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Nederlog

January 14, 2015
Crisis:  Cameron, Greenwald, Hedges, Reich, Queally
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
 
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
"
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton
















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Sections
Introduction

1. Cameron wants to ban encryption – he can say goodbye
     to digital Britain

2. Glenn Greenwald on How to Be a Terror "Expert": Ignore
     Facts, Blame Muslims, Trumpet U.S. Propaganda

3.
Chris Hedges on the Roots of Terrorism
4.
Why Wages Won’t Rise
5. In Europe: First the Calls for 'Unity,' Then the Calls for
     'More Spy Power'


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Wednesday, January 14, 2015.

This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is on Cameron's - state terrorist's - desire to read anything by anyone (in deep secret) and undo all encryption; item 2 is about Glenn Greenwald (and others) on how to pose as a "terror expert"; item 3 is in fact a video interview with Chris Hedges; item 4 is Robert Reich explaining why wages won't rise; and item 5 is Jon Queally on how the European political leaders want more spy powers (which will help them, but not the population, but this they will not say).

Also, earlier today there was a fairly long Nederlog called "Index of the posts by Maarten Maartensz on Phoenix Rising in 2010" which indeed is just that. It is here because these posts are still regularly searched: now that is a lot easier; and it is here now mostly because I did not have the health to do it sooner. (But this item
will be only interesting for people with M.E.)

1. Cameron wants to ban encryption – he can say goodbye to digital Britain

The first item today is an article by James Ball on The Guardian:

This starts as follows:

On Monday David Cameron managed a rare political treble: he proposed a policy that is draconian, stupid and economically destructive.

The prime minister made comments widely interpreted as proposing a ban on end-to-end encryption in messages – the technology that protects online communications, shopping, banking, personal data and more.

“[I]n our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”, the prime minister asked rhetorically.

To most people in a supposed liberal democracy, the answer would surely be “yes”: the right to privacy runs right in parallel to our right for free expression. If you can’t say something to a friend or family member without the fear the government, your neighbour or your boss will overhear, your free expression is deeply curtailed.

This means that even in principle Cameron’s approach is darkly paradoxical: the attack on Paris was an attack on free expression – but it’s the government that intends to land the killing blow.

I have read similar comments as Cameron's by the Dutch minister Plasterk, and it would seem to me both are serious. And the reason is not "terrorism": The reason is that allowing the government to know everything about anybody is a dream of power very few corrupt politicians can withstand, and most politicians these days are corrupt (right, left and center: Plasterk is supposed to be "a social democrat").

There is considerably more in the article, that ends as follows:

The fear is that he [Cameron - MM] is serious, and understands so little of what he is legislating that he really believes it would be possible to somehow stop terrorists communicating privately without astonishing collateral damage to Britain’s economy, freedom, and security.

If that’s the circumstance, then the prime minister needs urgently to abdicate his responsibility in favour of someone with more digital nous. He could begin with a concussed kitten on a ketamine trip, and work up from there.

Well... I believe he is serious, but his real reason is the immense power - very, very, very much greater than the Stasi or the KGB ever had or indeed could dream of - this would give to any future British government. [1]

What I do not know is whether he will succeed, but given the chances on a total power that no politician ever had, anything seems possible that will further that political end.


2.  Glenn Greenwald on How to Be a Terror "Expert": Ignore Facts, Blame Muslims, Trumpet U.S. Propaganda
 
The next item is an article by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now:
This is well worth reading in full. I quote just two bits by Glenn Greenwald (there also are other people interviewed):

GLENN GREENWALD: The concept of terrorism is a very widely debated concept all over the world, and there are incredibly divergent opinions, even about what terrorism is, about who it is who’s perpetrating it, about how it is that you define it and understand it, and whether or not there’s even a meaningful definition of the term at all. And yet you have all of these so-called terrorism experts employed by leading American television networks—all of them, really—and on whom most establishment newspapers rely, who are called terrorism experts and yet who are incredibly homogenous in their views, because they spout the very homogenized American conception of all of those questions.

It’s an incredibly propagandized term. It’s an incredibly propagandistic set of theories that they have. And that’s really what these media outlets are doing, is they’re masquerading pro-U.S. propaganda, pro-U.S. government propaganda, as expertise, when it’s really anything but. These are incredibly ideological people. They’re very loyal to the view of the U.S. government about very controversial questions. They certainly have the right to express their opinions, but the pretense to expertise is incredibly fraudulent.
Yes, precisely. And there is also this:

AARON MATÉ: Glenn, do you personally use the word "terror," or do you avoid it entirely?

GLENN GREENWALD: I generally avoid it. I mean, you could probably find instances in my writing where I’ve invoked the term, usually just ironically or to refer to the fact that somebody else is using it. But I do think that until we have an understanding of what the term means, it really is a term that ought to be avoided.

Well, I don't know. I agree with Greenwald that "terrorism" (the term) is almost only used these days in the papers and on TV as a propaganda term, and I also agree that one group's "freedom fighters" are another group's "terrorists" and conversely (which makes the U.S. - state - terrorists or, if you please, "state terrorists" in quite a few regions [1]) but I do not quite see that this makes it necessary to - completely - avoid the term.

