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Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Crisis: Resisting, "Paradise Papers", Stupid Americans, Ubu Roi, American Greatness

Sections                                                crisis index
Introduction

1. Summary
2.
Crisis Files
    A. Selections from November 7, 2017 

Introduction:

This is a Nederlog of Tuesday
November 7, 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 November 7, 2017
1. The Cost of Resistance
2. 'Paradise Papers' Show How Wealthy Stash
     Riches, Dodge Taxes

3. How Fake News Works: Tens of Millions of
   Americans Would Flunk Any Basic Civics Class
4. Year One: Our President Ubu
5. Donald Trump and the Erosion of American
     Greatness
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 Cost of Resistance

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
Resistance entails suffering. It requires self-sacrifice. It accepts that we may be destroyed. It is not rational. It is not about the pursuit of happiness. It is about the pursuit of freedom. Resistance accepts that even if we fail, there is an inner freedom that comes with defiance, and perhaps this is the only freedom, and true happiness, we will ever know. To resist evil is the highest achievement of human life. It is the supreme act of love.
I like Chris Hedges: He is brave, he is smart and he writes well, and he is in each of these respects quite exceptional in the USA.

But I do not agree with the present article, and I will explain why.

And my explanation has much to do with my own family, that also consisted of brave and courageous men and women, for my mother's parents were anarchists all their adult lives; my father's father moved from Protestant Christianity to communism in 1937; both of my parents were in the real resistance against the Nazis from 1940-1945 [2]; both my father and his father were betrayed by Dutchmen in June of 1941, arrested by the SS, and convicted by collaborating Dutch judges [3] to concentration camp imprisonments as "political terrorists". My grandfather was murdered; my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months of four German concentration camps.

After the war both of my parents continued to be members of the Dutch communist party, that had lost some 2000 members resisting the Nazis, and in thanks were called "(filthy) traitors to Our Country" by the many Dutch collaborators who all survived WW II by collaborating. [4] (The Dutch seem to have been the most anti-semitic in the 1950ies, according to various testimonials that I read by people whom I believe - and this was in the time that the Dutch knew about the murder of some 6 million Jews.)

And in fact absolutely no Dutch communist was ever knighted for the resistance of the Dutch communists to the Nazis until the end of the Dutch communist party in 1991 - and indeed my father, who did get knighted in 1980, very briefly before he died, was not knighted for what he had the courage to do in WW II, but because he had designed and mostly built an exhibition about the Dutch resistance against the Nazis [5] (mostly by the communists) and about the dangers of fascism and concentration camps.

Finally, my parents also were not intellectuals, which is one major reason why they seem to have gained absolutely nothing in money for resisting fascism and capitalism for some 45 years of their lives - which again makes them different from almost every intellectual who "resisted" after WW II: It seems almost everyone of these "resisters" was rewarded with very well-paying jobs in journalism, in politics or in "science".

And that is one of my points: I come from a genuinely resisting family, that also was extremely courageous in WW II (when resisting was often punished with torture) but every intellectual - indeed except myself - whom I have known who "resisted" after WW II and who did so outside of the Dutch  communist party seems to have been somehow rewarded, and nearly always by well-paying jobs. [6]

In contrast, my parents, who were in the real resistance, were discri- minated all their lives for their communist opinions and did not get any money whatsoever for what they dared to do, except that my father got an extremely small "resistance pension" after WW II, when he was 54. [7]

So the first point I want to make is that there is a large difference between those who really resisted (such as the Dutch communists in WW II) and those who pretended to resist (such as nearly everyone from leftish parties after WW II).

In my experience - who also resisted for 50 years, and whose only rewards all these fifty years (!) were that I am "a filthy fascist" and "a terrorist" according to the vast majorities of the pretending folklorist "leftists" from the "University" of Amsterdam (mostly from rich parents, and all now "neoconservatives" since 22 years at least) - those who "resisted" in Holland after WW II, and who were intellectuals, in fact never resisted anything: they collaborated with the fashions, and they did so in order to increase their incomes and their personal status and power.

