Monday, Jan 30, 2017
Crisis: Psychosis, Silicon Valley, Trump's Removals + Trials, A Lie = ..., Hannah Arendt
Sections                                                                     crisis index

American Psychosis
2. Silicon Valley Is Letting Trump Get Away With It
Trump Adds Bannon to National Security Council, Removes
     Intelligence Officials

Trump Has Been Sued More Than 34 Times Since He Was

Calling a Lie a Lie in the Age of Trump
6. Hannah Arendt: From an Interview

This is a Nederlog of Monday, January 30, 2017.

Summary: This is a crisis log with 6 items and 6 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Chris Hedges; item 2 is about an article that explains Silicon Valley does not protest against Trump; item 3 is about Trump's getting rid of the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff; item 4 is about Trump's court cases: 1 in every 2.5 days for about 25 years; item 5 is about when to call something a lie; and item 6 is about Hannah Arendt, with whom I do not quite agree.
As for today (January 30, 2017): I have meanwhile attached a message to the openings of both of my sites which points out that for somehing like a year now both of my sites more or less systematically, but unpredictably, show the wrong date and the wrong files, indeed going so far back as 2015, and as if I did not write anything since then.

Today ny Dutch site again was not uploaded properly, but the Danish site was: I have been daily uploading my site for quite a few years now and not even that gets properly shown now, since about a year, on both sites, and also quite unpredictably.

Somebody really wants you not to read my sites.

More about this later, namely below.
1. American Psychosis

The first item today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows - and incidentally, there is a quite good and long video interview with Chris Hedges here that I strongly recommend you see:
Reality is under assault. Verbal confusion reigns. Truth and illusion have merged. Mental chaos makes it hard to fathom what is happening. We feel trapped in a hall of mirrors. Exposed lies are answered with other lies. The rational is countered with the irrational. Cognitive dissonance prevails. We endure a disquieting shame and even guilt. Tens of millions of Americans, especially women, undocumented workers, Muslims and African-Americans, suffer the acute anxiety of being pursued by a predator. All this is by design. Demagogues always infect the governed with their own psychosis.
Hm. There are several things here that I like less, but the main one is the - indeed nearly universal - way of speaking about "We", "We", "We". I think that is a grammatical mistake; I think that is a logical mistake; and indeed none of the above applies to me.

And indeed it is quite likely that I differ from most, and the reasons I do are ethical, political, intellectual and radical and go back to long before my birth in 1950: Both
of my parents had IQs over 130 and were sincere communists, and remained so for 45 years; both were in the real resistance against the Nazis; both were revolutionaries all their adult lives; their parents, as well, were pretty radical leftists for a very long time, for my mother's parents were anarchists, and my father's father ended up as communist and was murdered in a German concentration camp, of which my father survived over 3 years and 9 months, and got knighted, as a communist [1], namely for designing and partially building - together with other former members of concentration camps - an exhibition about the dangers of fascism,
about concencentration camps, and about the resistance, that was very many times shown in Holland in the 1960ies and 1970ies.

I do not know of any family like mine, though there must be some more, though probably not in Holland. [2]

Also, I have been a fairly conscious radical ever since I was 8 - in 1958 [3] - and realized that my parents were real revolutionaries. It is true that I gave up Marxism and communism in 1970, and then also shifted most of my attention and interests to science rather than politics, but it is also true that I remained a radical and have been one always (as I found out in the sick and degenerate University of Amsterdam, and
as I found out being forced to live above extremely noisy and quite murderous and quite illegal drugsdealers that were protected by the mayor of Amsterdam, by the aldermen of Amsterdam, by the bureaucrats of Amsterdam, by the district attorneys of Amsterdam, and by the City Police of Amsterdam: It seems I got no help whatsoever for four successive years - from 1988 till the beginning of 1992 - because in fact I protested against the enormous illegal dealings in illegal drugs, that sold for 20 billion euros a year every year since 1988, of which most or all profited enormously. [4]

So no: I do not belong to most "We"s and indeed most "We"s also are proud that a man as obviously immoral and wrong as I must be does not belong to their "We"s.

