from May 7, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Monday,
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.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
2. Crisis Files
These are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
A. Selections from May 7, 2018
1. The Danger of Leadership Cults
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:
2. Trump's Shameful Choice of 'Bloody Gina'
3. Letter from Britain: Increasingly Illiberal Establishment
Challenge of Jeremy Corbyn
4. The Monopolization of America
5. What Karl Marx Got Right -- And One Big Thing He Got Wrong
Danger of Leadership Cults
article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
No leader, no matter
how talented and visionary, effectively defies power without a
disciplined organizational foundation. The civil rights movement was no
more embodied in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. than the socialist movement
was embodied in Eugene V. Debs. As the civil rights
leader Ella Baker understood, the civil rights movement made King;
King did not make the civil rights movement. We must focus on building
new, radical movements that do not depend on foundation grants, a media
platform or the Democratic Party or revolve around the cult of
leadership. Otherwise, we will remain powerless. No leader, no matter
how charismatic or courageous, will save us. We must save ourselves.
Yes and no - and the
problem is not Chris Hedges (nor myself), but the average
qualities of people. At least that is what I think,
although I agree with Hedges that ¨the civil rights movement made King;
King did not make the civil rights movement¨. Then again, while I tend to distrust leaders, I grant
that they are usually more gifted and more informed
that the majorities of their followers.
And that is indeed - I think - a major
problem, in that a few are leaders (good,
bad or indifferent); many are followers; and only
a few think for themselves and do not
behave as conformists
but as individual persons who
think for themselves.
Then there is this by Chris Hedges:
Again yes and no, but this
time mostly no. I agree with Hedges that ¨I-consciousness (...) seduces
many, including those on the left¨, but I think that cannot be helped, just as
¨reject the cult of
the self¨ until the selves have been changed by some
All of our radical and
populist organizations, including unions and the press, are decimated
or destroyed. If we are to successfully pit power against power we must
reject the cult of the self, the deadly I-consciousness that seduces
many, including those on the left, to construct little monuments to
themselves. We must understand that it is not about us. It is about our
neighbor. We must not be crippled by despair. Our job is to name and
confront evil. All great crusades for justice outlast us. We are
measured not by what we achieve but by how passionately and honestly we
fight. Only then do we have a chance to thwart corporate power and
protect a rapidly degrading ecosystem.
What I agree with is that people who lack power can only
by organizing themselves into groups,
with clear ends and with clear
norms. (But leaders
are still needed, if only because most people are
not leaders but followers.)
Then there is this:
One of the most
aspects of organizing is grass-roots educational programs that teach
people, by engaging them in dialogue, about the structures of corporate
power and the nature of oppression. One cannot fight what one does not
understand. Effective political change, as Baker knew, is not primarily
politically motivated. It is grounded in human solidarity, mutual trust
Well... one problem with ¨grass-roots educational programs¨ is that while one can try to teach
people ¨about the
structures of corporate
power and the nature of oppression¨ in real fact there
are more ideas about these things than most people are
willing to read
about, and also that most people simply are not very intelligent.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
mobilizations, such as the Women’s March, have little impact unless
they are part of a campaign centered around a specific goal. The
goal—in the case of SNCC, voter registration—becomes the organizing
tool for greater political consciousness and eventually a broader
challenge to established power. People need to be organized around
issues they care about, Moses said. They need to formulate their own
strategy. If strategy is dictated to them, then the movement will fail.
And again yes and no, and
this time I will only say what I disagree about: It is not true
people ¨need to formulate
strategy¨ (for they are not
merely individual atoms, trying to do what they want).
In the end, people get organized by joining - small or big - groups,
and organize themselves by agreeing to cooperate to
further the ends of
the group. And this is a recommended article.
Shameful Choice of 'Bloody Gina'
article is by Robert Scheer on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
agree with most of that, but I also disagree with one point: I do not
believe that torture does not ¨produce any actionable information in
preventing acts of terror¨, for the simple reason that extremely
few can withstand having their nails pulled or getting
on their genitals.
