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Nederlog

Tuesday, December 26, 2017.

Crisis: Noam Chomsky, Neofascism, US Interventionism, Trump, Who Cares?
 
Sections                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from December 26, 2017.
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, December 26, 2017.

And in Holland this also happens to be "the Second Christmas Day". I do not know where else this is the case, but I use the opportunity today to repeat two previous Nederlogs, both of which - I think - are quite important for people who are interested in understanding the crisis (which still continues for everyone who is not rich):
Crisis: It's the deregulation, stupid! which is indeed about the very many deregulations in the USA, in fact since Reagan, and Crisis: On Ideologies which is about ideologies, which
are the normal background of what most people believe.

I strongly recommend you read both, in case you did not yet, and here is today's Nederlog:

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 and since two years (!!!!) 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.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from December 26, 2017
1. Noam Chomsky in Conversation with Amy Goodman on Trump,
     Nukes, North Korea, Climate Change & Syria

2. We Really Shouldn't Let Silicon Valley into Our Schools
3. Trump’s Continuation of US Interventionism
4. A Year With Trump
5. Who Cares?
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:

1. Noam Chomsky in Conversation with Amy Goodman on Trump, Nukes, North Korea, Climate Change & Syria

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:

In this Democracy Now! special, we spend the hour with the world-renowned linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky. In a public conversation we had in April, we talked about President Trump, climate change, nuclear weapons, North Korea, Iran, the war in Syria and his new book, “Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power.”
This is from the beginning of the article:

AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you about this comment that you made that the Republican Party, you said, is the most dangerous organization in world history. Can you explain?

NOAM CHOMSKY: I also said that it’s an extremely outrageous statement. But the question is whether it’s true. I mean, has there ever been an organization in human history that is dedicated, with such commitment, to the destruction of organized human life on Earth? Not that I’m aware of. Is the Republican organization—I hesitate to call it a party—committed to that? Overwhelmingly. There isn’t even any question about it.

Take a look at the last primary campaign—plenty of publicity, very little comment on the most significant fact. Every single candidate either denied that what is happening is happening—namely, serious move towards environmental catastrophe—or there were a couple of moderates, so-called—Jeb Bush, who said, “Maybe it’s happening. We really don’t know. But it doesn’t matter, because fracking is working fine, so we can get more fossil fuels.” Then there was the guy who was called the adult in the room, John Kasich, the one person who said, “Yes, it’s true. Global warming’s going on. But it doesn’t matter.” He’s the governor of Ohio. “In Ohio, we’re going to go on using coal for energy, and we’re not going to apologize for it.” So that’s 100 percent commitment to racing towards disaster.

Yes, I agree. And I do so not because there were no other extremely dangerous groups in human history, but because the Republicans are more powerful and possibly also richer than any other group.

And there is this by Chomsky on what Trump's government is doing:
And I don’t have to go through what’s happened since, but the—in general, the Cabinet appointments are designed to—assigned to people whose commitment and beliefs are that it’s necessary to destroy everything in their department that could be of any use to human beings and wouldn’t just increase profits and power. And they’re doing it very systematically, one after another.
Precisely - and I have a decent explanation for this, in principle: neofascism (and if you disagree you should look at my definition).

Next, there is this on the acute danger of a nuclear war. Chomsky's reference, that is completely justified, is to the Doomsday Clock:
A couple of—about a week into Trump’s term, the clock was moved again, to two-and-a-half minutes to midnight. That’s the closest it’s been since 1953. And that means extermination of the species is very much an—very much an open question. I don’t want to say it’s solely the impact of the Republican Party—obviously, that’s false—but they certainly are in the lead in openly advocating and working for destruction of the human species. I agree that’s a very outrageous statement. So I therefore simply suggest that you take a look at the facts and see if it has any merit or if it just should be bitterly condemned. That’s up to you. My view, the facts are pretty clear.
Yes indeed - and as I said before:

With an evident neofascist (I am sorry, but if you disagree you probably disagree because you know much less of fascism and neofascism than I do) and an evident madman like Trump as the most powerful man on earth (and again I am sorry if you disagree, but if you do it is probably because you are not a psychologist, while I am), my own personal probability that the West may be blown up by a nuclear war before 2021 is 50-50.

Then again, I agree your probability may be considerably less, e.g. because you are neither a psychologist nor know much about fascism and neofascism.

There is this on manipulation of and by the mainstream media:

AMY GOODMAN: Speaking of entities that President Trump doesn’t like, he calls the press the enemy of the American people, the enemy of the people. Can you assess, as the media assesses President Trump in his first a hundred days, the media’s behavior?

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, I think the media has fallen over backwards to try to give him some protection and leeway. I mean, you know, there are things that are so ludicrous and outrageous that a reporter simply can’t keep from saying something about them, like there’s one ridiculous claim after another that comes out of the tweets—you know, 3 million illegal undocumented refugees voted for Clinton, Obama wiretapped the Trump Tower, you know, one after another.

