June 9, 2019

Crisis: The USA´s Global Hegemony, The USA & ¨socialism¨, On Congress, On Ecological Genocide

“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 9, 2019

This is a Nederlog of Sunday, June 9, 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 9, 2019:
1. America's Global Hegemony Could Be Coming to an End
2. 5 popular programs that prove Americans love socialism
3. If Congress has no Mojo to Govern, let’s make it a Part Time Job
4. The Accelerating Ecological Genocide
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. America's Global Hegemony Could Be Coming to an End

This article is by Paul Jay on Truthdig and originally on The Real News Network. This from close to its start:

PAUL JAY: (..) Big power rivalry is heading into very dangerous waters. The rise of China as an economic and military superpower is threatening the global hegemony of the United States. Russia has been pushed into an increasingly tighter relationship with China to balance the attempts by the West to isolate it. President Trump, representing the most aggressive sections of American capital, is responding with a trade war, and an unparalleled massive peacetime military budget that was justified by his Secretary of Defense Shanahan with three words: China, China, and China.

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

In a recent meeting between Russia’s President Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, apparently the 29th such meeting in the last few years, it was announced with the two leaders looking on that the Chinese tech company Huawei has struck a deal to build Russia’s first 5G wireless network. This is the same company that Trump has banned from developing the 5G network in the United States, and is pushing Europe to do the same.

This is clearly just the early stages of what is already the defining big power contention of the 21st century.
Yes again, though I am not sure of everything I quoted. Then again, I don´t think that is quite necessary, and here are two quite general points that illustrate Jay´s thesis:
  • In the first place, Russia + China probably are weaker in terms of military potentials than the USA at the moment, but then they also have around five times as many inhabitants as the USA, while also
  • Both Russia and China are authoritarian states (whatever you think about the - past - USSR´s and China´s socialism), which incidentally also means that something like nearly 1.5 billion people are living under authoritarianism (merely in Russia and China).
Here is more, this time by the person Jay interviews:

ROB JOHNSON: So it’s very daunting. But I think the relationship between military concerns and commerce is almost unsolvable at present. And it’s scaring lots of people, because you don’t know who’s hacking you, you don’t know where they’re coming from. And it’s hard to create what you might call rules of fair play between U.S. and China and then have somebody hack into the system, and not know whether it’s your counterpart that’s cheating, or a third party pretending, say, to be from Wisconsin, or to be from Shanghai, intruding on system, when they might be in Albania or Latin America. So it’s a very, very treacherous environment.

Yes indeed - I totally agree, and in fact what Johnson is talking about is the present internet, that allows that everyone who is on it is getting hacked by (i) very many secret services from very many countries (that each may hack almost everything of almost any private person anywhere) and by (ii) several very rich private firms, like Google, Facebook and Apple, who may do the same as the secret services, though with another end, namely not dossiers about personal political reliability but dossiers about personal interests, money and tastes, so as to sell them as much as possible.

In addition, it seems at present as if all governments have levels of security that protect the government and its secret service and allow both the government and its secret service to do what they please in many fields.

There is a lot more to be said about the points I just made, but not in the present Nederlog. I move on to some more from this article:

ROB JOHNSON: Well, I think there is a big–you spoke of the awful geopolitics in the introduction. And we’re in a very treacherous and difficult place, which is you have two cultures, the United States and China, that represent, essentially, Western Cartesian enlightenment and the Confucian or Daoist traditions. The theories of how to deal with change, how you deal with unknowns, theories of governance in these two cultures are at odds with one another.

Well... I am a philosopher, but I would neither agree that ¨the West¨ is ¨essentially (..) Cartesian enlightenment¨ nor that China represents ¨essentially the Confucian or Daoist traditions¨. In fact, I do not know how I would describe ¨the West¨ nor ¨the East¨, while I also think that if there are more or less fitting descriptions, they still have to be true of billions of people and many different cultures, and I doubt these descriptions, even if true, are of much help.

Here is more by Johnson:

ROB JOHNSON: The United States officials that you referred to thought China would fall into the global trading system and evolve into a–what you might call a Western-like commercial entity. They thought that the financial systems would become integrated and open to the West. They thought they would eventually privatize and stop using state credit allocation to subsidize state-owned enterprises that compete with private enterprise. Places like the World Trade Organization, so-called WTO, would bridge the differences and bring things to a healing point. And that doesn’t appear to be where we’re going.

I suppose this is more or less correct and I think one of the things these ¨United States officials¨ probably forgot are that both Russia and China are authoritarian states, and that as regards authorities and power Lord Acton saw very deep:

"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority."

