from November 22, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Thursday,
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.
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.
2. Crisis Files
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from November 22, 2018:
1. Break Up Facebook (and, While We’re At It, Google, Apple,
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:
2. Costs of War: 17 Years After 9/11, Nearly Half a Million
People Have Died
3. Daniel Ellsberg: The Cold War Was Based on a Lie
4. If It Takes the Rats to Wake Up Us and Congress, Bring Them
5. Looking Busy
1. Break Up Facebook
(and, While We’re At It, Google, Apple, and Amazon)
This article is by
Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
The New York Times revealed
last week that Facebook executives withheld evidence of Russian
activity on the Facebook platform far longer than previously disclosed.
They also employed a political opposition research firm to discredit
There’s a larger story here.
America’s Gilded Age of the
late 19th century began with a raft of innovations — railroads, steel
production, oil extraction — but culminated in mammoth trusts owned by
“robber barons” who used their wealth and power to drive out
competitors and corrupt American politics.
We’re now in a second
Gilded Age — ushered in by semiconductors, software and the internet —
that has spawned a handful of giant high-tech companies.
Yes indeed - and I really
like the title of this article, although I also think this is unlikely
under capitalism. It is possible (I think) but it will be very
difficult, precisely because Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon
are very big, very rich, very powerful, and in
fact also hardly controlled.
Here is more:
Yes, indeed. I completely
agree, but then - unlike Reich - I never published a book or an article
that had the title (as one of Reich's latest books) "Saving Capitalism"
(no, I did not read it) and indeed I am an opponent of
basically because it is very unfair and very destructive,
essentially based on the greed of the few rich, and the stupidity,
or the helplessness of the many non-rich. (Besides, even if men
are greedy, stupid or ignorant in majority, there are other and better
systems than capitalism, which anyway will probably collapse because of
the greed on which it is based.)
Facebook and Google
dominate advertising. They’re the first stops for many Americans
seeking news. Apple dominates smartphones and laptop computers. Amazon
is now the first stop for a third of all American consumers seeking to
This consolidation at the
heart of the American economy creates two big problems.
First, it stifles
innovation. Contrary to the conventional view of a U.S. economy
bubbling with inventive small companies, the rate at which new
job-creating businesses have formed in the United States has been
halved since 2004, according to the census.
A major culprit: Big tech’s
sweeping patents, data, growing networks, and dominant platforms have
become formidable barriers to new entrants.
The second problem is
political. These enormous concentrations of economic power generate
political clout that’s easily abused, as the New York Times
investigation of Facebook reveals.
Back to the article:
It is time to use antitrust
again. We should break up the high-tech behemoths, or at least require
that they make their proprietary technology and data publicly available
and share their platforms with smaller competitors.
There would be little cost
to the economy, because these giant firms rely on innovation rather
than economies of scale — and, as noted, they’re likely to be impeding
Is this politically
feasible? Unlike the Teddy Roosevelt Republicans, Trump and his
enablers in Congress have shown little appetite for antitrust
But Democrats have shown no
greater appetite — especially when it comes to Big Tech.
As I said, I am an
opponent of capitalism, but I also do not think
that socialism is easy,
nor indeed that a social system that may follow capitalism will
necessarily better than capitalism.
Then again, as long as
we live in a capitalist economy, I agree with Reich: Antitrust is very
important. But one major problem with it (in the USA) is that neither
the Republicans nor the Democrats are in favor of it - which
will not happen (as long as this is the case).
Here is some more:
Maybe the Democrats are
reluctant to attack Big Tech because the industry has directed so much
political funding to Democrats. In the 2018 midterms, the largest
recipient of Big Tech’s largesse, ActBlue, a fundraising platform for
progressive candidates, collected nearly $1 billion, according to the
Center for Responsive Politics.
Well... I do not
there is a "maybe" about it, and to me (and quite a few others) it
seems as if most Democrats have been - quite literally - corrupted by
money from the few rich.