Here is my own definition of "terrorism" (in part) which dates from August 2004:

Terrorism: Attempt to get one's way in politics or religion by violence and murder. [1]

Very many religious and political groups have indulged in terrorism, if given the chance, though the perpetrators of terrorism almost always call it by a different name, such as "fight for freedom", "guerilla", "righteousness of the faithful", or "Holy War".

One of the functions of the state is to protect its population from terrorism, which often happens by denying the population the right to bear arms. The great danger of states is that state-terrorism has been by far the most dangerous and succesful form of terrorism: Hundreds of millions of individual human beings were murdered in the 20th C alone by state-terrorism. (Fascism, Communism).

The normal effect of terrorists who oppose some state - including those merely called so by organs of state security - is to increase the powers and practices of state-terrorism in order "to fight terrorism".

Clearly, by the above definition the Muslims who indulge in terrorism (violence and murder) are terrorists, and so are the state terrorists who oppose(d) them: Bush, Blair, Obama, and Cameron, for example. [1]

And clearly, you may like one kind of terrorism a lot better than the other kind of terrorism, but it also remains an evident fact that both groups do use terror (that is: violence and murder or also - by the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary - 
coercive intimidation).

The main reason I am doubtful that it is wise not to discuss terrorism at all is this quotation from George Orwell - who does not praise this, but who sees it as totalitarian and as deeply immoral or amoral:
"Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits but according to who does them, and there is almost no outrage - torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonments without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians, which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side." (The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, vol 3, p. 419, written in May 1945.)
But that is the card most politicians and all terrorists try to play: Their violence and murder is terrorism; our violence and murder is a fight for the good.

3. Chris Hedges on the Roots of Terrorism

The next item is nominally an article by Peter Z. Scheer on Truthdig:

In fact, it is a link to an interview Abby Martin had yesterday with Chris Hedges,
that is in part (in the beginning) about his last piece on Truthdig, that I criticized a few days ago.

Here is a video link to the interview, and in fact to all of an issue of Abby Martin's program on RT:

In case you want to see only the interview with Chris Hedges, this starts after 8 min and 10 sec. (And no, I don't think his answers are very convincing, and he also isn't asked difficult questions, but I like Chris Hedges, for he is one of the
few really responsible and informed journalists, and I like him also when I disagree with him.)

4. Why Wages Won’t Rise

The next item is an article by Robert Reich on his site:
Reich explains quite well why wages in the U.S. will not rise (for the most part:
if you are a bankmanager your pay will rise, of course) and ends as follows:

Since 1979, the nation’s productivity has risen 65 percent, but workers’ median compensation has increased by just 8 percent. Almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top.

This is not a winning corporate strategy over the long term because higher returns ultimately depend on more sales, which requires a large and growing middle class with enough purchasing power to buy what can be produced.

But from the limited viewpoint of the CEO of a single large firm, or of an investment banker or fund manager on Wall Street, it’s worked out just fine – so far.

Low unemployment won’t lead to higher pay for most Americans because the key strategy of the nation’s large corporations and financial sector has been to prevent wages from rising.

And, if you hadn’t noticed, the big corporations and Wall Street are calling the shots.

Yes, but with the help of most American politicians and the government.

5. In Europe: First the Calls for 'Unity,' Then the Calls for 'More Spy Power'

The last item today is an article by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:
Less than a week after the massacre at the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a related hostage situation at a kosher grocery in Paris, the calls for 'unity' and occasions for mourning are being punctuated by familiar demands from goverment officials for additional measures of response: More surveillance and the criminalizing of provocative speech.
Yes, indeed. There is also this:
On Monday, meanwhile, a joint statement (pdf) put out by the interior ministers of twelve European nations called for, as Natasha Lomas at TechCrunch reports, "greater powers of digital surveillance to preemptively thwart acts of terror." Known derisively as the "Snoopers' Charter" by critics, the ministers indicate their support for a new set of regulations across Europe that would coordinate surveillance of the internet with a specific aim to shut down dialogue determined to be "terrorist propaganda" or communications capable of "fueling hatred and violence."
Well... let me treat this as outlined in item 2:

Our Western state terrorists are
"fueling hatred and violence" in Muslim countries with drones and troops, which they defend by blaming groups of Muslisms of being terrorists who are "fueling hatred and violence" in Western countries.

Both are right in their claims that their opponents are terrorists, simply because both use violence and murder as means to further their political plans (and either could avoid that as well (!)). [1]

Personally, I don't want either, but I fear the Western state terrorists more, because I am a Westerner, and I see that the Western political leaders are using all their power and all their propaganda to remove almost all powers from any private person and to know everything that anyone does with a computer or cellphone. The Western leaders also are doing this in deep secret, indeed so deep that most of their parliamentarians know little about it. Also, the Western state terrorists have far more troops, far more weapons, and far more money than their opponents - and they have killed far more people (it seems 1 million Ïraqi's have been killed since 2001, though not only by Western troops).

The above seems to me to be fairly objective...
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Note
[1] Incidentally, here is the definition of my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, in part, of what is a "Terrorist": "Anyone who attempts to further his view by a system of coercive intimidation". Note this is a wider definition than I gave; note also that reading your mails to see whether you are misbehaving is an act that qualifies clearly as "coercive intimidation".

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