Nov 7, 2016

Crisis: Politics, November 9, Chris Hedges, Trump's Enablers, Common Dreams
Sections                                                                     crisis index

Defying the Politics of Fear
2. Robert Reich: Don't Panic. Stay Active. Clinton Should
     Win. But the Aftermath Will Be Very Difficult.

Chris Hedges Fearlessly Tells His Own 'Forbidden'

4. Trump’s Three Enablers
5. Common Dreams

This is a Nederlog of Monday, November 7, 2016.

A. This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 dotted links - and because it is the day before the American presidential elections, this is a bit special in containing two
bits by Chris Hedges and two bits by Robert Reich, plus a brief bit about Common Dreams: Item 1 is about an item by Chris Hedges on Truthdig (I don't quite agree); item 2 is about an item by Robert Reich about the elections; item 3 is again by Chris Hedges on his latest book, which I warmly recommend; item 4 is again by Robert Reich on the enablers of Trump; while item 5 is about Common Dreams that badly
needs $24,000 dollars to survive: I very much hope they can be found.

Also this is one of the longest Nederlogs I wrote this year.

-- Constant part, for the moment --

B. In case you visit my Dutch site: It was OK for two days now, but again didn't work out in Holland the last days: It keeps being horrible most days.

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. It did most of the last week so that is something. (But did not work yesterday, again.)

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. Defying the Politics of Fear

The first item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

No social or revolutionary movement succeeds without a core of people who will not betray their vision and their principles. They are the building blocks of social change. They are our only hope for a viable socialism. They are willing to spend their lives as political outcasts. They are willing to endure repression. They will not sell out the oppressed and the poor. They know that you stand with all of the oppressed—people of color in our prisons and marginal communities, the poor, unemployed workers, our GBLT community, undocumented workers, the mentally ill and the Palestinians, Iraqis and Afghans whom we terrorize and murder—or you stand with none of the oppressed. They know when you fight for the oppressed you get treated like the oppressed. They know this is the cost of the moral life, a life that is not abandoned even if means you are destined to spend generations wandering in the wilderness, even if you are destined to fail.

I had an extra-ordinary father, as did indeed Chris Hedges, as can be seen in item 3 below, but my father was more of a radical than Hedges' father, for the simple reason that he was a communist for 45 years (from 1935 till he died in 1980), indeed in spite of the fact that he could have quite easily made a lot of money like his older brother did, simply because he was quite intelligent (with an IQ above 135) [2].

His older brother had escaped the fate of my father and grandfather (also a communist), who were arrested in the Spring of 1941 for resisting the Nazis and who both were convicted, by collaborating Dutch judges [3], as "political terrorists" to concentration camp imprisonment. My grandfather was murdered in such a camp.

This entailed (among many more things) that my father was quite poor nearly all his life, and in fact he fits Chris Hedges' ideal of a real revolutionary quite well, for that is what he was, all his life from age 23 till 68 (when he died).

But he would probably not have agreed with Chris Hedges on quite a few points and one of these is the arrival of the (socialist) revolution: My father was a real Marxist (who was assigned by the Dutch Communist Party as the main man to teach Marxism in Amsterdam, from 1951 till 1969) and he believed revolutions do not happen because people desire revolutions, but for objective economical reasons.

I think I am somewhere inbetween, for I think a real revolution both "requires" [4] real revolutionaries and an economical collapse. The economic collapse is "necessary" [4] for a real revolution, because only this will sufficiently undermine or shatter the powers of the governments, the rich, and the corporations, and without such radical weakening a revolution might be started, but will probably be destroyed before it is effective.

Here is what Chris Hedges thinks about a revolution:

Our only chance to overthrow corporate power comes from those who will not surrender to it, who will hold fast to the causes of the oppressed no matter what the price, who are willing to be dismissed and reviled by a bankrupt liberal establishment, who have found within themselves the courage to say no, to refuse to cooperate. The most important issue in this election does not revolve around the personal traits of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. It revolves around the destructive dynamic of unfettered and unregulated global capitalism, the crimes of imperialism and the security and surveillance apparatus. These forces are where real power lies. Trump and Clinton will do nothing to restrict them.

