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Nederlog

November 11, 2018

Crisis: U.S. Billionaires, Vietnam War, On Philosophy, WTF White Women, The Holocaust, 22 years


Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from November 11, 2018
     B. November 11, St. Maarten
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, November 11, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

On the moment and since more than 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 I shall continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from November 11, 2018:
1. Billionaires, Not Voters, Are Deciding Elections
2. Behind Pentagon Efforts to Rewrite the Vietnam War
3. Can Racist and Sexist Philosophers Still Be Admirable?
4. WTF White Women?
5. 80 Years Since the Holocaust Began: Can We Stop Fascism Today?
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. Billionaires, Not Voters, Are Deciding Elections

This article is by Sonali Kolhatkar on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

The recent midterm elections offered an opportunity for America’s moneyed elites to spend their ridiculous wealth on a catalog of their favorite causes and candidates. We are locked in a vicious cycle, where billionaires continue to amass wealth due to policies their influence has bought, which in turn enrich them with even more resources with which to shift the American polity in their favor.

Part of the problem is that billionaires’ control over our democracy is largely invisible. As a recent study by The Guardian showed, high-profile wealthy elites like Warren Buffett or Bill Gates are anomalies. To that point, “[M]ost of the wealthiest US billionaires have made substantial financial contributions—amounting to hundreds of thousands of reported dollars annually, in addition to any undisclosed ‘dark money’ contributions—to conservative Republican candidates and officials who favor the very unpopular step of cutting rather than expanding social security benefits,” write the report’s authors. “Yet, over the 10-year period we have studied, 97% of the wealthiest billionaires have said nothing at all about social security policy.”

Yes, I think all of this is quite correct - and the Americans have been "locked in a vicious cycle" mostly because of (i) several successive decisions of the Supreme Court that effectively considered having money to be the equivalent of votes (utterly falsifying the First Amendment to the Constitution) and (ii) by the decision of Bill Clinton that he and the Democrats could and would be funded by the rich rather than by all.

There are more reasons, but I think the above two are the most important ones. Also, I think that in effect the American representatitves "of the American people" for the most part ceased to be representatives of the American people, and became representatives of the rich, who pay them.

In brief, most of the politicians in the House and the Senate have been corrupted by fraud, although the last term is questionable simply because the Supreme Court legalized - what I and others still consider - fraud by giving the few rich very much more power through effectively declaring their money they equivalent of votes, and by declaring corporations to be the equivalents of persons (except that corporations have more rights than persons, and are impossible to kill).

And indeed also because nearly all of the richest billionaires said nothing about their financial contributions to support their own interests.

Back to the article:

The midterm races in California saw several examples of the insidious ways in which the billionaire class made its mark on democracy, most notably in the defeat of Proposition 10, the state ordinance that would have expanded local governments’ jurisdiction over rent control. Several years ago, Wall Street hedge fund managers began scooping up rental properties and foreclosed homes in Los Angeles. According to journalist David Dayen, “Hedge funds, private equity firms and the biggest banks have raised massive amounts of capital to buy distressed or foreclosed single-family homes, often in bulk, at bargain prices.” He added, “It’s the next Wall Street gold rush, with all the warning signs of a renewed speculative bubble.”

Yes, I think this is a good example of how the rich succeed in manipulating the outcomes of elections (and there is more in the article).

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

Countless examples abound around this nation, where billionaires have gotten what they wanted simply because they had limitless wealth to throw at their favorite causes. As voters, we need to become literate in the ways of the moneyed class when it comes to elections. It’s very simple: Figure out who has poured millions into an issue or candidate and ask whether that person’s agenda might be less than noble. It may be that once in a while, the values of ordinary Americans align with those of billionaires. But that is the exception rather than the rule.

Wealthy people are swimming in riches because the rest of us are not. Their wealth is relative—they are the haves, we are the have-nots. And they clearly like having a lot more than us—and are willing to spend some of their mountains of cash to ensure they remain ensconced in power.

Quite so and this is a strongly recommended article.


