June 4, 2019

Crisis: War with Russia, Philosophy of Totalitarianism, Russia Totalitarian, Media and Assange

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”
  -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 4, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, June 4, 2019.

There will be more about computers and Ubuntu in Nederlog soon, but I am happy to announce that Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, that I installed in 2017, works again as it did before on May 24, and after 24 hours of misery.

And on May 23 I also got a working computer with 18.04 LTS (which is worse than 16.04 LTS because its Firefox also is a menuless horror that I refuse to use, but happily SeaMonkey is not, for it still has it menus and can be installed on 18.04), so I am at present - and after two weeks of struggling - in the possession of two more or less, though not yet quite decently working computers.

So today there is a more or less common Nederlog, where "common" is the style I developed in 2013.

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 three 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 four crisis files that are mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from June 4, 2019:
1. Manufacturing War With Russia
2. About the philosophy of totalitarianism
3. Russia Demands Tinder Give User Data to Secret Services
4. Don’t Be Fooled: Media Still Selling Out Assange
The items 1 - 4 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. Manufacturing War With Russia

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

Despite the Robert Mueller report’s conclusion that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential race, the new Cold War with Moscow shows little sign of abating. It is used to justify the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders, a move that has made billions in profits for U.S. arms manufacturers. It is used to demonize domestic critics and alternative media outlets as agents of a foreign power. It is used to paper over the Democratic Party’s betrayal of the working class and the party’s subservience to corporate power. It is used to discredit détente between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. It is used to justify both the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States and U.S. interventions overseas—including in countries such as Syria and Venezuela. This new Cold War predates the Trump presidential campaign. It was manufactured over a decade ago by a war industry and intelligence community that understood that, by fueling a conflict with Russia, they could consolidate their power and increase their profits. (Seventy percent of intelligence is carried out by private corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, which has been called the world’s most profitable spy operation.)

I think the above is mostly correct. Here is some more:

“This began long before Trump and ‘Russiagate,’ ” Stephen F. Cohen said when I interviewed him for my television show, “On Contact.” Cohen is professor emeritus of politics at Princeton University, where he was the director of the Russian studies program, and professor emeritus of Russian studies and history at New York University. “You have to ask yourself, why is it that Washington had no problem doing productive diplomacy with Soviet communist leaders. Remember Richard Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev? It was a love fest. They went hunting together [in the Soviet Union]. Yet along comes a post-Soviet leader, Vladimir Putin, who is not only not a communist but a professed anti-communist. Washington has been hating on him ever since 2003, 2004. It requires some explanation. Why do we like communist leaders in Russia better than we like Russia’s anti-communist leader? It’s a riddle.”

To start with, most of this article is quoted from Cohen. As to the above quoted bit:

I think part of the explanation for what Cohen calls ¨a love fest¨ between Nixon and Brezhnev can be found in the considerable differences between Russia aka (until 1991) as the USSR and the USA in the early Seventies. There are additional explanations, but I think this one is prominent.

As to Cohen´s unanswered question ¨Why do we like communist leaders in Russia better than we like Russia’s anti-communist leader?¨ I think part of the explanation for that are the influence of the Pentagon and of its major American arms dealers on American politics since 20 or more years. Again I think there are additional explanations, but I think this one is prominent.

Then again, both of my explanations are partial, and I had and have myself a similar question as Cohen asks, namely why is the capitalist USA so much against the equally capitalist - since 1991 - Russia?

My - partial - answers are above. Here is some more:

“We have had three years of this,” Cohen said of Russiagate. “We lost sight of the essence of what this allegation is. The people who created Russiagate are literally saying, and have been for almost three years, that the president of the United States is a Russian agent, or he has been compromised by the Kremlin. We grin because it’s so fantastic. But the Washington establishment, mainly the Democrats but not only, have taken this seriously.”

“I don’t know if there has ever been anything like this in American history,” Cohen said. “That accusation does such damage to our own institutions, to the presidency, to our electoral system, to Congress, to the American mainstream media, not to mention the damage it’s done to American-Russian relations, the damage it has done to the way Russians, both elite Russians and young Russians, look at America today. This whole Russiagate has not only been fraudulent, it’s been a catastrophe.”

Yes, I agree but I think also that it has been created to justify Hillary Clinton´s loss to Donald Trump, though again there are additional explanations.