There is this about Trump and Company's incessant lying:
The lies fly out of the White House like flocks of pigeons: Donald Trump’s election victory was a landslide. He had the largest inauguration crowds in American history. Three million to 5 million undocumented immigrants voted illegally. Climate change is a hoax. Vaccines cause autism. Immigrants are carriers of “[t]remendous infectious disease.” The election was rigged—until it wasn’t. We don’t know “who really knocked down” the World Trade Center. Torture works. Mexico will pay for the wall. Conspiracy theories are fact. Scientific facts are conspiracies. America will be great again.
Yes indeed - and this will lead to great problems, that also may cause a nuclear war.
There is this about the current president of the USA:

Our new president, a 70-year-old with orange-tinted skin and hair that Penn Jillette has likened to “cotton candy made of piss,” is, as Trump often reminds us, “very good looking.” He has almost no intellectual accomplishments—he knows little of history, politics, law, philosophy, art or governance—but insists “[m]y IQ is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” And the mediocrities and half-wits he has installed in his Cabinet have “by far the highest IQ of any Cabinet ever assembled.” 

It is an avalanche of absurdities.
Precisely. Then there is this, with which I tend to agree, indeed because I do not personally know of any family like mine, of which I know there are more, but only in very small minorities (and the main differences are ethical and intellectual [5]):
This mendacity would be easier to repulse if the problem was solely embodied in Trump. But even in the face of a rising despotism, the Democratic Party refuses to denounce the corporate forces that eviscerated our democracy and impoverished the country. The neoliberal Trump demonizes Muslims, undocumented workers and the media. The neoliberal Democratic Party demonizes Vladimir Putin and FBI Director James Comey. No one speaks about the destructive force of corporate power. The warring elites pit alternative facts against alternative facts. All engage in demagoguery. We will, I expect, be condemned to despotism by the venality of Trump and the cowardice and dishonesty of the liberal class.
Yes, I agree that "despotism" is a likely consequence of (bolding added) "the cowardice and dishonesty of the liberal class", for I have been running into this cowardice and dishonesty in truly massive forms in both Amsterdam and the University of Amsterdam, where quasi-communists ruled with quasi social democrats, all for their own financial and career interests, and all strong opponents of real science and of real truth, for both real science and real truth were made impossible by political lies, political ideologies - communism, postmodernism and feminism, especially - that ruled the quasi-communists and quasi social democrats who ruled the University of Amsterdam with absolute power from 1971 till 1995: It was totalitarian sickness all these years.

Then there is this on totalitarianism:
“Before they seize power and establish a world according to their doctrines, totalitarian movements conjure up a lying world of consistency which is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself; in which, through sheer imagination, uprooted masses can feel at home and are spared the never-ending shocks which real life and real experiences deal to human beings and their expectations,” Hannah Arendt wrote in “The Origins of Totalitarianism.” “The force possessed by totalitarian propaganda—before the movements have the power to drop iron curtains to prevent anyone’s disturbing, by the slightest reality, the gruesome quiet of an entirely imaginary world—lies in its ability to shut the masses off from the real world.”
I have read quite a lot of Hannah Arendt, but I was not much enlightened by it (and indeed bored by most, I admit), though I suppose that the main reasons simply are
that my family was really leftist and in the real resistance, whereas Arendt was a Jewish intellectual who managed to escape Germamy before she was arrested and gassed. And while I think she meant well, I also think (and I am sorry, but that is what I think) she was neither radical enough nor intelligent enough.

And indeed, I don't quite agree with the ending of the above quotation of Arendt, indeed simply because the fascists' "
ability to shut the masses off from the real world" was not due to the excellency of the fascists' propaganda, but to the average stupidity and ignorance of great parts of the masses: If you can be taken in by fascist propa- ganda, the least this means is that you are quite stupid and ignorant or very emotional and fanatic, and for most in the masses it is mostly the first. [6]

Among the consequences are these:
The corporate state, hostile or indifferent to the plight of the citizens, has no emotional pull among the public. It is often hated. Political candidates run not as politicians but as celebrities. Campaigns eschew issues to make people feel good about candidates and themselves. Ideas are irrelevant. Emotional euphoria is paramount. The voter is only a prop in the political theater. Politics is anti-politics. It is reality television. Trump proved better at this game than his opponents. It is a game in which fact and knowledge do not matter. Reality is what you create. We were conditioned for a Trump.
Yes, except that I reject again the "We" and I also reject the systematic non- mentioning of the root cause why Trumpian propaganda works: Because the masses
at which it is directed are mostly stupid and ignorant.

