This is a Nederlog of Monday, March 20, 2017.
Summary: This is an
ordinary crisis log with four items and four dotted links: Item 1 is about Chris Hedges' weekly column on Truthdig; item 2 is about the G20-top, which allowed itself to be bullied by Trumpians; item 3 is about how right-wing billionaires
are trying to control free speech in universities; and item 4 is about a bad article that only consists of wishful thinking.
Also, I am glad there is not much news to report, because I am again in
a period of little sleep and considerable pain.
March 20: As to the
The Danish site was again
on time today; and even the Dutch site was updated after a full week of not updating today, as
if I didn't
publish anything since March 12.
1. A Last Chance for Resistance
Where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others
I have NO idea AT ALL: It
2015. (They do want immediate
payment if you are a
week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying
my site now for over
a year. And I completely distrust them, but also do not
know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
The first article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
The crawl toward despotism within a failed democracy is always
incremental. No regime planning to utterly extinguish civil liberties
advertises its intentions in advance. It pays lip service to liberty and
justice while obliterating the institutions and laws that make them
possible. Its opponents, including those within the establishment, make
sporadic attempts to resist, but week by week, month by month, the
despot and his reactionary allies methodically consolidate power. Those
inside the machinery of government and the courts who assert the rule of
law are purged. Critics, including the press, are attacked, ridiculed
and silenced. The state is reconfigured until the edifice of tyranny is
Actually, I don't know. Chris Hedges is
certainly right that some governments that want to turn into
dictatorships do so piecemeally, but others - Hitler's, for example -
arrived there pretty quickly. And maybe Hedges is right that most
incipient dictatorships are imposed in a mostly hidden way, over a
course of time, and against the wishes of a good part of the population.
Next, there is this on Trump's government:
The current administration’s budget proposes to give
the war industry, the domestic policing agencies, the fossil fuel
industry, Wall Street, billionaires and the national security and
surveillance agencies more than they could have imagined possible before
the election. These forces, as in all fascist states, will be the
pillars of the Trump regime. They will tolerate Donald Trump’s idiocy,
ineptitude and unbridled narcissism in exchange for increased profits
and power. Despots are often buffoons. Appealing to their vanity and ego
is an effective form of manipulation. Skilled sycophants can play
despots like musical instruments for personal advancement.
I think that is too much of a free sketch, although it is basically adequate. But the following is not:
Trump, like all despots, has no real ideology.
This is a real mistake in my eyes. In fact, Trump has at least two ideologies.
The first is one every despot has:
"Me, me, me, ME!". They know best; they have and must have all power;
their words need to be the law for everyone; their desires must be
practiced - and everyone who thinks otherwise can be prosecuted. Also
this personalist ideology is complicated by the fact that Trump is not sane, for he thinks He Is The Greatest In Everything That Matters, which is an utter delusion.
The second ideology that Trump has is neofascism. Here is how I defined neofascism:
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 state, b. A political philosophy or
movement based on or advocating such a social system.
I arrived at this myself, indeed without any regard for Trump, but I notice that Trump is in favor of each and every defining characteristic, which seems to me excellent evidence that indeed Trump is a neofascist, according to how I defined neofascism.
This is about Trump's strong preference for abusing the swamp for more profits for the rich:
He has appointed
five former Goldman Sachs employees to high posts in his
administration. His budget will bleed the poor, the working class and
the middle class and swell the bank accounts of the oligarchs. He is
calling for abolishing the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts
and the cutting of programs that provide legal service to low-income
people and grants to libraries and museums. If Trump’s budget is
approved by Congress, there will not even be a pretense of civil
society. Trump and his family will profit from his presidency.
Corporations will profit from his presidency. Wall Street will profit
from his presidency. And the people will be made to pay.
Yes indeed. Then there is this on the
three institutions that - nominally, at least - support democracy and
truth, and which must be brought down somehow by a government that
seeks to impose a dictatorship:
There are three institutions tasked in a functioning democracy with
protecting the truth and keeping national discourse rooted in verifiable
fact—the courts, the press and universities. Despots must control these
three to prevent them from exposing their lies and restricting their
Yes, although I have two remarks.
The first is that considerable parts of
the courts, the press and the universities already have been taken over
by the rich or their paid lawyers or activists. This seems to have been
done mostly by corruption (i.e. you pay them and they will repay you).
And the second remark is about "an
institution" that is not even mentioned, indeed in part because it
isn't there (anymore(?)): A majority of intelligent, honest,
truth-telling ordinary individuals, on whose capacities all of democracy is (supposed to be) founded.
It just doesn't seem to exist anymore, for
most ordinary individuals are not intelligent, not very honest, and do
often also "not believe in truth".
