June 4, 2018

Crisis: W.E.B. Du Bois, Facebook´s Lies, Trump IS insane, More Civil War (?), Economic Meltdown


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from June 4, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Monday, June 4, 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 June 4, 2018:
1. The Second Sight of W.E.B. Du Bois
2. Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and

3. Renowned Economist Turns Psychologist on Donald Trump: 'He's a
     Delusional, Psychopathic Threat'

4. A Second American Civil War?
5. Trump Might Be Leading the US to Another Meltdown
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 Second Sight of W.E.B. Du Bois

This article is by Chris Hedges on Truthdig. It was originally a speech, and starts as follows:
W.E.B. Du Bois, more than any intellectual this nation produced in the first half of the 20th century, explained America to itself. He did this not only through what he called the “color line” but by exposing the intertwining of empire, capitalism and white supremacy. He deftly fused academic disciplines. He possessed unwavering integrity, a deep commitment to the truth, and the courage to speak it. That he was brilliant and a radical was bad enough. That he was brilliant, radical and black terrified the ruling elites. He was swiftly blacklisted, denied the professorships and public platforms that went to those who were more obsequious and compliant.
I think all of this is quite correct. (I do know a little about W.E.B. Du Bois, indeed from my communist background - that dates back nearly 50 years now - but not much.)

Here is more:
Regeneration and purification through violence is the credo of the American empire. D.H. Lawrence, like Du Bois, saw it, and said, “The essential American soul is hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.” The pillars of American capitalism are genocide and slavery. America was not blessed by God. It was blessed, if that is the right word, by producing the most efficient killing machines and trained killers on the planet. It unleashed industrial violence on its enemies abroad and empowered armed white vigilante groups and gun thugs—the slave patrols, the Ku Klux Klan, the White Leagues (the armed wing of the Democratic Party), the Baldwin Felts and Pinkertons—to perpetrate a domestic reign of terror against blacks, Native Americans, Mexicans, Chinese, abolitionists, Catholics, radicals, workers and labor organizers.
I think this is probably a fair statement, but I disagree with the beginning, for I never liked D.H. Lawrence and think (like Bertrand Russell) he was close to fascism, while he also was a sadist and a nut in various respects.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
The underclass, then and now, was to be taught what to think, not how to think. They would be endowed with just enough numerical literacy to serve as serfs in the capitalist system. The capitalists were determined to maintain what Du Bois called “enforced ignorance,” an enforced ignorance now being visited on a dispossessed working class with the degrading of public education, funding of vocational charter schools, and withering away of the humanities.

“Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States,” he warned, an eerie forecast of the age of Trump.

Quite so! Then again, I would replace ¨ïgnorance¨ by ¨ignorance and stupidity¨, but even without that replacement Du Bois was quite right, and one of the very few who spoke publicly about the major dangers of ignorance (that these days gets spread billion-fold through Facebook).

There is considerably more in the rest of the article, that is recommended.

2. Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends

This article is by Gabriel Dance, Nicholas Confessore, and Michael LaForgia on The New York Times. It starts as follows:

As Facebook sought to become the world’s dominant social media service, it struck agreements allowing phone and other device makers access to vast amounts of its users’ personal information.

Facebook has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers — including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung — over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials said.
But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing, The New York Times found.
Well... first of all I strongly disagree that Facebook is called one of the ¨social media¨: It is as a-social as anything I´ve know in the last 68 years, and it is so because Mark Zuckerberg is probably the most dishonest man who is alive, for he is and has been stealing billions upon billions of private mails from his users (whom he regards as ¨dumb fucks ... who trusted me¨).

I am not a ¨dumb fuck¨; I am not, never have been, and never will be a member of Facebook; and I regard Zuckerberg as one of the biggest criminals there is.

And indeed ¨
Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users’ friends who believed they had barred any sharing¨ is - once again - based on lies and deceptions by Zuckerberg.

Then there is this. After Cambridge Analytica (which acquired 87 million private sets of information from Facebook, mostly about Americans, which may have helped Trump to become president)
(..) Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by Cambridge in 2014 was cut off by the next year, when Facebook prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends. But the company officials did not disclose that Facebook had exempted the makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware from such restrictions.
So Zuckerberg lied and deceived once again, in fact I think billions of its users, for most users use cellphones or tablets.

Here are more lies by ¨
Facebook officials¨ (who probably lie as much and as easily as Zuckerberg and for the same reason: money for themselves):

In interviews, Facebook officials defended the data sharing as consistent with its privacy policies, the F.T.C. agreement and pledges to users. They said its partnerships were governed by contracts that strictly limited use of the data, including any stored on partners’ servers. The officials added that they knew of no cases where the information had been misused.

The company views its device partners as extensions of Facebook, serving its more than two billion users, the officials said.

