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Nederlog

May 4, 2015
Crisis: Revolution, Sanders, APA criticized, Cashless Slaves, Grayson and Maher
  "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
















Sections
Introduction
1. Make the Rich Panic
2.
Candidate Sanders Calls for 'Political Revolution' Against
     Billionaire Class

3.
Critics of the American Psychological Association Role in
     Torture Program

4. Why The Powers That Be Are Pushing A Cashless Society
5. Two fine videos: Grayson and Maher


Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday, May 4, 2015.

This is a
crisis blog. There are 5 items with 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about the latest column of Chris Hedges, who I respect, but don't agree with; item 2 is about presidential candidate (if he beats Clinton) Bernie Sanders, who does have
a decent program; item 3 is about some American psychologists who criticize their
professional organization for collaborating on torturing: I think they are right, but
are mistaken about psychology; item 4 is about why there may not be any cash
soon: this will enormously strengthen the banks (once again) and force everyone to pay for getting one's money, instead of getting paid by the bank (which has meanwhile mostly stopped, also for me); and item 5 is not an article but consists of two really good videos, one with Alan Grayson about the TPP, and the other with Bill Maher about religion. Both are quite good, and the second one also is quite funny.

This is uploaded a bit earlier than is normal for me. And I am still thinking about the changes that getting my pension allow me, and will write more about this later. (For the moment I am pleased to note that I can live, which is something I probably would not have been abled to do if this were directed - as it will be - by the City of Amsterdam.)

1. Make the Rich Panic

The first item today is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

This starts as follows:

It does not matter to the corporate rich who wins the presidential election. It does not matter who is elected to Congress. The rich have the power. They throw money at their favorites the way a gambler puts cash on his favorite horse. Money has replaced the vote. The wealthy can crush anyone who does not play by their rules. And the political elites—slobbering over the spoils provided by their corporate masters for selling us out—understand the game. Barack and Michelle Obama, as did the Clintons, will acquire many millions of dollars once they leave the White House. And your elected representative in the House or Senate, if not a multimillionaire already, will be one as soon as he or she retires from government and is handed seats on corporate boards or positions in lobbying firms. We do not live in a democracy. We live in a political system that has legalized bribery, exclusively serves corporate power and is awash in propaganda and lies.

Yes and no: Yes, I agree most of this is an adequate representation, but no, I disagree with the two first statements. I think it does matter who wins the presidential election (it would be very much better if Sanders wins than if Carsons or Cruz or Bush wins, for example), and it also does matter who gets elected to Congress, even if most will be corporate careerists.

I have several reasons, but will give only two - and note that I agree with the third statement: "The rich have the power", and indeed they have been busy getting the power, with extremely many lies, deceptions, degeneracies, and great amounts of utterly false propaganda, ever since Thatcher and Reagan - and indeed that also included corrupting most politicians.

But given that premiss, it is clear that Sanders, if he were elected, and if he were not killed (!) [1], might succeed in taking down quite a few of the riches' wins during the last 35 years. I do not think - now, at least: it may change - that Sanders has much of a chance, but I like is candidacy and most of his views, and it seems rather ridiculous to me not to vote for him if you have the chance: He is the best American presidential candidate I have seen in my life. [2]

Secondly, I also think it matters who gets elected to Congress, and I do so for two reasons. First, while I agree that most who are elected are corrupt millionaires, some are not, and three examples are Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Alan Grayson (with a very good video in item 5). Second, Congress is the American parliament; most Americans do believe in democracy; and changes initiated by Congress are legal. So while I do not like most members of Congress, that is not a reason not to vote for the few I do like (if I could, which I can't, since I am Dutch).

The next paragraph by Hedges is this, and I also do not agree to it, for it embodies far too much wishful thinking:

If you want change you can believe in, destroy the system. And changing the system does not mean collaborating with it as Bernie Sanders is doing by playing by the cooked rules of the Democratic Party. Profound social and political transformation is acknowledged in legislatures and courts but never initiated there. Radical change always comes from below. As long as our gaze is turned upward to the powerful, as long as we invest hope in reforming the system of corporate power, we will remain enslaved. There may be good people within the system—Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are examples—but that is not the point. It is the system that is rotten. It must be replaced.

No. Firstly, I am not interested in "change you can believe in", in the vast majority of cases: What people tend to believe and desire, especially in politics and religion, is evident wishful thinking that is usually based on hardly any real
knowledge, and secondly, destroying the system of American capitalism - which I do think is rotten and evil - will probably cost the lives of hundreds of millions of persons, not only in the United States, and it will probably open up the road to supreme power for people who are as bad as those holding it now.

