Thursday, September 7, 2017

Crisis: Extremists, Juan González, Silent Good People, Google & Trump, Neofascism

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 7, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, September 7, 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 the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health.

As I 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, followed by
      One selection (usually) from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from September 7, 2017

The 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:

This article is by Micah Lee on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Chat logs obtained from message boards used by neo-Nazis and other far-right groups show a concerted effort to compile private information on leftist enemies and circulate the data to encourage harassment or violence.
In fact, that is also precisely what the NSA and 16 other secret services try to do, and again also, if perhaps tilted to sales and profits rather than politics and power, to what the large corporations try to do.

These all try to find out as much as they can about the private lives, the private values, the private ideals, and the private interests of absolutely everyone, because this has become extremely cheap thanks to the internet and the computing technologies.

And they all try to find out everything about anyone because both each and all corporations and secret governmental institutions are trying to control the many by having as much or more information about them than they can recall themselves.

This also has been going on on the government side for over 40 years and on the corporate side either for over 15 years if you look at computers, but for nearly a 100 years if you look at attempts to systematically mislead, deceive, and manipulate their public in order to make a maximum profit from them, as was e.g. quite well brought out by Adam Curtis's (<-Wikipedia) ¨
The Century of the Self¨ (which is very well worth seeing): This has been done systematically and with huge dedication and huge profits since the 1920s.

Then again, the present empirical investigation that led to this article is based on a small set of corporations and persons:
This article is based solely on chat logs from a community called “Pony Power” (Unicorn Riot published the logs yesterday). The Pony Power server has 50 users, and the chat logs contain just over one thousand messages, posted over the course of 10 days (...)
Then again, this empirical investigation is rather thorough as any reader of this article will agree to, and there is this about the victims of these neonazis:
Victims of the outings, also known as “doxings,” described reactions ranging from terror to anger to annoyance and have variously turned to friends and family for support and locked down their accounts. They said the Pony Power doxing campaign is just the latest in a series of online efforts by neo-Nazis and their allies to marginalize their opponents.
And there is this in summary:

During the 10-day span that the Pony Power chat logs cover, from August 17 to August 27, so-called “alt-right” members collected private information from over 50 anti-fascist activists from the states of California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

The information collected often included photographs, social media profiles, home address, phone numbers, email addresses, date of birth, driver license numbers, vehicle information, place of employment, and in one instance, a social security number. The justification for doxing these people normally put forward in Pony Power was that they were part of a loosely-structured left-wing movement against fascism known as “antifa,” which has put up some of the most militant opposition to the far right, or because they’re judged sympathetic to antifa, or because they’ve been seen at protests deemed “communist” by the far-righters.

As I have pointed out in previous Nederlogs I agree with Noam Chomsky and Chris Hedges that I don´t much believe in ¨antifas¨ or indeed about as much as I believed about the Weathermen 45 years ago or so: They were leftist radical romantics without a sane and rational plan of action and without any good and rational analysis of what they were trying to undo (as I and many others did see correctly, 45 years ago).

Meanwhile, the present article is quite instructive about how far some neonazis go, and is a recommended article.

2. Reclaiming Gotham: Juan González on Cities Leading the Revolt Against Trumpism & Neoliberal Policies

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction, and is an interview with one of Goodman´s long time collaborators:
The city of New York announced Tuesday it is deploying funding for legal services for DACA recipients across the city, following the Trump administration’s decision to rescind the DACA program. In a message posted on Twitter, the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio said, "You are not alone. … If you face legal problems, we’ll be right there with you." The fight to save DACA marks just the latest example of cities pushing back against the Trump administration’s agenda. From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington. This is a central theme in a new book by Democracy Now! co-host Juan González titled "Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities." For more, we speak with Juan González, longtime staff writer for the New York Daily News, now a professor of journalism and media studies at Rutgers University.
And indeed Juan González also is a longtime collaborator of Democracy Now!
Here is some more about González and his new book:

AMY GOODMAN: The fight to save DACA marks just the latest example of cities pushing back against the Trump administration’s agenda. From climate change to sanctuary cities to police accountability to affordable housing, cities are increasingly pushing a far more progressive agenda than their counterparts in Washington.

