1. Defying Donald
2. What We Expect to See in 2017
3. This Is the Year Economists Finally Figured Out What
Else Long Understood About
War Against Alternative Information
Mark Blyth - Capitalism Only Works For The Rich The Rest Will
To Suffer For Scraps
This is a Nederlog of January 2, 2017.
First, there is this: I have uploaded everything for the new year,
including the new Nederlog, yesterday morning - January 1, 2017
11.10 Dutch time. Meanwhile, it is January 2, 2017, and 14.25 in
afternoon and the site in Holland still pretends it is December
whereas the site in Denmark still pretends it is December 31,
I am very sorry: None of it is my doing. I will
let you know (if there is anyone left) when this
"straightens out" (but meanwhile I would not be amazed if it never
will: I have been abused far too much already by my providers
to guess otherwise...)
Second, here is the survey of today's Nederlog (that probably
is going to be read by no one, thanks to my providers):
This is a crisis log with 5 items and 5 links: Item 1
is on Donald Trump by Chris Hedges, and is a fine if not optimistc
article (I agree); item 2 is also from Truthdig,
and by seven authors, but I quote just one, and mostly agree (and no,
it is far from optmistic); item 3
is about economists vs. the economy, and is also realistic and fair
(and most "economists" are not economists but well-paid propagandists);
item 4 is about the ever increasing totalitarian
climate in the USA: Now the government has designed its
own propaganda-team that is going to take down anybody who disagrees
with the government (or so it seems); and item 5 is
a fine video interview with one of the few economists who talk sense (and
who predicted both Brexit and Trump).
1. Defying Donald
The first item today is by Chris Hedges on
This starts as follows:
The final stages of capitalism,
Karl Marx predicted, would be marked by global capital being unable to
expand and generate profits at former levels. Capitalists would begin
to consume the government along with the physical and social structures
that sustained them. Democracy, social welfare, electoral
participation, the common good and investment in public transportation,
roads, bridges, utilities, industry, education, ecosystem protection
and health care would be sacrificed to feed the mania for short-term
profit. These assaults would destroy the host. This is the stage of
late capitalism that Donald Trump represents.
I have read rather a lot by Karl Marx
(mostly before my twenties, in considerable part because my parents
were - sincere, honest, courageous - communists and had quite a number
of his books), but I don't quite recall the present prediction. Then
again, I agree Marx predicted the end of capitalism, and also that the
end would be dire, at least until the socialist revolution.
And while I guess Marx might have agreed with Hedges that "Donald Trump represents" "the stage of late capitalism", I
don't know. Part of my reason is that leftists of various kinds have
been telling me since the Sixties that we are living in "the stage of late capitalism" - which
is meanwhile about 50 years now.  Another part
of my reason is that I consider it (optimistically?) about 50/50 (also
see item 2) that Trump will
start a nuclear war, which means the death of billions, but may leave
the richest - with good bunkers for themselves, and a lot of money and
gold - alive.
But I don't know, except that the situation is serious and
threatening, while Trump as president of the USA makes it a lot
more serious, for he is utterly and dangerously incompetent
Then there is this on Trump's new government:
Trump plans to oversee the last
great campaign of corporate pillaging of America. It will be as crass
and brazen as the fleecing of the desperate people, hoping for a
miracle in the face of dead-end jobs and ruinous personal debt, who
visited his casinos or shelled out thousands of dollars for the sham of
Trump University. He will attempt to unleash a kleptocracy—the word
comes from the Greek klÚpto, meaning thieves, and kratos,
meaning rule, so it is literally “rule by thieves”—one that will rival
the kleptocracies carried out by Suharto in Indonesia and Ferdinand
Marcos in the Philippines. It is not that Trump and his family will use
the influence of government to increase their wealth, although this
will certainly take place on a massive scale; it is that hundreds of
billions of federal dollars will be diverted into the hands of cronies,
sleazy bankers, unethical financial firms and scabrous hedge fund
managers. The pillars of the liberal state will be obliterated.
