This starts as follows:
The idiots take over in the final days
of crumbling civilizations. Idiot generals wage endless, unwinnable
wars that bankrupt the nation. Idiot economists call for reducing taxes
for the rich and cutting social service programs for the poor, and
project economic growth on the basis of myth. Idiot industrialists
poison the water, the soil and the air, slash jobs and depress wages.
Idiot bankers gamble on self-created financial bubbles and impose
crippling debt peonage on the citizens. Idiot journalists and public
intellectuals pretend despotism is democracy. Idiot intelligence
operatives orchestrate the overthrow of foreign governments to create
lawless enclaves that give rise to enraged fanatics. Idiot professors,
“experts” and “specialists” busy themselves with unintelligible jargon
and arcane theory that buttresses the policies of the rulers. Idiot
entertainers and producers create lurid spectacles of sex, gore and
I don't think so - and I believe most men are not very intelligent nor very moral or ethical, and are not, according to their own - mostly pretended or mostly believed - ideas about ethics, morality and value, whatever they are.
But I don't think most men are "idiots" in any plausible sense of the term; I do think they are egoists;
I do think they are pretenders; and I do think they are mostly
deceiving themselves as well as others. But most men are not idiots.
Something similar holds for the next
quotation: It seems much more true (in my pretty experienced and pretty
learned eyes) again to speak of egoists rather than idiots, and perhaps
stress the fact that egoism may entice one into many very gross
The idiots know only one word—“more.” They are unencumbered by common
sense. They hoard wealth and resources until workers cannot make a
living and the infrastructure collapses. They live in privileged
compounds where they eat chocolate cake and order missile strikes. They
see the state as a projection of their vanity. The Roman, Mayan,
French, Habsburg, Ottoman, Romanov, Wilhelmine,
and Soviet dynasties crumbled because the whims and obsessions of
ruling idiots were law.
And something similar applies to the
following quotation, although I think I agree with Chris Hedges on the
thesis that Trump is not sane (as quite a big number of psychologists,
of which I am one, and psychiatrists now seem to agree):
Donald Trump is the face of our collective idiocy. He is what lies
behind the mask of our professed civility and rationality—a sputtering,
narcissistic, bloodthirsty megalomaniac. He wields armies and fleets
against the wretched of the earth, blithely ignores the catastrophic
human misery caused by global warming, pillages on behalf of global
oligarchs and at night sits slack-jawed in front of a television set
before opening his “beautiful” Twitter account. He is our version of
the Roman emperor Nero (...)
I agree Trump is a narcissistic
megalomaniac, and if you disagree, as you may, I think you should read
the last link and consider the probable fact that you yourself does not
know much about madness, insanity or psychology.
But again, most of his motives also are egoistic rather than idiotic, though I agree that egoism may entice one into many very gross falsifications, and certainly tends to do so
in politicians, CEOs, and holders of power, who try to serve their own
financial interests while pretending to act for the interests of the
There is also this, that is a reflection on five centuries of plundering by white men:
Europeans and Americans have spent five centuries conquering,
plundering, exploiting and polluting the earth in the name of human
progress. They used their technological superiority to create the most
efficient killing machines on the planet, directed against anyone and
anything, especially indigenous cultures, that stood in their way. They
stole and hoarded the planet’s wealth and resources. They believed that
this orgy of blood and gold would never end, and they still believe it.
I think this is too negative, and it also
seems to presume that most men may be as intelligent and as honest as a
few. I don't think so, and in that sense I am either not
an ordinary "leftist" - for I think there are considerable moral
and intellectual differences between individual men, which most
"leftists" these day deny  - or else, and far more plausibly, I am a
philosophical anarchist (<-Wikipedia), somewhat like Emma Goldman, who came to the
same conclusion as I did, already in my teens: Real leftist radicals
are like aristocrats.
Also, I think that the intellectual
standards, the moral and ethical standards, the individuality, the
personal courage, and the honesty of the Leftist  intellectuals
and intelligent men and women are better than the same
qualities of most ordinary men, at least in the sense that they are
more intelligent, more courageous, and more honest than the norms and
ideas of the average, indeed whether poor or rich.