Here is more:
As the Times investigation
of Facebook makes clear, political power can’t be separated from
economic power. Both are prone to abuse.
One of the original goals
of antitrust law was to prevent such abuses.
As I have put it, wealth
power, at least if the wealth is big enough. And in fact
that is one of
my arguments against capitalism: As long as there is a human society,
there will be relations of power (dominance
and submission, for good or
for bad reasons), but it seems a major mistake to me to have a
in which the few rich almost automatically have nearly all the power
which has been the case almost everywhere the last 2500
indeed were not only capitalist).
Back to the article, which ends thus:
Antitrust law was viewed as
a means of preventing giant corporations from undermining democracy.
“If we will not endure a
king as a political power,” thundered Ohio Sen. John Sherman, the
sponsor of the nation’s first antitrust law in 1890, “we should not
endure a king over the production, transportation and sale” of what the
We are now in a second
Gilded Age, similar to the first when Congress enacted Sherman’s law.
As then, giant firms at the center of the American economy are
distorting the market and our politics.
We must resurrect antitrust.
As I said, as long as we live
under capitalism, I agree with Reich, though it seems we
the value of capitalism. And this is a strongly recommended article.
of War: 17 Years After 9/11, Nearly Half a Million People Have Died
is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with
the following introduction:
Nearly half a
million people have died from violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and
Pakistan since George W. Bush declared a “war on terror” in the wake of
9/11, according to a major
new report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project. More than
17 years later, the war in Afghanistan is the longest war in U.S.
history. Costs of War reports that more than 480,000 people have died
from violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan—including soldiers,
militants, police, contractors, journalists, humanitarian workers and
civilians. Several times as many people have died indirectly because of
water loss, sewage and other infrastructural problems, and war-related
disease. The wars have uprooted 21 million Afghan, Iraqi, Pakistani and
Syrian people who are now refugees of war or internally displaced. The
cost of the global so-called war on terror will soon surpass $6
trillion. We speak with Neta Crawford, director of the Costs of War
Project. She is a professor and department chair of political science
at Boston University.
I think all of the above
is (approximately) true, and I only want to make one point that is not
quite made in this introduction: In actual fact, while "more than 480,000 people have died from
violence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan" I do think it is fair to say that in fact the
terror" (which should have replaced the "n" in "on" by an "f") has had
several millions killed indirectly, but as a result of the war ("of
Here is more:
GOODMAN: Can you talk
about why you did this report, and the astronomical costs, most
importantly, human lives, but also the financial costs?
CRAWFORD: Well, we wanted
to highlight both the cost to Americans in terms of U.S. soldiers and
sailors who have lost their lives—about 7,000 people—but, in addition,
remind us all that contractors—more contractors, in fact, have died
because of their involvement in these wars than soldiers and
sailors—and that, of course, many thousands of civilians have been
killed, wounded and displaced. Many millions have been killed, wounded
Yes, and note that "Many millions have been killed, wounded and
displaced" by the war "of
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
CRAWFORD: Yeah, these wars
are actually leaving the war zones in rubble. And you haven’t mentioned
Pakistan yet, but the United States has also been, through drone
strikes and other action, fighting in Pakistan since 2002 in order to
chase and defeat Taliban, al-Qaeda and now ISIS.
So, the war zones are actually expanded from what we thought they would
be in 2001, 2002, 2003. Now the U.S. forces are operating between 80 to
90 countries all over the world.
GOODMAN: And the relation
between war and climate change? You say the Pentagon is the single
largest user of petroleum?
CRAWFORD: That’s right.
Between 2010 and 2015, the Pentagon used about 105 billion barrels of
oil, on average, each year. They’ve tried to economize, because,
obviously, that’s expensive, but it is the single largest producer of
greenhouse gases in the United States and abroad.
