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National Security State Bulletin, 2015

National Security State

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[Dec 22, 2015] Orwells Nightmare Is Here - China Just Gamified Obedience To The State (And Soon Itll Be Mandatory)

That's something new and pretty Orwelian : computerized score of "political correctness" made similar for FICO score and based on data about you in social media.
Notable quotes:
"... Among the things that will hurt a citizen's score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. ..."
"... "Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create." ..."
"... "very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It's Amazon's consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist." ..."
"... "Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don't act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?" ..."
"... Applying for a passport? Buy my book and learn how to boost your patriotism score by 400 points in 6 months! We can even give you a spambot to do the work for you! ..."
"... At this point, any good developer can write a program that reads Twitter/Facebook/Renren/WeChat feeds, gives the posts to IBM's Watson (or some simpler algorithm), and have the program spit out a score. And this program would take at most a month to make. I know, I write similar stuff ;) ..."
"... What scares me is how the initial assumptions that go into querying data can give you radically different results at the end, and these intelligence agencies do not exactly explain what methods they are using to determine who is a 'bad guy.' ..."
"... Patriot Points. ..."
"... The article has taken some real, some proposed and some imaginary credit tracking programs and smushed them into one 'terrifying', freedom-destroying blob. In other words, it's irresponsible b.s. intended to make the Chinese government look even more diabolical and oppressive than our own. ..."
"... The underlying cultural truth, though, is that Chinese are willing to cooperate with – and trust – their government much more than we are. They've always respected and looked up to their national leaders and expected those leaders to actually lead – morally and practically. It works for them, as we see. ..."
"... Digital will end up being our worse nightmare and our undoing. It is the Perfect tool for the crazed sociopaths around us and the insane psychopaths that want to control our every breath (literally). ..."
"... The social networks are piped right into governments security complex. ..."
Dec 22, 2015 | Zero Hedge

As if further proof were needed Orwell's dystopia is now upon us, China has now gamified obedience to the State. Though that is every bit as creepily terrifying as it sounds, citizens may still choose whether or not they wish to opt-in - that is, until the program becomes compulsory in 2020. "Going under the innocuous name of 'Sesame Credit,' China has created a score for how good a citizen you are," explains Extra Credits' video about the program. "The owners of China's largest social networks have partnered with the government to create something akin to the U.S. credit score - but, instead of measuring how regularly you pay your bills, it measures how obediently you follow the party line."

Zheping Huang, a reporter for Quartz, chronicled his own experience with the social control tool in October, saying that

"in the past few weeks I began to notice a mysterious new trend. Numbers were popping up on my social media feeds as my friends and strangers on Weibo [the Chinese equivalent to Twitter] and WeChat began to share their 'Sesame Credit scores.' The score is created by Ant Financial, an Alibaba-affiliated company that also runs Alipay, China's popular third-party payment app with over 350 million users. Ant Financial claims that it evaluates one's purchasing and spending habits in order to derive a figure that shows how creditworthy someone is."

However, according to a translation of the "Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System," posted online by Oxford University's China expert, Rogier Creemers, it's nightmarishly clear the program is far more than just a credit-tracking method. As he described it,

"The government wants to build a platform that leverages things like big data, mobile internet, and cloud computing to measure and evaluate different levels of people's lives in order to create a gamified nudging for people to behave better."

While Sesame Credit's roll-out in January has been downplayed by many, the American Civil Liberties Union, among others, urges caution, saying:

"The system is run by two companies, Alibaba and Tencent, which run all the social networks in China and therefore have access to a vast amount of data about people's social ties and activities and what they say. In addition to measuring your ability to pay, as in the United States, the scores serve as a measure of political compliance.

Among the things that will hurt a citizen's score are posting political opinions without prior permission, or posting information that the regime does not like, such as about the Tiananmen Square massacre that the government carried out to hold on to power, or the Shanghai stock market collapse. It will hurt your score not only if you do these things, but if any of your friends do them."

And, in what appears likely the goal of the entire program, added, "Imagine the social pressure against disobedience or dissent that this will create."

Social pressure, of course, can be highly effective given the right circumstances. China seems to have found exactly that in the intricate linking of people's scores to their contacts, which can be seen publicly by anyone - and then upping the ante through score-based incentives and rewards. Rick Falkvinge pointed out a startling comparison:

"The KGB and the Stasi's method of preventing dissent from taking hold was to plant so-called agents provocateurs in the general population, people who tried to make people agree with dissent, but who actually were arresting them as soon as they agreed with such dissent. As a result, nobody would dare agree that the government did anything bad, and this was very effective in preventing any large-scale resistance from taking hold. The Chinese way here is much more subtle, but probably more effective still."

As Creemers described to Dutch news outlet, de Volkskrant,

"With the help of the latest internet technologies, the government wants to exercise individual surveillance. The Chinese aim […] is clearly an attempt to create a new citizen."

Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Johan Lagerkvist, said the system is

"very ambitious in scope, including scrutinizing individual behavior and what books people read. It's Amazon's consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist."

James Corbett has been tracking the implementation of Sesame Credit for some time. Introducing the ubiquitous tracking system for a recent episode of the Corbett Report, he mused:

"Coming soon to a New World Order near you: social credit! Earn points by behaving like the government wants you to behave! Get penalized if you don't act like a doubleplusgood citizen! What could be more fun?"

Indeed, because mandatory enrollment in Sesame Credit is still a few years away, its true effectiveness won't be measurable for some time. But even a reporter's usual wariness appears knocked off-kilter, as Zheping Huang summarized his personal experience,

"Even if my crappy credit score doesn't mean much now, it's in my best interest I suppose to make sure it doesn't go too low."

And that, of course, is precisely why gamifying State obedience is so terrifying.

Cornfedbloodstool

We just have FICO scores in the US, that measures how obidient you are to the banks, the true rulers of the country.

ToSoft4Truth

And Facebook 'Likes'. Can't get laid without the Likes, man.

CAPT DRAKE

It is already here. There is a thing called an "NSA Score", based on your habits, contacts, and email/posts. Fortunately, porn surfing, even addiction, is not a negative. Only anti state stuff counts, and no, most of the posts on ZH don't count as they are seen as venting and not actionable intel.

knukles

I love Big Brother...

Miffed Microbiologist

"The children and adults, including his own parents, tiptoe nervously around him, constantly telling him how everything he does is "good," since displeasing him can get them wished away into a mystical "cornfield", an unknown place, from which there is no return. At one point, a dog is heard barking angrily. Anthony thinks the dog is "bad" and doesn't "like [him] at all," and wishes it into the cornfield. His father and mother are horrified, but they dare not show it."

Welcome to the Twilight Zone.

Miffed

Old Poor Richard

You beat me to it on FICO score. If you're off the grid, out of the electronic money system or not paying sufficient fealty to banksters, you are NOT being obedient to the state.

NoDebt

I'm as off the grid as you can get and still live a middle class lifestyle with electricity and a cell phone. I assure you they still score me and I'm usually over 800. I don't use credit much these days but what I use says nothing but "pays as agreed".

Now, if you start to factor in the "slightly to the right of the John Burke Society" shit I post on ZH I'd be down around -500.

Uchtdorf

http://qz.com/519737/all-chinese-citizens-now-have-a-score-based-on-how-...

Dated October 9th of this year.

savagegoose

thats it, in the communist version of facebook you can vote on gov post's, ie you can like them.

Government needs you to pay taxes

Cmon its China, where numbers are faked everyday. Ya think this number will be any different? And even if its effective in China, when the US .govbots roll this out, how effective can it be when US .gov employees 'at the wheel'?

The US .gov can fuck ANYTHING up.

roisaber

It will be funny to see who gets a low citizen loyalty oath score for unpredictable reasons, or from hacks, and their increasing radicalization as their honest efforts to try to get themselves back into good standing only makes them register as more anti-social.

techpriest

The other question is, how many services are going to pop up to help you boost your score, just like there are books, guides, and services for your credit score currently?

"Applying for a passport? Buy my book and learn how to boost your patriotism score by 400 points in 6 months! We can even give you a spambot to do the work for you!"

SgtShaftoe

China doesn't have enough enforcers to control the population. They will lose control. That is only a matter of time. They may be able to delay the inevitable for a while but eventually reality will arrive. Keep pushing that volatility into the tail and see what happens. When it goes, it will blow your fucking socks off.

Tick tock motherfuckers, and that goes for the US as well...

tarabel

That is the (evil) genius of this scheme. It is collectively enforced by the proletarians themselves. If you do anti-social things, that will reflect badly on your friends and family so they will excoriate you and, if necessary, shun you until you get with the program. Really, it's just a crowd-sourced Communist Block Warden program gone digital.

I don't worry about the Chinese. They're fooked any which way you slice it. But China invents nothing, merely imitates. So where did they get this idea from, hmmm?

techpriest

At this point, any good developer can write a program that reads Twitter/Facebook/Renren/WeChat feeds, gives the posts to IBM's Watson (or some simpler algorithm), and have the program spit out a score. And this program would take at most a month to make. I know, I write similar stuff ;)

With that in mind, what would you be able to accomplish with a team of 40-50 developers and several months? What scares me is how the initial assumptions that go into querying data can give you radically different results at the end, and these intelligence agencies do not exactly explain what methods they are using to determine who is a 'bad guy.'


cherry picker

"I have nothing to hide"

Well, the bozos who coined the above term, have fun. You think keeping up with mortgage, car payments, Obama Care, taxes, raising kids and keeping a spouse happy is stressful, wait til .gov does a 'test' on you.

Me, I'm not worried. I'm a non conformist, live in the boonies and am too old. I tell my children and grandchildren they need to get rid of this 'evil eye' government encroachment.

They think I am crazy now, but I think they may be coming around.

techpriest

I would love to turn that "You shouldn't be afraid if you have nothing to hide" around by pointing out that the Fed shouldn't be afraid of an audit if they have nothing to hide.

Amish Hacker

Patriot Points.

Bopper09

Is this not what assface is? (facebook for people plugged in). I admit I went on it for the simple fact I couldn't find anything better for talking to my Russian fiance. But even a year before she got here, I said fuck it. Tried cancelling, but if you click a link that has something to do with facebook, your profile becomes active again. Fucking criminals. I left a computer for 3 weeks (not that I haven't done that before. TRY IT, no cell phone or computer for ONE WEEK. Take vacation days and see what's important in your life. Seriously, I've never owned a cell phone. Where I work I don't need one. Cell phones do not 'save your life'.

Consuelo

Interesting the references to FB, especially when one considers who's at the head and his position on censorship. Then again, what happened in Mao's China descended from the likes of Trotsky, so it kinda sorta follows...

Gantal

The article has taken some real, some proposed and some imaginary credit tracking programs and smushed them into one 'terrifying', freedom-destroying blob. In other words, it's irresponsible b.s. intended to make the Chinese government look even more diabolical and oppressive than our own.

The underlying cultural truth, though, is that Chinese are willing to cooperate with – and trust – their government much more than we are. They've always respected and looked up to their national leaders and expected those leaders to actually lead – morally and practically. It works for them, as we see.

The underlying lie is that the Chinese government needs to repress its people. It doesn't. Anyone purporting to be China 'experts' like Messrs. Lagerkvist and Creemers, should know that China's government is the most popular, most trusted government on earth.

By why let facts get in the way of a good story?

Fuku Ben

The score is created by Ant Financial

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8lcUHQYhPTE#t=36s

FedFunnyMoney

Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer...Chinese style.

rejected

Digital will end up being our worse nightmare and our undoing. It is the "Perfect" tool for the crazed sociopaths around us and the insane psychopaths that want to control our every breath (literally).

Sure, it's cool, you can play games and other useless crap but even a blind man could see how governments are going to be useing it. The social networks are piped right into governments security complex. Wouldn't surprise me if everything we post even here on ZH is stored on some digital crap machine somewhere.

For sure it's on ZH servers and thus available to any Tom, Dick or Harry LEO. I myself am very close to going dark. This stuff isn't laughable anymore. It's getting DEADLY serious.

[Dec 17, 2015] Please Don't Shut Down the Internet, Donald Trump

The New Yorker

Still, two interesting-and vexing-issues for the technology industry, and for the politicians who regulate it, emerged in the debate. The first came up in John Kasich's response to Trump's proposal. "Wolf, there is a big problem-it's called encryption," he said. "We need to be able to penetrate these people when they are involved in these plots and these plans. And we have to give the local authorities the ability to penetrate, to disrupt. That's what we need to do. Encryption is a major problem, and Congress has got to deal with this, and so does the President, to keep us safe."

The central question is whether American technology companies should offer the U.S. government, whether the N.S.A. or the F.B.I., backdoor access to their devices or servers. The most important companies here are Apple and Google, which, in the fall of 2014, began offering strong encryption on the newer versions of Android and iOS phones. If you keep your passcode secret, the government will be unable to, for instance, scroll through your contacts list, even if it has a warrant. This has, naturally, made the government angry. The most thorough report on the subject is a position paper put out last month by Cyrus Vance, Jr., Manhattan's district attorney. In the previous year, Vance wrote, his office had been "unable to execute approximately 111 search warrants for smartphones because those devices were running iOS 8. The cases to which those devices related include homicide, attempted murder, sexual abuse of a child, sex trafficking, assault, and robbery."

The solution isn't easy. Apple and Google implemented their new encryption standards after Edward Snowden revealed how the government had compromised their systems. They want to protect their customers-a government back door could become a hacker's back door, too-and they also want to protect their business models. If the N.S.A. can comb through iPhones, how many do you think Apple will be able to sell in China? In the debate, Carly Fiorina bragged about how, when she ran Hewlett-Packard, she stopped a truckload of equipment and had it "escorted into N.S.A. headquarters." Does that make you more or less eager to buy an OfficeJet Pro?

The second hard issue that came up indirectly in the debate-and, more specifically, in recent comments by Hillary Clinton-is how aggressive American companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google (with YouTube) should be in combatting the use of their platforms by ISIS. Again, there's no simple answer. You can't ban, say, everyone who tweets the hashtag #ISIS, because then you'd have to ban this guy. The algorithms are difficult to write, and the issues are difficult to balance. Companies have to consider their business interests, their legal obligations to and cultural affinities for free speech, and their moral obligations to oppose an organization that seeks to destroy the country in which they were built-and also kill their C.E.O.s.

[Dec 17, 2015] US militarism is Alice in Wonderland

economistsview.typepad.com
anne, December 17, 2015 at 11:50 AM
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/17/world/asia/navy-seal-team-2-afghanistan-beating-death.html

December 16, 2015

Navy SEALs, a Beating Death and Complaints of a Cover-Up
By NICHOLAS KULISH, CHRISTOPHER DREW and MATTHEW ROSENBERG

U.S. soldiers accused Afghan police and Navy SEALs of abusing detainees. But the SEAL command opted against a court-martial and cleared its men of wrongdoing.

ilsm said in reply to anne...

