Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Crisis: AlterNet Editorial, Civil Rights, Social Media, Bosses+Money, On The Hippies (1967)

Sections                                                                     crisis index

1. Summary
2. Crisis Files
    A. Selections from July 18, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, July 18, 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 18, 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. Editorial: What Can We Really Do About Trump? And What Is Trump Doing to Us?

This is by the editor of AlterNet, Don Hazen. It starts as follows:

Many of us feel like we’re in an unfamiliar and disorienting situation. We’ve never imagined, much less experienced anything remotely like the behavior and attitude of Donald Trump. In this new reality, we live in a state where our leader—the most powerful person in the world—lies consistently, is completely unreliable and cannot be trusted.

Initially, it seemed like Trump's presidency would be a bad, but short and unfinished joke. He couldn’t possibly last. He would be dispensed with, either by his own self-destruction or his impeachment. But most of us have recognized by now that won’t likely happen. The most conservative Congress in the last 100 years wants to impose draconian changes on our society directly inspired by Ayn Rand. For now it appears that Republicans have decided keeping Trump in place is the best strategy for achieving their goals. What’s more, even if Trump’s presidency ended today, Mike Pence could be even worse, as Al Franken notes.

Trump’s incompetence and GOP infighting have prevented conservatives from wreaking large-scale devastation so far. But that could quickly change.

So what is to be done? We at AlterNet have concluded that a vibrant, effective political opposition requires that we grapple with what is needed, both strategically and emotionally, without illusion. It is important to make use of our anger and constantly push back. But we also need to be realistic about what works and has a decent chance of success. At the same time, we must be aware of the toll Trump may be taking on our psyches and our souls.

To that end, AlterNet is developing multiple new initiatives we hope together will provide a source of needed information for the future. One effort, the Trump Trauma Project, is launching today. More about that in a moment.

There is considerably more and this is a recommended article. 

2. The Incredible Lost History of How “Civil Rights Plus Full Employment Equals Freedom”

This is by Jon Schwarz on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Washington, D.C.’s think tanks produce a tsunami of studies, reports and manifestos. Most of it has a readership that, outside of wonks and reporters, could be counted on the fingers of one hand.

It truly matters that this not be the fate of a new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, Fed Up, and the Center for Popular Democracy.

Titled “The Full Employment Mandate of the Federal Reserve: Its Origins and Importance” – WAIT, don’t switch tabs and check Facebook! – it’s a history of the economic policies of the civil rights movement, the movement’s focus on capturing the Fed’s power to generate full employment, how they partially succeeded, and why we have to fight right now to preserve their accomplishments. It deserves to be discussed and carefully studied by absolutely everyone on the left side of the political spectrum — Democrats, Greens, Hillaryites, Berners, Autonomous Collectives, and miscellaneous.

Before looking at what the paper says in detail, I want to explain my own perspective on why it’s so significant.

Ask yourself this: When was the last time you sat around with your family and friends talking about the Federal Reserve? By far the most likely answer is never, because you are normal human beings.

But when was the last time you all hashed over one of you needing a job, or your health care coverage, or your asshole boss, or the chances you’ll get laid off? The answer to that is, you never stop talking about it.

The combination of these two things is truly bizarre, because the Fed has more power than any institution over everything about work in America.

I agree and there is considerably more in this recommended article.

3. How Social Media Is Dumbing Down Our Society

This is by Angelo Young on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

In our digital era of smartphones and social media, it seems nearly everyone suffers from communication overload. Less than 15 years ago, most netizens had just one or two email accounts, texting was tedious and costly, and mobile phones were primarily used to make, well, phone calls.

Today, it’s common for people to manage numerous social media accounts and email addresses. One recent estimate claimed the average internet user has sevensocial media accounts — excluding email. Chunky mobile phones have been replaced by pocket touchscreen computers that constantly jingle and buzz notifications, pulling their owners away from face-to-face encounters with other human beings into a constantly churning social networking vortex.

