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Nederlog

Oct 16, 2016

Crisis: Trump & "Pussygate", WikiLeaks, "End of Growth", On "Neoliberalism"
Sections                                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1.
The Frankenstein Monster Speech: Trump Was a
     Rampaging, Paranoid Demagogue

2. WikiLeaks Should Be Applauded for Removing the
     Mask of U.S. Power

3. ‘End of Growth’ Sparks Wide Discontent
4. Neoliberalism's Decades-Long Attack on Public
     Universities
Introduction: 

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, October 16, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 4 items and 4 dotted links: Item 1 is about Donald Trump, "Pussygate" and the question why the mainstream media only moved against Trump since "Pussygate"; item 2 is about WikiLeaks, and more or less OK, but too weak; item 3 is about "globalization", but I think it mistakes some reactions by some acadermics/intellectuals with more widespread objections (which tend not to be about "globalization"); and item 4 is a quite interesting article about "neoliberalism" which seems mistaken especially in insisting on the propaganda term "neoliberalism", where I think the - I agree: politically very incorrect - term neofascism seems far more appropriate.


-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: I do not know, but it may be you need to click/reload twice or more 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.

In any case, I am now (again) updating the opening of my site with the last day it was updated. (And I am very sorry if you have to click/reload several times to see the last update: It is not what I wish, nor how it was. [1]

C. In case you visit my Danish site: It now works again (!), but I do not know how long it will keep working. The Dutch site still is a mess (but wasn't on Oct 15).

I am very sorry, and none of it is due to me. I am simply doing the same things as I did for 20 or for 12 years, that also went well for 20 or for 12 years.

I will keep this introduction until I get three successive days (!!!) in which both providers work correctly. I have not seen that for many months now.

---


1. The Frankenstein Monster Speech: Trump Was a Rampaging, Paranoid Demagogue

The first item today is by Chauncy DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon:
This starts as follows:

On Thursday, Donald Trump used 51 minutes and approximately 5,000 words to deliver a rage-filled and almost manic speech to his followers at a rally in West Palm Beach, Florida. There Trump explained how Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and “the media” were conspiring to destroy him. He reiterated how he would put Clinton in jail if elected president. Apparently, Trump—and American sovereignty—is also being undermined by an international cabal of banks that’s led by Bill and Hillary Clinton. Trump also told his faithful followers that he is a good and honorable man who is being destroyed by lying women who falsely accused him of sexual assault.

Trump’s speech is the paranoid style that has been common to movement conservatism since the 1950s, amplified by the rumor mongering and conspiracy theories that are presented as truth throughout the right-wing news media entertainment echo chamber.
This is followed by a good summary of Trump's "paranoid style", which I leave to your interests, which again is followed by this question and answer:

Where was the American corporate news media’s morality before “Pussygate”?

American corporate news media outlets gave Donald Trump at least $3 billion in free advertising. To that end, they encouraged his rise to power in the Republican Party out of an obsessive need to present a “horse race” narrative that would draw ratings. There was little attention paid to the well-documented evidence that Trump’s temperament, as well as public and private behavior, disqualified him a priori from being president of the United States.

Most important, American corporate news media organizations, for the most part, refused to identify Donald Trump for what he is—a willfully ignorant fascist, racist, nativist, sexist bigot—out of a fear of being branded as “unfair” or “biased” against conservatives. They were also afraid to describe his white supporters as being driven by racism and racial animus, instead preferring to assign the term “economic insecurity” to describe their motivations.

In this moment (and unfortunately too many others before this fiasco), the American corporate news media failed to guard, watch over and protect American democracy. The Fourth Estate kowtowed to a fascist.

Yes and perhaps no. I explain:

I agree the American corporate news media did give Trump "
at least $3 billion in free advertising", although I don't know how correct the figure is: They certainly gave Trump trainloads of free publicity, for at least 9 months.

And I also agree with much of the rest, and notably that the "
American corporate news media organizations" "refused to identify Donald Trump for what he is—a willfully ignorant fascist, racist, nativist, sexist bigot" (and yes, I know terms like "fascist" are politically very incorrect, even if they are, in this case, rather adequate).

My "perhaps no" consideration is this: The mainstream news media are described as if they are all more or less independent entities, that take their own decisions.