2. Behind Pentagon Efforts to Rewrite the Vietnam War

This article is by Arnold Isaacs on Truthdig and originally on TomDispatch. It starts as follows:

Here’s a paradox of the last few decades: as American military power has been less and less effective in achieving Washington’s goals, the rhetoric surrounding that power has grown more and more boastful.

The cliché that our armed forces are the best and mightiest in the world — even if the U.S. military hasn’t won any of its significant wars in the last 50 years — resonates in President Trump’s promise to make America great again. Many Americans, clearly including him, associate that slogan with military power. And we don’t just want to be greater again in the future; we also want to have been greater in the past than we really were. To that end, we regularly forget some facts and invent others that will make our history more comfortable to remember.

I think the second paragraph is quite true, but the first is hardly a paradox: American military power got more and more money (they get now more than half of the taxes), and it is not at all strange that the military, together with the military-industrial complex of corporations who work for the military and make lots of profits, also got more money to advertise and propagandize themselves - and they did.

Then again, their propaganda consists of explicit lies and explicit ommissions of facts that should have been there if they had been reporting correctly:

Back in 2014, following a critical TomDispatch article by Nick Turse, author of Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam, and pressure from other critics, officials did revise a few items. Those included the My Lai massacre (though the site still does not use the word “massacre” for the murder by U.S. troops of more than 500 civilians, including women and children) and the naval clashes in the Tonkin Gulf that led to the first U.S. air strikes on North Vietnam. But no more corrections followed, leaving a startling range of wrong or misleading statements untouched.

I trust this is correct. This is about the Pentagon's website "vietnamwar50th.com" (and there is more in the article):

In its most noticeable distortion, the site virtually ignores the domestic debate on the war and the divisions it caused in American society. As of this writing, the 30-year (1945-1975) timeline still includes only terse one-line entries for each of the massive national antiwar protests of October and November 1969. The wave of demonstrations in May 1970 following the U.S. “incursion” in Cambodia gets a somewhat more detailed entry, mentioning the deaths of protesters killed by National Guard troops at Kent State University in Ohio and by police gunfire at Jackson State College in Mississippi.

Aside from those, though, most other important moments in the peace movement are missing from the timeline altogether. The massive 1965 and 1967 protest marches outside the Pentagon are nowhere mentioned. Nor are the chaotic protests the following year outside the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

I think the above is correct, and since I was 20 in 1970 and come from a very leftist political family I do recall that the above facts, that either were not mentioned at all, or were mentioned in "terse one-line entries", in fact were massively reported in the European press - and certainly not only by the leftist press - of the late 1960ies and early 1970ies.

So yes, they definitely were lying and propagandizing.

Here is more, about the Vietnam veterans:

Although the Vietnam veterans’ experience is billed as the central theme of the commemoration, veterans who came to oppose the war were also blanked out of its story until just days ago, when officials at the commemoration’s History and Legacy branch learned that I was working on the present article. Only then did the site managers insert a new entry on the dramatic week-long protest in April 1971, when hundreds of disillusioned vets threw away their decorations in front of the U.S. Capitol — an event previously not mentioned in the timeline at all.

Again, I can report that I knew of this at that time simply because these events were reported in the ordinary Dutch and European press, though indeed in a lesser format than the large demonstrations of the late 60ies and early 70ies.

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

The commemoration not only tells us something about the Pentagon’s custodians of our Vietnam War memories, it also reveals something much broader and deeper in American political and popular culture: a powerful need to think of ourselves as a righteous, just, and successful country that fights only righteous, just, and successful wars.
    (...)
The commemoration’s most recent corrections are a welcome but small step toward greater accuracy. But the site is still far from showing the true nature of what this country really did to itself and to many millions of Vietnamese, Laotians, and Cambodians in the tragic mistake we call the Vietnam War. For that, far greater changes will be needed than have been made so far.

I think all of this is true and this is a recommended article.


