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Nederlog

Monday, September 11, 2017

Crisis: The Flood(s), Plastic, Mao Zedong, ¨Social Democracy¨, On Climate Change


Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from September 11, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, September 11, 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 will continue with it.

On the moment I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from September 11, 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 Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
How many times will we rebuild Florida’s cities, Houston, coastal New Jersey, New Orleans and other population centers ravaged by storms lethally intensified by global warming? At what point, surveying the devastation and knowing more is inevitable, will we walk away, leaving behind vast coastal dead zones? Will we retreat even further into magical thinking to cope with the fury we have unleashed from the natural world? Or will we respond rationally and radically alter our relationship to this earth that gives us life?
From much that I have read and reported in the crisis series on this site, that is currently in its ninth year, and covers more than 1680 articles and around 8000 reviews (I guess, but this is about it) most of the answers ought to be clear:

It is unlikely that Florida´s cities will be rebuild more than once, because it is likely that the climate will be getting worse and worse quite rapidly.

And ¨the past¨, which saw many civilizations grow and perish very strongly suggests that ¨we¨ [2] wil not ¨
respond rationally and radically¨:
Civilizations over the past 6,000 years have unfailingly squandered their futures through acts of colossal stupidity and hubris. We are probably not an exception. The physical ruins of these empires, including the Mesopotamian, Roman, Mayan and Indus, litter the earth. They elevated, during acute distress, inept and corrupt leaders who channeled anger, fear and dwindling resources into self-defeating wars and vast building projects. The ruling oligarchs, driven by greed and hedonism, retreated into privileged compounds—the Forbidden City, Versailles—and hoarded wealth as their populations endured mounting misery and poverty.
Yes indeed. But if ¨we¨ do not ¨respond rationally and radically¨ then our civilization will end like previous civilizations, except that the destructions our civilizations have caused or the destructions a nuclear war will cause, may finish mankind and indeed also considerable parts of animal life.

Here are some of the things Chris Hedges foresees:

Cities across the globe, including London, Shanghai, Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai, Lagos, Copenhagen, New Orleans, San Francisco, Savannah, Ga., and New York, will become modern-day versions of Atlantis, along with countries such as Bangladesh and the Marshall Islands and large parts of New Zealand and Australia.
(...)
Nuclear power plants, including Turkey Point, which is on the edge of Biscayne Bay south of Miami, will face meltdowns, such as the accident that occurred in the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after it was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami. These plants will spew radioactive waste into the sea and air. Exacerbated by disintegration of the polar ice caps, the catastrophes will be too overwhelming to manage. We will enter what James Howard Kunstler calls “the long emergency.” When that happens, our experiment in civilization might approach an end.
And I am afraid these expectations are quite realistic, indeed (in part) because ¨we¨ have done hardly anything effective since 1971 against climate change, as can be seen from the following graph:



There is a lot more in the article, that ends as follows:

The damage suffered by Houston, Tampa and Miami is not an anomaly. It is the beginning of the end. Ask not for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.
I am afraid this is correct, although it probably will go on for some 20 to 40 years more, that is, if we escape a nuclear war. And this is a recommended article.

2. Study Finds 94 Percent of U.S. Tap Water Contaminated With Plastic

This article is by Emma Niles on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

A study led by the nonprofit Orb Media concludes that tap water in dozens of nations contains extremely high levels of plastic microfibers. The contamination rate was highest in the United States. The Guardian reports:

The US had the highest contamination rate, at 94%, with plastic fibres found in tap water sampled at sites including Congress buildings, the US Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters, and Trump Tower in New York. Lebanon and India had the next highest rates.

European nations including the UK, Germany and France had the lowest contamination rate, but this was still 72%. The average number of fibres found in each 500ml sample ranged from 4.8 in the US to 1.9 in Europe.

The new analyses indicate the ubiquitous extent of microplastic contamination in the global environment. Previous work has been largely focused on plastic pollution in the oceans, which suggests people are eating microplastics via contaminated seafood.