Too much training to send to jail.

While E-4 Bergdahl does in captivity what several hundred officers did in Hanoi and gets life!

US militarism is Alice's Wonderland!

[Dec 16, 2015] Congress just revived the surveillance state in the name of cybersecurity

Notable quotes:
"... Whistleblower: "Every Time There Is a Terrorist Attack, What We Really Need to Do Is Demand that They CUT the Budgets of All the Intelligence Agencies" - William Binney ..."
Dec 16, 2015 | The Guardian
Stumphole 16 Dec 2015 17:44

Use a VPN and Start Page as a search engine. Nothing is saved from your search.

Fgt 4URIGHTS -> lefthalfback2 16 Dec 2015 19:44

Only the brain dead idiots who are deceived and under collective Stockholm syndrome are fine with it. Yeah, all the illegal surveillance in the world didn't stop the San Bernadinos attack. Also, let's not forget the treason and terrorism being conducted against innocent Americans (Cointelpro/Gangstalking) and hidden from the American people while their asleep to the crimes happening in secret all around them. Yeah for a fascist, totalitarian police state, isn't it cool?? I feel so safe knowing my criminal government is there to protect me because they love me so much.

Whistleblower: "Every Time There Is a Terrorist Attack, What We Really Need to Do Is Demand that They CUT the Budgets of All the Intelligence Agencies" - William Binney

sand44 16 Dec 2015 18:26

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
-Benjamin Franklin 1755

How far has the standard of American politicians managed to fall?

AvZweeden 16 Dec 2015 14:53

Edward Snowden might as well not have blown any whistle, and saved himself a lot of trouble.
Most Americans think America is a democracy, but it is really an oligarchy in disguise. Probably always was. I read this earlier this year:
https://theintercept.com/2015/07/30/jimmy-carter-u-s-oligarchy-unlimited-political-bribery/

[Dec 13, 2015] US military spending is currently $738.3 billion

Notable quotes:
"... military spending is currently $738.3 billion. ..."
"... Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015. ..."
"... Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015. ..."
"... Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015. ..."
economistsview.typepad.com

Economist's View

anne said...

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...
"...about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military...."

I do not understand this figure since currently defense spending is running at $738.3 billion yearly or which 6% would be $44.3 billion:

http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

anne said in reply to anne...
Correcting Dean Baker:

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 7.4 percent ** of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

** http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to anne...
Dean Baker clarifies:

http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

-- Dean Baker

djb said in reply to anne...
100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillion
anne said in reply to djb...
$100 billion a year, ........about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military

100,000,000,000/0.06 = 1.67 trillion

[ This is incorrect, military spending is currently $738.3 billion. ]

anne said in reply to djb...
http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

January 15, 2015

Defense spending was 60.3% of federal government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

(Billions of dollars)

$738.3 / $1,224.4 = 60.3%

Defense spending was 23.1% of all government consumption and investment in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $3,200.4 = 23.1%

Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%

djb said in reply to djb...
oh never mind I get it

.25 % is 6 percent of the percent us spends on military

the 40 trillion is the gdp of all the countries

got it

anne said in reply to djb...
"I get it:

.25 % is 6 percent of the percent US spends on military."

So .25 percent of United States GDP for climate change assistance to poor countries is 6 percent of the amount the US spends on the military.

.0025 x $18,064.7 billion GDP = $45.16 billion on climate change

$45.16 billion on climate change / $738.3 billion on the military = 0.61 or 6.1 percent of military spending

anne said in reply to anne...
United States climate change assistance to poor countries will be .25 percent of GDP or 6% of US military spending.
anne said in reply to anne...
What the United States commitment to climate change assistance for poor countries means is spending about $45.2 billion yearly or .25 percent of GDP. Whether the President can convince Congress to spend the $45 billion yearly will now have to be answered.
anne said in reply to djb...
"I get it:

.25 % is 6 percent of the [amount] US spends on military."

[ This is correct. ]

anne said in reply to djb...
http://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/in-paris-talks-rich-countries-pledged-0-25-percent-of-gdp-to-help-poor-countries

December 13, 2015

In Paris Talks, Rich Countries Pledged 0.25 Percent of GDP to Help Poor Countries

In case you were wondering about the importance of a $100 billion a year, * non-binding commitment, it's roughly 0.25 percent of rich country's $40 trillion annual GDP (about 6 percent of what the U.S. spends on the military). This counts the U.S., European Union, Japan, Canada, and Australia as rich countries. If China is included in that list, the commitment would be less than 0.2 percent of GDP.

(I see my comment on military spending here created a bit of confusion. I was looking at the U.S. share of the commitment, 0.25 percent of its GDP and comparing it to the roughly 4.0 percent of GDP it spends on the military. ** That comes to 6 percent. I was not referring to the whole $100 billion.)

* http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/13/world/europe/climate-change-accord-paris.html

** http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2014&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

-- Dean Baker

anne said in reply to djb...
http://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTableHtml.cfm?reqid=9&step=3&isuri=1&904=2007&903=5&906=q&905=2015&910=x&911=0

January 15, 2015

Defense spending was 4.1% of Gross Domestic Product in July through September 2015.

$738.3 / $18,064.7 = 4.1%

ilsm said in reply to anne...
UK is the only NATO nation beside the US that spend the suggested 2% of GDP. The rest run about 1.2%.

Small wonder they need US to run their wars of convenience.

More telling US pentagon spending is around 50% of world military spending and has not won anything in 60 years.

[Dec 09, 2015] Are Windows and OS X malware

May 26, 2015 | ITworld
Are Windows and OS X malware?

Richard Stallman has never been...er...shy about sharing his opinions, particularly when it comes to software that doesn't adhere to his vision. This time around he has written an opinion column for The Guardian that takes on Microsoft Windows, Apple's OS X and even Amazon's Kindle e-reader.

Richard Stallman on malware for The Guardian:

Malware is the name for a program designed to mistreat its users. Viruses typically are malicious, but software products and software preinstalled in products can also be malicious – and often are, when not free/libre.

Developers today shamelessly mistreat users; when caught, they claim that fine print in EULAs (end user licence agreements) makes it ethical. (That might, at most, make it lawful, which is different.) So many cases of proprietary malware have been reported, that we must consider any proprietary program suspect and dangerous. In the 21st century, proprietary software is computing for suckers.

Windows snoops on users, shackles users and, on mobiles, censors apps; it also has a universal back door that allows Microsoft to remotely impose software changes. Microsoft sabotages Windows users by showing security holes to the NSA before fixing them.

Apple systems are malware too: MacOS snoops and shackles; iOS snoops, shackles, censors apps and has a back door. Even Android contains malware in a nonfree component: a back door for remote forcible installation or deinstallation of any app.

Amazon's Kindle e-reader reports what page of what book is being read, plus all notes and underlining the user enters; it shackles the user against sharing or even freely giving away or lending the book, and has an Orwellian back door for erasing books.

More at The Guardian

As you might imagine, Stallman's commentary drew a lot of responses from readers of The Guardian:

JohnnyHooper: "The Android operating system is basically spyware, mining your personal information, contacts, whereabouts, search activity, media preferences, photos, email, texts, chat, shopping, calls, etc so Google can onsell it to advertisers. Nice one, Google, you creep."

Ece301: "What the free software movement needs is more than just the scare stories about 'capability' - without reliable examples of this stuff causing real-world problems for real people such detail-free articles as this are going to affect nothing.

I'm quite willing to make the sacrifice of google, apple, the NSA etc. knowing exactly where I am if it means my phone can give me directions to my hotel in this strange city. Likewise if I want the capability to erase my phone should I lose it, I understand that that means apple etc. can probably get at that function too.

Limiting_Factor: "Or for people who don't want to mess about with command lines and like to have commercially supported software that works. Which is about 99% of the home computer using population. You lost, Richard. Get over it."

CosmicTrigger: "Selling customers the illusion of security and then leaving a great gaping hole in it for the government to snoop in return for a bit of a tax break is absolutely reprehensible."

Liam01: "This guy is as extreme as the director of the NSA , just at the other end of the spectrum. I'd be more inclined to listen if he showed a hint of nuance, or didn't open with an egoistic claim of "invented free software"."

AlanWatson: "My Kindle doesn't report anything, because I never turn the WiFi on. Just sideload content from wherever I want to buy it (or download if there is no copyright), format conversion is trivial, and for the minor inconvenience of having to use a USB cable I'm free of Amazon's lock-in, snooping and remote wipes. Simple."

Rod: "Here's my crazy prediction: Stallman's diatribes will continue to have zero measurable impact on adoption rates of Free software. Time to try a different approach, Richey."

Quicknstraight: "Not all snooping is bad for you. If it enhances your experience, say, by providing you with a better playlist or recommendations for things you like doing, what's the big deal?

Consumers don't have it every which way. You either accept a degree of data collection in return for a more enjoyable user experience, or accept that no data collection means you'll have to search out everything for yourself.

The average user prefers the easier option and has no interest in having to dig away through loads of crap to find what they want.

They key question should be what happens to data that is mined about users, not whether mining such data is bad per se."

Bob Rich: "As an author, I LIKE the idea that if a person buys a copy of my book, that copy cannot be freely distributed to others. With a paper book, that means that the original owner no longer has access to it. With an electronic book, "giving" or "lending" means duplicating, and that's stealing my work. The same is true for other creators: musicians, artists, photographers."

Mouse: "Stallman's a hero and we wouldn't have the level of (low-cost) technology all we enjoy today without him. I remember reading an article by him years ago and he said that the only laptop he'd use was the Lemote Yeeloong because it was the only system that was 100% open, even down to the BIOS - he was specifically paranoid about how government agencies might modify proprietary code for their own ends - and at the time I thought "Jeez, he's a bit of a paranoid fruitcake", but post-Snowden he's been proven to be right about what the security services get up."

More at The Guardian

[Dec 06, 2015] Public and Private Sector Payroll Jobs Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Obama

hoocoodanode.org

merchantsofmenace

Here's a link to Horowitz's article "Left-wing Fascism":
http://www.google.com/books?id=Au_Ktn22RxEC&pg=PA209&dq=%22left-wing+fascism%22

Here's a link to Bale's article on "'Left-wing' Fascism":
http://www.google.com/books?id=kne26UnE1wQC&pg=PA267&dq=%22left-wing+fascism%22+bale

Here's an article about the phenomenon called "Rebranding Fascism" (although the term "left-wing fascism is not used):
http://www.publiceye.org/magazine/v23n4/rebranding_fascism.html
The basic concept is that neo-fascist groups (who are extreme right-wing) disguise themselves as leftists, e.g., they say they are anti-zionist when they are anti-semitic.

Here's a link to Richard Wolin's chapter on "Left Fascism":
http://www.google.com/books?id=4H4BeyiYBuEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Seduction+of+Unreason:+The+Intellectual+Romance+with+Fascism+:+from+Nietzsche+to+Postmodernism#PPA153,M1

[Dec 06, 2015] The USA is number one small arms manufacturer in the world

peakoilbarrel.com
Glenn Stehle, 12/05/2015 at 2:54 pm
Ves,

There was an article in one of the Mexico City dailies today, written in response to the shootings in San Bernardino, that cited some numbers that were news to me:

1) The United States is the #1 small arms manufacturer in the world

2) 83% of small arms manufactured in the world are manufactured in the United States

3) The US's closest competitor is Russia, which manufactures 11% of the world's small arms

4) Small arms are the US's third largest export product, surpassed only by aircraft and agricultural products

5) The US market itself consumes 15 million small arms per year, and there are 300 million small arms currently in the posession of US private citizens

6) Saudi Arabia, however, is by far and away the largest small arms consumer in the world, and purchases 33.1% of all small arms produced in the world

7) Saudi Arabia then re-distributes these small arms to its allies in Syria, Lybia, etc.

8) So far in 2015, there have been 351 "mass shootings" in the United States in which 447 persons have been killed and another 290 wounded

9) The world's leading human rights organizations never speak of the bloodbath ocurring around the world due to the proliferation of small arms, much less the United Nations Security Council.

10) Both the United States and Russia seem quite content to keep any talk of small arms proliferation off the agenda.

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2015/12/05/opinion/023a1pol

[Nov 28, 2015] The Perils of Endless War - Antiwar.com

Notable quotes:
"... John Quincy Adams, for his part, loved an America that "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." ..."
November 28, 2015 | Antiwar.com
War tends to perpetuate itself. As soon as one brute gets killed, another takes his place; when the new guy falls, another materializes.

Consider Richard Nixon's intensification of the American war on Cambodia. In hopes of maintaining an advantage over the Communists as he withdrew American troops from Southeast Asia, Nixon ravaged Vietnam's western neighbor with approximately 500,000 tons of bombs between 1969 and 1973. But instead of destroying the Communist menace, these attempts to buttress Nguyen Van Thieu's South Vietnamese government and then Lon Nol's Cambodian government only transformed it. The bombings led many of Nixon's early targets to desert the eastern region of the country in favor of Cambodia's interior where they organized with the Khmer Rouge.

As a CIA official noted in 1973, the Khmer Rouge started to "us[e] damage caused by B-52 strikes as the main theme of their propaganda." By appealing to Cambodians who were affected by the bombing raids, this brutal Communist organization, a peripheral batch of 10,000 fighters in 1969, had expanded by 1973 into a formidable army with 20 times as many members. Two years later, they seized control of Phnom Penh and murdered more than one million of their compatriots in a grisly genocide.

The following decade, when war erupted between the forces of Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and Iraq's Saddam Hussein, the United States hedged its bets by providing military assistance to both governments as they slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people. But when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990, ousted the emir, and ultimately assassinated about 1,000 Kuwaitis, the United States turned on its former ally with an incursion that directly killed 3,500 innocent Iraqis and suffocated 100,000 others through the destruction of Iraqi infrastructure. The US also maintained an embargo against Iraq throughout the 1990s, a program that contributed to the deaths of 500,000 Iraqis and that UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Dennis Halliday deemed "genocidal" when he explained his 1998 resignation.

The newly restored Kuwaiti government, for its part, retaliated against minority groups for their suspected "collaboration" with the Iraqi occupiers. The government threw Palestinians out of schools, fired its Palestinian employees, and threatened thousands with "arbitrary arrest, torture, rape, and murder." Beyond that, Kuwait interdicted the reentry of more than 150,000 Palestinians and tens of thousands of Bedoons who had evacuated Kuwait when the tyrant Saddam took over. Thus, years of American maneuvering to achieve peace and security – by playing Iran and Iraq off of each other, by privileging Kuwaiti authoritarians over Iraqi authoritarians, by killing tens of thousands of innocent people who got in the way – failed.