This is a central theme of a new book by my colleague Juan González, co-host of Democracy Now! It’s titled Reclaiming Gotham: Bill de Blasio and the Movement to End America’s Tale of Two Cities. The book examines how de Blasio and other progressive city leaders are leading a nationwide revolt against corporate-oriented, neoliberal policies that have dominated urban America for decades.
I agree more or less with what is sketched here, but I must add immediately that I seem to be considerably less optimistic about ¨de Blasio and other progressive city leaders¨ than Juan González.

Indeed, I may well be mistaken, but here are more of my reasons:
AMY GOODMAN: (...) Who is speaking out now? Who are the progressive forces in America?
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: (..) I began to notice, actually about four years ago, in 2013, that there was something happening in the cities across the country that was actually a movement, a political movement that was not getting much attention. And that is the rise, post-the Great Recession, post-the Occupy Wall Street movement, that many young and progressive people were running for political office and actually winning seats in city councils and some even in mayoral races across the country, and that they were, in essence, the political—the political effect of a mass movement now that has been building across the country for decades (...)
And my main reason is that I am following politics more or less for 50 years at least, and one of the major things that a progressive, real Leftist like I am has been missing ¨for decades¨ precisely is a - real - leftist mass movement.

Here is the end of the article (and there is more on and with Juan González in the following article on Democracy Now!):

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, I believe the big cities of America and the federal government are on a collision course, over sanctuary cities, over sustainable development, over police accountability. They’re on a collision course in the same way Southern local governments back in the 1950s and '60s were on a collision course with the federal government over civil rights, only back then it was the federal government that was maintaining the more progressive position. Now it's the local governments that are maintaining the most progressive positions. And I believe that it’s going to get even more—the battle is going to get even stronger between the cities and the federal government.

Perhaps. But then again the strongest power - the somewhat progressive government  - won in the Sixties, while the strongest power now is Trump´s rightist government.

Anyway... this is a recommended article.

3. The Silence of the Good People

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. For me this has a somewhat wider meaning, because I have been argueing against the right and the - really rightist - ¨left¨ in Holland for 40 years now.

Indeed, I was first called ¨a fascist¨ over 40 years ago, by a fanatic Stalinist who probably very recently had joined the Dutch Communist Party and who had no idea that my communist grandfather was murdered by the Nazis, that both of my parents had been communists for 40 years, that my father had survived more than three years and nine months of German concentration camps, and who also in 1980 was to be the first communist who was knighted for making an exhibition about fascism because he had survived over three years and nine months of German concentration camps, nor any idea that what I wanted - but never got at the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam, even though I got an excellent B.A. and M.A. there - was a good scientific education, instead of year upon year upon year of politics, political ideologies, bullshit, lies, and moral degeneracies, for that was ¨the education¨ that the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam provided for most of its students between 1971 and 1995, when it was also guided by the 1 man = 1 vote principle, in which professors and lecturers all had 1 vote, as did the students and those the ¨University¨ employed to clean its toilets (which was a wholly unique situation - that persisted for 25 years - in the whole world, that gave the full power to the students for 25 years, but which also is something nobody who got his or her money from the neofascist ¨University¨ of Amsterdam ever mentioned since 1995).

This starts as follows:

I naturally disapprove strongly of the virulent white racists who gathered to violently defend Confederate “slave power” statues in Charlottesville, Va., two weekends ago, but I’ll say one thing for them: At least they seem to care quite a great deal in urgent, if vile, ways about politics and current events.

The older I get, the more I am struck by the bloodless social and political indifference and lethargy of millions upon millions of my fellow Americans.

Tyranny feeds on mass apathy and docility as much as it does on the marshaling of dark and reactionary forces. As Martin Luther King Jr. wrote: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people. … In end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

“He who passively accepts evil,” King added, “is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

I mostly agree - and I a little older than Paul Street, and I almost certainly also inherited far more leftism in my family than he did (see above: in fact I do not even know a single other Dutchman, except my brother, who doesn´t live in Holland, with such a background as I have).

What are the reasons for the silence of the good people (as is Paul Street´s title)?