There is this on the magical thinking that moves the majorities, especially the not well-educated majorities:
Magical thinking is not limited to the beliefs and practices of
pre-modern cultures. It defines the ideology of capitalism. Quotas and
projected sales can always be met. Profits can always be raised. Growth
is inevitable. The impossible is always possible.
I agree on magical - willful irrational -
thinking, but again I add that the ideology of capitalism isn't just
based on magical thinking and wishful thinking, but also on plain
personal greed and egoism (that once selected may be followed with
considerable rationality, at least by the few intelligent and
Then there is this, where I personally
disagree with the pronouns: This does not hold of my family, and it
also does not hold of quite a few intelligent Leftists, who were mostly
honest and were mostly not deceived (and may have suffered quite a lot
for being honest and undeceived ):
The merging of the self with the capitalist collective has robbed us of
our agency, creativity, capacity for self-reflection and moral
autonomy. We define our worth not by our independence or our character
but by the material standards set by capitalism—personal wealth,
brands, status and career advancement. We are molded into a compliant
and repressed collective. This mass conformity is characteristic of
totalitarian and authoritarian states. It is the Disneyfication of
America, the land of eternally happy thoughts and positive attitudes.
The reason this does not hold for myself or my parents is that neither of us defined ourselves "by the material standards set by capitalism",
and that each of us did insist foremost on our independence, our
character and our values, which indeed also were all uncommon, but not
non-existent, also not in others (like friends of my parents).
Here is the ending, with which I happen to agree mostly if "idiots" is replaced by "egoists"
Half the country may live in poverty, our civil liberties may be taken
from us, militarized police may murder unarmed citizens in the streets
and we may run the world’s largest prison system and murderous war
machine, but all these truths are studiously ignored. Trump embodies
the essence of this decayed, intellectually bankrupt and immoral world.
He is its natural expression. He is the king of the idiots. We are his
And this is a recommended article, but I think you should replace "idiot" everywhere by "egoist".
2. "Weekends Are for Fighting
Tyranny": 350.org's Bill McKibben on People's Climate March
article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!:
This starts with the following introduction:
To mark the 100th day of Donald
Trump’s presidency, thousands of climate activists from around the
country are converging in Washington, D.C. on Saturday for the People’s
Climate March. Already, Trump has threatened to pull the U.S. out of
the Paris climate accord, begun dismantling President Obama’s climate
legacy and revived the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. He has
also put climate change deniers in charge of several key agencies,
including the Environmental Protection Agency, and proposed slashing
the budget of the EPA and other climate
programs. This comes as scientists have confirmed 2016 was the warmest
year on record. Our guest is Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, who
helped organize this latest march and notes: "Weekends are for fighting
do not know - living in Holland - what came out of that, except that
around 200,000 people marched in Washington, which I think is both good
(200,000 is a lot) and not so good (it is less than one promille of the
Here is McKibben:
BILL MCKIBBEN: (..) It is going to be—well,
it is going to be not carried out in the hope that we can convince
Donald Trump to do something different. We can’t. And the GOP in Congress, which is a wholly-owned
subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry, isn’t going to do anything,
either. We’re well aware of that. What we are doing is laying down the
most serious of markers about the future. And one of the numbers that
will be on everybody’s lips is 100, as in 100 percent renewable energy.
I say. Well... I think that is not very
realistic, and since I have been interested in "the environment" (as it
was then mostly called) since 1972, this reminds me rather a lot of
Dutch environmentalists, especially in the University of Amsterdam in
the late 1970ies, who were about as realistic.
And I should add, I think (and see the previous item),
that these days "the environ- ment" or "climate change" seems to be
mostly a project of the white middle class, or what remains of it. This
does not mean I am against it (I agree with Chomsky that the
most important dangers to the earth at present are nuclear arms and
climate change), but indeed I also do not think that if you hardly have
enough to eat, like quite a few Americans now, you will be much worried
about climate change.
