Monday, July 17, 2017

Crisis: Eugene Debs, Trump*2, 1984 Groceries, Decashing Ordinary Men

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 17, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Monday, July 17, 2017.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last four years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch) and about the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I probably will continue with it, but on the moment I have several problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible and with my health.

As I explained, the crisis files will have a different format from July 1, 2017: I will now list the items I selected as I did before (title + link) but I add one selection from the selected item to give my readers a bit of a taste of the item linked.

So the new format is as follows:

      Link to an item with its orginal title, followed by
      One selection from that item (indented)
      Possibly followed by a brief comment by me (not indented).

This is illustrated below, in selections A.

2. Crisis Files

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:

A. Selections from July 17, 2017

The items 1 - 5 are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning. The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts the item. Unindented text is by me:

1. Eugene Debs and the Kingdom of Evil

This is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Eugene Victor Debs, whose home is an infrequently visited museum on the campus of Indiana State University, was the most important political figure of the 20th century. He built the socialist movement in America and was eventually crucified by the capitalist class when he and hundreds of thousands of followers became a potent political threat.
First of all: Who was Eugene Debs? He was a real [1] American socialist, who lived from 1855 till 1926. The last link is to the Wikipedia. And I agree with Chris Hedges that he was a quite interesting and courageous man.

Here is some on Debs's ideas:

Debs came to the conclusion that no strike or labor movement could ultimately be successful as long as the government was controlled by the capitalist class. Any advances made by an organized working class would be reversed once the capitalists regained absolute power, often by temporarily mollifying workers with a few reforms. Working men and women had to achieve political power, a goal of Britain’s Labour Party for workers at the time, or they would forever be at the mercy of the bosses.

Debs feared the rise of the monolithic corporate state. He foresaw that corporations, unchecked, would expand to “continental proportions and swallow up the national resources and the means of production and distribution.” If that happened, he warned, the long “night of capitalism will be dark.”

Yes, I agree. Indeed, this is an important part of my reason to be some kind of - anti- totalitarian - socialist. Also, I think the difference between capitalism and - anti- totalitarian - socialism are in the end ethical and legal, and not technological.

Here is some more on Debs:
Debs, although a sworn enemy of the capitalist elites, was adamantly opposed to violence and sabotage, arguing that these actions allowed the state to demonize the socialist movement and enabled the destructive efforts of agents provocateurs. The conflict with the capitalist class, Debs argued, was at its core about competing values. In an interview conducted while he was in jail after the Pullman strike, he stressed the importance of “education, industry, frugality, integrity, veracity, fidelity, sobriety and charity.”
I quite agree, although at the present time, when everybody has his or her own personal dossier both with many secret services and with many corporations, and when the media are mostly spreading lies and propaganda in the interests of their rich owners, it probably is too late to do anything effective against the rich: As soon as one gets effective, the secret services will try to kill it, and very probably will succeed.

Here is Debs quoted, from his trial in 1918 (there is quite a bit more, all very well worth reading):

I believe, Your Honor, in common with all Socialists, that this nation ought to own and control its own industries. I believe, as all Socialists do, that all things that are jointly needed and used ought to be jointly owned—that industry, the basis of our social life, instead of being the private property of a few and operated for their enrichment, ought to be the common property of all, democratically administered in the interest of all. 

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.

Again I quite agree, and these were also the ideals of my (communist) parents and (anarchist and communist) grandparents.

And here is Chris Hedges, from page 4 of his article:

We have returned to an oligarchic purgatory. Wall Street and the global corporations, including the fossil fuel industry and the war industry, have iron control over the government. The social, political and civil rights won by workers in long and bloody struggles have been stripped away. Government regulations have been rolled back to permit capitalists to engage in abuse and fraud. The political elites, along with their courtiers in the media and academia, are hapless corporate stooges. Social and economic inequality replicates the worst excesses of the robber barons. And the great civic, labor and political organizations that fought for working men and women are moribund or dead.

We have to begin all over again.

I agree, but my own conclusion is that this has very little chance of succeeding, except if there is another economical crisis. Then again, this may happen any time now, so there is some hope left.

And this is a strongly recommended article, with a lot more.

2. Trump Is Ushering in a Dark New Conservatism

This is by Timothy Snyder on AlterNet and originally on The Guardian. It starts as follows:

In his committed mendacity, his nostalgia for the 1930s, and his acceptance of support from a foreign enemy of the United States, a Republican president has closed the door on conservatism and opened the way to a darker form of politics: a new right to replace an old one.

I like Timothy Snyder, and wrote more about him. See - for example - here and here.
In the rest of this article he more or less defends conservatism as was. He doesn't mention Eisenhower and MacMillan, but he might have. He does mention Edmund Burke, and is quite right in that.

Then again that kind of classical conservatism is mostly dead, as are the ideas of classical socialism (see item 1) and not because they were wrong (although they can't be both right), but because both presumed truth and facts, while in these postmodern
days "Everybody knows that truth does not exist" (as I and everybody else was taught in the "University" of Amsterdam since 1978 (!!)):

We are living now in the days of the terrorists from many secret services who have been allowed to destroy anyone's privacy and compile dossiers on everybody. and we are living not in the days when the mainstream medias engage mostly in propaganda,
lies and deceptions.