My readers probably did not see Facebook´s lies in the previous quotation. Well... here is the explanation:

Facebook’s view that the device makers are not outsiders lets the partners go even further, The Times found: They can obtain data about a user’s Facebook friends, even those who have denied Facebook permission to share information with any third parties.
“It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said Ashkan Soltani, a research and privacy consultant who formerly served as the F.T.C.’s chief technologist.

Precisely. There is a lot more in this article, which is recommended.

3. Renowned Economist Turns Psychologist on Donald Trump: 'He's a Delusional, Psychopathic Threat'

This article is by Hal Brown on AlterNet and originally on Daily Kos. It starts as follows:

The word is getting out. Finally. After numerous psychotherapists weighed in on assessing Trump as being not only psychologically unfit to be president, but alarmingly (as the expert contributors to a best selling book put it in their title) a dangerous case.

Yes indeed, but I have three comments on this, as a psychologist (and not a ¨psychotherapist, nor a psychiatrist), who has said since the beginning of 2016 that Trump is insane (and at the end of 2016 I produced this: Is Donald Trump mentally ill? - and my answer was: Yes, he is).

First, I am a psychologist, not a psychotherapist nor a psychiatrist. This is somewhat important, because there are more psychologists than psychiatrists (the former have a degree in psychology, the last in medicine); because - to the best of my knowledge - more psychologists than psychiatrists agreed that Trump is insane (this may be phrased more politely, but this is what he is); and also because many psychologists - and I am one of them - disagree in various ways with psychiatry and psychiatrists. (Thus, for one example, I did see the DSM-III - the psychiatrists´ handbook, and this one from the 1980ies - once during the time I was becoming a psychologist, but only because a friend had bought a copy: it was completely non-treated in all the courses I took, and it was so because most Dutch psychologists disagreed with it.)

Second, I am fairly skeptical that ¨The word is getting out¨. And I am not saying this because psychologists and psychiatrists who think that Trump is a megalomaniac aka narcissist (which he is by evidently satisfying 9 out 9 criterions) have been silent, but because in over two years I have read some about this, I have seen this almost only in the non-mainstream press, which is far less read than the mainstream.

And third, while indeed I disagree with each and any of the DSMs, and disagree with very much psychiatry, the DSMs have one advantage: The diagnoses it suggests are made on the basis of observational characteristics, not on on the basis of theories. And this allows me and many other psychologists and psychiatrists to look at Trump´s behavior and words, and diagnose him.

Also, while psychiatry is in many ways mistaken, it is ¨the best¨ we have.

Next, there is this:

American economist Jeffrey Sachs has written a scathing takedown of President Donald Trump, calling him a delusional, psychopathic “threat to the nation and the world.”

He might be a “Manchurian Candidate” who is working as a “stooge” for some foreign power to destroy the U.S., Sachs wrote on CCN’s website Friday, referring to the spy movie thriller.

“Much more likely, Trump is just mentally unstable and narcissistic,” he added, calling the new announcement of tariffs on exports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union part of a “psychopath’s trade war.”

I agree with Jeffrey Sachs about Donald Trump.

And there is another remark I should make about psychologists and psychiatrists and indeed also about medical persons: In fact, these three groups of people (and their assistants) are the only persons who have seen (or who may have seen) quite a few of insane persons.

Most other people, however intelligent, have not, and indeed often have little idea what insane persons are like, and tend to classify the few they see as suffering from extreme emotions such as anger, sadness etc. and not in psychological/psychiatric terms, which indeed is natural enough.

Here is some more:

Sachs uses the word gibbering in his title which is an unfortunate choice in my opinion because the crucial word in the title is delusional. This is a psychiatric term. Addressing trade policy and tariffs, the economist says Trump is  “mentally unstable and narcissistic.”  Exactly! He could just as easily be trying to make sense of Trump’s approach to N. Korea. 

On CNN Sachs said that we  “probably never before had a delusional president, one who speaks gibberish, insults those around him including his closest associates, and baffles the world. We strive to make sense of Trump’s nonsense, implicitly assuming some hidden strategy. There is none.”

There’s no reason for an educated person to be “baffled” by Trump’s behavior. Every Trump utterance, every decision, which has caused sensible observers to be puzzled and troubled because they seemed abnormal, unhinged, and incoherent can be explained by Trump's psychopathology.

Well, ¨delusional¨ is (of course) also a psychological term. And I explain Sach´s usage of gibbering by the fact that he is not a psychologist or psychiatrist: Indeed, Trump is often producing gibberish (which he also tends to repeat very often at least two times) from the point of view of English, and yes, gibberish (that is meant by the speaker) very well may be delusional.

And I agree mostly with what Sachs said.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article:

Last year clinical psychologist Dr. John Gartner started a petition demanding that Trump be removed under the 25th Amendment:  “We Have a Duty to Warn the World About Donald Trump.”

This came at a time when few people even knew what it was. Now everyone following the psychological decompensation of Trump knows what it is, including economist Sachs:

The “real answer” is to remove Trump from office using the 25th Amendment to replace him, Sachs concludes.

