Sunday, October 1, 2017
On The Crisis: Robert Reich, Socialism, 11 hypotheses about the causes of the crisis
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This is originally a Nederlog of Friday, December 25, 2015, that I repeat today, on October 1, 2017 (with some minor deletions) because it is about one good film by Robert Reich and two good articles by me. There also is a previous crisis file of October 1, 2017 before the present file. Incidentally, part 3 in fact was first published in 2012 and also in 2014 (to which the links in part 3 still link).

I think everything today is fairly theoretical, but then without any theories you don't even know what will be or was.

Robert Reich's "Inequality for All"

The first item is a recent - well: from 2013 - movie of Jakob Kornbluth (<- Wikipedia) with Robert Reich. It takes around 58 minutes:

This is a movie about Robert Reich (<-Wikipedia), and it explains his ideas about the American economy. I like Reich (without always agreeing with him [1]) and I liked this movie, which I think intelligent people should see.

Part of the ideas he expounds concern this diagram, which charts inequality in the United States through nine decades, and returns in several forms in the movie:

But there is a lot more in the movie, that also won at least one prize, and it is all well explained.

2. On Socialism 

The second item is by myself and from September 21, 2015:

This is the last section from it, that starts as follows (and as it happens with another link):

The final article today is by myself and from September 10, last:

If you did not read this yet, it is well to do it now, for I will not repeat much of it but will presuppose most of it.

Also, I start with noting that there are in the present Nederlog no less than four definitions or characterizations of socialism: Margaret Cole's, Chris Hedges', and now George Orwell's, which was as follows (in 1941):

  1. Nationalization of land, mines, railways, banks and major industries.
  2. Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than ten to one.
  3. Reform of the educational system along democratic lines.
And here is my own, in answer to Orwell's:
Repropriation: [2] All mines, railways, banks and industries are the property of those who work in them; all land up to a maximum is the property of whoever farms it, if it is farmland; all of the rest of nature is the property of everyone under the responsibility of a parliament, that is the highest power in the country.

Limitation of incomes, on such a scale that the highest tax-free income in Britain does not exceed the lowest by more than twenty to one.

Reform of the educational system along democratic lines.

Public law: The laws are retained, apart from the necessary changes that follow from the three previous measures, and remain public and applicable to every citizen in the same way.

Parliamentary supremacy: The laws are maintained by parliament, and are changed by ordinary majorities. Every adult has a right to vote for parliament, and everyone's vote counts as one. The parliament is the supreme power in the state, and should work to maintain a socialist constitution.
I have the following remarks on these definitions or characterizations.

First, none of the definitions (or characterizations) is provably correct or incorrect, at least for those (that include myself) who insist that there are no (genuine) socialist states, and there have not been ones either, for a very long time (and disregarding a few small experiments).

If one does disagree - one might instantiate Cuba or North Korea as "socialist states", for example, or indeed Stalin's Soviet Union or the present-day China - I think your standards are too low or simply mistaken, but that is all I say on this (fairly remote) possibility now.

Second, I think the first definition of socialism (by Margaret Cole), while being correct in principle, is too broad and too vague, whlle the second definition of socialism (by Chris Hedges) is in part too vague and in part too specific.

In either case, I want a sufficiently general definition to identify what socialism is or might be, but without making it necessary to agree on twenty or more things that are necessary to be a socialist.

Third, Orwell's definition of socialism seems more correct (and note that his insistence on the limitation of all incomes and the importance of education seem to have been missed by Cole, and in part by Hedges), though it is also vague.

Fourth, Orwell's definition seems to me to be mistaken, and principially so: A real socialist revolution - it seems - involves expropriating the few who own most, but not by making the few who lead the state command everything, and effectively, through having the power, make even fewer than before own everything.

This is where my repropriation [2] enters: I do not want the state (or the party) to control, own or command everything, I merely want the few rich to stop owning the corporations and the land, and to hand the ownership of them to the people working in them, who also are not allowed to earn more than twenty times of what the least able earn.

In fact, I do not know how socialistic that is. I suppose it is socialism according to some, and not according to others.

