Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Crisis: On "Fake News", On Lenin, On the Nazis, Existing Law, Unending Emergency

Sections                                                crisis index

1. Summary
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 17, 2017 


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
, October 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 will continue with it.

On the moment and since nearly two years (!!!!) I have problems with the company that is supposed to take care that my site is visible [1] and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and will continue.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from October 17, 2017
1. Understanding the ‘Fake News’ Hysteria
2. Martin Amis on Lenin’s Deadly Revolution
3. How Nazis Used Jim Crow Laws as the Model for
     Their Own Race Laws

4. Existing Law May Not Solve Our Presidential Crisis
5. The Unending State of Emergency
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. Understanding the ‘Fake News’ Hysteria

This article is by David  P. Hamilton on Consortiumnews.  It starts as follows (and "MSM" = "mainstream media"):

For the most part, “fake news” is a fake concept designed by the corporate news media to discredit those who challenge the official U.S. hegemonic narrative. The typical MSM fake news accusation starts with some egregious fictionalization and then morphs over to the real targets: the subversives, those who would dispute foundational elements of the official history or its recent approved updates.

These subversive elements are likely to question important myths, such as the necessity of the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima or – before the Iraq War – Saddam Hussein possessing WMD, and hence must be silenced.

I mostly agree and I also have two additions:

First, "fake news" is a propaganda term because of the term "fake". It should read "false" or "lying" news, while "fake" leaves open in what sense "the news" is "fake": It is false and lying because it has been made by falsifiers and liars, who are out to deceive their readers or viewers.

Second, "the mainstream media", that all engage in producing false and lying news do so in different proportions, but in any case the whole mindset the editors and journalists who do intentionally lie to and deceive their readers and viewers have a totalitarian mindset (in my sense of "totalitarian": click the last link for my definition).

Here is more by David Hamilton on how the mainstream media lie and deceive their audiences:

The approved rendition of U.S. history is a composite of lies, euphemisms and dubious rationales taught in schools, public and private, since the nation’s founding. It is continuously updated by the corporate news media. There is an army of PR types and psy-op warriors working constantly on this project; some private sector, some public, who often switch roles and sectors, but work hand-in-glove regardless.

The real fake news is the fake narrative that flows perpetually forth from these functionaries of the MSM to dominate the discourse which the billionaire owners allow voiced via their facilities. In this manner, we are all being played, all the time, and have been since birth.

I think this is a bit confused, especially because it says the approved but false rendition of U.S. history was "taught in schools, public and private, since the nation's founding".

It is confused (more than false: indeed US history as commonly taught always was more ideology than fact) especially because it confuses the media before 1980 and after 1980:

Since 1980 an enormous centralization has undone most differences in points of view that characterized the US media until 1980; since 1980 there is the strong influence of the "neoliberals" (most of whom are and have been neofascists in my sense) in journalism, while "PR types and psy-op warriors" got really active and powerful from the Fifties onwards.

Next and last, here are twelve principles that Hamilton says are responsible for much of the falsified lying "news" most Americans consume daily, it seems for the most part without much insight into the fact that much they read and view is not news but propaganda:

For the record, the official narrative follows certain principles.  Among them are:

  1. The U.S. is never wrong in any conflict with other nations.
  2. If the U.S. ever happens to be wrong, it was a reasonable mistake.
  3. U.S. intentions are always benign and honorable.
  4. U.S. judgment is always objective and fair.
  5. The U.S. is a democracy and always supports democracy.
  6. Americans are a peaceful people.
  7. Americans are a superior people, so American lives matter more.
  8. Americans are always on the high moral ground because God is on our side.
  9. The word of our leaders is sufficient proof of any assertion.
  10. The U.S. is the greatest nation in history.
  11. Private is always better than public.
  12. Individualism is always better than collectivism.

In fact, the first six principles also hold for the Dutch (I am Dutch), and - it seems to me - for much of the mainstream media in the other European countries, although this is less easy for me to affirm (but it does hold for England and Norway, which I can affirm because I have lived in both countries).

