1. Emmanuel Macron and Marine
Le Pen Advance in French
2. In Time for
the Reform Debate, New Documents Shed Light on
the Government’s Surveillance
3. Believe It or Not: The New Age and Occult
Trump and Bannon's Ideology
4. First 100 Days: Trump and the
Degradation of the Presidency
5. A Sunday Morning Cri de Coeur
This is a Nederlog of Monday, April 24, 2017.
Summary: This is an
log with five items and
five links: Item 1 is about the outcome of the
first round of the
French presidential elections; item 2 is about
the surveillance of
Americans, that I think will continue; item 3 is
about the - apparent?
- fact that Bannon, Trump and Hillary Clinton all dabbled in the
occult; item 4 is about Reich's appraisal of
Trump's first 100 days in
office; and item 5 is about Marxism by
a Marxist, and a bit interesting because this Marxist seems to reject -
important parts of - historical
April 24: As to the
The Danish site was again
on time today; as was the Dutch site, but I guess by now my site at
"xs4all.nl" gets uploaded once a week. (They did it from 1996
2015 within minutes at most. I think this is to limit the
readings of my site.)
happen now for the 16th month in
succession. And they happen on purpose. (If you want these
horrors, then sign in with
"xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them.)
1. Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen Advance in French
And I have to
add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others
I have NO idea AT ALL: It
2015. (Xs4all wants immediate
payment if you are a
week behind. Xs4all.nl has been destroying
my site now for over
a year. I completely distrust them, but I also do not
know whether they are doing it or some secret service is.)
The first article today is by Alissa J. Rubin on The New York Times :
This starts as follows:
In France’s most consequential election
in recent history, voters on Sunday chose Emmanuel
Macron and Marine
Le Pen to go to a runoff to determine the next president, official
returns showed. One is a political novice, the other a far-right
firebrand — both outsiders, but with starkly different visions for the
result was a full-throated rebuke of France’s traditional mainstream
parties, setting the country on an uncertain path in an election that
could also decide the future of the European Union.
It is the
first time in the nearly 59-year history of France’s Fifth Republic
that both of the final candidates are from outside the traditional
left-right party structure. Together, they drew less than half the
total votes cast in a highly fractured election.
before the official tallies were announced, the political establishment
was rallying behind Mr. Macron, warning of the dangers of a victory by
Ms. Le Pen’s far-right National Front, though few analysts give her
much of a chance of winning the May 7 runoff.
And this is also all I
am going to quote from this article (in which there is a lot
This is the outcome, and the
final choice will be between a rightist and an extreme rightist.
2. In Time for the
Reform Debate, New Documents Shed Light on the Government’s
Surveillance of Americans
article is by Ashley Gorski on Common Dreams:
This starts as follows - and Ashley Gorski
is a lawyer who works for the ACLU:
indeed. I wrote a lot about this, especially since June 10, 2013, and
my main reason to do so is that I regard this as the basis for a
neofascist kind of state terrorism
The ACLU on Friday released more than a
dozen new documents concerning the government’s warrantless
surveillance of millions of Americans. They were obtained from several
intelligence agencies in an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit
and relate to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act,
the law that the government relies on to conduct its PRISM
Section 702 is a deeply controversial law
that recently made headlines
world again thanks to President
Trump’s wiretapping claims. Under Section 702, the government
examines the contents of Americans’ international emails, web-browsing
activities, internet chats, and phone calls — all without ever getting
that will mean the end of most freedoms, most rights, and most
equalities that most
people have gained in the 20th Century (in the West), and that will
give all power to the very few who know everything about anyone.
It probably will give birth to a new kind of feodalism, that may be
maintained indefinitely for and by the very few very rich, simply
because they know everything.
Here is some more on the present documents:
The documents released today
light on two particularly problematic aspects of Section 702: the scope
of “incidental” collection and what is known as the “backdoor search”
documents underscore many of our concerns with surveillance
conducted under this law, which violates our core constitutional rights
to privacy, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. Section
702 is set to expire at the end of this year, and Congress has the
opportunity to rein in warrantless spying by enacting significant
reforms to the law.
indeed, but because the USA's secret services now have been illegally
allowed to plunder everyone of everything (for that is what it
practically seems to come down to) since 2001 I believe that it is far
probable this will continue, especially with the present House and the
Perhaps it makes sense - once again - to show the two articles from the
Constitution that now have been systematically and deliberately
raped by all American secret services, and also by most other
secret services since 2001:
The First Amendment:
Congress shall make no law
respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free
exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;
or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the
Government for a redress of grievances.
