June 7, 2019

Crisis: On ¨Cultural Marxism¨, On Climate Change, On the Corporate Media, On ¨Socialism¨

“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 7, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Friday, June 7, 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 7, 2019:
1. The Media Are Legitimizing a Century-Old Nazi Trope
2. Climate Change Threatens Societal Collapse Within Decades
3. Corporate Media Will Regret Abandoning Julian Assange
4. The Same Old Scare Tactic about Socialism
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. The Media Are Legitimizing a Century-Old Nazi Trope

This article is by Ari Paul on Truthdig and originally on FAIR. It starts as follows:

When Norwegian right-winger Anders Breivik invoked “cultural Marxism” as the reason for his 77-person killing spree in 2011, many observers placed the notion in the same category as the killer—the fringe. But since the election of Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise and re-election of other far-right governments around the globe, “cultural Marxism” has become a well-known nationalist buzzword, alongside “globalism”: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro denounces it, and the media empire of former White House advisor Steve Bannon revolved around fighting it.

The phrase is seeping into mainstream media discourse, a far cry from its former days as an extremist catch phrase, and it’s creating a dangerous situation with an ominous historical context.

I suppose this is true, although I have seen little of it. Then again, while I am not a Marxist since I was 20 (nearly 50 years ago), I do know a lot about Marxism, mostly (i) because both my parents were Marxists nearly all their adult lives, and so was one grandfather, while my two other grandparents were anarchists, and (ii) because I am a philosopher.

And the short for the term ¨cultural Marxism¨ for me also consists of two points: First, I do not recall reading it in any leftist publication I have read in the last 50 years (rather a lot, also) and second therefore the term is nearly certainly a propaganda term from the right.

And I think all of that is correct. Here is some more:

Times, 11/26/19) lamented that today’s youths “tend to have been influenced by the cultural Marxism that is now the lingua franca in the elite academy,” giving them a “clash of oppressed and oppressor groups” worldview. Also in the Times, contributor Molly Worthen (4/20/19) quoted the phrase “cultural Marxism”—not approvingly, but not explaining what it meant, either, just offering it as an example of what “conservatives” were complaining about. A Times story in 2017 (8/11/17) about a former White House aide reported that the aide believed “globalists” would “impose cultural Marxism in the United States”—again, without defining for the layperson what that might mean.

I take it the above is all true, and it seems to me precisely how I defined it above: As a fairly obvious piece of propaganda.

Incidentally, it is my guess that Marxism meanwhile is also mostly dead (although it will take some time for many to see this), mostly for three reasons: Apart from China, which is mostly a one-party authoritarian state, there are no more socialist countries (as in the 70 years of the USSR); Marxism did not (at all) foresee the surveillance state; and also it did not (at all) foresee totalitarianism.

Here is some more on ¨cultural Marxism¨, namely on what it means for the right:

What does cultural Marxism mean for the far right? In the modern iteration, in spaces like Breitbart or Infowars, it is the belief that a failure by communists to topple capitalism through worker revolt has led to a “Plan B” to destroy Western society from the inside. By tearing down the gender binary, de-centering Christianity values, championing the weak over the privileged and creating a multicultural society, revolutionaries have unanchored traditional Western order. Everything from gay rights to Muslim immigration is, in the language of the far right, part of a plot to finish the job that radical worker organizing could not.

Suffice it to say, this is a most paranoid fantasy. Most Marxists don’t speak in these terms, and people who do advocate for immigration, multiculturalism or secularism do so out of a certain regard for human and civil rights. But the far right still obsesses that this is a historical cultural struggle.

I agree with the second quoted paragraph, and have a supplement for the first paragraph, namely that it is the opposite of the far right´s supposed ¨Plan B¨, for the simple reason that there never was a ¨Plan B¨.

Anyway, here is some more:

It’s not too surprising that the nationalistic right still clings onto such fascist anachronisms; it’s clearly helping them at the voting booth, from the United States to Europe to Brazil.  It’s an important mobilizing call for the far right, depicting things like immigration and secularism not simply as liberal values, but as far-left revolutionary tools.

