February 6, 2018

Crisis:  On the "left", Dow Jones Fell, On Paul Ryan, U.S. War Machine, Deep State Veterans


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from February 6, 2018.


This is a Nederlog of Tuesday, February 6, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a
crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:

I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but since 2010 in English) 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 more than 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 I shall continue.

Section 2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from February 6, 2018

These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
1. The Bankruptcy of the American Left
2. Dow Jones and S.&P. Slide Again, Dropping by More Than 4%
3. As Paul Ryan Touts a Secretary’s $1.50 Weekly Pay Hike, Koch Bros.
     Reap $1.4B from GOP Tax Plan

4. How to Reel in the U.S. War Machine
5. ‘Deep State’ Veterans find New Homes in Mainstream Media
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 Bankruptcy of the American Left

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
There will be no economic or political justice for the poor, people of color, women or workers within the framework of global, corporate capitalism. Corporate capitalism, which uses identity politics, multiculturalism and racial justice to masquerade as politics, will never halt the rising social inequality, unchecked militarism, evisceration of civil liberties and omnipotence of the organs of security and surveillance. Corporate capitalism cannot be reformed, despite its continually rebranding itself. The longer the self-identified left and liberal class seek to work within a system that the political philosopher Sheldon Wolin calls “inverted totalitarianism,” the more the noose will be tightened around our necks. If we do not rise up to bring government and financial systems under public control—which includes nationalizing banks, the fossil fuel industry and the arms industry—we will continue to be victims.
I think I basically agree, although I speak - rather more simply - of the totalitarianism of the "left" that I got first exposed to over forty years ago, in the context of the "University" of Amsterdam, where I was styled "a fascist" and "a dirty fascist" for eleven years (in which I did not all study, since I was also ill all the time) simply for having the courage to face up to the student party the ASVA, that at that time simply was one of the ways the Dutch Communist Party hid itself, and that was and would be destroying the "University" of Amsterdam from 1971 to 1995.

And my point is that I in fact was and am a philosophical anarchist [2], with a better communist, socialist and anti-fascist background than absolutely anyone else I know of in Holland: My father was a communist since 1935; his father was a communist since 1937; both were arrested (and betrayed) in August 1941 and committed as "political terrorists" in German concentration camps, which my grandfather did not survive; my mother was a communist since 1941, and was in the - real, communist - resistance and was never arrested; and her parents were both lifelong anarchists. (I simply do not know anyone except my brother with that background.)

Also, I have now complained for forty years about this and many other things to the "University" of Amsterdam (actually now, after 40 years of continuous destruction, at best a college) and I have not even got any reply of either the City of Amsterdam (that housed me 3 1/2 years above the murderous illegal drugsdealers that had gotten "personal permission" of mayor Van Thijn to deal illegal drugs from the bottom floor of my house, which - it seems - also implied his "personal permission" to have me threatened with murder by his personal illegal drugsdealers, and to have them gas me in 1988, which they nearly succeed in doing) [3] and also not any decent reply from the fascistic terrorists who ruled the "University" i.e. from the sadofascistic subhuman Cammelbeeck, the sadofascistic subhuman Poppe, and the sadofascistic subhuman Gevers [4], who intentionally destroyed my life and my chances in a worse way then my father's was by three years and nine months, for I also was and am ill since nearly 40 years. [5]

And in fact the background to all that was especially the fact that the Dutch "social democrats" had the nearly complete power in Amsterdam and in the "University" of Amsterdam from 1948 till 2013: For 65 years.

Here is another bit of background to this first quoted bit: Chris Hedges did a number of fine interviews with Sheldon Wolin in 2014, and I reviewed all of them then. You can read them (again) from this link - and as I said, they are quite good, though I also do not quite agree with Wolin either.

And here is the next bit from this article:
Corporate capitalism is supranational. It owes no loyalty to any nation-state. It uses the projection of military power by the United States to protect and advance its economic interests but at the same time cannibalizes the U.S., dismantling its democratic institutions, allowing its infrastructure to decay and deindustrializing its factory centers to ship manufacturing abroad to regions where workers are treated as serfs.
Yes indeed, and the point of their becoming supranational is that they are both corporate and dedicated to one and only one thing: maximal profit for the corporations, in fact also by any means that give a higher profit, regardless of morals, ethics, norms, laws or rights (normally).
(For more, see neofascism.)