My sense is—this is just a guess—that this is a media strategy, that it’s the Bannon-Trump-Spicer strategy to try to keep attention focused on one or another form of lunacy, but not look at what’s actually happening. And what’s actually happening is that Paul Ryan and his associates behind the scenes are systematically and carefully dismantling every element of government that is of any benefit to people and that doesn’t maximize corporate power and profit.
I think that is more or less correct, although I think Chomsky should have made a distinction between the mainstream media and the non-mainstream media, which are considerably better, but also considerably less well read.

Here is the last bit that I give from this interesting article, and namely because it sums up most of "
The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power" that were mentioned in the introduction above: 

So, to go back to the pincers movement, what’s happened is we’ve created two huge threats to survival. We have systematically—not you and me, but the leadership has systematically created socioeconomic policies, which have as a consequence, almost immediate consequence, the undermining of functioning democracy—the one thing that might deal with the disasters. Like I said, it’s a kind of perfect storm. Real credit to the human species to have contrived something like this.

AMY GOODMAN: Principle four is shift the burden onto the poor and the middle classes. Principle five, attack the solidarity of the people. Six, let special interests run the regulators. Seven, engineer election results. Eight, use fear and power of the state to keep the rabble in line.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Is it necessary to comment? I think you’re all familiar with it.

AMY GOODMAN: Nine is manufacture consent, and principle 10 is marginalize the population.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, in fact, that’s exactly what’s happening.
Yes indeed, and there is quite a lot more in this fine interview, that is recommended.

2. We Really Shouldn't Let Silicon Valley into Our Schools

This article is by Sophie Linden on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

By 2020, technology in the classroom is predicted to be a $21 billion industry. Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have pledged to donate $45 billion in Facebook shares to bring their personalized learning to other educational spaces. Meanwhile, Bill Gates is committing $300 million to similar causes, and Netflix’s Reed Hastings wants to give $11 million to personalized math software.

But there is reason to second-guess this opportunistic philanthropy, especially with Betsy DeVos as an outspoken proponent of this so-called personalized learning, i.e. tech-enriched education. It’s becoming clear that company interests are intended to groom loyal customers, sometimes at the sake of effective tutelage.
For my money, Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates are two of the greediest and most neofascist humans there are on the moment, and to hand over education to them is sick, dsegenerate and extremely dangerous. But it is happening for these neofascists and their very rich mates currently rule most of the USA.

And Sophie Linden is quite right: What neofascists want are willing wage-slaves and willing consumers, who otherwise do not think about anything but advertisements, and this they may get, multiplied by several billions, by stealing public education and replacing it by a neofascist "education" designed to help the very rich, and these alone.

Here is some more:
Take Google as an example. Right now, the majority of public schools rely on Google’s Chromebooks. The laptops now host half the nation’s primary and secondary students, with over 30 million students using Google’s educational applications. At a cheap $30 per student and with a suite of free online applications, it may seem like an altruistic move on Google’s part. However, all of Google’s services remain free because of advertisements and the data the company tracks from users’ online meanderings.
Precisely - and the neofascists from Google, Facebook and Microsoft operate precisely like the dealers of hard drugs do: You give them free hard drugs until they are mostly hooked.

Here is a close parallel: The neofascist pharmaceutical companies and their utterly degenerate doctors who are now killing Americans by the tenthousands, simply because the doctors systematically lied that heroin supplied by pharmaceutical companies is not addictive - which was a sick lie:
Recently, the New York Times explored the ways in which tech companies court these partnerships with school districts using tactics the outlet likens to the pharmaceutical industry’s courting of doctors, who sign million-dollar contracts after a series of high-profile dinners and business trips. Steak dinners, expensive conferences and all-out wooing is characteristic behavior of tech companies that vie for the opportunity to become a school district’s digital ambassador.
Yes indeed. And there is more in this recommended article.


3. Trump’s Continuation of US Interventionism

This article is by Dennis J. Bernstein on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

President Trump’s recent report on National Security Strategy
supposedly reflected his America First “realism” but his approach seems more like old wine in a new bottle, particularly his continued strong support for Saudi Arabia and Israel in the Middle East combined with an even more aggressive U.S. policy in Asia aimed at containing China as well as confronting North Korea.

For more background on Trump’s foreign policy, I spoke to Matthew Hoh. In 2009, Hoh resigned his position with the State Department in Afghanistan in protest of the escalation of the Afghan War by the Obama administration.

Yes, I agree - and in fact it seems as if most of the policies of Trump derive from Reagan.

Here is some more:

Matthew Hoh: For the people of Afghanistan, this war has been going on since the 1970’s, much of it propelled by and supported by outside involvement.  It has been eight years now since I resigned.  If you had told me back then that this level of tragedy would still be continuing eight years on, there is no way I would have believed you.

It was just revealed by the Pentagon that in the last six months, American and Afghan commandos have conducted more than 2,000 raids in Afghanistan.  Americans are still there kicking in doors, raiding people’s homes in the middle of the night, killing them, taking prisoners.  This has happened over 2,000 times in Afghanistan in the last six months!  In addition to that, we have seen an escalation in air strikes, both from drones and from manned aircraft, in Afghanistan and throughout the Muslim world.