I doubt they are: First, there are not many distinct
mainstream news media left; second, there are hundreds of millions of dollars spread around to further neoconservatism, "neoliberalism" or (as I prefer to call it) neofascism by billionaires like the Koch brothers and Sherwood Adelson - and I should believe that the mainstream media are independently making their own decisions to support Trump and to NOT report on his deficiencies?

To be sure, I have no proof, but it seems to me more likely that the few distinct mainstream media that are left in the USA "kowtowed to a fascist", in DeVega's terms, not merely or not only because their editors wanted to, but that their editors wanted to because they also were paid to do so by some billionaires (indirectly, perhaps).

It certainly seems more likely to me than the alternative, that somehow all editors made their own private, personal independent decisions - and they all agreed on giving Trump more than 9 months of free advertising.

And this is a recommended article.

2. WikiLeaks Should Be Applauded for Removing the Mask of U.S. Power

The second item is by Eric Ortiz on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:

The latest chapter of WikiLeaks’ courage is exposing the cowardice of the United States political system.

Julian Assange should be praised for having the guts to stand up to power and reveal how the sausage gets made in Washington, D.C. His journalism—and that is what WikiLeaks is doing—is a public service.

Yes, I agree. Then again, most Dutchmen probably do not, for they are being propagandized with the same shit as is used in the United States for the same end.

Thus the Dutch NRC-Handelsblad - which I read from 1970 till 2010, and then gave up because it then was changing into a propaganda-sheet, which how has totally happened - yesterday had an article, with a charicature of Putin whispering in Assange's ear, with the title "The Russian connection of Wikileaks". (I didn't even try to read it, because one is very happy to get admission to the NRC-site if one doesn't pay great sums. Normally you get an advertisement to the effect that the NRC is a very fine paper but you don't get access because you didn't pay a subscription.)

Then there is this in the article:

Of course, the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party want inconvenient truths to remain in the shadows. The emails released by WikiLeaks may not show they have done anything illegal, but their actions straddle the ethical line. Admit nothing. Deny everything. That is the company mantra. How refreshing would it be if our leaders took responsibility for their actions, acknowledged their wrongs and served the will of the people?

Deflection is not a show of strength. By choosing to demonize WikiLeaks, blame Russia and vilify Donald Trump, the Clinton camp and the oligarchs and plutocrats in their orbit are embarrassing America and exposing the illusion of democracy. They also are missing an opportunity to show leadership and be presidential.
I think I am less impressed by Clinton and the Democratic Party than Eric Ortiz is, for I don't think they are "embarrassing America" or "are missing an opportunity to show leadership and be presidential": They are not "embar- rassing America" because they are saying what most of the media are saying, and they are showing "leadership", after their own fashion.

Then there is this:

“The American liberal press, in falling over themselves to defend Hillary Clinton, are erecting a demon that is going to put nooses around everyone’s necks as soon as she wins the election, which is almost certainly what she’s going to do,” Assange told The New York Times during an Aug. 31 interview on Facebook Live.

What Hillary Clinton does if she is elected president remains to be seen. But if how she has handled the WikiLeaks case and her campaign is any indication, integrity may not be at the top of her agenda.

I agree with Assange that one cannot at all rely on Hillary Clinton's promises, who seems to operate as Obama did: Promise anything your voters want to hear, and do so very publicly before you are elected; hardly give your voters anything after you're elected, but don't say so publicly at all.

Then again, given that the only real choice is between Clinton, who I agree is quite bad but not insane, and Trump, who is extremely bad in a neofascist way and - according to this psychologist - quite insane, I definitely am for Clinton.

This article ends as follows:

Politics is a dirty business. Things are not always as they appear. That is why we—America—get bread and circuses.

As the poet Juvenal wrote, in his tirade against the Roman people, some Americans now care more about the spectacle than the struggle.

… Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses.

WikiLeaks has removed the mask of U.S. empire. It is revealing the true machinations of power.

Thank them.

I more or less agree (and the quote is by Juvenal), though politics is a lot dirtier than "not always" telling the truth.

And also, while I definitely agree with Juvenal, whom I have read, both in the quotation and in the suggestion that many of "the people" "have abdicated" their duties, I wonder who Eric Ortiz thinks he is addressing.

Then again, he is right (in my opinion) in defending Wikileaks.