Fifth, I do not care either for - having seen how Soviet "socialism" worked in practice - Soviet style "socialism", for I know I am a strong opponent of state socialism, in which the very few who command the state, thereby command and - effectively, if perhaps not quite legally - own everything.

Sixth, I want to insist that all of this is speculative, fantastical, and has not been practised apart from small experiments and state socialism (that failed within 72 years).

Then again, at least as far as my definition is concerned, I'd say that there is a simple majority in Western societies for the last three points; and that limitation of incomes to within 20 times as much as the least able receive (which must be more than enough to have a decent life) would not loose 97% of the current population anything.

In fact, I'd be willing to try just that: A system like the present one, but one which is considerably more fair, and where all incomes (and all ownership of things) are limited to be within (in Euro's) between 15,000 and 300,000 (within 1 to 20 times as much).

Is that socialism? Probably not, for socialism seems to involve considerable expropriation of the rich, on Orwell's line or my repropriation-lines. Then again, the proposed system amounts to little more than fixing the maximum amount  that anyone can own or earn at 20 times of what the poorest can own or earn, which means that 97% of the people will not loose a cent (and may gain considerably).

Finally, will this system be adopted? Not as long as the media are in the hands of the few who get a lot more than 300,000 euros or dollars a year. But at any rate it is a system were only the very rich loose money; everyone else retains what he or she had or receives more; where things can be arranged much more fairly; and that differs little from the existing system, except that there is a cap on incomes and on ownership.

3. 11 Hypotheses about the causes of the crisis

The third item is also a repeat, namely of parts of this item:
What I will repeat are merely the hypotheses in that item. Here they are - and please note that the notes link back to earlier items in Nederlog or to the Wikipedia.

Also, all of these hypotheses were formulated in November 2012, that is, without my knowing anything about Edward Snowden (who got know in June of 2013, and whose data support my hypotheses considerably):

Hypothesis 1:
In principle, corporate fascism - defined as: the state is de facto owned and run by and for the major international corporations, that are multinationals and beyond state or judicial control [Note 1] - in combination with the surveillance state - defined as: the state's surveillance and recording of the activities, interests, concerns, ideas, values, of its population - means effective absolute power for small corporate élites plus their executives, and effective slavery for the rest. [N.7]
Hypothesis 2 (plus sub-hypotheses):
Everything ordinary citizens do, desire, think, write, mail - their internet activities, their phones, their bankaccounts, their interests, their identities, their pictures, their fingerprints, their families, their friends, their opinions, their education, the things they bought and sold, and more - has been thoroughly recorded and filed, whenever and wherever possible, since 9/11/2001, namely for the eventual use, by unknown anonymous persons, possibly acting, for unknown ends, for obscure or secret organizations, or for mostly secretively acting corporations, all possibly at unknown locations, for much or all that has been collected in one country gets - explicitly or deviously - shared with the US and with  the police or security forces in other countries. [N.3]

This "sharing of information" happens both by political agreements, where governments agree with US state organs like the FBI or CIA that they will share data on what are claimed to be (potential) "terrrorism suspects", and by brute force: Whatever happens on the internet may be tracked, traced and stored. [N.3.1]

In this "We the people" have been systematically betrayed by politicians of all stripes: Their rights not to be spied upon, except perhaps after a court order, issued by an independent judge, have been completely destroyed. [N.3.2]

Likewise, and apart from that, the internet activities of everyone have been secretively tracked, traced, datamined, and stored for the benefit of corporations, not only for targeted advertizing, but to get all possible information on anyone who either may eventually become a customer, an employee or an opponent. [N.4]
Hypothesis 3 (plus sub-hypotheses):
The corporations have taken over the states by propagandizing and/or by buying the states' bureaucrats and politicians. [N.1]

This has been going on for a long time - decades, and certainly since Eisenhower mentioned the dangers of the military-industrial complex - and has mostly succeeded since 9/11/01: The majorities of those who should control the states (politicians and bureaucrats) now are controlled by people working for the big corporations. [N.1.1]

This was and is not merely a matter of corruption and buying: Part was effected through propaganda. [N.1.2]