Leave it to Donald Trump,
besieged by denunciations of his torturous behavior toward women, to
have nominated a female torturer to head the Central Intelligence
Agency. It was a move clearly designed to prove that a woman can be as
crudely barbaric as this deeply misogynistic president. When it comes
to bullying, Gina Haspel, whose confirmation hearing begins Wednesday,
is the real deal, and The Donald is a pussycat by comparison. Whom has
he ever waterboarded? Haspel has done that and a lot worse.
They call her “Bloody
Gina,” and for some of her buddies in the torture wing of the CIA
and their supporters in Congress, that is meant as a compliment. For a
decade after the 9/11 attacks, Haspel served as chief of staff, running
the vast network of secret rendition torture prisons around the globe.
As a definitive Senate
Intelligence Committee report established, torture is not legal,
according to U.S. law and international covenants signed by President
Ronald Reagan, nor does it produce any actionable information in
preventing acts of terror.
Then again, I completely agree that ¨torture is not legal¨ and should
remain so, and not because it may not work, but because it
cruel to torture a person.
Here is more by Robert Scheer:
Yes indeed - to the best
of my knowledge all of this is correct. And Trump is simply either
totally wrong or totally lying when he ¨branded it as a legitimate¨: It is illegitimate, and is
very wide international agreement.
After the public revelation
of the vast extent of the torture program horrified the world, Haspel
deliberately destroyed 92 videotapes depicting the barbaric practice,
violating a Justice Department order that the tapes be preserved, and
thus clearly obstructing a criminal investigation. Yet in March, Trump
chose to nominate Bloody Gina to be the new head of our super-spy
Give Trump credit for
consistency: He did campaign on the theme that torture—or “enhanced
interrogation,” as his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush,
justified it—is only wrong when nations other than our own do it. And
by nominating Haspel to head the CIA, Trump is clearly seeking to take
torture out of the covert dark side, as former Vice President Dick
Cheney termed his revival of the medieval dungeon art; Trump has
branded it as a legitimate, made-in-America weapon, wielded by a woman,
Here is the final bit that I quote from this article:
But even some
Democrats may support Haspel’s nomination given that members of their
party have been complicit in excusing the heinous practice of torture.
After all, it was Democratic President Barack Obama who decided not to
prosecute anyone for ordering or committing the torture that is one of
the great stains on American history. In fact, Obama prosecuted former
CIA agent John
Kiriakou after he revealed the torture program’s existence to a
Yes indeed. And this is
a recommended article.
from Britain: Increasingly Illiberal Establishment and the Challenge of
article is by Alexander Mercouris on Consortiumnews. It starts as
is often considered an exemplar liberal state, prizing its tradition of
tolerance, fairness and willingness to entertain dissent.
Well... I do not know
whether I agree that Britain ¨in
the 1960s was a genuinely
tolerant, law abiding and liberal place¨ but I do agree it was more tolerant and more
it is now.
British in their own self conception are the great pioneers of the rule
of law and of human rights.
has this view of Britain always been wrong. The British were genuinely
horrified by the McCarthyite campaigns in the US in the 1950s, and
British public opinion supported the civil rights movement in the US in
the 1960s. The Britain I first saw in the 1960s was a genuinely
tolerant, law abiding and liberal place.
events of the last couple of weeks should however dispose of any notion
that Britain really is the paradigm liberal state that it claims to be.
news in Britain over the last few weeks has been dominated by three
Then again, it also has been slowly collapsing further and further into
several kinds of authori- tarianism, notably the authoritarianism of
Thatcher and Blair
(¨my genuine successor¨ according to Thatcher), and this means that,
while I more or less agree with Marcouris, I think it certainly is not
a matter of ¨the last few weeks¨, and indeed not of the last
Marcouris treats several examples from the last few weeks, which I will
leave to your own interests, except for this bit:
Yes, I think all of this
correct. Also, I insist all of the above should be analyzed using
Orwell´s and my conception of totalitarianism,
but lately the Wikipedia seems to have fallen in the hands of
rightists, who pretend to be objectivists, and - among quite a few
other things - totally revised the concept of totalitarianism,
that now means what the neofascist
Brzezinski wanted it to mean, which means that only states, and
never persons, never
political parties, never plans, never religions, never policies,
never desires and never values
of anyone who does not live in the Soviet Union,
Hitler´s Germany or China can be totalitarian.