What should be shocking is the cavalier way some traditional media, like the Times and the Post, are allowing it to live on their pages. Brooks rebrands cultural Marxism as mere political correctness, giving the Nazi-inspired phrase legitimacy for the American right.

Yes indeed, I agree with both paragraphs (and incidentally I strongly dislike Brooks since he identified Snowden as a madman in 2013 on the basis of zero knowledge).

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

In 2018, Columbia University historian Samuel Moyn wrote in a Times blog post (11/13/18):

That “cultural Marxism” is a crude slander, referring to something that does not exist, unfortunately does not mean actual people are not being set up to pay the price, as scapegoats to appease a rising sense of anger and anxiety. And for that reason, “cultural Marxism” is not only a sad diversion from framing legitimate grievances, but also a dangerous lure in an increasingly unhinged moment.

Yes, I completely agree with Moyn - and if there was something like ¨cultural Marxism¨ I should have seen it the last 50 years, but I did not see anything like it (and in fact nearly all Marxists I have known since 1970 very rapidly converted themselves in 1991 - in so far as they had not earlier converted to postmodernism - to neoconservatives). And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Climate Change Threatens Societal Collapse Within Decades

This article is by Eoin Higgins on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Even by the standards of the dire predictions given in climate studies, this one’s extreme: civilization itself could be past the point of no return by 2050.

That’s the conclusion from Australian climate think tank Breakthrough National Centre for Climate Restoration, which released a report (pdf) May 30 claiming that unless humanity takes drastic and immediate action to stop the climate crisis, a combination of food production instability, water shortages, and extreme weather could result in a complete societal breakdown worldwide.

“We must act collectively,” retired Australian Admiral Chris Barrie writes in the foreword to the new study. “We need strong, determined leadership in government, in business and in our communities to ensure a sustainable future for humankind.”

Though the paper acknowledges that total civilizational collapse by 2050 is an example of a worst-case scenario, it stresses that “the world is currently completely unprepared to envisage, and even less deal with, the consequences of catastrophic climate change.”

Well... I mostly agree with the above basically for three reasons: (1) I have been following ¨the environment¨ or ¨the climate¨ since 1972 (after reading ¨The Limits to Growth¨ in 1972); (2) I have seen extremely limited real actions since 1972, mostly because the governments either did not care or only treated ¨the environment¨ as an occasion to make propaganda for the governments; and (3) I consider ¨the environment¨ or ¨the climate¨ as being seriously wrecked already, although I do not know whether a ¨total civilizational collapse by 2050¨ (when I will become 100) is probable (though it well may be).

Here is some more:

The paper called on national security forces in Australia and across the world to step up to the challenge presented by the crisis.

“To reduce this risk and protect human civilization, a massive global mobilization of resources is needed in the coming decade to build a zero-emissions industrial system and set in train the restoration of a safe climate,” the report reads. “This would be akin in scale to the World War II emergency mobilization.”

On Tuesday, the idea of emergency mobilization akin to a world war was echoed by Nobel-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz in an opinion piece for The Guardian.

Stiglitz called on world governments to recognize the level of threat that the climate crisis presents and to act accordingly:

Yes, we can afford it, with the right fiscal policies and collective will. But more importantly, we must afford it. Climate change is our World War III. Our lives and civilization as we know it is at stake, just as they were in World War II.

Yes, I mostly agree and this is a strongly recommended article.

3. Corporate Media Will Regret Abandoning Julian Assange

This article is by John O´Day on Truthdig and originally on FAIR. It starts as follows:

After British police arrested Julian Assange on April 11, the first instinct of corporate journalists was to perform a line-drawing exercise. In so doing, corporate media dutifully laid the groundwork for the US Department of Justice’s escalating political persecution of the WikiLeaks founder, and set the stage for a renewed assault on a free and independent press by the Trump administration.

