February 2, 2015
Crisis: Malcolm X, Major Loss, Syriza, Vintage Churchill, The New Normal
  "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. Malcolm X Was Right About America
2. Fire May Have Damaged 1 Million Documents in a
    Cultural ‘Chernobyl’

Syriza Walks Back Initial Defiance
Vintage Churchill
War Is the New Normal 


This is a Nederlog of Monday, February 2, 2015.

This is a crisis log.
There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is on Chris Hedges on Malcolm X (and no, I don't think Malcolm X was right); item 2 is about a disaster that may be equal to the burning of the Library of Alexandria (circa 15 centuries ago); item 3 is about Syriza (and seems plausible); item 4 gives quite a few vintage bits from Winston Churchill (the main inspiration of Margaret Thatcher); and item 5 is about an article by retired Lieutenant Colonel Astor, that I liked a lot.

1. Malcolm X Was Right About America

The first item today is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
  • Malcolm X Was Right About America
This starts as follows:
Malcolm X, unlike Martin Luther King Jr., did not believe America had a conscience. For him there was no great tension between the lofty ideals of the nation—which he said were a sham—and the failure to deliver justice to blacks. He, perhaps better than King, understood the inner workings of empire. He had no hope that those who managed empire would ever get in touch with their better selves to build a country free of exploitation and injustice. He argued that from the arrival of the first slave ship to the appearance of our vast archipelago of prisons and our squalid, urban internal colonies where the poor are trapped and abused, the American empire was unrelentingly hostile to those Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth.” This, Malcolm knew, would not change until the empire was destroyed.
I must be one of the few Dutchmen who recalls the murder of Malcolm X (<- Wikipedia) in 1965. The reason - I was 14 then, moving towards 15 - was mainly that my parents were communists; had been communists for decades; and read a communist daily.

Also, although my parents were sympathetic to both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. (<- Wikipedia), whom I also knew about in 1965, they did not agree, and one of their disagreements was that both were religious leaders, for Malcolm X was a Muslim and Martin Luther King Jr. was a Christian.

And while I am not a communist since 1970 [1], I think my parents were right, not so much because they were communists, which did make them look very sympathetically to anyone who opposed racial discrimination, but because they were atheists.

This is also why I cannot agree with the title: Malcolm X was most of his adult life a follower of Elijah Muhammad (<- Wikipedia) whose followers also seem to have murdered him, briefly after he gave up that radical Muslim faith, and converted to Sunni Islam.

The next paragraph in the article is this:

“It is impossible for capitalism to survive, primarily because the system of capitalism needs some blood to suck,” Malcolm said. “Capitalism used to be like an eagle, but now it’s more like a vulture. It used to be strong enough to go and suck anybody’s blood whether they were strong or not. But now it has become more cowardly, like the vulture, and it can only suck the blood of the helpless. As the nations of the world free themselves, then capitalism has less victims, less to suck, and it becomes weaker and weaker. It’s only a matter of time in my opinion before it will collapse completely.”

I say. If this is the best quotation that Chris Hedges could find, it is a poor one, for it consists only of metaphors.

But there are more quotations of Malcolm X in the article, and some are better, like this one, from page 3 - and Lewis was a reporter:
“This is an era of hypocrisy,” he told Lewis. “When white folks pretend that they want Negroes to be free, and Negroes pretend to white folks that they really believe that white folks want ’em to be free, it’s an era of hypocrisy, brother. You fool me and I fool you. You pretend that you’re my brother, and I pretend that I really believe you believe you’re my brother.”
Yes, but hypocrisy carries very many faces, and I am quite certain some white folks were sincere in wanting "Negroes to be free". Also, you just cannot judge anyone in rational terms merely by referring to the colors of their skin.

So while this is an interesting article I do not think Malcolm X was right about America.

2. Fire May Have Damaged 1 Million Documents in a Cultural ‘Chernobyl’

The next item is an article by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:
  • Fire May Have Damaged 1 Million Documents in a Cultural ‘Chernobyl’

This starts as follows:

A fire is believed to have damaged more than 1 million historic books and papers in a Moscow library said to contain some of the richest collections of work in the Slavic language.

