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Nederlog

February 19, 2018

Crisis:  On Fascism, About Trump, A Fairer World, On U.S. Intel (3), No Justice



Sections
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 19, 2018.

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 19, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:

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.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from February 19, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. How We Fight Fascism
2. Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now
3. A Fairer World May Mean More Modest Dreams
4. A Crisis in Intelligence: Unthinkable Consequences of Outsourcing U.S.
     Intel (Part 3)

5. There Is No Justice in Our World
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. How We Fight Fascism

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
In 1923 the radical socialist and feminist Clara Zetkin gave a report at the Communist International about the emergence of a political movement called fascism. Fascism, then in its infancy, was written off by many liberals, socialists and communists as little more than mob rule, terror and street violence. But Zetkin, a German revolutionary, understood its virulence, its seduction and its danger. She warned that the longer the stagnation and rot of a dysfunctional democracy went unaddressed, the more attractive fascism would become. And as 21st-century America’s own capitalist democracy disintegrates, replaced by a naked kleptocracy that disdains the rule of law, the struggle of past anti-fascists mirrors our own. History has amply illustrated where political paralysis, economic decline, hypermilitarism and widespread corruption lead.
I say, which I do because I have heard Clara Zetkin's name quite a few times in my communist family, but have hardly or never heard it since 1970.

And I think I should add that I also ceased being a communist or a Marxist of any kind in 1970, and indeed mostly shifted my hitherto political interests to scientific and philosophical interests, but while my interests got quite different quite fast, it is also true that my general political outlook remained fairly similar to what I had learned during my first twenty years:

I did regard myself as an anarchist of some kind since 1972 [2], but then one major difference between me (at 19 and at 22) was that while I considered anarchism ethically closest to my own values (at 22), I also held it as an ideal, that was beyond most men and women that I knew, and that seemed interesting or worthwile only to a few percent of the population at most.

In fact, I still think mostly so. Here is some on Zetkin's analysis of fascism, that is now about a 100 years old:
Zetkin’s analysis, eerily prophetic and reprinted in the book “Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win,” edited by John Riddell and Mike Taber, highlights the principal features of emerging fascist movements. Fascism, Zetkin warned, arises when capitalism enters a period of crisis and breakdown of the democratic institutions that once offered the possibility of reform and protection from an uninhibited assault by the capitalist class. The unchecked capitalist assault pushes the middle class, the bulwark of a capitalist democracy, into the working class and often poverty. It strips workers of all protection and depresses wages. The longer the economic and social stagnation persists, the more attractive fascism becomes.
I admit that I have not read Zetkin's analysis, but I think I know it fairly well, namely from my communist (and heroic) father.

In any case, I have two problems with it. Here they are:

The first problem is that I am not given any definition of "fascism". And I think that is a serious mistake, if only because I have made a study of no less than 21 different definitions of "fascism", and did so in 2016, in my
On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions. Note that some of these definitions are quite different from others.

The second problem
is this: Why would "the middle class" and "workers" be attracted in any way by fascism (however defined)?! And why would "fascism" become more and more attractive
"the
longer the economic and social stagnation persists"?!

I have seen no reasons (nor any evidence) for either proposition in the second problem. (Of course, there are my own judgements that large parts of the population are stupid or ignorant, but then these judgements seem quite impopular, especially among the half of the population that has an IQ below 100.)

Here is some more:
The “virtues” of democracy become distasteful. The crude taunts, threats and insults hurled by fascists at the liberal establishment express a legitimate anger among a betrayed working class. Trump’s coarseness, for this reason, resonates with many pushed to the margins of society. Demoralized workers, who also find no defense of their interests by establishment intellectuals, the press and academics, lose faith in the political process. Realizing the liberal elites have lied to them, they are open to bizarre and fantastic conspiracy theories.
Well... I grant this sketch is mostly true, alas, but I see no reason whatsoever to excuse the "working class": I am sorry, but if you think fascist violence is a solution for the problems of the workers, all I can say is that you are stupid or ignorant.

Here is more:
The discredited ideals of democracy are replaced by a hypernationalism that divides the population not by class but between the patriotic and the unpatriotic. National and religious symbols such as the Christian cross and the American flag are fused under fascism. Fascism offers the dispossessed a tangible enemy and a right to physically strike back.
Again I say: Those in the working class (especially) that come to believe in the violent ideals of fascism are stupid or ignorant. (I am sorry, and in case it matters: I am the first intellectual in my family, that was working class for quite a few generations.)