The chase continues today as the United States targets the savage "Islamic State," another monster that the West inadvertently helped create by assisting foreign militants. History suggests that this war against Islamism, if taken to its logical extreme, will prove to be an endless game of whack-a-mole. Yes, our government can assassinate some terrorists; what it cannot do is stop aggrieved civilian victims of Western bombings from replacing the dead by becoming terrorists themselves. Furthermore, even if ISIS disappeared tomorrow, there would still exist soldiers – in Al-Qaeda, for instance – prepared to fill the void. That will remain true no matter how many bombs the West drops, no matter how many weapons it tenders to foreign militias, no matter how many authoritarian governments it buttresses in pursuit of "national security."

So, what are we to do when foreign antagonists, whatever the source of their discontent, urge people to attack us? We should abandon the Sisyphean task of eradicating anti-American sentiments abroad and invest in security at home. Gathering foreign intelligence is important when it allows us to strengthen our defenses here, but bombing people in Iraq and Syria, enabling the Saudi murder of Yemenis, and deploying troops to Cameroon are futile steps when enemy organizations can constantly replenish their supply of fighters by propagandizing among natives who deplore Western intervention.

This understanding, though underappreciated in contemporary American government, reflects a noble American tradition. John Quincy Adams, for his part, loved an America that "goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy." Decades later, Jeannette Rankin doubted the benefits of American interventionism, contending that "you can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake." Martin Luther King Jr. warned that "violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones." These leaders adamantly rejected an American politics of unending aggressive war. It is time for us to do the same.

Tommy Raskin is a contributor to the Good Men Project and Foreign Policy in Focus.

[Nov 12, 2015] The Emperor Has No Clothes and Nobody Cares

www.howtogeek.com

... ... ...

Ever since we found out just how much government spying is going on, the security community has been systematically looking into every piece of technology that we use, from operating systems to network protocols, and we've learned just how insecure everything is.

... ... ...

That's the good news. The bad news is that nothing has fundamentally changed as far as the spying is concerned, despite all of the stories and media attention online. Organizations like the ACLU have tried, and failed, to even bring cases to figure out what's actually going on. Very few politicians even talk about it, and the ones that do have no power to change anything. People not only haven't exploded in anger, they don't even know the details, as John Oliver illustrated brilliantly in his interview with Snowden.

Everybody knows the government is probably spying on everything, and nobody really cares.

[Nov 06, 2015] Facebook Revenue Surges 41%, as Mobile Advertising and Users Keep Growing

In after Snowden world, is this a testament that most smartphone users are idiots, or what ?
Notable quotes:
"... The company said mobile advertising in the third quarter accounted for a colossal 78 percent of its ad revenue, up from 66 percent a year ago. ..."
"... ... ... ... ..."
Nov 06, 2015 | The New York Time

Facebook is so far defying concerns about its spending habits - a criticism that has at times also plagued Amazon and Alphabet's Google - because the social network is on a short list of tech companies that make money from the wealth of mobile visitors to its smartphone app and website. The company said mobile advertising in the third quarter accounted for a colossal 78 percent of its ad revenue, up from 66 percent a year ago.

... ... ...

Revenue was also bolstered by Facebook increasing the number of ads it showed users over the past year, said David Wehner, the company's chief financial officer. And video advertising, a growth area for Facebook, is on the rise: More than eight billion video views happen on the social network every day, the company said.

Hand in hand with the increased advertising is more users to view the promotions. The number of daily active users of Facebook exceeded one billion for the first time in the quarter, up 17 percent from a year earlier, with monthly active mobile users up 23 percent, to 1.4 billion.

... ... ...

Beyond the properties it owns, Facebook is dabbling in partnerships with media companies that could prove lucrative in the future. In May, the company debuted a feature called Instant Articles with a handful of publishers, including The New York Times, which lets users read articles from directly inside the Facebook app without being directed to a web browser.

[Nov 06, 2015] How Firefox's New Private Mode Trumps Chrome's Incognito

11/05/15 | Observer

Comment

Firefox ups its privacy game with version 42.

Mozilla made a bit of a splash this week with the announcement of its updated "private mode" in Firefox, but it's worth spelling out exactly why: Firefox's enhanced privacy mode blocks web trackers.

Users familiar with Chrome's "Incognito Mode" may assume that's what it does as well, but it doesn't. It's no fault of Google or the Chromium Project if someone misunderstands the degree of protection. The company is clear in its FAQ: all Incognito Mode does is keep your browsing out of the browser's history.

'We think that when you launch private browsing you're telling us that you want more control over the data you share on the web.'

Firefox's new "Private Mode" one-ups user protection here by automatically blocking web trackers. Nick Nguyen, Vice President for Product at Mozilla, says in the video announcement, "We think that when you launch private browsing you're telling us that you want more control over the data you share on the web." That sounds right. In fact, most people probably think private modes provide more safety than they do.

Firefox has been working to educate web users about the prevalence of trackers for a long time. In 2012, it introduced Collusion to help users visualize just how many spying eyes were in the background of their browsing (a tool now known by the milquetoast name 'Lightbeam') and how they follow you around.

Privacy nuts might be thinking, "Hey, isn't the new Private Mode basically doing what the Ghostery add-on/extension does already? It looks that way. Ghostery was not immediately available for comment on this story. This reporter started using Ghostery in earnest in the last few weeks, and while it does bust the odd page, overall, it makes the web much faster. As Mr. Nguyen says in the video, Firefox's new mode should do the roughly the same.

The best way to update Firefox is within the 'About Firefox' dialogue. Open it and let it check for updates (if it doesn't say version 42.0 or higher, the browser doesn't have it). On Macs, find "About Firefox" under the "Firefox" tab in the menu bar. On a PC, find it in the hamburger menu in the upper right.

Competition in the browser battles keeps improving the functionality of the web. When Chrome first came along, Firefox had become incredibly bloated.

Notice of what's new in 'Private Mode' when opened in Firefox, after updating. (Screenshot: Firefox)

Notice of what's new in 'Private Mode' when opened in Firefox, after updating. (Screenshot: Firefox)

Then, Chrome popularized the notion of incognito browsing, back when the main privacy concern was that our roommate would look at our browsing history to see how often we were visiting Harry Potter fansites (shout out to stand-up comic, Ophira Eisenberg, for that one).

As the web itself has become bloated with spyware, incorporating tracker blocking directly into the structure of the world's second most popular browser is a strong incentive for web managers to be more judicious about the stuff they load up in the background of websites.

Don't forget, though, that even with trackers blocked, determined sites can probably identify visitors and they can definitely profile, using browser fingerprinting. If you really want to hide, use Tor. If you're mega paranoid, try the Tails OS.

[Nov 06, 2015] Wikileaks' Hacked Stratfor Emails Shed Light on Feds Using License Plate Readers

Oct 01, 2015 | observer.com

Federal law enforcement began planning to use license plate readers in 2009 to track cars that visited gun shows against cars that crossed the border into Mexico, according to notes from a meeting between United States and Mexican law enforcement, released on Wikileaks. The notes were taken by Marko Papic, then of Stratfor, a company that describes itself as a publisher of geopolitical intelligence.

License plate readers are becoming a standard tool for local and national law enforcement across the country. In 2013, the ACLU showed that state and local law enforcement were widely documenting drivers' movements. Ars Technica looked at license plate data collected in Oakland. In January, the ACLU described documents attained from the Drug Enforcement Agency under the Freedom of Information Act that showed that agency has been working closely with state and local law enforcement. Many of the findings in these latter documents corroborate some of the insights provided by the 2009 meeting notes on Wikileaks.

Wikileaks began publishing these emails in February 2012, as the "Global Intelligence Files," as the Observer previously reported. The documents have to be read with some caution. These were reportedly attained by hackers in December 2011. A Stratfor spokesperson declined to comment on the leaked emails, referring the Observer instead to its 2012 statement, which says, "Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either."

While it's hard to imagine that such a giant trove could be completely fabricated, there is also no way to know whether or not some of it was tampered with. That said, details about federal license plate reader programs largely square with subsequent findings about the surveillance systems.

The meeting appears to have been primarily concerned with arms control, but related matters, such as illegal drug traffic and the Zetas, come up as well. The focus of the meeting appears to be information sharing among the various authorities, from both countries. Among other initiatives, the notes describe the origins of a sophisticated national system of automobile surveillance.

Here are some findings on law enforcement technology, with an emphasis on tracking automobiles:

The notes themselves are not dated, but the email containing them is dated September 4, 2009. It provides no names, but it cites people from the Mexican Embassy, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firerearms, DEA, Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and others. The only person named is Marko Papic, who identifies himself in this hacked email. Stephen Meiners circulated Mr. Papic's notes from the summit's morning and afternoon session in one email.

The Supreme Court of California is set to review police's exemption to sharing information on how they use license plate reader data in that state. A court in Fairfax County, Virginia, is set to consider a suit against police there over local law enforcement keeping and sharing of data about people not suspected of a crime.

The DEA and the ATF did not reply to a request for comment for this story.

[Nov 06, 2015] An Entire City Trolled NSA Spies Using an Art Project

Notable quotes:
"... This created an open communication network, meaning that with the use of any wifi-enabled device, anyone could send anything (text messages, voice calls, photos and files) anonymously for those listening to hear. ..."
"... "If people are spying on us, it stands to reason that they have ..."
"... To no surprise, there was a ton of trolling. ..."
observer.com

When it was revealed in 2013 that the NSA and its UK equivalent, GCHQ, routinely spied on the German government, artists Mathias Jud and Christoph Wachter came up with a plan.

They installed a series of antennas on the roof of the Swiss Embassy in Berlin and another giant antenna on the roof of the Academy of Arts, which is located exactly between the listening posts of the NSA and GCHQ. This created an open communication network, meaning that with the use of any wifi-enabled device, anyone could send anything (text messages, voice calls, photos and files) anonymously for those listening to hear.

"If people are spying on us, it stands to reason that they have to listen to what we are saying," Mr. Jud said in a TED Talk on the subject that was filmed at TED Global London in September and uploaded onto Ted.com today.

This was perfectly legal, and they named the project "Can You Hear Me?"

To no surprise, there was a ton of trolling. One message read, "This is the NSA. In God we trust. In all others we track!!!!!" Another said, "Agents, what twisted story of yourself will you tell your grandchildren?" One particularly humorous message jokingly pleaded, "@NSA My neighbors are noisy. Please send a drone strike."

Watch the full talk here for more trolling messages and details about the project:

... ... ...

[Nov 05, 2015] This 19th-Century Invention Could Keep You From Being Hacked

Just typing your correspondence on disconnected from internet computer and pointing it on connected via USB printer is enough. Or better writing letter using regular pen.
observer.com

The most secure and, at the same time, usable, method of creating, sharing and storing information is to write it up on a manual typewriter and store it in a locked filing cabinet

If the CIA's Director John Brennan can't keep his emails private, who can? Sadly, the fact that email and instant messaging are far more convenient than communicating via papers in envelopes or by actually talking on the phone, or (God forbid) face to face, these technologies are far more insecure. Could it be that the old ways protected both secrecy and privacy far better than what we have now?

The men and women in the United States government assigned to protect our nation's most important secrets have good reason to quote Allen Ginsberg, the Beat poet who proclaimed, "The typewriter is holy." For that matter so are pens, pencils, carbon paper and ordinary paper. In the digital age privacy as we once knew it, is dead, not just for ordinary citizens, but for government officials including, apparently, the head of the CIA-not to mention our former Secretary of State. Neither the NSA nor the U.S. military have been able to keep their secrets from being exposed by the likes of WikiLeaks or Edward Snowden.

... ... ...

Given America's failures to protect our own secret information, one hopes and wishes that the U.S. is as successful at stealing information from our potential foes as they are at stealing from us.

In the private sector, hackers steal information from countless companies, ranging from Target to Ashley Madison. The banks rarely let on how badly or how often they are victimized by cybercrime, but rumor has it that it is significant. At least for now, the incentives for making and selling effective cyber security systems are nowhere near as powerful as the incentives for building systems that can steal secret or private information from individuals, as well as from corporations and governments. In the digital age, privacy is gone.

Increasingly, organizations and individuals are rediscovering the virtues of paper. Non-digital media are simply invulnerable to hacking. Stealing information from a typewriter is harder than stealing it from a word processor, computer or server. A physical file with sheets of paper covered in words written either by hand or by typewriter is a safer place to store confidential information than any electronic data storage system yet devised.

[Nov 04, 2015] Surveillance Q A: what web data is affected – and how to foil the snoopers

Notable quotes:
"... The government is attempting to push into law the ability for law enforcement agencies to be able to look at 12 months of what they are calling "internet connection records", limited to the website domains that UK internet users visit. ..."
"... It does not cover specific pages: so police and spies will not be able to access that level of detail. That means they would know that a person has spent time on the Guardian website, but not what article they read. ..."
"... Information about the sites you visit can be very revealing. The data would show if a person has regularly visited Ashley Madison – the website that helped facilitate extramarital affairs. A visit to an Alcoholics Anonymous website or an abortion advice service could reveal far more than you would like the government or law enforcement to know. ..."
"... In using a VPN you are placing all your trust in the company that operates the VPN to both secure your data and repel third parties from intercepting your connection. A VPN based in the UK may also be required to keep a log of your browsing history in the same way an ISP would. ..."
"... One way to prevent an accurate profile of your browsing history from being built could be to visit random sites. Visiting nine random domains for every website you actually want to visit would increase the amount of data that your ISP has to store tenfold. But not everybody has the patience for that. ..."
The Guardian

Critics call it a revived snooper's charter, because the government wants police and spies to be given access to the web browsing history of everyone in Britain.

However, Theresa May says her measures would require internet companies to store data about customers that amount to "simply the modern equivalent of an itemised phone bill".

Who is right? And is there anything you can do to make your communications more secure?

What exactly is the government after?

The government is attempting to push into law the ability for law enforcement agencies to be able to look at 12 months of what they are calling "internet connection records", limited to the website domains that UK internet users visit.

This is the log of websites that you visit through your internet service provider (ISP), commonly called internet browsing history, and is different from the history stored by your internet browser, such as Microsoft's Edge, Apple's Safari or Google's Chrome.

It does not cover specific pages: so police and spies will not be able to access that level of detail. That means they would know that a person has spent time on the Guardian website, but not what article they read.

Clearing your browser history or using private or incognito browsing modes do nothing to affect your browsing history stored by the ISP.

What will they be able to learn about my internet activity?

Information about the sites you visit can be very revealing. The data would show if a person has regularly visited Ashley Madison – the website that helped facilitate extramarital affairs. A visit to an Alcoholics Anonymous website or an abortion advice service could reveal far more than you would like the government or law enforcement to know.

The logged internet activity is also likely to reveal who a person banks with, the social media they use, whether they have considered travelling (eg by visiting an airline homepage) and a range of information that could in turn link to other sources of personal information.

Who will store my web browsing data?

The onus is on ISPs – the companies that users pay to provide access to the internet – to store the browsing history of its customers for 12 months. That includes fixed line broadband providers, such as BT, TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin, but also mobile phone providers such as EE, O2, Three and Vodafone.

... ... ...

Don't ISPs already store this data?