Here is Hedges himself on the death of democracy:

Our inability to oversee or control senior intelligence officials and their agencies, which fabricate information to push through agendas embraced by the shadow state, signals the death of democracy. Intelligence officials seemingly empowered to lie—Brennan and Clapper have been among them—ominously have in their hands instruments of surveillance, intimidation and coercion that effectively silence their critics, blunt investigations into their activities, even within the government, and make them and their agencies unaccountable.

Quite so, I think. Here is the ending of the article:

Russiagate is one of the greatest threats to national security. I have five listed in the book. Russia and China aren’t on there. Russiagate is number one.”

Yes I agree and this is a strongly recommended article.
2. About the philosophy of totalitarianism

This article is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. I changed the long title. This is from near its beginning:

We know that Trump is the gaslighter-in-chief. The Washington Post’s fact-checkers say he has made more than 10,000 “false or misleading claims” since entering the Oval Office. But he doesn’t just lie about big issues, such as the nuclear threat from North Korea, or the existence of climate change, or the contents of the Mueller report, or the laws on abortion. He lies about small issues, too: the weather on the day of his inauguration; the size of the crowd at his inauguration; a phone call from the Boy Scouts; the amount of television that he watches; the birthplace of his father … I could go on and on.

Yes indeed - and his insanely many lies, together with the fact that he lies about almost everything and the fact that he keeps lying are for me (a psychologist) evidence that Trump is insane.

I still think that is a fine explanation, but I have meanwhile learned that what psychologists think is mostly totally irrelevant for almost everyone, just as the supposed sciences of psychology and psychiatry are unknown to almost everyone.

Anyway. Here is some more:

Back in November 2016, days after the president-elect had ridiculously claimed in a tweet that he had “won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally,” McGill University political theorist Jacob T. Levy published an essay entitled “Authoritarianism and Post-Truth Politics,” in which he offered an explanation for why Trump tells such lies, and for why they are so dangerous, by leaning on the works of “the great analysts of truth and speech under totalitarianism — George Orwell, Hannah Arendt, Vaclav Havel.”

Well... I have been seriously interested in totalitarianism (incidentally: the link is to a good definition and not the Wikipedia´s lying propagandistic bullshit on the same subject, that is, I guess, at present mostly written by the CIA) for over 50+ years, indeed as a philosopher and a psychologist, and I have read most or all that is relevant to this subject by Orwell, Arendt and Havel.

I must say that I admire Orwell on the subject of totalitarianism, wasn´t impressed by Arendt at all, indeed because by the time I read Arendt, I had read everything of Orwell, and did not like Havel, mostly because it is ill written, although I agree that Havel was a courageous and honest person.

You may disagree, but it is extremely unlikely that you have my background or my knowledge.

Anyway, here is some more:

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule,” wrote Arendt in her 1951 classic “The Origins of Totalitarianism,” “is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e., the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e., the standards of thought) no longer exist.” In a later interview, she went further: “If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. And with such a people you can then do what you please.”

Per Arendt then, Trump isn’t just bullshitting or deflecting; he isn’t just demented or defensive; he is actively and consciously borrowing from the authoritarian’s playbook. He lies because he can — and because it serves his purpose. To control, to bully, to degrade those under him and around him. To both command and demonstrate unbending loyalty from his cultish base. This is who he is — and who he has always been. “His aim is never accuracy,” observes Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter of Trump’s 1987 memoir “The Art of the Deal.” As he notes, “it’s domination.”

As to the first of the above two paragraphs:

As I said, I had read Orwell long before I read Arendt, and in fact there is a much better quotation of Orwell on totalitarianism from June 1941 (ten years before Arendt).

It is in his ¨Literature and Totalitarianism¨ (this link is to a Russian site, because Orwell also cannot be quoted until I am 100 years old, or more) and the two most relevant quotations from it start with ¨It was never fully realized¨ and ends with ¨controls their actions¨ and with ¨Now with totalitarianism¨ that ends with ¨the very concept of objective truth¨.

I strongly advise you to read the above bits of Orwell, especially if you have been impressed by Arendt. (I will quote them later in Nederlog, for I cannot wait till I am 100.)

As to the second of the above two paragraphs:

Firstly, a similar consequence can be inferred from Orwell, and secondly, I should add that I think Schwarz was not talking about Trump´s authoritarianism, totalitarianism or Trump´s neofascism, but about his craziness.

Anyway. Here is the last bit I quote from this article, from near its end:

Some well-meaning liberals have suggested that fact-checking Trump is a distraction; rebutting his avalanche of lies is a waste of time. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Insisting on the difference between truth and lies is itself a part of the defense of freedom,” observes Levy. Indeed, it may be all that is standing between us and a descent into full-blown fascism here in the United States.