No, not quite. The present presidential elections in the USA will not lead to a leftist revolution. (It may lead to a rightist revolution if Trump wins (!!).) For neither of the two candidates that make a chance of winning the presidency is leftist, and there is also at present no revolutionary situation due to a radical economical collapse.

Next, here are four of Hedges' intellectual heroes. First Julian Benda:

Julien Benda reminds us that we can serve two sets of principles. Privilege and power or justice and truth. The more we make compromises with those who serve privilege and power the more we diminish the capacity for justice and truth. Our strength comes from our steadfastness to justice and truth, a steadfastness that accepts that the corporate forces arrayed against us may crush us, but that the more we make compromises with those whose ends are privilege and power the more we diminish our capacity to effect change.

I agree, and indeed agree with Benda (since 1970!) that science is far more important than politics or literature for getting a true or probable [5] vision of reality, and without at least a probable such vision, there is very little chance
any revolution will be successful.

Then there is Karl Popper:

Karl Popper in “The Open Society and Its Enemies” writes that the question is not how do you get good people to rule. Popper says this is the wrong question. Most people attracted to power, he writes, have “rarely been above average, either morally or intellectually, and often [have been] below it.” The question is how do we build forces to restrict the despotism of the powerful.

I agree with all of that (and did not vote since 1970 (!!) precisely because I saw clearly that the politicians I was supposed to vote for all were “rarely [..] above average, either morally or intellectually, and often [..] below it.”). Popper was
also right about building "
forces to restrict the despotism of the powerful", but in fact that simply has not happened at all.

Then there is Alexis de Tocqueville (whose "Democracy in America" is a more important book - I think - than either of the previous two writers produced):

Alexis de Tocqueville correctly saw that when citizens can no longer participate in a meaningful way in political life, political populism is replaced by a cultural populism of sameness, resentment and mindless patriotism and by a form of anti-politics he called “democratic despotism.” The language and rituals of democracy are used to mask a political system based on the unchallenged supremacy of corporate power, one the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism.” 

Yes, I agree with that as well - and there is considerably more on Sheldon Wolin here (these are all links to Nederlogs I wrote in 2014, all with links to the original articles):
Here is Chris Hedges' advice to American voters for the presidency:
Go into the voting booth on Tuesday. Do not be afraid. Vote with your conscience. Vote Green. If we win 5 percent we win. Five percent becomes the building block for the years ahead. A decade ago Syriza, the ruling party in Greece, was polling 4 percent.
I totally disagree with this: If you vote with your conscience (as a leftist, a progressive, a liberal, or at least not as a racist Republican) you should vote against Trump, which means that you should vote for Clinton. Trump is both a neofascist [6] and a madman, and the very first thing every sane American should do is to prevent that an insane neofascist is elected president of the USA.

And you don't win if you win 5 percent and Donald Trump gets to be the next president. If Trump wins, the neofascists won, and there probably will be a revolution in the USA, but it will be a revolution of the rich, by the rich and for the rich - and such a revolution may cost very many lives: Hitler had the Dachau concentration camp (<- Wikipedia) within 6 days of his winning the 1933 elections (and that was the first of many). [7]

This is from the end of the article:
We may not succeed. So be it. At least those who come after us, and I speak as a father, will say we tried. The corporate forces that have us in their death grip will destroy our lives. They will destroy the lives of my children. They will destroy the lives of your children. They will destroy the ecosystem that makes life possible. We owe it to those who come after us not to be complicit in this evil. We owe it to them to refuse to be good Germans. I do not, in the end, fight fascists because I will win. I fight fascists because they are fascists.

Well... Donald Trump is an utterly insane neofascistic degenerate who may win the elections. If he does, all predictions are off, and indeed I do not give it more than a 50/50 chance that there will not be a nuclear war in the coming four years.