And the Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be
secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against
unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no
Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and
the persons or things to be seized.
Given their importance, I think it is fair to
say that, after 16 years of systematically raping these Amendments,
they might as well not have been written or have been totally
There is a lot more in this article, but I will quote only one
If the government seeks to spy on
Americans’ private phone calls or emails, the Fourth Amendment
generally requires it to first obtain a warrant. But under Section 702,
the government — without any kind of warrant — collects and stores
hundreds of millions of communications in NSA, CIA, and FBI databases
each year, on the theory that its spying is directed at foreigners.
After these communications are collected, agency analysts compound the
constitutional problem by relying on what’s known as the “backdoor
search” loophole: They search through their databases using Americans’
names and other identifying information, in order to locate Americans’
private, constitutionally protected communications.
meanwhile the American ISPs have Trump's consent to their selling all
the personal information they hold on anyone, to anyone with the money
to buy it. This is not dealt
with in the present article, but also is a - recent - fact.
This is a recommended article, with a lot more information.
Believe It or Not: The New Age and Occult Underpinnings of Trump and
starts as follows, and is here mostly because of Stephen Bannon
(<-Wikipedia)) for personally I have no taste or a strong distaste
for "New Age" and "Occult" bullshit:
The third article is by Mitch Horowitz on AlterNet and originally on
When my book “Occult America,” a
history of supernatural religions in the U.S., appeared in 2009, I was
surprised to receive an admiring phone call from a conservative
documentarian and financier. He professed deep interest in the book’s
themes, and encouraged me in my next work, “One Simple Idea,” an
exploration of positive-mind metaphysics in American life. His name was
Stephen K. Bannon.
I say. I did not
know this, though indeed I am not amazed. (And incidentally: What are
"the natural religions", given that the occult religions are called
"supernatural" here? I am asking, for this looks a bit strange
And there is this on Trump, whose family fell for the baloney of Peale:
Again I did not know this, and again I am not
amazed. And as to the second paragraph, there is this:
President Trump himself has admiringly recalled his lessons in the mystic
art of “positive thinking” from the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, the
Trump family’s longtime pastor, who popularized metaphysical mind-power
themes in his 1952 mega-seller “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
What in the cosmos is going on? New Age and
alternative spirituality are supposed to be the domain of
patchouli-scented aisles of health food stores and bookshops that sell
candles and pendulums, right? Well, not exactly.
Conservative presidencies have
the market on the otherworldly. During the 2016 campaign, I was
surprised that no one revisited an episode from Bill Clinton’s first
term, when then first lady Hillary Clinton was accused of holding “sťances” in the White
House—a term misapplied to her visioning sessions with New Age teacher
Jean Houston, a pioneer of the human-potential movement. Houston, whom
I’ve published, didn’t quite know how to explain to reporters that when
she guided the first lady in dialogues with her political hero Eleanor
Roosevelt, they were not summoning spirits but rather conducting
creativity and value-defining exercises.
Lord (in whom I don't believe)! And Hillary Clinton also
this total bullshit!
Incidentally, the baloney in the last sentence
really is trashy baloney, for Eleanor Roosevelt died in 1962,
and if Hillary was "dialogueing" with her in the Nineties, she
was "dialogueing" with her spirit.
Anyway - enough bullshit, but it is
interesting that Bannon, Trump and Hillary Clinton all seem to believe
in it (more than not).
4. First 100 Days:
Trump and the Degradation of the Presidency
The fourth article is by Robert Reich on his site:
This starts as follows:
say that Trump did accomplish a few things, notably the nomination of
Neil Gorsuch in the Supreme Court (where he also may remain the next
forty years, if these are granted to us), but I agree he did Given their importance, I think it is fair to
say that, after 16 years of systematically raping these Amendments,
they might as well not have been written or have been totally
accomplish a lot, at least so far.
Trump’s failure to accomplish little or
any of his agenda during his first 100 days is striking. But we should
not forget the vast harm he has done in this comparatively short time –
especially his degradation of the presidency.
From early in the Republic, we have looked
at the office of the president as a focal point for the nation’s
values. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt,
and his Teddy’s fifth cousin, Franklin, are studied by school children
as both exemplars of what it means to be president and of the moral
authority of the office. It is not merely what these men accomplished,
but how they did it; not just their policies but their positive
effects on the institutions of democratic governance.
And I'd also say that the presidential examples Reich selected are all
among the best presidents, but indeed Reich is allowed to make that
Then there is this, in which Reich is partially right:
But not until Trump has the moral
authority of the office disappeared.