I do not know whether what is said in the second parahraph is correct, although I think it is, while the first paragraph is correct about Afghanistan.

Here is more on the kinds of policies the Americans follow in their wars:

Hoh: This policy of terror and punishment is in common with other wars which America is leading in the region.  In Iraq, the US-led forces have demolished Sunni cities in the Euphrates and Tigris River Valleys.  Look at what the Saudis and the United Arab Emirates have been doing in Yemen, what the Kurdish forces along with the American Air Force have done to Raqqa as well as other cities in eastern Syria.  And in Afghanistan we are seeing an increase in air strikes, in artillery operations and in these night raids into people’s homes.

Our policy has become to terrorize people into subjugation.
I think that is all quite correct.

Here is the last bit, on Obama + Trump on torture:

Hoh: For those of us on the left, we should not lose sight of what took place during Obama’s eight years which allowed this to happen.  The previous administration did nothing to hold the torturers accountable.
This makes it easier for a Donald Trump to proclaim that torture is back.

I agree. And this is a recommended article.


4. A Year With Trump

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

Last week, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch stood on the White House lawn, opining that Donald Trump’s presidency could be “the greatest presidency that we’ve seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever.”

I beg to differ. 

America has had its share of crooks (Warren G. Harding, Richard Nixon), bigots (Andrew Jackson, James Buchanan), and incompetents (Andrew Johnson, George W. Bush). But never before Donald Trump have we had a president who combined all these nefarious qualities.

I think that is an accurate description of Donald Trump, for indeed he is - among other things - a crook, a bigot and an incompetent.

Here is more:

As the New York Times editorial board put it in June 2017, “for Mr. Trump and his circle, what matters is not what’s right but what you can get away with. In his White House, if you’re avoiding the appearance of impropriety, you’re not pushing the boundaries hard enough.”

A president’s most fundamental legal and moral responsibility is to uphold and protect our system of government. Trump has degraded that system.

In fact - and see e.g. item 2 above - Trump is not merely degrading much of the system of government the USA has known: he is intentionally destroying much of it. Besides, I think he also has a recipe, and the recipe is neofascism.

Here is the last bit of this article that I quote:

America has had its share of good and bad presidents, but Donald Trump falls far below anything this nation has ever before experienced. In less than a year, he has degraded the core institutions and values of our democracy.

We have never before had a president whose character was so contrary to the ideals of the republic. That Senator Orrin Hatch and other Republicans don’t seem to recognize this is itself frightening.

Yes I agree, and indeed Reich is himself well known in the USA, and has been a part of Bill Clinton's first government. This is a recommended article.


5. Who Cares?

This article is by Tom Engelhardt on his site. It starts as follows (and "them" refers to "the aliens from outer space"):

Let’s start with the universe and work our way in. Who cares? Not them because as far as we know they aren’t there. As far as we know, no one exists in our galaxy or perhaps anywhere else but us (and the other creatures on this all-too-modest planet of ours). So don’t count on any aliens out there caring what happens to humanity. They won’t.

As for it -- Earth -- the planet itself can’t, of course, care, no matter what we do to it.  And I’m sure it won’t be news to you that, when it comes to him -- and I mean, of course, President Donald J. Trump, who reputedly has a void where the normal quotient of human empathy might be -- don’t give it a second’s thought.  Beyond himself, his businesses, and possibly (just possibly) his family, he clearly couldn’t give less of a damn about us or, for that matter, what happens to anyone after he departs this planet.

I agree with this. Here is more:

We're all now immersed in an evolving Trumpocalypse.  In a sense, we were there even before The Donald entered the Oval Office.  Just consider what it meant to elect a visibly disturbed human being to the highest office of the most powerful, potentially destructive nation on Earth.  What does that tell you?  One possibility: given the near majority
of American voters who sent him to the White House, by campaign 2016 we were already living in a deeply disturbed country.  And considering the coming of 1% elections, the growth of plutocracy, the blooming of a new Gilded Age whose wealth disparities must already be competitive with its nineteenth-century predecessor, the rise of the national security state, our endless wars (now turning “generational”), the increasing militarization of this country, and the demobilization of its people, to mention only a few twenty-first-century American developments, that should hardly be surprising.

And I agree with this as well, while I also note that in my psychologist's opinions I quite agree that Trump is clearly "a visibly disturbed human being" and a neofascist (on my definition, which is a lot better than any other I read).

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Which brings us to a straightforward enough question: Could Donald Trump prove to be the end of evolutionary history? The answer, however provisionally, is that he could. At a minimum, right now he qualifies as the most dangerous man on the planet. He might indeed be the final stopping spot (or at least the person who pointed the way toward it) for human history, for everything that led to this moment, to us.

Yes, I agree again, and this is a recommended article. 

------------------------------
Note

[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 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 (!!).
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