At least, that is what I think. So I think that if you are an American you should vote for Clinton, not because she is any good but because she is not insane.

2. Robert Reich: Don't Panic. Stay Active. Clinton Should Win. But the Aftermath Will Be Very Difficult.

The second item is by Don Hazen on AlterNet:

This is an interview by the editor of AlterNet with Robert Reich:

DH: What do you think is going to happen? 

RR: The odds are still very heavily in favor of Hillary Clinton becoming president. My real concern at this point is Donald Trump's supporters continue to fulminate. Some of them will feel that the election is illegitimate. Trump will continue to fan those flames and that will make it even harder for not just Hillary Clinton to govern, but the entire process of government to move forward.

I agree that Hillary Clinton is likely to be the next American president. Also, while there may be quite a lot of nuisance around November 9, my own guess
is that Donald Trump will rather rapidly disappear, if only because he did not win and
the media will have lost a lot of their interests.

Then there is this:

DH: In one of your columns you talked about the fact that the Democrats are in denial, and that everybody wants to get back to business as usual.

RR: It's not just Democrats. I think that the establishment Republican Party is also in denial. What we'll see after Tuesday for I think really the next year is an attempt by the establishment Democratic Party, and the establishment Republican Party to pretend that both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump were aberrations. That they were kind of just perfect storms. To deny that there has been a fundamental shift in our political culture toward whatever word you want to use, anti-establishment, or populism, or fed-up politics, this is big and it's new.

I sort of halfly agree, and my disagreement is mostly based on the fact that I am certainly not as sure as Reich is that "there has been a fundamental shift in our political culture toward whatever word you want to use, anti-establishment, or populism, or fed-up politics, this is big and it's new".

My main reason is that I do recall the "Occupy Wall Street" (<- Wikipedia) movement of 2011: That was quite radical, with quite a big number of protestants, but it disappeared mostly after it was defeated.

And no, I don't think Sanders and Trump were "aberrations" but that also doesn't mean they were successes (if Trump gets defeated tomorrow, which I very strongly hope).

There is this in on getting "big money out of politics" (which I agree is very important):

DH: How do liberals and progressives reach those people? How do we reach the Trump supporters?

RR: That's a good question. To me, the biggest challenge coming up in the future is to get big money out of politics. We're not going to do that simply by reversing Citizens United.
My point is that we can't only rely on the Supreme Court. We've also got to pass laws that constrain big money in politics, and that requires a very loud coalition of the part of the anti-establishment left, and the part of the anti-establishment right, where there is overlap on this issue. I think it's possible when the dust settles on this immediate election, to create such a coalition.

As to reaching Trump supporters (a question Reich doesn't really answer): I have mostly given up on them. Either they are too stupid or too ignorant to think rationally and act reasonably, or else they are too egoistic and conformist to think rationally and act reasonably.

Also, I do not think it is very odd - in the present circumstances, with just two big American parties; with grossly propagandist mainstream media; with at most 15% of the American population somewhat decently educated - to infer that there are 40% or more of the American voters that just cannot be reached by rational argumentation.

As to the Supreme Court: I think it is too politicized [8] but I will say no more about it (except for the last note).

Here is Reich on Hillary Clinton's economic proposals:

DH: Hillary Clinton talks a lot about her version of a 21st-century New Deal. Would her proposals, for infrastructure and a new energy system, be enough of a game-changer with the economy?

RR: No, my suspicion is that what she's going to try to do, and what the Democratic leadership will try to do, is make a deal with Republicans to dramatically reduce taxes on repatriated corporate earnings, profits, stored abroad.
I agree. (And also - just as in the case of Obama - one should keep in mind that she probably will say almost anything to be elected, and once elected will "completely forget" about all her promises that she made before she was elected. Besides - again just as in the case of Obama - she probably already nominated her cabinet, which - just as in the case of Obama - will come mostly from the big banks that support her. I may be mistaken, but will be rather amazed if I am.)

