A. Selections from August 2, 2017
This is a Nederlog of
This is a
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 the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.
explained, the crisis files will have a different
format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items
I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one
selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit
of a taste of the item linked.
So the new format is as follows:
Link to an item with its orginal title,
One selection from that item (indented)
Possibly followed by a brief comment by
me (not indented).
This is illustrated below, in selections A.
2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from
August 2, 2017
items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at
every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the
link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:
Triumph of the Idiocracy: How Narcissism, Stupidity and the Internet
Got Us Donald Trump, an Accidental President
This article is by Chauncey DeVega on Alternet and
originally on Salon. This starts as follows:
Donald Trump’s victory in
the 2016 presidential election represents the triumph of the idiocracy.
Trump is America’s fool-king, proudly ignorant and a living
example of the Dunning-Kruger
Trump’s supporters appear
to be in love with him. They worship
him as though he were their personal road to salvation and
happiness. Trump’s voters were seduced by "fake news" and all too easily manipulated by
Russian agents operating on the internet.
Quite so, or as I have
formulated it very many times:
Ordinary Americans, indeed
men everywhere, are too stupid and too ignorant for
most things, including looking rationally after
their own interests: They are much more prone to believe the lies and propaganda of
those they trust as their leaders than to
take their computers and try some alternative information, and the
reason for this is thay most ordinary men - left, right and center - are deeply totalitarian
It's basically as simple as
that, and indeed I have been saying so for forty years - and got forty
years of frightful discriminations as reward, in Holland, which has
been the Colombia of Europe for illegal drugs because its politicians wanted
it to be that. (They could have legalized all illegal drugs by 1988,
but they chose differently, it seems to me because they had very
much to gain by that choice.)
Then there is this:
This points to a broader
phenomenon. In America, today’s conservatives (as a group and an
ideological movement) hold science, empirical reality,
intelligence, education and
expertise in disdain. Writing at the Harvard Business Review, Joan Williams highlights how this manifests
in the form of a deep hostility toward “experts” and “professionals”
Yes indeed, and this
trend I've also seen for forty years now: Ordinary men,
including ordinary academics, do not like anybody who knows
more than they do, and therefore will strongly tend to discriminate
them, which indeed also is quite easy (for there are few truly
There is this on
idiocracy (and kakistocracy) that has won over the American right
reflects a broader failing. American voters are largely
unsophisticated, ignorant about matters of public policy, politically
disengaged and often hold incorrect beliefs about basic facts across a
range of important topics.
I think the last
sentence is quite correct, except that it ought to start with "Most".
And that is the basic
problem in the USA and elsewhere, for the voters in other countries are
about as deceived, as stupid, as ignorant, as totalitarian, and as
hateful of "experts" as are the Americans.
From here on, DeVega
interviews Tom Nichols, who is a professor of national security
affairs, and the writer of "The Death of Expertise". The following
quotations as from Tom Nichols.
First, here is how
the average American voter seems to make up his or her mind:
Donald Trump surfed (..)
said, “There are people out there that are screwing you out of having
the golden toilets that I have. And I’m going to get even with those
people, because I know what they’re up to, and I’m going to screw them
over and get yours for you.” People are dumb enough to believe it
because they don’t understand how the economy works, they don’t
understand how society works, they don’t understand the basics about
the relationship between education and jobs, none of it. It’s basically
they look up from the television, or their phone, and they say “Where’s
my money?” And that’s how we got here.
This I don't know
since I am not living in the USA, but it does look quite
There is also this:
It is one thing to say “I
know Alex Jones is full of crap!” But to know how full of crap he is
you’re going to have to sit down and you’re going to have to read a
newspaper. You’re going to have to make a decision about what you’re
looking at. You’re going to have to turn the TV off for a minute and
think about whether or not what you just heard makes sense to you as a
human being, and people just won’t do it. I don’t know how to make them
do it. This is where I become a kind of annoying elitist. I think in a
lot of those cases where people are just aggressively, willfully
stupid, there is no way to break through that, and I don’t know what to
do about it.
I agree, except that
I want to prefix "most" to "people
just won’t do it".
Here is the last bit
that I"ll quote from this article:
The way we surf the
internet is, in fact, reordering the neurons in our brain. Children are
now learning not to read, they’re learning to search and scan and take
visual cues off a screen. It makes their tolerance for reading lower
and lower and lower. I’ve taught at a half a dozen universities, and
the one thing I’ve noticed is that the students’ capacity for sustained
reading has been dropping, practically in a straight line.
Again I do not know
this, but I have been protesting in Holland for forty years
about the halving (or more) of everybody's education. All I got in thanks was
discrimination and sick and highly immoral lies that I
was "a dirty fascist" for saying so, for in Holland most men and
certainly most academics "know" that
that truth does not exist",
which I "learned" in
1978, in the "University" of Amsterdam.