They already store a limited amount of data on customer communications for a minimum of one year and have done for some time, governed by the EU's data retention directive. That data can be accessed under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Ripa).

The new bill will enshrine the storage of browsing history and access to that data in law.

Can people hide their internet browsing history?

There are a few ways to prevent the collection of your browsing history data, but each way is a compromise.

The most obvious way is the use of virtual private networks (VPNs). They channel your data from your computer through your ISP to a third-party service before immersing on the internet. In doing so they can obfuscate your data from your ISP and therefore the government's collection of browsing history.

Companies routinely use VPNs to secure connections to services when off-site such as home workers. Various companies such as HotspotShield offer both free or paid-for VPN services to users.

Using the Tor browser, freely available from the Tor project, is another way to hide what you're doing from your ISP and takes things a stage further. It allows users to connect directly to a network of computers that route your traffic by bouncing it around other computers connected to Tor before emerging on the open internet.

Your ISP will see that you are connected to Tor, but not what you are doing with it. But not everybody has the technical skills to be comfortable using Tor.

Is there any downside to using a VPN?

In using a VPN you are placing all your trust in the company that operates the VPN to both secure your data and repel third parties from intercepting your connection. A VPN based in the UK may also be required to keep a log of your browsing history in the same way an ISP would.

The speed of your internet connection is also limited by the VPN. Most free services are slow, some paid-for services are faster.

Tor also risks users having their data intercepted, either at the point of exit from the Tor network to the open internet or along the path. This is technically tricky, however. Because your internet traffic is bounced between computers before reaching you, Tor can be particularly slow.

Can I protest-browse to show I'm unhappy with the new law?

One way to prevent an accurate profile of your browsing history from being built could be to visit random sites. Visiting nine random domains for every website you actually want to visit would increase the amount of data that your ISP has to store tenfold. But not everybody has the patience for that.

At some point it will be very difficult to store that much data, should everyone begin doing so.

... ... ...

[Nov 04, 2015] Neoliberalism neofashism and feudalism

Notable quotes:
"... feudalism is a hierarchical system of distributed administration. A king is nominally in charge or "owns" a kingdom, but he has lords who administer its first primary division, the fiefdom. Lords in turn have vassals, who administer further subdivisions or, in the cases of smaller fiefs, different aspects of governance. Vassals may have their own captains and middle managers, typically knights but also clerks and priests, who in turn employ apprentices/novices/pages who train under them so as to one day move up to middle management. If this is starting to resemble modern corporate structure, then bonus points to you. ..."
"... Anyone in a position of vassalage was dependent upon the largess of his immediate patron/lord/whatever for both his status and nominal wealth. The lowest rungs of the administrative ladder were responsible for keeping the peasants, the pool of labor, in line either through force or through the very same system of dependence upon largess that frames the lord/vassal relationship. ..."
"... A CEO may resign in disgrace over some scandal, but that does little to challenge the underlings who carried out his orders. ..."
"... It's not that peasants can be vassals in the overall order so much as they are in the subject position, but without the attendant capacity to then lord it over someone beneath them. Lord/vassal in feudalism are also generic terms to describe members of a fixed relationship of patronage. It's confusing, because those terms are also used for levels of the overall hierarchy. ..."
"... I suspect that the similarity of medeavil fuedalism with the relationship between a large modern corporation and its employees is not properly appreciated because the latter, unlike the former, does not necessarily include direct control over living conditions (housing, land, rent), even though in the end there may be a similar degree of effective servitude (lack of mobility and alternatives, and so effective entrapment at low wages) . ..."
www.nakedcapitalism.com

Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise in the US naked capitalism

Uahsenaa, November 3, 2015 at 11:26 am

I want to expand on the point about feudalism, since it's even more apt than the article lets on. It was not "rule by the rich," which implies an oligarchic class whose members are more or less free agents in cahoots with one another. Rather, feudalism is a hierarchical system of distributed administration. A king is nominally in charge or "owns" a kingdom, but he has lords who administer its first primary division, the fiefdom. Lords in turn have vassals, who administer further subdivisions or, in the cases of smaller fiefs, different aspects of governance. Vassals may have their own captains and middle managers, typically knights but also clerks and priests, who in turn employ apprentices/novices/pages who train under them so as to one day move up to middle management. If this is starting to resemble modern corporate structure, then bonus points to you.

This means feudalism found a way to render complicit in a larger system of administration people who had no direct and often no real stake in the produce of its mass mobilization of labor. Anyone in a position of vassalage was dependent upon the largess of his immediate patron/lord/whatever for both his status and nominal wealth. The lowest rungs of the administrative ladder were responsible for keeping the peasants, the pool of labor, in line either through force or through the very same system of dependence upon largess that frames the lord/vassal relationship. Occasionally, the peasants recognize that no one is below them in this pyramid scheme, and so they revolt, but for the most part they were resigned to the status quo, because there seemed to be no locus of power to topple. Sure, you could overthrow the king, but that would do nothing to deter the power of the lords. You could overthrow your local lord, but the king could just install a new one.

Transpose to the modern day. A CEO may resign in disgrace over some scandal, but that does little to challenge the underlings who carried out his orders. You might get your terrible boss fired for his tendency to sexually harass anyone who walks in the door, but what's to stop the regional manager from hiring someone who works you to the bone. Sometimes the peas–err, employees revolt and form a union, but we all know what means have been employed over the years to do away with that.

tl;dr – Feudalism: it's about the structure, not the classes


Lambert Strether, November 3, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Hmm. I don't think a serf can be a vassal. The vassals sound a lot like the 20%. The serfs would be the 80%. I'm guessing class is alive and well.

James Levy, November 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

You wouldn't be a vassal (that was a very small percentage of the population) but you could have ties of patronage with the people above you, and in fact that was critical to all societies until the Victorians made nepotism a bad word and the ethic of meritocracy (however bastardized today) took shape. If you wanted your physical labor obligation converted into a money payment so you could spend more time and effort on your own holding, or you needed help in tough times, or the 99 year lease on your leasehold was coming due, or you wanted to get your son into the local priory, etc. you needed a friend or friends in higher places. The granting or refusal of favors counted for everything, and kept many on the straight and narrow, actively or passively supporting the system as it was.

Uahsenaa, November 3, 2015 at 2:39 pm

It's not that peasants can be vassals in the overall order so much as they are in the subject position, but without the attendant capacity to then lord it over someone beneath them. Lord/vassal in feudalism are also generic terms to describe members of a fixed relationship of patronage. It's confusing, because those terms are also used for levels of the overall hierarchy.

The true outliers here are the contemporaneous merchants, craftsmen, and freeholders (yeomen) who are necessary for things to run properly but are not satisfactorily accounted for by the overall system of governance, in part because it was land based. Merchants and craftsmen in particular tended not to be tied to any one place, since their services were often needed all over and only for limited periods of time. The primary administrative apparatus for craftsmen were the guilds. Merchants fell into any number of systems of organization and often into none at all, thus, according to the old Marxist genealogy, capitalism overthrows feudalism.

Peasants may have had something like a class consciousness on occasion, but I'm not entirely convinced it's useful to think of them in that way. In Japan, for instance, peasants were of a much higher social status than merchants and craftsmen, technically, yet their lives were substantially more miserable by any modern economic measure.

visitor, November 3, 2015 at 4:01 pm

I think that the article gets it seriously wrong about feudalism - an example of what Yves calls "stripping words of their meaning".

First of all, feudalism was actually an invention of an older, powerful, even more hierarchical organization: the Catholic Church.

The Church realized early on that imposing its ideal of a theocratic State ("city of God") led by the Pope upon the strong-headed barbarian chiefs (Lombards, Franks, Wisigoths and others) that set up various kingdoms in Europe was impossible.

Hence the second best approach, feudalism: a double hierarchy (worldly and spiritual). The populations of Europe were subject to two parallel hierarchical authorities with taxation, judicial and other economic powers (such as the right to determine when and for whom to work).

Second, there was a class of wealthy people which did not quite fit in the feudal hierarchy - in particular, they had no vassals, nor, despite their wealth, any fiefdom: merchants, financiers, the emerging burger class in cities. They were the ones actually lending money to feudal lords.

Third, the problem for underlings was never to overthrow the king (this was a hobby for princely families), and extremely rarely the local lord (which inevitably brought the full brunt of the feudal hierarchy to bear on the seditious populace).

Historically, what cities and rural communities struggled for was to be placed directly under the authority of the king or (Holy Roman Germanic) emperor. This entailed the rights to self-administration, freedom from most egregious taxes and corvées from feudal seigneurs, recognition of local laws and customs, and the possibility to render justice without deferring to local lords.

The king/emperor was happy to receive taxes directly from the city/community without them seeping away in the pockets of members of the inextricable feudal hierarchy; he would from time to time require troops for his host, hence reducing the dependency on troops from his vassal lords; and he would rarely be called to intervene in major legal disputes. Overall, he was way too busy to have time micromanaging those who swore direct allegiance to him - which was exactly what Basque communities, German towns and Swiss peasants wanted.

Therefore, an equivalence between feudalism and the current organizational make-up of society dominated by for-profit entities does not make sense.

Lambert Strether, November 3, 2015 at 4:11 pm

"the problem for underlings was never to overthrow the King"

Not even in the peasant revolts?

visitor, November 3, 2015 at 5:15 pm

If you look at this list, it appears that they were revolts directed against the local nobility (or church) because of its exorbitant taxation, oppressive judiciary, rampaging mercenaries and incompetent leadership in war against foreign invasions.

The French Jacquerie took place when there was no king - he had been taken prisoner by the English and the populace blamed the nobility for the military defeats and the massive tax increases that ensued.

During the Spanish Guerra de los Remensas, the revolted peasants actually appealed to the king and he in turn allied with them to fight the nobles.

During the Budai Nagy Antal revolt, the peasants actually asked the Hungarian king to arbitrate.

In other cases, even when the king/emperor/sultan ultimately intervened to squash the revolt, the insurrection was directed against some local elite.

Peasants revolts in 16th century Scandinavia were against the king's rule, but they were linked to reformation and took place when feudalism was on the wane and the evolution towards a centralized monarchical state well advanced.

Apparently, only the John and William Merfold's revolt explicitly called for the overthrow of the English king.

Jim Haygood, November 3, 2015 at 4:51 pm

'The populations of Europe were subject to two parallel hierarchical authorities with taxation, judicial and other economic powers (such as the right to determine when and for whom to work).'

Just as Americans are subject to two parallel hierarchical authorities with taxation and judicial powers, the states and the fedgov.

Before 1914, federal criminal laws were few, and direct federal income taxation of individuals was nonexistent. Today one needs federal authorization (E-verify) to get a job.

Now that the Fifth Amendment prohibition on double jeopardy has been interpreted away, notorious defendants face both federal and state prosecution. Thus the reason why America has the world's largest Gulag, with its slam-dunk conviction machine.


Uahsenaa, November 3, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Except, first off, there were non-Christian societies that made use of the system of warrior vassalage, and the manorial system that undergirded feudal distribution of land and resources, as least as far as Bloch is concerned, is a fairly clear outgrowth of the Roman villa system of the late empire. Insofar as the Late Roman empire was nominally–very nominally–Christian, I suppose your point stands, but according to Bloch, the earliest manorial structures were the result of the dissolution of the larger, older empire into smaller pieces, many of which were beyond meaningful administrative control by Rome itself. Second, bishoprics and monasteries, the primary land holdings of the clergy, were of the same order as manors, so they fit within the overall feudal system, not parallel to it.

If Bloch is not right about this, I'm open to reading other sources, but that's what my understanding was based on. Moreover, the basic system of patronage and fealty that made the manor economy function certainly seems to have survived the historical phenomenon we call feudalism, and that parallel was what I was trying to draw attention to. Lord/vassal relationships are fundamentally contractual, not just quid pro quo but organized around favors and reputation, and maybe the analogy is a bit strained, but it does point to the ways in which modern white collar work especially is about more than fixed pay for a fixed sum of labor output.

Thure Meyer, November 4, 2015 at 7:30 am

Isn't this rather off-topic?

This is not a discussion about the true and correct history of European feudalism or whether or not it applies to the situation at hand, but a dialogue about Global fascism and how it expresses itself in this Nation.

HarrySnapperOrgans, November 4, 2015 at 4:46 am

I suspect that the similarity of medeavil fuedalism with the relationship between a large modern corporation and its employees is not properly appreciated because the latter, unlike the former, does not necessarily include direct control over living conditions (housing, land, rent), even though in the end there may be a similar degree of effective servitude (lack of mobility and alternatives, and so effective entrapment at low wages) .