And Trump never was a conservative, and always as a neofacist (in my sense), besides being a megalomaniac madman.

3. Trump Is a Cornered Animal, and He's Dangerous

This is by William Rivers Pitt on AlterNet and originally on Truthout. It starts as follows:
You have to hand it to this First Family. As advertised, they do nothing small. Buildings wreathed in gold, steaks thicker than city sidewalks, golf courses manicured like supermodels … and scandals rich enough to clot the blood. The present Russia eruption is a sumptuous feast with all the trimmings, served by a court jester named Junior who, as Stephen Colbert recently observed, decided to be his own "Deep Throat" on the front page of every news publication on the planet.
Yes, indeed. It ends thus:

Thanks to the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, Trump has the power to start and/or escalate wars at will, and war is a time-tested method of distraction. He still has control over a vast nuclear arsenal. The current scandal is yet another glaring indication that Trump and his people are more than comfortable engaging in shady dealings behind closed doors. Plus, in the event of a terrorist attack, real or imagined, Trump has astonishing police powers at his disposal. None of us can accurately guess what he's capable of as president.

This is not alarmism. This is enlightened self-interest. Fear and vigilance are highly appropriate responses at this juncture. More than at any point since January, Donald Trump is, right now, the most dangerous man in the world.

I quite agree. In fact, I still think it is 50/50 that mankind will reach 2021 without a major atomic war. And this is a recommended article.

4. 1984 at the Grocery Store

This is by Jim Hightower on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:

Wall Street analysts tell us that Amazon’s $14 billion buyout of Whole Foods isn't only a win-win for both of them, but also for consumers, for Amazon intends to lower the organic grocer's prices.

Really? Yes, they say, because Amazon will use its amazing computer-driven tactics to cut Whole Foods' cost of selling groceries.

But Amazon’s robotic "efficiency" is achieved by cutting people. It ruthlessly squeezes suppliers, for example, demanding that they give bankruptcy-level wholesale prices to the retail colossus.

That means that small organic farmers and food artisans are destined to be squeezed out of Whole Foods, displaced by deep-pocket, global food makers who are willing to cut corners on quality and the environment in order to get on Amazon’s new grocery shelves.

Yes, but Jim Hightower does not mention the fact that the large majority of ordinary men are quite willingly collaborating with Amazon, simply to save themselves a few pennies.

It ends thus:

According to the calendar, we're living in 2017. But the Brave New Future of Amazon’s electronic, robotic Whole Foods Market tells us we're living in the corporatized version of 1984, where human needs for jobs and personal relationships are subverted to the corporate love of automation and avaricious profits.

I agree, but this also is "according to The Will Of The Majority", who rather save pennies for themselves than protecting small shops and small farms.

5. People Not Amused by EU Efforts to “De-Cash” their Lives

This is by Don Quijones on Wolf Street. It starts as follows:

In January 2017 the European Commission announced it was exploring the option of imposing upper limits on cash payments, with a view to implementing cross-regional measures as soon as 2018. To give the proposal a veneer of respectability and accountability the Commission launched a public consultation on the issue. Now, the answers are in, but they are not what the Commission was expecting.

A staggering 95% of the respondents said they were opposed to a cash ceiling at EU level. Even more emphatic was the answer to the following question:

“How would the introduction of restrictions on payments in cash at EU level benefit you, or your business or your organisation (multiple replies are possible)?”

In the curious absence of an explicit “not at all” option, 99.18% chose to respond with “no answer.” In other words, less than 1% of the more than 30,000 people consulted could think of a single benefit of the EU unleashing cross-regional cash limits.

First note "the curious absence". And second, stopping cash means that absolutely every ordinary man will be a slave of the banks: What you "own" will not be currency, but a number in Your Proud Bank That Fully Owns You.

There is considerably more in the article, that is recommended.



[1] I have to qualify with "real", simply because all "communists" and all "socialists" that effectively ruled the Dutch "universities" between 1971 and 1995 were quasi-communists and quasi-socialists (who got their way by accusing this real socialist that I am "a fascist terrorist", which was also their ground for letting me be terrorized by a madman for three years, and then for denying my right of taking my M.A. in philosophy in 1988: I was not a Marxist and I was pro - real - science, and both of these opinions were quite dangerous to hold in the "University" of Amsterdam between 1977 and 1995, when the "University" was led by an utterly insane "parliamentary" system, that was unique in the world).

All of them acted as neofascist neoliberals, and all of the leaders of the ("communist") ASVA and of the ("socialist") Board of Directors knew this quite well (and all of the leaders of the "communist" ASVA explicitly or implicitly declared themselves "neo-conservatives" or "neo-liberals" by 1991, briefly after the collapse of the Communist Party, and briefly after the collapse of Soviet "socialism". Oh they were so honorable, so honest, so ethical!

If you believe that the present "University" of Amsterdam is a real university you must be "a social democrat" or have an IQ that is 115 at most (which covers the majority of the Dutch).

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