May 31, 2018

Crisis: A Radical Left, Greenwald on Assange & Barr, DNC Lawsuit, On The Death of Truth


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from May 31, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Thursday, May 31, 2018.

1. Summary

This is a crisis log but it is a bit different from how it was until 2013:

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.

2. Crisis Files

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

A. Selections from May 31, 2018:
1. Needed Now: A Real and Radical Left
2. Glenn Greenwald on Julian Assange, Ecuador & Threats to Press

3. Glenn Greenwald: Why Did ABC Ignore Roseanne Barr’s Hateful Tweets
     Against Arabs & Palestinians?

4. Journalism Watchdog Blasts DNC Lawsuit Against WikiLeaks
5. Sides, Balance, and the Death of Truth
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. Needed Now: A Real and Radical Left

This article is by Paul Street on Truthdig. It starts as follows:

It’s “socialism or barbarism.” So wrote the brilliant German Marxist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg in 1915. The 20th and 21st centuries have borne her out. The list of barbarian horrors that have disfigured the human record under the class rule of capital across the last century is daunting indeed.

Now, however, we have to say that Luxemburg put things too gently. Marx and Engels got closer to our contemporary reality in 1848. They wrote in “The Communist Manifesto” about how the long-standing class struggle between producers and appropriators always ends “either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.”

It’s socialism or barbarism if we’re lucky. To be more precise, its eco-socialism or annihilation as capital turns the planet into a giant greenhouse gas chamber. The earth science is perfectly clear. The “common ruin” of all is precisely where humanity is headed after half a millennium under the rule of a system that relies on permanent unsustainable expansion to avert collapse. “The rich,” the French ecological writer Herve Kempf observed 11 years ago, “are destroying the Earth.” Well, not the earth itself, just the chances for a decent and organized human future.

Well... yes and no. I agree with Herve Kempf (11 years ago), but I do not think that the opinions of Luxemburg (103 years ago) or Marx and Engels (166 years ago) are very relevant, indeed not because what they said was mistaken, but because the world of 100 or 150 years ago was very different from the world in which we live.

Then there is this:

For Marx, and I think for any authentic left today, the moral predisposition of bourgeois “elites” was and is of little concern. It’s not about speaking truth to wealth and power. Beseeching our capitalist masters to be nicer and smarter for the common good of all is a fool’s errand.

No, I think this is a mistake, and I also think it is a rather serious mistake.

First, what is the ¨authentic left¨? It´s not said. Second, why is the term ¨¨elites¨¨ between quotes? Is that to suggest there are no elites?! Third, if ¨[i]t’s not about speaking truth to wealth and power¨ then how should one address ¨wealth and power¨?!?!

But the real mistake - I think - is to deny that legal changes in capitalism are capable of changing anything. My reason is an idea that I have been stating for years in terms of:

There are two kinds of capitalism (at least), namely capitalism-with-a-human-face, that was introduced in 1945 by Keynes and Roosevelt, and more or less ruled capitalism (in the West) from 1945 till 1980, and capitalism-with-an-inhuman face, that rules capitalism since 1980, and was introduced by the neoliberals, the rich, and Thatcher and Reagan (and quite a few more).

Also, while the terms of this distinction are mine, the distinction is also drawn by quite a few others, in other terms.

And the general point (and the real mistake) is that - as long as capitalism of some kind exists - the only more or less solid changes that may help the non-rich are laws that improve their rights or their chances or their payments.

Here is a further conclusion by Street I think is quite mistaken:

The only solution, a real left would know, along with Marx, is for workers and citizens to organize collectively to overthrow the amoral profits system and take control of what they produce and how society is organized.

That is: Nothing that does not bring The Socialist Revolution can be taken serious. That is: All legal changes in the economy, in morals, in freedoms. in rights are totally irrelevant - the only thing that matters is The Socialist Revolution. Bullshit!

