from February 7, 2018.
This is a
Nederlog of Wednesday,
This is a crisis
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) 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.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from February 7, 2018
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. Who Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao?
2. Dark Money Then, Trumpocalypse Now
3. Why the United States Needs a Whole New Operating System
4. Far-Right Trump Backers Biggest Purveyors of
Low-Quality News: Oxford Study
5. With Trump's Nuclear Doctrine the Cold War Resumes
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:
Killed More: Hitler, Stalin, or Mao?
This article is by Ian Johnson on The New York Review of Books. It
starts as follows:
In these pages nearly seven
years ago, Timothy Snyder asked the provocative question: Who
killed more, Hitler or Stalin? As useful as that exercise in moral
rigor was, some think the question itself might have been slightly off.
Instead, it should have included a third tyrant of the twentieth
century, Chairman Mao. And not just that, but that Mao should have been
the hands-down winner, with his ledger easily trumping the European
While these questions can
devolve into morbid pedantry, they raise moral questions that deserve a
fresh look, especially as these months mark the sixtieth anniversary of
the launch of Mao’s most infamous experiment in social engineering, the
Great Leap Forward. It was this campaign that caused the deaths of tens
of millions and catapulted Mao Zedong into the big league of
But Mao’s mistakes are more
than a chance to reflect on the past. They are also now part of a
central debate in Xi Jinping’s China, where the Communist Party is
renewing a long-standing battle to protect its legitimacy by limiting
discussions of Mao.
I think this is mostly
correct, although I would not have used the phrase "morbid
Then there is this:
When, in 1959, Mao was
challenged about these events at a party conference, he purged his
enemies. Enveloped by an atmosphere of terror, officials returned to
China’s provinces to double down on Mao’s policies. Tens of millions
No independent historian
doubts that tens of millions died during the Great Leap Forward, but
the exact numbers, and how one reconciles them, have remained matters
of debate. The overall trend, though, has been to raise the figure,
despite pushback from Communist Party revisionists and a few Western sympathizers.
This is also correct.
And there is this:
I think this is also
correctly reported, although I have no factual basis whatsoever
to even be abled to start considering the correctness of
quoted numbers. And in fact, while I have read a fair amount about
China (from various sources), I also do not know Chinese.
Two more recent accounts
give what are widely regarded as the most credible numbers. One, in
2008, is by the Chinese journalist Yang Jisheng,
who estimates that 35 million died. Hong Kong University’s Frank Dikötter
has a higher but equally plausible estimate of 45 million. Besides
adjusting the numbers upward, Dikötter and others have made another
important point: many deaths were violent. Communist Party officials
beat to death anyone suspected of hoarding grain, or people who tried
to escape the death farms by traveling to cities.
Regardless of how one views
these revisions, the Great Leap Famine was by far the largest famine in
history. It was also man-made (...)
Then there is this:
At this point, I
must digress briefly to deal with two specters that diligent
researchers will find on the Internet and even on the shelves of
otherwise reputable bookstores. One is the political scientist Rudolph Rummel
I am sorrry, but I do not
like this: "specters", "otherwise reputable booksellers" and "a strange
life online". In fact, I have used Rummel - see e.g. here -
while I also was aware that he was not a leftist (and also not
(1932–2014), a non-China
specialist who made wildly higher estimates than any other
historian—that Mao was responsible for 77 million deaths. His work is
disregarded as polemical, but has a strange life online, where it is
cited regularly by anyone who wants to score a quick victory for Mao.
And in fact, I also do not know on what facts Rummel based his
estimates, but the numbers I
found on Rummel's site are quite different from the
Johnston cites or quotes (and the numbers I found seem to date to
2012): According to my
findings Rummel said Mao killed 37,880,000 Chinese - which is less
than half as much as Johnston says Rummel claimed.
Besides I have spend a lot of time in Dutch academia,
and I have known
extremely few honest people there, while I also know - see e.g. Simon
Leys - how extraordinarily dishonest very many Western
admirers of Mao Tse Tung were in the 1970ies (indeed also
from my own
So I am turning now to the assumption that Johnston is an ordinary
academic. Once again, I do not know how many Chinese Mao
killed, but I
also do not have respect for the references to totally unknown
who Johnston admires.
Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
I liked Jung
Chang's "Wild Swans". So far, I have not been abled to
get her book on Mao, but she is Chinese and is, at least, quite
intelligent, while her husband knows Chinese, and I don't like
Johnston's "equally scorned" and "few historians take their work
Equally scorned but
extremely influential is the British-based author Jung Chang. After
writing a bestselling memoir about her
family (the most popular in what now seems like an endless succession
of imitators), she moved on to write, along with her husband, Jon
Halliday, popular history, including a biography of Mao as monster.