There is this on the incomes of everybody who is not rich in the USA:
Most people have not seen increases in their earnings, relative to what those earnings were 30 years ago. We also have this diabolical problem of labor participation that is shrinking. Even today, the latest jobs report showed that the number of people who are of working age and in the labor market continues to shrink. We're now down to about 62 percent. That bodes ill for the bottom 60 percent of the population.
Yes indeed, while the incomes of the rich and the very rich all got up by very great amounts. Indeed here is a graphic on the growth in incomes of the rich and the non-rich from 1949 till 2012:

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:

DH: Ok will that will have to be a topic for another day. Right now, people are panicking about the prospect of a Trump presidency and Republican Congress.

RR:  I completely understand the panic, because I don't remember a time when we were this close to have a madman be president. Even if there is a one-in-three chance, or a one-in-four chance, that is enough to get a lot of people spooked. I keep telling myself that the American public is basically sensible, always has been.

I mostly agree (and especially - I am a psychologist - with Reich's estimate that Trump is "a madman": Yes, indeed, he really is) but I disagree with Reich's estimate of "the American public", and for two important reasons: First, nobody - outside of the very secretive NSA, to be sure - knows what "the American public" thinks and wants, and indeed it is also made up of quite a few different and opposing groups and sub-groups. And second, if I look at the histories of the American elections and especially at the support that Reagan and Bush Jr and Trump got, I cannot convince myself of any proposition that approximates "the American public is basically sensible".

To be sure, I think part of "the American public is basically sensible" - but I do not know how large that part is, whereas the career of Trump over the last year, which I explain by a combination of stupidity, ignorance, egoism, and conformism (indeed in part to avoid racism), does not make me put the percentage at higher than 50%.

And that is a fact-based estimate.

This is a recommended article.

3. Chris Hedges Fearlessly Tells His Own 'Forbidden' Stories

The third item is by Chris Hedges on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:

The following is an excerpt from the new book Unspeakable: Chris Hedges on the Most Forbidden Topics in America, by Chris Hedges in conversation with the founder and former editor in chief of Salon, David Talbot, published here with permission from Hot Books, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing.

As I have meanwhile said quite a few times: I like Chris Hedges, indeed without agreeing with him on several important points [9], simply because he writes well, he has a lot of courage, and he is a genuine radical, and each of these three points is quite rare (for most journalists do not write well, do not have any provable courage, and are not at all radicals, whatever they pretend).

What made you a radical? 

It’s a combination of factors—including my personality type. I grew up in a literate household, in a farm town of 2,000 people in upstate New York called Schoharie. My mother, when I was a kid, was a teacher and ended up becoming an English professor. My father was a World War II army veteran—he had been a cryptographer in the North Africa, Palestine and Iran—and a Presbyterian minister. They were very involved in the 1960s in the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement.
My father, who left the army largely a pacifist, hated war and the military. He told me that if the Vietnam War was still being waged when I was eighteen and I was drafted, he would go to prison with me. To this day I have images of sitting in a prison cell with my dad. My father was, finally, a vocal and early supporter of the gay rights movement. His youngest brother was gay. He understood the pain of being a gay man in America in the 1950s and 1960s. The rest of my father’s family disowned my uncle. We were the only family my uncle and his partner had.
I understood at a young age that you are not rewarded for virtue. Virtue must be its own reward. I saw that when you do what is right it is not easy or pleasant. You make enemies. Indeed, if you take a moral stance and there is no cost, it is probably not that moral. This was a vital lessen to learn as a boy. It prepared me for how the world works. I saw that when you stood with the oppressed you were usually treated like the oppressed. And this saved me from disillusionment.
And here personality comes into play. I was born with an innate dislike for authority—my mother says that part of the reason she agreed to send me to boarding school was because I was “running the house”—and thrived on conflict. My father did not. He paid a higher emotional price for defiance.

Clearly, Chris Hedges had a special father, and so did I. But the differences between these two kinds of special fathers are large, and so are the differences in the education Hedges and I got (and I am six years older than Hedges): My father was very poor, very intelligent, and very communist (and had been for over 3 years and 9 months a prisoner in German concentration camps); Hedges' father was rather rich, probably also very intelligent, a radical, and a Christian.