Then there is this on the present meaning of the term ¨the left¨:

In the reigning U.S. media-politics culture, “the left” refers first and foremost to the Democratic Party and its many allies at places like The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, the Center for American Progress, most of academia and a host of other elite sectors and actors. But for anyone who knows anything about the history and meaning of radical movements, calling the dismal dollar-drenched Democrats and their many media allies “the left” is like calling the National Pork Producers Association vegan. As the multimillionaire House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a young CNN town hall questioner last year, “We’re capitalist and that’s just the way it is.”

Well... yes and no again.

First, I agree the term ¨the left¨ is used in the USA in more or less the sense Street gives. (Note incidentally that citizens, citizens´ initiatives, citizens´ groups etc. have - quite strangely, at least for someone who can recall the left in the second half of the 20th century - completely disappeared, at least from the given sum-up.)

But second, while I do not like the present Democrats at all (and agree with ¨multimillionaire¨ Nancy Pelosi that the present Democrats are pro capitalism), I still think the present Republicans are considerably worse - but the Republicans are not even mentioned by Street.

Then there is this on the present Democrats:

As William Kaufman told Barbara Ehrenreich on Facebook last year, “The Democrats aren’t feckless, inept, or stupid, unable to ‘learn’ what it takes to win. They are corrupt. They do not want to win with an authentically progressive program because it would threaten the economic interests of their main corporate donor base. … The Democrats know exactly what they’re doing. They have a business model: sub-serving the interests of the corporate elite.”

Indeed! This seems mostly quite correct to me. Kaufman is quite right when he said that the present Democrats are (especially) corrupt, as can be seen from the Clintons and the Obamas, who started out with no money and at present are multi-millionaires.

And indeed, if you can get over a hundred million dollars from the very rich backers that you so consistently helped as president, then you and your family get a whole lot richer by eight years of presidential work. As far as I can see, personal riches at present are far more important to Democrats (and Republicans) than keeping political promises.

This is the last bit that I quote from this article, and it is on the ¨corporate Democrats¨:

Among other things, Russiagate is the Inauthentic Opposition following its business model and doing its job, working to cover its tracks by throwing the debacle of its corporatist politics down George Orwell’s memory hole and attributing their largely self-made defeat to Russia’s allegedly powerful interference in our supposed democracy. Russiagate is meant to provide corporate Democrats cover not only for 2016 but also for 2018 and 2020. It is meant to create a narrative that lets the Fake Resistance Party continue nominating corporate captive neoliberal shills and imperialists who pretend to be progressive while they are owned by the nation’s own homegrown oligarchs (...)

Yes indeed, I think this is also correct. And this is a recommended article, but one should not make the mistakes I registered above (which reminds of the - Dutch - Maoists of the 1970ies, indeed).

2. Glenn Greenwald on Julian Assange, Ecuador & Threats to Press Freedom

This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
WikiLeaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange is at risk of being removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has taken refuge for nearly six years, CNN reports. If he is forced out of the embassy, Assange could face arrest by British authorities and extradition to the United States. The Ecuadorian government cut off Assange’s internet in March. Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa told The Intercept that the government has also blocked Assange from receiving visitors, calling the tactic “torture.” Correa said that Ecuador was not maintaining “normal sovereign relations with the American government—just submission.” In other Assange news, last month the Democratic National Committee sued WikiLeaks for its role in publishing hacked materials relating to the 2016 election. We speak with Glenn Greenwald in Rio de Janeiro, who wrote last month for The Intercept that “the DNC’S lawsuit against WikiLeaks poses a serious threat to press freedom.”
Yes indeed. I quite agree with the summary, although not quite with Correa: blocking someone from receiving visitors is not torture but amounts to imprisonment - and I say so because I don´t want to deflate the term ¨torture¨ to anything one doesn´t like. But I quite agree with Correa that the present tactics directed against Assange are quite bad and quite unfair.

Here is some more:
AMY GOODMAN: (...) Can you talk about what is happening with Julian Assange? We’re reading reports that the Ecuadoran embassy—that he might be leaving the embassy, which of course would mean he would be arrested by the British government. What do you understand is taking place?