3. Can Racist and Sexist Philosophers Still Be Admirable?

This article is by Julian Baggini on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Admiring the great thinkers of the past has become morally hazardous. Praise Immanuel Kant, and you might be reminded that he believed that ‘Humanity is at its greatest perfection in the race of the whites,’ and ‘the yellow Indians do have a meagre talent’. Laud Aristotle, and you’ll have to explain how a genuine sage could have thought that ‘the male is by nature superior and the female inferior, the male ruler and the female subject’. Write a eulogy to David Hume, as I recently did here, and you will be attacked for singing the praises of someone who wrote in 1753-54: ‘I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men … to be naturally inferior to the whites.’

We seem to be caught in a dilemma. We can’t just dismiss the unacceptable prejudices of the past as unimportant. But if we think that holding morally objectionable views disqualifies anyone from being considered a great thinker or a political leader, then there’s hardly anyone from history left.

Julian Baggini is a British philosopher, and the above is correct. Then again, the dilemma is false (as Baggini also explains) because of these reasons:

(i) Everyone's personal opinions, including those of the greatest geniuses, are mostly false, and certainly partial, and (ii) even the greatest geniuses are geniuses in one or at most two fields (which they specialize on), and are not geniuses in all other fields, and perhaps also (iii) everyone's personal opinions are far more local and limited - except perhaps for one or two fields - than they appear to be, and are colored by ordinary widely shared prejudices of the time in which one lives.

Here is more:

The problem does not go away if you exclude dead white establishment males. Racism was common in the women’s suffrage movement on both sides of the Atlantic. The American suffragette Carrie Chapman Catt said that: ‘White supremacy will be strengthened, not weakened, by women’s suffrage.’ Emmeline Pankhurst, her British sister in the struggle, became a vociferous supporter of colonialism, denying that it was ‘something to decry and something to be ashamed of’ and insisting instead that ‘it is a great thing to be the inheritors of an empire like ours’. Both sexism and xenophobia have been common in the trade union movement, all in the name of defending the rights of workers – male, non-immigrant workers that is.

Yes indeed. Then there is this:

The most troubling lesson of the Third Reich is that it was supported largely by ordinary people who would have led blameless lives had they not by chance lived through particular toxic times. Any confidence we might have that we would not have done the same is without foundation as we now know what people then did not know. Going along with Nazism is unimaginable today because we need no imagination to understand just what the consequences were.

I do not quite agree with this, and my reasons are personal: My mother, my father and my father's father were in the Dutch resistance against the Nazis (and all three were strongly though not solely moved by the treatment the Nazis gave to the Jews), and my father and grandfather were arrested in August 1941, and convicted as "political terrorists" to concentration camp punishments, which my grandfather did not survive.

Also, my father certainly knew quite a lot about Nazism by 1935 and, more in general, there was a minority of various persons from varying political beliefs, who did see what Nazism was like back in the 1930ies.

Here is the ending of the article, which is about present prejudices:

We just cannot afford to be as understanding of present prejudices as we are of past ones. Changing society requires making people see that it is possible to overcome the prejudices they were brought up with. We are not responsible for creating the distorted values that shaped us and our society but we can learn to take responsibility for how we deal with them now.

The dead do not have such an opportunity, and so to waste anger chastising them is pointless. We are right to lament the iniquities of the past, but to blame individuals for things they did in less enlightened times using the standards of today is too harsh.

Yes, I agree and this is a recommended article.


4. WTF White Women?

This article is by Laura Flanders on Common Dreams. It starts as follows (and my guess is that this article would cause a lot more protests if it were written by a male):

2016 was bad. 2018 was worse. While fifty-two percent of white women voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence in 2016, in 2018, seventy-six percent of white women voted for Brian Kemp.

This Tuesday, seventy-six percent of white female voters in Georgia cast their ballots against Stacey Abrams becoming this nation’s first black female governor. Fifty-nine percent in Texas voted for Republican Ted Cruz against Latino Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Fifty-one percent opposed Andrew Gillum becoming the first African American governor of the Sunshine State.