Then there is this:
Resistance to this global cabal of corporate oligarchs must also be supranational.
Well... maybe that follows (somehow, and I don't quite know how) from the fact that the rich corporations now indeed do operate globally, but I consider this rather unlikely, not because I may disagree (I don't know, for Hedges give no good argument), but because those who resist generally lack the money and the power to organize globally, and in fact tend to resist mainly on local problems (that plague them, there) and not on global problems.

Here is more on the left - or as I often prefer to say the "left" (for it is not really left):
The left, seduced by the culture wars and identity politics, largely ignores the primacy of capitalism and the class struggle. As long as unregulated capitalism reigns supreme, all social, economic, cultural and political change will be cosmetic. Capitalism, at its core, is about the commodification of human beings
and the natural world for exploitation and profit. To increase profit, it constantly seeks to reduce the cost of labor and demolish the regulations and laws that protect the common good.
Yes and no, though mostly yes.

First - having been a Marxist, in a thoroughly Marxist family my first 20 years - I do not believe in "the class struggle". I believe there are the rich, who mostly are exploitative, and the non-rich, who mostly are exploited, but I do not believe there is something like a class, as an independent entity, over and beyond the rich and the non-rich.

You may disagree, but I have read far too much utter baloney propped up on "a class analysis".

And second, I would have liked to hear more by Hedges on Keynesianism, which did attempt to regulate parts of capitalism, and indeed seem to have succeeded for the most part between 1946 and 1979.

That is, I would have liked to hear more about "
the regulations and laws that protect the common good" that were built up in the years between 1946 and 1979. I refer to that period as capitalism-with-a-human-face, and - whether that term is correct or not - it does (or did) seem possible to partially change capitalism, namely by having laws and more or less equal rights of the rich and the non-rich.
But Ieave this and turn to some by David North of the Socialist Equality Party:

“All the unanswered questions of the 20th century—the basic problem of the nation-state system, the reactionary character of private ownership with the means of production, corporate power, all of these issues which led to the first and Second world wars—are with us again, and add to that fascism,” he said.

“We live in a global economy, highly interconnected,” North went on. “A globalized process of production, financial system. The ruling class has an international policy. They organize themselves on an international scale. The labor movement has remained organized on a national basis.
Well... the first paragraph can be also summarized as follows: The same problems and more or less the same opponents (the rich, (neo)fascists) exist in the 21st Century as existed in the 20th Century, simply because capitalism ruled all the time.

And I have more or less answered the second point - I do not think it likely that "the labor movement" will get organized on an international scale, except perhaps formally. (And my reasons are not that I disagree, but that the labor movement has too little money and not enough power, which also extends to virtually all its members.)

Here is the sociologist Derber:

The sociologist Charles Derber, whom I also spoke with in New York, agrees.

“We don’t really have a left because we don’t have conversations about capitalism,” Derber said.
I think that is quite correct and indeed it may be put in considerably more radical terms:

Real leftists are real socialists, that is to say, their ideal - which they may well hold to be impossible to realize right now - is a socialist society, that differs fundamentally in its principles and in its economy from capitalism.

You may well ask what is a socialist society, but then I have given at least an outline of an answer, e.g. here
Crisis: Robert Reich, Socialism, 11 hypotheses about the causes of the crisis. (This last link is also strongly recommended.)

Here is the last bit I quote from this article, which is more by Derber:

Even on the left, you cannot find a deep conversation about capitalism and militarized capitalism. It’s just been erased. That’s why Trump came in. He unified a kind of very powerful right-wing identity politics built around nationalism, militarism and the exceptionalism of the American empire.”

“Identity politics is to a large degree a right-wing discourse,” Derber said. “It focuses on tribalism tied in modern times to nationalism, which is always militaristic.
Yes, I agree, although I do not believe that this is "why Trump came in". And in fact - having led a student party in the "University" of Amsterdam, where almost everyone except myself pretended to be "Marxists", "communists" or "socialists", I cannot even recall that I have heard as much as the word "socialism" in the context of the debates in the "U"vA between 1977 and 1995 even once.

It may have happened, but if it did I did not hear it. And this means that in Holland at least the pretended "left" was not really left since the 1970ies. And in fact, all the "leftists" I met in the university have - often publicly - converted to neoconservatism in the 1990s (to keep their often very well-paying jobs, in which they all succeeded [6]).