[Nov 04, 2015] Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise in the US

Notable quotes:
"... The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name ..."
"... Similarly, even as authoritarianism is rapidly rising in the US and citizens are losing their rights (see a reminder from last weekend, a major New York Times story on how widespread use of arbitration clauses is stripping citizens of access to the court system *), one runs the risk of having one's hair on fire if one dares suggest that America is moving in a fascist, or perhaps more accurately, a Mussolini-style corporatist direction. Yet we used that very expression, "Mussolini-style corporatism," to describe the the post-crisis bank bailouts. Former chief economist of the IMF, Simon Johnson, was more stark in his choice of terms, famously calling the rescues a "quiet coup" by financial oligarchs. ..."
"... By Thom Hartmann, an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America -- and What We Can Do to Stop It." Originally published at Alternet ..."
"... "The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. "With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power." ..."
"... If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government. ..."
"... If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. … They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead. ..."
"... "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggest that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the war" and will manifest "within the United States itself." ..."
"... It Can't Happen Here ..."
"... There are two [political] parties, the Corporate and those who don't belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck! ..."
"... Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after 'the present unpleasantness' ceases. ..."
"... Fascists have an agenda that is primarily economic. As the Free Dictionary ( www.thefreedictionary.com ) notes, fascism/corporatism is "an attempt to create a 'modern' version of feudalism by merging the 'corporate' interests with those of the state." ..."
"... Thus, the neo-feudal/fascistic rich get richer (and more powerful) on the backs of the poor and the middle class, an irony not lost on author Thomas Frank, who notes in his book What's The Matter With Kansas ..."
"... The businesses "going out of business" are, in fascist administrations, usually those of locally owned small and medium-sized companies. As Wallace wrote, some in big business "are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage." ..."
"... Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise [companies]. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself. ..."
"... The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination… ..."
"... But even at this, Wallace noted, American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation's largest corporations – who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media -- they could promote their lies with ease. ..."
"... "The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact," Wallace wrote. "Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy." ..."
"... They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection. ..."
"... Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his party's renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia, "…out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties…. It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction…. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man…." ..."
"... The Republican candidates' and their billionaire donors' behavior today eerily parallels that day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for." ..."
"... Amen -- I've always detested the weasel words "neoliberal" and "neoconservative". Lets just be honest enough to call ideologies and political behaviors by their proper name. ..."
"... Call Dems what they are – corrupt right wingers, ultra conservatives. ..."
"... Isn't it important to keep in mind that fascism, as it developed in Italy and Germany, were authentic mass based movements generating great popular enthusiasm and not merely a clever manipulation of of populist emotions by the reactionary Right or by capitalism in crisis. ..."
"... Authentic augmented by the generous application of force, I'd say. That I think is a very interesting discussion about just how freely fascism develops. I don't think Italy and especially Germany developed with a particularly genuine popular enthusiasm. ..."
"... Or to put it differently, I'd say the appearance of popular enthusiasm from a mass movement was the result of fascist control as much as the cause. That's what's so unnverving about the American context of 21st century fascism. It does not require a mass movement to implement this kind of totalitarianism. It merely requires the professional class to keep their heads down long enough for a critical mass to be reached by the power structure in hollowing out the back-office guts of democratic governance. ..."
"... Fascism was a counter revolution to Bolshevikism. The upper and upper-middle class was scared to death of what happen in Russia under Bolshevikism. They united with the military looking for someone to counter Bolshevikism and settled on Hitler and the Nazi's. The military thought they control him but they ended up being wrong. ..."
"... "Those who own America should govern it" ..."
"... Corporation in Italian has approximately the meaning of guild and has nothing to do with big enterprises ..."
"... Massinissa and lou strong are correct -- corporatism in Mussolini's Italy meant structuring the State and the legislative body around organizations representing specific professional or economic sectors. ..."
"... By the way: we should not forget another fascist State, Portugal, which during the entire Salazar regime officially defined itself as a "corporatist republic". ..."
"... besides for-profit corporations. ..."
"... elimination ..."
"... It is apparent that both corporate parties are increasingly incapable of properly deflecting and channeling the interests of the electorate. Whether you think of 2007-08 as simply another business cycle, one that was exacerbated by toxic assets, a product of increasing income and wealth disparity, etc. it seems that portions of the electorate have been shocked out of their confidence in the system and the steering capacity of economic and political elites. ..."
"... This might lead the parties, under the pressure of events, to might reformulate themselves as the political cover of a "government of national unity" that, depending on the extremity of the next downturn, impose a "solidarity from above," blocking the development of popular organizations in a variety of ways. I certainly see this as possible. But treating the parties, or the system itself, as fascist at this point in time is not only not helpful, it is fundamentally disorienting. ..."
"... Chamber of the Fascist Corporations ..."
"... My impression is that today Corporatism more closely represents the interests of multinational corporations and the people who hold executive leadership positions within those companies. What they have in common is a listing on NYSE. ..."
November 3, 2015 | nakedcapitalism.com

The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name. Confucius

One of the distressing things about politics in the US is the way words have either been stripped of their meaning or become so contested as to undermine the ability to communicate and analyze. It's hard to get to a conversation when you and your interlocutors don't have the same understanding of basic terms.

And that is no accident. The muddying of meaning is a neo-Orwellian device to influence perceptions by redefining core concepts. And a major vector has been by targeting narrow interest groups on their hot-button topics. Thus, if you are an evangelical or otherwise strongly opposed to women having reproductive control, anyone who favors womens' rights in this area is in your vein of thinking, to the left of you, hence a "liberal". Allowing the Overton Window to be framed around pet interests, as opposed to a view of what societal norms are, has allowed for the media to depict the center of the political spectrum as being well to the right of where it actually is as measured by decades of polling, particularly on economic issues.

Another way of limiting discourse is to relegate certain terms or ideas to what Daniel Hallin called the "sphere of deviance." Thus, until roughly two years ago, calling an idea "Marxist" in the US was tantamount to deeming it to be the political equivalent of taboo. That shows how powerful the long shadow of the Communist purges of the McCarthy era were, more than a generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Similarly, even as authoritarianism is rapidly rising in the US and citizens are losing their rights (see a reminder from last weekend, a major New York Times story on how widespread use of arbitration clauses is stripping citizens of access to the court system*), one runs the risk of having one's hair on fire if one dares suggest that America is moving in a fascist, or perhaps more accurately, a Mussolini-style corporatist direction. Yet we used that very expression, "Mussolini-style corporatism," to describe the the post-crisis bank bailouts. Former chief economist of the IMF, Simon Johnson, was more stark in his choice of terms, famously calling the rescues a "quiet coup" by financial oligarchs.

Now admittedly, the new neoliberal economic order is not a replay of fascism, so there is reason not to apply the "f" word wholesale. Nevertheless, there is a remarkable amount of inhibition in calling out the similarities where they exist. For instance, the article by Thom Hartmann below, which we've reposted from Alternet, is bold enough to use the "fascist" word in the opening paragraph (but not the headline!). But it then retreats from making a hard-headed analysis by focusing on warnings about the risks of fascism in America from the 1940s. While historical analysis is always enlightening, you'll see the article only selectively interjects contemporary examples. Readers no doubt can help fill out, as well as qualify, this picture.

By Thom Hartmann, an author and nationally syndicated daily talk show host. His newest book is "The Crash of 2016: The Plot to Destroy America -- and What We Can Do to Stop It." Originally published at Alternet

Ben Carson's feeble attempt to equate Hitler and pro-gun control Democrats was short-lived, but along with the announcement that Marco Rubio has brought in his second big supporting billionaire, it brings to mind the first American vice-president to point out the "American fascists" among us.

Although most Americans remember that Harry Truman was Franklin D. Roosevelt's vice-president when Roosevelt died in 1945 (making Truman president), Roosevelt had two previous vice-presidents: John N. Garner (1933-1941) and Henry A. Wallace (1941-1945).

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice-President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, "write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?"

Vice-President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in the New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan.

"The really dangerous American fascists," Wallace wrote, "are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.

"With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power."

In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word "fascist" -- the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word. (It was actually Italian philosopher Giovanni Gentile who wrote the entry in the Encyclopedia Italiana that said: "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Mussolini, however, affixed his name to the entry, and claimed credit for it.)

As the 1983 American Heritage Dictionary noted, fascism is, "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."

Mussolini was quite straightforward about all this. In a 1923 pamphlet titled "The Doctrine of Fascism" he wrote, "If classical liberalism spells individualism, Fascism spells government." But not a government of, by, and for We The People; instead, it would be a government of, by, and for the most powerful corporate interests in the nation.

In 1938, Mussolini brought his vision of fascism into full reality when he dissolved Parliament and replaced it with the Camera dei Fasci e delle Corporazioni -- the Chamber of the Fascist Corporations. Corporations were still privately owned, but now instead of having to sneak their money to folks like Tom DeLay and covertly write legislation, they were openly in charge of the government.

Vice-President Wallace bluntly laid out in his 1944 Times article his concern about the same happening here in America:

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. … They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.

Nonetheless, at that time there were few corporate heads who'd run for political office, and in Wallace's view, most politicians still felt it was their obligation to represent We The People instead of corporate cartels.

"American fascism will not be really dangerous," he added in the next paragraph, "until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information…."

Noting that, "Fascism is a worldwide disease," Wallace further suggest that fascism's "greatest threat to the United States will come after the war" and will manifest "within the United States itself."

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel It Can't Happen Here a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician, Buzz Windrip, runs his campaign on family values, the flag and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy as anti-American.

When Windrip becomes president, he opens a Guantanamo-style detention center, and the viewpoint character of the book, Vermont newspaper editor Doremus Jessup, flees to Canada to avoid prosecution under new "patriotic" laws that make it illegal to criticize the President.

As Lewis noted in his novel, "the President, with something of his former good-humor [said]: 'There are two [political] parties, the Corporate and those who don't belong to any party at all, and so, to use a common phrase, are just out of luck!' The idea of the Corporate or Corporative State, Secretary [of State] Sarason had more or less taken from Italy."

And, President "Windrip's partisans called themselves the Corporatists, or, familiarly, the 'Corpos,' which nickname was generally used."

Lewis, the first American writer to win a Nobel Prize, was world famous by 1944, as was his book. And several well-known and powerful Americans, including Prescott Bush, had lost businesses in the early 1940s because of charges by Roosevelt that they were doing business with Hitler.

These events all, no doubt, colored Vice-President Wallace's thinking when he wrote:

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after 'the present unpleasantness' ceases.

Fascists have an agenda that is primarily economic. As the Free Dictionary (www.thefreedictionary.com) notes, fascism/corporatism is "an attempt to create a 'modern' version of feudalism by merging the 'corporate' interests with those of the state."

Feudalism, of course, is one of the most stable of the three historic tyrannies (kingdoms, theocracies, feudalism) that ruled nations prior to the rise of American republican democracy, and can be roughly defined as "rule by the rich."

Thus, the neo-feudal/fascistic rich get richer (and more powerful) on the backs of the poor and the middle class, an irony not lost on author Thomas Frank, who notes in his book What's The Matter With Kansas that, "You can see the paradox first-hand on nearly any Main Street in middle America -- 'going out of business' signs side by side with placards supporting George W. Bush."

The businesses "going out of business" are, in fascist administrations, usually those of locally owned small and medium-sized companies. As Wallace wrote, some in big business "are willing to jeopardize the structure of American liberty to gain some temporary advantage."

He added:

Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise [companies]. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.

But American fascists who would want former CEOs as president, vice-president, House Majority Whip, and Senate Majority Leader, and write legislation with corporate interests in mind, don't generally talk to We The People about their real agenda, or the harm it does to small businesses and working people.

Instead, as Hitler did with the trade union leaders and the Jews, they point to a "them" to pin with blame and distract people from the harms of their economic policies.

In a comment prescient of Alabama's recent closing of every drivers' license office in every Alabama county with more than 75% black residents (while recently passing a law requiring a drivers' license or similar ID to vote), Wallace continued:

The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. It may be shocking to some people in this country to realize that, without meaning to do so, they hold views in common with Hitler when they preach discrimination…

But even at this, Wallace noted, American fascists would have to lie to the people in order to gain power. And, because they were in bed with the nation's largest corporations – who could gain control of newspapers and broadcast media -- they could promote their lies with ease.

"The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact," Wallace wrote. "Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy."

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism, the vice-president of the United States saw rising in America, he added:

They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.

This liberal vision of an egalitarian America in which very large businesses and media monopolies are broken up under the 1890 Sherman Anti-Trust Act (which Reagan stopped enforcing, leading to the mergers & acquisitions frenzy that continues to this day) was the driving vision of the New Deal (and of "Trust Buster" Teddy Roosevelt a generation earlier).

As Wallace's president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, said when he accepted his party's renomination in 1936 in Philadelphia, "…out of this modern civilization, economic royalists [have] carved new dynasties…. It was natural and perhaps human that the privileged princes of these new economic dynasties, thirsting for power, reached out for control over government itself. They created a new despotism and wrapped it in the robes of legal sanction…. And as a result the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man…."

Speaking indirectly of the fascists Wallace would directly name almost a decade later, Roosevelt brought the issue to its core:

These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power." But, he thundered, "Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power!

In the election of 2016, we again stand at the same crossroad Roosevelt and Wallace confronted during the Great Depression and World War II.

Fascism is again rising in America, this time calling itself "conservativism." The Republican candidates' and their billionaire donors' behavior today eerily parallels that day in 1936 when Roosevelt said, "In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for."

It's particularly ironic that the "big news" is which billionaire is supporting which Republican candidate. Like Eisenhower's farewell address, President Roosevelt and Vice-President Wallace's warnings are more urgent now than ever before.

_____
* In trying to find the New York Times story again, I simply Googled "arbitration," on the assumption that given that the article was both high traffic and recent that it would come up high in a search. Not only did the story not come up on the first page, although a reference to it in Consumerist did, but when I clicked on "in the news" link, it was again not in the first page in Google. If this isn't censorship, I don't know what is. The story was widely referenced on the Web and got far more traffic than the "news" story that Google gave preference (such as, of all things, a Cato study and "Arbitration Eligible Brewers

Brew Crew Ball-19 hours ago"). In fact, the NYT article does not appear on the first five pages of the Google news search, even though older and clearly lower traffic stories do. And when you find the first reference to the story on the news page, which is a Cato piece mentioning it, and you click through to the "explore in depth" page, again the New York Times story is not the prominent placement it warrants, and is listed fifth. Consider how many clicks it took to find it.

Crazy Horse, November 3, 2015 at 10:49 am

Amen -- I've always detested the weasel words "neoliberal" and "neoconservative". Lets just be honest enough to call ideologies and political behaviors by their proper name.

timbers, November 3, 2015 at 11:17 am

I agree!

Telling my friends Obama is "neoliberal" means nothing to 99% of them, they couldn't care less, it does not compute. So instead I tell them Obama is the most right wing President in history who's every bit un-hinged as Sarah Palin and at least as bat shit insame as John McCain, but you think that's totally OK because you're a Dem and Dems think that because Obama speaks with better grammar than Sarah Palin and is more temperate than John McCain. Them I tell them to vote Green instead of the utlra right wing Dems

Call Dems what they are – corrupt right wingers, ultra conservatives.

Barmitt O'Bamney, November 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

LOL. You get to take your pick between TWO fascist parties in 2016. Just like you did for the last several elections. I wonder if the outcome will be different this time – will Fascism grab the prize again, or will it be Fascism coming out ahead at the last minute to save the day?

David, November 3, 2015 at 11:04 am

Why didn't Wallace become President when Roosevelt died? From the St. Petersburg Times,

The Gallup Poll said 65 percent of the voting Democrats wanted Wallace and that 2 percent wanted Senator Truman. But the party bosses could not boss Wallace. They made a coalition with the Roosevelt-haters and skillfully and cynically mowed down the unorganized Wallace forces.

Take note Bernie fans.

washunate November 3, 2015 at 11:28 am

With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power

Such a concise and cogent explanation. The go-to policy advice of the fascist is to do moar of whatever he's selling.

susan the other November 3, 2015 at 12:18 pm

I was just going to say something like this too. There is a logical end to fascism and if it is blocked and prolonged then when it finally runs its course it ends in a huge mess. And even the fascists don't know what to do. Because everything they were doing becomes pure poison. Moar money and power have an Achilles Heel – there is an actual limit to their usefulness. So this is where we find ourselves today imo – not at the beginning of a fascist-feudal empire, but at the bitter and confused end. Our implosion took far longer than Germany's, but the writing was on the wall from 1970 on. And then toss in the wages of prolonged sin – neoliberalism's excesses, the planet, global warming.

TarheelDem November 3, 2015 at 1:02 pm

Yes. This.

One would think that Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the killing of 1000 people by cops would be a clue. As would an understanding of the counter-New Deal that began to unfold in 1944, gained power in 1946, and institutionalized itself as a military and secret government in 1947. Or the rush to war after every peace, the rush to debt after every surplus, and perpetual inability of the IRS to collect taxes from the wealthiest.

Maybe not even a Franco-level fascist state or a fascist state with a single dictator, more like the state capitalism of the Soviet Union and current China without the public infrastructure. Just the oligarchs.