This is about why McKibben's organization (<-Wikipedia), that was started in 2007, is called "350.org":
AMY GOODMAN: The significance of 410 parts
per million. I mean, your group is called 350.org, based on 350 parts
BILL MCKIBBEN: So, anything greater than 350
parts per million is more than the planet can safely deal with. It is
what’s overwhelming our climate system. Because as you say, we’ve been
going up about three parts per million per year. And two days ago, for
the first time in we think at least 5 million years, the planet
broached the 410 parts per million level. Now, it will go down for a
while and then back up. And eventually, we will always be above 410,
and then above 420, and above 430. We just keep pouring more carbon
into the atmosphere.
Incidentally, this means that at 410 it is more than 1/6th higher than 350 part per million.
Here is the last part that I'll quote from this article:
I say, which I do not because I disagree with
the beginning, but because of the end: Seen from the point of view of
my parents, which is (to an extent) explained below, to reserve the "Weekends are for fighting tyranny" seems quite petit-bourgeois, as the phrase is.
The only piece of good news is it’s incredibly unpopular. Of all the
unpopular things that Trump is doing, the polling shows that the one
that’s most out of whack with Americans’ opinions are these attacks on
the environment. And it means, too, that people are going to have to
start stepping up a little bit in other places.
Look, there are no silver linings to Trumpism. This is an unmitigated
disaster. But let’s hope that at least it helps people find their
courage in this resistance. Saturday will be another episode in this
ongoing saga of citizens stepping up. Citizenship has been out of
fashion for some decades in our country, but now it is back in fashion.
Weekends are for fighting tyranny.
My parents, at least, were real revolutionairies and worked for the revolution most of the day and all week.
The Existential Question of Whom to Trust
The third article is by Robert Parry (<-Wikipedia) on Consortiumnews:
This starts with the following summary:
Special Report: An
existential question facing humankind is whom can be trusted to
describe the world and its conflicts, especially since mainstream
experts have surrendered to careerism, writes Robert Parry.
Yes indeed: This is a quite important theme. And here is some background:
The looming threat of World War III, a potential extermination event
for the human species, is made more likely because the world’s public
can’t count on supposedly objective experts to ascertain and evaluate
facts. Instead, careerism is the order of the day among journalists,
intelligence analysts and international monitors – meaning that almost
no one who might normally be relied on to tell the truth can be trusted.
The dangerous reality is that this
careerism, which often is expressed by a smug certainty about whatever
the prevailing groupthink is, pervades not just the political world,
where lies seem to be the common currency, but also the worlds of
journalism, intelligence and international oversight, including United
Nations agencies that are often granted greater credibility because
they are perceived as less beholden to specific governments but in
reality have become deeply corrupted, too.
I mostly agree, but I also have some remarks. The first remark - to an extent - parallels the remarks I made to item 1:
It is not so much idiocy that rules many, as egoism, and the same holds
for the careerists. I agree they exist; I agree there are
these days very many of them; I am also willing to agree that
"careerist" is a reasonable description of them; but I also think that
the common underlying motive
of nearly all careerists is egoism. They are driven by "I, me, mine" and indeed also
are quite shameless in that, for they pretend, falsely, with Ayn Rand (<-Wikipedia), that their position is ethical and admirable, whereas in fact it is unethical plain egoistic greed that drives them.
Here is more Parry:
In other words, many professionals who are counted on for digging out
the facts and speaking truth to power have sold themselves to those
same powerful interests in order to keep high-paying jobs and to not
get tossed out onto the street. Many of these self-aggrandizing
professionals – caught up in the many accouterments of success – don’t
even seem to recognize how far they’ve drifted from principled
I think I am a bit more cynical than Parry seems to be:
I do believe the vast majority of the egoists knows very well what they do, and I believe so, because the same
is true for monkeys and apes. That is, monkeys and apes are quite happy
to be rewarded the same for doing the same (getting a piece of
cucumber, that is decent, or a piece of banana, that is nice), but they
also get quite unhappy (and angry) if they are rewarded with cucumber,
while they can see another monkey who gets rewarded with banana for doing the same.