And in Holland this was the norm for at least 95% of everyone I have seen since 1965: They did not resist; they were fashionable. And the leftist fashion has ended, and therefore all those who pretended to be "in the resistance" in the 1970ies and 1980ies (except for some very, very few) now are proud neoconservatives.

That also is a measure of their honesty, their integrity, and their courage: All were and are totally absent.

Here is more:
The seductive inducements to conformity—money, fame, prizes, generous grants, huge book contracts, hefty lecture fees, important academic and political positions and a public platform—are scorned by those who resist. The rebel does not define success the way the elites define success. Those who resist refuse to kneel before the idols of mass culture and the power elites. They are not trying to get rich. They do not want to be part of the inner circle of the powerful.
Well... but what is "resisting"? And who are not conformists?

I have seen very few people who really resisted the declines of education, of civilization, of science, of politics and of many other things: The great majority simply conformed to most things, including the folklore of "leftism" that lasted from the late 1960ies till the 1980ies, and that was (once again) mostly made up of conformists.

Then there is this:
The power elites attempt to discredit those who resist. They force them to struggle to make an income. They push them to the margins of society. They write them out of the official narrative. They deny them the symbols of status. They use the compliant liberal class to paint them as unreasonable and utopian.
Yes, this did happen to my parents (whose IQs were over 130) but it did not happen to most Dutchmen, for the simple reason that the vast majority of Dutchmen are conformists, including most of those who "resisted" in the 1960ies-1980ies.

Then there is this:
There is no shortage of artists, intellectuals and writers, from Martin Buber and George Orwell to James Baldwin, who warned us that this dystopian era was fast approaching. But in our Disneyfied world of intoxicating and endless images, cult of the self and willful illiteracy, we did not listen.
I think there is a shortage of intelligent men and women, and especially a shortage of intelligent men and women who dare to resist. And the "Disneyfied world" of which Hedges speaks was never mine, nor of my parents nor of my grandparents - but I agree also that I do not know of any other Dutchman (except my brother) with a family background like mine.

Here is the end of the article:

Resistance is not only about battling the forces of darkness. It is about becoming a whole and complete human being. It is about overcoming estrangement. It is about the capacity to love. It is about honoring the sacred. It is about dignity. It is about sacrifice. It is about courage. It is about being free. Resistance is the pinnacle of human existence.
I am sorry, but as long as Hedges does not see the difference between those who really resist and those who follow the fashion, I think this last paragraph is far too romantic. 


2. 'Paradise Papers' Show How Wealthy Stash Riches, Dodge Taxes

This article is by Emily Wells on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

A trove of recently leaked files pertaining to offshore finance, dubbed “the Paradise Papers,” offers insight into how the wealthiest corporations and individuals protect their riches.
(..)
The 13.4 million files were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and subsequently shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which has been investigating offshore finance for several years.

This continues the first review of the Paradise Papers that I gave yesterday and (like yesterday) it is again a choice out of very many articles.

Here is what the "Paradise Papers" are about - the grand thefts of the richest of the rich, who steal from everyone, including the poor and the government:

The ICIJ said Sunday in a post announcing the release of the papers that they “reveal offshore interests and activities of more than 120 politicians and world leaders.” The papers include data on U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, major donors to the Trump campaign and a business associate of the president’s son-in law, Jared Kushner. The papers also reveal financial activity and investments by Queen Elizabeth II, Bono, Apple, Nike and Facebook.

This is fairly interesting, agree. Incidentally, here is the NYT on the fraudulent and corrupt Apple:

Apple has come under scrutiny by Congress for shifting much of its earnings to Irish subsidiaries, avoiding income taxes. Documents from the leak show that after its chief executive, Tim Cook, said that the company didn’t just “stash money on a Caribbean island,” it found a new tax haven—an island in the English Channel. The use of complex offshore structures have helped keep much of Apple’s more than $128 billion in profit abroad free from taxation.

Quite so (and that is theft, albeit of billions).