In any case, this is
a good article, and it is recommended reading.
Say Mother Jones Distorted Their Research for Anti-Homeless Article
This article is by
Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
An article published on
July 14 by Mother Jones produced widespread anger. The piece,
written by Kevin Drum, began by discussing newly
published research from two political science professors on public
perceptions of homeless people. Drum addressed the seemingly
contradictory findings that people generally support aid to the
homeless but also favor banning panhandling and sleeping in public.
passage came when he attempted to reconcile these views with this
reasoning (emphasis in original):
The researchers solved
their conundrum by suggesting that most people are disgusted by the
homeless. No kidding. About half the homeless suffer from a mental
illness and a third abuse either alcohol or drugs. You’d be crazy not to
have a reflexive disgust of a population like that. Is that really so
hard to get?
Drum hastened to
say that “none of this means we can’t or shouldn’t have empathy
for the homeless,” adding, “of course we should, if we want to call
ourselves decent human beings.” But he again reiterated his view that
disgust for homeless people is natural and sane: “There’s just no need
to deny that these reflexes are both innate and perfectly
O Lord! This time Glenn
Greenwald is writing and behaving as if he is a politically
correct quasi-leftist who loves seeing that others
speak precisely as he thinks they should speak (also in
very brief articles).
I am sorry, but I did
not see anything wrong with Drum's statements.
Greenwald, in contrast, seems to have seen The Enemy:
Worse, the reasoning in
the Mother Jones article implies that people are naturally and
justifiably disgusted by those who lose their homes, struggle with
addiction, or have mental health afflictions. Who still thinks this
way? It’s as if a caricature of some 1950s retrograde
moralizer was reincarnated as a 21st-century columnist for a magazine
named after a fiery
Sorry, but this is false,
and it takes its liberties from the verb "implies" (after which you can
assert anything, for who or what implies in which sense is totally
lost). Also, speaking of "some
1950s retrograde moralizer": I think at least half of the ignorant
American electorate is still on that level.
I am sorry, but I
find this quite disappointing.
Do Republicans Have So Little Dignity?
This article is by Mike Lofgren
(<-Wikipedia) on AlterNet and originally on BillMoyers.com. This
starts as follows:
Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon is
considered one of the great political novels of the last century, but
it is also very puzzling. Why does Rubashov, the loyal old Bolshevik,
confess to capital crimes he did not commit? He is not tortured; he
knows (as do his interrogators) that the charges are absurd.
I agree with Lofgren and I
disagree with Koestler, for I read "Darkness at Noon"
when I was 17 or 18, in 1967 or 1968, when I still regarded myself as a
while I had - very brave - communist parents, who had survived WW II in
the Resistance, like few Dutchmen: Even so, I could not
convince myself that a man like Rubashov would not be tortured in the
Soviet Union, and I had also concluded the same earlier, around
1966, from my readings of Stalin's trials of 1937, that my communist
father owned: Although the word "torture" occurs nowhere, I could not
believe former communist leaders could have said the utter nonsense
they did say, without being tortured. (And I was quite right.)
But this is a bit of an
aside, although it is relevant when considering this bit:
The GOP in the age of
Trump also worships power, but power reduced to its most primitive,
elemental form, and personalized in the figure of the omnipotent tribal
leader. Just as a 12-year old boy worships power in the form he
understands it — a pro linebacker, a tough guy, a bully — so the new
GOP worships power in the form of Donald Trump because his bizarre
displays of dominance (which strike the rest of us as pathetic
overcompensation for insecurity) scratch some obscure psychological
itch for them.
To return to the Darkness
at Noon analogy, among some of Trump’s base, as well as the
more fervent of his employees, the adoration approaches Stalin’s cult of personality.
Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s treasury secretary, has said his boss has “superhuman” health and “perfect genes.” It would
seem only a short distance from Mnuchin’s slavering to the mental
framework that prevailed at the height of the Stalin cult, when the
Soviet Academy of Sciences seriously considered renaming the moon that
orbits the earth we live on for their fearless leader.
I do know quite a bit about
the Soviet Union, and this seems a bit exaggerated: Stalin's cult of
personality was developed in a quite totalitarian
climate, in which virtually anyone who mouthed any criticism of
The Beloved Leader or The Excellent Communist System risked betrayal
and torture by the KGB (or whatever the secret services were named in
the 1930ies in the Soviet Union).
It is not as far as that in
the USA, and it will take considerable time to impose these totalitarian
The article ends as follows:
How and why this neurosis
of power worship breaks out in societies, and particularly in a
notionally secular, representative republic, is not something we fully
understand. It is long past time for enterprising historians,
sociologists, and abnormal psychologists to find out.
In fact, I listed my
main explanations for power worship when
reviewing item 1 above: Bad education, native stupidity, ignorance,
being ordinary men, and the deep longing most ordinary men have
and for power
worshipping (since long before the 21st century) all seem quite
prominent in such an explanation.