If this holds for monkeys, it certainly
holds for human beings (who also are apes). That is, I hold the vast
majority of egoists are egoists quite consciously.
Here is the system that arose from conscious egoism practised as careerism:
The existing rewards-and-punishments system, which punishes
truth-tellers and rewards those who deceive the public, has left behind
a thoroughly corrupted information structure in the United States and
in the West, in general.
Across the mainstream of politics and
media, there are no longer the checks and balances that have protected
democracy for generations. Those safeguards have been washed away by
the flood of careerism.
The situation is made even more
dangerous because there also exists a rapidly expanding cadre of
skilled propagandists and psychological operations practitioners,
sometimes operating under the umbrella of “strategic
communications.” Under trendy theories of “smart power,”
information has become simply another weapon in the geopolitical
arsenal, with “strategic communications” sometimes praised as the
preferable option to “hard power,” i.e. military force.
Yes indeed - thus it seems to me as well.
It is difficult to assemble something like a logical, mathematical or
judicial proof for this, but I have seen all the mainstream papers grow
a whole lot worse, and while egoism, careerism and cynicism are not the
only explanations, they are important ones. 
Here is the last bit by Parry that I'll quote:
But the question is: whom to trust? And this is no longer some
rhetorical or philosophical point about whether one can ever know the
complete truth. It is now a very practical question of life or death,
not just for us as individuals but as a species and as a planet.
The existential issue before us is
whether – blinded by propaganda and disinformation – we will stumble
into a nuclear conflict between superpowers that could exterminate all
life on earth or perhaps leave behind a radiated hulk of a planet
suitable only for cockroaches and other hardy life forms.
As to trust: In the end I am an individual, who must rely on the standards, criterions, norms, values and knowledge that I learned to trust in my life. This is true always, at least for me and for all other genuine individualists - but I also have learned that most people are not - real - individuals, or only believe or pretend they are, while in fact they are followers, indeed like the vast majority.
Then again, while I have learned most of what I did learn from books (which is in fact the same for everyone who knows anything theoretical or scientific) and from thinking over what I learned, this is not true of my daily experiences nor of the daily news.
And I have found, indeed mostly since 2001, that decent daily news comes from few only, and none
of my real purveyors of news belong to the mainstream media: I anyway
do not have a TV since 1970 (for I hate propaganda) and most of the
more or less reliable news these days comes from Democracy Now!,
Truthdig, AlterNet, Consortiumnews, Common Dreams and Mother Jones (and
some sites of individuals).
Finally, while all of these might have been better, I like all of the
above, and I think they are run by mostly responsible mostly honest
persons, which in the end is all I can ask (for I neither ask nor desire agreement with my own views).
There is more to be said, but for the moment this is enough, and this
is a recommended article, in which there is a lot more than I quoted.
4. 'Quiet No More':
Hundreds of Thousands Ready to Strike on May Day
The fourth article today is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:
This has the following introduction:
In fact, I realized yesterday that tomorrow
is May Day, that I myself in fact mostly recall from the 1950ies, when
there still was something left from the earlier larger festivities on
May Day. This disappeared since then (and had already mostly
disappeared by 1958) although it has been "revived" a very little bit
later, by trade unions, but less of a festivity for the working class
than as of a reason to strike.
'The only way to take action against our rigged economy is
by coming together and working to raise wages and working standards for
all of us'
Also, I do like to point out that the above end, namely "working to raise wages and working standards for
all of us" is quite different from the end of section 2 (and - it seems to me - a bit more realistic).
Here is more on the present May Day:
Hundreds of thousands of immigrants and allies are expected
to strike and protest on Monday, taking part in what organizers are
hoping will be the
largest national strike since the May Day demonstrations of 2006.
"I definitely think this is going to be one of the biggest
May Day marches," Kent Wong, executive director of the UCLA Labor
The Nation, which noted that "[t]he turbulent Trump
era and draconian attacks on immigrant communities all but guarantee a
bigger and more passionate turnout than usual this year."