Overall, more than 80 percent of the samples collected from five continents “tested positive for the presence of plastic fibers.”

I say, which I do because I did not know this. That is, I did know about the enormous amounts of not yet degraded plastics that pollute the oceans, but I did not know it had gotten as bad as this in terms of degraded plastics.

Here is some more from the report:

If plastic fibers are in your water, experts say they’re surely in your food as well — baby formula, pasta, soups, and sauces, whether from the kitchen or the grocery. Plastic fibers may leaven your pizza crust, and a forthcoming study says it’s likely in the craft beer you’ll drink to chase the pepperoni down.

It gets worse. Plastic is all but indestructible, meaning plastic waste doesn’t biodegrade; rather, it only breaks down into smaller pieces of itself, even down to particles in nanometer scale — one-one thousandth of one-one thousandth of a millimeter.

Incidentally, it is not known yet what harm feeding yourself and the animals plastic in their food and their water will cause. But I do consider this quite disquieting, also because I do not think this enormous plastic contamination will diminish in the coming 500 to 1000 years, indeed whether or not there are men and a human civilization.

This is a recommended article.


3. Searching for Mao in Xi Jinping's China

This article is by Roderick MacFarquhar on The Boston Review. In fact, this is taken from the new book The China Questions: Critical Insights into a Rising Power.

This starts as follows:

Forty-one years ago, on September 9, 1976, Chairman Mao Zedong died at the age of eighty-two. In the four decades since, China has turned into a country that Mao would not recognize. Unleashed by Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening up” policy, the Chinese people have transformed an agricultural country into the world’s second-largest economy and its industrial workshop. Today hundreds of millions of Chinese people have attained considerable wealth, many even becoming billionaires. The Sino-American opening signaled by Mao and Richard Nixon in 1972 has entangled the two countries in a multiplicity of relationships at all levels: official and popular, economic and educational, political and military.

China has indeed become a power recognized by all, particularly its neighbors. Mao would almost certainly have relished that power. But what of his Cultural Revolution dreams of equality and collectivism? How relevant is Mao Zedong Thought in light of China's high levels of inequality? Are Mao’s portraits in Tiananmen Square and at his mausoleum of any political significance today? Does Mao still matter?

Yes indeed: This - in very broad strokes - what did happen in China since the death of Mao Zedong, and the questions Farquhar poses are all well deserved.

And there is this about China´s current leader, Xi Jinping:
Nobody is more conscious of the importance of these questions than China’s current ruler, Xi Jinping. President Xi constantly admonishes the Chinese people not to divide the history of the PRC into a Maoist period and a reform period. For him such a division would imply that there was a bad period and a good period, like the Stalinist and post-Stalinist periods (after Khrushchev’s “secret speech” denouncing Stalin in 1956) in Soviet historiography. Xi values the basic elements of the Leninist state set up under Mao in 1949 because he clearly sees in them the only way to preserve Communist Party rule in the future.
I think it is also true that Xi Jinping wants ¨to preserve Communist Party rule in the future¨ but I also think a bit more is involved, simply because anyone who knows the fundamentals of Marxism also knows that communism in fact has been mostly left in China, and that what remains of communism (that was to an extent practised under Mao) is a - so-called - Communist Party that is not so much communist any more, as it is plainly authoritarian.