3. ‘End of Growth’ Sparks Wide Discontent

The third item is by Alastair Crooke (<- Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews:

This starts as follows:

Raul Ilargi Meijer, the long-standing economics commentator, has written both succinctly – and provocatively: “It’s over! The entire model our societies have been based on for at least as long as we ourselves have lived, is over! That’s why there’s Trump.

“There is no growth. There hasn’t been any real growth for years. All there is left are empty hollow sunshiny S&P stock market numbers propped up with ultra-cheap debt and buybacks, and employment figures that hide untold millions hiding from the labor force. And most of all there’s debt, public as well as private, that has served to keep an illusion of growth alive and now increasingly no longer can.

“These false growth numbers have one purpose only: for the public to keep the incumbent powers that be in their plush seats. But they could always ever only pull the curtain of Oz [Wizard of Oz] over people’s eyes for so long, and it’s no longer so long.

“That’s what the ascent of Trump means, and Brexit, Le Pen, and all the others. It’s over. What has driven us for all our lives has lost both its direction and its energy.”

Meijer continues: “We are smack in the middle of the most important global development in decades, in some respects arguably even in centuries, a veritable revolution, which will continue to be the most important factor to shape the world for years to come, and I don’t see anybody talking about it. That has me puzzled.

Yes and no, I think:

I think Meyer is mostly right in insisting that the economy (since 2008, and also going back to 1980, but with some qualifications) is showing little growth and is only making money for the rich and the very rich, and he is also mostly right (I think) in insiting that "[w]e are smack in the middle of the most important global development in decades" (at least) while not many are talking about it.

But I think he is mistaken about "
the ascent of Trump means, and Brexit, Le Pen, and all the others": These are political phenomena which happen - let's say - 'in a different time scale' than economical phenomena (which happen over decades, at least, for the most part). Also, it seems Trump will not win the elections (and I certainly hope so), while Brexit won unexpectedly and with a few percentages.

There is also this:

Globalization is stalling – not because of political tensions (a useful “scapegoat”), but because growth is flaccid as a result of a veritable concatenation of factors causing its arrest – and because we have entered into debt deflation that is squeezing what’s left of discretionary, consumption-available, income.
(...)
So what might the “turning tide” of globalization actually mean? Does it mean the end of the neo-liberalist, financialized world? That is hard to say. But expect no rapid “u-turn” – and no apologies. The Great Financial Crisis of 2008 – at the time – was thought by many to mark the end to neo-liberalism.  But it never happened – instead, a period of fiscal retrenchment and austerity was imposed that contributed to a deepening distrust of the status quo, and a crisis rooted in a widespread, popular sense that “their societies” were headed in the wrong direction.

Neo-liberalism is deeply entrenched – not least in Europe’s Troika and in the Eurogroup that oversees creditor interests, and which, under European Union rules, has come to dominate E.U. financial and tax policy.

Hm. I really don't know that "[g]lobalization is stalling" and I've never thought that the crisis of 2008 (that still persists for everybody who does not belong to the 10% of the richest) marked "the end to neo-liberalism"

And this seems also mistaken to me:

Recall, Stephen Hadley, the former U.S. National Security Adviser to President George W. Bush, warning plainly that foreign-policy experts rather should pay careful attention to the growing public anger: that “globalization was a mistake” and that “the elites have sleep-walked the [U.S.] into danger.”

“This election isn’t just about Donald Trump,” Hadley argued. “It’s about the discontents of our democracy, and how we are going to address them … whoever is elected, will have to deal with these discontents.”

In short, if globalization is giving way to discontent, the lack of growth can undermine the whole financialized global project. Stiglitz tells us that this has been evident for the past 15 years — last month he noted that he had warned then of: “growing opposition in the developing world to globalizing reforms: It seemed a mystery: people in developing countries had been told that globalization would increase overall wellbeing. So why had so many people become so hostile to it? How can something that our political leaders – and many an economist – said would make everyone better off, be so reviled? One answer occasionally heard from the neoliberal economists who advocated for these policies is that people are better off. They just don’t know it. Their discontent is a matter for psychiatrists, not economists.”

This “new” discontent, Stiglitz now says, is extended into advanced economies. Perhaps this is what Hadley means when he says, “globalization was a mistake.” It is now threatening American financial hegemony, and therefore its political hegemony too.