I hope so. This is from the end of the article:
Furthermore, progressive advocacy groups are framing May
Day as a chance to highlight the intersectional nature of key
movements, including those pursuing labor rights, climate action, and
racial justice. Already, dozens of climate groups have pledged
their support for striking workers.
And Mother Jones reports
that on Monday, "a coalition of nearly 40 advocacy groups, is
holding actions across the nation related to workers' rights, police
brutality and incarceration, immigrants' rights, environmental justice,
indigenous sovereignty, and LGBT issues—and more broadly railing
against a Trump agenda organizers say puts them all at risk."
The effort, organized under the banner "Beyond the Moment,"
recognizes that "it's going to take all of our movements in order to
fight and win right now," Patrisse Cullors, a co-founder of one of the
Black Lives Matter groups involved, told Mother Jones.
And that seems both a good idea and a correct assessment of the present situation, and this is a recommended article.
5. When Communism
The fifth article and last article today is by Vivian Gormick (<-Wikipedia) on the New York Times:
This starts as follows:
At a rally in New York City in 1962, the famously liberal journalist
Murray Kempton said to an audience full of old Reds: “I have known many
Communists in my life. I have not known them as criminals. I knew them
once as activists — and we had our quarrels. But while this country has
not been kind to you, it has been fortunate in having you. You have been
arrested, you have been followed, you have had your phones bugged, you
have had your children fired. Throughout this, I can think of numbers of
you I have known who have remained gallant and pleasant and unbroken.”
He added, “I salute you and I hope for times to be better.”
This sounds rather fair, especially for
1962, which was after Khrushchev's 1956 speech on the horrors of
Stalin's rule, and in the USA also after a period of McCarthyism.
And in fact, being not an American, I learned about Vivian Gormick's existence (who is meanwhile 81) only today.
Here is what she tells about her parents:
My parents were working-class socialists. I grew up in the late 1940s
and early ’50s thinking of them and their friends as what they
themselves called “progressives.” The sociology of the progressive world
was complex. At its center were full-time organizers for the Communist
Party, at the periphery left-wing sympathizers, and at various points in
between everything from rank-and-file party card holders to respected
I am 15 years yonger than she is, and my parents were working-class communists.
Also, my parents were very honest and quite courageous persons, whose
choice for communism was made in 1935 (for my father) and in the early
1940s (for my mother) because the communists were the only political party to resist the Nazis in Holland:
Their choices were first and foremost motivated by anti-fascism,
and secondly by the fact that in the 1930ies and early 1940s there were
quite a large number of communists or sympathizers with communism, and
also by the fact that it still was
possible for many, including my parents, to believe that the
Soviet-Union of their days was genuinely socialist, and marked the future of humanity.
And in fact I think, indeed since 1970
when I was 20, that my parents were mistaken about communism and also
mistaken about Soviet socialism, but (i) my parents were honest and
intelligent, (ii) they had both, like my father's father, risked both
their lives and being tortured by joining the communist resistance
against the Nazis, which had killed my grandfather (murdered in a
concentrationcamp) and had locked up my father for more than 3 years
and 9 months in several German concentrationcamps as a "political
terrorist", which also meant that (iii) they had had extremely strong and quite particular motivations for them to remain communists after WW II, while finally (iv) almost everyone is mistaken, both in politics and in religion.
I lacked the second and third motive, which made it much easier for me
to see through the fake socialism of the Soviet Union (which I did
already in 1964: No way did I believe that the German Democratic
Republic was socialist, in any realist sense: it was a military
dictatorship) and also to see through Marxism, though that took a
considerable amount of reading and studying between 1964 and 1970.
And finally, I also should remark that my choices and my conclusions were completely individualistic: Absolutely no one else of my age, whether with communist parents or without communist parents, made my choices, and in fact quite a lot of persons of roughly my age (born after WW II) became
communists or "communists" from 1970 onwards, and especially students,
again especially in - traditionally leftist - Amsterdam and in the
University of Amsterdam. 