There is considerably more in the article, which is recommended because it speaks the truth about Trump and his government, but it also seems based on what I regard - after almost 50 years of running into always the same - as a disregard or a denial of the main reason for the success of the stupid and greedy and egoistic rightists: the stupidity and ignorance of many of the leftists.

2. Silicon Valley Is Letting Trump Get Away With It

The second item is by Sam Biddle on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

While airport-stranded travelers from an apparently arbitrary list of Muslim-majority countries were being kept in handcuffs as a result of President Trump’s stunning immigration ban, the leaders of America’s most powerful tech firms stared at their feet and mumbled. Maybe this weekend’s milquetoast statements shouldn’t have come as a surprise — and there were a few Silicon Valley voices willing to castigate Trump — yet the failure of so many of the U.S. economy’s most influential players to say anything of substance or actually do anything at all to back up their words of dissent was still a great letdown.

Well... not for me, and fundamentally my reasons not to be disappointed by the utter lack of moral existence of the mega-rich leaders of the mega-rich Silicon Valley is that I have known about it for many years:

First, nearly all millionaires and billionaires are first and most concerned with keeping and defending their mega-riches that make them personally stand out from everybody else; second all millionaires and billionaires have the (neofascistic) moral blessing of Milton Friedman: There is but one moral rule, and that is the rule that the biggest profits are the best; and thirdly that for nearly all millionaires and billionaires the above two rules are all that moves them - which is to say that the vast majority is moved by "I, me, mine", and as long as they make profits, the world is quite OK for them.

It is true this is not true of all of them, but at least as true that it is true of most of them.

Here is what the very heroic, very moral, very honest billionaires and millionaires did do:

The likes of Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook have (like any large corporation) refused to oppose head-on Trump’s widely outrageous, often-illegal agenda. But unlike most other large corporations, Silicon Valley has long draped itself in language of principle, to Make the world a better place — Facebook’s mission statement remains the effort to “make the world more open and connected,” and one can almost remember a time when Google was proudly associated with the phrase “don’t be evil.”

Evidently, if ever you believed in their sick lies - "a better place" and "evil" are for most so arbitrary that they are only advertisement slogans - you probably will continue believing their lies.

Here is Suckerbug from Fuckbook:

In a long Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg said, “I’m concerned about the impact of the recent executive orders signed by President Trump,” while adding, “That said, I was glad to hear President Trump say he’s going to ‘work something out’ for Dreamers,” and “I’m also glad the President believes our country should continue to benefit from ‘people of great talent coming into the country.’” Zuckerberg concluded, “I hope we find the courage and compassion to bring people together and make this world a better place for everyone.” This is a statement inoffensive to the point of meaninglessness. (...) The fact that PayPal founder and Trump adviser Peter Thiel sits on Facebook’s board was not addressed.

I agree with Biddle that these statements are offensive "to the point of meaninglessness": All you know is that a sick greedy billionaire loves being a sick greedy billionaire. How utterly amazing!

And here are the Moral Heroes from Apple:

Apple’s memo to employees, obtained by BuzzFeed, was perhaps the most galling. In it, Tim Cook essentially makes the case that a ban on Muslim immigration isn’t wrong because it’s wrong, but because “Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do.”

That is: There is nothing wrong with immigration bans as long as Apple can get its one in a tenthousand Muslim immigrants whom it is willing to employ to improve Apple's profits.

Anyway - this was on the morality of Slicon Valley: We stand behind anyone and anything that keeps us profitable ("and we are making this world a better place for everyone", presumably by helping the secret services to collect everything on everyone).

3. Trump Adds Bannon to National Security Council, Removes Intelligence Officials

The third item is by Nadia Prupis on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

President Donald Trump signed memorandums on Saturday that kicked the nation’s top military and intelligence advisers off the National Security Council’s (NSC) Principals Committee and elevated his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, in their place.

The memorandum gives Bannon, former executive chair of the rightwing website Breitbart News, a regular seat at some of the most sensitive meetings at the highest levels of government, along with other NSC meetings.

