1. The Illusion of Freedom
Declassified Cold War Files Show Disturbing Nuclear
Targeting of Population Centers
3. Trans-Pacific Partnership is a wonderful idea – for China
4. 2015 in Riew: The Best of Truthdig’s
A/V Booth Posts
This is a Nederlog of
Monday, December 28, 2015.
This is a crisis blog, with 4 items and 8 dotted links: Item 1 is about a good article by Chris Hedges on
freedom and its illusions; item 2 is about another
good article by Lauren McCauley that shows the USA had (and quite
probably still has) the greatest terrorist network ever
designed, and it is atomic; item 3 is about
the TPP, that the writer says is good for China but not the
USA; and item 4 is about a review-article about
2015 on Truthdig, from which I lifted four links that I know to
be quite interesting.
1. The Illusion of Freedom
The first item today is by Chris Hedges
This starts as follows
These are good questions and they are all
answered at the beginning: Political and economic power have
been seized by the multi-national corporations.
The seizure of political and
economic power by corporations is unassailable. Who funds and manages
our elections? Who writes our legislation and laws? Who determines our
defense policies and vast military expenditures? Who is in charge of
the Department of the Interior? The Department of Homeland Security?
Our intelligence agencies? The Department of Agriculture? The Food and
Drug Administration? The Department of Labor? The Federal Reserve? The
mass media? Our systems of entertainment? Our prisons and schools? Who
determines our trade and environmental policies? Who imposes austerity
on the public while enabling the looting of the U.S. Treasury and the
tax boycott by Wall Street? Who criminalizes dissent?
The seizing of power
took them 35 or 45 years  but the US government
and the multi-national corporations, including banks and their
managers, have confluenced both in persons and in policies,
for the people designing and implementing policies are often former
bank managers who will again be bank managers after their stints in
And as I've said before (repeatedly) these
are the facts:
All important US policies are policies that further the financial
interests of the multi-national corporations and their
managers, at the cost of the interests of everybody else
(who is not very rich).
And Chris Hedges is quite right this takeover
of power isn't happening, anymore: it has
happened, and the powers that protesters - who want democracy, higher
wages, good and payable education for everyone, clean air, clean
waters, and less influence of the mega-rich - face a far
greater and considerably militarized power that is indeed
"unassailable" in most ways.
Here is the result for everybody who is not a rich CEO,
his or her lawyers, or a prominent politician:
Our rights and opinions do not
matter. We have surrendered to our own form of wehrwirtschaft.
We do not count within the political process.
I agree also with the second paragraph,
though I add that I never believed in this myth of the USA as "a free,
democratic people" (etc.) simply because it seemed to me that most
Americans did not and do not know enough about politics,
and economics to have the reasonably informed opinions that would
make them a real democracy
(if they are free to say what they think, and free to organize
themselves, and are able to be truly informed about society and
Then again "a free,
democratic people" always is a matter of degree, and by now the
USA is less free and less democratic than it has ever
been, and is also continueing to be even less free and less democratic.
This truth, emotionally difficult to
accept, violates our conception of ourselves as a free, democratic
people. It shatters our vision of ourselves as a nation embodying
superior virtues and endowed with the responsibility to serve as a
beacon of light to the world. It takes from us the “right” to impose
our fictitious virtues on others by violence.
Here are Chris Hedges' expectations for the future of the USA:
No vote we cast will alter the
configurations of the corporate state. The wars will go on. Our
national resources will continue to be diverted to militarism. The
corporate fleecing of the country will get worse. Poor people of color
will still be gunned down by militarized police in our streets. The
eradication of our civil liberties will accelerate. The economic misery
inflicted on over half the population will expand. Our environment will
be ruthlessly exploited by fossil fuel and animal agriculture
corporations and we will careen toward ecological collapse. We are
“free” only as long as we play our assigned parts. Once we call out
power for what it is, once we assert our rights and resist, the chimera
of freedom will vanish.
I think this is all quite correct, and it all
follows from the fact that the rich few have succeeded in
getting the powers they wanted, and are using these powers only
to further the interests of the (Western) very rich: Clearly they are
unwilling to do anything for the poor or the middle class.