The Guardian reports:

The blaze, which began on Friday and was still not completely out on Saturday evening, ravaged 2,000 square metres (21,500 sq ft) of the Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (Inion) in Moscow, which was created in 1918 and holds 10m documents, some of which date back to the 16th century.

Vladimir Fortov, the president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, said: “It’s a major loss for science. This is the largest collection of its kind in the world, probably equivalent to the [US] Library of Congress.

“One can find documents there that are impossible to find elsewhere, all the social sciences use this library. What has happened here is reminiscent of Chernobyl,” he said, referring to the 1986 nuclear catastrophe.

He also - probably better, except that far fewer recognize the reference - might have spoken of the Library of Alexandria (<- Wikipedia) about which the Wikipedia writes:
The library is famous for having been burned resulting in the loss of many scrolls and books, and has become a symbol of the destruction of cultural knowledge.
For one thing - among very many more - if the Library of Alexandria had not been destroyed, we might have had the published works of Aristotle, which were said to be in an exquisite style (while what we have now are only his notebooks) and we might have known very much more of Greek philosophy.

Though it is rejected as improbable by the anonymous writers of Wikipedia (who may well be correct) I like to quote the words attributed to Caliph Omar (<- Wikipedia) who is supposed to have said (somewhere in the 7th Century):
"If those books are in agreement with the Quran, we have no need of them; and if these are opposed to the Quran, destroy them."
In any case, I am sure it is an enormous loss. There also is a link in the article to a short article in Times Roman (to please the users of cellphones) on the site of The Guardian (that was recently destroyed by Wolfgang Blau, no doubt with the best intentions).

3. Syriza Walks Back Initial Defiance

The next item is an article by Yves Smith on Nakedcapitalism:
  • Syriza Walks Back Initial Defiance

This starts as follows:

Victims of austerity and their allies around the world may be placing too much hope in Syriza. Despite the demonization of the Greek party as “radical left” in the mainstream press, and the blistering reaction from the German government to its economically sound observations about the need to rethink bailouts, Syriza is no revolution-in-the-making. But because the frustration with and the human costs of the Troika’s destructive policies only continue to mount, the opposition is desperate for a champion, or at least a focal point. Syriza has thus increasingly become an object of projection of both its allies and its opponents. And that seems to be leading to some misreadings of the state of play.

Mind you, the situation is fluid, and Syriza is trying to renegotiate the shape of the table, that is the very framework under which the bailouts are conducted. Needless to say, its Eurozone paymasters aren’t prepared to go back to first principles despite the abject failure of the bailouts (save in rescuing European banks and shifting the costs onto citizens).

Moreover as we’ve outlined before, Syriza is operating against numerous constraints.

Yes, indeed. There is a lot more in the article, and it is well worth reading all of.
And while I do not know whether it is right, since I don't know enough about Greece, the quoted start seems quite right to me. (And no, that is not the fault
of Syriza, but of - leftist - journalists.)

4. Vintage Churchill

The next item is an article by Robert Barsocchini on Washington's Blog:
  • Vintage Churchill
To start with: I admit I never liked Churchill. The reasons are a bit complicated:

I had - sincere and intelligent - communist parents who did not like him because he was a major Tory, while I also several times have started to read the six volumes of his "The Second World War" (last ca. 1978, because a friend admired them) but never got far because I simply did not like the style, and there are more reasons, but the brief one is that I simply never liked the person.

Also, this was all before I knew that Churchill was Thatcher's holy man (if I may say so), but then indeed he was: Mrs. Thatcher revered Churchill, and considered him and his writings a major  inspiration.

So it is nice to have some bits of Vintage Churchill (all by him) - and I quote some of these, because I did not know any of these:
“The Aryan stock is bound to triumph.”
“One might as well legalise sodomy as recognise the Bolsheviks.”
“There is no need to exaggerate the part played in the creation of Bolshevism … by … Jews, [it] it is certainly a very great one; it probably outweighs all others.

