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Nederlog

Sep 15, 2016

Crisis: On Capitalism, Against TPP, Human Slaves, Olbermann on Trump
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
How to Stop Capitalism’s Deadly War With Nature
2. Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution Launch Campaign
     to Topple the TPP

3. You Won't Believe the Surveillance Capabilities of
     Future Employee ID Badges

4.
Keith Olbermann Gives ‘176 Reasons Donald Trump
     Should Not Be President’ (Video)
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 15, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about an interesting and recommended article on capitalism (I like it, but think it is a bit too definite); item 2 is about Bernie Sanders and the TPP and is also good; item 3 is about how "Humanyze" wants to make every non-rich employed person a fully controlled human slave by forcing badges on them that control absolutely everything; and item 4 is an excellent attack on Donald Trump by Keith Olbermann, with full documentation if you download the text: Very strongly recommended.

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click twice to see any changes I have made. This certainly held for me, but it is possible this was caused by the fact that I am also writing it from my computer. (But it didn't do so before. And as to asking my provider: I am sorry, but most of the things they told me the last nearly twenty years (!!) were lies. I've given up on them, and I only am there because (i) I was there nearly 20 years, and because (ii) the competition in Holland probably is equally bad. Also I have no idea who does this.)

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am sorry if you have to click several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was.)

1. How to Stop Capitalism’s Deadly War With Nature

The first item today is by Paul Street on Truthdig:

This starts as follows, and is the beginning of three interesting pages that I cannot fully excerpt: You are recommended to read all of it. Meanwhile, here
are some bits with my comments:
Earth scientists now know that the history of our planet has been set for some time in our current geological age, the Anthropocene. According to leading experts Will Steffen, Paul Crutzen and John McNeill, in this era, “human activities have become so pervasive and profound that they rival the great forces of Nature and are pushing the earth into planetary terra incognita. The Earth is rapidly moving into a less biologically diverse, less forested, much warmer, and probably wetter and stormier era.” We are living in a “no-analogue state” in which “the Earth system has recently moved well outside the range of natural variability.”
In fact, I don't like statements that start with completely unqualified and unquantified nouns like "Earth scientists" (or almost any other noun): It doesn't say how many (all? some? most? probably most? etc. etc.) nor does it any way qualify the term (leftist? scientific? rational? the best? sensible? radical? etc. etc.)

Please note that this is a matter of logic, and not of content: I might agree - in some fashion - with statements that start with such completely uquantified and unqualified nouns. But they do make rational thinking considerably more difficult, simply by having left out any quantification and any qualification.

So therefore I started with seeing what Wikipedia has under Anthropocene.
It does have the term, and it starts as follows (and this is quoted from Wikipedia without note numbers):
The Anthropocene is a proposed epoch that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems. Neither the International Commission on Stratigraphy nor the International Union of Geological Sciences has yet officially approved the term as a recognized subdivision of geological time, although the Working Group on the Anthropocene (WGA) have voted to formally designate the epoch Anthropocene and present the recommendation to the International Geological Congress on 29 August 2016.
(...)
Nevertheless, many scientists are now using the term "anthropocene", and the Geological Society of America entitled its 2011 annual meeting: Other scientists link the new term to earlier events, such as the rise of Archean to Anthropocene: The past is the key to the future. The Anthropocene has no agreed start date, but some scientists propose that, based on atmospheric evidence, it may be considered to start with the Industrial Revolution (late eighteenth century).agriculture and the Neolithic Revolution (around 12,000 years BP). Evidence of relative human impact such as the growing human influence on land use, ecosystems, biodiversity, and species extinction is controversial; some scientists think the human impact has significantly changed (or halted) the growth of biodiversity.
In other words: The Anthropoce Epoch is a hypothesis that seems both rather popular among quite a few geologists, but that also does not have a widely agreed upon starting date (for that varies from 12,000 years ago till the 1950ies).

For me that is good enough (a rather popular hypothesis, that is not yet precise) but much of the above attempt at finding some clarity might have been prevented with a little quantification and qualification.

