1. A Nation of the Walking
Americans’ Right to Protest is in Grave Danger Under
3. Time of Useful
4. Days of Revolt: Junk Economics and the Future (2/2)
This is a Nederlog of Monday, April 3, 2017.
Summary: This is an
ordinary crisis log with four items and
four dotted links: Item 1 is a review of Chris Hedges' weekly column on Truthdig; item 2 is - in fact - how the USA is changing into a real police state; item 3 is mostly a nice quotation of a good poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti; and item 4 is a video from the second of two parts of an interview by Chris Hedges of the economist Michael Hudson.
Also, I am sorry
that yesterday the title of Nederlog seems to have fallen out: It is
there, but indeed I was quite tired when I uploaded. It has been corrected
April 3: As to the
The Danish site was again
on time today; and even the Dutch site was on time! I say!
the fourth day in succession! Nearly unheard of in the last 15
have to admit that I am so amazed
that I'll wait a little longer, but
if this persists I can go back to the old site opening that worked for
20 years (which would be a considerable relief, for I don't like extra
1. A Nation of the Walking Dead
I still have to add that where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others
I have NO idea AT ALL: It
2015. (Xs4all wants immediate
payment if you are a
week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying
my site now for over
a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not
know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
The first article today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows, about opioids:
Opioids and experiences that simulate
the deadening effects of narcotics are mechanisms to keep us submissive
and depoliticized. Desperate citizens in Aldous Huxley’s 1932 novel
“Brave New World” ingested the pleasure drug soma to check out of
reality. Our own versions of soma allow tens of millions of Americans
to retreat daily into addictive mousetraps that generate a self-induced
The United States consumes
80 percent of opioids used worldwide, and more than 33,000 died in
this country in 2015 from opioid overdoses. There are 300 million
prescriptions written and $24 billion spent annually in the U.S. for
painkillers. Americans supplement this mostly legal addiction with over
$100 billion a year in illicit marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine and
heroin. And nearly 14 million U.S. adults, one in every 13, regularly
I say. And it is a serious problem, that
in the end seems mostly due to the very lousy health care Americans
have. I live in Holland, where there still are some remains of the welfare state.
And although health care did get a lot
more expensive in Holland - I am legally forced to pay 175
euros a month for a shockinglly bad health insurance, while
I had a fine health insurance, that included excellent pay for medical
doctors, in the 1980ies for 22 euros a month - it is not (as
yet (!)) by far as bad as the American system (but the Dutch will be
getting there as well, probably: see item 4 below).
So I don't have to take opioids
because I can't pay operations, and I don't have to take heroin because
I can't afford paying for opioids, and in fact I never used
opioids and never used heroin.
And here is the other American
contribution that "simulate[s] the deadening
effects of narcotics are mechanisms to keep us submissive and
I say, again. And note that states that run
state-run lottery games are - in a solid sense - forced to run
them because they cannot finance their budgets from "declining incomes, deindustrialization and austerity": They must appeal to poor people's greed
But these monetary figures are far less
than what we spend on gambling. Americans in 2013 lost
$119 billion gambling, with an additional $70 billion—or $300 for
every adult in the country—spent on lottery tickets.
Federal and state governments, reliant on
tax revenues from legal gambling and on lottery ticket sales, will do
nothing to halt the expansion of the industry or the economic and
psychological toll it exacts on those in financial distress. State-run
lottery games had sales
of $73.9 billion in 2015, according to the North American
Association of State and Provincial Lotteries. This revenue is vital to
budgets beset by declining incomes, deindustrialization and austerity.
Again I should say that I never gambled (except once, which I
did for solidarity reasons, and then I won the lot) simply because I
knew probability theory and knew
that a probable loss was a virtual certainty, with extremely small
chances of winning
a lot. (Also, I hate gambling halls, slot machines and the like:
Here is Chris Hedges om how playing slot machines is made as addictive
For me the "rush of
anticipation" doesn't work, but for one like me
there are tenthousand others on which it does work. There is
considerably more on the subject that I leave to your interests.
The engineers of America’s gambling
industry are as skillful at forming addiction as the country’s top five
opioid producers—Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, Insys
Therapeutics, Mylan and Depomed. There are 460 commercial casinos, 486
tribal casinos, 350 card rooms, 55 racetracks and hundreds
of thousands of gaming devices, many located in convenience stores,
gas stations, bars, airports and even supermarkets.
The rush of anticipation, available in
20-second bursts, over hours, days, weeks and months creates an
addictive psychological “zone” that the industry calls “continuous
This is from near the end, and describes the particular kind of
capitalism that is at play in casinos:
“People have called it a mode of ludo-capitalism,”
Schüll said. “In a way, you can connect that to the ludo-politics that
we see. Pleasure. To get what you want. What you want is to escape into
a flow, to be taken away. We see this in the political domain a lot—in
the rallies, in the surging of feelings, the distraction. If you look
at the way a casino is designed, and you remember that Trump is a
designer of many casinos, including his non-casino properties, they
follow the same design logic of disorientation and trying to sweep
people away from themselves, away from rationality, away from a
position where they have clear lines of sight and can act as
decision-making subjects. You see that on the floors of casinos, you
see that in political rhetoric today.”