And here is Bernie Sanders:

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, in a statement to The Guardian, said that the papers demonstrate that the world has turned into an “international oligarchy” controlled by a minute number of billionaires. “The major issue of our time is the rapid movement toward international oligarchy, in which a handful of billionaires own and control a significant part of the global economy,” he said. “The Paradise Papers shows how these billionaires and multinational corporations get richer by hiding their wealth and profits and avoid paying their fair share of taxes.”

Yes indeed. The article ends as follows:

The Paradise Papers release has been compared with the Panama Papers, which, in 2016, exposed celebrities and business executives who moved large amounts of money into offshore accounts. Setting up offshore companies is generally legal, and to do so is often attractive to corporations handling mergers and acquisitions.

Well... I have considered the Panama Papers in 2016. In the index for 2016 they occur at least 10 times, the last time on October 12, 2016. I agree they were important, but they took the journalists' or the readers' attention for about half a year, and since then are hardly mentioned - indeed except for the murder of the journalist who produced them.

I must presume that these Paradise Papers likely will have a similar run (and there are far fewer of them than there were in the Panama Papers).


3. How Fake News Works: Tens of Millions of Americans Would Flunk Any Basic Civics Class

This article is by David Masciotra on AlterNet and originally on Salon.

It turns out that tens of millions of Americans belong in my freshmen writing course, and, if their failures of citizenship are any indication, would struggle to pass if enrolled.

I do not think this is a good or well-written article, but it does pose a problem that I am aware of since over 50 years: The fact - at least for me and for the minority of others whose IQ is over 130 - that the majorities of the "democratic voters" are neither intelligent nor educated and indeed also generally do not want to be (for this would make them stand out as if they were better than the majority, and proper conformists do not like that at all).

And in fact - simply judging from the average IQs - it are not so much "tens of millions" of Americans who urgently need some education, but at least half of the American population, for half of any large unsorted population has an IQ that is maximally 100.

But here is some more:

Gore Vidal once remarked, “Half of the U.S. population reads a newspaper. Half of the U.S. population votes. Let’s hope it is the same half.”

Now, fewer than half of Americans read the newspaper, and an increasingly alarming amount report that they rely on social media for news, but many of them are still participating in the Democratic process. I often see bumper stickers that announce, “I’m Catholic and I vote” or “I’m NRA and I vote.” It seems that a lucrative merchandising opportunity exists for someone who invents the sticker, “I don’t read and I vote.”

The documentation of Americans’ ignorance on fundamental issues of history and governance is by now so thorough that it hardly bears repeating. For example, only 26 percent of Americans can name all three branches of government. These are people commonly referred to as “elitists.”

Yes indeed - and that is only a very little from the mass of information there is about the average American stupidity and ignorance. (Here is an interesting link: March 23, 2013.)

Then again: What can one do against giving all - sane, non-criminal - adults the rights to vote? They have it and about half of them even practice it...

Here is more:

The problem is not just that Americans don’t know. It is that they don’t know what they don’t know, and they don’t know how to figure it out. Like my students who attempt to meet their research requirement on Twitter, American voters are misinforming themselves with lies and inaccuracies from unreliable sources.

Yes indeed - ant it "is not just that Americans don’t know", nor "that they don’t know what they don’t know", nor that "they don’t know how to figure it out": The great problem is that the majority of Americans just do not want to read true information, because this contradicts with their own wishful thinking.

Then there is this, which is a kind of explanation for the facts mentioned in the last above quotation:

The most consequential offenders in the dissemination, and success, of fake news are not the Russians or social media company executives, but the American education system, and the parents who are content with raising children who know little about their country, much less about the rest of the world.

Only nine states require civics as part of the high school curriculum, and many colleges have reduced or eliminated requirements in history and political science. As unimaginable as it seems, the American Council of Trustees and Alumni published a report last year that only seven of the nation’s top 25 liberal arts colleges require their history majors — this is not a joke — to take a course in U.S. history.