I basically agree, although I don't
think a kleptocracy is a serious reason. 
But yes, the rich will steal and will do so for themselves
and the rich and for no one else.
There is this on Trump himself:
Trump is impulsive, ignorant and
inept. His corruption and greed are so unfettered he may become a
burden and embarrassment to his party and the nation, as well as a
danger to himself. The longer he stumbles in the unfamiliar corridors
of governmental power the more vulnerable he becomes. But if we are not
in the streets to hold the system accountable he may be able to cling
to power and inflict significant damage.
I mostly agree, but in my psychologist's
opinions (see here and here) Trump is not just "impulsive, ignorant and inept" (which
indeed he is): He is also not sane, and for that reason
very dangerous, indeed in part because he is ignorant and of a violent and vindictive temperament. 
Here is some more (which in fact announces neofascism if there is another
major attack of terrorism or "terrorism",
which seems rather likely):
If, however, we suffer another
catastrophic domestic terrorist attack or launch a new war, the
political space to examine and prosecute Trump and remove him from
office will disappear. The rhetoric from the Oval Office will become
bloodcurdling. The security and surveillance state will go into
hyperdrive. Any dissent, including mere criticism of the president,
will be attacked as helping our enemies.
Yes indeed - and the "security
and surveillance state" is not
democratic or liberal or fair: it is the basis of neofascism, and indeed this may have been the original intent
of the term "terrorism", as I have said already in 2005.
Then there is this, that I think is true, for the deregulated banks are the true
in the USA: They rule virtually everything, directly or indirectly:
The privatization of the
government-backed mortgages would see financial institutions authorized
to issue mortgage-backed securities that carry a government guarantee.
If the mortgages failed under the privatization scheme, the taxpayer
would foot the bill. If the mortgages succeeded, the banks would get
the profit. The privatization plan amounts to the institutionalization
of the 2008 government bailout for big banks. It could cost the
For this is the 2008 schema,
institutionalized by both
Bush Jr. and Obama: If the banks fail, the public has to pay the money
to save them; if the banks don't fail, the banks and their CEOs get all
There is this on the Democrat's Chuck Schumer (who is currently worth
In brief, there is but one political
party in the USA , and it has been taken over by
the rich and the bankers, thanks to the Supreme Court (Citizens United
(<-Wikipedia)) who now also have been voted into office with all
the powers they wanted: They rule the Senate and the Congress, and
their billionaires and generals are the new US government.
Schumer is the senator-of-choice for
Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup. Lehman Brothers and Bear
Stearns, before they collapsed in 2008, lavishly funded his campaigns.
Schumer joined with Republicans in 1999 to repeal the Glass-Steagall
Act, which had created walls between investment and commercial banks.
This repeal set the stage for the 2008 global financial crisis. Schumer
voted to bail out Wall Street in 2008. He sponsored an amendment that
barred the Securities and Exchange Commission from overseeing credit
rating agencies, such as Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors
Schumer, like Trump, is addicted to his own
celebrity. He, like Trump, believes that politics is fundamentally
about public relations.
It is the perfect set-up for a major tragedy, that may
spell the end of mankind. And this is a recommended article.
2. What We
Expect to See in 2017
The second item is by
Editor on Truthdig:
This is an interesting set of expectations by
seven persons ("that do not necessarily reflect" the opinions of
Truthdig, and I quoted the Editor). I select only one of these
expectations, because it is the most specific and because I agree with
12 Fearless Prognostications—Bill
1. Donald Trump will nominate an Antonin
Scalia clone to the Supreme Court. After some feckless Democratic
kicking and screaming, said clone will be seated.
2. Trump’s billionaire buddies will file
more Gawker-type lawsuits to drive small, politically independent
publications out of business.
3. NSA spying will be reinvigorated.
4. Edward Snowden will lose his asylee
status in Russia. Julian Assange will remain a fugitive.
5. Rick Perry, the new energy secretary,
will try to dismantle the EPA, but will prove incompetent at the task.