White women rained all over that new day dawning. Did they vote on the issues? Statistically, there aren’t enough anti-choice, anti-healthcare, anti-minimum wage, gun-mad voters out there to blame just conservative women.

So white women are either stupid or spoiled. I say spoiled.

I say, because I did not know the above. Then again - and I am getting more and more sick by what seems to be the absolute refusal of "the press" to call people stupid: most simply are, certainly from my point of view - I don't think the majority of American white women voters are spoiled, but I do think they are stupid (and the vast majority is also far less well educated than I am).

Single white women have, on average, 5 times more wealth than single black women, and white households have a staggering 13 times more wealth than black households.

Our life expectancy is above the national average, while the life expectancy of black women falls below.

We’re more likely to be cared for than killed when we’re having a mental health crisis and cops come to our door.

We’re more likely to be counseled than kicked out when we act up in school.

We’re way more likely to be hired and way, way less likely to be incarcerated. That’s in no small part because we’re more likely to be seen as beautiful and loved (in advertising, magazines and Hollywood), and far less likely to be seen as scary or a threat.

White supremacy spoils us, white women. It’s undeniable.
I do not deny these facts (although I would formulate them probably a bit different) but I would argue that these relative advantages of white women makes the stupidity of many of them more pronounced.

Here is the ending of this article:

In 2016, I sought refuge in my superior, smart, anti-capitalist, queer difference. LGBTQ, young, non-christian, unmarried white women tend to know which end is up.

My sisters of color, however, are made to account for every last messed-up, stupid thing men of their same race do. (And yes, I know race is a phony concept, but its impacts are real.)

Accepting responsibility for my screwed-up het, cis, married, white, christian sisters is the least I can do in solidarity.

So what the hell, white women? Talk. Not too loudly, or everywhere, all the time, or remorsefully to your one girlfriend-of-color, but to me, or a white woman like me.

We don’t want 2020 to roll around and wish that one hundred years ago we’d never given white women the vote.

Well... once again I say it is the stupidity or the lack of relevant knowledge (that is: the ignorance) that makes so many American white women make stupid choices. And this is a recommended article.

5. 80 Years Since the Holocaust Began: Can We Stop Fascism Today?

This article is by Martin Winiecki on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

"November 9 this year marks the 80th anniversary of what went down in history as “Kristallnacht” or the “Night of Broken Glass.” On the night of November 9, 1938, the Nazis burned down 1000 synagogues and 7000 Jewish businesses all over Germany. This orchestrated attack marked the beginning of the Holocaust, resulting in six million Jews killed in less than seven years. From surging white-identity terrorism and Trump's brutal response to the migrant caravan in the United States to the atrocious “war on drugs” in the Philippines; from Israel's “nation state law” to racist policies in Italy and Christian fascism in Brazil, we currently see history reverberating in the far-right movements rising to power at breakneck speed around the world. Is there still something we can do to stop the fascist takeover?"

In fact, the above quotation is not by Winiecki but by Dieter Duhm. It seems factually correct.

Here is more:

Since the Brazilian election on October 28, Bolsonaro and his followers haven't wasted any time. The day after the election, his militant supporters begun publicly denouncing leftist leaders and artists as “enemies of the people,” military police raided schools and universities for antifascist material and Indigenous groups in the Amazon were attacked and torched. Already prior to the election, dissidents were murdered and far-right mobs screamed countrywide that, “Bolsonaro will kill all queers!”

Huge crowds gathered in all major cities of Brazil to celebrate the victory of their leader. Hailing a new era of honesty, people told the Workers' Party to “go fuck themselves,” while they cheered for a man who has praised torture and who openly states that the mistake of Brazil's military dictatorship (1964–85) was that it didn't kill enough people.

In one of his first interviews after the election, the president-elect repeated his intention to finish off activism in the country and to classify social movements, like the Landless Workers' Movement, as “terrorism.” The following day, far-right lawmakers, who are now controlling the Brazilian senate, proposed a new law to criminalize protests.