I merely mention the differences (which guaranteed, among other things, that Chris Hedges was much better educated between 1 and 17 than I was, and indeed than most men are) but there also is a similarity: He and I were both born with a strong dislke for authority.

Here is one of the differences between Chris Hedges and me, though I should add that Hedges was in this respect rather similar to George Orwell (<- Wikipedia) (who also was "a scholarship student", and who won a scholarship for Eton):

Where were you sent to school? 

I was given a scholarship to attend a boarding school, or pre-prep school, in Deerfield, Massachusetts, called Eaglebrook when I was 10. I went to Loomis-Chaffee, an exclusive boarding school—the Rockefellers went there—after Eaglebrook. The year I graduated from Loomis-Chaffee, John D. Rockefeller III was our commencement speaker. 

Boarding school made me acutely aware of class. There were about 180 boys at Eaglebrook, but only about ten percent were on scholarship. Eaglebrook was a school for the sons of the uber-rich. I was keenly aware of my “lower” status as a scholarship student.Such, such were the joys")
Yes, I am quite willing to believe it (and here is again a reference to an essay by George Orwell, who describes his scholarship days in "Such, such were the joys").

Here is a first bit on what makes the rich cohere so well:
C. Wright Mills understood how elites replicate themselves. The children of the elites are, as Mills pointed out in The Power Elite, shaped not so much by the curriculum of exclusive schools but by intimate relationships with teachers, who often went to the same schools and prep schools, and by each other. This acculturation takes place through sports teams, school songs and rituals, shared experiences, brands and religious observances, usually Episcopalian. These experiences are often the same experiences of the boys’ fathers and grandfathers. It molds the rich into a vast extended fraternity that, because of these unique experiences, are able to communicate to each other in a subtle code.
Yes - I read The Power Elite (and recommend that you read it, if you didn't, and one reason is that C. Wright Mills (<- Wikipedia) could really write and had a fine mind) and I have also read this in other sources.

Here is some more on the rich:
The rich have disdain for anyone who does not belong to their inner circle. They believe that their wealth and privilege is conferred upon them because of their superior attributes. They define themselves not by what they are in private—in private they are usually bastards—but by the public persona created for them by publicity. They see their possessions and power, which in most cases they inherited, as natural and proper because they believe they are inherently better than others. Balzac said that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. He got that right.
I believe that is mostly correct, although I should point out that (i) there is a considerable sub-group of people who aspire to be rich but who are not quite,
while it is also true that (ii) most people who succeed at anything very strongly
incline to attribute their success to their personal qualities - which tends to be
a mistake. [10]

And indeed Balzac was right, though the great crime may have been committed by a grandfather or some further ancestors.

Here is more on the character of the rich:
The refinement of the rich is a veneer. They can afford good manners because they use others—including the machinery of state—to carry out their dirty work. They often know the names of the great authors and artists, but they are culturally and intellectually bankrupt. They are consumed by gossip, a pathological yearning for status and obsessed by brands and possessions—mansions, yachts, cars, gourmet food, clothes, jewelry or vacations at exclusive resorts. They epitomize the cult of the self and the unchecked hedonism that defines a consumer society. They talk mostly about money—the money they made, the money they are making and the money they will make. They are philistines.
Yes, I quite believe that because (i) I have a very high IQ, and was an extremely good student in the university, and know that the vast majority is considerably less intelligent than I am; because (ii) I have spoken with quite a large number of professors (most of whom came from well to do families, and few of whom were remarkably talented themselves); and because (iii) I have had one very rich friend
through whom I have known some very rich people, and none of these struck me
as in any way being special (except that they were very rich, indeed, which was inherited in every case).

Then again, Chris Hedges knows the rich a lot better than I do. Here is the last bit that I'll quote, and Hedges mentions THE main difference between the rich and the poor:
The difference was that they, like most of the working poor, were never given a chance. And that is what it means to be poor in America. You don’t get a chance while the rich get chance after chance after chance. 

