in all the world is more dangerous, than sincere ignorance and
-- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
from February 8, 2019
This is a
Nederlog of Friday,
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.
moment and since more than three 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
five crisis files
that are mostly well worth reading:
A. Selections from February 8, 2019:
1. Who’s Really Afraid of Socialism?
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 urging Congress to stop
3. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Dismantles Trump's Attack on
4. 'We Can't Carry On Being So Insane'
5. Pelosi dismisses Ocasio-Cortez's "New Deal" climate plan
Really Afraid of Socialism?
is by Mehdi Hasan on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
During his State of the
address, President Trump expressed “alarm” at what he termed “new calls
to adopt socialism in our country.” “Tonight,” he proclaimed, “we renew
our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.” The line
received a standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats alike, yet
recent polls show that socialism is growing in popularity in the U.S.,
with a net positive rating among Democrats. Newly-elected Reps.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib are both members of the
Democratic Socialists of America, and policy proposals identified with
the socialist movement, such as debt-free college and universal health
care, are gaining traction on the left. To discuss America’s long-held
resistance to socialism and its current rise in popularity, Mehdi Hasan
is joined by Washington Post columnist Elizabeth Bruenig.
and I think this is both interesting and confusing. I will outline some
of my reasons why (the term) "socialism" is confusing:
First, there were for
72 years a number of states that in fact depended on the Soviet Union,
which claimed the same, namely that they were "socialist" states. This
was rather popular in various leftist circles until 1940 or 1945, but
later - when Churchill and Stalin started the cold war - grew
considerably less popular.
Because I was born in a
fairly prominent communist family (and communism is a faith I gave up -
as one of the extremely few with my background in 1970, when I
I heard rather a lot about "socialist states", but I gave up on
belief that they were socialist in any sense that I could appreciate
after visiting the German Democratic Republic in 1964.
Second, in Western
Europe there were in most countries since the end of WW II a number of
so-called "social democratic" parties, some of which were rather
They were for the most part somewhat for socialism (in part to draw
voters) but they denied that the Soviet Union and its associated states
were socialists, at least in their sense.
These parties mostly
still exist, though they are smaller than in the 1960ies and 1970ies
(at least) and while I would agree that they are leftist, I do not
think that they were socialists in any sense I would agree to.
Third, apart from the
social democrats there were quite a considerable number of (somewhat or
cvonsiderably) more leftist leanings, especially in the 1960ies
1970ies. I think nearly all were small or not large.
Many of these parties
disappeared (as did almost all communist parties after the collapse of
the Soviet Union in 1991) but a few remain. It is too complicated to
say which were in some plausible sense socialist.
This was just a brief
survey of various meanings of "socialist". Here is more from the
Donald J. Trump: Tonight
we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.
Mehdi Hasan: Welcome
to Deconstructed. I’m Mehdi Hasan. President Trump gave one of the
longest State of the Union speeches ever on Tuesday night, and it was
filled with the usual racist lies about immigrants, the usual
belligerence and warmongering in relation to Iran, and the usual BS
about making America great again. But he also took time out to slam the
S-word. Yes, socialism.
Yes indeed. Also, I think
that in Trump's mouth "socialism" mostly is scaremongering (but
said, "socialism" is a quite confused term).
Here is more:
MH: Donald Trump
speaking on Tuesday night at his belated State of the Union address in
Congress. His mention of the word socialism got boos from the
Republican side. His pledge to never allow America to become a
socialist country got applause and a standing ovation from a fair few
people on the Democratic side too, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Because the U.S., of
course, is the only advanced, industrialized nation whose political
system has never had a large, mainstream, socialist or even
social-democratic political party such as the Labour Party in the UK or
the French Socialist Party. The German sociologist Werner Sombart
famously asked, back in the 1880s: “Why is there no socialism in the
These days, though, after a
half century of being demonized by Cold Warriors and tainted in the
eyes of ordinary Americans by its association with the Soviets and the
Cubans, socialism seems to be on the ascendant here in the U.S. The
S-word is all over the media, and it’s fair to say that people, on the
right, in the center, and on the center left of American politics, are
spooked by the rise of socialism.
Yes indeed (although I think
I must disagree a bit with Sombart, for there were some
movements, in some sense, in the later 1880ies, notably Emma Goldman).