That is: While I agree that " “globalization was a mistake” and that “the elites have sleep-walked the [U.S.] into danger”", I also think these insights are mostly limited to some academics/intellectuals.

4. Neoliberalism's Decades-Long Attack on Public Universities

The fourth and last item today is by Gus Bakakis on Truthout:

This starts as follows:

Fifty-five years ago, as a white working-class veteran, I was able to graduate from the University of California without debt. I was the first in my family to do so. Entrance was easy: there was room and I was in the top 10 percent of my high school class. I paid a small service fee, but no tuition, since my education was free. My living expenses were covered by my part-time job, my G.I. benefits and cheap room and board at my parents' house. After graduation, I had many job prospects. The future looked good.

Over the years, things have changed. I probably couldn't get in today. The University of California cannot accommodate all of the eligible students. Tuition, installed in 1970, has hugely increased. Wealthier and out-of-state students have nearly replaced the working class of my day. The state has failed to invest the resources necessary to keep pace with demand. And good jobs, after a debt-burdened graduation, are hard to get. Why? The answer lies in the economic shift caused by the business community in its attempt to regain control of the economy from the effects of FDR's New Deal.

Yes, I mostly agree (and Gus Bakakis must be some 10 years older than I am), although I would say that "the business community" tried "to regain control of the economy" from the Keynesians (whose views had reigned rather supremely from 1946 till 1980) rather than from FDR's New Deal.

This economic crisis opened the door to the return of the "economic royalists," represented by the growing power of the conservative movement and the presidency of Ronald Reagan in the '80s. The Reagan administration mobilized and promoted a heartless formulation of capitalism: neoliberalism. This was a model based on replacing the state with the market as a way to coordinate the economy. It stood for a world in which human relationships are forced to conform to an ideal of economic competition. The individual is transformed from a citizen into an independent economic actor. Under the regimes of President Reagan in the US and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in the UK, neoliberalism led to massive tax cuts for the rich, the destruction of trade unions, a growing inequality of wealth, deregulation, privatization, unemployment and the decline of public services -- with the exception of prisons and the military-industrial complex.

Yes, I agree, and indeed I date the economic changes and the economic crisis especially to 1980, around the time both Thatcher and Reagan were elected and formed governments, and indeed the following list of "[t]he main principles of neoliberalism" seems correct (in one formulation):

The main principles of neoliberalism are:

  • The rule of the free market around the world from restrictions imposed by government (also known as globalization).
  • The cutback of money spent for social services (also known as austerity).
  • The reduction of government regulations for everything that could hamper profits.
  • The privatization of government ventures leaving wealth in a few private hands.
  • The focus on individual responsibility over that of the public good.
  • Tax reductions for corporations and the wealthy.
Then again, given that "neoliberalism" wants to get rid of government control; doesn't want social services; has only one moral value: profits must be as large as possible; has only a very few extremely rich owners (who control everything, including states and media); denies that there is any public good; and seeks enormous reductions of tax payments for the extremely rich corporations and the very wealthy... how does "neoliberalism" differ from neofascism?!

It really is a good question according to me, and indeed I do not see much difference between what is (totally falsely) called "neoliberalism" and what I call neofascism - but then I may know too much about politics and fascism, I agree (and be too honest, perhaps). [2].

Here is more, about the influence of Lewis Powell Jr. (<- Wikipedia):

One aspect of the project of neoliberalism was to reshape the population's understanding of the purpose of public institutions, such as schools and universities, to fit the corporate model. This transformation was part of a larger cultural shift that began in the '70s and '80s, when policy-makers started to see higher education more as a private (rather than public) good.

The plan to transform the higher education system to meet the needs of neoliberalism can be most clearly seen in a memo sent by Lewis Powell, a future member of the Supreme Court, to the US Chamber of Commerce in 1971.
Yes, but again "neoliberalisn" was itself a propaganda term: The only liberty the "neoliberals" were really for was the liberty of the rich to exploit the non-rich without any regulation, law or norm, except that the profits must be as high as they can be made.