“Trump is unwell and unfit to be president. He is a growing threat to the nation and the world.

“The emperor had no clothes. This president has no sense,” he concluded. 

It is gratifying that more and more experts in fields other than psychology are putting it all together.

I agree and this is a strongly recommended article. 
4. A Second American Civil War?

This article is by Robert Reich on his site. It starts as follows:

Imagine that an impeachment resolution against Trump passes the House. Trump claims it’s the work of the “deep state.” Fox News’s Sean Hannity demands every honest patriot take to the streets. Rightwing social media call for war. As insurrection spreads, Trump commands the armed forces to side with the “patriots.”

Or it’s November 2020 and Trump has lost the election. He charges voter fraud, claiming that the “deep state” organized tens of millions of illegal immigrants to vote against him, and says he has an obligation not to step down. Demonstrations and riots ensue. Trump commands the armed forces to put them down.

If these sound far-fetched, consider Trump’s torrent of lies, his admiration for foreign dictators, his off-hand jokes about being “president for life” (Xi Xinping “was able to do that,” he told admirers in March. “I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll give that a shot some day.’), and his increasing invocation of a “deep state” plot against him. 

I completely agree with Reich that this is not ¨far-fetched¨ at all - and for reasons why, see the previous article I reviewed today.

Here is more:

In his 2013 novel “A Delicate Truth,” John le Carré describes the “deep state” as a moneyed élite — “non-governmental insiders from banking, industry, and commerce” who rule in secret.  

America already may be close to that sort of deep state. As Princeton professor Martin Gilens and Professor Benjamin Page of Northwestern University found after analyzing 1,799 policy issues that came before Congress, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Instead, Gilens and Page concluded, lawmakers respond to the policy demands of wealthy individuals and moneyed business interests.

I more or less agree with John le Carré, except that I might have said, referring back to Eisenhower´s military-industrial complex (of 1960) as non-governmental insiders from the military, the industry (especially military industries), the banks, and commerce, who do make many of the decisions the government should have made - except indeed that this is too long. (And see again - if you care - why Robert Paul Wolff was talking utter nonsense about the deep state: see here.)

And I summarize research by Gilens and Page (which was quite good) by simply saying that - on my opinion, at least - the USA has ceased to be a real democracy and has turned into a real plutocracy, and indeed I may refer to Gilens and Page as one collection of strong evidence for my thesis.

Reich ends as follows:

A second civil war? Probably not. But the way Trump and his defenders are behaving, it’s not absurd to imagine serious social unrest. That’s how low he’s taken us.

I agree and this is a recommended article.

5. Trump Might Be Leading the US to Another Meltdown

This article is by Larry Beinhart on Common Dreams and originally on Al-Jazeera. It starts as follows:

The US financial regulatory agencies have weakened banking rules. 

Then in late May, Congress voted to weaken them even further. 

They went after the Volcker Rule which prohibits banks from making risky investments with depositors' money.

Yes indeed. Here is some background:

After the crash of 1929, banks started failing en masse. It should be noted that before the crash, there was little regulation and less enforcement, and through the 1920s, an average of 600 banks a year went under. Then came the "New Deal". It launched an immediate rescue of the banks and added a host of regulations. Bank failures virtually disappeared from the late 1930s until 1980. During most of those years, the number of bank failures was in the single digits.

In the early 1980s, however, one sector of the banking system, in particular, was deregulated - savings and loans. These were actually the kind of local, community banks depicted in the movie, "It's A Wonderful Life". They were small, boring, and very safe. With deregulation, savings and loans were suddenly given a license to steal. The owners of the banks were not stealing from the banks, they were using the banks - with their respectability, their institutional and political clout, and their staffs - to do the stealing.

Out of 3,234 savings and loans associations, 1,043 went under between 1986 and 1995. Almost every bank that collapsed or had to be closed, had engaged in frauds. The amount of fraud involved in the Crash of 2008 was probably the same.

I say! I did not know that already between 1986 and 1995 1 out of 3 banks collapsed, due to Reagan´s deregulations, and that this hardly happened between the late 1930s until 1980. This is also a good summary, but it should have been added that while the banks´ managers were not stealing from themselves, they were (and are) abusing the banks´ clients money.

Here is the last bit I quote from this article, which in fact is about the mentality of the rich - say, the 1% of the richest there are:

The idea of working people making more money, and themselves, perhaps less, has zero appeal. The only thing left to do is change the rules. They know perfectly well they can enrich themselves selling rubbish. If they bring the house down, someone else will pay the cost. Hence, they push for deregulation which eventually will bring down the financial sector, as has happened before.

In other words: They abuse the deregulations to get as rich as possible themselves, and don´t mind any social collapse (which will cause enormous misery to hundreds of millions) simply because they are rich enough to survive themselves.

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 (!!).
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