Anyway. Here is some more by Johnson:

The other final thing where I think the United States has some real concern is we have been talking about how the government doesn’t play a role. We’ve been cutting government support to things like basic science very drastically over the last 20 years as a percentage of GDP. The Chinese ultimately will have a population four to five times the size of America’s. They continue to develop their science budgets. And what you might call the locus of innovation may shift from the United States in places like Silicon Valley to a place like Shenzhen in China.

So I think the Americans are, you might call it, ostrich-like. They don’t think this challenge is going to be for real.

Yes, I think Johnson sees this correctly, though it may be too soon to base a lot on this difference between the USA and China.

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

Very many parts of Europe, particularly southern Europe are doing worse now since 2008 than they did in the 1930s, the depression. And so these are very substantial, powerful forces. America is not handling them well, the eurozone is not handling them well. And the stagnation–this is kind of the irony–the stagnation of demand in places like Europe and to some degree America has been a source of why the Chinese have changed to go inward and move to higher value-added products.

Well... I do not know whether ¨particularly southern Europe are doing worse now since 2008 than they did in the 1930s, the depression¨ but this is a fairly interesting article that is recommended.

2. 5 popular programs that prove Americans love socialism

This article is by Alex Henderson on AlterNet. I abbreviated the title. It starts as follows:

President Donald Trump knows what buttons to push when it comes firing up his far-right base, and one of them is decrying “socialism” and insisting that the Democratic Party has become fully “socialist” in its ideology. Meanwhile, the term “democratic socialism” is a badge of honor for Sen. Bernie Sanders and his ally, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City. But context is crucial. The “socialism” that Sanders and AOC champion is really a revival of New Deal/Great Society liberalism, and while both of them are left-of-center by U.S. standards, neither would be embraced by actual Marxist-Leninists or Maoists — in fact, communist websites have attacked them for not being true leftists.

But then, neither of them have claimed to be disciples of Che Guevara or Mao Tse-Tung. What they favor is regulated capitalism with a strong social safety net, realizing that the public and private sectors both have their place. (..)

Well... I think the above is mostly correct, but do insist that (i) the ¨socialism¨ that Trump and the right protest against is almost purely propaganda, and that (ii) the ¨socialism¨ that is supposed to move Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez also is not socialism but indeed is mostly ¨a revival of New Deal/Great Society liberalism¨.

Therefore I certainly would not have used the term ¨socialism¨, without any quotation marks, in the title (although I do not know whether Henderson wrote the title).

Here is some more:

Here are some forms of “socialism” that are wildly popular in the United States. 

1. Social Security

One of the many government programs that came out of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal, Social Security has been around since 1935. President George W. Bush proposed privatizing Social Security in the 2000s, and the idea was met with a very negative response.
60% of Americans would rather reverse the GOP’s corporate tax cuts of 2017 than see the government cut spending for Social Security. And among Democrats, that number jumps to 80%.

Well, in my European eyes social security is not socialism at all, and indeed not even ¨socialism¨.

Here is more:

2. Medicare

In the early 1960s, Ronald Reagan spoke out against the idea of a government-operated health care plan for senior citizens. Socialized medicine, Reagan insisted, would not serve seniors well. But Reagan was dead wrong: Medicare, launched in 1965 as part of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Great Society, has been an incredibly popular form of “socialism.”

Again, in my European eyes medicare is neither socialism nor ¨socialism¨.

Then there is this:
3. The U.S. military
It completely escapes my understanding why I privatized army that fights wars in at least seven places that all serve the capitalists could even conceivably be called ¨socialist¨ or socialist.

And as to the remaining two points
4. Public parks

5. Medicaid

Along with Medicare, Medicaid was one of the top achievements of the Great Society. And the government-operated program still enjoys widespread support after more than half a century.

I say just the same is true. So all in all I think this is a confusing article that will not clarify anything to anyone.

3. If Congress has no Mojo to Govern, let’s make it a Part Time Job

This article is by Renee Parsons on The Off-Guardian. It starts as follows:
If the American public needs any further evidence that the US Congress is unable to function as an operating legislative branch of the Federal government in the ‘pursuit of happiness’ or to ‘promote the general welfare,’ look no further than Congress’s most recent public disapproval rating of 69%.

This is of course nothing new as Congress has been in ill repute with the American public for decades – and no one seems to know what to do about it.

To be fair to the lackluster, do-nothing group of flunkies who rake in the benjamins and perks that most Americans can only dream about, Congress actually hit its highest ever disapproval rating of 84% in September, 2011 and earned an 85% disapproval in November, 2013, during Barack Obama’s Hope and Change years which produced neither hope nor change.