And yet it is in a state of failure, and inability to do anything but feather then nests of those who rule, all those King Midases.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 1:49 pm

Also, the increase of censorship (GMO labels or fracking chemicals), and persecution of whistleblowers and political prisoners, incarceration of whole swathes of black population, along w execution w no due process, continuous wars abroad w no apparent tbreat to domestic security and the state of the nation is apparent.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 2:56 pm

Whoops, almost forgot to include: mass surveillance.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Isn't it important to keep in mind that fascism, as it developed in Italy and Germany, were authentic mass based movements generating great popular enthusiasm and not merely a clever manipulation of of populist emotions by the reactionary Right or by capitalism in crisis.

The orthodox left made this mistake in the 1920s and early 1930s and in 2015 still appears wedded to this erroneous assumption.

washunate November 3, 2015 at 8:17 pm

Authentic augmented by the generous application of force, I'd say. That I think is a very interesting discussion about just how freely fascism develops. I don't think Italy and especially Germany developed with a particularly genuine popular enthusiasm. Very early on, the national socialists were arresting internal political opposition through parallel courts with explicit references to things like state security. Dachau, for example, was originally for German political prisoners. Jews and foreign nationals came later.

And of course there's the ultimate in false flags, the Reichstag Fire Decree. The whole point of that and the Enabling Act was to circumvent the checks and balances of democratic governance; Hitler himself certainly did not trust the German people to maintain the power he wanted of their own accord and discernment.

Or to put it differently, I'd say the appearance of popular enthusiasm from a mass movement was the result of fascist control as much as the cause. That's what's so unnverving about the American context of 21st century fascism. It does not require a mass movement to implement this kind of totalitarianism. It merely requires the professional class to keep their heads down long enough for a critical mass to be reached by the power structure in hollowing out the back-office guts of democratic governance.

Ishmael November 3, 2015 at 8:47 pm

Fascism was a counter revolution to Bolshevikism. The upper and upper-middle class was scared to death of what happen in Russia under Bolshevikism. They united with the military looking for someone to counter Bolshevikism and settled on Hitler and the Nazi's. The military thought they control him but they ended up being wrong.

You have to understand that after WW1 the allies kept a sea blockade on Germany and that resulted in over a million Germans starving to death. Then came depression followed by hyperinflation. Then there was the fear of Bolsheviks. The Nazi's showed up and things started working again. The Bolsheviks were driven from the street. The Nazi's started borrowing tons of money (yes they issued bonds) and started work programs. The economy started recovering. People had work and food and soon the Nazi's were furnishing free health care. After you had gone through hell this was heaven.

MathandPhysics November 3, 2015 at 10:18 pm

It's strange but 9/11 and the 3 steel frame buildings collapse into dust in few seconds isn't recognized by the masses as false flag Hitler style, then what do you expect ? Massmedia did what it could to confuse them all, only math and physics can help you to see the truth.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 11:23 pm

It would, indeed, be an extremely worthwhile discussion to analyze how freely fascism developed in Italy and Germany.

As a first step in that directkion, Washunate, you might take a look at studies like "Elections, Parties, and Political Traditions: Social Foundations of German parties and party systems.

In the July 1932 elections the SPD (Socialist Party) received 21.6 percent of the vote and was replaced by the NSDAP (Nazi party) as the countries largest political party (with 37.3% of the vote). with the KPD (the communists) capturing 14.5%of the vote.

It was at that time that the Nazi party become a true "people's party" with a support base that was more equally distributed among social and demographic categories than any other major party of the Weimar republic.

Tone November 3, 2015 at 11:42 am

The thing that troubles me most is that there are no leaders like Roosevelt or Wallace today. Where are the POPULAR politicians (Roosevelt was elected 4 times!) calling it like it is and publicly refuting conservative/fascist dogma? Sanders? Maybe. But he's trailing Clinton and certainly he's not a force in the Democratic party like Roosevelt was. At least not yet.

I agree with the "quiet coup" assessment, and I keep waiting for the next Roosevelt, the next Lincoln, the next Founding Father, to appear on the political stage and fight the battle against corporatist/fascist forces. Sadly, it hasn't happened yet.

Masonboro November 3, 2015 at 11:50 am

Unfortunately the next Founding Father to appear (or has appeared) will be John Jay (first Chief Justice among other roles) who was quoted as having said :

"Those who own America should govern it"

Jim

TarheelDem November 3, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Hank Paulson and George W. Bush prevented the situation in 2008 from forcing a Rooseveltian Congress. And the Congress went along with them. Then it was so easy for the do-nothings to argue for less and continue the austerity. And as in Roosevelt's era, racism helped prevent full change, which allowed the post-war rollback.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

Even among the corporatists in govt or business, there are no distinctive shining exemplars of leadership or competence !

Massinissa November 3, 2015 at 2:12 pm

Founding fathers?

Who do you think put the basis of rule by the rich into practice in the first place? A series of 'popular movements' like Shays Rebellion was what forced the founding fathers to make voting rights not dependent on owning land, not because the Founding Fathers were really nice people who luvved 'Democracy'.

Oregoncharles November 4, 2015 at 1:57 am

We just might have to be that "leader" ourselves.

Masonboro November 3, 2015 at 11:46 am

"on the rise" or firmly entrenched ? We already have Homeland Security, Justice Thomas, Donald Trump ,Ted Cruz, and the Koch Brothers (who are running ads in NC extolling recently passed changes in the tax code to continue shifting from income to consumption taxes). What is missing?

Jim

susan the other November 3, 2015 at 12:32 pm

I always think of the Kochs when the word fascist is used. They are ostensibly great environmentalists. Never mind that they operate some of the filthiest industries on the planet. They sponsor NOVA; one brother is a raving environmentalist (that's fine with me) and the other two tone it down. But their brand of conservative politix is as pointless as it is ignorant. That's an interesting topic – the hypocrisy of rich corporatist environmentalists. They are living a contradiction that will tear them apart. But at least they are agonizing over the problem.

lou strong November 3, 2015 at 11:56 am

Maybe my English is too bad, but it seems there's a misunderstanding about "corporatism" meaning, which is unfortunately reflected, as it seems again, in some American dictionaries. Corporation in Italian has approximately the meaning of guild and has nothing to do with big enterprises.

So, while there is no doubt that fascists took power in Italy as the armed wing of big capital, big finance and big landholders against the unrests of the low classes, the idea of corporatist state for them meant the refusal of the principle of class war in favor of the principle of class (guilds, "corporations" :both for employers and employees/trade unions) collaboration , and all of them as subservients to the superior interest of the state.Fascism agenda wasn't primarily economic. There wasn't either a specific agenda : until '29 the regime acted as deeply "neoliberal" with privatizations, deflationary policies to fix a strong lira smashing labor rights and purchase power etc etc , after the crisis it nationalized the failed enterprises and introduced some welfare state elements.

So at least the regime got the property of the failed banks/enterprises, much unlike current situation , where we see the mere socialization of losses and privatization of profits .

Massinissa November 3, 2015 at 2:23 pm

You are correct, I have read this before.

But English speakers either dont know or dont care. Ive seen people talk about "Mussolini Corporatism" like this for what, five years, and they never get corrected.

I dont think theres anything we can do to get people to stop using that term as if it means what they think it means.

visitor November 3, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Massinissa and lou strong are correct -- corporatism in Mussolini's Italy meant structuring the State and the legislative body around organizations representing specific professional or economic sectors.

By the way: we should not forget another fascist State, Portugal, which during the entire Salazar regime officially defined itself as a "corporatist republic".

Barmitt O'Bamney November 3, 2015 at 4:21 pm

You can direct them to the Wikipedia entry for corporatism, which is extensive, or to Michael Lind's 2014 article on the multiple historical meanings and recent misuse of this term. But the term has currency and traction today for reason neither article quite puts a finger on. Under Italian Fascism, the traditional meanings of corporative representation and bargaining were invoked but fused tightly under the auspices -or control- of the nation state, which of course was a single party state. The theoretical representativeness of corporatism was as a facade for political control of all institutions of Italian life by the Fascist Party. In the present time, with unions and guilds a fading memory, regions homogenized and classes atomized, with churches that are little more than money making enterprises as transparent as any multilevel marketing scheme, there are few non-government institutions in western life with any weight besides for-profit corporations. When people struggle to describe what seems wrong to them with our political life, the subservience of our government – and therefore everything else – to profit seeking corporations, they need a term that reflects neatly what has happened and where we are. Democracy of course is defunct both as a term and in reality. We don't have a state of decayed democracy (passive, negative), we have a state of corporate diktat (active, positive). "Corporatism" is an attractive and convenient verbal handle for the masses to latch onto, no matter how much this disappoints the learned. In English, when enough people "misuse" a term for a sufficiently long time, what happens is that the OED adds a new sub-entry for it reflecting its current usage.

Vatch November 3, 2015 at 4:46 pm

I've tried to correct people's misunderstanding of corporazione, but it's probably a losing battle:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/03/neo-liberalism-expressed-simple-rules.html#comment-1919832

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/tpp-fascism-issue.html#comment-2439813

run75441 November 4, 2015 at 7:47 am

Try "corpocracy"

Les Swift November 3, 2015 at 12:09 pm

Corporatism is indeed an old idea, feudalism re-branded as "fascism." After Hitler ruined the term, fascism remained, but underground, until it reemerged in the 1960s as what George Ball termed the "world company," which is better known as the system of global corporations. The same general idea, but under a new marketing slogan. Today we have globalization, the raft of "trade" treaties, the Austrian/Libertarian ideology, all of which ultimately push the world toward yet another replay of feudalism. The box says "new and improved," but inside it's the same old crap.

kevinearick November 3, 2015 at 1:01 pm

Clone Dreams

"The more people that transact with one another, the greater the division of labour and knowledge, the greater the ability to develop comparative advantage and the greater the productivity gains."

What could possibly go wrong?

In any empire, virtual or otherwise, you are always surrounded by communist thieves that think they are going to control your output with a competitive advantage illusion, which conveniently ignores opportunity cost. Government is just a derivative piece of paper, the latest fashion for communists, all assuming that the planet is here for their convenience, to exploit. Well, the critters have blown right through 45/5000/.75, and Canada was supposed to be the proving ground for the Silicon Valley Method. Now what?

"Don't panic : world trade is down….Don't bet against the Fed….BTFD." Expect something other than demographic variability, financial implosion, and war.

The communists are always running head first over the cliff, expecting you to follow. Labor has no use for cars that determine when, where and how you will travel, and the communists can't fix anything, because the 'fix' is already inside, embedded as a feature. America is just the latest communist gang believing it has commandeered the steamroller, rolling over other communist gangs.

The Bear isn't coming down from the North, China isn't selling Treasuries, and families are not moving away from the city by accident. Only the latest and greatest, new-world-order communists, replacing themselves with computers, are surprised that technology is always the solution for the problem, technology. Facebook, LinkedIn and Google are only the future for communists, which is always the same, a dead end, with a different name.

Remember that Honda of mine? I told the head communist thief not to touch that car while I was gone, told his fellow thieves and their dependents that I told him so, and even gave him the advantage of telling him what the problem was. How many hours do you suppose the fools spent trying to control that car, and my wife with it?

I don't care whether the communists on the other side of the hill or the communists on this side of the hill think they are going to control Grace, and through her my wife, and through her me. And there are all kinds of communist groups using pieces of my work to advance their AI weapons development, on the assumption that my work will not find itself in the end. Grace will decide whether she wants to be an individual or a communist.

The only way the communists can predict and control the future is to control children. That's what financialization is all about. And all communism can do is train automatons to follow each other, which is a problem-solution addressed by the planet every three generations. You don't have to do anything for communism to collapse, but get out of the way.

Technology is just a temporary tool, discarded by labor for the communists to steal, and stealing a hammer doesn't make anyone a carpenter, much less a King, which is why the Queen always walks through the wreckage, to a worthless throne. The story of Jesus was in fact the story of a king, who had no use for a worldly kingdom, other than as a counterweight, always surrounded by communists, like pigs at a trough. Jesus was no more and no less a child of God than you are.

Labor loses every battle because it doesn't participate, leaving the communists to label each other as labour and knowledge. And if you look, you will see that all their knowledge is real estate inflation, baked into everything, with oil as grease. The name, Robert Reich, didn't give you a hint; of course he knew all along, and like a good communist, changes sides on a regular basis.

You can't pick your parents or your children, or make choices for them, but you can love them without pissing your life away. Navy hasn't disappeared just because the US Navy chose to be a sunk cost, at the beck and call of Wall Street, trying to defend the status quo of communism, for communists on the other side of the pond. A marine is not always a Marine, and a flattop can be turned on a dime.

"The Muses doe attend upon your Throne, With all the Artists at your becke and call…"

If you want to show up at WWIII with a communist and a dc computer as a weapon, that's your business, but I wouldn't recommend doing so. Labor can mobilize far quicker than the communists can imagine, which isn't saying much. Be about your business until the laws of physics have been overthrown, and that hasn't happened yet.

You can count on communists to be at an intersection, creating a traffic jam, building a bigger toll booth, and voting for more of the same, thinking that they are taking advantage of each other, doing the wrong thing at the wrong time at the wrong place. Any intersection of false assumptions will do.

alex morfesis November 3, 2015 at 1:12 pm

let the merry breezes blow synthetic winds…

his name was hanz…or so I was told…we had acquired a lease from the NYC HPD from a parking lot/marina that was at the very north edge of Harlem River Drive at Dyckman (pronounced dikeman)….there is a school there now…he "came" with the lease…years later I would find out he was working with Carlos Lehder and helping arrange for cash payments to conveniently amnesiastic police officers who used the hardly functioning marina to go fishing…in the east river & the hudson…go figure…the more I tried to get rid of him…the more "problems" occurred…my father begged me stop poking around and just "leave it alone"…I don't think he ever really knew what "hanz" was doing or who he was…oh well…might explain how we lost a billion dollars in real estate (ok…it was not worth a billion back then…but it had not debt other than real estate taxes…it was not lost for simply economic reasons)

we as a nation were "convinced" to allow 50 thousand former nazis to enter this country after ww2…under the foolish notion that "the russians" (who have never killed too many americans if my history serves me right) were a "new danger" and only the folks who LO$T to the russians had the knowledge needed to save us from those "evil communists"…(evil communists who helped the Koch Family make their financial start…details details…)

those nazis, from my research have probably grown to a force of about 250 thousand who are the basic clowns (MIC…see you real soon…KEY…why, because we like you…) Ike was talking about in January of 1961…

but…as Ike mentioned when talking about the Koch dad and his John Birch nonsense…they are small and they are stupid…

the use of "coup" in the context of some of the strange happenings in our history these last 55 years is probably not a reasonable term…

I would say we have had "coupettes" where certain groups threatened MAD if they did not get their way or were not left alone…and then those wimps in power decided…better you than me…and turned a blind eye for 30 pieces of silver…coincidence and causality sometimes are not just mathematical anomalies…

there is no need to "take back" our country…it is ours and has always been ours…the reason "the clowns that be" worry so much is that for all the use of bernaze sause…they can hardly fake half the population into showing up to vote on "one of the chosen ones"…and that 50% that are not fully mesmerized are the fear factor for the clowns that be…

remember…try as "they" might…can "they" keep you watching the same tv show for ever…or get you to buy their useless "branded" product without coupons or advertising…

it is not as bad or scary as they would like you to believe…they would not be working this hard if they were comfortable in their socks…they do not sleep well at night…you are the "zombie apocalypse" they are afraid off…

pass the popcorn please…

and may our freedom

"bloom again" at "the end of the century"

(or sooner…)

happy trails…

Les Swift November 3, 2015 at 1:24 pm

Huh? Many of the things you brand as "communist" existed long before Communism was created. To blame it all on "communists" is a serious error which blinds you to much older evils, some of which Communism was at least nominally intended to correct. It is important to recognize that the "Red scares" have been used by forces in the West to bolster their own power. One can both disagree with Communism and disagree with the "Red menace" propaganda at the same time. The people who scare you with the threat of Communism are more of a threat than the Communists themselves.

kevinearick November 3, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Funny thing about words…under the law, they mean whatever the author intends them to mean.

kevinearick November 3, 2015 at 1:50 pm

not a big believer in evil, just stupid, willful ignorance, aggregated.