Yes, I think that is fair and correct. Here
is the end of the article:
The corporate state will expand
our access to a variety of opioids and numbing situations to
temporarily alleviate our stress, financial dislocations, depression
and anxiety. Aided by state and local governments, it will build new
pleasure palaces. It will lure millions into its glittering and
seductive Venus’ flytraps. It will make sure we have tempting retreats
within easy reach to achieve a death-in-life experience. Much of the
society will be put to sleep. Those who refuse to become zombies, who
rise up to resist, who seek at all costs to remain distinct
individuals, will be silenced with the corporate state’s cruder tool
for submission: force.
I think this is also correct, and indeed I
seriously fear the future of the really intelligent who cannot be
fooled by these systems of sick greed and who want to continue to exist as distinct and independent individuals.
The probable future of the intelligent
individualist who insist on thinking and judging for themselves is this:
Those who refuse to become zombies, who
rise up to resist, who seek at all costs to remain distinct
individuals, will be silenced with the corporate state’s cruder tool
for submission: force.
I think that is also true.
What hope is left?
I see two sources of hope: First, all
changes, all revolutions, all radical improvements have been started
and mostly produced by small groups. And second, while greed
and deregulation are very strong motives, they will be stopped -
temporarily of forever - by economical crashes.
And this is a recommended article.
2. UN: Americans’ Right to Protest is in Grave Danger
The second article is by Common Dreams staff on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
At least 19 U.S. states have introduced
bills that attack the right to protest since Donald Trump's election as
president, an "alarming and undemocratic" trend, U.N. human rights
investigators said this week.
Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent
U.N. experts on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression
respectively, are calling on lawmakers in the United States to stop the
“alarming” trend of “undemocratic” anti-protest bills designed to
criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and
"The trend also threatens to jeopardize
one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech," they
said in a statement, calling for action to reverse such legislation.
In fact, I think "undemocratic" is a
euphemism: These 19 American states are trying to augur in a police state (<-Wikipedia). In case you doubt this, you should first consider the First Amendment on the Constitution, which dates back to 1789:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of
speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to
assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
And here is how 19 American states are attempting to slaughter that First Amendment (I did not reproduce everything):
Given the First Amendment, all of the above plans are plans to introduce fascist terrorism on anybody who does not behave as Republicans tell him or her to behave - I am sorry, I can't put it more friendly: These are all attempts to found a police state (<- Wikipedia) that will only further Republican neo-conservatives and lock up or kill anyone with the audacity to protest.
- The Arizona State Senate in February voted
to expand racketeering laws to allow police to arrest
anyone involved in a protest and seize their assets, treating
demonstrators like organized criminals.
- Portland, Oregon activists organizing
against police killings of Black men, white nationalist politicians,
and the countless systems of racism throughout our local, state, and
federal governments are
now considered “domestic
terrorists” by Department of Homeland Security.
- In January, North Dakota Republicans
proposed legislation to
legalize running over protesters if they are blocking
roadways. (The legislation failed, for now.)
- Missouri lawmakers want to make
it illegal to wear a robe, mask or disguise (remarkably, a
hoodie would count) to a protest.
- Republicans in Washington state have proposed
a plan to reclassify as a felony civil disobedience protests that are
deemed “economic terrorism.”
- Lawmakers in North Carolina want to
make it a crime to heckle
- In Indiana, conservatives want to allow
police to use “any means necessary” to remove activists
from a roadway.
- A bill
before the Virginia state legislature would dramatically increase
punishment for people who “unlawfully” assemble after “having been
lawfully warned to disperse.” Those who do so could face a year in jail
and a $2,500 fine.
Here is what Maina Kiai and David Kaye, who are independent U.N.
experts on freedom of peaceful assembly and of freedom of expression
(respectively) said about these new
totalitarian laws that will introduce a police state:
I think they were very mild, but I do agree - and see the First Amendment.
“Peaceful assembly,” they added, “is a
fundamental right, not a privilege, and the government has no business
imposing a general requirement that people get permission before
exercising that right.”
The experts also emphasized that
legislators should be mindful of the important role that the right to
freedom of peaceful assembly has played in the history of American
democracy and the fight for civil rights.
“We call on the US authorities, at the
federal and state level, to refrain from enacting legislation that
would impinge on the exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful
assembly, expression and opinion,” they concluded.