I do not say "no" but the great problem is that this degeneration of all education started in my experience in 1965, in Holland and also elsewhere, when the quite good highschools that had been giving entrance to the Dutch universities for the last 100 years were all destroyed, and replaced by schools that instead of examing 14 to 16 subjects (including 3 or 5 foreign languages) examined only 6 subjects (requiring no more than 1 foreign language) and even these were only partially examined in writing, again quite unlike the practice of the 100 years between 1865 and 1965.

In result the average IQ in the Dutch universities has sunk till it is little different from 100, but it is also true that far more "students" can get an enormously deflated "degree" in many totally unscientific subjects, while everyone with a "degree" - say in mediastudies - is these days considered "an intellectual".

Here is the conclusion of the article:

What the scandal of 2016’s hacks, Russian meddling and disinformation proves, is that a significant portion of Americans are ungovernable and unfit for the task of citizenship in a free country.

My own conclusion is that the majority of the Americans are "unfit for the task of citizenship in a free country" - but they are and have been so to the best of my knowledge for the last 50 years at least, and indeed these 50 years also form the introduction to the reign of Trump.


4. Year One: Our President Ubu

This article is by Charles Simic on The New York Review of Books. It starts as follows:

The only character I can think of in the world literature who resembles Donald Trump is Père Ubu in the play Ubu Roi (“Ubu the King”) by Alfred Jarry that famously opened and closed in Paris on December 10, 1896, after starting a riot. A parody of Shakespeare’s Macbeth and now a classic of the theater of the absurd and the forerunner of the Dada and Surrealism movements, the play is a depiction of the lust for power, full of insolent nonsense and violent horseplay. Père Ubu is a buffoonish pretender to the throne of Poland, a brutal and greedy megalomaniac who, after killing off the royal family, starts murdering his own population in order to rob them of their money. 

I selected Charles Simic mostly because he can write. (Most journalists can't, really, and I am quite sorry but it is a fact.)

Here are some links to Ubu Roi and to Alfred Jarry, and here is some about Donald Trump:

I hate everyone you hate, was his message over and over again, and these numbskulls who can’t even tell the differences between an honest man and a crook nudged each other, knowing exactly whom he had in mind. Since Trump became president, every time I told myself this man is bonkers, I remembered Ubu, realizing how the story of his presidency and the cast of characters he has assembled in the White House would easily fit into Jarry’s play without a single word needing to be changed.

I think that is mostly quite correct, and I agree that "this man is bonkers", and insist once more that currently no less than 62,000 psychologists and psychiatrists agree, while most journalists believe
or pretend that
psychologists and psychiatrists need no attention (unless they say something trivial), or so it seems.

Here is the general position as sketched by Simic:

Electing as president an ignoramus who lies every time he opens his mouth, we are loath to admit, is the product of our broken and corrupt political system, our fragmented and polarized population, whose hatreds and delusions have been carefully fostered over the years by various vested interests and their representatives on Fox News, hate radio, the Internet, and social media. Alfred Jarry described his play as “an exaggerated mirror.” So is the Age of Trump: an ugly reflection of what we have become as a nation.

I agree. This is from the end of this article:

If he is no longer a mystery, what remains unknown is how crazy those around him will let him become, before they do us a favor and let the Congress get rid of him. The hitch is that the people who have flocked to his administration are as rotten as he is. Every monster in history, as we ought to remember, has needed a lot of help to implement his policies.

Yes, I agree again, with three additions: Both the Congress and the Senate have been bought for the most part, and those have been bought tend to only consider their own riches, and those who "flocked to [Trump's] administration" also tend to be much rewarded.

And this is a recommended article (that wil not make you happier).