This scandal has developed
concurrently with a parallel one of alleged
anti-semitism in the Labour Party, which is quite clearly targeted at
the party’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn.
It is based on claims that
Corbyn—who has a well-established record of
outspoken support for the Palestinian people’s struggle for their
rights—has tolerated or even fostered a culture of anti-semitism within
the Labour Party. There are even occasional insinuations that he is an
It should be said clearly that
the insinuation that Corbyn is an
anti-semite is malicious and absurd. Corbyn has an outstanding record
of anti-racism, and this has included a history of strong opposition to
As for the allegations of
anti-semitism by some members of the Labour
Party, some of these allegations have substance but some appear to be
legitimately contested, whilst all of the individuals involved have
been marginal figures who carry little weight in the Labour Party.
Their number has been tiny. Corbyn himself has moreover strongly
condemned manifestations of anti-semitism within the party, and those
who have been accused of engaging in it have been subjected to
disciplinary action, and where the allegation has been proved, have
Nonetheless the anti-semitism
campaign against Corbyn has been waged
relentlessly for weeks, gaining huge publicity in the media, with
Corbyn himself being the primary target of the attacks.
This is a stinking falsification and has led me to give up Wikipedia.
(I will use it ocassionally, but will never trust it anymore).
Back to the article:
The Change in
I think this well may be
correct. But I do not know for certain, and one reason is that
the only British journalism I follow these days (and the last
years or so) is The Guardian.
The reality is that today’s
Britain has become a profoundly illiberal
Very much like the
contemporary U.S., the media and political
establishment in Britain is today relentlessly hostile to anyone who
challenges the established orthodoxies of (1) unqualified support for
finance capital (concentrated in Britain in the City of London); (2)
support for “liberal interventionism” i.e., the U.S.’s regime change
wars; and (3) pathological hostility to Russia.
Even an issue like Brexit is
often framed around these orthodoxies,
with establishment opponents of Brexit blaming Russia—absurdly—for the
result of the Brexit referendum, and opposing Brexit because it
supposedly serves the interests of Russia.
Then again, the following seems correct to me:
The reality is that
since 2015, when Corbyn was elected Labour’s leader
against the strong opposition of the leadership of his own party,
Labour has electorally consistently outperformed expectations, most
spectacularly in the general election last year. The breakdown of the
local council vote suggests that if a general election were held this
year Labour would beat the Conservatives and would emerge as Britain’s
I think this is probably
correct, and I hope the last statement is correct (but do not
And this is a recommended article.
Needless to say this is not
how the British media is reporting the
local council election results. On the contrary, all the talk is of how
the local election results were supposedly “disappointing” for Corbyn
because he did not achieve the impossibly high targets the media had
set for him.
In light of the
establishment’s hostility to him, and how his successes
routinely get called failures, that should surprise no-one.
In reality the local election
results reinforce the view that
electorally speaking the British establishment is living on borrowed
4. The Monopolization of
article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:
Yes, quite so, though it
is also true that there have been monopolies, or at least
oligopolies, for quite a long time now. Then again, Reich is correct, I
think, in insisting that monopolies and oligopolies have lately
acquired a lot more power than they had before.
Not long ago I visited some
farmers in Missouri whose profits
are disappearing. Why? Monsanto alone owns the key genetic traits to
90 percent of the soybeans planted by farmers in the United States, and
percent of the corn. Which means Monsanto can charge farmers much
Farmers are getting
squeezed from the other side, too,
because the food processors they sell their produce to are also
into mega companies that have so much market power they can cut the
pay to farmers.
This doesn’t mean lower
food prices to you. It means more
profits to the monopolists.
Here is some on why monopolies got a lot more power lately:
There are in fact
considerably more points in Reich´s article than I quoted. And the
above is correct, as is the following explanation:
America used to have
antitrust laws that stopped corporations
from monopolizing markets, and often broke up the biggest culprits. No
It’s a hidden upward redistribution of money and power from the
Americans to corporate executives and wealthy shareholders.
You may think you have lots
of choices, but take a closer look:
1. The four largest food
companies control 82
percent of beef packing, 85 percent of soybean processing, 63 percent
packing, and 53 percent of chicken processing.
2. There are many brands of
toothpaste, but 70 percent of all of it comes from just two companies.