Here is more that does support this authoritarianism:
The second indication of Xi’s determination to be China’s Mao-like supreme leader is the personality cult that developed early around him. His works have been widely published, and his Governance of China, which exists in several translations, is readily available in western bookshops.
Yes indeed. There is also this:
The third element of the Maoist state, uniting leader, party, and people, was ideology: Marxism-Leninism, supplemented, in due course, by Mao Zedong Thought. There is no indication that Xi wishes to imitate Mao by making China a shining revolutionary beacon on a hill. Nor, in all his talk of a China dream, is there any suggestion that he foresees a revival of Confucianism. Rather, he will reemphasize Deng’s delineation of Marxism-Leninism and Mao Zedong Thought as components of the nation’s four cardinal principles that cannot be questioned. Whereas, in Deng’s time, this effectively meant putting ideology aside, Xi sees a need to revive Communist ideology as a vibrant bulwark of China’s exceptionalism, to inoculate its citizens against Western democratic ideas.
I think this is also true, but especially with regards to its trying ¨to inoculate its citizens against Western democratic ideas¨. As I said above, it seems not very likely to me that the ¨Marxism¨ will comprise a lot of communism or socialism as propounded by Marx and Engels, but it also seems quite likely to me that it will insist on the absolute authority of the Communist Party and its leader.

And indeed here is Farquhar:
Xi’s China may trumpet Marxism as its unifying ideology, but only as window dressing. The Thought of General Secretary Xi will effectively take its place, as Mao Zedong Thought did under the Chairman.
The article ends as follows:
Mao is the lodestone of the Xi regime, the ultimate legitimation of Xi’s policies and personal role in state and society. So the Chairman’s portrait will continue to hang in Tiananmen, and citizens will continue to be shepherded into his mausoleum. Mao does still matter.
Indeed. And this is a recommended article. 


4. Social Democracy Is Good. But Not Good Enough.

This article is by Joseph M. Schwarz and Bhaskar Sunkara on The Jacobin Magazine. This starts as follows:

In his New Republic essay “The Socialism America Needs Now,” Judis makes a passionate plea for the rebuilding of a social-democratic movement — or what he calls “liberal socialism.” He contends that the welfare state and democratic regulation of a capitalist economy should be the end goal for socialists, as past efforts at top-down nationalization and planning yielded the repressive societies and stagnant economies of the Soviet bloc. In contrast, Judis argues, the Scandinavian states are dynamic capitalist economies that are still far more equitable and humane than the United States.

For him, socialism — democratic control over workplaces and the economy — consists of “old nostrums” whose days have past.

I say, for this is not what I´ve learned to understand by ¨socialism¨, whether or not it is qualified by ¨liberal¨: For me, socialism is an alternative to capitalism, which is also how my parents and grandparents, who all were socialists, also understood it, and not at all as
a capitalist kind of social democracy, as Judis paints what he calls
¨socialism¨.

This may be social democracy, but it is not socialism, at least if these terms are used more or less in their original meaning(s).

Then again, Schwarz and Sunkara also disagree with Judis:

But we have moral reasons to demand something more. After all, we can’t have real political democracy without economic democracy. Corporations are “private governments” that exercise tyrannical power over workers and society writ large. The corporate hierarchy decides how we produce, what we produce, and what we do with the profits that workers collectively make.

I agree with all of this, but not quite with the ¨moral reasons¨ this starts, and not because they are absent, but because for me - who did get a communist education from communist parents - the terms ¨socialism¨ or ¨liberal socialism¨ do mean something rather different and also far more radical than social democracy.

Then there is this:

To embrace radical democracy is to believe that any decision that has a binding effect on its members — say, the power to hire or fire or control over one’s work hours — should be made by all those affected by it. What touches all, should be determined by all.

At minimum, we should demand an economy in which various forms of ownership (worker-owned firms, as well as state-owned natural monopolies and financial institutions) are coordinated by a regulated market — an economy that enables society to be governed democratically. In an undemocratic capitalist economy, managers hire and fire workers; in a democratic socialist economy, workers would hire those managers deemed necessary to build a content and productive firm.

I more or less agree, and especially with ¨What touches all, should be determined by all¨, although this does need a few qualifications, and also an addition, which is rather classical for real socialism:

The qualifications are that ¨all¨ covers the sane adults, and indeed not all to the same extent  (for there are genuine differences between the knowledgeable and the ignorant ir the stupid), while the addition is that for very many (classical) socialists, including George Orwell, one crucial difference between real socialism and capitalism is that under real socialism incomes should not differ by more than 1 to 10, from the poorest to the richest, according to Orwell, or from 1 to 20 according to me.