Experts who look into such things say that while social networking has its benefits — professionally, personally, politically — it’s also dumbing down the ways people communicate with each other. Having so many channels of communication has overwhelmed our ability to thoughtfully interact online, encouraging cheap and easy forms of communication.

Instead of taking the time to formulate a thoughtful reply to an online friend’s social media post, social media users tend to gravitate to using an emoji or firing off a brief comment meant to convey little more than acknowledgment.

Mister Young is far more optimistic than I am, and he also gathers myself under his "our digital era of smartphones and social media".

I do not like that, because I have come to the conclusion that "our digital era" is the beginning of a planned neofascistic rule that gives all powers to the secret services and the government; that smartphones are computers that have been designed not to help you but to control you by knowing everything about you including where you are at any time; and that "social media" are groups of the most stupid people who all exchanged their privacies to allow spying on their persons, their values and their ideas, for the benefit of receiving targeted advertisements of things they like.

Besides, Twitter is one of the tools of the vast majority of truly stupid and thoroughly ignorant  people who at long last got a computer, generally in the form of a smartphone, that allows them "to write" and "to communicate" at the rate they - more or less - can afford: 140 characters a message, but with their full generally false name and a connection to their incredible selves.

I am sorry but this is neofascism, and I am at present part of its beginning, and I very much dislike it. I cannot do anything against it other than by writing the
crisis series and by refusing to get a smartphone or anything else than just one mail address and a - large - site, and by refusing to be part of the a-social media of - eager, willing, proud - slaves of Zuckerberg and Bezos and other billionaires who exploit the billions of the stupid and ignorant as much as they can by deceptions and destructions of their privacy.

And this is a recommended article but it is much too weak in my opinion. Then again, I do definitely not belong to the considerable "democratic majority" of the stupid and the ignorant with an IQ of 115 or less who at present are the vast majority on the internet, in the social media, and nearly everywhere else.

As far as I am concerned: I am glad I was born in 1950 and not later. Soon - if Trump does not blow up the world - there will not be anyone who remembers the days of relative freedom of the 1960ies and 1970ies anymore, and the standard of communi- cation will be 140 characters maximal, for ordinary men and women.

For more on
neofascism, the denial that truth exists, and the extremely sick atmosphere in the neofascist "University" of Amsterdam, see the notes to July 15, 2017.

neofascism (my definition) started in Holland in 1978, with the official opening of the academic year, when professor Brandt publicly pronounced in that opening the incredible lie that (literally, but translated):
"Everybody knows that truth does not exist."
This incredible lie, that logically implies that everybody knows there never was any fascism, that the Germans never killed any Jew, and that there never were any concentration camps, neither in Germany nor in the Soviet Union, was believed or at
least practised by 95% of the students and the staff in the "University" of Amsterdam since 1978.

This was counted by the votes that my pro real science party got, in 1982/83. And I was removed as "a fascist terrorist" from the legal right to take my M.A. in philosophy in 1988, since when neither the "University" of Amsterdam, nor the City of Amsterdam ,that had me - literally - gassed in 1988 because I protested the mayor's permission to illegal soft drugsdealers to deal from the bottom floor of my house, have given any serious reply to any of my letters and mail.

4. How Much Is a Boss Worth?

This is by Lawrence Wittner on Common Dreams. This is from the beginning:

As a 2016 nationwide survey reveals, 74 percent of Americans believe that top corporate executives are overpaid. This public dismay with CEO compensation exists despite the fact that Americans drastically underestimate what top corporate executives are paid every year. In fact, the survey found that CEO compensation at Fortune 500 companies was approximately ten times what the typical American thought it was.

What are these CEOs actually paid? According to a study for the Associated Press by the executive data firm Equilar, in 2016 the typical CEO at the S&P 500 companies received $11.5 million in salary, stock, and other compensation.

Of course, this was the median CEO income. Some were paid a great deal more. Thomas Rutledge (Charter Communications Inc.) received $98 million during 2016; Leslie Moonves (CBS Corp.) $68.6 million; Robert Iger (Walt Disney Co.) $41 million; and David Zaslav (Discovery Communications Inc.) $37.2 million. A few CEOs didn’t make the list because, as fantastically wealthy business owners (like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, collectively worth $146 billion), they didn’t bother taking a salary from their companies.