Here is more:
MH: In 2016,
independent senator and proud socialist Bernie Sanders took America by
storm in the Democratic primaries. He won 13 million votes. Yeah, a
socialist in the U.S. And he didn’t hide his socialism either.
Anderson Cooper: How
can any kind of socialist win a general election in the United States?
Bernie Sanders: We’re
going to win because first we’re going to explain what democratic
socialism is. And what democratic socialism is about is saying that it
is immoral and wrong that the top one tenth of one percent in this
country own almost as much wealth as the bottom ninety percent.
MH: Since 2016,
Bernie’s only become more popular, as has his socialist agenda.
Single-payer universal healthcare, for example, which Senator Kamala
Harris was defending on a CNN town hall just the other week, debt-free
college, a higher minimum wage, better regulation of the banks, higher
taxes on the rich.
Well... perhaps Bernie
Sanders is a socialist in a sense I can also acknowledge, but his
politics fit better in a social democratic tradition (in
the European sense) than in a democratic socialist tradition, I
Here is more:
Ocasio-Cortez: For me, democratic socialism is about — really, the
value for me is that I believe that in a modern, moral, and wealthy
society, no person in America should be too poor to live.
MH: By the way, I’m
not pretending that socialism isn’t a contested term, that there aren’t
arguments even within the left, about what it means or how to define
it. But I think it’s fair to say that one of the core principles of
socialism is equality. It’s about trying to achieve a more equal
society in terms of power, wealth and income. That’s why I’d define
myself as a socialist — because I’m outraged by inequality, and I
happened to grow up in a country, Britain, where socialism gave us
much-needed universal healthcare — and that’s why a lot of Americans,
who live in one of the most unequal societies in the West, where the
one percent keep gobbling up more and more wealth, especially since the
financial crash, are turning towards socialism or at least socialist
certainly is "a contested
term", and I think one can
very well be for "a
equal society in terms of power, wealth and income" (as are the European social democrats) without
a socialist (and I think most Europeans would agree to this).
But Hasan is probably
correct in saying that in the USA there are now some - fairly
popular - politicians who are in favor of "socialist policies".
Here is some more:
MH: (..) And number
three, if socialism is inherently flawed as an economic doctrine, and
Venezuela is supposedly proof of that, if it automatically leads to
economic mismanagement and ruin, then how do you explain the economic
success stories that are the Nordic countries — the likes of Sweden,
Denmark and Norway, which have all, in some way or another, implemented
socialist economic policies, engaged in state ownership of assets, had
high rates of tax, universal healthcare, childcare and the rest, and
yet have had massive economic growth and are constantly voted the
happiest places in the world with the best standards of living.
My reply (and I lived
for several years in Norway) is rather simple: In Sweden, Denmark and
Norway it were not socialists who were strong in
politics, but social
democrats, and indeed neither of these countries is a
country, though I think that they all - still, also under non-social
democratic governments - incorporate more social democracy than
other European nations.
Here is the last bit
that I quote from this article:
I like Elizabeth Bruenig (of whom there is a lot
more in the article) but I think the above is also somewhat confusing,
because part of her aims are realizable by social demoratic policies,
who are for more equality and more fairness, but who rarely are
socialists, and tend not to be revolutionairies in any sense, while
part of her aims, such as "to
move as much of the economy as possible under democratic control" (which itself is not very clear) seem only
realizable after a - mosly successful - socialist revolution.
MH: And how do you
define socialism than, specifically democratic socialism, which I
think, is what you and others on the U.S. left are advocating?
EB: Yes. So, yeah,
exactly right. So, democratic socialism explicitly rejects
authoritarian forms of socialism and says that democracy and a
democratic apparatus is essential to the kind of government we want to
see. And then I think from there the sort of organizing principle of
democratic socialism is to move as much of the economy as possible
under democratic control. So, to return control of the economy to the
people at large instead of a small number of super rich people.
But this article and interview are quite good, and there also is a lot
more than I quoted. This is a strongly recommended article. And
for more on socialism, look here: Crisis:
urging Congress to stop Investigations
is by Matthew Chapman on AlterNet. I abbreviated the title. It starts
I say, for these
sentiments are those of an authoritarian and not those of
any democrat (and that is wholly apart from Trump's thesis that "an economic miracle is taking place in the
United States", which either is pure bullshit, or
refers only to the
One of the strangest and
most ominous moments of President Donald Trump’s State
of the Union address was when, in an apparent warning shot at the
newly divided Congress, the president implied that lawmakers would have
to choose between investigating him and passing legislation.