For we really need to legally limit the amounts of power and the amounts of money individuals are allowed to gather for themselves, and indeed any real socialism differs from all foregoing social systems (at least since antiquity) in doing precisely that.

And there is this:

Since the early 1970s, the height of Western social democracy, corporate elites have abandoned the postwar “class compromise” and sought to radically restrict the scope of economic regulation. What capitalists grudgingly accepted during an exceptional period of postwar growth and rising profits, they would no longer.

The past forty years have witnessed an ideological and political war against once-powerful labor movements and the welfare states they helped build. This bipartisan class war advocated for the four “d”s of neoliberalism: deregulating the economy, decreasing progressive taxation; decreasing the scope of public goods; and decreasing the power of organized labor.

Yes indeed, I quite agree, although I prefer my own names: From 1945 till 1980 were the years of capitalism-with-a-human-face, in which riches in the West and the USA were not honestly divided, but were more honestly divided than before or since, largely as consequences of the politics of Roosevelt and the economics of Keynes. And from 1980 onwards were the years of capitalism-without-a-human-face (rather like the 1920ies or
the 1880ies), where the many non-rich had no real advantage in their incomes whatsoever, whereas the few rich enormously expanded their riches and their powers.

The article ends as follows:

To chart a different course, we would need a militant labor movement and a mass socialist presence strengthened by accumulated victories, looking to not merely tame but overcome capitalism. A socialism that refuses to deal with the “old nostrums about ownership and control of the means of production” will not only fall short of our democratic expectations of what a just society would look like — it will doom us to failure.

I mostly agree - that is: I am a real socialist and not a social democrat - and this is a recommended article.  


5. Hurricanes Blow Away Climate Change Denial

This article is by Paul R. Pillar on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

The loss of respect for truth is one of the most consequential features of public affairs in American today. The roots and causes of this tragic development are multiple. The spread of social media and the related ability to spread untruths cheaply at the speed of electrons are parts of the story. Another part is the phenomenon of fake news (real fake news, that is, not alleged fake news that is really real news that the alleger doesn’t welcome).

The advent of Donald Trump’s presidency has taken this sad story to new depths. The President lies copiously, flagrantly, unashamedly, and far beyond what had been the norm for political fibbing. He has shown how a political career, rising even to the highest office of the land, can be built on lying.

Correctives to this awful trend are difficult to identify. The tribal belief system that prevails in most of the American population, in which people chiefly listen to and believe sources they identify with politically or socially and had already been telling them what they want to hear, is so well entrenched it seems almost impossible to overcome.
I quite agree, and my agreement is a bit special in that I first heard the notion that truth does not exist from - what must have been a fascist or a neofascist, at least  according to the late Hannah Arendt - professor M.A. Brandt, who was allowed to publicly open the academic year 1978-1979 in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam by its Board of Directors, who now that they are all dead I can safely say were all fascists, were all terrorists and were all thieves of many millions of guilders.

And I am - especially - referring to the late George Cammelbeeck, the late Jan-Karel Gevers and the late Roel Poppe, who all were (as nearly everyone with any power in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam) members of the ¨Social Democratic Party¨ of Holland, that had the power in Amsterdam from 1948 till 2011, and that also was known, deservedly in my opinion, as the Social Fascists in the Dutch Communist Party.