I say, which I do because I
did not know all of the above. And this is a strongly
Ellsberg: The Cold War Was Based on a Lie
is by Paul Jay on
News Network. It starts as follows (and is
originally a video):
PAUL JAY: Welcome
back to Reality Asserts Itself. I’m Paul Jay. We’re continuing our
discussion with Daniel Ellsberg.
Daniel, in 1959, 1960,
there is a race because we understand, we the population understood,
that there was a missile gap. We were told. That the Russians had
something between 40 and 60 intercontinental ballistic missiles which
they could either first strike or second strike the United States.
There had to be a great race to create more and more ICBMs here. The
possibility, the discussions inside the military, the strategic
planning is all based on a potential, really, first strike, because
most people believe this number of, the numbers of ICBMs that Russia,
the Soviet Union had that was such a threat. And you made a rather
I like and admire
Ellsberg, and he has a pretty amazing bit of information
relates to the missile gap. We'll come to that, and meanwhile the above
is quite correct.
Here is more:
(...) Now, if you look back and say, how could I
have been working on plans of this nature? It wasn’t to carry out a
nuclear war. I thought that would be catastrophic in any case. I was
shocked when I learned that the Joint Chiefs understood how
catastrophic it would be; hundreds of millions. But I did believe that
it would be catastrophic, and that the way to deter a Soviet surprise
attack was by presenting them with the assured capability of destroying
a large part of their society. For deterrence. That nothing else would
do. That was because my colleagues and I accepted, and certainly the
intelligence communities, perceived and projected the image of Stalin’s
Russia and then his successors as Hitler with nuclear weapons, and that
they would bend no effort- they would bend every effort to achieve the
ability to destroy us, or at least to blackmail us into submission.
It was taken for granted by my colleagues that we were greatly
outnumbered; the so-called missile gap. And Eisenhower actually didn’t
accept that, but he was regarded as a doddering old man who was playing
golf all the time, and simply not with it.
Yes. In fact, this was
the MAD-doctrine ("MAD" = "Mutually
Assured Destruction") that was
perpetuated (among others) in the 1960ies by Herman Kahn, and
based on assumptions like the above ones, which again were framed not
as assumptions but as facts.
As to Eisenhower:
true he did not accept it, and he also did something quite
the end of his presidency, namely warn the American population against
what he called the military-industrial
complex. I think he was quite
right in this, but his warning did not work out at all, at
least not on
the level of the policy makers.
Here is more by
Ellsberg and Kahn:
DANIEL ELLSBERG: The
Army and Navy were doing this. Now, in late- just after the estimate of
1000 in August, in September we finally got full coverage of the ICBM
possible sites in Russia with our satellites, which were a very secret
program, which my colleagues at Rand were not privy to at Top Secret
PAUL JAY: And
why were you? Why did you have access?
DANIEL ELLSBERG: I
didn’t. I was in the Pentagon. I didn’t have a clearance. But people
made a security lapse, in a way. I was there, and saw a new estimate.
And was told in a security breach, in a way, which was almost
unprecedented. I never- not before or after people told me something
that I didn’t have the clearance for. And I couldn’t share it with
Rand, because we would all have lost our access had I spread this
around. But the news was this: that what the Soviets had at that time
was four ICBMs.
PAUL JAY: Four.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: Not
40, not 160, not 1000, but 4.
And that is Ellsberg's
revelation, which I think is true, indeed mostly because it is
who makes it.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
PAUL JAY: So
how does that fit with the narrative? The Russians are coming, the
Soviet threat. They’re going to take over the world.
DANIEL ELLSBERG: It
should have led to a whole reconsideration of the framework here,
because it wasn’t just that they couldn’t afford to. they clearly
hadn’t felt that was high priority to have that capability. The notion
that they were aching to take over Western Europe at the earliest
possibility, or to destroy the U.S. as their main rival, was clearly
something wrong with it. And it was actually wrong.
Yes indeed: The
Russians were not coming; they were not going to take
over the world;
and if there was a Soviet threat its danger was less than 1/10th,
1/40th or 1/250th of the level of threat that the Americans and the
West generally adopted from the 1960ies onwards. And this is a strongly
recommended artice, with a lot more than I quoted.