Look at George W. Bush, a man of limited intelligence and dubious morals. He was a drunk, a cocaine addict, went AWOL from his National Guard unit, and never really held much of a job until he was 40. And he ends up as president. Affirmative action is alive and well, at least for the rich. They know how to take care of their own. And it does not matter how mediocre they are.

Yes, indeed: THE big difference between the rich and the poor is that the rich get far more chances than the poor (and also: are given far more chances than the poor).

But there is another big difference which Hedges is less aware off, whereas I am quite aware of it: Rich children get (or at least: can get) a far better education than I could get, as a child.

I could only start reading the books I wanted to read when I was 17, had left school ("because this is fit for morons only", as I said at 17), and earned money so that I could buy what I liked: Before that I just did not and could not read what I wanted
to read (and often also had no idea it existed).

In the end, I did get a very good education, but this was mostly due to the fact that I studied from 17 to 27 on my own (in which time I did in fact learn the most, and did read extremely much).

In any case: The above quotations are from Unspeakable: Chris Hedges on the Most Forbidden Topics in America, which is a book I recommend without having read more than the above: Chris Hedges is a fine man, with a fine mind, a fine style, and a  fine morality.

4. Trump’s Three Enablers

The fourth item today is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

Even if he loses (and I believe he will), Donald Trump has done incalculable damage to America – eroding the trust and social cohesion the nation depends on.  

But he couldn’t have accomplished this without three sets of enablers. They must he held accountable, too.

The first is the Republican Party.

For years the GOP has nurtured the xenophobia, racism, fact-free allegations, and wanton disregard for democratic institutions that Trump has fed on.
I agree it is more probable that Trump will be defeated, but I don't know.
Supposing so for the moment, Reich distinguishes three sets of enablers of Donald Trump, and the first is the GOP.

He is quite right in that, and indeed the GOP took its extremist stance - the one that consists in part in "
xenophobia, racism, fact-free allegations, and wanton disregard for democratic institutions" - under Bill Clinton in the 90ies.

Next, there are the mainstream media:

The second set of Trump enablers is the media. 

“Trump is arguably the first bona fide media-created presidential nominee,” concluded a study by Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy. 

By mid-March, 2016, the New York Times reported that Trump had received almost $1.9 billion of free attention from media of all types – more than twice what Hillary Clinton received and six times that of Ted Cruz, Trump’s nearest Republican rival.

The explanation for this is easy. Trump was already a media personality, and his outrageousness generated an audience – which, in turn, created big profits for the media. 

I agree halfly, so to speak: Yes, the Shorenstein Center is very probably correct, and so is Reich's explanation that the media supported Trump because doing so "created big profits for the media".

But there is much more wrong with the mainstream media than simply a strong liking for their own profits: These days the mainstream media all lie, deceive, and propagandize as if there is no truth and there is no morality (except for conformism and egoism, and of course a very vague sort of Protestantism).

And since I believe that there is no democracy possible without mainstream media that - at the very least - believe in facts, in truths, and in reporting factually and truly, I think democracy is mostly dead in America, and this is a very dangerous development (also because the media will keep lying, both about themselves and about politicians).

There is much more that could and should be said about "the media", but we move on to Reich's third class of Trump enablers:

The third set of Trump enablers is at the helm of the Democratic Party. 

Democrats once represented the working class. But over the last three decades the party has been taken over by Washington-based fundraisers, bundlers, analysts, and pollsters who have focused instead on raising big money from corporate and Wall Street executives, and getting votes from upper middle-class households in “swing” suburbs.

While Republicans played the race card to get the working class to abandon the Democratic Party, the Democrats simultaneously abandoned the working class – clearing the way for Trump.

Yes, I think that is mostly correct, though considerably more played a role, notably Bill Clinton's policies, that included a complete denial that socialism was possible, even by the vote, which therefore included a complete denial of social democracy (and both were picked up and mirrored by the awful degenerate Tony Blair in England, and by other "social democratic" leaders, like the horrible Wim Kok).