6. What about your pharmaceuticals? Yes, you can get low-cost generic
versions. But drug companies are in effect paying the makers of generic
delay cheaper versions. Such “pay for delay” agreements are illegal in
advanced economies, but antitrust enforcement hasn’t laid a finger on
America. They cost you and me an estimated $3.5 billion a year.
7. You think your health
insurance will cover the costs? Health
insurers are consolidating, too. Which is one reason your health
premiums, copayments, and deductibles are soaring.
Why the Monopolization
of America is a Huge Problem
The problem with all this
consolidation into a handful of giant firms is they don’t have to
compete. Which means they can – and do – jack up your prices.
Such consolidation keeps
down wages. Workers with less choice
of whom to work for have a harder time getting a raise. When local
are dominated by one major big box retailer, or one grocery chain, for
those firms essentially set wage rates for the area.
These massive corporations
also have a lot of political clout.
That’s one reason they’re consolidating: Power.
Antitrust laws were
stop what’s been going on. But today, they’re almost a dead letter.
Precisely. And indeed
antitrust laws protected the ordinary people in the 1950ies and
1960ies, but they have been mostly destroyed, successively, under
Here is more:
We haven’t seen
concentration on this scale ever before.
Google and Facebook are now
the first stops for many Americans
seeking news. Meanwhile, Amazon is now the first stop for more than a
American consumers seeking to buy anything. Talk about power.
Contrary to the
conventional view of an American economy bubbling
with innovative small companies, the reality is quite different. The
which new businesses have formed in the United States has slowed
the late 1970s.
Big Tech’s sweeping
patents, standard platforms, fleets of
lawyers to litigate against potential rivals, and armies of lobbyists
created formidable barriers to new entrants. Google’s search engine is
dominant, “Google” has become a verb.
Yes indeed. And here is
It’s Time to Revive
Economic and political
power cannot be separated
because dominant corporations gain political influence over how markets
organized, maintained, and enforced – which enlarges their economic
One of the original goals
of the antitrust laws was to prevent this.
Big Tech — along with the
drug, insurance, agriculture, and
financial giants — is coming to dominate both our economy and our
There’s only one
is time to revive antitrust.
I completely agree
it will be very difficult with the present Republican
is also coupled to major corruption on the side of many Democrats). And
this is a recommended article.
Karl Marx Got Right -- And One Big Thing He Got Wrong
article is by Robert
Kuttner on Huffpost. This starts as follows:
fact, this - more or less - continues the four bits I published
yesterday on Karl Marx, that were
written because he was born two
centuries ago, on May 5, 1818. And the present article is reviewed
mostly because it is a bit better than the ones I reviewed
When I was first studying economics, Marx
looked to me like an idiot. In postwar America and in much of the West,
the proletariat was making steady gains. Far from turning
revolutionary, workers were joining unions and supporting mainstream
center-left political parties.
Far from containing the seeds of its own
destruction, capitalism in Europe and America had at last been
harnessed in the broad public interest. The welfare state was spreading
the good life. The bourgeoisie was doing well, but it was mostly
well-behaved. Nobody was being “immiserated.”
Meanwhile, nations that invoked Marx’s name
were both economic failures and political hellholes. Far from Marx’s
benign “dictatorship of the proletariat,” communist countries were
ordinary despotisms, and corrupt as hell to boot.
Well, what a difference a generation makes.
Today, Marxian concepts that once sounded far-fetched or silly are
pretty good descriptions of reality.
This weekend marked the 200th
birthday of Karl Marx, who was born in the German city of Trier on May
5, 1818. With more and more workers pushed aside by global capitalism and more and more of the economic gains
going to the top, it’s a good time to inquire if perhaps Marx might
have been right after all.
There is indeed a global reserve army of the
unemployed, and it drags down wages generally. More and more working
people are being dumped into a “lumpenproletariat” made up of would-be workers without regular
Also, while the above is more or less correct (and especially the last
paragraph) I want to make two general remarks.