I’m old enough to recall when John F.
Kennedy invited the world’s great artists, writers, and philosophers to
dine at the White House. The nation felt ennobled. Donald Trump invites
Sarah Palin and Ted Nugent, who once called President Obama a
“mongrel,” and we feel sullied.
is partially right (i) because I do not think Richard Nixon had much or
any moral authority for most progressives and liberals either, while
(ii) one should not forget that
approximately half of all Americans that vote, vote for a Republican,
and most of the rest a Democrat, and Reich's opinion, which I happen to
share, is a Democratic but not a Republican opinion.
Here is more on Trump:
There have also been Trump’s lies –
blatant, continuous, and
unsubstantiated even after the lack of evidence has been pointed out
repeatedly. They are not just any lies, but lies that deepen Americans’
suspicion of one another and undermine our confidence in our system of
government – such as his repeated contention that “three to five
million” people voted illegally in the last election, or that Obama
spied on him during the campaign.
Prior presidents have embellished the
truth and on occasion have lied about a particular important thing,
such as the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But
before Trump we have never had a president who chronically lies, whose
lies have become an integral part of his presidency even in the first
I agree - but what is so difficult in inferring that from the
summarized in the last paragraph that it probably follows that Trump is not sane? Is this merely
the lack of a degree in psychology? What other major delusions must
Trump manifest before non-psychologists and non-psychiatrists conclude
he is crazy?
There is also this:
We have had divisive elections before.
But after them, other presidents
have sought to heal the wounds. Even after the horrors of the Civil
War, Lincoln famously asked us to come together without malice. Trump,
by contrast, encourages warring camps – calling his opponents “enemies”
and suggesting that they are plotting against his administration,
and staging rallies to encourage and fuel his bedrock supporters.
I agree Trump should not do this. Here is
the last bit I'll quote, which is about Trump personally:
Finally, there is Donald Trump himself
– who in the first 100 days as president has shown himself to be
narcissistic, xenophobic, paranoid, vindictive, and thin-skinned; who
takes credit for the work of others and blames others for his own
failings; who lashes out at the press and journalists when they
criticize him, and who demonizes judges who disagree with him.
We have before had presidents such as
Richard Nixon whose personality defects harmed their presidencies and
tainted the office of the president. But Donald Trump is in a different
league altogether. He exhibits the opposite of every civic virtue ever
encouraged in our school rooms, town halls, and churches.
mostly agree - but I repeat my question: What other
must a president of the USA show, next to: narcissism, xenophobia,
paranoia, vindictiveness, extreme personal sensitivity, stealing
others' work, blaming others for his own failures, lashing out at the
press as liars, and demonizing judges, before you conclude Trump is not
Must he be photographed dancing nakedly
with foam on his mouth on the presidential desk before he is removed?
Anyway... this is a recommended article,
for Reich is right that Trump degraded the presidency a lot.
5. A Sunday Morning
Cri de Coeur
The fifth and last article today is by Robert
Paul Wolff (<-Wikipedia) on his site:
you can see in the link to Robert Paul Wolff, he is presently 83, but
he is still rather active on his site, where he describes himself as
As I observed in one of my books,
in politics I am an anarchist, in religion I am an atheist, and in
economics I am a Marxist. I am also, rather more importantly, a
husband, a father, a grandfather, and a violist.
It so happens that I am probably some kind
of anarchist (but there are very
many kinds of anarchism, and I certainly disagree with many, albeit for
various reasons ); I definitely am an atheist; but I am
defnitely not a Marxist.
Then again, both of my parents were - intelligent, sincere -
for 45 years (and quite courageous in WW II, unlike
most Dutchmen); my grandfather died a
Marxist in a German concentration camp; and both of my mother's parents
were anarchists, so I think I have some things in common with Wolff
(besides being a philosopher who was illegally denied the right
the M.A. because he dared to criticize his incompetent teachers for
their incompetence, and a psychologist, mostly because that was the
alternative after I was removed from philosophy, but not from any real
conviction, for I think psychology is for the most part not a
real science ).
In fact, I do not know how I found Wolff's site, although it probably
was in response to a query I did with "Marxism". And I do follow him -
at least - since June 2013: His site is one of the 35 sites I check
every morning to write Nederlogs.
He doesn't occur often in Nederlog, but this is mostly because his
positions are too specific or too technical. I also often do not quite
agree with him, but I keep reading him because he is at least interesting,
which is more than I can say for Paul Krugman, whom I followed
for three years without learning anything of interest, and whom
I therefore stopped following (also because he gets very much
blown up by the "left" without me seeing any reason for that). 