So in fact I may be more pessimistic than Chris Hedges, and one major reason why is that I have met (apart from my own direct family) only pseudo-leftists in Holland since the late 1970ies.

And this is a strongly recommended article.

2. Dow Jones and S.&P. Slide Again, Dropping by More Than 4%

This article is by Matt Phillips on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

Since the global financial crisis a decade ago, a few simple guidelines have helped investors make sense of the markets.

Global growth and inflation will be perpetually weak. Central banks will help by keeping interest rates low. And stocks will almost invariably rise.

The rule book is now changing, a shift that is sending tremors through the financial markets. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index fell by more than 4 percent on Monday, deepening its losses from the previous week and erasing its gains for the year. The Dow Jones industrial average sank by 4.6 percent. Bond yields, the basis for key borrowing costs such as mortgage rates, have risen fast in recent weeks.

I say! And in fact these considerable economic changes started yesterday, and therefore it is at the moment difficult to say whether they will deepen of flatten out.

But one thing is meanwhile certain: This is the biggest fall since 2008, indeed in part because it is worldwide.

Here is a bit more:

In trading in Asia on Tuesday morning, markets signaled another tough day. Major stock markets in the region plunged after the drop in the United States on Monday, suggesting the pain could continue. In Japan, stocks were down more than 5 percent in morning trading, while shares in Hong Kong were down more than 4 percent.

On the moment it is - for me - very early morning on Tuesday, but Phillips is right about trading in Asia.

There is considerably more in the original, which is recommended. And I will follow this development and have more in later issues of Nederlog.

3. As Paul Ryan Touts a Secretary’s $1.50 Weekly Pay Hike, Koch Bros. Reap $1.4B from GOP Tax Plan

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
This weekend, House Speaker Paul Ryan touted a story of a woman whose paycheck increased by $1.50 cents a week as a major benefit to middle-class workers. On Saturday, Ryan tweeted a link to an Associated Press report, writing, “A secretary at a public high school in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, said she was pleasantly surprised her pay went up $1.50 a week … she said [that] will more than cover her Costco membership for the year.” After a deluge of ridicule and outrage, Ryan deleted the tweet hours later. For more, we speak with Richard Wolff, emeritus professor of economics at University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and visiting professor at The New School. He’s the author of several books, including, most recently, “Capitalism’s Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown.”
I happen to be a psychologist and will diagnose Paul Ryan: He is an evident sadist. And the story summarized in this introduction is indeed precisely as I've read it on other sites, so I take it that it is correct.

Also, I happen to be a philosophical anarchist [2] who comes from a very Marxistic family, but I gave up Marx and Marxism - for quite good reasons, incidentally - in 1970. It so happens that I am not angry with most Marxists (apart from the quasi-Marxists that formed the great majority in the thoroughly sick ASVA in Holland, between 1971 and 1995 - but my parents were real Marxists, and I never quarreled with them about Marx), and that I also do follow some academic Marxists on line.

I also tried to follow Richard Wolff several times, but gave up because his prose is too academic, and his opinions are mostly quite familiar to me.

Anyway... here he is:
AMY GOODMAN: In contrast to the reported $1.50 pay increase, which comes to $78 a year, House Speaker Ryan received a staggering half a million dollars in campaign contributions from Charles Koch only days after Ryan pushed through the tax overhaul. The legislation has been massively benefiting corporations and the richest Americans, including President Trump and his own family, and the Koch brothers, who may save as much as $1.4 billion on income taxes every year.
Your response to this, Richard Wolff?

RICHARD WOLFF: I take great comfort from the fact that there was this kind of response. The classic move, both of the Republican Party in general and of Mr. Trump, is to give tiny tax benefits to the mass of people in order to distract them from the grotesque inequality of the benefits going to the corporations and the richest people.
And for me, as an economic historian, after 30 years, which is the truth of the last 30 years, of a growing gap between rich and poor, that everybody recognizes, to pass a tax cut that worsens it rather than softens it, is kind of staggering. It’s really not about economics anymore. It’s about an out-of-control economy in which the few are simply grabbing it all before it disappears
And I agree with that - and I said above that my psychologist's diagnosis of Ryan is that he is a sadist (which - I think - certainly played a role in his mailing about how much a benefit of $1.50 a week is appreciated by - what I think he thinks - the subhuman and stupid poor).