Then there is this:
Zetkin, a close friend of the murdered revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg, wrote. “All these forces must come together in a community. And this community, for the fascists, is the nation. … The instrument to achieve fascist ideals is, for them, the state. A strong and authoritarian state that will be their very own creation and their obedient tool. This state will tower high above all differences of party and class.”
Well... as I said above, I thought through 21 different definitions of "fascism", and the main two reasons why I provided my own definition of neofascism (see the last link) are that absolutely no journalist I've ever read had a halfway decent definition of "fascism" and none of them seem to have ever considered neofascism, nor the fact (as I think it is) that THE difference between fascism and neofascism is about the state: For fascists, it is the state that that comprises everything and everyone; for neofascists, it is the corporation and its profits that comprise everything and everyone.

And I think I am right, but as I said: Of the thousands - literally! - of journalists I have been reading over the last ten or fifteen years absolutely no one seems to have any good idea about what a reasonable definition of "fascism" would look like (indeed because few of them have ideas about definitions of any kind), and none seems to have any ideas about neofascism.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
In essence, much as Trump has done, the capitalists are bought off by fascists with tax cuts, deregulation, the breaking of unions and the dismantling of institutions that carry out oversight and the protection of workers. The expansion of the military, which provides capitalists with increased profit, coupled with the expanded powers of the organs of internal security, binds the capitalist elites to the fascists. Their marriage is one of mutual convenience. This is why the capitalist elites tolerate Trump and endure the international embarrassment he has become.
I think my analysis, in terms of my definition of neofascism, is better: I think the leading capitalists (though not all of them) are very strongly for the maximum profits they can get,
and would very much like to see their own corporations to have far more power than any other social institution, and especially the state.

But this is a recommended article, though I do not understand Hedges' analysis of "fascism".

2. Whatever Trump Is Hiding Is Hurting All of Us Now

This article is by Thomas Friedman on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Our democracy is in serious danger.

President Trump is either totally compromised by the Russians or is a towering fool, or both, but either way he has shown himself unwilling or unable to defend America against a Russian campaign to divide and undermine our democracy.

That is, either Trump’s real estate empire has taken large amounts of money from shady oligarchs linked to the Kremlin — so much that they literally own him; or rumors are true that he engaged in sexual misbehavior while he was in Moscow running the Miss Universe contest, which Russian intelligence has on tape and he doesn’t want released; or Trump actually believes Russian President Vladimir Putin when he says he is innocent of intervening in our elections — over the explicit findings of Trump’s own C.I.A., N.S.A. and F.B.I. chiefs.

In sum, Trump is either hiding something so threatening to himself, or he’s criminally incompetent to be commander in chief.

If you believe the above, apart from the fact that Trump is "incompetent to be commander in chief", I think you are quite stupid. There is not a word of evidence in it, but I take it this does not matter to the editors of The New York Times.

Here is more:

Think for a moment how demented was Trump’s Saturday night tweet: “Very sad that the FBI missed all of the many signals sent out by the Florida school shooter. This is not acceptable. They are spending too much time trying to prove Russian collusion with the Trump campaign — there is no collusion. Get back to the basics and make us all proud!”

To the contrary. Our F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A., working with the special counsel, have done us amazingly proud. They’ve uncovered a Russian program to divide Americans and tilt our last election toward Trump — i.e., to undermine the very core of our democracy — and Trump is telling them to get back to important things like tracking would-be school shooters. Yes, the F.B.I. made a mistake in Florida. But it acted heroically on Russia.
O Lord! Now it is the heroic, secret, anonymous spies from "Our F.B.I., C.I.A. and N.S.A." who ought to be admired as the supremest Americans!

I am sorry to have exposed you to this utter shit, and I will not do it again: When I read "Thomas Friedman" (as when I read "Eric Zeusse" and "Paul Krugman" - o, and "David Brooking"), I'll stop reading immediately, and not because I am beyond reviewing articles by people I strongly disagree with, but - in the case of Friedman - because he is an utter idiot, and besides he also seems a gross liar.