Well... let me start with saying that Renee Parsons ¨has been a member of the ACLU´s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter¨, which I repeat from the Off-Guardian (where there is more on her).

Also, I more or less agree with the above, but not with the asserted supposed fact that ¨no one seems to know what to do about¨ Congress, for I think that is simply false. (Finance? Lobbyists? Just two parties?)

Here is some more on Congress (and the ACA = the Affordable Care Act):

As a direct reflection of the lack of Congressional or Executive leadership, the Direction of the Country poll hit its highest disapproval in October, 2011 at 75% perhaps with the realization that the ACA was not what it was cracked up to be while today 57% of the country disapproves of the country’s direction.

President Donald Trump has a 53% disapproval rating while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at 48% – both consistently hover around 50% – and clearly neither knows how to produce for the American people. Stock market buy-backs which should be illegal are not a guarantee of economic well being on Main Street.

Yes, I agree. Here is the ending of this article:

Since neither party has shown the mojo to govern, the unpleasant fact is that the Congress itself, inept, irresponsible and corrupt, is in the throes of a full blown collapse of its own making for its failure to perform as democratically elected representatives committed to the People.

As there is a fundamental transformation underway with a political realignment occurring, the role of Congress, which has neither the ability nor the integrity to function, should be a 2020 campaign issue as they have earned the right to become a part time body with fewer staff and less perks.

I agree with the first quoted above paragraph, but not with the second.
4. The Accelerating Ecological Genocide

This article is by Thomas Klikauer on Counterpunch. It starts as follows:

In May 2019, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) released its latest assessment of the accelerating extinction rates of our global biodiversity. The report was compiled by 145 expert authors from 50 countries over the past three years. It has inputs from another 310 contributing authors and is based on the review of about 15,000 scientific publications. The full report (exceeding 1,500 pages) will be published later this year. A preliminary overview of the report makes a somber reading. Here are the highlights:

Nature’s decline is unprecedented; species extinction rates are accelerating; current global responses are insufficient; 1,000,000 species threatened with extinction; nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history — and the rate of species extinction is accelerating, with grave impacts on people around the world now likely.

The report finds that around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. The average abundance of native species in most major land-based habitats has fallen by at least 20%, mostly since 1900. More than 40% of amphibian species, almost 33% of corals and more than a third of all marine mammals are threatened. The picture is less clear for insect species, but available evidence supports a tentative estimate of 10% being threatened. At least 680 vertebrate species have been driven to extinction since the 16th century and more than 9% of all domesticated breeds of mammals used for food and agriculture have become extinct by 2016, with at least 1,000 more breeds still threatened.

Ecosystems, species, wild populations, local varieties and breeds of domesticated plants and animals are shrinking, deteriorating or vanishing. The essential, interconnected web of life on Earth is getting smaller and increasingly frayed. This loss is a direct result of human activity and constitutes a direct threat to human well-being in all regions of the world.

I think all of the above is - very probably - quite correct (and repeat this is from a United Nations Report).

Here is more:

The Report notes that, since 1980, greenhouse gas emissions have doubled, raising average global temperatures by at least 0.7 degrees Celsius with climate change already impacting nature from the level of ecosystems to that of genetics; impacts are expected to increase over the coming decades, in some cases surpassing the impact of land and sea use change and other drivers. Despite progress to conserve nature and implement policies, the report also finds that global goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.

Yes indeed, although I have no idea what ¨transformative changes¨ are supposed to be.

Also, there is a lot more than I quoted in this article, and one of the things I do not quote is a long and interesting list of twenty-five notable findings - which are quite depressive to read, but all do seem to me to be facts.

Here is the last bit of this article:

In conclusion, whether one calls what is coming Anthropocene, a period during which human activity alters the climate and the environment; Capitalocene describing capitalism’s impact on the Anthropocene; Sixth Mass Extinction – the massive death of animals and plants; or Ecocide – the impending ecological suicide, the report makes an horrific reading. Some will say, this is alarmist. Well, yes, it is. It is highly alarming. And it is not the first time that those who can see afar are being abused as being alarmist. Rosa Luxemburg, at the eve of World War I, warning that this war would lead to the senseless massacre of French and German workers, was accused of being alarmist. For her views she was murdered. Surely, people who warned us of the impending Holocaust during the 1930s were called alarmist. Those who warned us against dropping the atomic bomb were accused of being alarmist, those who warned against the Vietnam war where alarmist, those who warned against the Iraq war were alarmist, etc. But in each case the alarmists were proven right. What we are facing today is nothing short of The Uninhabitable Earth – the annihilation of life on earth. It is about time to ring the alarm bells.

Yes indeed, and this is a very strongly 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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