Supposing the hypothesis, there is this:

Thanks to the Anthropocene, the world is now in the middle of “its sixth great extinction event, with rates of species loss growing rapidly for both terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The atmospheric concentrations of several important greenhouse gases have increased substantially, and the Earth is warming rapidly,” according to Steffen et al., bringing us ever closer to the precipice of ecosystem collapse and putting prospects for a decent future at grave risk. The signs are clear to those willing to look: the melting of polar ice and Arctic permafrost, the acid bleaching of global coral reefs, the pronounced warming of the oceans, the drying out of the Amazonian rain forests. All this and more are moving at an unexpectedly rapid pace. Marked by now-predictable epic forest fires and floods, 2016 is the hottest year on record. So was 2015. So was 2014.
I more or less agree with that, although - and the hypothesis is called Anthropocene - I add that the main factor behind all of this is the exponential growth of human beings: There were less than 3 billion people alive when I was born in 1950; there are now over 7 billion people alive in 2016 (and most of them desire to live at least as well as the American middle class in the 1970ies).

Then there is this:
As the brilliant and prolific environmental historian and political economist Jason Moore reminded Sasha Lilley during a KPFA radio interview in 2015: “It was not humanity as a whole that created … large-scale industry and the massive textile factories of Manchester in the 19th century or Detroit in the last century or Shenzhen today. It was capital.” It is only during a relatively small slice of human history—roughly the last 500 years, give or take a century or so—that humanity has been socially and institutionally wired from the top down to wreck livable ecology.
Hm. I have two partial objections. First, if we are talking about "humanity" or human beings, we should not speak of "capital" but of capitalists. And second, it is rarely or never "humanity" that takes the basic decisions about what most humans do, think and want: it are nearly always specific - political or religious, mainly - leaders who make the basic decisions.

Then again, it seems by now a well-supported hypothesis that "humanity" is more or less systematically wrecking the ecological system on which its survival depends. (See e.g. "The Limits to Growth", which I mention because I know it since 1971, and it is still well-supported (and not at all optimistic)).

Next, there is this, which I also regard as a fairly well-supported hypothesis (indeed mostly because of the enormous growth in human population since 1950, or so I would say):
The latest research indicates massive quantitative acceleration of human economic activity around 1950, including “an explosive growth of fossil fuel use,” according to environmental-sciences professor James Hansen and co-authors in an article in Science. This created a qualitative transformation in Homo sapiens’ impact on earth system trends: levels of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, methane, stratospheric ozone, surface ocean temperature, ocean acidification, marine fish capture, coastal nitrogen, tropical forest depletion, land domestication and terrestrial biosphere degradation.
And here is one lesson, with which I agree, though again (i) only as a fairly well-supported hypothesis, which I also probably am partial too, because I
dislike the whole dominance of profit in human affairs. Human affairs should not be regulated by what is the most profitable (for some few): it should be regulated by ethical and moral considerations (as profit is, albeit a very partial
one), and by norms based on science and what is known about civilizations and civilized behavior:
“The brutal truth,” the dauntless ecocide chronicler Robert Hunziker writes in Counterpunch, is “that the prevailing tenure of political, economic neoliberalism, which revolves around profits, is screwing things up.” But the underlying malefactor behind geocide isn’t merely the neoliberal, deregulated and so-called free market capitalism of the last four decades. It’s the profit system itself.
As I indicated, I agree with the hypotheses that (i) neoliberalism is an extremely stupid - unethical, immoral, uncivilized - set of ideas and values, and also with the considerably further going hypothesis that (ii) the profit system is the wrong value (and also an unethical, immoral, uncivilized and uncivilized idea) to guide politics and economics, but I do want to stress that both are hypotheses, and that I think myself (who subscribe to them) that
they are not supported by either the majority of people or voters, not are
they supported by the majority of current sciemtists.


