Sections crisis index
1. The New European Fascists
2. Mission Accomplished at DNC, Clinton Hires
Wasserman Schultz for Top Post
3. The Appalling Violence of the World's Three
4. Oliver Stone Issues Dire Warning on the Age of
Pokemon Go: 'It's What They Call Totalitarianism'
5. The Art Of The Deal' Co-Author Calls Out Trump, Says
He's a Sociopath
This is a Nederlog of Monday, July 25, 2016.
This is a crisis log. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about an article by Chris Hedges about European fascism (which indeed is both thriving and quite frightening, because there are very many stupid and ignorant folks); item 2 is about the demise of the awful Wasserman Schultz - who got promptly nominated by Hillary Clinton; item 3 is about the enormous capacities for harm that the three superpowers (USA, Russia, China) have; item 4 is about a further step towards neofascism by Google; and item 5 is about the real author of "The Art of the Deal" who says Trump is a sociopath.
Also, there is a previous file of today, about my vitamins and my computer.
1. The New European Fascists
The first item today is Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
- The New European Fascists
This starts as follows:
I say. Then again, I am not very amazed - and one of my reasons is that I do not regard it as true that "all persons are equals". In fact, I think that is a thoroughly false and quite totalitarian nonsensical idea, which is the more dangerous because it is usually confused with a quite different idea, with which I agree: "in law, all persons should be regarded and treated as equals".
WARSAW, Poland—Jaroslaw Kurski and Piotr Stasinski embody the hope that once was Poland. They struggled against the Communist regime for years in the underground press and as Solidarity members. They built Gazeta Wyborcza, now one of the most influential newspapers in the country, after the 1989 fall of communism. They helped usher in a period of democracy and open debate, one that included cultural space for historians such as Jan Gross, a Polish-born American who courageously confronted the taboo topic of Polish complicity in the Nazi extermination of nearly all of Poland’s 3 million Jews.
And then neoliberalism, imposed by global capitalism and international banks, began to spread its poison. Legions of unemployed or underemployed were cast adrift. Two million Poles, many of them young people desperate for jobs, have left to work abroad. Governmental austerity programs devastated cultural institutions, including public schools, the arts and public broadcasting. And finally, following a familiar death spiral, the October 2015 elections brought to power the nationalists and demagogues of the right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS). There is no left-wing party represented in the parliament.
In fact, my position is that because each person differs from any other person no one is of equal value as another, and indeed most different persons will differ quite a lot in their evaluations of the same third person, simply because they are different - but this is precisely a very good reason to insist that, therefore, all (adult) persons should have the same rights and the same duties and the same legal treatments as any other person.
I think this is classical liberalism, and while this was rather popular in my youth and until the 1970ies, it has become quite rare since:
The Left tends to insist that all people are of equal value (which is so idiotic that it directly logically implies Einstein and Hitler, and you and Von Neumann, and you and Eichmann are all equals), while the Right insists that people should not have equal rights, and tends to insist that (i) the rich should have more rights and lesser proportional taxes than the poor (for the rich are better and contribute more), and (ii) "equality in legal rights" only applies to certain groups (like white protestants, or like black people) and different groups ought to have different rights.
I have sketched this before (notably in Dutch, in 2008: November 8 and November 9) but I know my views on equality are not commonly understood, these days.
Next, I have also been saying that for me neoliberalism = neofascism, and have been saying so for quite a few years, and at least since December 2012.
I will not repeat this here, but refer you to an item I wrote yesterday. (I agree this does not quite make my point: For more see the index of 2016.)
Back to the article. Here is how Poland is governed on the moment (according to some Poles, but they seem quite credible to me):
“There is no longer genuine parliamentary debate,” Stasinski said when I met with him and Kurski at the Gazeta Wyborcza offices in Warsaw. “There are no longer checks and balances of power. The parliamentary system is dysfunctional. The Constitutional Court and judiciary are paralyzed. New laws passed by the parliament cannot be challenged or changed. The government is supposed to publish sentences of the Constitutional Court in The Journal of Laws [Dziennik Ustaw] for them to become legally effective. This is required by the Constitution. But the government, by not printing them, paralyzes the Constitutional Court, which has been reduced to announcing its sentences on the internet without any legal effect. It is a very dangerous time.”
“We operate under two systems of law,” said Kurski. “One is constitutional and legal. The other is unconstitutional and illegal. The problem is that the illegal and unconstitutional system runs the country.”
And this is about parts of the rest of Europe:
It is the same in the Netherlands, by the way. Also, Chris Hedges seems to be right in distinguishing between proto-fascism and neofascism: There are differences, but I only note this here and will not try to explain this today.