What Hedges wants is this:

This is called revolution. It is about ripping power away from a cabal of corporate oligarchs and returning it to the citizenry. This will happen not by appealing to corporate power but by terrifying it. And power, as we saw in Baltimore, will be terrified only when we take to the streets. There is no other way.

“The rich are only defeated when running for their lives,” the historian C.L.R. James noted. And until you see the rich fleeing in panic from the halls of Congress, the temples of finance, the universities, the media conglomerates, the war industry and their exclusive gated communities and private clubs, all politics in America will be farce.

I have at least two major problems with this.

First, my mother's parents were anarchists, and my father's father ended up by being murdered as a revolutionary communist in a German concentration camp, while my father survived 3 years, 9 months and 15 days as a "political terrorist" (another revolutionary communist) in German concentration camps. Both of my parents were revolutionary communists for 45 or more years. And my parents and grandparents were all quite intelligent, honest and courageous.

So I think I do understand revolutionary feelings, ideas and desires quite well - but in the end they do amount to destroying the old, with a mere hope on a better society, that is usually not founded on a solid scientific understanding of
men and their societies, and that will be most probably abused by a few careerists to achieve absolute power, that will not realize most or any of the goals of the
original revolutionaries. (As happened with Marxism in the 20th Century.)

Second, I think the following is a false choice: "until you see the rich fleeing in panic" (...) "all politics in America will be farce". You are neither forced to make a revolution or perish, nor do you need to put all your cards and all your faith in
some revolutionary movement, and that is also true if your ideal is a revolutionary America, if only because it is realistic not to expect the outcomes
you desire (whoever you are) from any revolutioary movement.

Then again, I agree with this assessment:

The promised prosperity that was to have raised living standards through trickle-down economics has been exposed as a lie. The corporate state, understanding that it has been unmasked with the rise of unrest, has formed militarized police forces, stripped us of legal protection, taken over the legislative bodies, the courts and mass media, and built the most intrusive system of mass surveillance in human history. Corporate power, if unchecked, will suck every last bit of profit out of human society and the ecosystem before collapse.

And I also agree with this:

There are no guarantees that we will move toward a worker’s paradise or socialist utopia—we might move toward the most efficient form of totalitarianism in human history. Radical movements are often their own worst enemies. The activists within them have a bad habit of fighting over arcane bits of doctrine, forming counterproductive schisms, misreading power and engaging in self-defeating and ultimately self-destructive internal power struggles.
Finally, since I do come from a revolutionary family: The only hope I have for
a somewhat successful revolution (that will probably not produce what I desire) is in case of a deep economic crisis, with the economic system mostly collapsed.

This may happen, but for the moment I do not see such a collapse coming. (But
the capitalist system is shaky and uncertain.)

2. Candidate Sanders Calls for 'Political Revolution' Against Billionaire Class

The next item is an article by Lauren McCauley on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows:

Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is calling for revolution. The independent senator from Vermont who just this week announced his bid for Democratic nominee, minced no words when speaking on ABC's This Week on Sunday.

"I think I'm the only candidate who's prepared to take on the billionaire class which now controls our economy, and increasingly controls the political life of this country," Sanders told host George Stephanopoulos. "We need a political revolution in this country involving millions of people who are prepared to stand up and say, enough is enough, and I want to help lead that effort."

Sanders contrasted his record with that of his primary opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, noting that the presumed nominee "has been part of the political establishment for many, many years."

"I respect her and I like her," the senator continued, "but I think what the American people are saying is that at a time when 99 percent of all new income is going to the top 1 percent, and when the top 0.1 percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, maybe it's time for a real political shakeup in this country and go beyond establishment politics."

I think I have indicated in the previous item why Bernie Sanders does have a
chance. I don't think it is large, but it exists and is real - and it seems simply
silly to me to reject this possibility because one dreams of a socialist revolution
that gets faught for in the streets.

Here is a small part of Sanders' program:

Laying out what appeared to be a key pillar of his campaign, Sanders spoke decisively about the need for the wealthiest Americans and largest corporations to "start paying their fair share of taxes." In addition, he championed "bold leadership" to tackle the climate crisis, which includes the rejection of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and voiced clear opposition to the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.

Further, Sanders called for an end to big-money politics and a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizen United ruling.

"This is, in a sense, what my campaign is about," Sanders continued. "Can somebody who is not a billionaire who stands for working families actually win an election in which billionaires are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the election?