3. A Fairer World May Mean More Modest Dreams

This article is by Tim Radford on Truthdig, and originally on Climate News Network. It starts as follows:

A sustainable planet may not be attainable, and a fairer world may require us to temper our dreams. Justice, equity, sanitation and even clean water may be within the reach of all, but only if many of the planet’s seven billion humans give up the dream of high life satisfaction as well.

To achieve that difficult-to-define state of mind would require the resources of between two and six planet Earths, according to a new study in a new journal that takes the concept of sustainability and applies some planetary arithmetic.

Yes, I think I agree with this - and in fact I think I have agreed with this since 1972, after reading "The Limits to Growth". And I should make two introductory points.

The first is that I had read some books about ecology (or the environment) before 1972, most notably Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring" and Paul Ehrlich's "The Population Bomb", while I read quite a few criticisms of "The Limits to Growth" somewhere between 1973 and 1975.

The criticisms did not convince me, though I agreed quite a few things were mistaken about some of Ehrlich's predictions, while "The Limits to Growth" could have been considerably better than it was. I could say a lot more, but all I say here is that "The Limits to Growth" still stands up (after more than forty years), and that the overall conclusion that may be drawn from it is that, effectively, very little has changed since 1972. And I think that is both correct, and might have been rather different (namely if the report had been taken seriously).

The second point I want to make serves to answer a point that I have seen made over and over again since 1972: While it is - possibly - quite true that under other conditions than we live in - socialist, anarchist, marxist etc. - there may be space on earth for 20 billion living persons, we do not live under other conditions.

In fact, here is a brief sketch of some aspects of the present situation, 45 years after "The Limits to Growth" was originally published:

No nation right now meets the basic needs of its citizens without over-using biophysical resources, they found. Only 40 nations out of 134 could deliver a healthy life expectancy of 65 years; only 37 out of 141 provided improved sanitation for 95% of their citizenry; and in only 68 out of 106 countries did 95% earn more than US$1.90 a day.

Secondary school education was available to 95% of the population only in 37 out of 117 countries, and out of the 151 countries in the sample, there were only 59 where 95% of the people had access to electricity.

In fact, I could say at this point: And so on, and so forth.

I do not, but I do recommend the present article and I also say that to me - having seen 45 years of extremely much talk, but exceedingly little effective action - the probability is war and destruction rather than a sustainable planet.

I hope I am quite wrong, but my opinions are based on facts rather than values.

4. A Crisis in Intelligence: Unthinkable Consequences of Outsourcing U.S. Intel (Part 3)

This article is by George Eliason on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows, and you may like to know that there are reviews of Part 1 and Part 2 under the last links:

Decades ago, philosopher Marshall McLuhan predicted a future world war fought using information. While World War I and World War II were waged using armies and mobilized economies, “World War III [will be] a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation,” McLuhan said, a prophecy included in his 1970 book of reflections, Culture Is Our Business.

We are now seeing this information war play out in real time.
(..)
In parts one and two of this series, we looked at the private companies serving the deep state. We have seen how the top levels of the deep state interact with smaller companies and individual actors.

Now let’s look at the unimaginable.

This is the world the predators that the government helped create and sustains through contract work thrive in.

Then again, I should warn you that (i) each of the three parts of this series is considerably longer than I can decently review in a Nederlog, while (ii) the same applies to the present file, with the added complication that most of it is dedicated to the Ukraine (where Eliason lives and writes).

What I have done is to leave out all mentionings of the Ukraine (I leave that to your interests) and to quote only two more bits from the beginning of the present article. As to the Ukraine:

There is a lot of information in the present article, but I just don't know, in part because I have not paid much attention to the Ukraine anyway, and in part because I (also) do not read or speak any of the languages that are current there.

So in fact this only reviews the beginning of the present article. Here is the first bit I review:

Unmasking the shadowy PropOrNot outfit was a small part of showing how immoral people are using gray areas in the law to harass law-abiding citizens and strip them of their rights, income, and right to a free press through McCarthyite smear tactics. Because they haven’t been challenged, they have no problem crossing the line into criminality.

What alternative media outlets that have been attacked by criminal groups like PropOrNot don’t know is there are laws and policies in place that protect civilians, journalists, and publications.

What is needed to stop the criminal actions of the Russian troll hunters is to demand current laws are enforced and that Congress closes up the remaining gray areas of law and policy spies for hire are exploiting to destroy lives.