Few historians take their work
And while I take Jung Chang seriously, even though I do not
know how correct her numbers are,
by now I think I have read enough to classify Johnston:
An academic, with academical norms, which I have learned to distrust
(i) in the middle Seventies, when many Dutch and non-Dutch academics
were very much pro Mao; (ii) in the 1980ies, when I was denied
the right to take the - excellent - M.A. in philosophy I had
earned in the "University" of Amsterdam, because I was an opponent
(which then was extremely popular in the "U"vA); and (iii) also
since then, for when I turned to psychology to get my M.A.
there (which I did get) I was threatened by many of the
academic staff that they
"saw me preferably dead" and (by one utter idiot) that "I may use
violence against you, and if you die many academics will admire me".
In brief, if Johnson wants my support for his numbers -
that may be correct, but I have no evidence -
he must first
convince me he is a bit more than an ordinary academic. For all
I know about ordinary academics is that they are most
their own academic fame, and in their own academic
besides, they are extremely plausible liars. (Not all of them, but
Money Then, Trumpocalypse Now
is by Glen Ford on Truthdig and originally on Black Agenda Report. It
starts as follows:
I think this is mostly
correct, but did not read Ferguson. Here is some on him:
A team led by University of
Massachusetts professor emeritus Thomas Ferguson reveals that “a giant
wave of dark money” flowed into Donald Trump’s campaign coffers in the
last months of the 2016 election, enabling him to go heads up with
Hillary Clinton’s $1.4 billion juggernaut in the final stages of the
contest. The identity of Trump’s late-campaign godfathers is
“shrouded,” according to a paper authored by Ferguson and his
collaborators, Paul Jorgensen and Jie Chen, but all signs point to “a
sudden influx of money from private equity and hedge funds.” The cash
infusion brought Trump’s total spending up to $861 million. Although
that’s still substantially less than Hillary’s total outlays, Trump’s
dark money arrived just in time to capitalize on Clinton’s failure to
mount an effective blitz in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
Thus, it wasn’t the Russians
that brought us Trump, but the usual suspects: private equity and hedge
specializes in tracing corporate money to deduce the political leanings
and schemings of the various corporate sectors. During the Obama
administration, Ferguson’s research showed Silicon Valley and the
high-tech sector were Barack Obama’s most reliable corporate allies, in
terms of campaign contributions and political support. (And he, in
turn, dutifully served the digital oligarchs.)
Again I don't know
Ferguson's research, though I do - it seems - agree with him on Obama.
Here is some on Trump:
assault on the very concept of regulation; his willingness to
renegotiate NAFTA and the Trans Pacific Partnership; and the rise of
the generals as both day-to-day and overall policy managers in his
White House, are “normalizing” Trump. The Republican tax cut—a looting
spree—although not engineered by Trump, redounds to his benefit in 1
percent circles. As their unearned gains accrue, the Lords of Capital
appreciate the uses of The Donald. Orange is the new normal—a measure
of how insane late stage capitalism has become.
I more or less agree. Then
there is this:
After almost two
years, the predicate offense—that Trump and the Russians colluded in
hacking the Democrats—has not been proven, or even convincingly
I think that is quite
correct (and see "Russia-gate" in the Crisis
The article ends as follows:
And I think this is also mostly
correct, were it only because the USA is in - what seem to be -
"endless wars" since 2001. This is a recommended article.
The main objective is to
make endless war palatable, as imperialism attempts to bomb, blockade,
occupy and bluster its way out of a cascade of crises. Unable to
compete with the Chinese command economy, its “soft” power exhausted,
the U.S. empire plays the only strong card it has left: its massive
military, now centered on a special operations force roughly as large
as the entire French Army. War becomes both the means of imperial
survival and justification for its continued existence: the how and the
why of empire.
That’s why there is no such
thing as a “resistance” that is not loudly and consistently anti-war.
the United States Needs a Whole New Operating System
This article is by Thomas Linzey on AlterNet and originally on In These
Times. This is from near its beginning:
I have no
idea who Thomas Linzey is, but I really
dislike his style: No,
I do not live "in a bubble of myths", and no my brain is not
scrambled. Besides, I do not and never believed - in my
68 years - what Linzey says I believe.
We live in a bubble of
myths. They scramble our brains. They make it difficult for us to see
the forest, rather than just individual trees; especially when the most
powerful forces within our system whisper those myths incessantly in
While it’s certainly easier
to blame the latest president for our state of affairs, the reality is
much more troubling—that we have a system of law and government which
poses as a working democracy while guaranteeing the destruction of the
planet. In other words, it’s the hardware, not the software. It’s a
Here’s what we believe:
- We believe that the
planet is in bad shape, but that we can fix it by recycling, buying
electric cars, and taking shorter showers.
- We believe in the
“founding fathers,” the “rule of law,” and our constitution, and that
we need to “strengthen” our democracy, which assumes we had one to
Here is more by Linzey:
Almost all major
ecosystems are in various throes of decline; climate change-caused
catastrophes have now become the norm; and our very own life support
systems are all under siege.
Again I think Linzey's
prose is both lousy and exaggerated. (And I am not
there is this:
We are rapidly turning the
planet into one giant Superfund site, and we show no signs of putting
on the brakes.
Yet with one unified voice,
democrats and republicans alike call for more economic growth, even
though more “growth” means more destruction of the planet.