There is this on neoliberalism, that I, who agrees that neoliberalism is an
extremely stupid - unethical, immoral, uncivilized - set of ideas and values,
more or less agree to, with a qualification:
Top-down financialization and class war—with free-market fundamentalism, delegitimization and a savage assault on the public sector and notions of social justice and the common good—are two overlapping and mutually reinforcing hallmarks of the neoliberal era.
My qualification is that I (who was raised by revolutionary communists, but who lost his faith in it when I was 20) do nit much believe in "class war", and indeed would much rather see this replaced by "a savage assault on the public sector", for that is what is happening, and it also is far more specific than mere "class war".

Finally, there is this, that I also regard as a tenable hypothesis:
There is the dark possibility that capitalism has done to livable ecology what U.S. imperialism did to Vietnam, even as Washington was “losing” its war on Indochina: inflict such great material and social damage to prevent any chance of a positive and desirable model of development—a decent future—beyond global capitalism.
That is: The ecological interests of all of humanity for liveable conditions may, in fact, already have been effectively destroyed, if only for the simple reason (that was already argued in the 1950ies, e.g. by Aldous Huxley) that there simply are too many human beings on earth to maintain ecological living conditions that will support the majority.

In brief, I think this is a good article, although I would have liked it - even - better if it had been written in a more scientific and hypothetical manner: I think much of it is probably true, but I am also aware that what I think (and what anyone thinks about most things) is in the nature of hypotheses rather
than facts.

But the article is recommended.

2. Bernie Sanders and Our Revolution Launch Campaign to Topple the TPP

The second item is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:
Bernie Sanders’ new organization, Our Revolution, is taking to the internet and phone lines on Wednesday to launch its highest-profile issue campaign yet—pushing Congress to not approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. Our Revolution is hoping to generate 50,000 calls to the U.S. House, where they say they have a better change of getting a no vote than in the Senate. Sanders will be holding a webcast at 6pm EST on Wednesday to talk about the issue.
I think this is very important, mostly because I think the TPP (and the TTIP, the TISA and the CETA) is a fundamental neofascistic deregulatory treaty that attempts to destroy national states, national governments, national parliaments and democratic decision making, and to replace these by multi- national corporate dominance, the power of CEOs, and profits for the multi- nationals as the new neofascistic norms.

There is also this on the revolutionary plan of the very rich to create a neofascism of their own:

“If TPP passes Congress, that's it. It can't be changed. TPP can't be canceled unless all 12 nations pull out. We must defeat it before it's too late,” said Larry Cohen, the group’s chairman, urging people to call 1-844-311-2016 to be connected to their representative in the capitol.

The TPP is supported by President Obama, who is expected to ask Congress to vote on it before his term of office ends. The agreement is opposed by Americans across the political spectrum, from Donald Trump supporters who dislike its impact on domestic jobs to Hillary Clinton supporters who dislike its corporate-friendly secret tribunals that can overrule national laws protecting the public and the environment. Our Revolution listed five problem areas with the trade agreement:
Simply the fact that the TPP can only be undone by all members pulling out is a small bit of neofascism. As to Obama: He is a corrupt fraud who will end up very rich, indeed rather like Bill Clinton.

As to what is wrong with the TPP, here are five criticisms from Our Revolution, of which I list only the headings and not the explanatory texts: If you want to read these texts, click the last dotted link above:
1. Outsourcing more jobs overseas.
2. U.S. courts will be overruled.
3. Prescription drug prices will go up.
4. Environmental protection will be set back.
5. The trade agreement cannot be repealed.
From my own - politically very well-informed - view, items 1 and 2 are completely neofascistic, while items 4 and 5 are partially neofascistic. Also,
there are many more valid criticisms of the TPP.

This is a recommended article.

3. You Won't Believe the Surveillance Capabilities of Future Employee ID Badges

The third item is by Michael Arria on AlterNet:
This starts as follows - and I may as welcome The Workers Of Tomorrow (in some 5 years, according to plans) as: Welcome, Slaves Of The Rich:

A Boston-based company has created badges that can monitor the movements of employees through sensors and can listen to voices—all in a very creepy method to increase company efficiency.

In the Washington Post, Jeff Heath tells the story  of Humanyze, an employee analytics company that took technology developed at MIT and spun it into identification badges meant to hang off employees' necks via a lanyard. The badge has two microphones that do real-time voice analysis, with sensors that follow where you are and motion detectors that record how much you move while working.

