Thursday, August 17, 2017

Crisis: GOP as KKK, Trump Nazi Sympathizer?, Nuclear War, Lunatics, 1967 (bad review)

Sections                                                                     crisis index

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


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, August 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 [1] 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 (usually) 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 August 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:

This article is by Thom Hartmann on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

Why is it that the president and the vast majority of Republican elected officials are refusing to refer to the white Christian neo-nazis who committed mayhem and murder and, yes, terrorism, as exactly what they are? Why the false equivalence suggesting that antifascists and peace protesters are the same as Nazis and Klan members?

This is a fairly obvious pair of questions. Here is Hartmann's own answer, that seems correct in my eyes:

The answer is really simple: If you can’t win on issues, you go for what used to be called “wedge issues.”

The Republican Party has basically one goal and one reason for existence right now: to protect and promote the interests of the rich and powerful, be they billionaires or the big corporations that spawn them.

But no Republican will run a TV ad saying, “If elected, I promise to destroy the social safety net and give the money to the billionaires; I promise to increase the levels of pollution and cancer-causing chemicals in our food, air, and water; I promise to block renewable energy and increase your utility bills; I promise to cut the taxes of the fat-cats and record-profitable corporations, while throwing you a bone of a few hundred bucks.”

There is more in the article, that is recommended [2].

2. Is Donald Trump a Nazi Sympathizer?

This article is by Heather Digby Parton on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

While Americans have been polarized over many issues in over the last 70 years or so, if there was one thing we could truly say was a consensus position among people of all political stripes it was that Nazis were bad and that decent people shunned them.

Our president made it clear on Tuesday, once and for all, that he doesn’t agree with that.

Over the weekend President Trump had issued a very weak condemnation of the horrific events in Charlottesville, insisting that “many sides” were responsible for the violence. Forty-eight hours later, after tremendous public criticism, he came forward with an obviously insincere rote denunciation of white supremacy, Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan. But he couldn’t leave it at that.

It’s clearly impossible for Trump even to pretend to condemn far right white supremacists with whom he obviously feels sympathy. So on Tuesday he turned around and held a press conference in which he once again condemned counter-protesters and insisted that all the “good people” who were simply protesting the removal of the statue of Robert E. Lee had been treated abominably.

Ahem. I don't think you can infer that Trump is a Nazi sympathizer from the events in Charlottesville, while I think since a long time (February 2016) that Trump is a neofascist.

3. Taking Nuclear War Seriously

This article is by Denis J. Bernstein on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows (and consists mostly of an interview with John Pilger (<- Wikipedia):

Emmy-Award winning filmmaker John Pilger’s latest film, The Coming War on China, deals directly with the new projection of U.S. power into Asia, as well as the toll U.S. aggression has already taken on the people of the region.

Pilger started his career as a war correspondent in Vietnam and has been a strong critic of U.S. aggression in Asia ever since as he twice won Britain’s Journalist of the Year Award. I spoke to Pilger on August 8 about the dangers from the current face-off between the U.S. and North Korea.

This is all correct. Here is Pilger:

John Pilger: (..) The prospect of nuclear war is still a great abstraction. It is beyond most people’s imagination. But our imagination had better catch up pretty soon, when we see outrageous provocation such as this from the US Congress. These sanctions include the end of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Weapons Treaty signed by Reagan and Gorbachev, which marked the end of the Cold War. Bush II knocked out most of the treaties with Russia. This was a very important one and there you find it, buried in the sanctions. It is gone.

Yes, I agree. Then again - knowing rather a lot about WW II, that I did not live through - I think it is a fair statement that the majority of the people who are now alive (at least in Europe and the USA) do not seem to have adequate ideas of what a world war without atomic weapons is like.

The article ends as follows:

DB: What makes me really nervous is that Obama oversaw the largest weapons build-up ever and they are always looking for a war to test these weapons out.

JP: Yes, and Obama was awarded the Nobel Prize in part because he said that he was committed to getting rid of nuclear weapons. In fact, the Obama administration has committed the United States to spending about a trillion dollars over the next ten years developing nuclear weapons.

DB: Any final comments, John?

JP: To progressives, I would just say, politics isn’t a game. It isn’t just about oneself, it is about all of us. Whatever issues you think are important, to yourself or your group in isolation, in the end we have to think beyond that. We have to think in a communal way. These sanctions that Congress has pushed through without any opposition in the streets! All those people were out protesting Trump’s inauguration. Where were they when Congress was pushing through this lethal legislation?

I agree with Pilger that Obama was basically a fraud (a trillion dollars invested in nuclear war, while being given the Nobel Prize for Peace), and I also agree with his estimate of the leftist, liberal, and progressive protesters.

In brief, I am not optimistic (and neither is John Pilger) and this is a recommended article.