It Takes the Rats to Wake Up Us and Congress, Bring Them On!
is by Ralph Nader
on Common Dreams. This is from near the beginning -
and it is about a new book of Nader, "How the Rats Re-Formed the Congress":
For decades, I’ve
argued that it is easier than we think to change what comes out of
Congress – the smallest yet most powerful branch of government under
Our history demonstrates
that if one percent or less of citizens, reflecting majority
public opinion, roll up their sleeves and focus together on their
two Senators and Representatives, they can prevail. I and other
consumer and environmental advocates did just that years ago with far
less than one percent of the people actually engaged in moving our
agenda (which is about two and a half million adults). Together we
championed laws that reigned in the auto industry, the corporate
polluters and other industries to save lives and prevent injuries and
illnesses. Because, majority public opinion supported us.
I like and admire Ralph
Nader, and he is certainly correct about what he achieved in
1960ies, and he may be correct about the numbers of ordinary
that are required to - fundamentally - force Congress to do
reasonable thing, which was in Nader's example the adoption of laws
that made cars much more safer than they had been until the 1960ies.
Here is more:
I’ve given numerous
examples of these citizen endeavors in my book, Breaking Through
Power: It’s Easier Than We Think.
It still can happen, even though the news media hardly covers
conventional civic activity anymore and great shows like Donahue’s are
no longer on the air. We shouldn’t be discouraged, however; we just
have to shift strategies and find new ways to get more Americans revved
up to feel and focus their own sovereign power exclusively rooted in
the Constitution. “Corporations” and “companies” aren’t even mentioned
in that storied document.
I more or less agree:
Yes, it still can be done (but it will be quite
difficult) and -
although it is an aside - indeed “corporations” and “companies” are not even mentioned in the
Constitution (and should never have been classified as persons,
although SCOTUS did so, while also money is not
the same as or indeed comparable with votes, although SCOTUS said so,
both in 2010).
Here are Nader's motives or a
selection from them:
Enough of not paying
hard-working impoverished workers a livable wage, enough of people
being denied health insurance, and ripped off by the credit sharks,
enough of our children being directly assailed with junk food and
violent advertising bypassing parental authority, enough of trillions
of our tax dollars not coming back to us for superior public services
in our crumbling communities but instead going to corporate welfare
(crony capitalism), and the infernal, very profitable corporate war
machine in addition to more tax escapes for the wealthy.
Enough of the fossil-fuel
industry poisoning our soil, our water, and disrupting our climate.
Enough of the corporate bosses and their indentured politicians; enough
of the big time crooks and their dirty elections. Enough, enough
I agree, and while I
may be more pessimistic than Nader is, I do agree that without
activities of millions of Americans, the USA and the rest of the world
are essentially fucked, by the above list of capitalist facts, and by
the environment or by a nuclear war. And this is a strongly
is by Michael Robbins on The Nation. It is the review of a book, and it
starts as follows:
Let’s just get this
out of the way: All jobs are bullshit jobs. Even if you’re a public
defender or work for Médecins Sans Frontičres, insofar as your labor is
determined by a system of abstract compulsion—insofar, that is, as it
exists within capitalism—it’s bullshit. You know this.
Yes indeed, and this
fact (more below) made me choose this article, although indeed
rather indirectly is related to the crisis.
In his new book, Bullshit
Jobs: A Theory, David Graeber is interested in a particular
variety of bullshit and work. In 2013, the anthropologist and anarchist
(he hates to be called “the anarchist anthropologist”) published an
essay slamming the proliferation of “pointless jobs” that seem to exist
“just for the sake of keeping us all working.” The response was
tremendous: It turns out that many people have jobs that they believe
require them to do nothing of value (or to do nothing whatsoever while
trying to appear to be doing something).