That is, the propagandistically horribly misstated "Humanyze" wants to make everyone who is not a CEO (of a multi-national corporation) a complete 24 hours utterly subservient and completely controlled human slaves.

Of course they present it differently, but this will be the outcome. Here is Humanyze's spokesperson:

These badges would naturally concern many people, and the company seems conscious of such a backlash. Ben Waber, chief executive of Humanyze, points out that the badges won't work in bathrooms and that they don't actually tell bosses what employees say, just how they say it. He also says workers will be able to decide whether or not they want to wear the badges, although he does not explain why.

That is: It doesn't matter workers are made into human slaves who are fullly controlled 24 hours a day by their bosses, because .... (i) they may be (initially, to be sure) not (fully) controlled inside the bathroom, and also (ii) (again initially, to be sure) the bosses may not know what you are saying to others (but merely who these others are, and what is your tone of voice, your heartbeat, yiur hormones, your general medical condition, and your personal values and ideas, which again is also known about the others you are talking to).

This is the future according to (De-)"Humanyze":

Despite these questions, Waber predicts that the technology will be widespread soon. "Within three or four years, every single ID badge is going to have these sensors,” he told the Post. “We are only scratching the surface right now.”

Within three or four years everyone who is not very rich willl be transformed by the good people of Silicon Valley and by (De)-"Humanyze" into fully controlled subservient slaves (who only are not also formally enslaved because that is cheaper: The boss must be able to fire anyone he doesn't like).

Welcome to the NeoLiberal Paradise! You'll Love It!

(I am very glad that I was born in 1950, and not later.)

4. Keith Olbermann Gives ‘176 Reasons Donald Trump Should Not Be President’ (Video)

The fourth item is by Emma Niles on Truthdig:

This starts as follows (and is here mostly because I like Olbermann):

“Every few generations, we Americans are called upon to defend our country,” begins longtime progressive political commentator Keith Olbermann in the debut episode of his new web series, “The Closer With Keith Olbermann.”

“To defend it not so much from foreign dictators or war or terrorism,” he continues, “but from those here who have no commitment to progress or democracy or representative government, no commitment to anything except their own out-of-control minds and the bottomless pits of their egos.”

Yes, indeed: I agree with Olbermann, but I should also say that I did not succeed in seeing the item directly (as happens more and more often these days, while many links that are supposed to be there also are not there).

Then again, I did find it on Youtube, and it is here:

And here is more Keith Olbermann:

Olbermann is talking, as you may have guessed, about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump—or, as Olbermann calls him, “the most dangerous individual ever nominated by a major party for the highest office in this country.” Olbermann spends more than a quarter of an hour delving into the worst of Trump’s “offenses.”

“Seen all at once, they and he are horrifying,” Olbermann says of Trump’s verbal attacks, lies, outlandish proposals and alliances. Much of Olbermann’s segment covers Trump’s inherent hypocrisy on everything from immigration to taxes. “The Republican Party has actually nominated for president an irresponsible, unrealistic, naïve, petulant, childish, vindictive, prejudiced, bigoted, racist, Islamaphobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, fascistic, authoritarian, insensitive, erratic, disturbed, irrational, inhuman individual,” he concludes.

I think I agree word for word: Indeed Donald Trump is "an irresponsible, unrealistic, naïve, petulant, childish, vindictive, prejudiced, bigoted, racist, Islamaphobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, fascistic, authoritarian, insensitive, erratic, disturbed, irrational, inhuman individual," possibly except for "inhuman" (I think he is very human, though indeed also in a very low sense).

Anyway - recommended. And also recommended is the full text of Keith Olbermann, with many links backing up what he said:

I like it a lot - and no, it is not measured, but I do think - at least - the vast majority of Keith Olbermann's criticisms simply are true (and they are documented in the above text).

And because I am a psychologist, who does think Trump is mad, I also like the ending:

This...is madness.

Any questions?

Check out the text or the video!

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