Here is more by Wolff:
RICHARD WOLFF: (...) They hope that if you get a little bit, you’ll be so grateful and so happy that you won’t pay attention. But here’s where it’ll come back and bite you, because with this kind of a tax cut, massive reduction in the money that the federal government gets from all these corporations and rich, we know already, because Mr. Ryan, among others, has told us, they’re going to be cutting government programs, using the excuse that they don’t have the money. So, the $1.50 that young lady will save, she will then lose more than that in the cutback in government programs upon which she and her family and her community will depend. This is a bad scene for the mass of the American people.
I think this is also correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article
RICHARD WOLFF: (...) For years, large corporations have evaded their share of taxes by using a loophole that their lobbyists got into the law years ago, which says, if you keep your wealth outside the country, your profits, you don’t have to pay the tax here in the United States, you only have to pay when you come back. Year after year, billions were unavailable to Washington to serve our needs as a people, because they did that. And instead of saying, “You know, you’ve abused the American economy by this not payment,” instead, that bill, that was passed in December, gives them a preferential lower rate than they otherwise would have had to pay.
Yes indeed. And this is a recommended article.

4. How to Reel in the U.S. War Machine

This article is by Medea Benjamin on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

In recent budget negotiations, Senate Democrats agreed to a boost in military spending that exceeded the cap for fiscal 2018 by $70 billion, bringing the total request to an enormous $716 billion. Inevitably, this means more Pentagon contracts will be awarded to private corporations that use endless war to line their pockets. Democrats capitulated to this massive increase without so much as a scuffle. But the move hardly comes as a surprise, given how much money flows from weapons makers to the coffers of congressional campaigns for both parties.

While the majority of the weapons money goes to Republicans, Democratic Senators Tim Kaine and Bill Nelson appear in the top ten recipients of campaign contributions—in both chambers and parties—from military contractors in 2017 and 2018. Northrop Grumman gave $785,000 to Democratic candidates since 2017. Hillary Clinton took over $1 million from the industry in 2016. Even progressive darlings like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders take money from weapons manufacturers, and Sanders supported Boeing’s disastrous F-35 because his home state had a financial stake in the program.

If neither major political party will stand up to this status quo, what can be done?

I think all of the above is quite correct. And in fact my own reply to the last question is: Very little indeed. (In case you ask why: It is the Senate who decided these things, and most of the Senate - Republicans and Democrats - has been corrupted by the bankers and the arms industry, indeed as sketched in the second paragraph of the above quote.)

There is more that I leave to your interests. The article ends thus:

A new coalition of about 70 groups across the country has formed to launch a Divest From the War Machine campaign. The coalition is inviting all those who are disgusted by the war profiteers to help galvanize university, city, pension and faith institutions to divest from war.

In a 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress, the very Congress that is so beholden to the war machine, Pope Francis asked why deadly weapons were being sold to those who inflict untold suffering on society. The answer, he said, was money, “money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” Looking at a room full of congresspeople who benefit from what he called “merchants of death,” the Pope called for the elimination of the arms trade. One way to heed the Pope’s call is to eat away at the profits of those who make a killing on killing.

I am sorry, but I don't believe this will be successful, and not because I disagree but because the arms industry is very powerful and very rich. But this is a recommended article.
5. ‘Deep State’ Veterans find New Homes in Mainstream Media

This article is by Caitlin Johnstone on Consortiumnews. It starts as follows:
“Former CIA director John Brennan has become the latest member of the NBC News and MSNBC family, officially signing with the network as a contributor,” chirps a recent article by The Wrap, as though that’s a perfectly normal thing to have to write and not a ghastly symptom of an Orwellian dystopia. NBC reports
that the former head of the depraved, lying, torturing, propagandizing, drug trafficking, coup-staging, warmongering Central Intelligence Agency “is now a senior national security and intelligence analyst.”