In any case: I started working at 17, basically because I much
both the school and the education I got, and thought I could do better
working. I also accepted a fulltime job in a bank and had very
idea about what fulltime jobs, especially in offices, were like. I left
that job after 9 months, and after that mostly worked in manpower-like
jobs, which means I was paid
by those who employed me who in turn got money from where I worked,
always or nearly always on a temporary basis. (I worked mostly as a
I also did some other work, outside offices, but I worked in many
offices in many jobs for something like six years, and what I
found there was essentially what was said above: Hardly any job
seemed necessary; nearly all the work was extremely boring and quite
senseless; and the same did not only apply to my diverse
jobs (which I did tolerably well, incidentally) but to most jobs in
nearly all of the many offices I worked.
Here is more:
I am Dutch, and although
the office jobs I had were between 1967 and 1975, it was quite the
then as it seems to be now. Then again, I do like to amend the
definition of a bullshit job - and while I like it this term is
defined, the definition seems a bit strict to me.
Graeber sifted through the
responses and solicited additional input on Twitter in a quest to
categorize the “five basic types of bullshit jobs” and document the
absurdist travails of those who hold them. From such data, he
constructed a working definition of the subject at hand:
Graeber distinguishes these
bullshit jobs from “shit jobs,” which serve a purpose but suck. Which
is not to say that bullshit jobs don’t suck as well, but they suck
precisely because they don’t serve a purpose.
[A] bullshit job is a
form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary,
or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even
though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels
obliged to pretend that this is not the case.
And as Graeber notes, this
sense of purposelessness is widespread: To give just two examples, 37
percent of the UK respondents to a poll on the subject, and 40 percent
of the Dutch ones, insisted that their work is utterly useless.
I would define a bullshit job as follows:
A bullshit job
is a form of paid employment that is mostly pointless, mostly
unnecessary or mostly pernicious.
This is a bit weaker than
the proposed definition, but it does satisfy what I found: Even
if in some sense the jobs I held (usually as a translater of
business posts to English, German or French) were "necessary"
(within the offices I worked) only a small part of the work I did
was not pointless, and especially
in the way it was done.
Next, there is this:
In 1930, John
Maynard Keynes predicted that, by the end of the century, technology
would have become so far advanced that developed economies would have a
15-hour workweek. So how did we get to our current state, almost two
decades into the 21st century? It turns out that Keynes was only half
right—technology has advanced spectacularly, but we are far
from a 15-hour workweek. Keynes thought that the developed economies
would adjust to a growth in productivity by decreasing workers’ hours.
Instead, capital absorbed those gains but did not free up the
now-superfluous human labor—a tendency that Karl Marx noticed long ago.
In fact, Keynes's
opinion was rather widespread and was
still current in the 1960ies, and indeed it was also sensible
technological point of view, which essentially held that the better
technology is used, the more productive the workers are.
But nowadays it seems as if - for the non-rich, to be sure - in
family both adults have to work most of the time to make the
raise their children (mostly by others). This is too complicated to
explain fully here and now, but I do want to make two assumptions
that go a considerable way:
First, while Marx's theory of labor value is mistaken, his view of
exploitation, which is essentially that the workers get
paid less than
they produce (and the difference is the basis of the capitalists'
profits) may well be correct.
And second, the capitalists do not care for the interests of
non-capitalists: All they want is profit, and basically as
large a profit as is compatible with the prevailing laws.
This goes a considerably way towards explaining why people at
have to work more than in the 1960ies: Because this is
profitable to the few rich.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Bullshit jobs are
only one idiotic facet of this larger decoupling of work from
meaningful activity. If the problem were managers and bureaucracy, then
we would simply need to eliminate them. But if the problem is
capitalism, then we need to change the world. The familiar slogan of
Occupy Wall Street and the global justice movement of the early 2000s,
both of which Graeber was involved in, was “Another world is possible.”
We’re told this is idealistic and naive. But it’s not bullshit.
I agree and this is a
strongly recommended article (especially if you think your work is
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 (!!).