GLENN GREENWALD:  (...) What the concern is is the Trump Administration, specifically Mike Pompeo who at the time was the director of the CIA and is now the secretary of state, along with Jeff Sessions, has said that arresting Julian Assange and putting him in prison is a priority because of the leaks of documents that WikiLeaks has published. Because of the journalism that they have done, which just this week the Freedom of the Press Foundation and the Committee to Protect Journalists have said would pose a grave threat to the First Amendment.

So when I interviewed President Correa, he was saying essentially that the way in which Julian Assange has been silenced by blocking his access to the internet, by denying him visitors from the outside world with the exception of his lawyers and a couple of other people, is a violation of his human rights. He’s an Ecuadorian citizen, he has formal asylum from Ecuador, and they own him an obligation to protect his health and safety.

I agree with Greenwald. Here is some more:

And at the same time, doctors who have examined him say he has very grave threats to his health and can’t get treatment for it because of the situation in the embassy. So no matter what you think of Julian Assange, there are serious threats to press freedom being posed and to questions of asylum and the sovereignty of the Ecuadoran government by what is taking place.

Again I agree - and indeed I did not know that doctors have said that Assange ¨has very grave threats to his health¨ that can´t be treated in the Ecuadorian embassy. And this is a recommended article.

3. Glenn Greenwald: Why Did ABC Ignore Roseanne Barr’s Hateful Tweets Against Arabs & Palestinians?

This article is by Amy Goodman and Juan González on Democracy Now! It starts with the following introduction:
On Tuesday ABC canceled its hit show “Roseanne”, after its star, Roseanne Barr, fired off a series of racist comments on Twitter. In one tweet, Roseanne wrote, “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” It was a reference to Valerie Jarrett, longtime adviser to President Obama, who’s African-American. Roseanne also accused billionaire George Soros, who’s Jewish, of being a Nazi collaborator and attacked Chelsea Clinton. (..)
I say! Well... I don´t have a TV since nearly 50 years, and indeed I dislike it so much that I rarely watch it on Youtube either. So while I have - somewhat superficially, I admit - followed some of the news about Roseanne Barr, I did not know what she was tweeting (another form of ¨communication¨ for the very stupid and the very propagandistic I dislike too much to follow).

But from this report I conclude she is indeed a racist. Here is Greenwald:
GLENN GREENWALD: Right. I think we ought to be extremely cautious about awarding any praise whatsoever to anybody at ABC for canceling Roseanne’s show. There is no question at all that what she tweeted is completely in line and perfectly consistent with what she has been saying and writing and tweeting for many years. ABC had to have known exactly what she thought and the things that she believed when they gave her the show that they gave her.
I suppose this is mostly true. Here is the last bit I quote from this article:
JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Glenn, really the question in my mind, looking back on it now, is why ABC would even, given the climate, especially the polarized nature of our American society today, considered giving her the show to begin with, knowing, as you say, that history of hers. (...)

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, I think that Roseanne’s comments—like I said, it wasn’t the kind of racism that’s sort of implicit or dressed up or disguised or in code, the kind that is acceptable and common in everyday American discourse. I mean, she compared an African American woman to an ape. So it was so far over the line that—it was just shocking and visceral to so many people that I do think ABC felt like their brand would be in jeopardy if they continued to be associated with her any longer.

I suppose this is also correct, and this is a recommended article.

4. Journalism Watchdog Blasts DNC Lawsuit Against WikiLeaks

This article is by Jake Johnson on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
As President Donald Trump continues to wage war on journalism with “violent anti-press rhetoric,” the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) published a scathing analysis on Tuesday arguing that the Democratic National Committee’s recent lawsuit against WikiLeaks could set the stage for even more alarming attacks on press freedom by empowering the U.S. government to penalize media outlets that publish leaked information.