Gio Bruno November 3, 2015 at 10:37 pm

GWBush is evil and stupid. Dick Cheney is evil, stupid, and ignorant, aggregated.

Doug November 3, 2015 at 1:58 pm

Time to re-read The Moneysburg Address:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2011/07/the-moneysburg-address.html

Jim November 3, 2015 at 2:32 pm

When talking about the rise of fascism(especially if the US experiences another economic/financial meltdown in the next few years) it is so important to get the historical context as accurate as possible.

Mussolini began his political career as an exponent of a different type of socialism. One of his early followers was Antonio Gramsci and they both deplored the passivity of orthodox Marxists.

Mussolini was attracted to the theoretical framework of Sorel to offset traditional left passivity and the syndicalist focus on the importance of human will. He founded a journal in 1913 called Utopia and called for a revision of socialism in which he began referring to "the people" and not the proletariat, as well as stressing the importance of the nation. He attempted to bring nationalist and syndicalist streams of thought together.

After World War I Mussolini helped found a new political movement in Italy which brought together both nationalist and socialist themes. Its first program was anticapitalist, antimonarchical and called for an 8 hour day, minimum wages, the participation of workers' representatives in industrial management and a large progressive tax on capital.

By the early 1920s the Fasci of Mussolini gained a powerful base of support in rural Italian areas, advocating of program of peasant proprtietorship rather than endorsing the calls for the nationalization of property of the orthodox left.

By this time fascism presented itself as an opponent of "Bolshevism" and a guardian of private property while emphasizing the collective good and criticizing absentee landlords and "exploitative capitalists"

For an excellent discussion of the development of these ideas as well as the concrete steps toward corporatism that took place after 1922 see Sheri Berman "The Primacy of Politics"

A key point to keep in mind was that the fascism that eventually developed in Italy was willing to assert unconditionally the power of the state over the market.

participant-observer-observed November 3, 2015 at 2:37 pm

Relevant postbocer at Counterpunch too:

Not everybody just "wants what we have," as the common view here has it. In fact, from Bolivia, where the average person consumes perhaps 1/20th the total resources of her analogue in the US, comes the old-new idea of buen vivir (the good life): a life in which the health of your human community and its surrounding ecosystem are more important than the amount of money you make or things you own.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/11/03/the-browning-of-the-world-blame-the-greed-of-the-rich/

Jacob November 3, 2015 at 3:16 pm

"In this, Wallace was using the classic definition of the word fascist' -- the definition Mussolini had in mind when he claimed to have invented the word."

An Italian Jew by the name of Enrico Rocca is cited in "Roots of Hate: Anti-Semitism in Europe Before the Holocaust" as the founder of Roman fascism. This name is completely unknown in the U.S. A large number of Italian Jews were founders and members of the Italian fascist party prior to 1938 when anti-Semitism became official. "Among Mussolini's earliest financial backers were three Jews: Giuseppe Toeplitz of the Banca Commerciale Italiana, Elio Jona [?], and the industrialist Gino Olivetti. . . ." The banker Toeplitz was the main financier behind Mussolini's blackshirts, which served as union busters for big business and land owners (also see "Fascism and Big Business" by Daniel Guerin). Undermining organized labor in order to drive down wages was a central aim of fascism in Italy and later under Hitler in Germany. In 1933, roughly ten percent of Italian Jews were members of the fascist party. These facts are important to know because moderns are led to believe that fascism is inherently anti-semitic, but that wasn't the case in the early years of fascism in Italy, where it was founded.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 3:58 pm

It is also important to keep in mind, as Sheri Berman has argued, that social democracy, the fascism of Mussolini and National Socialism in Germany agree on a set of key assumptions.

1. All assume the primary importance of politics and cross-class cooperation. Edward Bermstein at the turn of the 20th century began attacking the main pillars of orthodox Marxism, historical materialism and class struggle while arguing for an alternative vision based on state control of markets–social democracy became the complete severing of socialism from Marxism.

2. For these same Social Democrats the primacy of the political meant using the democratic state to institutionalize policies and protect society from capitalism.

3. For fascists and national socialists using a tyrannical state to control markets was supposedly necessary–but, of course, this postion deteriorated into moves to ensure the hegemony of the modern State.

But is it the case, in 2015, taken the power of our contemporary Surveillance regime, that a democratic state still exists?

Do contemporary democratic socialists first have to first focus on how to restore democracy in the U.S. rather than assuming that the contemporary political structure just needs the right leadership–someone like Bernie Sanders–and the right credit policy– such as MMT?

hemeantwell November 3, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Hartmann draws from Mussolini the idea that the fascist state prioritizes and organizes corporate interests, but misses what Mussolini left out of his harmonistic definition, which was that in both Germany and Italy organized terror was to be used to destroy opposition to corporate interests. The systematic use of terror had major implications for the way the internal politics of the fascist state developed, for the weight given in its organizational structure and tactical options to the elimination of internal enemies. Along with this, both political orders were infused with a leadership ethos that, particularly in Nazi Germany, could attain strikingly absolute forms, demanding absolute obedience and sacrifice. This encouraged a strong tendency to subordinate any institution that might serve as a point of coalescence to interests opposed to the regime. The Fuhrer's picture had to be both on your wall and in your heart.

Hartmann misses this political knife edge of fascism and the leadership fascination that supports it. It is not wildly speculative to say that this is largely because the domestic enemies against which it was directed, primarily leftist trade unions, are not a threat in the US. No such organizations need to be wrecked, no such memberships need to be decimated, imprisoned, and dispersed. It is simply astonishing that Hartmann says nothing specifically about labor organizations as the prime instigating target of both fascists and the corporations who supported them. In this respect his analysis unwittingly incorporates the ideological suppression of the labor movement that mirrored the fascist onslaught.

It is also telling that although Hartmann references Wallace and Roosevelt he fails to note that they themselves have also been accused of corporatism, albeit one that involved the imposition of a Keynesian, welfarist orientation to capitalist interests that were, at least in some quarters, inclined to "liquidate, liquidate" their way into a revolution against themselves. Instead, he quotes Wallace and Roosevelt as they render fascism as a kind of power-hungry, antidemocratic urge on the part of some "royalists," thereby blurring out how the central issue was how to manage labor. He misses that Roosevelt offered the state as an organizer of conflict between capital and labor within a framework in which labor was guaranteed bargaining status. Roosevelt was thereby moved to attack capitalists who wanted to deny labor that status and risk both devastating hardship and insurrection. Hartmann falls for Roosevelt's broad democratic rhetoric against them, more exhortation than analysis, and so he himself ends up talking ethereally of threats to "freedom" and "American institutions."

We're not living under fascism and Hartmann, whose criticism is often very useful, is wrong in trying to use the term as a rallying orientation. I agree that the social order is corporatist, but its maintenance has not required the kind of direct oppression + totalitarian/personalized leadership cult that is a marker of fascism. Concepts the Frankfurt School have used such as "total administration" and the like are perhaps too anodyne, not to mention absolute in their own way, but they fit better with a situation in which explicit violence does not have to be generalized.

Robert Paxton's "The Anatomy of Fascism" is a useful backgrounder on this.

Jim November 3, 2015 at 6:30 pm

Heamtwell stated directly above that " We're not living under fascism…"

Some concepts/ questions which may begin to get at our potential propensity for moving in that direction might include the following:

Paxton, mentioned by Heamtwell above, isolated five stages of fascism.
(1) the initial creation of fascist movements
(2) their rooting as parties in a political system
(3) the acquisition of power
(4) the exercise of power
(5) their radicalization or entropy

Paxton has argued that Fascism can appear where democracy is sufficiently implanted to have aroused disillusion–a society must have known political liberty.

In regards to Paxtons first 2 stages and our situation in the US.

Are political fascists becoming rooted in political parties that represent major interests and feelings and wield major influence on our political scene?

Is our constitutional system in a state of blockage increasingly insoluble by existing authorities?

Is rapid political mobilization taking place in our society which threatens to escape the control of traditional elites to the point where they would be tempted to look for tough helpers in order to stay in charge?

hemeantwell November 3, 2015 at 7:16 pm

Is rapid political mobilization taking place in our society which threatens to escape the control of traditional elites to the point where they would be tempted to look for tough helpers in order to stay in charge?

I think that's the primary question, and it helps to define what we're facing with the current party system.

It is apparent that both corporate parties are increasingly incapable of properly deflecting and channeling the interests of the electorate. Whether you think of 2007-08 as simply another business cycle, one that was exacerbated by toxic assets, a product of increasing income and wealth disparity, etc. it seems that portions of the electorate have been shocked out of their confidence in the system and the steering capacity of economic and political elites.

This might lead the parties, under the pressure of events, to might reformulate themselves as the political cover of a "government of national unity" that, depending on the extremity of the next downturn, impose a "solidarity from above," blocking the development of popular organizations in a variety of ways. I certainly see this as possible. But treating the parties, or the system itself, as fascist at this point in time is not only not helpful, it is fundamentally disorienting.

Ron November 3, 2015 at 8:05 pm

F* is an ugly word as is all its close relatives, but your definitions are very interesting, and so maybe I've learned some things by reading them. However; by what contrivance did you manage to get any of these pages past the f* who own the internet? It seems I must suspend my disbelief to believe, Freunde von Grund

todde November 3, 2015 at 8:20 pm

I disagree.

In Fascism, corporations were subservient to the State. What we have is the State subservient to Corporations. Also Italian corporatism was more than just business, as a.corporation in Italy can have.non business functions.

tommy strange November 3, 2015 at 8:23 pm

Great post and great comments. Though I wonder why no one has brought up the only way to stop fascism. A militant class based libertarian left. Outside of the ballot box. If a liberal party still 'exists' they will then at least respond to the larger non party real left, just to nullify it's demands. Fascism has never been defeated by the ballot, only by a militant anarchist/socialist left. Or at the least, that 'left' fought back. Liberals rarely have fought back, and most often conceded. How do you do form such? Urban face to face organizing. With direct action and occupation and even organization towards workers' control of manufacturing.

Ishmael November 3, 2015 at 8:53 pm

tommy -Fascism has never been defeated by the ballot, only by a militant anarchist/socialist left.

I believe you should go re-look at history. Fascism has always defeated socialist left. Three examples -- Italy, Germany and Argentina. I welcome an example other wise and if it did how did it end.

visitor November 4, 2015 at 10:57 am

The paramount example is of course Spain, where all left-wing movements (communists, trotskists, anarchists, socialists) were ultimately defeated by fascists despite ferocious fighting.

Synoia November 3, 2015 at 9:48 pm

Mussolini-Style Corporatism, aka Fascism, on the Rise Well Established in the US

Set to Dominate World after TPP, TTIP and TISA ratified.

Keynesian November 3, 2015 at 11:03 pm

Much of Robert Paxton's work has focused on models and definition of fascism.

In his 1998 paper "The Five Stages of Fascism", he suggests that fascism cannot be defined solely by its ideology, since fascism is a complex political phenomenon rather than a relatively coherent body of doctrine like communism or socialism. Instead, he focuses on fascism's political context and functional development. The article identifies five paradigmatic stages of a fascist movement, although he notes that only Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy have progressed through all five:

1.Intellectual exploration, where disillusionment with popular democracy manifests itself in discussions of lost national vigor
2.Rooting, where a fascist movement, aided by political deadlock and polarization, becomes a player on the national stage
3.Arrival to power, where conservatives seeking to control rising leftist opposition invite the movement to share power
4.Exercise of power, where the movement and its charismatic leader control the state in balance with state institutions such as the police and traditional elites such as the clergy and business magnates.
5.Radicalization or entropy, where the state either becomes increasingly radical, as did Nazi Germany, or slips into traditional authoritarian rule, as did Fascist Italy.[4]

In his 2004 book The Anatomy of Fascism, Paxton refines his five-stage model and puts forward the following definition for fascism:

[quote]Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.[5][/quote]

Here is a more contemporary analysis of politics in America using Paxton's model.

[quote]Fascist America: Are We There Yet?
Friday, August 07, 2009 -- by Sara

In the second stage, fascist movements take root, turn into real political parties, and seize their seat at the table of power. Interestingly, in every case Paxton cites, the political base came from the rural, less-educated parts of the country; and almost all of them came to power very specifically by offering themselves as informal goon squads organized to intimidate farmworkers on behalf of the large landowners. The KKK disenfranchised black sharecroppers and set itself up as the enforcement wing of Jim Crow. The Italian Squadristi and the German Brownshirts made their bones breaking up farmers' strikes. And these days, GOP-sanctioned anti-immigrant groups make life hell for Hispanic agricultural workers in the US. As violence against random Hispanics (citizens and otherwise) increases, the right-wing goon squads are getting basic training that, if the pattern holds, they may eventually use to intimidate the rest of us.

Paxton wrote that succeeding at the second stage "depends on certain relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a legitimate governing partner." He further noted that Hitler and Mussolini both took power under these same circumstances: "deadlock of constitutional government (produced in part by the polarization that the fascists abetted); conservative leaders who felt threatened by the loss of their capacity to keep the population under control at a moment of massive popular mobilization; an advancing Left; and conservative leaders who refused to work with that Left and who felt unable to continue to govern against the Left without further reinforcement."

