January 8, 2015
Crisis: Deregulated economy, Adam Curtis, Glenn Greenwald, Charlie Hebdo
  "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next



1. Deregulated Economy
2. Adam Curtis
3. Glenn Greenwald
4. Charlie Hebdo


This is a Nederlog of Thursday, January 8, 2015.

It is a brief crisis item (I slept well, but am not back where I was in early December of last year) with 4 items and 3 dotted links: Item 1 is about the deregulated economy; item 2 is about Adam Curtis (an English maker of documentaries); item 3 is about Glenn Greenwald on monitoring especially Muslims; and item 4 is about the murder of 12 persons in Paris yesterday.

1. Deregulated Economy

The present item - quite briefly - continues yesterday's Nederlog and stresses the view I articulated in It's the deregulation, stupid!:

The basis of the things that went wrong (for the non-rich) in
the economy, in health care, in education, in politics & civil law, in public debate and with the climate is the general deregulation that was introduced around 1980 by Thatcher and Reagan, and that also spread around the western world.

This deregulation was first and foremost a legal change: To deregulate = to strike out regulations, and the regulations that bound businesses were mostly formal and legal.

Also, while most regulations were discarded in the names of "freedom" or "liberty" or "libertarianism", the freedoms that resulted were mostly the increased freedoms of the rich few to make more money, plus the freedom of the rich few from high taxes (sold to the public as "trickle down economy", which was a lie). I see very few or no increases in "freedom" for the non-rich, and many losses of rights by the non-rich.

And in fact my title -
It's the deregulation, stupid! - was quite justified:

Deregulation is what made the crisis of 2008 possible, as it made als the enormous rise of welfare for the rich possible, and the corresponding growth of poverty for the poor, and many more things, and it all started systematically in 1979-1980, when Thatcher came to power in England, and Reagan in the U.S.

But indeed, the real story is more complicated than that, and leads to the following item, that is about a prominent English documentary-maker:

2. Adam Curtis

I have repeatedly written about Adam Curtis (<- Wikipedia) e.g. here (in July 2013), and meanwhile I have seen quite a few of his videos, of which I can recommend especially (in the order of production) Modern Times: The Way of All Flesh of 1997; The Mayfair Set of 1999; The Century of Self, of 2002; and The Power of Nightmares of 2006.

These are all series with several parts, that last for several hours. I thought all of them quite interesting and worth viewing, and recommend especially
The Mayfair Set and The Century of Self (together nearly eight hours). The first is basically about some of the consequences of deregulation in England and the U.S. while the second is about the rise of propaganda a.k.a. "public relations" in the U.S.

I would have liked to give links, but the links I posted have disappeared several times, it seems because the BBC objected (though I do not know this), so now I merely say that you'll have to find them yourselves, using Youtube's "Adam Curtis" or some search machine.

The last link works (today) as does the following:
  • Meet Adam Curtis, Establishment Contrarian

This is nearly 55 minutes of a Corbett Report (of which there are many more), that is dedicated to Adam Curtis.

I know little about Corbett or the Corbett Report, but this seemed a reasonable video, that both praises Curtis for original insights and good videos, and criticizes him for furthering typical establishment's tenets, such as that Lee Harvey Oswald killed Kennedy, or uncritically following mainstream reporting on 9/11.

The praise is deserved. The criticism may be deserved as well, though indeed you cannot criticize everything and remain a very prominent maker of documentaries for the BBC, it would seem to me, which is what Adam Curtis is. (Also, no single man can comprehend everything, while both Kennedy's murder and 9/11 are surrounded by many uncertainties.)

In any case,
the aim of this section is only to point out that Adam Curtis has made quite a few quite interesting documentaries that I found all very well worth seeing, also in spite of the fact that many of his documentaries take three or four hours when seen in full (as I agree they best are), and that especially The Mayfair Set (<- link to part 1) made clear quite a lot of the things that happened in the British and American economies in the 1980ies and 1990ies (especially about Michael Milken, James Goldsmith, Tiny Rowland and Jim Slater, each of whom got extremely rich by (ab-)using the freedoms that deregulations had brought them).

3. Glenn Greenwald

This is a link to a recent article by Glenn Greenwald on The Intercept:
  • With Power of Social Media Growing, Police Now Monitoring and Criminalizing Online Speech
This starts as follows:
On March 6, 2012, six British soldiers were killed in Afghanistan by a roadside explosive device, and a national ritual of mourning and rage ensued. Prime Minister David Cameron called it a “desperately sad day for our country.” A British teenager, Azhar Ahmed, observed the reaction for two days and then went to Facebook to angrily object that the innocent Afghans killed by British soldiers receive almost no attention from British media. He opined that the UK’s soldiers in Afghanistan are guilty, their deaths deserved, and are therefore going to hell:
At this point the British teenager is quoted (from Facebook, which is one reason I don't copy it, while also Greenwald's rendering is adequate), which I leave to your interests, but no: I do not think Azhar Ahmed's opinions were serious or criminal, even though they are a bit unrestrained, after which Glenn Greenwald continues:
The following day, Ahmed was arrested and “charged with a racially aggravated public order offense.” The police spokesman explained that “he didn’t make his point very well and that is why he has landed himself in bother.” The state proceeded to prosecute him, and in October of that year, he was convicted “of sending a grossly offensive communication,” fined and sentenced to 240 hours of community service.
I agree with Greenwald this was over the top. Here is one of Greenwald's sum ups:

Criminal cases for online political speech are now commonplace in the UK, notorious for its hostility to basic free speech and press rights. As The Independent‘s James Bloodworth reported last week, “around 20,000 people in Britain have been investigated in the past three years for comments made online.”

But the persecution is by no means viewpoint-neutral. It instead is overwhelmingly directed at the country’s Muslims for expressing political opinions critical of the state’s actions.

Yes. There is a lot more in Greenwald's article, that you can find under the last dotted link.

4. Charlie Hebdo

Finally today, an article by Suzanne Moore on The Guardian:
  • The Charlie Hebdo killers must not silence us. We should ridicule them
This is just one reaction to the murder of 12 persons in Paris, yesterday, that I assume everyone who reads this has heard about already.

My main reasons to link to this reaction are mainly that I agree with the title and with the following quotation from the article:

This is partly why I don’t like the fashionable terms Islamophobia or Islamofascism. It should be perfectly possible to criticise any culture that limits women without being accused of hating every Muslim. All fundamentalist religions (including those rooted in Judaism or Christianity) seek to control female sexuality. It should be possible to ask what these different versions of Islam are about, and how they relate to each other, without suggesting all Muslims are fascists.
Yes, though it is not - by far - only "female sexuality" that "fundamentalist religions (including those rooted in Judaism or Christianity)" seek to control.
P.S. Jan 8, 2015: Corrected "then" to "than".

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