4. Cuckoo D'État: The Lunatics Have Taken Over the Asylum

This article is by Randall Amster on Common Dreams. This starts as follows:

In case it wasn’t already evident, by now it seems clear that we’re living in a moment when the lunatics have taken over the asylum. If you’re still not convinced, consider that the specter of plunging the world into the “fire and fury” of nuclear war wasn’t even the worst thing that happened in the last week or so. Instead, while political tensions and environmental conditions threaten to boil over everywhere, we have a president who can’t even muster a lucid response to the most obvious forms of abject hatred. As Senator Warren succinctly wrote following yet another perverse presidential performance, “This is sick.

Many have speculated why this President cannot straightforwardly condemn the evil in our midst, with perhaps the most frequent word associated with his overall demeanor being “unhinged.”
Well, I am a psychologist to whom it is obvious that Donald Trump satisfies all nine characteristics for being diagnosed as a megalomaniac (what people who believe in the bullshit psychiatry of the APA call "narcissists": I don't for I prefer English, but the characteristics are more or less correct). Then again, there are few psychologists, it seems...

Then there is this:
To view this through a lens of immanent fascism is becoming a mainstream position in the discourse here, and the global community has been processing it on these terms for a longer while now. Still, despite personal and political baggage that would have sunk any other national figure in recent memory, we’re continually subjected to indecorous displays, asinine rants, nonsensical tweets, and aberrant behavior.
First, I don't think Trump is a fascist, though I agree he is a neofascist, and there is a large overlap between the characteristics that I used to define either. And second, the reason that people are "continually subjected to indecorous displays, asinine rants" etc. is not that Trump is a neofascist but that he is a madman, who for that reason ought to be removed asap.

Finally, there is this:
Fascism is a form of collective insanity that devolves upon brutality and hatred to maintain its power. We have seen it too many times in this world; indeed, the mantra of “never again” was supposed to reflect not only a remembrance of history but a warning about the clear and present dangers to the future if these patterns go unchecked. In a country with deeply rooted unresolved issues of oppression and exploitation, a kernel of fascism has always existed alongside overtures to democracy and tolerance.

No, not really: Fascism is not "a form of collective insanity". If you want a decent definition of fascism (there are many, and none of the 21 definitions I considered - On Fascism and Neofascism: Definitions - define it as collective insanity) look under "fascism". I agree it is the denial of democracy and of tolerance, but then democracy and tolerance are quite late arrivals in government.

5. Flowers in Their Hair: The Summer of Love, 50 Years Later

This article is by Andrew Ferguson on The Weekly Standard and needs a little introduction:

I do remember The Sixties (<-Wikipedia) very well, and three important reasons for that are that I was born in 1950 and lived in Amsterdam (Holland), and also that I had very unconventional and quite radical parents.

And I had expected to read more about "The Summer of Love" in 2017, after having read a reasonable amount from 2007, than I did find in fact. There are several reasons for that, but I think the main reason is my age: Those who are to report in 2017 events that took place 50 years ago need to be at least 67 (or so) to remember them, and such people tend also to be pensioned now (as I am).

In any case, I found decidedly less in 2017 than there was to find in 2007 (and in fact I expect the same next year, when it is the 50th anniversary of "France 1968").

There is this article by Ferguson that does return to 1967, but unfortunately it is not by someone who lived through this year, while it also is rather condescending. This is from near the beginning:

Having come to an end half a century ago, the Summer of Love is one of those events San Francisco has never quite got over, like the gold rush and those two earthquakes. The summer of 1967 is considered by people who like to consider such things to be the high-water mark of the hippies, the climax of the counterculture, the Camelot moment when all that was lovely and innocent about the sixties blossomed fleetingly from the potential to the actual.

This is - more or less - true, but it is already somewhat condescending: "considered by people who like to consider such things", and this is the tone of the whole article.

Then there is this:

The message to museumgoers is clear: Just because the Summer of Love took place 50 long years ago, well before most of you were born — before 60 percent of the country was born — nobody should get the idea that it’s something irrelevant, some dim event from antiquity like the Wars of the Roses or the Annexation of Guam. The street signs trace a genealogy from then to now. Without the hippies’ belief in free love, there’d be no gay marriage. The Whole Earth Catalog was the foreshadowing of the Internet. No civil rights movement in the 1960s would mean no #blacklivesmatter today. Many of the things that thrill a millennial heart sprouted in the Summer of Love. With no hippies, we’d have no hipsters. Think of it.

Clearly, these are exaggerations (free love, gay marriage; Whole Earth, Internet; civil rights, blacklivesmatter), but Ferguon presents them as if they were what people thought in the 1960ies, which is baloney: No one in the 1960ies could predict the 2010s.