Here is Reich on Clinton (a millionaire) and Obama (soon to be a millionaire):

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements without providing millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

They stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class – failing to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violate them, or help workers form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.

Yes indeed - which means for me that they either were corrupted (by the promise of millions for themselves and their families) or morally non-existent, at least in so far as the poor and the non-rich were concerned.

And here is more that both men did, knowing full well what they did:

Both Clinton and Obama also allowed antitrust enforcement to ossify – with the result that large corporations have grown far larger, and major industries more concentrated.

The unsurprisng result has been to shift political and economic power to big corporations and the wealthy, and to shaft the working class. That created an opening for demagoguery, in the form of Trump. 

Donald Trump has poisoned America, but he didn’t do it alone. He had help from opportunists in the GOP, the media, and the Democratic Party.

Yes indeed (for the most part). And this is a recommended article.

5. Common Dreams

The fifth and last item today is by Common Dreams on Common Dreams:


If you click the above image, you are linked to the Common Dreams site, where it is explained how much money they need to keep existing.

I like Common Dreams better than any other internet magazine.
[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" (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] My father's older brother (who was not locked up in a concentration camp) was also quite intelligent, and he became a millionaire two or three times in his life, and then lost most of the money again through taking bad risks. I think that was quite possible for my father as well, except that he was a very strong revolutionary communist, whose strength of belief owed a lot to 3 years and 9 months of being locked up as a "political terrorist" in four German concentration camps.

[3] The Dutch are a heroic people, according to themselves. In fact, the vast majority of the Dutch collaborated during WW II; over 1% of the total Dutch population was arrested "for being of the wrong race", and was murdered in German concentrations camps; these over a 100.000 people were all arrested with the help of two "Jews", David Cohen and Abraham Asscher, both of whom collaborated very much with the German SS, and who were promised by the SS that they would not be harmed and could keep their great riches: They were not harmed by the SS; they kept their great riches; and did not even have to face a Dutch court after WW II ended, for totally insane reasons (BUT: they were very rich); and indeed almost all Dutch judges collaborated with the Nazis, as did all the members of the Dutch Supreme Court (except for one who was a Jew: he was dismissed and died before he was murdered, but his wife was duly murdered in Auschwitz).

As I said, the Dutch are a very heroic people, according to themselves.

[4] According to Karl Marx, the capitalist system had to collapse, for objective and necessary reasons, and such a collapse would be the main reason for the socialist revolution, that also would come necessarily.

I disagree with Marx on the necessities, but I am quite willing to agree that this is a very intricate question. I tend to agree with Marx that a real economical crisis seems "necessary" to destroy the government and the corporations, but the necessity I agree to is non-modal, and much more like: "If a social revolution succeeds, then an economical collapse is to happen before it".

[5] In fact, no one can be certain that his or her metaphysics is more than probable. There are definite truths, which also may be known to human beings, but these seem to be mostly restricted to (i) particular empirical propositions, like "it rains here now" or (ii) necessary logical propositions, like "if it rains and it is cold, then it is cold" and perhaps (iii) some mathematical propositions.

But for the most part, scientific theories require general assumptions, and these general assumptions cover far more than we have experienced and know for certain, and for these reasons (all sketched very briefly here) no empirical theory can be more than probably true.

[6] I am saying this not because I want to offend but because I want to explain, and my own explanatory definition of neofascism is this:
Neofascism is a. A social system that is marked by a government with a centralized powerful authority, where the opposition is propagandized and suppressed or censored, that propounds an ethics which has profit as its main norm, and that has a politics that is rightwing, nationalistic, pro-capitalist, anti-liberal, anti-equality, and anti-leftist, and that has a corporative organization of the economy in which multi-national corporations are stronger than a national government or stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.

And the link in which I argue this is the following: On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions.

