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Nederlog

Friday, October 27, 2017

Crisis: Indian ¨Democracy¨, On A-Social Media, Spain, Trump´s ¨Fascism¨, ¨Russia-gate¨

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Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from October 27, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Friday
, October 27, 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 27, 2017
1. The Question More Indians Ask — ‘Is My Phone
     Tapped?’

2. How Social Media Abet the Political Right
3. The Current Conflict In Spain Has A Lot to Do With
     Economic Failure

4. America's Military Will Never Save Us From
     Trump's Fascism

5. Russia-gate Breeds ‘Establishment McCarthyism’
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. The Question More Indians Ask — ‘Is My Phone Tapped?’

This article is by Mira Kamdar on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

A businessman told me he had stopped going online to buy books that the government might frown upon because he was afraid officials would track his purchases.

There’s good reason for such fears, another businessman said: “You go to a party where there are a dozen people you’ve known for years. Someone says something mildly critical of the government, and then you learn that person’s office was paid a visit the next day by the income-tax authorities.”

These were not reflections on life in some police state. These were conversations I had this month during a visit to India, a country I’ve been visiting for nearly 60 years.

It’s no secret that attacks on freedom of expression have accelerated since the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May 2014. Yet, nothing prepared me for the pervasive anxieties I encountered on this trip.
In fact, this is the kind of climate that I expect will raise its head everywhere - that is, if it is not itself mostly suppressed by the secret services that were the end of the changes that Mr. Brzezinski already saw and desired coming in 1968.

For - I also think - this is why the internet was invented: To provide all possibilities of controlling everybody (as outlined by Mr. Brzezinski in 1968) by means of the state´s secret services.

And that seems to be part of what is happening in India:

But I was stunned when a well-known writer in New Delhi confided that she and others used encrypted communications. “We’re all on ProtonMail and Signal at this point,” she said. Others said they only communicated on WhatsApp. “All of our phones are tapped,” declared a news editor in Mumbai.
I think the ¨news editor in Mumbai¨ is quite right - but it holds (after over 16 years of total freedom and billions of investments for the secret services, that are covered by special ¨courts¨, that are again secret) to the best of my knowledge absolutely everywhere.

The article ends as follows:

Not all the Indians I spoke with were so uneasy. Many citizens remain outspoken. Courageous journalists continue to fight to do their job. But the growing fear of Indians to speak, to write and even to read freely poses a grave threat to one of the world’s great democracies.
I would not call India ¨one of the world’s great democracies¨ but I expect the same things will be soon happening in Europe and the USA.

That is, if these expressions of the total loss of democracry and the total gain of the secret services are not themselves repressed by the secret services as ¨lies¨ or ¨fake news¨.


2. How Social Media Abet the Political Right

This article is by Neal Gabler on Truthdig and originally on Moyes & Co. This is from near the beginning:

Above and beyond Trump’s tweets and his circumvention of traditional media, there is a much more profound but much subtler effect that plays upon certain psychological and social proclivities in America today and that is changing politics generally and has already changed our political leadership. And while this is by no means Trump-specific, it has a very strong affinity for the right wing. Put more starkly, social media aid and abet the right wing and “alt-right” political figures like Trump, not because the “alt-right” and Trump are better at social media, but because social media have an intrinsic rightish tilt.

Let me first provide a link about Facebook that I wrote in 2011 (over six years ago, meanwhile): I both extremely much dislike and fear Facebook and other mega-rich corporations, and for those reasons I never use Facebook, Twitter, Windows, Apple, Google, Amazone and other neofascist corporations (and if you dislike or disagree with my diagnosis of neofascism, read the definition).

Second, I also think that while it may well be true that ¨social media have an intrinsic rightish tilt¨ at least part of the underlying reason is that most social groups (of any kind) have totalitarian aspects, which they implement by diverse kinds of groupthinking.

Here is more on the a-social media (for that is what these neofascist corporations do set up, quite intentionally also):

I am talking not about the ways in which social media distort the information we receive, but the ways in which social media draw upon and intensify our whole way of processing information and everything else.

It is by now a given that social media have changed and continue to change the way we interact with one another and even with our own selves, the way we use our time, the way we prioritize and value things, the way we respond emotionally, the way we assess information and a thousand other components of our lives. For the post-millennials, nearly everything is refracted through social media, but the spillover effect is huge.

I do not say ¨No!¨, but it does not hold for me: I hate the a-social media, and (once again) I never use Facebook, Twitter, Windows, Apple, Google, Amazone and other neofascist corporations.

Also, as I have just pointed out, the a-social media are based on the a-social tendencies that are inherent in most human social groups, and especially on groupthinking, that always is more or less totalitarian [2].

Here is more:

To begin with, for all the boasts of connectivity, social media actually isolate us and drive us back into ourselves. Facebook alone may be the largest platform of self-promotion ever devised by humankind, but of course, Facebook is not alone. Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and many others are ostensibly dedicated to sharing when they are really dedicated to solipsism: You are always the star of your page, always centralizing what you are doing. Worse, social media encourages an anonymous meanness that actively splinters us. There probably always were trolls, but they had no platform for their poison. Now they do.