3. Time of Useful
The third article is by Abby Zimet on Common Dreams:
This starts as
A belated 98th birthday to Lawrence
Ferlinghetti, indefatigable poet,
bookseller, anti-Fascist, First Amendment activist, environmentalist,
publisher, painter, creator of community, patron saint of the Beat
artists, Poet Laureate of San Francisco, living monument to the arts,
"old-ass anarchist" and dazzlingly prescient speaker of truth whose
City Lights bookstore has served as a beacon of enlightenment,
creativity and resistance since the 1950s.
fact, Abby Zimet's article is from April 2, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti
got 98 on March 24. I know something about Ferlinghetti through my -
somewhat stronger but not very strong - interests in Jack Kerouac and
in Alan Watts (especially) but I am in no way a specialist on Ferlinghetti, but I do like the following poem, which I reproduce because it is on Common Dreams and because I like it:
Pity the Nation
“Pity the nation whose people are
and whose shepherds mislead them.
Pity the nation whose leaders are liars,
whose sages are silenced,
and whose bigots haunt the airwaves.
Pity the nation that raises not its voice,
except to praise conquerors and acclaim the bully as
and aims to rule the world with force and by torture.
Pity the nation that knows no other language but its
and no other culture but its own.
Pity the nation whose breath is money
and sleeps the sleep of the too well fed.
Pity the nation — oh, pity the people who allow their
rights to erode
and their freedoms to be washed away.
My country, tears of thee,
sweet land of liberty.”
And please note that Ferlinghetti blames the people: "the people who allow their
rights to erode and their freedoms to be washed away".
I think he is correct, though there are excuses (propaganda by the mainstream media,
lack of a good education, plain stupidity, wishful thinking and more).
4. Days of Revolt:
Junk Economics and the Future (2/2)
The fourth and last item consists of a video with Chris Hedges
interviewing the economist Michael Hudson:
In fact this is part 2 while yesterday I put up part 1. I think this is a fine interview with one of the few economists who do real economics (rather than the bullshit economics that is normal - see part 1) and who predicted the crash of 2008.
This is nearly 24 minutes, and it is too long to properly abstract and review, so I will give only four statements from it.
The first is a Marxist insight, albeit it from Groucho rather than Karl:
"The secret of success is
sincerity: If you can fake that you have got it made." - Groucho Marx
The second is a factual insight, that can be very firmly based on data and evidence:
"The economy hasn't recovered from 2008. It has only recovered for the
The third is a diagnosis of the Wall Street driven economy of deceipt and exploitation:
"The solution of the debt-market we have is lending more money. That's
what making it a Ponzi-scheme."
In case you wonder what a Ponzi-scheme is, consider the last link. And here is Hudson's diagnosis of the present economy:
"We are in a slow crash. The future is neo-feudalism, with ordinary
people living as share-croppers and having to buy at the company's
This is from the lemma "Neo-feudalism" on Wikipedia (quoted minus note numbers):
To put it in other terms: The future of the non-rich (that survive, as sketched by Michael Hudson, on economical grounds) is rather like that of "the liberated blacks" after 1863:
Neofeudalism entails an order defined by commercial interests and
administered in large areas, according to Bruce Baker, who argues that
this does not fully describe the extent of cooperation between state and
non-state policing. The significance of the comparison to feudalism, for Randy Lippert and
Daniel O'Connor, is that corporations have power similar to states'
The widening of the wealth gap, as poor and marginalized people are
excluded from the state's provision of security, can result in
neofeudalism, argues Marina Caparini, who says this has already happened
in South Africa. Neofeudalism is made possible by the commodification of policing, and signifies the end of shared citizenship, says Ian Loader.
A primary characteristic of neofeudalism is that individuals' public
lives are increasingly governed by business
corporations, as Martha K.
Huggins finds. Seattle-based technology billionaire Nick Hanauer has stated that "our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society".
During the Reconstruction era
from January 1, 1863 to March 31, 1877, federal troops were stationed
in the south specifically to keep blacks from being re-enslaved as the
society made the transition to one of free labor. However, in the Gilded Age that followed the withdrawal,
blacks were left at the mercy of the whites. When African Americans in
the south no longer had the protection of the federal troops, whites
imposed laws to restrict their movement and found other ways to practice
This lasted well into the 20th century. President Lyndon B. Johnson
abolished peonage in 1966, which rapidly decreased sharecropping in every plantation nationwide. Journalist Douglas A. Blackmon reported in his book Pulitzer Prize winning book Slavery By Another Name
that many blacks were virtually enslaved under convict leasing
programs, which started after the Civil War. Most Southern states had no
prisons; they leased convicts to businesses and farms for their labor,
and the lessee paid for food and board. The incentives for abuse were
For more, check out peonage (abolished in 1966!).
Final question: Do I regard this probable? It is possible, but I think
myself that it is more likely that the slow crash we are living in a
present will, at some point, turn into
a fast crash, which will have to be resolved somehow.
But I am guessing, which is all I can do. And this is a recommended video.