Then there is this on totalitarian
Incidentally, an "artifice" is, according to
Merriam-Webster: "dishonest or insincere
behavior or speech that is meant to deceive someone". And I'd say all
(not just totalitarian propaganda) uses artifices, for all
propaganda is deception to some extent.
But Chris Hedges is quite right that
what is most important in propaganda is "how
we are made to feel", indeed in part
because our feelings are very important parts in our decisions, and
because feelings are very easily manipulated by those
who desire to do so (and very much
easier than facts). 
The essential component of totalitarian
propaganda is artifice. The ruling elites, like celebrities, use
propaganda to create false personae and a false sense of intimacy with
The emotional power of this narrative is
paramount. Issues do not matter. Competency and honesty do not matter.
Past political stances or positions do not matter. What is important is
how we are made to feel. Those who are skilled at deception succeed.
Those who have not mastered the art of deception become “unreal.”
Politics in totalitarian societies are entertainment.
There is also this:
The more communities break down
and poverty expands, the more anxious and frightened people will
retreat into self-delusion. Those who speak the truth—whether about
climate change or our system of inverted
totalitarianism—will be branded as seditious and unpatriotic. They
will be hated for destroying the illusion.
Yes, and this is (also)
how it went under fascism and nazism. And here are several additions to
what the paragraph said. First, it is not just self-delusion people
retreat into, but also apathy.
Second, it is not just those who speak the truth who will be said aside
or persecuted, but anybody who opposes the government or the
multi-national corporations. Third, those who are marked as "seditious and unpatriotic" are
not - I guess - "hated for destroying the
illusion" but much more simply because
they do not belong to "We".
Incidentally, the link to inverted
totalitarianism is very well worth clicking, especially
if you never heard of Sheldon Wolin.
The article ends as follows:
Yes, I agree
that human nature is constant, and that Chris Hedges is quite right in
insisting that we should try to resist, and that "the struggle
will be long long and difficult".
This is a fine article, and you are
recommended to read all of it. It will not make you feel
happier, but this is in good part because Hedges speaks the truth, and the
truth is pretty awful.
History may not repeat itself. But it
echoes itself. Human nature, after all, is constant. We will react no
differently from those who went before us. This should not dissuade us
from resisting, but the struggle will be long and difficult. Before it
is over there will be blood in the streets.
Declassified Cold War Files Show Disturbing Nuclear Targeting of
The second item is by Lauren
McCauley on Common Dreams:
I will start this review by quoting from Wikipedia's
U.S. Code Title 22 Chapter 38,
Section 2656f(d) defines terrorism as: “Premeditated, politically
motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by
subnational groups or clandestine agents, usually intended to influence
I do not think this definition is very good,
but it is quite right that (and I added a bolding) “Premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated
against noncombatant targets" does more
or less define what most people understand by "terrorism".
Having seen that, here is the beginning of the article:
The National Security Archive on
Wednesday for the first time declassified a list of potential Cold War
nuclear targets, and the picture is chilling.
Among the industrial infrastructure and
military sites that analysts concluded would achieve "high levels of
damage" for the Soviet Union is one particularly troubling type of
"It’s disturbing, for sure, to see the
population centers targeted," William Burr, a nuclear historian and
senior analyst at the National Security Archive, told
the New York Times.
[Strategic Air Command] Atomic Weapons Requirements Study for 1959 is
broken into two lists: "Air Power," referring to airfields and other
military sites, and "Systematic Destruction," which referred to targets
in urban-industrial areas including "population" targets. The study
lists 1,200 cities total, from East Germany to China, with established
It is not just "disturbing": These were
fully intended to be terrorist attacks on non-combatant "populations".
Here is some more:
is to say (again): It was a fully conscious project of the vastest
terror ever imagined, simply in terms of the USA's own
definition of "terrorism".
While it was not a final list for
military targets, the SAC file shows that analysts "developed a plan
for the 'systematic destruction' of Soviet bloc urban-industrial
targets that specifically and explicitly targeted 'population' in all
cities, including Beijing, Moscow, Leningrad, East Berlin, and Warsaw,"
the archive notes.