Yes and no. I agree with most of this but I insist I do not belong to the ¨us¨ and the ¨we¨ that are presented here as if neofascism characterizes all, and I also think ¨solipsism¨ is the wrong word:

What the social media try to create are docile consumers that (i) have lost all solidarity, fellow feeling or sympathy for anyone else except their own family and their own friends, and that (ii) believe everything their ¨friends¨ send them, and who (iii) can say anything whatsoever about anyone whatsoever because they are nearly all anonymous (and extremely envious of anyone who knows more or is more expert than the lowest mean in their groups). [3]

Here is a diagnosis of Neal Gabler:

In effect, social media create an informational onanism, which, again, destroys a sense of community and circumscribes national conversation every bit as much as it aborts personal conversation. And it does something more: It makes all information that doesn’t conform to one’s biases suspicious. Social media — the “social” here is practically ironic — disallows us from accepting anyone else’s arguments — that is, disallows us from being social. In fact, it delegitimizes not just arguments but all information by seeming to legitimize all information.

I mostly agree, but insist again that (i) this does not hold for me, and (ii) it is mostly based on the totalitarian aspects [3] that inhere in most groups and most groupthinking anyway (and since centuries), and also on (iii) the mostly rather great stupidity and ignorance that rules the thinking of most people who are not quite intelligent anyway and/or who are not educated well. Also (iv) the billions that now are called by the a-social media to write their mostly totally anonymous ¨thoughts¨ and ¨values¨ are now publishing for the first time (and you can see their level by reading their contributions in most of the Comments sections [4]).

Here is Neil Gabler´s judgement on the a-social media:

You may begin to see a theme developing here. Self-centeredness and solipsism, division and tribalism, disinformation and misinformation tailored to one’s predispositions, the need for constant stimulation (FOMO) without reflection, bullying against those who disagree, a lack of empathy — these are all hallmarks of the “alt-right” and of the Trump presidency.

Well... I´d say it is mostly due to the greed, the egoism, the stupidity and the ignorance that are part and parcel of everyone (rather than ¨solipsism, division and tribalism¨), and especially of the billions of the unintelligent and uneducated that are now let loose by Mark Suckerbug, and who can be manipulated by providing them advertisements that will gain them a few cents (as ¨payment¨ for having delivered all their privacy to the anonymous guards of Facebook´s many secrets).

I am extremely pessimistic about these tendencies, but this is a recommended article.


3. The Current Conflict In Spain Has A Lot to Do With Economic Failure

This article is by Mark Weisbrot on AlterNet. It starts as follows:

As Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy threatens to take over the autonomous region of Catalonia, it is becoming clearer even to casual observers who the bad guys are in this conflict. Generally, when one side is peaceful and seeks dialogue, and the other is committed to resolving the disagreement through force, repression, and violence — well, you get the picture.
(..)
The anti-democratic character and fascist heritage of the PP government became glaringly evident when Rajoy sent thousands of troops into Catalonia in a failed attempt to stop people from voting. This was not, as he claimed, to enforce the law: the Spanish government could simply have allowed the vote and refused to recognize the result. Rather it was to crush the independence movement and the expression of their ideas by force; and hundreds of people were injured by the Civil Guard. The repression also included unprecedented censorship of the Internet, as well as of newspapers and radio. If Rajoy follows through with his threatened takeover of Catalonia, we will see more of this Francoist repression of basic civil rights and liberties.

I´d define ¨fascism¨ or ¨fascist¨ before I use it, but by now I have learned (see also item 4, below) that this seems quite impossible for nearly all journalists (that I have read, but these are very many).

And I´d call it ¨authoritarian¨ rather than ¨fascist¨, but I agree with most that is being said, and I also insist that the ¨repression of basic civil rights and liberties¨ will - very probably - also happen anywhere else in the present Europe, that in my eyes is rapidly devolving in the neofascist direction, that was also behind the building of the internet.

And here is some background on Spain:

Inequality has risen dramatically since 2008; the income of the top 20 percent is now 7.5 times that of the bottom 20 percent, the third worst in the European Union. As the IMF has noted, this is mainly because employment fell by 20 percent from 2008 to 2013, and lower-income groups were disproportionately among the victims of this collapse.

Furthermore, the majority of new jobs are temporary labor contracts, heightening insecurity even for those who are lucky enough to find a new job.

This is not a pretty picture. But the IMF — which is here representing the views of the European authorities and the Rajoy government — nonetheless appears to accept mass unemployment as the new normal. The Fund projects that the economy will reach its full potential output sometime in the next year. But unemployment will still be at about 16 percent. In other words, 16 percent unemployment is as good as it gets, it’s now being redefined as “full employment.” And youth unemployment is about double the overall unemployment rate.

Yes, indeed. I wonder when the IMF will announce that the dole is money that is given to the undeserving, who should be left to die - and do not say they are incapable of this, for this is how they treated Greece.