Still, global warming will accelerate, and most Republicans will
continue to deny the planet is warming, even as hedge funds buy stock
futures in beachfront property in Orlando.
6. Betsy DeVos, the new education
secretary, will dismantle the Department of Education.
7. Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard
Sessions III will abandon all further efforts to defend the Voting
8. Trump will call for replacing the
national anthem before sporting events with a presidential tweet.
9. An impeachment resolution against Trump
will be introduced. It will go nowhere.
10.Trump will sponsor a massive increase in
military spending, putting us at the brink of World War III.
11. You’ll know your president is lying if
his lips move.
12. The world will end, or it won’t. I’ll
be batting .500 on this one, either way.
These are "prognostications". I don't
know that they are correct (nobody does), but I think most
expectations are fair,
and indeed I have said before that I consider the chances 50/50 that
there will be a major nuclear war in the next four years (which will be
the end of most of humankind).
This Is the Year
Economists Finally Figured Out What Everyone Else Long Understood About
The third item is by
Harold Meyerson on AlterNet and originally on The American Prospect:
This starts as follows:
This week, Bloomberg’s Noah Smith published a
list of “ten excellent economics books and papers” that he read in
2016. Number three on his list was the now celebrated paper, “The China
Shock: Learning from Labor-Market Adjustment to Large Changes in
Trade,” by economists David Autor, David Dorn and Gordon Hanson. Here’s
Smith’s summary of the work and its consequences:
This is the paper that shook the world
of economics. Looking at local data, Autor et al. found that import
competition from China was devastating for American manufacturing
workers. People who lost their jobs to the China Shock didn’t find new
good jobs—instead, they took big permanent pay cuts or went on welfare.
The authors also claim that the China Shock was so big that it reduced
overall U.S. employment. This paper has thrown a huge wrench into the
free-trade consensus among economists.
I agree but I have two criticisms: First,
the term "Economists" in the title should have been prefixed
with "A Few". (My title would have been: This Year A Few
Economists Figured Out 'Free Trade'.) And second, as I pointed out
on December 27, economy is -
for the most part - not a real science. Here are some
of my reasons (from December
The last four paragraphs are mine. Here is
the question Harold Meyerson asks:
First, nearly all economists are first and foremost ideologists for
their own particular school of economical thought, and
Skidelsky seems right to me in maintaining these particular
schools of economical thought are at least in part characterized as
being intellectually very limited, namely exclusively to
"economics" - and that mostly of their own school - and to
Second, some of these schools of economical thought
are paid a lot
more attention (also in terms of money) than others, and the main
reason is not empirical truth or theoretical plausibility (for
then many more economists would have been able to predict the crisis of
2008) but ideological support for political positions.
And third  most of the terms that
appear in economical
graphics and mathematics tend to be far
less well-defined than they are presented; are often difficult to
measure well; tend to have at best vague and quite indirect connections
with the reality they are about, because they often depend on quite a
lot of assumptions (some or many of which tend to be denied by
economists from other schools); and also many of the
equations and graphics that occur in economics are supposed to
be functional (which they often are not, really) and are between two or
three extremely general terms that are
supposed to reflect what millions do and think (with often extremely
little real empirical support).
But the brief version of this is what I've
said quite a few
times: Economics is mostly not a real
science. This doesn't mean it should be avoided, but it does mean
that one should be rather or quite skeptical
about most arguments of
most economists - which is in fact what most economists are,
and namely about the arguments of economists that belong to another
Why have mainstream economists been the
last people to understand the consequences of the policies they
Again "mainstream economists" should have
had the postfix "(a few)" . And my own
answers I have just given.
And here is Harold Meyerson's answer:
I quite agree and this is a
recommended article. Also, there are a few economists (not
in "mainstream economics", to be sure) who talk a lot of sense: See item 5.