I can think of at least four important reasons, all of which seem to be missed by ¨the left¨ or what remains of it:

1. There simply may not be as many good people as many people think:

Both of my parents were in the resistance against the Nazis in Holland, and both my father and his father (who was murdered) were arrested and convicted as ¨political terrorists¨ by collaborating Dutch judges, but - even though the Nazis managed to round up and murder more than 1% of the Dutch population because they were ¨Jewish¨ - I think less than 1% of the Dutch population were in the (real) resistance - though indeed I agree that also involved risking your life and risking torture.

In any case, when I take this as my measure for what real goodness consists in, in the face of major threats against one´s life and one´s health and social chances, I would incline to saying that fewer than 1 in a 100 is really good.

2. The people have now been manipulated for nearly 100 years by the corporations:

This is reasonably well explained by
The Century of the Self, which is a four part series that was originally aired by the BBC in 2002, and that was written and directed by Adam Curtis.

This series explains how, mostly through the influence of Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays, the big corporations started to treat the ordinary citizens of the USA no longer as citizens with needs, but as consumers with desires, and indeed succeeded in that, mostly between the 20ies and the 60ies, when also incredible amounts of advertisements and propaganda of all kinds were produced - which also means that by then there were many selfish and greedy consumers who only cared for themselves and their families and friends, and far fewer unselfish ungreedy persons with social ideals.

3. The education people get has been made much worse since the 1960ies:

I know, because I was born in 1950 and lived through the transition: Until 1965 the people in Holland got something like twice the education that they have gotten since, on all levels: Until 1965 people who entered the university had to pass written exams in 14 or more subjects, including 3 to 5 foreign languages, history, geography, Dutch, biolology and more, and also mathematics, physics and chemistry; after 1970 people who entered university had to pass written exams in 5 or 6 subjects, with just Dutch and one foreign language, and no mathematics or physics (often), and no history nor geography, or only as free subjects one could take or leave.

It is the same in the ¨universities¨ and indeed the IQ of the present-day universities seems to be Blairite, that is, anybody willing to hand out or to borrow several hundreds of thousands can get some degree, e.g. in media studies, provided his or her IQ is approximately 100 or better. (Thus all normal people now can get some degree, except that they have to pay very much more and get very much less real education than until 1965.)

4. It seems the vast majorities in Congress and the Senate have been bought by the rich:

This means in effect that democracy is dead in the USA: If most of the 700 or so ¨representatives of the people¨, who were elected by ¨the people¨, in supposedly free and fair elections, in fact have been bought by the rich before or after their election, then democracy has been killed, and has been replaced mostly by corruption (i.e. who can pay the most will get what he or she wants).

I leave these four points to your considerations, and move to the next point of Paul Street:

Look at the rolling national atrocity that is the quasi- and perhaps pre-fascist Donald Trump presidency. Every week, it seems, the orange-tinted beast comes forward with new threats and offenses to basic civilizational decency. Look at recent events: the crazy game of thermonuclear chicken Trump continues to play with Kim Jong Un; the dog-whistling cover Trump gave to the Nazis and other white supremacists in Charlottesville; the president’s threat to “shut down the federal government” if Congress doesn’t pay for his criminally idiotic and racist border wall; his granting of an early, pre-sentencing pardon to diabolical Joe Arpaio, the former longtime racist-fascist sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County.

I would not formulate it as Paul Street does, but - broadly speaking - I agree, and indeed I also mostly agree with the following, which are in fact mostly implications of the four points I made above, and especially the fourth:

Behind the scenes of “This Week in Trump” (TWIT), the “Insane Clown President” has been effectively advancing a hard-right agenda directly through the nation’s executive branch. The federal bench is being remade in the image of the radically reactionary and arch-regressive Federalist Society. Financial regulations are being rolled back along with environmental, consumer and civil rights protections. Trump is doing everything he can to slash health coverage for poor people short of his failed efforts to repeal Obamacare—this while he angles to pass a plutocratic tax cut for the rich in a nation where the top tenth of the upper 1 percent already has as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

Then there is this:

This is big, existentially dire stuff. Talk about evil. And yet I routinely confront abject indifference and aversion to anything and everything political on the part of ordinary white middle-class Americans (...)

I agree - but what if these ¨ordinary white middle-class Americans¨ do not think of themselves as rational citizens with rights and duties, but as small counterparts of the rich; that most seek to become rich anyway; and without any interest or concern in facts that do not immediately touch him or her, simply because he or she uses his or her own satisfaction of his or her own desires as the only relevant criterion for what he or she considers relevant?