Here is Vivian Gormick on how she experienced the grown-ups in her home in the 1940ies:
understood nothing of what they said, but I was always excited by the
richness of their rhetoric, the intensity of their arguments, the
urgency and longing behind that hot river of words that came pouring
ceaselessly from them.
were voyagers on that river, these plumbers, pressers and sewing
machine operators; and they took with them on their journey not only
their own narrow, impoverished experience but also a set of abstractions
with transformative powers. When these people sat down to talk,
Politics sat down with them, Ideas sat down with them; above all,
History sat down with them. They spoke and thought within a context that
lifted them out of the nameless, faceless obscurity into which they had
been born, and gave them the conviction that they had rights as well as
obligations. They were not simply the disinherited of the earth, they
were proletarians with a founding myth of their own (the Russian
Revolution) and a civilizing worldview (Marxism).
I did understand that both of my parents
were genuine revolutionaries, who wanted to end capitalism and replace
it by socialism, when I was 7, which was in 1957, and made
them quite special in Holland, though not unique, for something similar
was thought by some 10,000 other members of the Dutch Communist Party,
quite a few of whom lived in Amsterdam and were friends or
acquaintances of my parents.
The second of the above two paragraphs is
quite good: Yes indeed, this was also how quite a few of the Dutch
communists thought, felt and talked, and my father - who was very
intelligent with an IQ over 135, and a good speaker and conversationalist
- who always was a genuine believer in socialism and communism, was one
of the most outspoken.
Also, here is one background remark one
has to keep in mind: The great majority of the Dutch communists were
genuine proletarians, who did earn very little between 1900 and 1960
(!!) and had to work hard to get that little, but their position was
already quite a lot less miserable (is the correct expression) than the
proletarians of the 19th Century.
And there is this about the American Communist Party:
While it is true that thousands of people joined the Communist Party in
those years because they were members of the hardscrabble working class
(garment district Jews, West Virginia miners, California fruit pickers),
it was even truer that many more thousands in the educated middle class
(teachers, scientists, writers) joined because for them, too, the party
was possessed of a moral authority that lent shape and substance,
through its passion for structure and the eloquence of its rhetoric, to
an urgent sense of social injustice.
I think this was roughly the same in
Holland, although in Holland - it seems - there were proportionally
(and absolutely) fewer from the educated middle class who joined,
certainly after 1950.
Here is one difference that 15 years difference in birth makes:
I was 20 years old in April 1956 when Nikita Khrushchev addressed the 20th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party
and revealed to the world the incalculable horror of Stalin’s rule.
Night after night the people at my father’s kitchen table raged or wept
or sat staring into space. I was beside myself with youthful rage.
“Lies!” I screamed at them. “Lies and treachery and murder. And all in
the name of socialism! In the name of socialism!” Confused and
heartbroken, they pleaded with me to wait and see, this couldn’t be the
whole truth, it simply couldn’t be. But it was.
20th Congress report brought with it political devastation for the
organized left around the world. Within weeks of its publication, 30,000
people in this country quit the party, and within the year it was as it
had been in its 1919 beginnings: a small sect on the American political
was almost 6 in April 1956, and did know nothing about politics, as
yet, and this mostly passed me without my noticing it. And for my
parents and most Dutch com- munists (who were mostly not from the middle class) it created some problems but
no major shift in opinions, desires or values (which was a mistake but a fact).
Also, the Dutch Communist Party did grow
again between 1970 and 1983, but it grew mostly by getting more
students as members, whose values and ideas turned out to be quite
different from those of the older proletarians (many of whom had
survived WW II as members of the resistance).
In fact, together with the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991, this also caused the collapse of the Dutch
Communist Party in 1991.
And I found this a quite good article,
which I recommend, probably not for my particular reasons, which are
memories of my parents, but in order to make the point that the vast
majority of people who were attracted to communism or socialism were no
traitors at all, but were normally quite decent, quite intelligent
persons, who also made - at least in the 1930ies and 19940ies - quite
common and quite respectable political choices.