Then again all of the above is quoted from the beginning of a quite good article that I will not review further but recommend to your attention. 

2. Martin Amis on Lenin’s Deadly Revolution

This article is by Martin Ames on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
It was not a good idea that somehow went wrong or withered away. It was a very bad idea from the outset, and one forced into life — or the life of the undead — with barely imaginable self-righteousness, pedantry, dynamism, and horror. The chief demerit of the Marxist program was its point-by-point defiance of human nature. Bolshevik leaders subliminally grasped the contradiction almost at once; and their rankly Procrustean answer was to leave the program untouched and change human nature. In practical terms this is what “totalitarianism” really means: On their citizens such regimes make “a total claim.”
Well... yes and no (and one reason for me to review this article is that both of my parents were - intelligent but not well-educated - communists [2]).

Here are some critical points:

First, "human nature" is too vague a concept to carry the weight Ames gives to it. Second, while Lenin said he was a Marxist, there also were other Marxists, such as Rosa Luxemburg (<-Wikipedia), who disagreed with Lenin and his Bolshevists, whereas Lenin and later Stalin also introduced quite a lot of their own ideas and values, which had far less to do with Marx than with maintaining and extending power in their society. And third, for me totalitarianism means this [3]:
Totalitarian: Ideology or religion that is pretended to have final answers to many important human questions and problems and that is pretended to be thereby justified to persecute persons who do not agree with the ideology or the religion.

This is the usual form that every human ideology assumes - religious, political and otherwise, with science as the almost only partial exception.

The reason for the first property that defines a totalitarian attitude is apparently in part political and in part zoological:

One very important end ideologies and religions serve is to provide a human social group with a set of shared agreed upon supposed truths for the group and supposed ends of the group, and it is simply convenient and also seems to feel pleasant to most humans if these supposed truths and supposed ends simply are taken to hold for everyone, or at least for everyone who has the fundamental decency and human excellence of belonging to Us.

And this kind of attitude is not just basic to Marxism and communism, but is inherent in very many groups, and also is the essence of groupthinking.

Then there is this:
“The Unknown Lenin: From the Secret Archive” was edited by Richard Pipes, and Pipes was responsible for what is probably the most comprehensive account of the period, namely the trilogy “Russia Under the Old Regime,” “The Russian Revolution” and “Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924.”
I relay this because this seems to be the main source of Martin Ames. I have not read any of these books.

Here is the last bit that I'll quote from this article:
Lenin bequeathed a fully functioning police state to Joseph Stalin ; thus the experiment, in its fulminant form, lasted from 1917 to 1953, by which time there were many millions of supernumerary deaths (and if Stalin hadn’t died in March of the latter year there would have been a second Jewish Holocaust by Christmastime). The verdict of history has at last been returned. But the jury — i.e., informed opinion in the First World — stayed out until the late 1970s. What took it so long?

Western intellectuals deserve their usual share of the obloquy. As one historian of Russia put it, it is to the intellectuals that we turn for “real prowess of wrong-headedness.” But it wasn’t just the pundits, the writers (H. G. Wells, G. B. Shaw) and the philosophers (J.P. Sartre, A. J. Ayer) who swallowed the Moscow line; so did historians, sociologists, politicians, and even businessmen.
Again I should say: Yes and no. First, while it is true that Lenin effectively did design a police state and bequeathed it to Stalin, Stalin also added rather a lot. And second, there certainly were some intellectuals - George Orwell is one of them - who were against the Soviet Union, because they saw - quite correctly - it was a much more of a totalitarian dictatorship than that is was socialism in any hitherto accepted sense.

But it is true they did not command major points of view, but then again most of the media between 1917 and 1970 were not like Wells, Shaw etc. but were mostly against Leninism, Stalinism and the Soviet Union from the beginning.

And all in all I found this a disappointing article.