4. America's Military Will Never Save Us From Trump's Fascism

This article is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. It starts as follows:

When fascism comes to America it will arrive in a style and form that fits our country. Fascism is poison; America's political culture and institutions are the container.

This is followed by 12 statements that start as follows

American fascism will (......)

but none of them has any clear conception of what ¨fascism¨ or ¨American fascism¨ would mean. This list gets followed by the folllowing statement:

To ignore this reality is to be willfully ignorant, to be in denial or to be drunk on American exceptionalism.

I am sorry, but all of the 12 statements could as well be made with ¨American authoritarianism¨ or with ¨American rightism¨, which also are not the same as fascism.

But as I said: I have given up on journalism that uses terms it simply chooses not to define.

This article ends as follows:

Dwight D. Eisenhower was one of America's greatest military leaders, and then served as one of the country's greatest presidents. In that role, Eisenhower offered the following warning. He said, "If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power."

John Kelly, Donald Trump and the Republican Party should meditate on Ike's wisdom. It will likely mean nothing to them, but it might may inspire the rest of us to take the necessary steps to speak truth to power -- to organize, vote, march, and engage in the pocketbook politics that can ultimately drive Trump and the Republican Party from power.

I am sorry, but Eisenhower´s warning is totally subjective, for the same is true of his key terms ¨right¨ and ¨moral¨.


5. Russia-gate Breeds ‘Establishment McCarthyism’

This article is by Robert Parry on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:

As Russia-gate gives cover for an Establishment attack on Internet freedom and independent news, traditional defenders of a free press and civil liberties are joining the assault or staying on the sidelines, reports Robert Parry.

That was the subtitle, which I have copied because it is a good summary (with which I also agree).

Here is more:

In the past, America has witnessed “McCarthyism” from the Right and even complaints from the Right about “McCarthyism of the Left.” But what we are witnessing now amid the Russia-gate frenzy is what might be called “Establishment McCarthyism,” traditional media/political powers demonizing and silencing dissent that questions mainstream narratives.

This extraordinary assault on civil liberties is cloaked in fright-filled stories about “Russian propaganda” and wildly exaggerated tales of the Kremlin’s “hordes of Twitter bots,” but its underlying goal is to enforce Washington’s “groupthinks” by creating a permanent system that shuts down or marginalizes dissident opinions and labels contrary information – no matter how reasonable and well-researched – as “disputed” or “rated false” by mainstream “fact-checking” organizations like PolitiFact.

Yes indeed - and for groupthinking I suggest that you follow the link I provided for it (which is about groups rather than about the internet, and indeed most groups are at least partially totalitarian).

Not to say that I share every news judgment of RT – or for that matter The New York Times – but there is a grave issue of press freedom when the Times essentially calls for the shutting down of access to a news organization that may highlight or report on stories that the Times and other mainstream outlets downplay or ignore.

And this was not a stand-alone story. Previously, the Times has run favorable articles about plans to deploy aggressive algorithms to hunt down and then remove or marginalize information that the Times and other mainstream outlets deem false.

Yes indeed. There is considerably more in the article, that ends as follows:

For a long time, the big media has wanted an excuse to rein in the Internet and break the small news outlets that have challenged the power – and the profitability – of the Times, Post, CNN, etc. Russia-gate and Trump have become the cover for that restoration of mainstream authority.

So, as we have moved into this dangerous New Cold War, we are living in what could be called “Establishment McCarthyism,” a hysterical but methodical strategy for silencing dissent and making sure that future mainstream groupthinks don’t get challenged.

I think that is quite correct and this is a recommended article.

------------------------------
Note

I have now been saying since the end of 2015 that xs4all.nl 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 (!!).

[2] I have quite a few times said that most groupthinking is totalitarian, and I have also said that most definitions of totalitarianism that I saw, including that of the Wikipedia, are thoroughly false (and quite probably intentionally so) because they simply deny that totalitarianism has anything to do with human beings, with human psychology, with human groups, or with human groupthinking or with the lies and the manipulations by anyone who is not speaking for some government.

I also found one more or less good definition, which is as follows (and is by the Dictionary.com):
totalitarian (...) adjective 1. of or relating to a centralized government that does not tolerate parties of differing opinion and that exercises dictatorial control over many aspects of life, 2. exercising control over the freedom, will, or thought of others; authoritarian; autocratic.
Yes indeed! And the definition on Wikipedia I regard as willfully false: In fact it is almost wholly relative and purely political (and it makes it difficult or impossible to understand parts of the prose George Orwell wrote about totalitarianism).

[3] I have recognized the totalitarian aspects in most groups and most groupthinking ever since my teens (now nearly 50 years ago) but I have run into the utter stupidity and the great and proudly manifested ignorance of the many especially on Phoenix Rising, that in 2010 specialized in discriminating and slandering anyone with an IQ above 85 or so, which could and does happen because nearly everyone there is totally anonymous. This was a horrible experience for me, and I withdrew after 3 1/2 months, and recommend this to everyone (with an IQ over 130).

[4] I do recommend you try to read the Comments that are nearly everywhere, although I admit I have totally given up wasting my time on idiots and idiocies.
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