State Department Drops Stated Mission to Promote Democracy
article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
In keeping with a recent
trend of abandoning key tenets of its stated mission, State Department
is rewriting its statement of purpose without any mention of promoting
"justice" and "democracy."
According to internal
State Department emails obtained
by the Washington Post, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has
ordered the department to redefine its stated mission. A draft that was
circulated within the department on Friday read, "We promote the
security, prosperity, and interests of the American people globally"
and said the department will strive to "lead America's foreign policy
through global advocacy, action and assistance to shape a safer, more
This contrasts with the
department's mission statement from 2016, which defined its purpose as
shaping and sustaining "a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic
world and foster[ing] conditions for stability and progress for the
benefit of the American people and people everywhere."
I say. Well... the propaganda is
definitely not an improvement, but it does accord much
better with the - neofascistic -
present president of the USA. And incidentally, since I am not
an American, I do not see any reason why "the American people"
have anything much to say outside the USA (though I agree
essentially this is a bit of government propaganda).
Capitalism in Crisis? Latest Trends of a System Run Amok
This article is by C.J.
Polychroniou on Truth-out.
Having survived the
financial meltdown of 2008, corporate capitalism and the financial
masters of the universe have made a triumphant return to their
"business as usual" approach: They are now savoring a new era of
wealth, even as the rest of the population continues to struggle with
income stagnation, job insecurity and unemployment.
This travesty was made
possible in large part by the massive US government bailout plan that
essentially rescued major banks and financial institutions from
bankruptcy with taxpayer money (the total commitment on the part of the
government to the bank bailout plan was over $16 trillion). In the
meantime, corporate capitalism has continued running recklessly to the
precipice with regard to the environment, as profits take precedence
not only over people but over the sustainability of the planet itself.
Yes indeed - and
those most responsible for the extraordinarily crazy bank
bailout plan where Bill
Clinton (who meanwhile was rewarded with some 150 million dollars)
and Robert Rubin
(who anyway made ten to thirty million dollars a year at Goldman
Sachs), together with Alan Greenspan.
(These are three of the greatest thiefs there ever were.)
Next, this is for
David M. Kotz, professor of economics at the University of
Massachusetts at Amherst and author of The Rise and Fall
of Neoliberal Capitalism (Harvard University Press, 2015).
Here is the first of two
quotations by David Kotz:
I think this is correct,
and the main reason is simply that the 1% of the rich (who got some
300% richer the last twenty years or so) enrich themselves
by systematically taking from the 90% of the non-rich (whose
incomes essentially remain the same, corrected for inflation, since
1980). And this happens and happened mostly through deregulations.
David M. Kotz: The
severe phase of the economic and financial crisis ended in the summer
of 2009. By then the banks had been bailed out and the Great Recession
ended, as production stopped falling and began to rise in North America
and Europe. As you say, since then profits have recovered quite well.
However, normal capitalist economic expansion has not resumed, but
instead, global capitalism has been stuck in stagnation.
Stagnation means no economic
growth or very slow economic growth. Stagnation has afflicted most of
the developed countries since 2010, with some countries, such as
Greece, still in a severe depression.
And there is also this:
Kotz: Not only has capitalism failed to bring economic
progress in this century, it has brought worsening conditions for the
majority. The reason for this is rooted in the transformation of
capitalism around 1980, when the post-World War II "regulated
capitalism" was rapidly replaced by "neoliberal
capitalism." Regulated capitalism arose mainly because of the
serious challenge to capitalism from socialist and communist movements
around the world and from the Communist Party-ruled states after World
War II. The new regulated capitalism was based on capital-labor
compromise. It led to the construction of welfare states, state
regulation of business, and trade union-led rising wages and more
stable jobs for working people.
Yes indeed - and I noted
the same, already a long time ago, though not in the
present terms: What Kotz calls "regulated capitalism" I called "capitalism with a
human face", and what Kotz calls "neoliberal
capitalism" I called "capitalism without a human face" .
In the 1970s, regulated
capitalism entered a period of economic crisis indicated by a long
decline in the rate of profit in the US and Western Europe. The
capitalist classes of the developed countries responded by abandoning
the capital-labor compromise, attacking the trade union movement,
lifting state regulation of business and banking, and making drastic
cuts in the welfare state and in the various forms of social provision.
This gave us the neoliberal form of capitalism.
And I think Kotz should have mentioned John Maynard
Keynes, who designed most of what Kotz calls "regulated
capitalism", if only because without Keynes the coming of a
regulated capitalism would have been far less probable.
But the rest seems more or less correct, and this is a recommended
article, with considerably more than quoted here.
fact, I was parrotting Alexander Dubcek's
(failed) attempt of trying to change socialism in Czechoslovakia in
1968, for he did use the phrase "socialism with a human face"