And my personal safety - and I have been threatened that I would be murdered quite a few times, both by students and by illegal drugsdealers above whom I was forced to live by the Mayor of Amsterdam, who invested in illegal drugs rather than in Dutch laws, and who gave his ¨personal permission¨ that his illegal drugsdealers were to deal from the bottom floor of the house where I lived - is predicated on four things:

(i) Hannah Ahrendt´s writings (and I did not know until recently what she had said about truth and fascism, but she did: Fascists deny that truth exists; (ii) the very rare radical background of my - real - communist parents and grandparents: Both of my parents were in the - real - resistance against the Nazis (who rounded up more than 1% of the total Dutch population and murdered them because they were - said to be - Jewish [3]), while both my father and his father were arrested in 1941 and condemned to concentration camp imprisonment by collaborating Dutch judges (who never were punished, as was none of the major Dutch criminal collaborators with the Nazis), (iii) the Dutch civil laws, that insist one cannot offend dead people; and (iv) the fact that my father was knighted - as the only communist, until the Dutch Communist Party was extinct - briefly before his death in 1980, and indeed for designing the National Exhibition about the Resistance against Fascism.

Also, I did try to do something about the destruction of the Dutch universities that had started in the early 1970ies, in spite of my illness that now has lasted since 1.1.1979, for I set up a student party, that got one seat in the University Parliament, but then I also found out that at most 5% of the ¨scientific¨ staff of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam did believe that truth exists, and considerably fewer than 5% was inclined to do anything against the neo-marxism and the postmodernism that ruled the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam between 1971 and 1995.

And indeed I was also - still ill, still poor, still a - real - Leftish radical (I think the only one in the whole ¨University¨) - denied the legal right to take my M.A. in philosophy in 1988 (which would have been very good): I was cast out of the whole faculty of philosophy because I had criticized the incompetent parasites who taught philosophy there; because I had set up a student party that was for rational science and against ¨Marxism¨ and postmodernism; and because I was - evidently, as the vast majority of the students screamed at me, and as the staff held - ¨a dirty fascist¨ and (in 1988, because I criticized the
incompetent parasites who taught philosophy) ¨a terrorist, a terrorist, a terrorist¨.

I was none of these things, ever. But thus I was painted by the vast majority, while the Board of Directors of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam systematically refused, refused, refused and refused - from 1984 till 2017: a mere 33 years - to answer any of my complaints about their treatments of me and especially the more than three years of terrorism I and ny girlfriend had been exposed to by their refusals to do anything for us (and they knew me indeed to be their opponent, while my girlfriend and I were terrorized by a madman and a drunkard, as indeed I proved in court, after the facts).

Well, the offensive fascistic terrorists of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam now are all dead, so - at loooooooong last - I can speak the truth about them (which they all denied exists):

They were fascists; they were terrorists; they were sadists (and I am a psychologist); they seem to have stolen around 65 millions of guilders; they had myself and my also ill girlfriend terrorized from 1981 till 1984 by an utterly insane man and by a drunk person; and when it turned out (after 2 more years) that the courts supported me, these fascist terrorists also took care I could not even finish my M.A. in philosophy in 1988 (when I was very ill and had been ill since 1.1.1979).

And for me truth is dead in Holland: It has been killed by the fascists, by the terrorists,  and - especially! - by the moral degenerates and the parasites that made up 95% of the ¨University of Amsterdam¨ between 1971 and 1995, simply because each student and each staff member should have protested and protested and protested against the fact that from August 1978 onwards, in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam, according to professor Brandt and the Board of Directors, the following bit of out and out fascism held:
¨Everybody knows that truth does not exist¨
But at most 5% did hold this was utter bullshit, in all these 25 years, which means that truth is dead in Holland [4], at least since 1978, and with the warm embrace of 95% of the ¨scientists¨ that earned their (then) enormous salaries by doing mostly nothing in the Dutch ¨universities¨, that now provide degrees for anyone with an IQ of 100 or higher, provided they have or loan the tenthousands of euros a year that ¨studying¨ now costs.

I will return to this.

