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Nederlog

Monday, May 1, 2017

Crisis: Idiots (Egoists), "Fighting Tyranny", Who To Trust, May Day, American Communism

Sections                                                                     crisis index
Introduction

1. Reign of Idiots
2.
"Weekends Are for Fighting Tyranny": 350.org's Bill McKibben
     on People's Climate March

3. The Existential Question of Whom to Trust
4.
'Quiet No More': Hundreds of Thousands Ready to Strike on
     May Day

5. When Communism Inspired Americans
Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Monday
, May 1, 2017.

Summary: This is a
crisis log with five items and five links: Item 1 is about an article by Chris Hedges (and I think he should have spoken of egoists rather than idiots); item 2 is about Bill McKibben and the climate (and McKibben is not quite like my parents); item 3 is about a good article by Robert Parry; item 4 is about May Day rallies (which happen today) and is quite good; and item 5 is an article I found quite interesting, namely about American communism (which I do because both of my parents were - lifelong, intelligent, sincere - communists (and both died the previous century)), but it may be interesting for those who do not know that, at least in the 1930ies and 1940ies, most communists were quite decent, quite intelligent persons who, then and there at least, made quite common and quite respectable political choices.
May 1: As to the updating problem: The Danish site was again on time today. The Dutch site is still running behind at April 26. They did it well from 1996 till 2015, updating within minutes at most. I think they totally stopped doing this to limit the readings of my site. I think (but I don't know anything whatsoever about "xs4all") they now update once a week, which means that they are - for me - over 10,000 times worse than they were between 1996 and 2015.

These horrors happen now for the 16th month in succession. And they happen on purpose, because it is extremely simple to do this properly, and it was done properly from 1996 till late in 2015. (If you want these horrors, then sign in with "xs4all.nl"; if not, avoid them like the plague.)

And I have to add that about where my site on xs4all.nl stuck for others I have NO idea AT ALL: It may be December 31, 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.)
1. Reign of Idiots

The first article today is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:

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 fantasy.

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 falsifications:

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, Pahlavi 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 majority.

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 [1] - 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 [2] 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 well-educated ones).

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 [3]):

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 victims.

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

The second 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 tyranny."
I 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 US population).

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 per million.

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:

BILL MCKIBBEN: 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.

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.

My parents, at least, were real revolutionairies and worked for the revolution most of the day and all week.

3. 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 professionalism.

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. [4]

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:

'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'

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.

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 Center, told 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 Inspired Americans

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 fellow travelers.

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. [5]

Here is Vivian Gormick on how she experienced the grown-ups in her home in the 1940ies:

I 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.

They 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.

The 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 map.

I 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.

---------------
Notes

[1] In fact, I tend to use "leftists" for people who advertise themselves as Leftists, but are not, and one of the differences between real Leftists and "leftists" is that the former affirm and the latter deny that people differ not only in length, in strength and in appearance, but also in intelligence.

For example, I have been told in 1989, by a "leftist" student that she and everybody else was "as intelligent as Newton and Einstein" because there was no difference in intelligence: There was only a difference in emotions, which made her and others feel more like dancing than like doing mathematics. When I politely denied this, indeed with the current argument, I was told that, therefore, "I was something like a fascist".

(As you see, I don't easily forget such encounters, of which I had quite a few. And in fact this woman probably had an IQ not much different from the average IQ in the University of Amsterdam: 115.)

[2] See the beginning of Note 1.

[3] As I did: I was systematically discriminated as "a fascist" for something like 10 years because I was not a communist (and most students of philosophy seem to have been "communists" then); then I was illegally removed from the right of doing an M.A. in philosophy (which would have been excellent, like my psychology M.A.); and also was gassed (literally), threatened with murder, and kept out of sleep for 3 1/2 years because I dared protest the illegal dealings of illegal drugs that the mayor of Amsterdam, Ed van Thijn, had illegally allowed to two of his friends from the bottom floor of the house where I lived.

This degenerate has not even acknowledged the receipt of my letters that I handed personally to his personal doorman (since 1991, since when there has been illegally dealt in Holland something like 10 billion euroos in soft drugs, each year. But hardly a Dutchman cares, and most Dutchmen don't know even these facts, for the Dutch press does not report them. ("And so everything is very fine in Holland.")

[4] In fact, there is an explanation for the great increase in egoism (which I think is a fact), and that explanation starts from the fact that many social relations between men have been destroyed, which means that most men live very much more "on themselves" than was the case in the past.

[5] And that happened because in 1971 the students had gotten - effectively - all the powers in the universities, because the universities were then reformed into a parliamentary system, both for the whole university and for each faculty, where these parliaments were supposed to hold most of the powers in the university or the faculty, while these were all elected with ordinary majority of votes: Each professor, each lecturer, each student, each secretary, and each toilet cleaner (if in service of the University) got 1 vote. This meant the students always had the absolute majority, which in turn meant in Amsterdam (and other places, like Nijmegen) that the communist students, who also were well organized, had the absolute power always, from 1971 till 1995, when the whole system was completely turned back to the authoritarian structures of the 1960ies. The only thing that needs to be added in this brief synopsis is that from 1984 onwards most students were postmodernists rather than communists.


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