3. How Nazis Used Jim Crow Laws as the Model for Their Own Race Laws

This article is by Bill Moyers (<-Wikipedia) on Moyers and Company. It starts as follows:

To get to the core of race in America today, read this new book by James Whitman. Whitman is the Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale Law School. Prepare to be as startled as this respected legal scholar was when he came upon a meticulous record of a meeting of top lawyers in Nazi Germany after Hitler’s rise to power. Not only did those lawyers reveal a deep interest in American race policies, the most radical of them were eager advocates of using American law as a model. Scholars and historians have argued for years about whether American’s own regime of racial oppression in any way inspired the Nazis.

Not only does Whitman throw a bright light on the debate, to this reader he settles it once and for all. Carefully written and tightly reasoned, backed up every step of the way with considered evidence and logic, Whitman reminds us that today is yesterday’s child, and that certain strains of DNA persist from one generation to another.

This is the beginning of a long article of which I will only review the beginning, simply because there is too much to excerpt.

But here is one bit, that is quite correct:

Whitman: There were three Nuremberg Laws eventually promulgated in 1935. The two that most concern us are usually called the citizenship law and the blood law. The citizenship law reduced Jews to second-class citizenship status in Germany. The blood law banned, and in fact criminalized, interracial marriage and sex. But there was a third as well, which was called the flag law for the Reich, the purpose of which was to install the swastika as the exclusive flag of Germany.

And here is another bit, that also seems mostly correct:

Moyers:  And these lawyers saw America’s “Negro problem” as similar to their “Jewish problem?”

Whitman: You bet they did.

Moyers:  American law did not specifically target Jews, but—

Whitman: But it certainly had a highly developed body of law targeting other groups. And the Nazis, although it is true they were unhappy with the lack of American interest in targeting Jews and deplored some aspects of American society, were quite interested in learning from what Americans did in targeting these other populations.

I do have one remark: In the Twenties and Thirties there were rules in the universities that precluded more than a certain percentage of Jewish students in American universities, although I take it Moyers knows this at least as well as I do.

And this is a recommended article.

4. Existing Law May Not Solve Our Presidential Crisis

This article is by Bill Blum (<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

For those of you looking for a legal avenue to cut short the tenure of the 45th president of the United States—our very own real-life madman in the high tower—I have some good news, and some bad.

Starting with the upside, your ranks are growing. According to a Public Policy Polling survey conducted in late September, 48 percent of American voters want Trump impeached. A Harvard-Harris Poll conducted a month earlier pegged support for impeachment at 43 percent.

You can also take comfort in the fact that you’re right to regard Trump as a unique threat to democratic values and institutions, not to mention world peace. From his almost-daily diatribes against the “fake news” media to his Twitter taunting of Kim Jong Un, he’s proved as much over the past nine months.

I completely agree, and in fact I think (as a psychologist) that Trump is insane and a neofascist (in my sense).

There is also this:

Throughout the long and bizarre campaign that followed, I warned in multiple Truthdig pieces of the grave dangers a Trump presidency would pose in such areas of law and policy as freedom of the press, birthright citizenship, immigration enforcement and travel bans, climate change, abortion rights and future appointments to the Supreme Court.

I also was among the first to sound the alarm about Trump’s emotional stability, in a column titled “The Psychopathology of Donald Trump,” published in July 2016. The subject is now the focus of a best-selling book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” featuring essays written by 27 distinguished mental health experts.

This is also all correct, although I add that I was a bit sooner than Bill Blum, for I first wrote that Trump is not sane on March 14, 2016. But this is not a criticism of Blum, and the reasons I could agree with the thesis that Trump is insane is that I am a psychologist, who then read an article that made the point that he is not sane, with which I simply had to agree when I read the evidence.

Then there is this:

But now for the downside: There is no quick legal fix for removing Trump. As long as the GOP controls Congress, impeachment remains a long shot, as it requires a majority vote in the House in favor of articles of impeachment and a two-thirds vote in the Senate to obtain a conviction and removal from office. Two House Democrats—Al Green of Texas and Brad Sherman of California—have introduced impeachment resolutions, but at present they’re going nowhere.
The same, unfortunately, holds true for invoking the 25th Amendment—the latest deus ex machina championed by leading Democrats as a means for sacking Trump. If anything, the amendment is a more implausible vehicle than impeachment.