Here is some on the changes Lewis Powell Jr. proposed:

Further, he argued that

... it is essential that spokesmen for the enterprise system -- at all levels and at every opportunity -- be far more aggressive than in the past ... There should be no hesitation to attack the Naders, the Marcuses and others who openly seek destruction of the system. There should not be the slightest hesitation to press vigorously in all political arenas for support of the enterprise system. Nor should there be reluctance to penalize politically those who oppose it.

The Powell memo's plan was to: a) defund public higher education; b) then "save" the universities with ideologically focused corporate funding friendly to "free enterprise;" c) turn universities into corporations; and d) turn the students into consumers who became educated labor products.

Yes, indeed, and most of this happened - but again: given that "neoliberalism" was against public education; was for brainwashing and propagandizing students with capitalist baloney; made the universities into corporations (!!); and turned the students into receivers of economical baloney and propaganda, but mostly - except for a few studies - little real science, how did these "neoliberal" plans and projects to radically alter the universities differ from neofascist plans and projects to radically alter the universities?! [3]

Again, there are these facts about the current American economy:

In an Americans for Tax Fairness fact sheet on corporate tax rates, we can see that:

  1. The corporate share of federal tax revenue has dropped by two-thirds in 60 years.
  2. General Electric, Boeing, Verizon and 23 other profitable Fortune 500 firms paid no federal income taxes.
  3. US corporations dodge $90 billion a year in income taxes.
  4. US corporations officially hold $2.1 trillion in profits offshore.
And I ask again: If the corporate share fell by 66%; if the biggest and richest American firms pay no federal taxes; if US corporations can simply not pay $ 90 billions, while US corporations keep $1.2 trillions in profits to themselves... how does these enormous advantages for the richest differ from neo- fascism?!

There is also this:

We now have a new neoliberal-inspired military industrial complex consisting of companies, agencies, militarized policing, hidden budgets, a "deep state," private mercenaries and lobbyists that make Eisenhower's warning mild by comparison. Our budget priorities keep the country on a war footing, and our economy allows for military and homeland departments to be virtually untouchable. The current excuse for funds is "terrorism," but under neoliberalism, the actual purpose is to control the world's resources for American capitalism and to stop other countries from competing with us.
I agree Eisenhower's (<-Wikipedia) warnings about the military-industrial complex (<- Wikipedia) were extremely "mild" compared to the vast machine for enormous profits that it became; I agree there is now a heavily militarized police and a deep state (<-interesting reference); I agree the USA is now conducting wars "against terrorism", they say, for 15 years now; and I agree that one of the real ends is to make and to keep the USA THE most powerful nation on earth - but again: Why isn't all of this more like neofascism than like "neoliberalism"?!

Finally, there is this:

Even though neoliberalism is in decline due to the 2008 depression and weak recovery, its values and accomplishments have staying power. By using rhetoric like "individual freedom," "liberty," "personal responsibility," "privatization" and the "free market," it was able to undo much of the New Deal and restore corporate power, and in the case of higher education, be responsible for the rise in tuitions and decline in educational quality.

I do not know that "neoliberalism" (which for me is the nice-sounding utterly false name for what is and was in fact neofascism) "is in decline", if only because the answers to that depend very much on who you ask, though I agree on the stunningly false rhetoric terms it consistently abused.

All in all, I like this article and I recommend reading all of it, but - you may have realized by now - I have the rather serious question why many people can see through "neoliberalism" yet fail to see it is, in fact, the best approximation of neofascism that I know or have ever heard about.

---------------
Notes
[1] Alas, this is precisely as I said it does, and it goes on for months now. I do not know who does it, and I refuse to call the liars of "xs4all" destroy (really: the KPN), simply because these have been lying to me from 2002-2009, and I do not trust anything they say I cannot control myself: They have treated me for seven years as a liar because "you complain about things other people do not complain about" (which is the perfect excuse never to do anything whatsoever for anyone).

[2] By now, this seems a very real possibility: I do know a lot about politics; I do also know a lot about fascism; and relatively few know as much or more, and again relatively few are as honest as I am in saying what I really think. (And yes, I agree and I know that being honest may cost you a lot.)

[3] I think they didn't, but then I know I have been denied the right to take an M.A. in philosophy because I was a believer in truth and science in the University of Amsterdam (which from 1971-1995 was in the hands of the students, mostly, who did not believe in truth nor in science, and who were - if leading - first communists, till 1984 and then postmodernists, till 1995).

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