In an essay that accompanied the SAC
study, Burr writes, "In other words, people as such, not specific
industrial activities, were to be destroyed."
And there is this:
to the Ploughshares Fund, the current U.S. nuclear weapon stockpile is
7,200 weapons—second in the world to Russia, which holds 7,500.
The article doesn't
mention that Obama has decided he wants to modernize the present
American nuclear weapons, and has set aside many billions for that
purpose, but he has. ("Change!". "Change!". "Change!". "Yes we can!")
3. Trans-Pacific Partnership is a
wonderful idea – for China
The third item is by Dan Breznitz on The Globe And Mail:
is a fairly long article on the TPP, that is written from a different
background than I have, and with different values than I have, but it
is quite critical of the TPP.
It starts as follows:
The website of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative
proudly describes the Trans-Pacific Partnership as “Made in America.”
It does so to position this treaty, made up of a motley crew of allies,
as a bulwark of free competitive markets against China. It is only
fair, then, to judge the TPP on these merits: Will it lead to freer,
more competitive markets and more rapid economic growth? Does it offer
a better future for the U.S. and Canadian middle classes?
Worryingly to those of us who believe
that entrepreneurship is crucial for economic growth, the TPP is
failing on its declared goals. Once ratified, the agreement will make
our markets less free and less competitive, and it will particularly
hurt innovation- based entrepreneurship. This could not come at a worse
time for our future economic growth, since, as The Economist has just
reported, we are already at historic lows in the formation and growth
of new companies and historically high levels of concentration across
The criticisms in the second paragraph are
all supported by the rest of the article.
Also, it offers - what I think is - a correct explanation for the
genesis of the TPP:
The only explanation for this outcome is
that, in the secrecy under which the TPP was negotiated, interests
representing a very narrow slice of U.S. society were allowed in, and
the public interest was blocked at the door.
Precisely: It was written
in secrecy; it was kept in secrecy, in good part because the real
consequences of the TPP are completely undemocratic and authoritarian;
and the only ones who could contribute to it were the lawyers and the
managers of the multi-natonal corporations whose interests it so
strongly serves, at the cost of all other interests.
2015 in Review: The Best
of Truthdig’s A/V Booth Posts
There is a lot more in the article, which is recommended, indeed in
part because it is not based on my
kinds of assumptions and values, but reaches a somewhat similar
conclusion: The TPP is an extremely bad idea for everyone who is not a
rich manager or big shareholder in multi-national corporations. It is
written by them; it is written for them; and it will end most of
democracy in the countries which adopt it.
The fourth item is by Unknown Author
This starts as follows:
And this is followed by a selection from ten
articles, from which I again selected the following four, because I know
I liked them:
From comedic clips about Edward
Snowden and Donald Trump to illuminating interviews featuring Truthdig
Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer, Noam Chomsky, columnist Chris Hedges and
President Carter, here are our readers’ favorite audiovisual posts from
2015. Click on the titles to listen and watch each of the entries
All of them are well worth (re-)reading.
Namely, depending on where you start from: (Nearly) 45 years ago, judge
Lewis Powell sent around a memo that called on the rich to organize
themselves, and around 35 years ago Thatcher and Reagan were elected.
Personally, I strongly tend to: 35 years ago, for that also coincides
with the beginning of the fact that remained so ever since: In real
terms, all wages other than the wages of the rich managers and their
lawyers were flat or declining for 35 years, whereas
the wages of the rich managers and their lawyers went up by enormous
amounts (and this without considering the much less taxes the rich have
For more see Robert Reich's Inequality for All which you also find reviewed here.
In fact, this is almost the only thing psychiatry has
done that was true: That it is - for people who are paid to
deceive so as to sell more products with their deceptions - much
easier to manipulate people by manipulating their feelings
about themselves and others ("It will make you feel better!" "Your
neighbors want it as well!") than it is to manipulate the facts ("It is
much better than other products!" "It will save you money!").
For more, see the nephew of Freud, Edward Bernays,
and his book Propaganda
(on my site).