There is also this:

For his part, the historian William Schnabel, in his Summer of Love and Haight, says the January Be-In was not the beginning but the peak of the hippie era, and by the time summer rolled around it was more or less kaput. This would mean that the Summer of Love was over before it began. (Maybe the hippies really did discover an alternative reality.)

I think Schnabel may be more or less correct and in any case, having learned a considerable amount about the San Francisco Diggers (<- Wikipedia) recently - see here and here [3] - I do agree that 1967 was the radical year in San Francisco (but the last bracketed sentence is again condescending).

Then there is this:

Whenever the SOL began, whenever it ended, the basic storyline is always the same: a dream of Utopia, an Eden of innocence, and then the Fall. The dream was the recurring dream of antinomianism — the belief that all traditional arrangements of morality, family, commerce, and religion can be discarded and arrangements of one’s own devising put in their place. “Western civilization is up for grabs,” said one hippie leader, and “a new mode of being” was being born. McNally, the historian, says the movement took aim at what was assumed to be the heart of American culture. The hippies, he writes, “challenged the nuclear family, materialism, violence, the Vietnam war, and the bulk of the ideas they’d been raised on.”

I more or less agree on what Ferguson calls "the basic storyline", but like to remark that this - rough and very schematic - storyline is the same for any radical movement through the ages.

Next, while it is more or less correct that the counterculture (<- Wikipedia) “challenged the nuclear family, materialism, violence, the Vietnam war, and the bulk of the ideas they’d been raised on”, it seems a - facile - mistake to identify the counterculture and the hippies (<-Wikipedia): The ideas and values of the counterculture comprised rather a lot more than the "Peace and Love" ideals - "Sex and Drugs and Rock'n Roll" - that characterized the majority ot those called hippies (as indeed was quite clear by 1967).

There is this on Peter Coyote (<-Wikipedia):

Still a political activist, he has become a face for the 50th anniversary, turning up on radio, appearing in documentaries by the BBC and PBS, and sitting in on chin-wags in various venues. But he’s had enough. He turned down a request to be interviewed for this article. “I’m all ‘Summered’ out,” he said.

I did not see anything by Coyote on the fiftieth anniversary of the Summer of Love, but then I live in Holland and not in the USA.

There is this on George Harrison (<-Wikipedia), which seems more or less correct:

“I went there expecting it to be a brilliant place,” Harrison said years later, “with groovy gypsy people making works of art and paintings and carvings in little workshops. But it was full of horrible spotty drop-out kids on drugs. . . .

“I could only describe it as being like the Bowery: a lot of bums and drop-outs, many of them very young kids who’d dropped acid and come from all over America to this Mecca of LSD. It certainly showed me what was really happening in the drug culture. It wasn’t what I’d thought — spiritual awakenings and being artistic — it was like alcoholism, like any addiction.”

Finally, here are - what seem to be - the values of Ferguson (who I cannot possibly imagine as having lived through the Sixties as a teenager or a twen):

In all the celebrations of the Summer of Love, you will look in vain for a hint of remorse or self-blame. Not an “oops,” not a “yikes, I think we went a little overboard that time,” not a “boy, I’d like a do-over on 1967.” baby boomers, especially the ex-hippie division, are averse to second-guessing themselves. Nowhere in the literature have I found a hint of one explanation that is far more obvious and plausible than the others.

Which is this: The seeds of the destruction of the Haight experiment could be found in its own antinomianism, in its original inspiration. Maybe the wholesale rejection of time-honored and time-tested values — monogamy, moderation, good manners, self-denial, self-control, the sanctity of private property, personal accountability to higher authorities, both material and spiritual — leads to squalor and misery. Maybe the project they’re celebrating in San Francisco this summer was doomed from the start.

I am sorry, but the first paragraph is simply false: If Ferguson had read more of Peter Coyote (see for example here) or had forgotten less, he would know this as well as I do.

And the second paragraph amounts to this: Be normal, be conformist, be accountable "to higher authorities", "both material and spiritual", and you are a right little bourgeois , and if not you are a miserably wrong hippie.

O Lord!


[1] I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that is systematically ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds, as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.

They have claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie. They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.

And they just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my ideas. They have behaved now for 1 1/2 years as if they are the eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I will from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).

The only two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any other Dutch provider is any better.

I remind you (again) that when I say "an article is recommended" I mean that I recommend you to read it all (which you can do by clicking its title).

[3] I did read quite a lot about the Diggers since April 2017, and I will write at least one more article about them, but I have to admit I somewhat turned away from them after learning that they were heavily into hard drugs.

I think that was a major mistake, and one that I - and most of my radical friends from the 1960s - avoided, simply because it was clear then, around 1967, as it is clear now: You probably will get hooked on hard drugs if you use them, and this may destroy your life or your health.
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