[7] Incidentally, Hedges "If we win 5 percent we win" is completely arbitrary (and only "defended" with a reference to the Greek Syriza). Also, to the best of my knowledge, Jill Stein was at 1.9% a few days ago. In any case, Jill Stein will not win the next elections, and voting for Jill Stein increases the chances that an insane neofascist will become the next (and quite possibly last) American president. For more, see below.

[8] I know that if there is to be law there has to be some sort of Supreme Court, and I also know that the Supreme Court, that presently seems to lean far too much to the right, has been accused of leaning too far to the left before.

But no, I have no respect for the majority of a court that effectively decides that money somehow equals votes (also with a crazy reference to the First Amendment); and that effectively decides that the rich cannot be corrupt. These were not legal decisions at all: they were out and out rightist political choices, that were made to help the right.

And while I do not know any good history of the Supreme Court, and while I know that previous Supreme Courts have been claimed to lean too far to the left, I believe that if that was true, at least their opinions were considerably more legal and legalistic than the opinions of the majority of the present Supreme Court.

[9] Namely these.

First, I disagree with Hedges about the conditions for successful revolutions: I think he is too optimistic about "the left" and not realistic enough about the need of a genuine economic collapse to make a successful revolution - and while I also agree this difference goes back in part to a difference in tastes or values, I believe I am a bit more sensible.

Second, I disagree with Hedges about faith and about Christianity. But first let me say something about philosophy and myself: In fact, I do not have an M.A. in philosophy, because I was - illegally - refused the right to take the examination (which I would have passed extremely well) because I studied at what was in fact a quasi-Marxist university (from 1971-1995) in which most students, and especially in philosophy, pretended to be Marxists.  I knew they were not, because both of my parents were real Marxists for 45 years or more each; because my grandfather was a real Marxist; because two of my other grandparents were real anarchists most of their lives; and because I had been a Marxist till I was 20, when I gave up on it for very good, rather deep theoretical reasons (I had, for one  example, discovered myself the difficulty Steedman (<- Wikipedia) discusses in "Marx after Sraffa"), and indeed I did not give up the morals of my parents, nor being a radical.

I am, in other words, much more of a philosopher than I am a psychologist (and indeed would not have taken an M.A. in psychology if I had not been refused the right to take an M.A. in philosophy), and in fact I have been reading philosophy for over 50 years now.

For these reasons I am both in complete disagreement with Hedges about his Christianity (although I understand why he is a Christian: His father was a Christian minister, and his whole family is Christian) and am rather amazed that he claims not to believe in atheists. (I think that is not very polite if it were addressed to me, for example, because I am quite sure I know a lot more about philosophy than Chris Hedges. Also, it is not very polite if it were addressed to great philosophers like Bertrand Russell, Frank Ramsey, or Mario Bunge.)

Third, I disagree with Hedges about the present presidential elections. I think we both more or less agree on both persons who may win it: Hillary Clinton has been bought by the rich, as is her husband; Donald Trump is both a neofascist and - which is quite important for me, because I am a psychologist - quite insane. I don't know that we quite agree, but we do agree for a good part.

But because I think Trump is really insane I think Trump is much more dangerous than Clinton, and for that reason I think everyone who can vote in the USA who is not a Trumpian believer should vote and vote for Clinton. Not because she is any good (she isn't), but because she is not mad.

[10] In fact, the sub-group of those who aspire to be rich tends to be considerably larger than the rich. (This is one of the reasons why the real rich - those in the 1% or less - are supported by at least 10% of the not really rich, and indeed often by more than 10%.)

As to attributing one's successes to one's to personal qualities: Everybody does so, and to a considerably larger extent than is justified. Here are two reasons why this is not justified: First, almost all of one's successes and failures are the result of very many interlocking themes and choices, of which very many did not have much to do with one's own choice. And second - as Hedges explains, quite correctly, a bit further on - the big difference between the rich and the rest is that the rich not only have vastly more money than the rest, but also (and besides) are offered far more chances to succeed.

       home - index - summaries - mail