“An economic miracle is
taking place in the United States — and the only thing that can stop it
are foolish wars, politics, or ridiculous partisan investigations,”
said Trump. “If there is going to be peace and legislation, there
cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way!”
Here is some more:
I don't like Schumer, but
he was quite correct in insisting that "one of the functions of the Congress, the
Article I section of government from the days of the founding fathers,
was oversight of the executive branch”.
In conversation with CNN’s
John Berman on “New Day,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
pushed back hard.
“One of the functions of
the Congress, the Article I section of government from the days of the
founding fathers, was oversight of the executive branch,” said Schumer.
“And the president says, ‘If you investigate me, I’m not gonna make
progress.’ That’s doing what he did with the shutdown, holding the
American people hostage.”
“You know what I think it
shows, John?” said Schumer. “He’s scared. He’s got something to hide,
because if he had nothing to hide, he’d just shrug his shoulders and
let these investigations go forward. He’s afraid of them.”
Then again, I don't know whether Trump is scared (and this
indirect propaganda for Russia-gate).
Here is one more bit from this article:
Yes, I think this is all
correct, and this is a recommended article.
Trump, his family, his
campaign, his businesses, and even his inaugural
committee have faced investigations by Congress, special counsel
Robert Mueller, prosecutors with the Southern District of New York, and
the New York State Attorney General, for everything from conspiracy
with Russia, to violating campaign finance and nonprofit laws. The
Democratic takeover of the House means even more congressional
investigations, and Trump is already plotting how to stonewall them
from even obtaining
his tax returns.
Ocasio-Cortez Dismantles Trump's Attack on Socialism
is by Jake Johnson on Truthdig and originally on Common Dreams. It
starts as follows:
Well... perhaps. In fact,
I might have included "progressives" and "leftists" as well
explanation of various meanings of "socialist" (see here - and I did not simply because that
would have made my text too long).
While Republicans and many
Democrats rose and enthusiastically applauded President Donald Trump’s
attack on socialism during his State of the Union address Tuesday
night, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)—who, along
with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), remained seated—said the
president’s remarks showed he’s “scared” of the progressive policies
Americans are embracing.
Speaking to reporters after
Trump proclaimed that “America will never be a socialist country,”
Ocasio-Cortez said the president felt the need to lash out at socialism
because bold progressives have gotten “under his skin.”
“I think he’s scared,” said Ocasio-Cortez,
a self-identified democratic socialist. “He sees that everything is
closing in on him. And he knows he’s losing the battle of public
opinion when it comes to the actual substantive proposals that we’re
I hope Ocasio-Cortez is right, but I do not know. Then
again, she seems
to be mostly right on the following points:
Yes, I agree and this is a
In an interview with MSNBC‘s
Chris Matthews late Tuesday following Trump’s address, Ocasio-Cortez
argued Trump’s swipe at socialism demonstrates that he’s “losing on the
“Every single policy
proposal that we have adopted and presented to the American public has
been overwhelmingly popular, even some with the majority of Republican
voters,” said the New York congresswoman. “When we talk about a 70
percent marginal tax rate on incomes over $10 million, 60 percent of
Americans approve it.”
“Seventy percent of
Americans believe in improved and expanded Medicare for All. A very
large amount of Americans believe that we need to do something about
climate change, and that it is an existential threat to ourselves and
to our children,” she continued. “What we really need to realize…is
that this is an issue of [an] authoritarian regime versus democracy.”
Can't Carry On Being So Insane'
is by Jörg Schindler on Spiegel International. It starts as follows:
I say: Fifty years
parliament! Anyway, that more or less identifies Kenneth Clarke
(and the last link gives more information).
Before he extends his hand
in greeting at his office, Kenneth Clarke says he's never seen such a
"crazy situation" in all his whole life. The politician, a veteran of
the Conservative Party, will soon have spent a half-century in the
British parliament. He's been a part of many of the biggest battles
over Europe in Westminster. He served as a government minister under
Margaret Thatcher, John Major and David Cameron and might well have
made it to the top, "if I hadn't been so pro-European," as he confides.
Next to Michael Heseltine, many consider Clarke to be the best prime
minister Britain never had.
The 78-year-old member of
parliament says he has never seen the kind of discord that has unfolded
in recent weeks as the deadline for Brexit approaches.