The Director of National Intelligence (DNI) and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff—who need to be confirmed by the Senate—will now only attend the meetings when discussions pertain to their “responsibilities and expertise,” the memo states.

“This is unusual,” writes John Bellinger at Lawfare Blog. “[T]he NSC function usually does not include participants from the political side of the White House.”
Additionally, while Bannon has been granted this privileged access, CIA director Mike Pompeo has not—another break with tradition, Bellinger wrote.

I say! For I completely agree with Bellinger that "[t]his is unusual“: This means that the secret services and the military are not part of "the highest levels of government", nor indeed is the CIA, whereas the alt right icon (and Goldman Sachs executive, at one point) Steve Bannon takes their places.

Indeed, this is most unusual. Here is some more, and I agree with Gates, though, as I will explain, my stresses are rather different from his:

Former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates likewise told ABC on Sunday that excluding the DNI and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was “a big mistake.”

“Under law, there are only two statutory advisers to the National Security Council—the DNI, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Gates said. “Pushing them out [is] a big mistake. They both bring perspective, judgment, and experience to bear that every president—whether they like it or not—finds useful.”

MSNBC’s Joy Reid summed it up thus: “To reiterate, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been removed from the National Security Council and replaced with a white nationalist. Worry.”

In fact, I am not at all interested in the "perspective, judgment, and experience" of the Security Council and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. What I am interested in
is that the National Security Council and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are highly likely parts
of the Deep State, that very well may feel it gets trashed by Trump and Bannon.

I do not know what will be the eventual outcome of this, simply because I don't know enough about the secrets of the Deep State and American government, but my guess is that this will not work out as good for Trump and Bannon. (In case you want to know more about the Deep State: See the index for 2016 of the crisis files, and especially this one: On The Deep State in the USA)

We shall see, eventually. And this is a recommended article.

4. Trump Has Been Sued More Than 34 Times Since He Was Elected

The fourth item is by Kali Holloway on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Earlier this month, former "Apprentice" contestant Summer Zervos announced she would be moving forward with a lawsuit against the man who allegedly sexually assaulted her, Donald Trump. Zervos is one of more than a dozen women who say they were sexually abused or assaulted by Trump, who was inaugurated U.S. president a little over a week ago.

Trump is no stranger to lawsuits charging him with being a sexual predator, though he has been involved in cases that run the gamut—nearly 3,500 legal filings going back to the 1990s. When you have reportedly made a career out of bilking contractors out of money, harassing women, and setting up fraudulent universities and other businesses, you can expect your name to end up in a lot of court papers.

Yes indeed! Incidentally, if we take it this has been going on for 25 years, this works out as 140 court cases a year, which is slightly less than 1 in every 2.5 days...

I say. There is more in the article, which is recommended.

5. Calling a Lie a Lie in the Age of Trump

The fifth item
is by Daniel C. Maguire on Consortiumnews:
This starts as follows, but I should first say that Maguire is Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University, "a Catholic, Jesuit institution":
The L word is suddenly center stage as Trump’s presidency begins. No surprise there, given the river of falsehoods flowing from the administration and his devious cabinet misfits. Journalists scruple about the propriety of calling a lie a lie, especially when the liar is the President of the United States. The New York Times made news by calling one of Trump’s manifest falsehoods a lie. National Public Radio, perhaps wary about federal funding, shies from the word.
This seems correct as a summary, and indeed it is both true that the New York Times (very recently) "made news by calling one of Trump’s manifest falsehoods a lie" and that National Public Radio (bolding added) does not think it can inform its public truly.

Here is why I started this review by saying Maguire seems to be a Jesuit:

Underlying all this is broad public confusion as to just what a lie is. The Oxford English Dictionary oversimplifies it by saying that a lie is “a false statement made with intent to deceive.” Let ethics come to the rescue. Telling the Gestapo that the Frank family had left Amsterdam (even though you were actually bringing them food on a daily basis) would not earn you the moral stigma of “a liar.”

I am sorry, but that is utter bullshit, and indeed one of the reasons I am sorry is that Maguire probably means well. But he is quite mistaken, as I will explain now, and continue under the next quotation. And I start with the present quotation:

First, I do not think that the Oxford English Dictionary (which I like a lot) is quite correct in defining a lie as "a false statement made with the intent to deceive". I did it as follows in my Philosophical Dictionary, where there is this beginning of my definition of lies:
Lie: Conscious assertion of what the speaker knows he does not believe.