First about Kuttner, mostly. He is seven years older than I am, and
very probably studied economics in the early 1960ies. I think this
mostly explains Kuttner´s attitudes to Marx of the early
Firstly, nearly all American economists were against
was thriving, which did substantially
increase the incomes of the lower and middle classes in the West (also
in Holland and in Western Europe generally); and thirdly, Kuttner is
right that the supposed followers of Marx, the so-called ¨socialist¨
countries led by the Soviet Union (which I never believed were
socialist, but that is only remarked in passing) were doing much more
poorly economically while also being much more repressive politically
than ẗhe West.
And second about Marx.
I think that Kuttner is right that Marx is
getting re-evaluated by some economists, and also by non-economists,
and for more political reasons, but I think he is mistaken in
suggesting that ¨it’s a good time to inquire if perhaps Marx
might have been right after all¨.
My reasons are probably not quite what you think, but I was
raised as a Marxist,
by Marxist parents, which means i.a. that I have read quite a
bit of Marx (and Engels, and Lenin and Stalin, etc.) And it is
especially this reading that informs my judgement:
of the writings by Marx and Engels at
present (around 2017) stand at 65 - solid - volumes, and will
when completed cover 114 volumes. Also, there is an English
translation of some of this, and that numbers 50 volumes.
Having read more of that than most I´ve met, but by no means all or
most of it (not by far), my contentions are that (i) Marx and Engels
were both real intellectuals, who did write very much
as intellectuals, and (ii) there is not one Marx or one
Engels to be found in their complete works: there are quite a few Marxs
I do not mean that they were inconsistent (although they were
on some points), nor that they were dishonest: I mean that there is
too much material they wrote to reduce that to a singular set of
propositions that either or both might have agreed to.
And I don´t think that is a shame either. But it does mean that
there very probably is not a single consistent interpretation
Back to the article, which sketches the present of the USA:
I more or less agree, and
I agree completely that Keynes´s
program, that did more or less guide
the West from 1946 till 1980, was a combination of policies and
and of the economy itself.
Well, today the state has been pretty well
captured by the Koch brothers and company. Goldman Sachs has provided
five of the last six secretaries of the Treasury, under Democrats and
Republicans alike. That sounds a lot more like “executive committee”
than “countervailing power.”
The postwar boom, rather than being a
permanent refutation of Marx, was more like a fortunate historical blip
— when the stars were aligned to regulate capitalism in a broad public
interest. But one bad decade, the 1970s, was sufficient to restore both
capitalists and the ideology of raw, free-market capitalism to their
usual power — despite the verdict of history that raw capitalism keeps
generating needless economic catastrophe.
The greatest of the 20th
century economists, John Maynard Keynes, demonstrated that this did not
have to be so. With the right policy interventions, a basically
capitalist economy could indeed be harnessed to serve the broad working
The postwar boom seemed to prove Keynes
right. But one of Keynes’ lesser-known colleagues, the Polish-born
economist Michal Kalecki, who located himself somewhere between Keynes
and Marx, offered the following rebuttal: Even if it were possible as a
matter of economics to harness a basically capitalist system to serve
the broad mass of people, as a matter of politics the capitalist class
would never let policymakers do it.
Then again, when the elected politicians were rightwing
neo-conservatives, which happened from Thatcher and Reagan onwards, the
policies and laws were - quite radically, also - changed, which
altered the economy in the sense that - once again - a much larger
proportion of the profits went to the rich.
This is the last bit that I quote from this article:
No, what Marx (and Engels,
and Stalin, and Lenin, and many more) got wrong was historical materialism:
It just is not true that all of society is determined
by the economy or by economical relations, and it also just is not
true that ¨class solidarity¨ will inspire the workers (or the
repressed, or the exploited) to unite with workers (or etc.) from other
countries and to resist - for example - fighting for their own
capitalists. (As happened in both WW I and WW II.)
This is not to say that Marx was entirely
correct, however. He got one big thing wrong. Touchingly, he
imagined that as capitalism became more and more destructive, the
workers of the world would unite.
Frustrated workers, whether in Poland,
Hungary, Turkey, Britain, France or the U.S., are not joining hands
with their brothers and sisters in other lands. They are turning to
neo-fascists at home. Poor Marx left out the appeal of ultranationalism.
But this is a considerably better article about Marx than I
found yesterday, and that is the main reason it was reviewed today. And
it is recommended.
have now been
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.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
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
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
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 (!!).