CEO income during 2016 reflected substantial increases over the preceding year, with the typical CEO getting an 8.5 percent raise. Some, especially the best-paid, received far more. Rutledge received a raise of 499 percent, while Moonves’s pay rose by 22 percent.

American workers haven’t been doing nearly as well. According to the AFL-CIO (which estimated average corporate CEO pay in 2016 at $13.1 million), the average production or other nonsupervisory worker earned only $37,632 that year. Thus, in 2016, there was a CEO-to-worker pay ratio of 347-to-1.

I say. This is one of the reasons why I say that in most cases neoliberalism = neofascism (as I defined that: see the last link). People who earn more than 300 times as much as the people they themselves help exploit are one of the best arguments that  capitalism is an extremely sick exploitative system of and for the few rich.

There is more in the article, which is recommended

5. In Search of the Lost Chord: Peace, Love and the Hippie Idea in 1967

This is by Danny Goldberg on Truthdig. It is a selection of the book of the above title and it starts as follows:

“There is a mysterious cycle in human events,” my parents’ idol Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed in the speech in which he also said that their generation had a “rendezvous with destiny.” The mystery that informed my own adult life revolves around a different rendezvous several decades after Roosevelt’s speech. I was sixteen and wide-eyed and there really was a moment when “peace and love” was not meant or taken ironically. In terms of mass popular American culture, that moment peaked in 1967. Where did it come from? Where did it go?

LISTEN: Music Industry Veteran Danny Goldberg on Channeling the Idealism of the Summer of Love

The hippie movement that swept through the Western world was like a galloping horse in the wild. A few dozen people were able to ride it for a while, some even steering it for a brief period, but no one—no philosopher, no spiritual figure, no dope dealer, no songwriter or artist, and certainly no political leader—ever controlled it. It was the original “open source.” From the influence of psychedelics to a widespread rebellious ethos that resisted any kind of authority within various countercultures, the era can only be understood through a collection of disparate, sometimes contradictory narratives.

David Crosby, Paul Kantner, and Robin Williams are among those who have been credited with the saying, “If you remember the sixties, then you weren’t really there.” The quote is usually deployed as a laugh line, as if anyone truly immersed in hippie culture would have been so stoned that they would have forgotten it all.

There is considerably more in the article, and since I was born in 1950 in Amsterdam (Holland) I do remember the Sixties and the Seventies quite well indeed, in part - perhaps - because I never used hard drugs, like David Crosby and many others did, and in part because I never considered myself a hippie in the Sixties or after: In the Sixties I was a neomarxist of my own invention, and from 1971 onwards I am best described as a philosophical anarchist [1].

Incidentally, since I do belong to the - quite - small minority of people who are intelligent, learned, and honest, I was called "a fascist" and "a terrorist" on the extremely sick "University" of Amsterdan, that removed me as "a fascist" and "a terrorist" very briefly before I could take my M.A. in philosophy, specifically because I was not a Marxist, and was pro real science, and also because I kept believing in truth:

These three attitudes could get you killed in the "University" of Amsterdam between 1971 and 1995, when there were at most 5% of the people studying there or teaching there who did believe in truth or in science, and indeed I was nearly killed there. For some more, see here.

And I liked this article: Goldberg is my age and I think he describes the Sixties quite well (although I don't agree with everything he said): It was - in my opinion, and seen not from the USA but from Amsterdam, Holland - rather as he descibed it.

This is a recommended article. Also, this was an addition on Truthdig to the following article that I picked up yesterday:

I found today that Truthdig had the excellent idea of providing - some of - the text to the audio. I may review that tomorrow. Meanwhile, the last link is also recommended.



[1] I am a philosophical anarchist mostly because I do not think anarchism as intended by the - individual, liberal - anarchists is a real social possibility without a considerable increase in the average intelligence. (I am very sorry, but that is what I think, indeed also since 1971.)

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