Although in all these countries there are many non-Jews every whit as bad as the worst of the Jewish revolutionaries, the part played by the latter in proportion to their numbers in the population is astonishing.”
“I propose that 100,000 degenerate Britons should be forcibly sterilized and others put in labour camps to halt the decline of the British race.” (As Home Secretary, in 1910)
“I hate Indians. They are a beastly people…”
”I love this war. I know it’s smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can’t help it — I enjoy every second of it.” (On WW I, written in 1916.)
“I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror.”
There is a lot more under the last dotted link, where you also can find the sources for the above ones. (But yes, I never liked Churchill.)

5. War Is the New Normal

The next item is an article by William Astore on TomDispatch:
  • War Is the New Normal
William Astore is a retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.

This starts as follows:

It was launched immediately after the 9/11 attacks, when I was still in the military, and almost immediately became known as the Global War on Terror, or GWOT.  Pentagon insiders called it “the long war,” an open-ended, perhaps unending, conflict against nations and terror networks mainly of a radical Islamist bent.  It saw the revival of counterinsurgency doctrine, buried in the aftermath of defeat in Vietnam, and a reinterpretation of that disaster as well.  Over the years, its chief characteristic became ever clearer: a “Groundhog Day” kind of repetition.  Just when you thought it was over (Iraq, Afghanistan), just after victory (of a sort) was declared, it began again.

Now, as we find ourselves enmeshed in Iraq War 3.0, what better way to memorialize the post-9/11 American way of war than through repetition.  Back in July 2010, I wrote an article for TomDispatch on the seven reasons why America can’t stop making war.  More than four years later, with the war on terror still ongoing, with the mission eternally unaccomplished, here’s a fresh take on the top seven reasons why never-ending war is the new normal in America.
This is a really good piece, that I advice you should read all of. Here is the list of "the top seven reasons why never-ending war is the new normal in America", each of which gets discussed in the article in some detail:
1.  The privatization of war
2.  The embrace of the national security state by both
      major parties

3.  “Support Our Troops” as a substitute for thought
4.  Fighting a redacted war
5.  Threat inflation
6.  Defining the world as a global battlefield
7.  The new "normal" in America is war

[1] Also, I am not ashamed one bit for having been a communist until I was briefly after 20 (and still was not allowed to vote: I only was an adult at age 21), nor for having sincere and intelligent communist parents: They were some of the very few who were in the resistance to the Nazis during WW II, in which my father and his father were both arrested and convicted as "political terrorists" to German concentration camps, that my grandfather did not survive.

Who should be very ashamed (but are not one bit) are the - literally - thousands of sick degenerates who were quasi-communists between 1971 and 1991 simply because this was in their personal private interests:

From 1971-1995 the Dutch universities were in the hands of the students, to whom they were handed in 1971 out of fear they might else be revolutionized (!!), and most of the students pretended (mostly) to be "communists" or (extreme)"leftists" simply because that was very advantageous for them and also was quite fashionable from 1971-1995:

In Amsterdam, the extremely "leftist" student party the ASVA had the absolute majority in the University Parliament (that ruled the whole university between 1972 and 1995) ALL the time; their supporters became Masters of Philosophy simply by squatting houses and taking part in demonstrations; the ASVA itself consisted nearly only of quasi-communists who let themselves be ruled by the Amsterdam branch of the Communist Party (as they only admitted in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union and the death of the Dutch CP); and nearly the whole university was a mess between 1971 and 1995 in which anything was possible - except getting a good education, but then hardly anyone wanted that: nearly everyone wanted degrees (money, money, MONEY!) very much more than real knowledge. And they got their degrees, while most hardly knew anything.

(Yes, the bit about "
their supporters became Masters of Philosophy simply by squatting houses and taking part in demonstrations" also is literally true. Just as it is literally true that I am the only student who was removed from any Dutch university since 1945, briefly before taking my M.A. in philosophy, and as a "fascist terrorist" also, and in the full knowledge that I was ill, simply because I dared to protest these degeneracies, which I agree was quite unwise by me, but which also was very true. But then the University of Amsterdam did not believe in truth, from 1977-2002, approximately: My professors believed - and told ALL students, very many times also, that "everybody knows that truth does not exist".)
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