Monday, June 12, 2017

Crisis+Quotations: Hedges,
Corbyn, Mother Jones, Britain - Aphorisms, Ordinary Men

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Quotations
3. Crisis Files
4. On Ordinay Men

This is a Nederlog of Monday, June 12, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with my computer, my modem, the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible, and my health.

It may be that I'll be off for a few weeks, that is, I will publish nothing or little for a few weeks. I don't know yet, but I will keep you informed in Nederlog.

And what I will do for the moment - since I am still looking at 35 sites every morning - is to list the items I selected, but without any of my comments. Today I selected five items, and they are below and link to the originals, but on the moment I have no comments, basically because that takes too much work on the moment.

2. Quotations

As I have said above, I am writing less these weeks for various reasons. These are the fourth ten of my aphoristical reactions [1] to Chamfort's aphorisms:

It is possible, sometimes, to love one's child like oneself, but to love one's neighbour like oneself takes a saintliness that is beyond the humanity of the vast majority.

Society is as succesful in helping people on a large scale, as it is succesful in killing, exploiting and repressing people on a large scale.

The easiest way to become unhappy is to try to become someone in the eyes of the multitude.

The greatest source of joy for many is the evil that others suffer.

Real philosophers are as rare as true love; false philosophers are as common as streetwalkers.

Most men are little better than thinking apes.

Human civilisation is mostly the result of the thinking and acting of a small minority of rational or courageous men.

There is an unfortunate tendency, especially among those who know little of science or mathematics, to attribute to Bacon Lord Verulam things he very probably or certainly did not do, such as writing the works of Shakespeare or laying the foundations of modern science. To speak only of science: It was Galileo Galilei who first clearly saw and said that the book of nature is written in mathematics and discoverable by experiment - and it may be added, in fairness, that this great mathematician and physicist wrote as well as, and more clearly than, Lord Bacon did in his Essays.

Since anything that may be used, may be  abused, reason may be abused too, just as one may unwittingly saw off the branch on which one is sitting.

Youth without passions and illusions is an oxymoron.

There is no passion without some illusion, and vice versa.

It has been well-said that the art of medicine mostly consists in keeping the patient amused, while nature effects the cure.

What few realize who are impressed by modern medical science and modern medical doctors, is that the medical doctors of the past were as pretentious as the modern doctors, and that the modern doctors are more effective than their predecessors because they stand on the shoulders of great scientists -  who usually were not medical doctors.

I have seen many medical doctors in my life, and the vast majority of them behaved more like shamans or cheats than like scientists - and indeed, a modern medical education is not so much a scientific education as it is a practical course to learn to prescribe pills, make diagnosis, and refer to colleagues in a somewhat rational manner, and profit by that.

Fortunes and careers tend to be made by the same means as wars are won: By deception, by fraud, by force - and not at all by honesty, fairness or kindness.

To become a nouveaux riche, one generally requires genius or fraudulence. Few fortunes have been made by honest means; most fortunes are made by fraud, force, theft or war.

There are more social than natural ills, because man has had little time to evolve, and is the only kind of animal that is consciously and deliberately cruel.

There are very many natural ills, but they differ from the harm man does in being neither premeditated nor done for monetary profit or out of religious or political fanaticism.

There is a lot more from where the above comes from.

3. Crisis Files

I have been writing on the crisis since September 1, 2008 (Dutch) and with considerably more attention since June 10, 2013 (English).

If you check out the
crisis index you will find that I wrote in over eight years nearly 1600 files, that nearly all consisted of a reference to one or more articles that were partially quoted and mostly commented.

I will continue with that, simply because I think the crisis is a very important social, political and economical event, but meanwhile I have turned 67 and need a little rest,
so what I'll be doing the coming weeks (at least), is selecting 3 to 6 files from the 35
sites I consult every morning to see what's happening in the world of politics and econonomics, and present them, but now without my comments.

Here is today's selection:
1. The Age of Anger
2. Jeremy Corbyn Is Leading the Left Out of the Wilderness and
     Toward Power
3. When ‘Mother Jones’ Wasn’t Russia-Bashing
4. Britain: The End of a Fantasy
These are all well worth reading.

4. On ordinary men

This is quoted from my Philosophical Dictionary, from the item "Ordinary men". First, there is this quotation from Christopher Browning:

"I fear we live in a world in which war and racism are ubiquitous, in which the powers of government mobilization and legitimization are powerful and increasing, in which a sense of personal responsibility is increasingly attenuated by specialization and bureaucratization, and in which peer-group exerts tremendous pressures on behavior and sets moral norms. In such a world, I fear, modern governments that wish to commit mass murder will seldom fail in their efforts for being unable to induce "ordinary men" to become their "willing executioners." " (Christopher R. Browning, "Ordinary men", p. 222-3)

And here is my explanation (in part):

Here are some human all too human weaknesses that - especially but not only - ordinary men easily fall prone to:
  • Ordinary men  
    • engage mostly in wishful thinking (so as to keep themselves "happy")
    • are ruled by bias and prejudice
    • do not know real science, logic, mathematics or philosophy
    • do not do unto others as one would not be done by only within one's group
    • are role-players who play by wishful thinking, make-believe - "The quality or act of pretending; assuming something is true when in fact one knows it is not" (wiki dictionary) - and pretension who normally do not step out of their roles out of self-interest and because of group-sanctions
    • are collaborators: They mostly do as they are told by leaders
    • are followers, of fashions and leaders of all kinds, usually because it is the fashion and they are conformists
    • are levellers: The only ones who excel are the leaders of the group and what the media display as excellent
    • believe truth coincides with their interests and prejudices, especially as regards things that involve their or their groups' supposed interest
    • personalize or animate everything: all manner of abstractions - nations, corporations, groups, the people - are supposed to will and feel
    • do not reason in terms of quantified terms: Terms like "Some", "most" are carefully avoided often to infer all from some without mentioning either: ("Women are emotional", "Germans are no good")
    • cannot reason abstractly on any high level
    • make all manners of fallacies esp. of generalization, ambiguity and begging the question
    • are not independent individuals with their own ideas and values intentionally gathererd by their own life's practice
And yes, I do know that if you are an ordinary man, you'll probably disagree.


[1] These are aphorisms of my own. I like them and therefore reproduce them. Nicolas Chamfort was French and lived from 1741-1794. He was extremely witty. (And I admit neither he nor I are friendly about the majority.)

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