And I do quote and review the present article, because Wolff asks some
quite fundamental questions about Marxism.
The article starts as follows:
As I outlined, I have a very Marxist and anarchist background, but I am similar to Wolff in this
respect, that is, I am much
more of a theoretician than a practician. This was different for my
parents, but I think two good reasons are that there was not enough
money nor any grants for them to study at a university (which both very
easily could have managed intellectually), and -
especially - because they saw the rise of Nazism and the occupation of
Holland by the Nazis.
I am not a happy
I am not one of those admirable people who enjoys the fight. I do
not wade into a struggle for economic
justice or gender equality or environmental protection with a laugh on
reinvigorated by each defeat to ever greater efforts. I much
prefer to sit quietly and contemplate
my circles, as Archimedes did when Syracuse was attacked [or so
says.] But the sheer awfulness of
contemporary America, both before Trump and after, compels me to pay
attention. In these brief remarks, I shall try to come
to terms in some way with what Karl Marx got right about capitalist
what he got wrong. I do this because I
need to understand why the behavior of my fellow Americans so
from what I would have expected.
Here is Wolff's judgement on Marxism (about which I agree there is much
more to say, but this is a clear brief statement):
As I have explained on my site, one of my
disagreements with Marx - that started for me in 1969 - is about his Labor
Theory of Value, but the topic is complicated and mathematical,
and I also will not treat it.
Standing off a bit
from the detail of his
[including the Labor Theory of Value, about which I have, after all,
entire book and several highly technical journal articles], what I can
that Marx told us about three related but different things:
First, the fundamental exploitative structure
of capitalism; Second, the probable direction in which capitalism would
as its institutions matured; and Third, how men and women would respond
underlying exploitation and that development.
things a century and a half after Marx published Capital [less
one year], I believe that
what I see is this: Marx was dead right
on the first point, more right than wrong on the second point, and
wrong on the third point.
Here is Wolff one exploitation:
is indeed built on exploitation, it thrives on exploitation, it
exploitation to survive, the exploitation is structural, and has
particular to do with the character or feelings of those who control
capital, and capitalism will therefore continue to exploit workers for
as it exists, regardless of the ameliorations and accommodations it may
forced on occasion to concede. To
demonstrate this was an enormous accomplishment for Marx, and all by
establishes his claim as the greatest social scientist who has ever
I think this is more or less right. There is much
that could be said about this, and I don't quite agree with Marx , but I turn to the next point:
What he got wrong, as
I have argued
elsewhere, was the persistence of a pyramidal structure of jobs and
the ranks of the working class, broadly defined. This was an
important failure on his part,
though he can hardly be blamed for it, I think.
A century and a half later, the stark opposition of capital and labor
has been not replaced but it has been overlain with the conflicts of
well-paid and poorly-paid members of the working class.
Technically speaking, they are all exploited –
the minimum wage workers and the lavishly paid members of the upper
classes – but the political, social, ideological, and human
that exploitation are utterly different for the two groups.
I think Marx can be blamed for this, and indeed this point and
the next are closely related: Marx believed in a class
structure of society, in which there are two classes,
the capitalists and the proletariat, that were fundamentally opposed,
because the capitalists exploit the proletariat, and the proletariat
And I think since I was 20 (in 1970) that the class structure analysis
of society is fundamentally mistaken, for real people
live in real groups
(the members - family, friends, colleagues - they personally know) and not
in classes, and these groups are divided and distinguished in far
more complicated ways than "a class analysis" allows (and indeed most
groups maintain their identities by groupthinking).
Wolff is right - I think - in saying that (from a very abstract
point of view) the well- educated laborers (doctors, lawyers, managers,
academics) are exploited like the badly educated laborers, but in
practice most of the well-educated side with the rich, rather than
with the poor, and he is also right in saying that "the political, social, ideological, and human
that exploitation are utterly different for the two groups".
We arrive at the third point:
The third thing, the
likely response of men and women to the
devolution of capitalism, Marx got totally wrong, so far as I can
see. Now do not misunderstand me: I think Marx was the
theorist of mystification, of false consciousness, of ideology [and I
written a book and many articles about this as well.] But Marx
was convinced that over time, as the
centralization of capitalism continued, and even though members of the
and exploiting class would more firmly clasp to their collective bosom
self-justifying rationalizations offered for their unrelenting
priests, political theorists, and economists, workers would be led to
throw off their acceptance of those rationalizations, and develop ever
and more energized consciousness of their condition, inspiring them to
about for ways to overthrow the exploiters and take collective
their own collective product: Capital.