I agree again. There is considerably more that I leave to your interests. This is from near the end:

In the final analysis, and most importantly, dumping Trump and ensuring that no one like him ever accedes to the presidency again will require the promotion of an alternative to oligarchic corporate capitalism.

I don't know, and this is basically due to Blum's combination of "dumping Trump", which I think is legally possible in the USA, although at the moment it is quite unlikely, and (bolding added) "and ensuring that no one like him ever accedes to the presidency again".

For I think that last point requires considerably more changes in the USA, that indeed may include "an alternative to oligarchic corporate capitalism".

In fact, I am all for that, and I also think - especially because of the universal surveillance of very many secret services of absolutely everyone, that will end in a dictatorship if it is not radically and totally stopped - that, so far at least, the majority of the Americans is not for an alternative to capitalism.

But this is a strongly recommended article.

5. The Unending State of Emergency

This article is by Todd Gitlin (<-Wikipedia) on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
It’s old news that Donald Trump abuses reason, knowledge, decency and dark-skinned people.
If you are paying attention, each one of his assaults on decency, intelligence and knowledge will feel urgent, ridiculous or both. Each day he threatens grave damage to actual human beings and the rest of Planet Earth, and each day he demonstrates his incapacity to do anything but inflict more damage.
I agree with this, and I also like Todd Gitlin (mostly because of his positions about the second half of the Sixties, that I know from several films or videos), which also is my main reason to review this article.

Here is some more:
If you are a journalist, it is your duty to disturb — not by exaggerating, not by refusing “balance,” but by refusing to cut corners. You must consider a maniac a maniac. You must agree to be unnerved. Failure to be unnerved is a sign of impairment. Failure to disturb is a failure at your job, which is to excavate and sort through the facts in such a way as to help citizens act as they are bound to act — to restore, as best we can, the health of the republic.
Well... yes and no, and the main problem for any present American journalist is that they belong (for the most part) to the mainstream media, that simply do not want to write the truth about quite a few things, and instead publish only articles that conform to the values of the editors or the owners of the media.

At least, that is what I think, which also implies that Todd Gitlin, although he is right in principle, wants too much of the present day "journalists" (unqualified) - or so it seems to me.

And here is the end of the article:

One rupture of order follows another. Don’t expect order to be restored. All systems failed. That is the story. It must be told, and refreshed, and followed, and followed anew.
I think the situation is very serious, and indeed I agree with "Don’t expect order to be restored", but I do not think that "All systems failed", at least not till Trump has been crowned to be the lifelong dictator of the USA and concentration camps have been introduced for many US citizens.

So all in all I think Gitlin is a bit too depressive, but I do agree with him that the situation in the USA is very worrisome.


[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 (!!).

As to my parents: Their political attitudes were mostly formed by their experiences in WW II when they, together with the Dutch Communist Party, formed the main resistance in Holland against the Nazis. And my father and his father (also a communist) were arrested in June 1941, and convicted to concentration camp imprisonment as "political terrorists", that my grandfather did not survive.

I think myself that my parents, who were both quite intelligent (IQs over 130) although not well educated, probably would have seen through the communist ideology were it not for (i) their experiences in WW II, and (ii) the fierce anti-communist ideology that started around 1948.

They did not (for the most part), and I am firmly convinced this was mainly due to (i), and indeed while I did get "a communist education", I had not to survive five years of resisting the Nazis during WW II, which enabled me to give up the whole communist ideology and also all of Marxism by the time I was 20, in 1970.

[3] I found - rather to my consternation - that "totalitarian" (a concept that I know quite well since 1967) has been redefined to mean this (on Wikipedia):
Totalitarianism is a political system in which the state
recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible. A distinctive feature of totalitarian governments is an "elaborate ideology, a set of ideas that gives meaning and direction to the whole society".
No, I am sorry: That definition is - intentionally? - partial. For one thing, it totally misses all psychology and all groupthinking, for most (though not all) of groupthinking is also totalitarian, albeit not in the sense in which the Wikipedia defines it.

I will soon write a Nederlog on the diverse meanings of "totalitarianism".

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