Finally, this is from near the end:
It will be increasingly difficult to carry out mass protests and civil
disobedience. Repression will become steadily more overt and severe.
Dissent will be equated with terrorism. We must use the space before it
is shut. This is a race against time. The forces of despotism seek to
keep us complacent and pacified with the false hope that mechanisms
within the system will moderate Trump or remove him through impeachment,
or that the looming tyranny will never be actualized. There is an
emotional incapacity among any population being herded toward despotism
or war to grasp what is happening.
Hm. I agree with the outlines and am not optimistic.
2. U.S. Pressures Group of 20 Into Dropping Climate-Change Reference from Joint Statement
This starts as follows:
The second article is by Nadia Prupis on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:
Finance ministers for the Group of 20 (G-20), which comprises the
world’s biggest economies, dropped a joint statement mentioning funding
for the fight against climate change after pressure from the United
States and Saudi Arabia.
A G-20 official taking part in the annual meeting told Reuters that
efforts by this year’s German leadership to keep climate funding in the
statement had hit a wall.
“Climate change is out for the time being,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous.
I say. And what I am at least a little amazed about is not that Trump's government acted as it may have been expected to, nor that the only support they got was from Saudi Arabia, but that G-20 officials let themselves be utterly silenced by these 2 out of 18 (or so it seems).
Here is some more on this strange silence (which is indeed strange, because Trump is the only political leader - of a large economy - who does not believe in climate change, which is strongly supported by nearly all climate scientists):
“There can be a way to overcome disagreements today—that is, not
writing about it in the communique,” Sapin told reporters on Friday.
“But not writing about it doesn’t mean not talking about it. Not writing
about it means that there are difficulties, that there is a
disagreement and that we we must work on them in the coming months.”
The statement does mention the need to phase out fossil fuel
subsidies, but overall the language appears weaker than previous
communiques, critics said.
It seems to me Sapin was talking bullshit. What he should have said is that 18 out of 20 leaders of "the
world’s biggest economies"
believe in science and climate change, and that 2 don't, basically
because not doing so is in their own financial interests, and that should
have been written as well. Instead, he seems to have caved in.
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
Schreiber is quite right and this is a recommended article.
At the last G-20 meeting in July 2016, the group’s financial leaders
urged all countries that had signed onto the landmark Paris climate
accord to bring the deal into action as soon as possible. But President
Donald Trump, who has referred to global warming as a “Chinese hoax,”
took office vowing to remove the U.S. from the voluntary agreement.
On Thursday, a day before the finance meeting, the Trump administration unveiled its “skinny budget” proposal, which included a 31 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
As Friends of the Earth senior political strategist Ben Schreiber
said at the time, “With this budget, Trump has made it clear that he is
prioritizing Big Oil profits over the health of the American people.”
3. Right-Wing Billionaires Are Funding a Cynical Plot to Destroy Dissent and Protest in Colleges Across the U.S.
The third article is by Alex Kotch on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
As far-right speakers face loud student opposition at their university
speaking gigs, conservative lawmakers in several states are introducing
legislation that cracks down on protesters. As uncovered
by UnKoch My Campus’ Ralph Wilson, numerous states have borrowed their
so-called “campus free speech” bills from the rightwing Goldwater
Institute, which is funded by conservative plutocrats including Charles
Koch and the Mercer family.
The intent of these bills isn’t to protect student speech; it’s actually
to suppress it in favor of guest speakers who, at times, support white
nationalism, LGBTQ discrimination and other hateful worldviews. By
funding the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute, wealthy conservatives are
enabling the promotion of hate speech while stifling student dissent.
This is a bit colored but Alex Kotch is
right that several states are trying to introduce new laws that are
advertised as being for "campus free speech",
but which mean the opposite of what most students mean by it: It is the
free speech of professors and guest speakers they seek to guarantee,
which means suppressing the free speech of the students.
Here is more:
The Goldwater Institute’s model bill allegedly ensures “the fullest degree of…free expression,” but it explicitly states
that “protests and demonstrations that infringe upon the rights of
others to engage in or listen to expressive activity shall not be
permitted and shall be subject to sanction.”
It goes on to say,
“Any student who has twice been found responsible for infringing the
expressive rights of others will be suspended for a minimum of one year,
This means in fact that all that is needed
to stifle the free speech of the students, is one student (who might
perhaps be a mere "student") who insists that his (or her) rights have
been somehow repressed - or thus it seems to me.
Here is a sum-up:
This campus "free speech” legislation is essentially an attack on
student speech and an elevation of ultra-conservative ideas that many
people in university communities think have no place in American
Yes indeed. (But this article is a little colored.)
4. Trump Is Already Proving He's a Dunce More Than a Wizard at the Game of Politics
The fourth and last article today is by Jim Hightower on AlterNet: