September 22, 2018

Crisis: Last Free Generation, Insane Trump, Fahrenheit 11/9, Google In China, Internet Tyranny


1. Summary
Crisis Files
     A. Selections from September 22, 2018

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, September 22, 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 mostly well worth reading:

A. Selections from September 22, 2018:
1. Generation Being Born Now Is The Last To Be Free
2. Trump Is 'Unable to Tolerate Reality'
3. “Fahrenheit 11/9” Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the
     Conditions That Led to His Rise

4. Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans to Closely Track Search Users
     in China

5. The Gamification of Tyranny
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. Generation Being Born Now Is The Last To Be Free

This article is by Anonymous on RT. It is the last interview with Julian Assange before Assange got effectively locked up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, with only some of his legal helpers having access to him. It is here because I like it (and yes, I am quite pessimistic as well). It starts as follows (and is fairly brief):
Before his links to the world were cut by his Ecuadorian hosts, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gave an interview on how technological advances are changing humankind. He said global surveillance will soon be totally unavoidable.
[Assange] says it will soon be impossible for any human being to not be included in global databases collected by governments and state-like entities.
Yes, I completely agree - and this will be the end of anything you might call democracry:

The internet gives the total power to a very few mostly quite anonymous persons, who mostly belong to the secret services and to Facebook and Amazon (and some more, but these are the most important).

These very few persons and their menials will in principle know everything about anyone, at least in so far as everything is concerned that appears on the internet in some form.

Here is Assange's judgement on freedom - it will be completely gone:

This generation being born now… is the last free generation. You are born and either immediately or within say a year you are known globally. Your identity in one form or another –coming as a result of your idiotic parents plastering your name and photos all over Facebook or as a result of insurance applications or passport applications– is known to all major world powers.

I agree, although I do not think this is a fault of your parents (who indeed, as a rule, are virtually ignorant about anything computers may do apart from popping up their screens): it is a simple and direct consequence of the fact that the secret services from anywhere (including the USA, Russia and China) having access to virtually anything that gets on the internet since 2001.

Here is more by Assange:

“Look at what Google and Baidu and Tencent and Amazon and Facebook are doing. They are basically open-cut harvesting the knowledge of humankind as we express it, when we communicate with each other… This classical model, which people in academia call ‘surveillance capitalism’… has changed now.

It’s a really very important and severe economic change. Which is to take the surveillance capitalism model and transform it instead into a model that does not yet have a name, an ‘AI model’. Which is to use this vast reservoir to train Artificial Intelligences of different kinds.

Well... in fact what Assange calls "an ‘AI model’" was (it seems) first thought of and named by Carter's chief of security Zbigniev Brzezinski between 1967 and 1970:

Brzezinksi called it "the technotronic society" between
1967 and 1970 but in fact meant the kind of neofascism we see developing at present everywhere, simply because the very few who belong to some arbitrary secret service have access to virtually everything anybody puts on the internet, besides having access to virtually every computer.

Here is what Brzezinksi (his name is currently spelled a bit differently from 50 years ago) had in mind, already
between 1967 and 1970 - and see my Propaganda and Control: Brezezinski - and all of this is quoted from the best book I read on the French failed revolution of 1968, namely Stephen Spender's (totally disappeared) "The Year of The Young Rebels" that was first published in 1969 (and bought by me decades ago):
p. 153

The idea of the technotronic society seems to be under the
auspices of Zbigniev Brezezinski, until recently a member of
the Policy Planning Staff of the State Department, and now
Director of the Research Institute of Communist Affairs at
Columbia University. The 'technotronic society' seems to be the
exact opposite of the society of 'spontaneity' demanded by
revolutionary students, who Mr Brezezinskin evidently regards
as pathetic throw-backs, survivors of Romantic days, forlornly
playing out anachronistic roles: (1)

Our society is leaving the phase of spontaneity and is entering a
self-conscious state; ceasing to be an industrial society, its is being shaped to an ever-increasing extent by technology and electronics,
        (1) New Republic, 13 December 1967


and thus becoming the first technotronic society. This is at least in part
the cause for much of the current tensions and violence, and largely the reason why events in America today do not fit established categories of analysis.

Mr Brzezinski realises that the technotronic society fills some
people with uneasiness (in this respect the reactionaries and the
revolutionaries are as one).
   However Mr Brezezinski does not expect that the Luddite
lovers of freedom and anarchy will seriously obstruct the new
order. For one thing, 'it will soon be possible to assert almost
continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to-
date, complete files, containing even personal information
about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen, in
addition to the more customary data.' Moreover it will be
possible to anticipate and plan to meet any uprisings in the
future. The police will even be able to forecast crises before the
rioters themselves are conscious of wanting them.
Note that apart from the term this was already explicitly planned fascism or neofascism in the late 1960ies: "it will soon be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain  up-to-date, complete files, containing even personal information about the health and personal behaviour of the citizen" - which would be only accessible to the very few.

And this is from a Wikipedia article about Brzezinski before the Wikipedia seems to have sold out to the CIA, for it now completely disappeared, but was still there in 2012:
"The technotronic era involves the gradual appearance of a more controlled society. Such a society would be dominated by an elite, unrestrained by traditional values. Soon it will be possible to assert almost continuous surveillance over every citizen and maintain up-to-date complete files containing even the most personal information about the citizen. These files will be subject to instantaneous retrieval by the authorities."
– Between Two Ages: America’s Role in the Technetronic Era, 1970

This was neofascism or fascism, and it was planned for computers from the late 1960ies onwards, and at present it has been mostly realized. And yes, I believe I belong to the last generation that deserved to be called free. This is a strongly recommended article.

2. Trump Is 'Unable to Tolerate Reality'

This article is by Chauncey DeVega on AlterNet and originally on Salon. This is from near its beginning (and it had a four-line title that I abbreviated):
Bandy Lee, a professor of psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine, says she was contacted last year by White House insiders, who were "scared" that the president was "unraveling."

Lee has been tracking the apparent decline in Donald Trump's mental health for several years. She has convened a conference on the obligation of mental health professionals to warn the public about the dangers he represents, and is also the editor of the bestselling book "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President."

Yes indeed. Here is more - and while I am a psychologist with considerable experience in treating the mentally ill, I am not a psychiatrist, and doubt whether I am in any sense a "mental health expert" (for even the term seems mistaken to me):

What was your first reaction when the New York Times published the anonymous op-ed by a White House official?

I was not surprised. I was struck by how the op-ed was being treated as such a big deal. I think it’s admirable that the writer chose to divulge the information about Donald Trump's very dangerous and worrisome behavior. But in many ways Trump's behavior was expected. As mental health professionals, we see the psychological symptoms in process so the result and outcome are very often not that surprising.
I admit that I was somewhat surprised, in part because I regard Trump as a very bad man who also is insane, but I do not regard most of his collaborators as insane, though I think most are bad men.

Besides, I have also learned over the past few years that most journalists have little or no understanding of either psychology or psychiatry (and also seem not inclined to acquire some more than they have).

Here is more, and this is interesting:

You have said that two officials in the White House actually reached out to you last year with their fears about Donald Trump's mental health.

That occurred during October of last year. There were two phone calls saying that these persons were from the White House. They seemed very credible and very genteel over the phone. They were very respectful. They were calling because they found me to be credible based on the book I edited about Donald Trump's mental health. These people were trying to figure out a solution and really just asking for help.

I think this is interesting because I believe it and because it implies that there are at least some of Trump's personal collaborators who agree with dr. Lee that Trump is insane.

Here is some about Trump's symptoms:

So much of this is predictable from a clinical standpoint. Trump is not going to get better. What are his symptoms?

Donald Trump has shown a number of symptoms which are now quite obvious to even an untrained person. He is impulsive. He is reckless. He has shown a lack of empathy and a lack of concern about consequences. His grip on reality is loose. I suspect he is unable to tolerate reality for what it is. So, Trump has to make himself into a person who is infallible and an expert on everything.

Therefore, when reality does not comport with his emotional needs, he has to fabricate his own version of reality. Trump has also shown a tendency of needing to present himself as being strong and powerful. He is constantly preoccupied with his self-image, he is unable to tolerate criticism and he lashes out when there is a hint of anyone being against him or challenging his authority.
Well... yes, but I think the original article from 2016 - see Is Donald Trump Mentally Ill?
- is a better and clearer list.