And it is not only Poland that is in trouble. Europe, especially EU countries on the fringes of the union, is devolving into proto-fascism. The Hungarian strongman Prime Minister Viktor Orban has destroyed his country’s democracy. Neofascist groups are gaining strength in France, the United Kingdom, Austria, Denmark, Sweden and Greece.These movements are rabidly xenophobic, racist, Islamophobic and homophobic, and they demonize immigrants and brand internal dissent as treason. When they take control they rely on ruthless internal security and surveillance systems—Poland has established 11 intelligence agencies—to crush dissent. They seek their identity in a terrifying new nationalism, often, as in Poland, coupled with a right-wing Catholicism. They preach hatred of the outsider and glorification of obedient and “true” patriots. This lurch to the right will be augmented in Poland later this year with the establishment of an armed militia of more than 30,000 whose loyalty, it seems certain, will be to the ruling party.
The final quotation I select is this:
“There is no such thing as human nature,” Janicka said to me. “Human nature is culture. It is a product of education. When you construct an educational system and a public discourse where there is an almost total lack of critical, analytical thinking, where you refuse to strengthen individual human beings capable of autonomous judgment, human beings aware of their experiences and feelings, responsible for their deeds and relationship to the other, you destroy what is fundamental to an open society. It becomes exclusively about collective image, meaning collective narcissism. Liberal pluralism from this perspective is viewed as moral relativism or nihilism. There is a clash in Poland between the formal and legal frame of liberal democracy and the majority dominant culture.I agree with this, except for the first statement: Clearly, there is such a thing as human nature, for humans differ from all other biological species. But I agree that culture comes on top of nature, and about culture Janicka is quite right.
Also, I think Janicka is right in saying that what is being destroyed (in Poland and also in other European countries) is "what is fundamental to an open society", and I think that this happens by the large numbers of the unintelli- gent led by the unscrupulous power seekers, who try to suppress the considerably smaller numbers of the intelligent ones - but I do not know whether Janicka agrees.
This is again a recommended article, with rather a lot more than is reviewed here. It will not make you happier, but these are not happy times.
2. Mission Accomplished at DNC, Clinton Hires Wasserman Schultz for Top Post
The second item is by Jon Queally on Common Dreams:
- Mission Accomplished at DNC, Clinton Hires Wasserman Schultz for Top Post
This starts as follows:
Though many progressives immediately responded by saying her ouster would not be enough to undo the damage her leadership has done, Democratic National Committee Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz announced her resignation on Sunday afternoon, saying she would relinquish her post immediately following the party's national convention which begins Monday.
Her announcement comes just two days after a batch of leaked internal DNC emails showed evidence that party officials during the primary season had attempted to tip the scales in favor of Hillary Clinton against the insurgent campaign of Bernie Sanders. The emails appear to show top officials contemplating how they can undermine Sanders by pushing stories about his Jewish faith and questioning his ability to keep his campaign organized.
How nice! How democratic! How honest! How decent! Except that it was none of these things, and I would say that when top officials of the Democrats are rooting to find what they regard as noxious details about Sanders' Jewishness
that I think they were busy cultivating a fascist path. (They will "honestly" deny this, but then if you belong to the top of the Democrats lying is totally
natural for you, indeed just like it is for the top of the Republicans.)
The following is also not amazing:
Following Sunday's news, however, Clinton responded with a statement thanking her "longtime friend" for her service to the party and, seemingly without irony, announced that Wasserman Schultz would now serve as her campaign’s honorary chair.
"There's simply no one better at taking the fight to the Republicans than Debbie," Clinton said, "which is why I am glad that she has agreed to serve as honorary chair of my campaign's 50-state program to gain ground and elect Democrats in every part of the country, and will continue to serve as a surrogate for my campaign nationally, in Florida, and in other key states."
O Lord! Well... as I said before: I never liked Hillary Clinton, because she is a pro rich, pro TPP, pro austerity kind of multi-millionaire, which is a kind of person that I much dislike. Even so, she has one definite large advantage over Donald Trump: she is not mad, whereas Trump (in my psychological eyes, and not mine alone) is mad. (And see item 5.)
It is sad that if you are an American you should vote for the fraud Clinton to avoid getting the madman Trump as president, but then many of the choices people have to make are choices from evil.
3. The Appalling Violence of the World's Three Superpowers
The third item is by Lawrence S. Wittner on AlterNet and originally on History News Network:
- The Appalling Violence of the World's Three Superpowers
This is here mostly because of the following quotation, that is from near the beginning, and does give some numbers about "defense" (the usual propaganda term for war):
Despite their professions of peaceful intentions, all three nations maintain vast armed forces and a clear willingness to use them when it suits their rulers. According to the International Institute of Strategic Studies, in 2014 the United States had 2.3 million active duty military, reserve military, and paramilitary personnel, Russia had 3.4 million, and China 3.5 million. These figures do not include many other people they kept fully armed, such as China's 3 million-strong People's Liberation Army militia. In 2015, the combined military expenditures of the three superpowers constituted more than half the world total, with 36 percent ($596 billion) spent by the United States, 13 percent ($215 billion) by China, and 4 percent ($64 billion) by Russia.Incidentally, I learned somewhere between 2000 and 2010 that - more than 11 years after the fall of the Soviet Union - all atomic weapons in Russia and indeed all atomic weapons of the USA still had their aims fixed as they were until 1989. To the best of my knowledge that is still the case.
Lest anyone think that Russia's low military expenditures -- at least compared to those of the United States and China -- indicate a collapse of its capacity for mass violence, it should be kept in mind that Russia continues to possess more nuclear weapons than any other nation. With an estimated 7,290 nuclear weapons in its arsenals, Russia is a formidable military power, indeed. The United States, a close runner-up, has some 7,000, giving these two superpowers possession of roughly 93 percent of the world's nuclear weapons -- more than enough to annihilate life on earth. China, by contrast, lags far behind as a nuclear power, with a mere 260. Even so, these Chinese weapons, if carefully directed, could kill about 52 million people.
Clearly, the answer to the last question is yes, which indeed does mean that the world is in big trouble. (And I agree.)
Overall, then, the three superpowers are unusually violent powers. An extensive study by the Institute for Economics & Peace, released recently, ranked 163 independent nations and territories according to their level of peacefulness. Examining 23 qualitative and quantitative indicators linked to domestic or international conflict, the degree of militarization, and the level of safety and security in society, the study concluded that, when it came to peacefulness, the United States ranked #103, China #120, and Russia #151.
Is this really the best that these large, economically productive, educationally advanced, and technologically sophisticated nations can do? If so, the world is in big trouble.
4. Oliver Stone Issues Dire Warning on the Age of Pokemon Go: 'It's What They Call Totalitarianism'
The fourth item today is by Elizabeth Preza on AlterNet:
- Oliver Stone Issues Dire Warning on the Age of Pokemon Go: 'It's What They Call Totalitarianism'
First a clarification: I dislike Google (or whatever it is called these days) very much, and I avoid using it for quite a few years (since 2009, I think), that is apart from Youtube. And I don't even know what "Pokemon Go" is, except that it is a stupid game played with cellphones, which I refuse to carry and to own.
But one needs no knowledge of Pokemon Go (?) to appreciate this:
While discussing his upcoming film Snowden at San Diego Comic-Con Thursday, the JFK director spoke frankly about the game that’s enraptured millions of Americans, noting that it’s yet another tool companies such as Google can use to gather information about users.
"It's a new level of invasion," Stone said, according to CBS News. "Nobody has ever seen, in the history of the world, something like Google, ever. It's the fastest-growing business ever, and they have invested huge amounts of money into what surveillance is, which is data-mining.”
“They're data-mining every person in this room for information as to what you're buying, what it is you like, and above all, your behavior,” Stone added.
Stone called Pokemon Go “surveillance capitalism,” calling it the “newest stage” in data mining.
"You'll see a new form of, frankly, a robot society, where they will know how you want to behave and they will make the mockup that matches how you behave and feed you,” Stone said. “It's what they call totalitarianism.”
Yes, indeed. An alternative name - possibly better - is neofascism. I don't think Google should have the powers it has; and I don't think anyone should be able to datamine everyone, or indeed a considerable group, for this makes for extremely unequal, extremely undemocratic societies in which most people are constantly fooled and almost completely known to the few unknowns who datamine them in secret ways.
But I think by now it is too late to stop the datamining of everyone by a few rich men and their paid menials, which is a great pity.
And I fear that the best one can realistically hope for is an economic collapse of the whole system - which will kill very many, but is the most likely outcome given the greed, the egoism, the cultivated blindness, and the stupidity of most of the very rich: They can only be stopped when they have destroyed their own system - which they are doing, out of greed and stupidity.
5. The Art Of The Deal' Co-Author Calls Out Trump, Says He's a
The fifth and last item today is by Bill Maher and Real Time and is a brief interview with the real writer of "The Art of the Deal", who "hopes to God that Trump will be defeated":
By the way (I think you should watch this: it takes only 3 m 35 s): I have checked out some of the definitions of "sociopath" that can be found on the internet, and I think that what I saw was journalese rather than psychology or psychiatry.
- The Art Of The Deal' Co-Author Calls Out Trump, Says He's a Sociopath
Then again, I published yesterday a review of an article by Keith Olbermann,
and I give there good links to a useful definition, which is that of a psychopath rather than of a sociopath. That is also well worth reading, for
it makes a fair case that Donald Trump is a psychopath, by scoring him on