Note that it is not required that a lie is a false statement: What is required is that its speaker considers it one, but states it as if it is true.

Most human lying is in fact done by the conscious non-saying of truths one does know but rather does not give voice to in public, whether from cowardice or self-interest. A large part of public lying - as in the tale of the emperor's clothes - is collective collaborative public non-saying of things, that may indeed be motivated by justified self-interest, as in dictatorships, or common politeness, but also by conformist egoism.

That what is a lie for the speaker may be a truth in fact was remarked above, and it needs also remarking that there is a considerable difference between the lying of children and that of adults: Children tend to really mean what they say, if they don't lie, but most adults have falsified themselves and pretended so much that they are hardly capable, in many circumstances, to clearly distinguish their poses and pretensions of what they think they should socially seem to be and what they could know is true or likely.

Perhaps I should add that I am a philosopher and a psychologist (rather than a moral theologian), but in any case, the essence of lying is to (consciously) say what you do not think is true. I agree that it often is the case that what you think is not true indeed is not true, but sometimes you are mistaken, but then you are still lying because you are saying what you yourself do not believe.

Second, about ethics (and I studied philosophy, but was denied the right of taking my - excellent - M.A. because I believed in truth and in science, and those beliefs were
in a radical minority in the University of Amsterdam from 1972 (!!) onwards: see yesterday if you are interested) and about the supposed ethics of lying:

I am not quite certain what Maguire means by "the moral stigma of "a liar"". I am quite certain that my own direct family of Amsterdammers told many lies to the Germans and to the SS and to their many Dutch collaborators; that they very well knew that they did; and that they were proud of it because they taught they did their moral duty.

Then there is this, which motivates my starting this review saying Maguire is a Professor of Moral Theology in a Jesuit university:

And that is the point. “Lie” and “liar” are not neutral words. Sometimes you have a moral obligation to deceive as when someone intent on murder asks if you know the location of his intended victim. Truth-telling in that case would be lethal; intentional deception is mandatory.

Lying is when you speak falsely intending to deceive someone who has a right to the truthThe specific evil that makes an intentional deception evil is in the denial of the truth to someone who has a right to it.
First, a brief remark on "neutral words".

I agree that "
“Lie” and “liar” are not neutral words", but then it is also my considered opinion that (i) in some contexts no word is properly "a neutral word", because (ii) it are the - human - contexts (of ideological or philosophical values, of solidarity, of honesty, of intent, of presumptions, of ignorances) that decide - for someone, and most and possibly all such decisions are subjective - what are the contexts to help apply the (subjectively) proper meanings to words.

Second, about the extended definition of lying Maguire presents:

No, the bold added part to the definition of lying of the Oxford Dictionary is not at all correct or useful, simply because it immensely complicates matters:

will decide "
who has a right to the truth"?! And who will decide what is "the truth"?! And who will be able to decide, if rights are relevant, to what extent and which rights do apply?!

After all, the SS would have insisted on their "right to the truth" and indeed decided that their
"right to the truth" was more than sufficient to torture people to death to get it.

And indeed in my opinion to define a lie - as: a conscious assertion of something one does not believe oneself - both truth and rights are not needed, while including them enormously complicates the definition (and its sensible applications).

Then there is this:

It is not hard to understand the skittishness of the press regarding the L word. When you say the President lied, you are accusing him of immoral activity. You are saying that he is speaking falsely in the face of abundant evidence to the contrary and is trying to deceive the public on a matter where they have a right to the truth.

But why should the President be spared the appropriate ethical term for his actions? The sacred calling of the press, well understood by the founders of this republic, is to speak the truth especially to those in power. Why would they betray that noble mission by shrinking from calling a powerful liar on his lies?

The lies of President Trump and those of his mendacity agents like Kellyanne Conway are more insulting than has been generally noted. They are despicably cynical because they insinuate that the American public and the press have no right to the truth. Fictional “alternative facts” are all they deserve.