That is, they have been transformed into blind consumers, without knowing it, and while thinking they did something good and worthwile. (See The Century of the Self and also see the above 4 points.)

Then there is this:

Millions of “good Americans” go through life in a chilling state of morally idiotic self-obsession and consumerism, chattering endlessly about their vacations, purchases, home repairs, automobiles, ailments, jobs and purely private dramas. The fact that the world’s most powerful state is headed by a racist, sexist and eco-exterminist white-nationalist, nuke-wielding malignant narcissist atop a team of right-wing, arch-plutocratic, planet-killing, science-denying enemies of peace, justice and democracy somehow doesn’t register as worthy of mass civil unrest in most American minds—white minds especially.

Again I would formulate it perhaps a bit differently but again I basically agree and also point again to The Century of the Self and the above 4 points.

And there is this, to which again applies the same:

Trump and his noxious cadres of sociopathic ecology-wreckers and plutocratic racists calculate that masses of good Americans are so pervasively indifferent, self-absorbed (often to the point of pathological narcissism), preoccupied, distracted, diverted, disinterested and demobilized that they can get away with just about anything while pounding his ugly and angry white base to make the world yet more precarious and vile.

And I point again to The Century of the Self and the above 4 points.

Those sage words ring with even greater relevance today than they did half a century ago. The U.S. didn’t get to its current horrific state simply through the machinations of the Trump campaign and the Republican Party. The real and deeper causes are systemic, institutional, cultural, moral and intellectual-ideological.

The article ends as follows:

Since Dr. King’s time, the United States has made some shining progress around questions of identity, civil liberties, bigotry and sexuality. It has made zero progress and, in fact, moved backward on economic justice and, most dangerously of all, on the intimately related environmental question, which now hangs over us like a great global Grim Reaper daring us to care about the fate of our own and countless other species.

A recent report on Moyers & Company shows that left-leaning social, political and environmental/climate progressives are the nation’s “new silent majority.” Now would be the time for that silence to find a voice. King’s line from the introduction to this essay bears repeating: “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

This is a recommended article, but I am - perhaps, for I don´t know - more pessimistic than Paul Street, for I have been hearing ¨the appalling silence of the good people¨ since over 40 years now.

4. Google, Trump, and the Arrogance of Power

This is from Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Google’s search engine runs two-thirds of all searches in the United States and 90 percent in Europe.

“Platform monopolies” like this can squelch innovation. Google might favor its own services, such as Google Maps and Google Product Search, for example. This is one reason why the European Commission hit Google with a record 2.42 billion-euro fine in June.

As I have pointed out several times in Nederlog, I hardly use Google (other than Youtube) and I completely avoid Google´s search engine since over five years. My reasons are that I trust them less than political neofascists (because they are about as reliable, but with vastly more money), and that I think they have far too much power.

Incidentally, it also seems that Google - that awarded over 120 points to my site in 2004 - now has put my site among those it seeks to punish, or at least this is what
I did read in some report about my site (that was not commanded by me and that I do not know whether to trust, although it does seem to be that true I am or at least my sites are almost completely unrecoverable by Google).

Here is some more about Google:

Google is among the largest corporate lobbyists in the United States, and a major campaign donor.

Google also has enough financial power to stifle criticism coming from independent researchers.

Yes indeed. There also is this:

Google doesn’t pay for fake news, but it does pay off academics to help sway public opinion and policymakers in its favor.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Google has financed hundreds of professors at places like Harvard and Berkeley to write research papers that help Google defend itself against regulatory challenges of its market dominance. Google’s payments range from $5,000 to $400,000.

This research has been used by Google in courtrooms, regulatory hearings, and congressional hearings.

Actually, I think the above establishes that Google does pay for the ¨fake news¨ that it itself ordered from well-paid and eager academics, although it doesn´t seem to pay for any ¨fake news¨ other than Google´s try to push its own views of what it is onto the internet and onto as many readers or viewers as possible.