5. Donald Trump and the Erosion of American Greatness

This article is by Roger Cohen on Spiegel International. This starts as follows:
Ten months into the Trump presidency, the world has not gone over a cliff. Nuclear brinkmanship with North Korea has not produced Armageddon. That this must be considered an achievement is testimony to how alarming Donald Trump's erratic belligerence has been. Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany has concluded that Europeans must now take "our destiny into our own hands." Dismay is widespread. The post-war order, stripped of its American point of reference, is frayed to the breaking point.
It is true that the world is still not blown up, indeed in spite of Trump. In the Dutch NRC Handelsblad there was yesterday a caricature about the same point: "Trump is president for a year ... and we are still alive! Let's drink to that!"

I think that the point of that caricature is serious, and I agree more with it than I do with the above, if only because the first two "not"s should have been followed by "yet", or by "yet, at least,".

Then there is this:
The president, who continues to act principally as the rabble-rousing leader of a mass movement, is the ultimate provocateur. He jolts the facile assumptions of a globalized liberal elite. Rising inequality and rampant impunity for the powerful certainly demanded such a jolt. But the question remains: How dangerous is Trump to the world and the American Republic?
Well... yes and no, but before getting angry about the question that ends the above quotation, we should consider this:
A disaster is unfolding whose consequences for humanity and decency will be substantial. (...) Trump is likely to become more capricious in the coming months. (...) War was ever a great distraction from domestic difficulty.
I agree with this, but had to remove intervening statements I don't agree with. Also - since I am a psychologist who has been repeating this refrain since March 14, 2016 - the main reason that "Trump is likely to become more capricious in the coming months" is (to the best of my knowledge) that Trump is - correctly, I think - been described by 62,000 psychologists and psychiatrists as suffering from malignant narcissism, which is a personal pathology, that will probably grow and grow. (But it seems as if the very great majority of journalists either do not read psychologists at all, or don't seem to understand them.)

Here are a few of the changes Trump has instituted:
Under Trump, the State Department has been eviscerated: a proposed 30 percent budget cut, countless critical posts unfilled, a secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who has contrived to be ineffective and demoralize his staff. At the same time, military budgets have soared.
And I think that the USA's "military budgets have soared" because Trump is preparing for war, that may very well become WW III.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
Yet, he is dangerous. Trump has already blurred the line between truth and falsehood. He has attacked the judiciary and a free press. I had an alarming experience recently. Trump had lied, as he routinely does, about two phone calls, one from the president of Mexico and one from the head of the Boy Scouts. The calls, supposedly to congratulate him, did not exist. They were pure inventions. Asked if Trump had lied, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said, "I wouldn't say it was a lie."
I say. And this is a recommended article.

------------------------------
Notes
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] As to "resistance" and "resisting" here is a bit from the History of the Jews in Germany, to show what my parents and grandparents resisted in WW II:
By the end of the war, an estimated 160,000 to 180,000 German Jews had been killed under the Nazi regime, by the Germans and their collaborators. A total of about 6 million European Jews were murdered under the direction of the Nazis, in the genocide that later came to be known as the Holocaust.
In Holland there were some 120,000 Jews, of whom a mere 106-116,000 were murdered in WW II, thanks to non-resistance of almost all Dutch- men who were neither communists nor belonged to some Protestant groups.

[3] By far the greatest part of the Dutch judges collaborated. Most of the Dutch police collaborated. All but one - Jewish - member of the Dutch Supreme Court collaborated.

[4] I do not know how many of the Dutch went into the resistance. Since there were some 10 million Dutchmen in WW II, and since over 100,000 Dutch Jews were murdered in WW II, I assume the number of those who resisted (in some form) was maximally 100,000, that is 1% of the total Dutch population. (It may have been a little higher, but not much.)

[5] Together with several members of the Dutch "Sachsenhausen Vereniging", which was a group of Dutchmen who had survived the German concentration camp Sachenhausen.

[6] And in fact the same held for nearly all intellectuals who were "communists" after WW II (between quotes because nearly all of them were, when compared with my parents, not real communists): They also were rewarded with soft jobs with high payments.

[7] My father did get "a resistance pension" when he was 54 - but because he was a - prominent - communist it was awarded on the basis of his earning almost nothing before the war, so he probably got the least resistance pension of every Dutchman who did get one.
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