This also holds for European states in EU, and explains why prominent politicians in diverse parties sound as if they are singing from a GOP hymn sheet, and use GOP tactics, such as nominally taking over the moral stances of those they oppose. [N.1.3]
Hypothesis 4 (plus sub-hypothesis):
The states of Western Europe and the US have been turned into surveillance states where anonymous state bureaucrats in principle know all there is to know about all ordinary citizens. [N.2]

This has been going on since before 9/11/01, that much increased it, and is not only done by state organizations but also by corporations, and in both cases was possible because there are hardly any rational laws that can be effectively applied to the internet. [N.2.1]
Hypothesis 5 (plus sub-hypotheses):
Most that what ordinary people - the badly educated "democratic majority" - get offered in the public media, and especially TV, is middle of the road propaganda, that stonewalls, avoids or lampoons all that is not middle of the road trivialities, and that systematically avoids (almost) any really intelligent and informed discussion of the themes that matter to a free society inhabited by free citizens who are not controlled and spied upon and propagandized by both state organs and corporations. [N.5]

Education has been systematically simplified, stupefied and leveled, and teaches hardly any real intellectual skills. [N.6]

High culture and high civilization and high art of all kinds: science, art, independent media, music, in so far as these existed, have been cut or replaced by middle brow or low brow stuff that nominally does the same, and is more effective as propaganda for the masses. [N.6.1]

Additional reasons may be that strangling high art and civilization, that often need subsidies to exist, cost less and helps preventing that intellgent persons get ideas or find a public for spreading their ideas. [N.6.2]
Hypothesis 6:
The primary end of the CF+SS I am talking about:

Power to the corporations, over the state and over the ordinary population, by buying, taking over, and/or turning into commercial markets what once were the states' powers and institutions, and to manage the majority of the ordinary citizens by propaganda, control, surveillance, and force. [N.13]
Hypothesis 7:
The secondary end of the CF+SS I am talking about:

A long lasting authoritarian empire controlled by the corporate élite for the corporate éliteś benefit, with features of Stalinism, but much strenghtened by the Surveillance State's absolute surveillance of all.
Hypothesis 8:
The ideology of the corporate élite that is behind the efforts to realize CF+SS is difficult to discern, except that clearly these folks - and their spokesmen, as can be found in Fox News - believe they ought to run and own the world and have an authoritarian and conservative agenda:

That those who control the corporations should control the states, the people and the world, presumably because they have the right and duty to impose their ideology on others, while their actions must be good, because by rising to control the corporations they have shown themselves to be the best, and because any force used by the best for an end declared good by the best must be good.
Hypothesis 9:
"The war on terror" is - or seems much like - a program to introduce corporate fascism by taking over the state and by introducing the surveillance state, that watches, tracks and records all activities of all ordinary citizens, so that these ordinary citizens can be controlled, manipulated and propagandized.
Hypothesis 10:
There may be, and soon may be many more, (secret) concentration camps, secret disappearances, secret renditions and secret prisons, because that is and always was the nature of state terrorism, and because most of the propagandized and ill-educated democratic majorities support terrorism against those who have been styled terrorists, especially if the latter do not belong to their own groups. [N.10]
Extra hypothesis 11:
Whoever controls the internet controls the world, at least implicitly.

Namely in four ways, at least:
    1. Governments and corporations need the internet as information processors: Whoever gains some control over some aspects of this - as do Google and Facebook, for example - controls part of the content and the data mining that is possible through that.
    2. The internet is based on physical computers, cables and broadcasters: Whoever can control these, as can the state organs on whose territory these items exist, has control of the functioning of them.
    3. The internet, in so far as it is controlled, is controlled by states and their organs: Whoever controls the parliamentarians, ministers or chief bureaucrats can shape legislation.
    4. Whatever runs on any computer can be taken over by whoever can get control over the computer: corporate or state secret spies, or state representatives such as the police.


[1] Actually I should not need to add "(without always agreeing with him)" because this seems to me rather self-evident, but I added it anyway, because there are quite a few of fanatics, ideologists, and trolls.

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