Here is more:

I have argued that Trump leads a political cult tied together by racism and other antisocial behavior, and that it is all evidence of collective narcissism. Trump is personally violent and has also encouraged violence by his supporters.

He thrives on fear and anger. Trump stokes that to his advantage. One of the reasons that my colleagues and I said that Trump was dangerous during his campaign was because he incites violence. He is attracted to violence. Trump will continually wish to either provoke or be drawn to violence himself -- such as starting a war, even a nuclear war. Nuclear weapons will be especially attractive to him because of their destructive power.
Yes - and one of the reasons I fear a madman who is president of the USA is that he can start a nuclear war. Here is more on that possibility:

All his actions are in preparation for something like a nuclear war. I wouldn't be surprised if that would be the first place he goes. This is quite beyond the imagination of most people. We can't even conceive of that being a response, let alone a response that we would take, because a normal person would think about the level of devastation and the consequences. But Donald Trump is unable to think of consequences, as far as we can tell.

Trump has shown a detachment from reality, and of being someone who has shown a severely impaired ability to be empathetic. Trump also has shown a level of cruelty and pleasure in inflicting pain on others. Everything is going in the direction of something very harmful and devastating. It's only a matter of the stress rising to the level where Trump would make such a decision, to start a war or use nuclear weapons. This is a very dangerous situation.

I agree and this is a strongly recommended article.
3. “Fahrenheit 11/9” Aims Not at Trump But at Those Who Created the Conditions That Led to His Rise

This article is by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
“Fahrenheit 11/9,” the title of Michael Moore’s new film that opens today in theaters, is an obvious play on the title of his wildly profitable Bush-era “Fahrenheit 9/11,” but also a reference to the date of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 election victory. Despite that, Trump himself is a secondary figure in Moore’s film, which is far more focused on the far more relevant and interesting questions of what – and, critically, who – created the climate in which someone like Trump could occupy the Oval Office.

For that reason alone, Moore’s film is highly worthwhile regardless of where one falls on the political spectrum. The single most significant defect in U.S. political discourse is the monomaniacal focus on Trump himself, as though he is the cause – rather than the by-product and symptom – of decades-old systemic American pathologies.

Personalizing and isolating Trump as the principal, even singular, source of political evil is obfuscating and thus deceitful. By effect, if not design, it distracts the population’s attention away from the actual architects of their plight.

Yes, I think that is quite right, and indeed I regard the election of Trump as president of the USA as one of the many consequences of radical changes in policies that were started by Lewis F. Powell Jr., Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, all of which happened around 40 to almost 50 years ago.

Here is some more on the backgrounds of Trump's arisal:

The lie-fueled destruction of Vietnam and Iraq, the worldwide torture regime, the 2008 financial collapse and subsequent bailout and protection of those responsible for it, the foreign kidnapping and domestic rounding up of Muslims, the record-setting Obama-era deportations and whistleblower prosecutions, the obliteration of Yemen and Libya, the embrace of Mubarak, Sisi, and Saudi despots, the years of bipartisan subservience to Wall Street at everyone else’s expense, the full-scale immunity vested on all the elites responsible for all those crimes (...)

I think this is all quite correct. Here is the last bit that I quote from this review:

The overriding value of “Fahrenheit 11/9″ is that it avoids – in fact, aggressively rejects – this ahistorical manipulation. Moore dutifully devotes a few minutes at the start of his film to Trump’s rise, and then asks the question that dominates the rest of it, the one the political and media establishment has steadfastly avoided examining except in the most superficial and self-protective ways: “how the fuck did this happen”?

Knowing that no political work can be commercially successful on a large-scale without affirming Resistance clichés, Moore dutifully complies, but only with the most cursory and fleeting gestures: literally 5 seconds in the film are devoted to assigning  blame for Hillary’s loss to Putin and Comey. With that duty discharged, he sets his sights on his real targets: the U.S. political establishment that is ensconced within both parties, along with the financial elites who own and control both of them for their own ends.

Quite so, and there is a lot more in the review, which is strongly recommended.

4. Google Suppresses Memo Revealing Plans to Closely Track Search Users in China

This article is by Ryan Gallagher and Lee Fang on The Intercept. It starts as follows:

Google bosses have forced employees to delete a confidential memo circulating inside the company that revealed explosive details about a plan to launch a censored search engine in China, The Intercept has learned.