In fact, this looks like it was inspired by my text of 2012 about corporate fascism and the surveillance state (strongly recommended), but of course it wasn't. In fact, here is point 7 of my text from 2012:

7. 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 a small corporate élite plus their executives and effective slavery for the rest. [N.7]

Principles that one may see at work are like the following, that are rather like the principles Stalin practised, except that the beneficiaries are not the élites of the CO but the corporate élites: [N.7.bis]

  1. What or whoever cannot be exploited for some corporate profit deserves not to be at all.
  2. Truth is what the state organs state.
  3. Good is what the state organs order. 
  4. Whoever does not collaborate with state officials and state policies is - effectively - a terrorist.
  5. Whoever is a terrorist deserves to die.
  6. Anything is permitted against any terrorist (suspect).
And - we are back in 2018 - the fascist Bolsonaro seems to use all of these six priciples.

Here is some of Bolsonaro's background:

While presenting himself as the anti-establishment candidate, Bolsonaro has enjoyed the support of big industry, multinationals and Wall Street throughout his campaign. When the openly fascist ex-paratrooper won the election, Big Money could hardly hide their jubilation. Brazilian stocks rose sharply in response and the Canadian CBS News celebrated that Bolsonaro “leans towards more open markets. This could mean fresh opportunities for Canadian companies looking to invest in the resource-rich country.”

Paulo Guedes, Bolsonaro's economic advisor and upcoming economy minister is a Chicago economist of Milton Friedman's free market orthodoxy. His universal recipe is, simply put, “privatize everything.”

Quite so. Then there is this:

Brazil, of course, isn't an isolated case. We see similar things happening in the United States, Colombia, India and much of Africa. We've reached a point where capitalism ends its liaison with democracy and increasingly embraces totalitarianism.

And I - once again - insist that this is so on my definition of totalitarianism, and is not so according to the Wikipedia's definition of totalitarianism, that is a propagandistic lie.

But since I have outlined the above quite a few times in Nederlog, I move to the last bit that I quote from this article:

The speedy rise of fascism always seems to hit the world by surprise. Yet what we're witnessing did not begin with the Bolsonaros, Trumps or Dutertes, just as German fascism did not begin with Hitler. Why do far-right and openly fascist ideologies resonate so strongly with large parts of humanity? How come authoritarianism wins so easily, when the time is more than ripe for a positive revolution? Why does such an emotional movement seem so appealing to so many people?

This is all from the beginning of this fairly large article. There is a lot more in it and it is recommended, although I disagree with a number of things Wienicki says.

And as to the last three questions:

"Why do far-right and openly fascist ideologies resonate so strongly with large parts of humanity?": Because a large part of humanity is stupid and ignorant, and especially about politics and religion.

"How come authoritarianism wins so easily, when the time is more than ripe for a positive revolution?": Because a large part of humanity is stupid and ignorant, and especially about politics and religion.

"Why does such an emotional movement seem so appealing to so many people?": Because a large part of humanity is stupid and ignorant, and especially about politics and religion.

You may disagree but this is what I think.


B. November 11, St Maarten: I own a site since 22 years

I have both given and failed to give attention to the fact that I got an internet site in November 1996, which is today 22 years ago.

I do so today once again, and use the occasion to state that most things I use and am familiar with are both considerably more difficult and considerably more expensive than they were 22 years ago.

This holds both for the internet (where I seem to have been one of the few who, already in 1996, feared to be tracked and traced: I was much more right than I feared in 1996) and for most other things, including my shoppings.

But I do not want to pay much attention to this fact, and those who are interested I refer to this files of precisely five years ago: me+ME: 17 years a site, that is quite informative and ends like this about my site:
You probably get the best idea of the whole site, that by now has the size of some 100 to 200 books if it were printed, by browsing through the items in the directories-index, which is indeed only a list of directories, and quite long. Each directory usually gives access to many files, through which you can navigate by using the arrows on the top of the files, and sometimes also at the bottom.
All I add is that in 2018 there is about 300 MB more on the two sites I have, nearly all in Nederlog (but also in Hume, for those interested in real philosophy).
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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