Meanwhile here is the end of Pillar´s article:

Without diminishing any immediate sympathy and support for those whose lives the hurricanes have upended, this is the time to shout from rooftops that dishonest climate-change-denying politicians are causing more such suffering in the future for Americans as well as others. And when Trump’s EPA destroyer (a.k.a. administrator) Scott Pruitt says that now is not the time to talk about climate change, the proper response is that now is an excellent time to talk about it.
I agree, but as I argued under the first quotation of this article, my own experiences with truth in Holland, during the last 41 years, have taught me that in Holland truth has been killed, and I fear the same is true in the USA.

Or to be precise: I think - real, scientific - truth is presently important to at most 5% of the living, and I much afraid (as my life also has shown me) that is not enough to keep up human civilization.

------------------------------
  Notes

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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]
I do not like to be put, as a matter of course, amongst the ¨we¨ that support something, that I often disagree with, and that I also know at least some others disagree with, but I am willing to agree to the thesis that we need more pronouns, if only because it is rarely the case that all of some group agree with something, while saying ¨we¨ normally suggests otherwise.

[3] Who is a Jew? I don´t know, because the Jews themselves disagree, and some of them, but not all of them, also consider those who lost the Jewish faith but were born in a Jewish background as Jews.

In fact, I do not care much (and no one should be killed or persecuted because of his or her race or faith) but I make this note to insist that (i) Joseph Goebbels´ theory of what Jewishness is was not Jewish but Nazist, and (ii) that many of the persons who were arrested and murdered as Jews by the Nazis did not have the Jewish faith.

[4] As I started with noting, I first heard the utter and contradictory and fundamentally fascist lie that ¨Everybody knows that truth does not exist¨ 39 years ago, in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam (where I studied philosophy, psychology and Norwegian).

Of course that was utter crap, and clearly the Dutch cannot do without the ordinary commonsensical account of truth that everyone knows and that most people agree with (and that is to the effect that: ¨it rains here and now¨ is true precisely if it rains here and now).

What I mean is especially that the academics and the intellectuals have for the most part given up this belief in commonsensical truth, and indeed also, more or less in consequence, that journalism has given up some of its beliefs in commonsensical truth.

None of them has any good intellectual reason to do so, but all have excellent non- intellectual reasons: If there is no truth, no one can ever be refuted in anything, and the last position is a position that is much craved by most Dutch (arrived) academics.

And besides: Except for myself and some very few others, absolutely no one has ever protested in Holland (a country of which the vast majority of its population did not see many problems in having over 1% of its population murdered - which I insist on because both of my parents and three out of four of my grandparents did object, and did object while the Nazis were in power) against the very widely published postmodernistic thesis (within the universities, at least, for these were postmodernistic between 1983 and 1995, and indeed may still be so) that
¨Everybody knows that truth does not exist¨.

I think that is widely accepted, certainly among Dutch academic intellectuals, and I think, as did Hannah Ahrendt, that this
is the basis of fascism.

That is also what I thought in 1978 when I first heard it. I have heard hardly a word of protest since, and I do not know of any Dutch academic who
publicly ever protested.

Also, no one ever withdrew his or her sayings (from 1977 till 1989) that I am ¨a dirty fascist¨ or ¨a terrorist¨; just as no one ever answered any of the many letters I have send or indeed any of the many mails that I have send to protest my being tortured for over three years and then of being - literally - gassed:

The ¨University¨ of Amsterdam never did, nor did the City of Amsterdam, nor did any of the mayors of Amsterdam that I have addressed since 1988 because I was - literally - gassed (and survived because the house was a dump that was full of holes). Mind you, this was also tested in 1992, when it was established that the house I had lived in had been a life-threatening danger from 1988 till 1992.

Again none of those responsible answered with anything.

How does all of this differ from fascism? Especially if you know that the illegal drugsdealers in Holland have been earning over 300 billion euros since 1988, all thanks to the help and the protection these illegal drugsdealers got from mayors, who all were very willing (I do not know for what amounts of money) to give their ¨personal permission¨ for them to deal in public? That have been mistaken for over 30 years now as ¨a legalization¨ of drugs in Holland?
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