I agree with the above, except for the ¨all¨, and this is a recommended article.

3. Russia Demands Tinder Give User Data to Secret Services

This article is by Nataliya Vasilyeva on Truthdig and originally on The Associated Press. It starts as follows:

Russia is requiring dating app Tinder to hand over data on its users — including messages — to the national intelligence agencies, part of the country’s widening crackdown on internet freedoms.

The communications regulator said Monday that Tinder was included on a list of online services operating in Russia that are required to provide user data on demand to Russian authorities, including the FSB security agency.

Tinder, an app where people looking for dates swipe left or right on the profiles of other users to reject or accept them, will have to cooperate with Russian authorities or face being completely blocked in the country. The rule would apply to any user’s data that goes through Russian servers, including messages to other people on the app.

I say, for I did not know this. Also, I think it is important to see that the ¨crackdown on internet freedoms¨ is not only happening in in Russia and China - were now more than 1 billion people are tracked, traced and controlled by the local spies on the internet (which is the strongest reason to expect neofascism that I have ever seen or read) - but also in the USA, England and Europe, though (it seems) a bit more slowly.

Here is more:

Russia adopted a flurry of legislation in recent years tightening control over online activity. Among other things, internet companies are required to store six months’ worth of user data and be ready to hand them over to authorities.

Russian authorities last year issued an order to ban messaging app Telegram after it refused to hand over user data. Some top Russian officials, including the FSB chief, attacked Telegram, claiming “extremists” used the platform to plot terrorist attacks.

I think similar legislation will be coming to the USA, England and Europe - and indeed that will be the ends of both liberalism and democracy.

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

A total of 175 online services are on the list requiring them to hand over user data to Russian authorities. Most are small websites in Russian regions.

Popular messaging services such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger are not on the list. Russian authorities say that is because law enforcement agencies have not approached them for data from those particular apps, but it is widely understood that blocking Facebook and its popular apps like WhatsApp or Instagram would be a big step for regulators.

Yes. Then again, my guess is that Facebook etc. will soon follow in Russia (and it will probably not be blocked, but the Russian secret service will want everything that´s on it), and something similar will happen a few years later in the USA. And this is a strongly recommended article.

4. Don’t Be Fooled: Media Still Selling Out Assange

This article is by Jonathan Cook on Consortium News. It starts as follows:
A few corporate media publications have finally come out in very half-hearted support of Julian Assange — after years of stabbing him in the back at every opportunity. These outlets, including the Guardian, The Washington Post and The New York Times, have found their voice very belatedly, only after the Trump administration revealed last week that it plans to lock Assange away for the rest of his life on espionage charges. His crime on the charge-sheet: more than a decade ago he published evidence of U.S. war crimes committed in Iraq.

The journalistic “resistance” claims to be coming to Assange’s defense out of principle: if he is jailed for espionage, journalism itself will be criminalized. And they are most definitely right about that. But their sudden conversion to Assange’s cause is not really about principle – legal or journalistic. It is rooted solely in an urge for self-protection.

The papers that have rushed so very late in the day to Assange’s side, after the Trump administration announced moves to charge and extradite him, are also those who worked most closely with WikiLeaks — in a distant past, long before they turned on him.
Yes, I agree with the above. Here is some more:
For years the corporate media ignored the overwhelming evidence that a secret U.S. grand jury had been convened to drum up charges against Assange.

They similarly ignored the reason for the physical and mental torture and financial penalties inflicted on Chelsea Manning, which were intended to extract false testimony that might make the phony espionage charges look a little plausible in court.

The media have ignored the endless examples of legal abuse Assange has suffered at the hands of the U.K. and Sweden, long before the U.S. threw its own soiled hat into the ring, as I recently documented here.

The media are still ignoring such abuses, including Assange’s year-long solitary confinement in Belmarsh, a high-security U.K. prison, for a minor breach of police bail.
Yes. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The fight by the Guardian, the Post and the Times is not for the principles of a more truthful society Assange committed himself to. Their fight is for their consciences, so they can sleep a little easier at night, so that they can carry on believing they are what they never were: a watchdog on power.

Their fight is to uphold a lie, a lie about themselves.
I mostly agree, but would be willing to say as well that the Guardian - before 2015 or 2014, to be sure - was ¨a watchdog on power¨, but indeed it isn´t anymore. And this is a recommended article. 

[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that 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 3 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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