The lesson from all this is that
mainstream economics has to be viewed less as an empirical, much less
scientific, discipline, and more as an elegant regurgitation of the
worldview of dominant financial powers. By endorsing the
efficiency of markets and the concomitant curtailment of regulation, by
assuming that trade with industrializing, poverty-wage mega-nations
would not have a devastating impact on American manufacturing workers,
by a thousand other deaths of common sense, the American economic
mainstream reduced itself to little more than a priesthood serving the
gods of Wall Street.
4. The War Against Alternative Information
The fourth item is by Rick
Sterling on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows:
establishment is not content simply to have domination over the media
narratives on critical foreign policy issues, such as Syria, Ukraine
and Russia. It wants total domination. Thus we now have the “Countering
Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act” that President Obama
signed into law on Dec. 23 as part of the National
Defense Authorization Act for 2017, setting aside $160 million to
combat any “propaganda” that challenges Official Washington’s version
The new law
mandates the U.S. Secretary of State to collaborate with the Secretary
of Defense, Director of National Intelligence and other federal
agencies to create a Global Engagement Center “to lead, synchronize,
and coordinate efforts of the Federal Government to recognize,
understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda
and disinformation efforts aimed at undermining United States national
security interests.” The law directs the Center to be formed in 180
days and to share expertise among agencies and to “coordinate with
Yes, indeed -
and for me this is a totalitarian
plan, that very well
may exterminate all the American magazines that I have been
the last 8 years for decent true (or probable)
information rather than lies,
spread by the sick and sickening mainstream
media in the USA.
Here is some
The new law
is remarkable for a number of reasons, not the least because it merges a
new McCarthyism about purported dissemination of Russian
“propaganda” on the Internet with a
new Orwellianism by creating a kind of Ministry of Truth – or
Global Engagement Center – to protect the American people from “foreign
propaganda and disinformation.”
Yes, this the
birth of the US Ministry of Truth that will try to take care
Americans will only get the approved lies and propaganda
governors, while everything else is forbidden and prosecuted. At least,
that's what it looks like.
also is quite true (and as I have said repeatedly in Nederlog):
The law also is rife with irony since
the U.S. government and related agencies are among the world’s biggest
purveyors of propaganda and disinformation – or what you might call
evidence-free claims, such as the recent accusations of Russia hacking
into Democratic emails to “influence” the U.S. election.
Despite these accusations — leaked by
the Obama administration and embraced as true by the mainstream U.S.
news media — there is little
or no public evidence to support the charges. There is also a
by veteran U.S. intelligence professionals as well as statements by Wikileaks
founder Julian Assange and an associate, former
British Ambassador Craig Murray, that the Russians were not the
source of the leaks. Yet, the mainstream U.S. media has virtually
ignored this counter-evidence, appearing eager to collaborate with the
new “Global Engagement Center” even before it is officially formed.
fact, the truly sickening point is that the mainstream media do not
care for spreading the truth, but only
care for amusing their readers
with anything, that is, in so far as it does not disturb any of
of its readers. 
Here is part of the reasons why this is a
project (that well may destroy any alternative voice located in
the USA, simply because they happen to disagree with the government):
But the U.S. government’s near total
control of the message doesn’t appear to be enough. Apparently even a
few voices of dissent are a few voices too many.
The enactment of HR5181, “Countering
Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation,” suggests that the ruling powers
seek to escalate suppression of news and analyses that run counter to
the official narrative. Backed by a new infusion of $160 million, the
plan is to further squelch skeptical voices with operation[s] for
“countering” and “refuting” what the U.S. government deems to be
propaganda and disinformation.
As part of the $160 million package,
funds can be used to hire or reward “civil society groups, media
content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded
research and development centers, private companies, or academic
Among the tasks that these private
entities can be hired to perform is to identify and investigate both
print and online sources of news that are deemed to be distributing
“disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda directed at the United
States and its allies and partners.”