Here is Reich on Google (supposed to be leftish, but actually better classified in my terms as an important force of neofascism/neoliberalism) and Trump (supposed to be rightish and racist, but also basically a very rich neofascist (who tend to call themselves neoliberals):

Google and Trump are wildly different, of course, but they’ve been playing much the same game. They’ve used their clout to stifle criticism, paid members of Congress to pull their punches, and bought fake or at least questionable facts to support of their goals.

I agree and this is a recommended article.

5. It May Actually Be Worse Than You Think: Assessing the Integrated and Funded Machine We Are Up Against

This article is by Cynthia Kaufman on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
When Trump first came to power, like most progressive, leftist, and liberal people I know, I was terrified. It seemed possible that we were on the verge of fascism. Could Trump unleash thugs onto the street to act with impunity against people from vulnerable groups, as Hitler’s Brown shirts did? Could the constitution be suspended? Could he maintain his power indefinitely as a dictator?
I am a progressive (real) leftist - and the ¨real¨ is added because I do not regard most of the politically correct ¨leftists¨ I saw arise in the last 40 years as real leftists - and both of my parents were real leftists for 40 years, as were three out of four of the grandparents I had - but I did not react like Cynthia Kaufman. Then again, I was shocked as well.

Here are Cynthia Kaufman´s reasons to think that the right has been altered in the last 40 years or so:
We are not up against the old, pro-capitalist business elite, which uses the constitution to ground its actions in the rule of law, and which seeks more than anything, a stable environment in which business can operate. The goals of this new extreme right wing are an end to taxation, which they see as an infringement of liberty; and end to the social welfare state; and a shrinking of any aspect of government that has to do with taking care of the environment and social needs.
I think that is basically correct, but I would put it differently:

The capitalism I grew up with, which is post WW II and much inspired by John Maynard Keynes, presented itself as capitalism-with-a-human-face (e.g. when compared to the much harsher capitalism of the 1930ies or the 1870ies, say) and did spread the social riches, indeed not equally, but more fairly than before.

The capitalism that started growing with Thatcher´s and Reagan´s ascents to power around 1980 is (much rather) capitalism-without-a-human-face and indeed seems best described as neofascism, at least if this is defined as follows:

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 stateb. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a social system.
And the goals of the new capitalists aka neofascists is simply maximal profit for the few rich, which they attempt to reach by maximal liberties for the few rich, which means no legal protections for the many non-rich: No social welfare state, no legal protections, and the almost complete control of society by the rich and their corporations, in the interests of the rich and their corporations, which by now have more money and more power than many governments do.

Here is a part of the reasons how they did it, which mostly may be traced back to the activities and writings of Lewis Powell Jr., who wrote the Powell Memorandum in 1971, in which he outlined how the rich could maintain and extend their powers:

They have invested millions of dollars in paying for positons at universities for professions would support their views. They have set up powerful and well-funded think tanks to propagate their views, even founding the  discipline of “law and economics” and establishing it as many law schools, to develop scholarship that looks at law through the lens of libertarian economics. By 1995, two fifths of all federal judges had been through a Koch sponsored curriculum that helped them understands the law that way.
I do not know whether this is all true, but some of it is, and the rest does seem quite plausible. Here is the last bit that I´ll quote from this article:
They gave a start to James Buchanan who got a Nobel Prize in economics for taking the view of human beings as fundamentally self -interested that dominates the discipline of economics, and applying it to an understanding of how government bureaucracies operate.
Yes, James Buchanan certainly played a role, but I think that there were two other forces that were as important or more important:

Sigmund Freud and his nephew Edward Bernays, whose ideals and ideas were based on the presumption that underneath the rational consciousness of human beings there is a hidden unconscious part, that is driven by aggressive personal and sexual drives, and that needs to be controlled if civilization is to persist. [2]

There is considerably more about them in The Century of the Self, which is strongly recommended, as the present article is recommended.


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better (!!).

[2] This was utter bullshit, that was never rationally tested until it failed in major ways in CIA-experiments in the 50ies, 60ies and 70ies.

And besides:

If every man is a seething mass of unconscious aggressive and sexual impulses, in what ways are Freud, Bernays, and the corporate rich different? Except that they have vastly more money and vastly more power than ordinary men? And how or why should the rich
unconsciously aggressive and irrational control and manipulate the non-rich unconsciously aggressive and irrational?

But these questions (and other rational ones) appear to have been rarely raised and rarely answered.

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