Brennan, who played a key role in the construction of the establishment’s Russia narrative that has been used to manufacture public consent for world-threatening new cold war escalations, is just the latest addition in an ongoing trend of trusted mainstream media outlets being packed to the gills with stalwarts from the U.S. intelligence community. Brennan joins CIA and DoD Chief of Staff Jeremy Bash on the NBC/MSNBC lineup, who is serving there as a national security analyst, as well as NBC intelligence/national security reporter and known CIA collaborator Ken Dilanian.
I say! Then again, I also agree with Johnstone. Here is more on other Deep State's veterans now pretending they are journalists:

Former Director of National Intelligence, Russiagate architect, and known Russophobic racist James Clapper was welcomed to the CNN “family” last year by Chris “It’s Illegal to Read WikiLeaks” Cuomo and now routinely appears as an expert analyst for the network. Last year CNN also hired a new national security analyst in Michael Hayden, who has served as CIA Director, NSA Director, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and an Air Force general.

Former CIA analyst and now paid CNN analyst Phil Mudd, who last year caused Cuomo’s show to have to issue a retraction and apology for a completely baseless claim he made on national television asserting that WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange is “a pedophile”, is once again making headlines for suggesting that the FBI is entering into a showdown with the current administration over Trump’s decision to declassify the controversial Nunes memo.

I think this is also correct, and here is a more or less general analysis by Johnstone:
More and more of the outlets from which Americans get their information are being filled not just with garden variety establishment loyalists, but with longstanding members of the U.S. intelligence community. These men got to their positions of power within these deeply sociopathic institutions based on their willingness to facilitate any depravity in order to advance the secret agendas of the U.S. power establishment, and now they’re being paraded in front of mainstream Americans on cable news on a daily basis. The words of these “experts” are consistently taken and reported on by smaller news outlets in print and online media in a way that seeds their authoritative assertions throughout public consciousness.
Again I mostly agree, except - I am a psychologist - for the term "sociopathic": A sociopath is somebody who does not share the current norms of his or her society (which is not a psychiatric sickness at all). What is meant is probably a psychopath (who do have something wrong in their personality or their motives).

Here is more:

The term “deep state” does not refer to a conspiracy theory but to a simple concept in political analysis which points to the undeniable reality that (A) plutocrats, (B) intelligence agencies, (C) defense agencies, and (D) the mainstream media hold large amounts of power in America despite their not being part of its elected government. You don’t need to look far to see how these separate groups overlap and collaborate to advance their own agendas in various ways. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, for example, is deeply involved in all of the aforementioned groups: (A) as arguably the wealthiest person ever he is clearly a plutocrat, with a company that is trying to control the underlying infrastructure of the economy; (B) he is a CIA contractor; (C) he is part of a Pentagon advisory board; and (D) his purchase of the Washington Post in 2013 gave him total control over a major mainstream media outlet.

Well... I don't think the Deep State is quite what Johnstone says it is (here is a better analysis) but she comes fairly close, and she is wholly right about Jeff Bezos.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

America is ruled by an elite class which has slowly created a system where money increasingly translates directly into political power, and which is therefore motivated to maintain economic injustice in order to rule over the masses more completely. The greater the economic inequality, the greater their power.

Yes indeed - and note that this "system" excludes more or less automatically anyone who does not have political power and does not have heaps of money. And this means it is thoroughly anti-democratic.

This is a recommended article.


[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 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] In fact because I agree more with the philosophical anarchists than with other social philosophers, and - especially - because I am quite aware that this is an ideal for me, that I, at least, will never see realized.

[3] I am sorry, but all these things happened to me between 1988 and 1992, and if somebody knows better terms for that behavior you may write me. It was also all handed to Van Thijn's personal doorman starting in 1990, and also send to the lawyers of the City of Amsterdam, but evidently I was too much of a subhuman to even acknowledge receipt of my texts.

[4] These three fascistic and terrorist beasts from the "Social Democrats" are all dead: They cannot be offended anymore. If you know better terms for them - remembering that I have been called "a dirty fascist" many tens of times by many tens of students during eleven years, simply because I opposed the ASVA, and have had my health and my ex's health seen thoroughly destroyed because they absolutely refused to do anything for 3 years against an utter madman who threatened my life and attacked me (and I won the courtcase) - you may write me.

[5] Simply because my father was capable of raising a family and I was not.

[6] Incidentally, here is another fact about nearly all the (prominent) "leftists" I have known since 1977: Nearly everyone made a great amount of personal money from their "leftist" lies, pretesions and fairytales, some indeed hundreds of thousands or - rarely - millions, over several years. Again I am the only one who never made a single cent with my  opinions in Holland: Everybody else who got prominent as a "leftist" did it for money.

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