Here is some more:
I do not know, but the
above may well be correct. Here is some more:
DER SPIEGEL: Why has
the prime minister chosen this path regardless of signals from the
European Union that the Withdrawal Agreement is nonnegotiable?
Clarke: The prime
minister is obsessed with keeping the Conservative Party in one piece.
I have argued for months that the moderate majority of the House of
Commons should come together on a cross-party basis. We can only reach
an agreement if Tory remainers and Labour remainers strike a
compromise. But Theresa May has not really reached out to them.
Instead, she is making a desperate effort to win over the hardline
right-wing people of our party.
Well, two remarks (and I
do not know to what extent the above is correct):
DER SPIEGEL: What
are the deeper roots of the eternal struggle over Europe in your party?
Clarke: There was
always a group of nationalists in the Tory party that didn't come to
terms with our changed role in the world. In their eyes we have an
imperial destiny. But that was fading away and we were becoming a
rather pro-European party in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.
Remember, it was us who had to persuade the Germans and French of the
DER SPIEGEL: But
Thatcher turned into a euroskeptic herself at the end of her term as
Clarke: She rejected
Jacques Delors' idea of a more social Europe. Her fall in 1990 enraged
the Tory far-right. They thought it was all a kind of pro-European
plot. The European issue became symbolic of the betrayal of Margaret
Thatcher. It became a spiritual event -- revenge for Margaret. And then
there was the question of the euro and the Maastricht Treaty, which
became symbols for the destruction of our independence and sovereignty.
First, Great Britain entered the EEC before Thatcher became
minister, while second, I tend to agree with Clare on "the euro and the Maastricht Treaty, which
became symbols for the destruction of our independence and sovereignty", though very probably not for
reasons. But I do think both were major mistakes.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this interview:
I think Clarke is mostly
correct, and this is a recommended article.
DER SPIEGEL: Are you
Clarke: Of course, I
am. The Brexit debate has absolutely crippled our party-political
system and it has distorted the usual process of political debate. We
have lots and lots of other really big things we should be getting on
with. We urgently need to create an economy that distributes benefits
more fairly. But we're not, because the political class is obsessed
with Brexit. This is almost a nervous breakdown, we need to stop it.
dismisses Ocasio-Cortez's "New Deal" climate plan
is by Matthew Rozsa on Salon. I abbreviated the title. It starts as
Yes, "dismissive" and
"disparaging" are the correct words for Pelosi's sayings, and I
add, I think, that I disagree with the statement that "climate change [i]s her “flagship” political
because I think she is first for the Wall Street banks, who finance
and most elected Democrats, and only second for the political plans
is in favor of.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seemed to throw shade on the
Green New Deal being proposed by progressive congresspeople like Rep.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.
The California Democrat made her disparaging remarks when speaking
with Politico earlier this week:
“It will be one of several or maybe many suggestions
that we receive,” Pelosi said. “The green dream or whatever they call
it, nobody knows what it is, but they’re for it right?”
Pelosi has long championed stronger environmental rules,
and described climate change as her “flagship” political issue.
Here is some more:
This may well be correct.
Here is a reply by Ocasio-Cortez:
Pelosi's reluctance to offer a full-throated endorsement
of the Green New Deal makes a certain amount of political sense; for
every progressive congressperson like Ocasio-Cortez, there are also
more moderate Democrats who need to hold their seats in districts that
voted for President Donald Trump or, at the very least, could
conceivably flip to Republican in the next election cycle.
At the same time, Pelosi's attitude toward the Green New
Deal also risks putting her out of step with the direction her party is
taking on a national level. She seemed to understand her perilous
position when she walked back a bit of her dismissiveness.
Calling the Green New Deal an[
“enthusiastic” idea at her weekly press conference, Pelosi reportedly
said the Democratic House caucus "welcome the enthusiasm that is there”
I think this is correct as
well, and this is a recommended article.
"Even the solutions that we have considered big and bold
are nowhere near the scale of the actual problem that climate change
presents to us," Ocasio-Cortez
told NPR's Steve Inskeep during an interview on Thursday morning.
The New York congresswoman added, "It could be part of a larger
solution, but no one has actually scoped out what that larger solution
would entail. And so that's really what we're trying to accomplish with
the Green New Deal."
Ocasio-Cortez's ideas have also received plaudits from
Justice Democrats, a progressive political action committee that has
been instrumental in trying to push the Democratic Party to the left.
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 (!!).