Yes, I agree - and the ¨line-drawing exercise¨ consisted mostly in sketching out why especially Assange was not a journalist and not a scientist, and also should not be supported.

And in fact there was hardly any rational argument, mostly because what a journalist is supposed to be is not at all settled by diplomas (as in the case of medics or plumbers), while also Assange did practise journalism for something like 10 years, except that he was a bit more radical than most journalists who write for the corporate (mass-)media.

Here is some more:

The problem of journalistic demarcation is no less ideologically motivated and, through their effort to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks, corporate media have snugly aligned themselves with the contemporary brokers of US imperial power against a journalistic movement that, over the last decade, has presented them with their most significant challenge.

Yes, I agree. And here is some more:

When the US DoJ predictably superseded its initial indictment of Assange on May 23, charging him with 17 additional counts of espionage, corporate media’s demarcation problem just as predictably blew up in their faces. As Assistant Attorney General John Demers announced the new charges, he boldly traced the all-important line, guided by corporate media’s hand: “Julian Assange is no journalist,” he asserted.

Because the new indictment is significantly more severe and relates to WikiLeaks’ publication of classified material, not just with how that material was obtained, corporate media are now unsurprisingly questioning the line they were so eager to draw.

Yes,  I agree - and what John Demers should have said was this: ¨Journalists are people who write what I like, and everyone else who writes is not a journalist but a rabble rouser¨. That at least would have been honest.

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

Corporate media jealously guard their self-anointed prerogative to set a limit on what the public may know. Ironically, while Popper sought to exclude Marxism from science because it was too occult, corporate media have sought to exclude WikiLeaks from journalism because it is not occult enough. In both cases, however, the division ultimately comes down to ideological rather than semantic lines.

Yes, I mostly agree (and have avoided more Popper) and this is a recommended article.

4. The Same Old Scare Tactic about Socialism

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

I keep hearing a lot about “socialism” these days, mainly from Donald Trump and Fox News, trying to scare Americans about initiatives like Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, universal child care, free public higher education, and higher taxes on the super-wealthy to pay for these. 

Well, I’m here to ask you to ignore the scaremongering.

First, these initiatives are overwhelmingly supported by most Americans.

Second, for the last 85 years, conservative Republicans have been yelling “socialism” at every initiative designed to help most Americans.

Yes, I mostly agree, but I also have some remarks:

First, ¨socialism¨ is also mentioned rather a lot by Americans who are in the race to become president in 2020, usually in the form of ¨democratic socialism¨, which also is the main reason (it seems) Trump and Fox News mention it.

Second, Reich is quite right that what the left argues for, namely ¨
Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, universal child care, free public higher education, and higher taxes on the super-wealthy to pay for these¨ does not constitute socialism in a sense I (and many socialists) would acknowledge.

Third, Reich seems also right in saying that the ideas I just quoted are ¨
overwhelmingly supported by most Americans¨.

Fourth, he is also right that ¨
for the last 85 years, conservative Republicans have been yelling “socialism” at every initiative designed to help most Americans¨.

But fifth, it is very likely the case that Reich and I disagree a bit about socialism which Reich, who wrote a book called ¨Saving Capitalism¨, seems against, while I am a bit more pro, although I hesitate as well, because socialism as I understand it does require a revolution, while I know most revolutions fail.

Anyway... here is some more:
I agree in this with Truman. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

Third, if we don’t want to live in a survival-of-the-fittest society in which only the richest and most powerful can endure, government has to do three basic things: regulate corporations, provide social insurance against unforeseen hardships, and support public investments such as schools and public transportation.

All of these require that we pool our resources for the common good.

Regardless of whether this is called democratic socialism or enlightened capitalism, all are necessary for a decent society.

I basically agree, although I do not know what Reich would say if it were pointed out to him that the last 40 years have been strongly for the few rich (especially in the USA but also elsewhere) and as strongly against the many non-rich. But 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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