I more or less agree with the first two paragraphs, and have several times written about PropOrNot in Nederlog.

Then again, while Eliason very probably is quite correct about the existence of current laws that might be used "to stop the criminal actions of the Russian troll hunters", current laws are not enforced if that is convenient or profitable, and have not been enforced for those reasons since 9/11/2001.

And I also see no reason why the present Congress would close up "the remaining gray areas of law and policy": They did not since 9/11/2001, and besides, the majority is Republican.

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

In terms of international law, guidelines in this area are set out by the Tallinn Manual on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Warfare, which was prepared by an international group of experts on behalf of NATO. This document spells out:

  • Cyber and online operations responsibility
  • Cyber and online authority
  • Cyber and online restrictions
  • Legalities, legal limits, and defines terrorist operations by laying the groundwork for legal action

According to Rule 26.9 of the Tallinn Manual, “Virtual Online communities and people expressing opinions do not qualify as combatants.”

I say, which I do because a current American prejudgement (it seems), that is also shared by the Trump government, is that these online communities and people who express their opinions do qualify as combatants, at least in some circumstances.

But I stop here, and leave the rest of this article to your own interests.


5. There Is No Justice in Our World

This article is by Eric Margolis on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

A gathering of rich oil Arabs pledged $30 billion this week at a meeting in Kuwait to start rebuilding war-shattered Iraq.  Sounds nice but these kinds of conclaves are notorious for offering big but delivering little.

The event was billed as helping Iraq repair war damage caused by ISIS.  In fact, most of the damage from that short-lived conflict was caused by US bombing and a few Russian air strikes. ISIS, as this column has long been crying in the wilderness, was largely a paper tiger confected by the US, Britain and France to justify their military re-entry into Syria. 

Iraq’s government says it needs at least $88 billion to rebuild war damage.  What the US-imposed client regime in Baghdad won’t or can’t say is that the damage to Iraq is far greater than $88 billion and was largely inflicted by US air power in 1990-1991 and 2003.

Iraq was ravaged, as I saw myself while covering the wars.  This small nation of 23-25 million souls, a third of whom were in permanent revolt against the Baghdad government, was pounded into rubble by US air power and cruise missiles.  First in 1990-1991, then in 2003, everything of value was blown to bits:  hospitals, schools, food factories, chemical plants making insecticide, bridges, and communications.  In short, all the attributes of a modern state.

Most shocking to me, was the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants by US air strikes.

I think all of this is true. Here is more, on the present state:

It is now widely accepted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction pointed at the West, as George Bush and Tony Blair incessantly claimed.  But this was the excuse for going to war against Iraq and destroying it.  When no such weapons were found, the story from Washington and London was changed to ‘oops, it was an intelligence failure.  Sorry about that.’

Yes, indeed - and Margolis is quite right about Bush Jr. and Blair. Also, I do not think this was "an intelligence failure": It was not "the intelligence" that failed, but Bush Jr., Colin Powell and Blair.

And while I do not know what their real intelligence was, I do know that Bush Jr. and Blair are those who are most responsible.

Here is more:
Journalists like myself who asserted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were fired or marginalized.  I was blacklisted at CNN after the White House told the network to fire me at once.  All the ‘presstitutes’, who acted as government boosters for the war, were promoted and lauded.  Welcome to the new Soviet media.

Yes, I mostly agree. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article's ending:

If this war crime was being properly litigated, Washington would likely end up being assessed something like $100 billion in damages just to replace physical infrastructure destroyed in the two wars, never mind the deaths of so many Iraqi civilians.
(...)
‘Oops, I’m sorry we destroyed your country and children’ is not a sufficient mea culpa.  The western leaders who engineered this criminal war against Iraq deserve to be brought to book. So far, they have gotten off scot free.
Well... judging by the past, "the western leaders" will remain scott free all their lives (at least).
I agree with Margolis that is wrong, and this is a recommended article.

Notes

[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 (!!).

[2] I admit that while I took some trouble (in the early Seventies) to try to find out what kind of anarchist I was, I soon stopped because (i) there were very many different styles of anarchism, while (ii) I also thought that while I preferred anarchism, there were too few people who agreed with me to believe in social changes that would end in a (more or less likeable) form of anarchism. I still think so: It is the best system, but to become a large social system, the average intelligence must increase (somewhat, at least).


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