I said, this is quite similar to the second point, and my analysis of
the second point also applies here: It are the loyalties, the
the beliefs of groups
(most of which are quite mistaken,
and many of which are mythological
most of which engage in
of very many kinds) much rather than of classes that
play the fundamental role in helping people make their political and
Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
My answer to Wolff's last question - "Why on earth do people all over
America elect and re-elect politicians whose whole aim in life is to
them?" - is rather simple:
Now, I know all
the biases of the media, about
epistemic bubbles, about the well-funded efforts to deny the plain
facts of climate
change, of economic misery, of plain straight-up kleptocracy, but why
of millions, more than scores of millions, buy into that
nonsense? I mean, we
know it is nonsense, and we do not have access to any sources of
that are denied to our fellow citizens.
The information is all there, free, available simply by picking up a TV
remote and changing the station, or Googling with a mouse. Fox
News draws vastly more people than
Lawrence O’Donnell, but there is no legislative limit on the number of
allowed to tune him in. Never mind
Trump. Why on earth do people all over
America elect and re-elect politicians whose whole aim in life is to
The vast majority is ignorant;
everybody gets propagandized
with all kinds of lies
few get a decent education; the vast majority is not intelligent,
and nearly everybody pretends, plays roles, deceives, and
is far more egoistic
than altruistic, and far more inclined to personally profit
than to share.
In brief, because the vast majority is stupid, ignorant and egoistic, and also
was never educated to be anything else.
 I rejected
some other articles, mainly
because I am opponent of the stupid and egoistic Tweets:
articles that include more than three Tweets in one article will very
probably not be reviewed in Nederlog. (I am sorry, but I detest
This is also how the present article got selected, namely after
discarding two others.
 In fact, while
it very probably is true that I am some sort of anarchist, in the end
especially because I am for personal liberty, against all kinds of
exploitation, and in favor of incomes that are not higher than 20 times
the lowest income,
and on that lowest income one should also have a decent life,
are so many kinds of anarchism that I never found out which I like
best. (I do like Emma Goldman a
lot, and especially her autobiography, but this is probably more
personal than intellectual.)
 In case you want
to know more about this, try "Is
Psychology A Science"
by Paul Lutus, who knows a lot about philosophy of science. In fact, so
do I, and this is one reason why I gave up on psychology as a science
in 1980 - yes: 37 years ago - indeed for rather similar reasons
as Lutus explains. (I got an
M.A. in psychology only after I was - illegally - denied the right to
take an M.A. in philosophy, and I did so because I had studied it
together with philosophy, both as main studies.)
there have emerged (over the years that I am writing Nederlog, which started in 2004, in Dutch) several
reasons for me not to review papers or persons anymore:
Papers are no more reviewed by me in case they made copying impossible:
I think that is both quite sick and very immoral, and while I can undo
it (with some problems), I prefer simply not to review them at all.
Also, I dislike Tweets so much - how idiotic must one be to prefer an
instrument of "communication" that limits one to 140 letters?!?! - that
I decided to stop the horrible outcroppings of long lists of Tweets in
journalistic articles by deciding that three is the maximum I allow in
any one article.
And persons are no more reviewed by me in case I have convinced myself
they are rather worthless. And indeed Krugman is one of these. There
are a few more (but not many).
 I agree with
Wolff that Marx certainly made the deepest economical analysis
of capitalism (of his days), but I don't quite agree him that Marx demonstrated
that capitalism requires exploitation, and for several reasons.
First, Marx demonstration - if such it was - was not quite
correct (as Wolff himself admits, though probably not for reasons I
agree with, though I don't know, and I like it that Wolff is
Second, even if it is quite correct that capitalism requires
exploitation, there are many different rates of exploitation,
and the positions and incomes of the American and English working
people in - say - the 1960ies was quite different from
the positions and incomes of their great grandfathers in the 1860ies.
And third, my own position about exploitation is not Marxistic, for it is in the end ethical: I think
people are - often mercilessly, often cruelly - exploited not
for any real objective reasons, but because the exploiters
made the ethical judgements that their rights and their welfare come
first, and that those who have either money or power therewith
have the means and the justification to exploit those without
In the end, we are all animals, and some human animals are and feel
very capable of exploiting anyone they can, as much as they please.
This does not hold for all men, but it does seem to
hold for a majority, and it certainly holds for most of the few
who own a whole lot of money or a whole lot of power.