"I get very frightened about the future of American democracy when [elections] become a battle between billionaires," he added.

Yes - and the coming presidential elections may be the last one where one may have some realistic choice.

3. Critics of the American Psychological Association Role in Torture Program

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig, that I selected mostly because I am a psychologist, in terms of M.A. degrees:

This starts as follows:

Because they deal with human nature, the social sciences are indispensable to the effort to develop institutions and standards of behavior that are healthy, sustainable and just. It is especially disheartening, then, when their credentialed practitioners use their knowledge and priveleged positions to help leaders in government betray the people they are supposed to serve.

Here’s the general thrust of a report from a group of health care professionals and human rights experts: The American Psychological Association collaborated with the George W. Bush administration to provide ethical and legal cover for elements of the U.S. government torturing prisoners in the post-9/11 “war on terror.”

“The A.P.A. secretly coordinated with officials from the C.I.A., White House and the Department of Defense to create an A.P.A. ethics policy on national security interrogations which comported with then-classified legal guidance authorizing the C.I.A. torture program,” the authors wrote.

I agree with the criticism of the A.P.A. (incidentally the same abbreviation as is used by the different group called the American Psychiatric Association).

But since I am a psychologist, who specialized on statistics, methodology and logic, I must add that my criticism of the A.P.A. and psychologists in general goes considerably further:

I do not think that most of psychology (outside statistics and methodology, indeed) is a real science, and I think psychiatry at present is total bullshit that
only works to make psychiatrists rich. (So psychiatry is worse than psychology.)

Also, I think anybody who knows half or a quarter as much of methodology and philosophy of science as I do cannot but agree with me - but I do grant extremely
few, if indeed any, of the currently working psychologists or psychiatrists  do have my grasp of philosophy of science (for that requires many years of reading).

For more on psychology see: Is Psychology a Science? by Paul Lutus.

4. Why The Powers That Be Are Pushing A Cashless Society

The next item is an article by Washington's Blog on his site:
This is from the beginning (and is part of a considerably longer quotation of Martin Armstrong):
The central banks are … planning drastic restrictions on cash itself. They see moving to electronic money will first eliminate the underground economy, but secondly, they believe it will even prevent a banking crisis. This idea of eliminating cash was first floated as the normal trial balloon to see how the people take it. It was first launched by Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University and Willem Buiter, the chief economist at Citigroup. Their claims have been widely hailed and their papers are now the foundation for the new age of Economic Totalitarianism that confronts us. Rogoff and Buiter have laid the ground work for the end of much of our freedom and will one day will be considered the new Marx with hindsight. They sit in their lofty offices but do not have real world practical experience beyond theory. Considerations of their arguments have shown how governments can seize all economic power are destroy cash in the process eliminating all rights. Physical paper money provides the check against negative interest rates for if they become too great, people will simply withdraw their funds and hoard cash. Furthermore, paper currency allows for bank runs. Eliminate paper currency and what you end up with is the elimination of the ability to demand to withdraw funds from a bank.
There is a lot more under the last dotted link, and indeed a cashless society will make everyone slaves of the banks, and will also "permit" everyone to pay negative interests, that is, will force you to pay to the banks for owning your money (and that may serve again to pay Jamie Dimon and his mates 200 million dollars a year instead of a mere measly 20 million a year).

5. Two fine videos: Grayson and Maher

The final item today is not a text but are two really good videos.

The first video is with Alan Grayson (<- Wikipedia), who explains the enormous crime of the TPP (and outlines that Obama will push this fascist bill through with merely 88 seconds per member of Congress):
All of this video is well worth watching, for the TPP gets explained in sufficient detail for everyone to understand its enormous dangers.

The second video is on a different subject: It is a selection of some recent "New Rules" by Bill Maher on religion:
As I have said several times: I like Bill Maher, because he is intelligent, witty, funny and courageous, and I also do not demand of anyone that he or she agrees with me for 100% before I like them (which is what many of the anonymous sadistic trolls do).

And indeed this is both funny and goes quite deep. Recommended, especially if
you are religious and believe you are intelligent.
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Note
[1] I do seriously count with the possibility that Sanders, if he does get elected as president, which at present is not likely, will get shot. (It has happened before, and the interests that Sanders attacks are both extremely powerful and completely immoral.)

[2]
Quite definitely so: All I needed to do for that conclusion is to see what he is for and against, and he is considerably more radical, with good reasons also, than almost anyone else who tried to become president of the U.S. in the time that I lived.
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