Yes and no. Here it is by paragraph:

First paragraph, first statement: In fact, for me it is completely the other way around. Of course the president lies (whoever it is, also), indeed not always, but regularly. And of course the government lies: "All governments lie", as I.F. Stone very correctly insisted. And the reason for both "of course"s is that all politicians lie, and indeed few seem to lie more than politicians. (And perhaps - for the very naive - I should repeat all, and again add "though not always, of course".)

First paragraph, second statement: No, not necessarily at all. For example - and this holds for many supporters of any president - supporters may be quite convinced their president lied, but consider this to be quite excellent (e.g. "because he lied to our mortal enemies").

First paragraph, third statement: No, you may be quite convinced that the president is lying, and indeed be quite correct in your belief, but you may lack - as is the case about the NSA and other secret servicves - most of the evidence you would like. And second, in any decent democracy, "the public" should have "a right to the truth" about nearly everything, and indeed the cases where this may be denied should be argued carefully and objectively, and in something like a court.

Second paragraph: As it happens, I agree with most of this. Then again, to show how much Maguire's addition of people who have "a right to the truth" may make for problems: Trump can simply reply that He knows that He Is The Smartest, and that His "people" have - in His presidential opinion - only the right to know as much as He thinks fit to tell them. (Indeed, his supporters may wildly applaud him for this.)

Third paragraph: I agree again with most, but again like to point out how much the addition of "who has a right to the truth" to the Oxford Dictionary's definition of "lie" can complicate Maguire's own position: Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump quite probably are already convinced that the American public does not have "a right to the truth" except when they approve of it.

And here is the end of the article:

The lies of this liar must be cited and he must be called by the name his deeds merit.

I agree with the conclusion but, as I have explained, not with the argument:

The definition of a lie does not need to be complicated with explicit references to the truth (all that matters for a statement to be a lie is that one says it while not believing it); and the
definition of a lie does not need to be complicated with explicit additions of a "right to know" (for that introduces endless complications).

Hannah Arendt: From an Interview

The sixth and last item
today is by Hannah Arendt (<- Wikipedia) on the New York Review of Books. It is originally from 1974 and was published in 1978:
I will quote three bits of this, but I have already indicated that I am not a fan of Hannah Arendt, and that my reasons are mainly (i) my family, that was revolutionary and radical for 45 years of my parents' lives, which made them - among other things - members of the resistance in WW II, which also meant both my father and grandfather were arrested for resisting the Nazis, and committed to the concentration camp as
"political terrorists", which my grandfather did not survive, and (ii) my being a - logical, analytical, realistic - philosopher who has read all the great philosophers, and Hannah Arendt, although she meant well, was certainly not among the great philosophers.

Here is the first bit:


Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have. The second step is the notion: “Things must change—no matter how, Anything is better than what we have.” Totalitarian rulers organize this kind of mass sentiment, and by organizing it articulate it, and by articulating it make the people somehow love it. They were told before, thou shalt not kill; and they didn’t kill. Now they are told, thou shalt kill; and although they think it’s very difficult to kill, they do it because it’s now part of the code of behavior. They learn whom to kill and how to kill and how to do it together.
No, I don't think so at all. First, here is the beginning of my definition of totalitarian:
Totalitarian: Ideology or religion that is pretended to have final answers to many important human questions and problems and that is pretended to be thereby justified to persecute persons who do not agree with the ideology or the religion.

This is the usual form that every human ideology assumes - religious, political and otherwise, with science as the almost only partial exception.

The reason for the first property that defines a totalitarian attitude is apparently in part political and in part zoological:

One very important end ideologies and religions serve is to provide a human social group with a set of shared agreed upon supposed truths for the group and supposed ends of the group, and it is simply convenient and also seems to feel pleasant to most humans if these supposed truths and supposed ends simply are taken to hold for everyone, or at least for everyone who has the fundamental decency and human excellence of belonging to Us.

The reason for the second property that defines a totalitarian attitude derives from the first property plus the fact that ideologies and faiths of a social group serve to define and defend the group's territory and practices.

There is more there, and here is my definition of "Group" (in society):

Group in society: Human society is composed of groups i.e. collections of people that know each other personally, and that play roles in that society.

Indeed, "society" is an abstract, theoretical term, and such society as humans know in their own experience is made up of face-groups.

Most of what people believe they know about 'society' is propaganda or wishful thinking, and generally uninformed. Few people realize that, if they are 75 years old, there are - in the 21st Century - some 3 times more human beings in the world than seconds in their lives, namely 2,365,200,000 at age 75.