Then there’s the belief
that we live in a democracy. Democracy literally means that the people
govern themselves. In a democratic republic, people elect other people
who are then supposed to govern in the interest of those who elected
them. You know, “of the people, by the people, for the people” and all
In our “federal” system,
the federal government reigns supreme—that means that laws passed by
Congress legally override laws adopted by any state or municipal
government. Given that supremacy, the ability of people to elect people
who will govern in the public interest would seem to be the determiner
of whether we have a democracy.
Want to get elected to
Congress? Just reach into your pocket and pull out the $2 million
average cost to be competitive; or the $5 million it takes to be
competitive for a Senate race. For the House, that means raising $2,700
a day—and that’s after you decide to sell your soul to one of the major
parties to have a shot at moving to Washington.
I am sorry, but I still
very much dislike Linzey's style, although I think the
is probably factually correct.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
Couple this with the Citizens
United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court (and the multitude
of cases that came before it, recognizing constitutional “rights” for
corporations), in which the Court guaranteed that corporations can dump
unlimited amounts of cash into races for candidates that they prefer,
and it’s no surprise that both parties scout for millionaire candidates
that can self-finance campaigns. Either way, the parties are completely
dependent on those with the financial ability to support their
I think this is again
factually mostly correct, but I really detest Linzey's style.
Trump Backers Biggest Purveyors of Sensationalist, Low-Quality News:
This article is by Julia Conley on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Well... I am not amazed. And in fact
explanation for this runs along the line that many Trump supporters
belong to the most stupid and ignorant
Americans there are, indeed
Trump supporters are the
biggest consumers of low-quality, sensationalist news stories on social
media, according to a new report by Oxford University.
conducted over three months leading up to President Donald Trump's
State of the Union address last week, goes beyond the abundant evidence
that Republicans, Democrats, and independents rely
on different news sources, finding a clear divide in
which social media users consume stories from discredited sources.
Consumers of these accounts are "playing
with different facts, and they think they have the inside scoop on
conspiracies," lead researcher Philip Howard told
McClatchy. "A small chunk of the population isn't able
to talk politics or share ideas in a sensible way with the rest of the
if they are on Facebook and Twitter.
Here is some more on the Trump Support group:
Again I am not amazed. I also wonder
percentage of the Trump Support group were on Facebook and on
but that I don't know.
"The Trump Support group
consumes the highest volume of junk news sources on Twitter, and
spreads more junk news sources, than all the other groups put
together," the researchers concluded. "This pattern is repeated on
Facebook, where the Hard Conservatives group consumed the highest
proportion of junk news."
The report also found that
"junk news" made up the largest proportion of news stories shared by
the Trump Support contingent on Twitter.
The inundation of a small segment of the
population with a false narrative about the country's politics is "a problem for democracy," Howard said. "In an ideal world,
everybody would get at least a few of the same news stories. There'd be
some shared facts and some shared understanding of the problems."
Also, if Howard is right that only "a
small segment of the [American] population" gets "a false narrative", I don't quite
see what he is worried about.
And in fact, I do not think it is "a small segment", but there
no information in this article other than the mere statement (without
evidence) that it is "a small
Trump's Nuclear Doctrine the Cold War Resumes
This article is by Robert Dodge on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
elected officials of our increasingly dysfunctional democracy debated
“memogate”, the world became more dangerous as Trump’s Nuclear Posture
Review was officially released on Friday. Ignoring
scientific studies of the past decade and growing global sentiment by
the world's non-nuclear states to abolish nuclear weapons, with this
announcement the new arms race begins and the Cold War resumes.
Scientific studies have
demonstrated the potential catastrophic global environmental effects
following a limited regional nuclear war, using just 100 Hiroshima size
weapons that would potentially kill 2 billion people. This new Doctrine
proposes the development of two new generations of nuclear weapons
including “low-yield nukes”, Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles
(SLBM) and the long-term development of Submarine Launched Cruise
Missiles (SLCM). These “low-yield nukes” are 20 kiloton or the larger
Nagasaki size bombs that killed more than 70 thousand people. Seemingly
ignoring the fact that nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons regardless
of size with the same horrific initial devastation and radioactive
fallout, these weapons are proposed to demonstrate America's resolve in
deterring nuclear attack.
Yes, I think that is
true. The same holds for this bit:
In fact this circular
argument of smaller nuclear weapons being a greater deterrence actually
increases the likelihood of their use. This further promotes the
mythology of deterrence which actually drives all nine nuclear states
to follow suit. Coupled with the Trump Doctrine's new non-nuclear
circumstances under which nuclear attack would be launched, such as
certain cyberattacks, the risk of nuclear war is only
increased. These proposals only increase the role of nuclear
weapons in our defense policy. This fact was also acknowledged in the
recent Bulletin of Atomic Scientists' movement of their nuclear
Doomsday clock to two minutes till midnight, the
closest since World War II.
Yes indeed. And this is
a recommended article.
have now been
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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
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
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
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 (!!).