The memo, authored by a Google engineer who was asked to work on the project, disclosed that the search system, codenamed Dragonfly, would require users to log in to perform searches, track their location — and share the resulting history with a Chinese partner who would have “unilateral access” to the data.

The memo was shared earlier this month among a group of Google employees who have been organizing internal protests over the censored search system, which has been designed to remove content that China’s authoritarian Communist Party regime views as sensitive, such as information about democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.

Yes - and I do not consider it a great or implausible extension of the above material on Google if I add that it is my personal guess that the "Chinese partner" of Google-China = the Chinese security service.

Here is some more on the plans for the Chinese that Google is developing:

The Dragonfly memo reveals that a prototype of the censored search engine was being developed as an app for both Android and iOS devices, and would force users to sign in so they could use the service. The memo confirms, as The Intercept first reported last week, that users’ searches would be associated with their personal phone number. The memo adds that Chinese users’ movements would also be stored, along with the IP address of their device and links they clicked on. It accuses developers working on the project of creating “spying tools” for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens.

There is a lot more in this article, that is recommended, but I observe that "the project of creating “spying tools” for the Chinese government to monitor its citizens" seems to differ little from the
project of creating “spying tools” for other governments, like the American and English governments. And see the first item above and the next item to follow:

5. The Gamification of Tyranny

This article is by Kurt Nimmo on Washington's Blog. It starts as follows:

It looks like we’re headed for a brave new world where all citizens are rated on their loyalty to the state and are punished for wandering from its narrative. 

Call it the gamification of repression. 

In China, the supposedly communist state—in fact, it is an advanced form of crony capitalist authoritarianism that Marx would have disapproved—is busy setting up a rating system for all citizens. According to a paper written by an academic at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon, scores are based on professional conduct, corruption, type of products bought, peers’ own scores, and tax evasion.

The author left something out, however. This social credit system will also be used to marginalize and stigmatize those who criticize the state. 

China’s nominally communist government says the system and its massive database will allow the trustworthy to roam freely under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.

In addition to scrutinizing online activity and acting on tips by snitches, the system will tap into China’s sprawling network of surveillance cameras, said to number around 200 million across the country. Facial recognition will ID individuals and follow their every move in search of behavior worthy of a low score. Those gaining a high score will be allowed access to credit facilities, cheaper public transport, and even shorter wait times for hospital services.

I agree, though I would call this the Nazification rather than the gamification of repression.

And here is more on the situation in the USA:

If you think you’re free of this kind of tyranny because you live in America, think again.

Everybody knows the NSA and its contractors are collecting our most private and intimate information. Travel bans are enforced through no-fly lists and these are imposed on political activists as well as the innocent caught up in the surveillance system. You can lose your position at a university for thought considered unacceptable to a politically correct orthodoxy. The state intervenes when a business concern refuses to sell products to people the seller finds objectionable. In numerous ways, the state hinders, bans, and criminalizes behavior in parasitic fashion, the end result being overcrowded industrial prisons and a bounty in revenue generation through fines, assessments, penalties, and taxes.

Our social media accounts are scoured by the NSA, FBI, and the CIA for any sign of political misdeed. The state is able to monitor our behavior online in real-time. It has turned our cellphones into tracking devices. The tech giants often collaborate with the state and hand over our data without a constitutionally mandated search warrant. The data on our phones is surrendered at the border.

That is to say: As far as "the security forces" are concerned there is not much difference between China on the one hand, and England and the USA on the other hand - and see item 4 above.

Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:

The latest signpost of ever encroaching corporatist-government fascism can be seen in the social media purge, which through evolution will ultimately remove all content from the internet deemed “extremist” by the state—and for the state that is everybody right or left who moves beyond permissible parameters set by the state.

Meanwhile, a huge internal security apparatus little different than what was used in the former Soviet Union is growing in size, arming itself to the teeth against the citizenry. It has deputized local law enforcement and showered it with all kinds of weapons, turning local police into armies controlled by the federal government.

I fear this is mostly quite correct, although I have to point out that several former KGB-agents have insisted that what the security forces can extract from the internet is "tenthousands of times" more than the KGB could extract from people before the times of the internet computer had arrived. And tnis is a strongly 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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