Citing the concerns expressed by numerous First Amendment experts and journalists, CPJ’s Avi Asher-Schapiro contends that the DNC’s suit—which accuses WikiLeaks of conspiring with Russia and the Trump campaign to tilt the 2016 election by publishing a trove of hacked DNC emails—“goes against press freedom precedents going back to the Pentagon Papers and contains arguments that could make it more difficult for reporters to do their jobs.”

“What the language in this suit is calling ‘conspiracy’ is the same thing journalists do all the time—report on leaked or stolen documents. Imagine if Trump had the power to go after ‘leakers’ for ‘conspiracy,'” Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi wrote in a series of tweets highlighting CPJ’s “blistering” report on Tuesday. “This case has potentially enormous consequences for the press as a whole.”

“This precedent threatens all journalists,” added Glenn Greenwald, co-founder of The Intercept.

I completely agree, and think I should add that I am quite pessimistic about the freedom of the press in the USA (especially if Trump is re-elected). My reasons are connected with the First Amendment, for I think that what the First Amendment is supposed to be by the present majority of the Supreme Court is complete bullshit - which means that if this gets as far as the present Supreme Court, then this will probably ¨legally¨ end press freedom.

Here is someone else:

James Goodale, a First Amendment lawyer who represented the New York Times in the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, said the idea that outlets like WikiLeaks should be punished for receiving and publishing stolen documents—an idea that forms the foundation of the DNC suit—is the “greatest threat to press freedom today.”

I agree and this is a recommended article.

5. Sides, Balance, and the Death of Truth

This article is by John Atcheson on Common Dreams. It starts as follows:
Something I’m hearing a lot from thoughtful people these days is how we have to learn to communicate with the other side.  They bemoan the degree to which the US has sunk into two camps, each entrenched in their own reality and separated by a chasm of ideological intolerance.  “It is critical that we reach across the aisle; that we meet them halfway,” they’ll say.  Well, in point of fact, it’s mostly liberals who say this. 
Yes indeed - and I completely disagree with these ¨thoughtful people¨, as does Atcheson:
With all due respect, what we need to do is to take on those who use hate-filled ignorance to advance their cause and make it—and them—something to be ashamed of again. To chase it into the dark shadows where it should remain in shame with its brethren, fear, greed, jingoism, racism, and sexism, rather than being celebrated as it is now.
Well... yes and no, for I think ¨fear, greed, jingoism, racism, and sexism¨ all may be discussed, but discussion with people who do not know science, who do not believe in truth, and who believe everything they scream is right because they scream it, is complletely senseless.

Here is more:

“Wait just a minute there, Atcheson,” I can hear the well-meaning progressives and liberals say, “that’s just the kind of talk that is polarizing America.”

Calling the “other side” ignorant or hate-filled would seem to be feeding the divisiveness that is crippling our country, but I would suggest it isn’t. Indeed, recognizing and calling out the scapegoating — and its handmaiden prejudice — exhibited by what passes for conservatism these days is a necessary first step toward fixing our national divide.  Because what is crippling our country is the fact that things which used to be unacceptable are now deemed not only acceptable, but they are embraced by an entire political party, and they’ve become the bedrocks of the national government, our courts and most state governments.

Yes and no again. First, there certainly are plenty of ¨ignorant or hate-filled¨ people. In fact, they congregate on Facebook. Besides, half of mankind has an IQ of maximally 100, and - while I do not think that IQs are a good measure for intelligence - I think an IQ of 90 coupled to anonimity, scolding and utter ignorance of all science, makes someone quite unacceptable to me as ¨a partner in a serious discussion¨. Second, I am definitely less interested in ¨things which used to be unacceptable are now deemed not only acceptable, but (..) embraced¨ than Atcheson is: As I just said, I do not accept stupid scolding ignorance, and no one with a good intelligence and a fair knowledge of science should.