Also, it is noteworthy that there is little human awareness about their own mammalian and apish nature, although there is both amusing and bitter evidence about this gathered by e.g. Stanley Milgram and Desmond Morris. Some relevant points are

I will not argue anything here, but only refer you for more to Groupthinking.
In brief: Totalitarianism is much deeper than most seem to think it is.

Then there is this about lies:


The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed?
I agree with most of this, but I would have added "rational" before "opinion": People can have opinions for many reasons, but indeed they can have no rational opinions
without proper information and some rational knowledge.

Finally, there is this:

Facts and Theories

A good example of the kind of scientific mentality that overwhelms all other insights is the “domino theory.” The fact is that very few of the sophisticated intellectuals who wrote the Pentagon Papers believed in this theory. Yet everything they did was based on this assumption—not because they were liars, or because they wanted to please their superiors, but because it gave them a framework within which they could work.
No, I don't agree (and the "domino theory" asserted that countries go communist
as row of dominoes do: if the first one falls, all fall).

I take it Arendt is correct in saying that "
very few of the sophisticated intellectuals who wrote the Pentagon Papers believed in this theory".

But people who adopt "
a framework within which they could work" (which effectively meant in this case: being ready to go to war against any nation identified as "a domino") in fact - and at the very least - are deceiving themselves into adopting a false framework simply because it allows them to do as they politically please.

In fact, it seems as if Robert McNamara (<-Wikipedia) in the end understood this. (See The Fog of War (<-Wikipedia)).

[1] The "as a communist" is quite meaningful: Communists, although the whole Dutch Communist Party went into the Resistance on May 15, 1940, in which many of its members acted quite heroically, and some 2000 Communists were murdered by the Nazis, did not get any knighthoods since 1945.

Some did after the Dutch Communist Party was extinguished in 1991, but to the best of my knowledge my father was the only one to get one before 1991, indeed in 1980, which is also the year he died.

I do not pretend to understand the reasons for either, though it is possible my father got a knighthood for organizing and designing much of the exhibition (which was quite good) without it being known then he was a communist (although he was one since 1935, and had been briefly in the highest regions of the Dutch CP, around 1950).

And again I am sorry, simply because this is a fact, and what I am sorry for is that I do not know any other family like mine. Then again, I do know of quite a few families, also in Holland, some members of which did behave heroically in WW II. (But not with a father, a mother, and a grandfather in the resistance, with a father and a grandfather in concentration camps for resisting, and with also two anarchist grandparents).

In fact, I recall both the day and the event, and in fact I was 7 (though nearly 8): It was on May 1, 1958, when my father unrolled the red flag to hang it on the balcony, in order to commemorate the Day of Labor (which fell on May 1). We then talked, also about the fact that very few did this then, and that talk connected quite a few things for me that I had not understood as well before.

[4] I am stating the facts as I know them, which includes the facts that (i) I do not know that the politicians of the Dutch Labor Party were as corrupt as I say they were, but (ii) this is the only rational explanation for very many refusals I received from the City of Amsterdam to do anything for me, in spite of the fact that I complained about being threatened with murder, being kept for years out of sleep by enormous amounts of noise, about their illegality, about their dealing not only in hashish and marijuana but being arrested with 2 kilos of heroine and 1 kilo of cocaine - absolutely nothing could move absolutely anyone who worked for the City or the law in Amsterdam to do anything whatsoever for me, whatever I said or wrote.

And I do know that the only way to get at the truth about drugscorrupted Holland is to arrest most politicians, and have them tortured. I think this would deliver a lot of information, but I am an opponent of torturing people (also if I detest them as much as I do the politicians of the Dutch Labor Party).

[5] They are ethical because both of my parents and three out of four of my grandparents were genuine radicals, most for all their lives; they are intellectual because both of my parents and all my grandparents very probably had IQs over 130, as my brother and I do; and these differences count simply because differences in beauty, in athleticism, in sports, and in singing also count, whereas these ethical and intellectual differences are both more important and rarer than being somewhat beatiful or running very fast.

[6] I am sorry, but I think this is simply true and has been consistently neglected in everything that I have read the last
four years.

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