In other words, we are about to see an
escalation of the information war.
note that $ 160 million is a lot more than any magazine
or paper has; next note that the US government is one of the sleaziest
and trickiest propagandists
there is; then note the American government is going to do battle - it
seems - with anyone who objects against any of
and finally note that the American government will side with any "civil society groups, media content providers,
nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and
development centers, private companies, or academic institutions" that are so kind as to agree (or pretend to
agree) with the propaganda, the lies and the deceptions of
the US government.
is an extremely dangerous new law, and it seems to herald the
turning of the USA into a totalitarian
state where there is only one "truth", and that is the "truth"
of the government, not because it is true, but because
the goverment has the power.
Mark Blyth - Capitalism Only Works For The Rich The Rest Will Continue
To Suffer For Scraps
The fifth and last item is
not a text but a video by Chris
Hedges from his series On Contact on RT. This is an excellent
interview with economist Mark Blyth
(<-Wikipedia) who is one of the few economists who talks real
sense, and indeed one of the few who predicted both Brexit and Trump's
takes 26 min and 30 sec. In case you are not interested in Anya
Parampil the real interview starts after 4 min and 12 sec.
This interview was originally published on December 12, 2016. And I do
recommend that you see this.
This is literally true. In case you have missed it (as you very
probably did), the two reasons why I did not miss it are that I
am meanwhile nearly 67 and had - sincere, intelligent - communist
parents, which means that I did read a whole
lot of leftist theorizing and propaganda in the Sixties. And while
there was a lot more that was said than "we are living in the stage of
late capitalism" it was said in the Sixties, and quite
frequentlu as well (and indeed also long before that).
All I want to
state here is that 50 years seems to be too long, while I have been
hearing this (for various reasons, from various sources) for 50 years
In fact, I don't think Hedges is seriously advancing the thesis that we
are now living in "The Age Of Kleptocracy". I agree that Trump is a
thief and a liar and extremely dishonest, but of course we are still
living in a capitalist
economy that is (in the USA) very rapidly growing totalitarian
(I do believe Ms McLennen was serious in advancing her
thesis that we are now living in "a kakistocracy": See December 19, 2016.)
 I am quite serious that
Trump is not sane, and I am not - not by far - the only
one who was trained in psychology or psychiatry who thinks the same:
See here and here. (You may disagree, but if you
do and are honest, you probably are not a psychologist.)
 In this paragraph my being a
philosopher of science is relevant.
know there are the Democrats, and the Republicans, and the Greens and
the Socialists and more political parties in the USA, but in actual
fact only the Democrats or the Republicans have any real
chance of being elected on a federal level, and in actual fact both
the Democrats and the Republicans are in the power of the bankers or
the rich (who pay the speeches of their former presidents extremely
well, thank you).
 As I have indicated quite a few
times in Nederlog: I am an - excellent
- M.A. in psychology, but in fact got that after I had been illegally
denied the right
(very briefly before taking it) of getting an M.A. in philosophy, and I
still regard myself more as a philosopher or a logician than I regard
myself as a psychologist. (And I certainly spent more time on
either philosophy or logic than I did on psychology.)
Next, this is basically a logical
remark: One of the very many logical abuses that occur
nearly everywhere is the lack of quantifying
information about the things nominated by nouns:
much rather than saying "Most Frenchmen", "Nearly All Englishmen",
"Some Chinese", "A few Americans", "Hardly An Economist" most writers vastly
prefer to write instead: "Frenchmen", "Englishmen", "Chinese",
"Americans" and "Economists" precisely because it sounds a lot
more sensational, while being totally vague whether one means
"Nearly All" or "Hardly Any" or anywhere in between.
I also think this mostly happens on purpose,
and not just in titles.
In fact, I have seen this best in the Dutch liberal paper (or
so it was) the NRC-Handelsblad, which I have read, normally
with satisfaction, from 1970 till 2010, which is a mere 40 years.
By the end of 2010 - long
before I got seriously interested in politics again - it had become so
awful, so amusing, so false and so degenerate that I stopped reading
it. (One reason for its badness is that this paper was sold a few times