. non-nuclear – the devastation might be confined to Eurasia, from France in the West to Japan in the East. In that case, no matter which side prevails, the U.S. could escape unscathed and “win” in that sense. But Eurasian nations would lose in what could be World War II redux.

Yes. And what such a war might be about is even unclear (certainly Russia is not communist or socialist anymore, while China is also moving towards a capitalistic economy) - except that it is about more power for the USA.

Here is the end of the article: 

For some the scenarios above might seem unduly alarmist. You might doubt that the U.S. elite would be capable of consciously unleashing such a vast bloodletting. For those, it is useful to recall the words of President Harry S. Truman, who said in 1941, when he was still a Senator and before the U.S. had entered WWII: “If we see that Germany is winning the war, we ought to help Russia; and if that Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible. . . .”

Is that not what happened? People of Eurasia, beware.

I agree. This is a recommended article.

4. The mother of all ironies

The fourth and last item today is by Don Quijones on Wolf Street:

This starts as follows - and this is again about the TTP, the TTIP and the CETA, all of which are neofascist laws that seek to destroy national states and national sovereignties, and that are also introduced in neofascistic ways, namely by not allowing any parlementarian access to these new neofascistic laws or else, in the rare cases in which they have access, by denying them all facilities to take notes, and all rights to say anything about what they read to anyone:

Today’s generation of trade agreements seek to transfer key decision making powers and sovereignty from the traditional repositories of democracy, national parliaments, to the C-suites of the world’s biggest corporations.

In the mother of all ironies, to do that, they need national governments to sign along the dotted line, effectively voting themselves out of any meaningful existence. Although granting corporations full sovereignty rights – including the right to sue any government that threatens their ability to earn profits at literally any social, human or environmental cost – is explicitly endorsed by many national governments (including the U.S., the UK, Canada and Spain, to mention a few), not everyone is on board.

Also, as I said in my introduction: The texts of these new neofascistic laws are kept secret to those who ought to approve them (and to everybody else who has to live under them). In fact, it seems that the texts will be made available to some extent, but too briefly for almost any parliamentarian to read all or most of them - and this is also heaps and heaps of legal prose that seems to have been all written by lawyers of the multi-national corpo- rations.

Here is some more:
That’s why the European Commission decided last week to renege on a promise it had repeatedly made to Europe’s citizens that it would consult the national parliaments of all Member States before ratifying game-changing trade agreements like the EU-US trade pact, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the EU-Canada trade pact, CETA. When it realized that it would be impossible to guarantee the desired outcome — i.e., a unanimously supported agreement — with such an approach, the Commission changed tack, designating CETA as a unilateral EU agreement, not as a “mixed agreement.”
Note that to the best of my knowledge, the neofascists who try to push this through come what may, have not even disclosed most of the legal texts they want to push through come what may.

But what they did was making it independent from nations that disagreed (so that they can push it through, come what may).

And here is another dirty trick: Not having allowed the politicians who
ought to approve these neofascistic treaties to even read all of them, now that they cannot get blind unanimous approval, they themselves insisted it is "provisionally" accepted, which - they claim - allows them to introduce over 90% of the treatment as if it is law:
Applying the treaty “provisionally” would allow the EU to approve — and begin implementing — over 90% of the agreement’s provisions, even before the first national parliament casts its vote on the treaty. Those provisions include the creation of an international Investment Court System (ICS), a proposal that has already been unceremoniously trashed by the German Association of Judges, for having: a) no basis in law; b) no jurisdiction over European countries; and c) judges that are not remotely independent.
Of course the German judges were completely right, and they also will be made completely irrelevant if the neofascistic TPP, TTIP or CETA are law.

Well... my grandfather was murdered by the Nazis for resisting them; my father survived three years, nine months and fifteen days of German concentration camps for resisting the Nazis, and I will restyle all nations
and groups of nations as "fascist" or "neofascistic" as soon as these sick and
degenerate neofascistic laws have been pushed through.

This is sick. This is degenerate. This is neofascistic.

And the article is recommended.
---------------
Notes
[1] I think this is quite obvious once stated, but I should also like to make a brief remark about "we": I find it (as a philosopher, a logician, and a psychologist) rather sickening to have to point out - time and again, and since 50 years at least - that "we" is very often very misleading, simply because not everybody is like the "we" that someone blandly assumes and addresses. (You really ought to ask yourselves whether you even know what percentage of the "we" you universally address as if this covers everybody does in fact have the attributes you assigned to everybody.)

[2] And here is a point by point outline of anti-neoliberalism (or: real leftism):
  • anti-neoliberalism is for the state and for governments: These are the only means for laws and regulations that protect the non-rich many from the rich few;
  • anti-neoliberalism rejects the "freedom" delivered by the markets, which give consumers the right to choose from 32 different kinds of bagels or 40 kinds of car: it supports the freedoms of equal rights for all, good education for all, good infrastructure for all, small inequalities for all, and legal freedoms for all human individuals;
  • anti-neoliberalism insists that taxes are a fair way to buy civilization and insists that they should be proportional to wealth and progres- sive (the rich pay more than the non-rich); that all legal regulations should be fair; and that public services should not be privatized;
  • anti-neoliberalism is for trade unions, for labor organizations and for collective bargaining: all of these help limit the liberties of the rich;
  • anti-neoliberalism insists that all inequalities are unfair and most are undeserved, and should be legally limited;
  • anti-neoliberalism insists that markets and profits are an unfair way for the few rich to earn from the many non-rich and should be mostly shelved for non-luxury goods and services.
I am an anti-neoliberal, which also means that I am a classical leftist (which these days are quite rare), and a democrat and anti-fascist.

[3] I am saying this because it is true, though I would not like to live in the present Great Britain. (I did want to live there in the early 1970ies, but was not allowed to.) And as to the present degree of democracy in Great Britain: There still are democratic laws, and most ordinary people are democrats, but one main problem is that most politicians are not democrats.
Even so, the Chilcot Report is a report that is only possible in a democracy,
and is impossible under fascism, and quite unlikely under authoritarianism.

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