But Atcheson is on the way towards a series of conclusions, and here they are:

The story of how hate and blame worked its way from the margins of our society to become one of its distinguishing characteristics is complex, but rooted in five key trends:

  • First, there was a strategy  employed by conservatives and corporations that relied upon using these things as a distraction for their real agenda—a de facto coup to take over the country;
  • Second, corporations and conservatives worked diligently to discredit government in general and regulations in particular, while claiming the free market would deliver prosperity for all while simultaneously increasing our freedoms;
  • Third, in the late 1970’s and 80’s DLC Democrats took over the Democratic Party, abandoned the New Deal and implicitly embraced much of the conservative dogma;
  • Fourth, the press—freed from the constraints of the Fairness Doctrine and other FCC rules as a result of deregulation—became a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America and a few rich families; and
  • Fifth, science, the scientific method, critical thinking and the truths they revealed were tossed aside for assertions without foundation and reasoning toward a desired end, rather than towards honest inquiry.

I am not much concerned with ¨hate and blame¨ but with unreason, ignorance, stupidity, denial that truth exists, and denial of all standards but one´s very own, and I am not much concerned with ¨hate and blame¨ i.a. because I think it is human to hate those who oppose you, and to blame them for their perceived shortcomings.

Then again, the five points stated above are quite good, although I should add that I´ve run into over 15 years of very serious trouble because I protested from 1977 (!!!) onwards the teachings of the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam that ¨everybody know that truth does NOT exist¨.

This utter bullshit was the dominant ideology in the ¨University¨ of Amsterdam from 1977 till 1995, and it destroyed most of the sciences practised there, as it destroyed a university that was more or less decent from 1865 till 1965.

Also, I was one of the ca. 5% (!!!!) of the students who was interested in science, in truth, and in rationality, and besides I was not a Marxist, and therefore, because 90% of the students were or pretended to be extremely ¨leftwing¨, I was ¨a dirty fascist¨ and ¨a terrorist, a terrorist¨ (while in fact I was an anarchist, with two communist parents for 45 years each, a communist grandfather, and two anarchist grandparents, and also - unlike ALL the ¨Marxists¨ I met in the ¨U¨vA - from real proletarian descent).

And I was illegally denied the right to take my - brilliant - M.A. in philosophy, because I was NOT a ¨Marxist¨, and was for science, for rationality, for standards, for much more difficult studies (the average IQ in 1984 of students in the ¨U¨vA was 115), and against political bullshit presented as if were science.

So in Holland, at least, it started with the - utterly false - insistence that ¨everybody knows that truth does NOT exist¨ (literally!!); it started in the universities, and only later arrived in the press and politics-outside-the-university.

But OK - Holland is a very small country. Here is more by Atcheson:

In essence, the right-wing spent billions of dollars to create the myth of government ineptitude, then used it to pass policies and budgets which made it incompetent in actual fact, while appointing industry shills who also made it untrustworthy in actual fact. 

The point of neutering government was, and remains, to make the coast clear for a massive theft of wealth and power from the people to the plutocrats.

For example, corporations and the ultra-rich have walked away with virtually all the economic gains we’ve made since the 80’s, with the top 1 percent now owning more wealth than the bottom 90 percent of Americans combined—a disparity greater than at any other time in our history.

I think this is a good summary, and - alas, alas - all true to the best of my knowledge. Here is the last bit that I quote from this article, from near its ending:

So, what the corporatists, conservatives and the ultra-rich have accomplished is to create a “side” which denies science, eschews critical thinking as elitist, identifies the potential source of their redemption—an effective government—as the source of their problems, and accepts the scapegoating engineered by the plutocrats that tells them a host of “others” are the cause of their decline in prospects.

To meet this “side” at some mythical halfway point is to enable a vicious con of unprecedented size that enslaves and impoverishes the very people it pretends to represent. It endorses the ignorance, hate, greed, and victimhood that the plutocracy relies upon to keep the people who support them conned, impoverished and disempowered. 

Yes indeed, except that I am less interested in hate, and much more in ignorance, stupidity, denial that truth exists, and denial of all standards but one´s very own, but this is a good and interesting article that is strongly recommended.


[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 (!!).
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