And more ominously: "The most important variables…are the conservative elites' willingness to work with the fascists (along with a reciprocal flexibility on the part of the fascist leaders) and the depth of the crisis that induces them to cooperate."[/quote]

hermes November 4, 2015 at 12:10 am

I think there is something missing from this analysis, having to do with the definition of corporatism itself. I think our contemporary definition of corporatism is rooted in neoliberalism and is actually a far cry from the definition used by the Fascists in forming the Chamber of the Fascist Corporations. Because to them corporatism wasn't simply business interests (which is how we know it today), but (from Wikipedia):

'[was] the sociopolitical organization of a society by major interest groups, or corporate groups, such as agricultural, business, ethnic, labour, military, patronage, or scientific affiliations, on the basis of common interests. It is theoretically based on the interpretation of a community as an organic body. The term corporatism is based on the Latin root word "corpus" (plural – "corpora") meaning "body".'

In other words, corporatism was not only made up of business interests, but all major (and competing) interests within society.

This is not to downplay the importance and absolute seriousness of confronting the increasing absolutism of ruling business interests. It is also not to downplay the historical truth of who ultimately held power in Fascist Italy. But I think it is also important to place Fascism in it's own historical context, and not try to blur historical lines where doing so may be misleading. When Fascists spoke of corporatism they had something else in mind, and it does not help us to blur the distinction.

hemeantwell November 4, 2015 at 8:35 am

Good point, and it raises this question: how can institutional organicity, with its ideological aura of community, partnership, and good old Volkishness, develop when we're talking about corporations that are multinational in scope as well as financialized and thereby even more rootless and and community indifferent? How can organicity develop in the sort of institutional setup foreshadowed by the TPP?

sd November 4, 2015 at 1:09 am

My impression is that today Corporatism more closely represents the interests of multinational corporations and the people who hold executive leadership positions within those companies. What they have in common is a listing on NYSE.

Oregoncharles November 4, 2015 at 1:09 am

Anyone heard from Naomi Wolf lately? She was the most prominent author calling out fascism during the Bush administration, got wide coverage at least on the left. She re-emerged during the Occupy movement, for a little while.

I ask that because, at the time, she said she'd go silent if it looked like people like her (that is, writers/journalists) were being persecuted. Haven't heard from her, at least on this topic, since Obama started prosecuting whistleblowers. Didn't see a farewell, either.

And that leads to a personal question: how safe are our bloggers feeling? Arguably, this site is an exercise in personal courage. Any ugly straws in the wind?

[Nov 02, 2015] The Fatal Blindness of Unrealistic Expectations

Notable quotes:
"... Snowden revealed some outrageous practices and constitutional abuses and the Obama administration - yes the same one that has not managed to bring a single criminal charge against a single senior banker - wants to charge Snowden with espionage. ..."
"... The fact is that Mr Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the US government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them." ..."
Peak Prosperity
cmartenson
Speaking of not having a clear strategy or vision

Snowden revealed some outrageous practices and constitutional abuses and the Obama administration - yes the same one that has not managed to bring a single criminal charge against a single senior banker - wants to charge Snowden with espionage.

It bears repeating; US Bankers committed literally hundreds of thousands of serious felonies and *not one* was ever charged by the Justice Dept. under Obama's two terms.

Recently the White House spokesman said "The fact is that Mr Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the US government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them."

Well, either you believe serious crimes should be prosecuted or you don't.

Pick one.

But to try and be selective about it all just makes one something of a tyrant. Wielding power when and how it suits one's aims instead of equally is pretty much the definition of tyranny (which includes "the unreasonable or arbitrary use of power")

However, the EU has decided to drop all criminal charges against Snowden showing that the US is losing legitimacy across the globe by the day.

EU parliament votes to 'drop any criminal charges' against whistle-blower

The European parliament voted to lift criminal charges against American whistle-blower Edward Snowden on Thursday.

In an incredibly close vote, EU MEPs said he should be granted protection as a "human rights defender" in a move that was celebrated as a "chance to move forward" by Mr Snowden from Russia.

This seems both right and significant. Significant because the US power structure must be seething. It means that the EU is moving away form the US on important matters, and that's significant too. Right because Snowden revealed deeply illegal and unconstitutional practices that, for the record, went waaaaAAaaay beyond the so-called 'meta-data phone records' issue.

And why shouldn't the EU begin to carve their own path? Their interests and the US's are wildly different at this point in history, especially considering the refugee crisis that was largely initiated by US meddling and warmongering in the Middle East.

At this point, I would say that the US has lost all legitimacy on the subject of equal application of the laws, and cannot be trusted when it comes to manufacturing "evidence" that is used to invade, provoke or stoke a conflict somewhere.

The US is now the Yahoo! of countries; cheerleading our own self-described excellence and superiority at everything when the facts on the ground say something completely different.

Quercus bicolor

cmartenson wrote:

Recently the White House spokesman said "The fact is that Mr Snowden committed very serious crimes, and the US government and the Department of Justice believe that he should face them."

And this "serious crime" was committed by Snowden because he saw it as the only viable path to revealing a systematic pattern of crimes by none other than our own federal government that are so serious that they threaten the basic founding principles on which our REPUBLIC was founded.


lambertad

Truth is treason

You know how the old saying goes "truth is treason in the empire of lies". I'm a staunch libertarian, but I wasn't always that way. Before that I spent most of my 20's in Special Operations wanting to 'kill bad guys who attacked us' on 9/11. It wasn't until my last deployment that I got ahold of Dr. Ron Paul's books and dug through them and realized his viewpoint suddenly made much more sense than anyone else's. Not only did it make much more sense, but it was based on Natural Law and the founding principals of our country.

A lot has been made of the fact that Snowden contributed money to Dr. Paul's 2008 presidential campaign and that this was an obvious tell that he was really an undercover (insert whatever words the media used - traitor, anarchist, russian spy, etc.). The part that I find troubling is the fact that Snowden revealed to the world that we are all being watched, probably not in real time, but if they ever want to review the 'tapes' they can see what we do essentially every minute of every day. That's BIG news to get out to the citizenry. If you've got access to that kind of data, you don't want that getting out, but here's the kicker - Very few in this country today even care. Nothing in this country has changed that I'm aware of. GCHQ still spies on us and passes the info to the NSA. The NSA still spys on everyone and the Brits and passes the info to GCHQ. Austrialia and NZ and Canda still spy on whoever and pass the info on to whoever wants it. It's craziness.

At the same time, as Chris and others have pointed out, we're bombing people (ISIS/Al Nusra/AQ) we supported ('moderate rebels) before we bombed them (AQ) after we bombed Sadaam and invaded Iraq. Someone please tell me the strategy other than the "7 countries in 5 years plan". Yup, sounds a lot like Yahoo!.

I'm looking forward to Christmas this year because I get to spend 5 days with my wife's family again. My father-in-law is a smart man, but thinks the government is still all powerful and has everything under control. It should make some interesting conversations and debating.

Thanks for the article Adam, interesting parallel between TPTB and Yahoo!.

[Oct 29, 2015] Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy (4-8)

Sheldon Wolin RIP... This is part 4 of 8 of his interview with Chris Hedges made a year before his death...
Notable quotes:
"... Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was. ..."
"... Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. ..."
"... he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. ..."
"... He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. ..."
"... The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically. ..."
"... the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society. ..."
"... I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. ..."
"... I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. ..."
"... It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow. ..."
"... Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane? ..."
"... The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. ..."
"... given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much. ..."
Oct 29, 2015 | naked capitalism
CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER-PRIZE WINNING JOURNALIST: Welcome back to part four of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and later Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated.

I wanted just to go through and I've taken notes from both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, of the characteristics of what you call inverted totalitarianism, which you use to describe the political system that we currently live under. You said it's only in part a state-centered phenomenon. What do you mean by that?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by that that one of the striking characteristics of our age is the extent to which so-called private institutions, like the media, for example, are able to work towards the same end of control, pacification, that the government is interested in, that the idea of genuine opposition is usually viewed as subversion, and so that criticism now is a category that we should really look at and examine, and to see whether it really amounts to anything more than a kind of mild rebuke at best, and at worst a way of sort of confirming the present system by showing its open-mindedness about self-criticism.

HEDGES: And you said that there's a kind of fusion now of–and you talk a lot about the internal dynamics of corporations themselves, the way they're completely hierarchical, even the extent to which people within corporate structures are made to identify with a corporation on a kind of personal level. Even–I mean, I speak as a former reporter for The New York Times–even we would get memos about the New York Times family, which is, of course, absurd. And you talk about how that value system or that structure of power, coupled with that type of propaganda, has just been transferred to the state, that the state now functions in exactly the same way, the same hierarchical way, that it uses the same forms of propaganda to get people at once to surrender their political rights and yet to identify themselves through nationalism, patriotism, and the lust for superpower itself, which we see now across the political landscape.

WOLIN: Yeah. No, I think that's a very strong element, in fact decisive element in our present situation. There's been a kind of conjuncture between the way that social and educational institutions have shaped a certain kind of mentality among students, among faculty, and so on, and the media itself, that are in lockstep with the requirements of the kind of political economic order that we have now, and that the basic question, I think, has been that we have seen the kind of absorption of politics and the political order into so many nonpolitical categories–of economics, sociology, even religion–that we sort of lost the whole, it seems to me, unique character of political institutions, which is that they're supposed to embody the kind of substantive hopes of ordinary people, in terms of the kind of present and future that they want. And that's what democracy is supposed to be about.

But instead we have it subordinated now to the so-called demands of economic growth, the so-called demands of a kind of economic class that's at home with the sort of scientific and technological advances that are being applied by industry, so that the kind of political element of the ruling groups now is being shaped and to a large extent, I think, incorporated into an ideology that is fundamentally unpolitical, or political in a sort of anti-political way. What I mean by that: it's a combination of forces that really wants to exploit the political without seeking to either strengthen it or reform it in a meaningful way or to rejuvenate it. It sees the political structure as opportunity. And the more porous it is, the better, because the dominant groups have such instrumentalities at their control now in order to do that exploitation–radio, television, newsprint, what have you–that it's the best possible world for them.

HEDGES: You actually cite Nietzsche, saying how prescient Nietzsche was. I think you may have said he was a better prophet than Marx, I think, if I remember correctly, in Politics and Vision, but how Nietzsche understood the disintegration of liberal democracy and the liberal class, and also understood the rise of fundamentalist religion in an age of secularism and how dangerous that was.

WOLIN: Yeah. I think that's–obviously, I think that's true of him, and I think it was very farseeing on his part. He, of course, was not a sympathizer with those development, but he wasn't an ordinary sympathizer, either, with the sort of historical elites, or even current elites, that were either capitalist or nationalistic, as in the case of Germany.

Nietzsche was trying to really retrieve a notion of the value, intrinsic value, of political life. And he found it, however, only comprehensible to him in terms of some kind of dichotomy between elite and mass. And that, I think, was the failing of Nietzsche, because he saw so much in terms of tendencies in our society and culture that would ruin us to democracy and needed to be reformed, but reformed in a way that would promote democracy, but which Nietzsche would inevitably try to turn into vehicles for celebrating or encouraging elite formations. And he simply could not conceive of a society that would be worthwhile in which elites were not given the most prominent and leading role. He just couldn't conceive it. He had the kind of 19th century sort of Hegelian notion that the masses were ignorant, they were intolerant, they were against progress, and all the rest of it. He simply, like so many very good writers in the 19th century, didn't know what to do with the, quote, people.

HEDGES: Including Marx.

WOLIN: No, no. They didn't. They tried to either neutralize them or tried to co-opt them, but they never really tried to understand them.

I think the best–the best political movement, I think, which did try to understand them in a significant way, strangely enough, was the American progressive movement, which was very much rooted in American history, in American institutions, but saw quite clearly the dangers that it was getting into and the need for really significant reform that required democratic means, not elitist means, for their solution, and above all required America to really think carefully about its role in international relations, because he saw that that was a trap and, as an aggressive, dominant role in economic relations, was a trap because of what it required, what it required of the population in terms of their outlook and education and culture, and what it required in the way of elites who could lead those kinds of formations. And I think for that reason he was literally a pessimist about what could happen and he had nowhere to go. He had no great trust in the people, and he had come to distrust the elite. I think in the end he took a kind of view that what elites should do is to hunker down and preserve culture, preserve it in its various manifestations–literature, philosophy, poetry, so on.

HEDGES: But he certainly understood what happened when the state divorced itself from religious authority,–

WOLIN: Oh, yeah.

HEDGES: –that you would see the rise of fundamentalist religious movements in fierce opposition to the secular state, number one; and number two, you would see a frantic effort on the part of the state to sacralize itself.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, now, that's true. It did try to do that. It did that rather -- far less in the United States, but it certainly did it in Germany, and to some degree Italy, but not fully.

... ... ...

HEDGES: You said that in inverted totalitarianism, it is furthered by power holders and citizens who often seem unaware of the deeper consequences of their actions or inactions. What I find interesting about that statement is you say even the power holders don't understand their actions.

WOLIN: Yeah, I don't think they do. I think that's most–I think that's apparent not only in so-called conservative political officeholders, but liberal ones as well. And I think the reason for it isn't far to see. The demands of contemporary political decision-making, that is, actually having to decide things in legislation or executive action in a complex political society and economic society such as ours, in a complex political, economic society such as the world is, make reflection very difficult. They make it extremely difficult. And everybody's caught up in the demands of the moment, and understandably so. It becomes again a kind of game of preservation, of keeping the ship of state afloat, but not really trying seriously to change its direction, except maybe rhetorically.

Now, I think the demands of the world are such now and so dangerous, with the kind of weaponry and resources available to every crank and nut in the world, makes it extremely difficult for governments to relax a moment and think about social order and the welfare of the citizens in some kind of way that's divorced from the security potential of the society.

HEDGES: We'd spoke earlier about how because corporate forces have essentially taken over not only systems of media but systems of education, they've effectively destroyed the capacity within these institutions for critical thinking. And what they've done is educate generation–now probably a couple of generations of systems managers, people whose expertise, technical expertise, revolves around keeping the system, as it's constructed, viable and afloat, so that when there's a–in 2008, the global financial crisis, they immediately loot the U.S. Treasury to infuse a staggering $17 trillion worth of money back into the system. And what are the consequences? We'd spoken earlier about how even the power holders themselves don't often understand where they're headed. What are the consequences of now lacking the ability to critique the system or even understand it? What are the consequences environmentally, economically, in terms of democracy itself, of feeding and sustaining that system of corporate capitalism or inverted totalitarianism?

WOLIN: Well, I think the only question would be what kind of time span you're talking about. I mean, I see the kind of erosion of those institutions that you mention as so continuous that it won't take terribly long before the substance of them is completely hollowed out and that what you will get is institutions which do no longer play the role they were intended to, either role of lawmaking in an independent way or criticism or responsiveness to an electorate, so that I think the consequences are with us already. And of course the turnoff on the part of the voters is just one indication of it, but the level of public discourse is certainly another, so that I see it as a process which now is finding fewer and fewer dissident voices that have a genuine platform and mechanism for reaching people. I don't mean that there aren't people who disagree, but I'm talking about do they have ways of communicating, discussing what the disagreements are about and what can be said about the contemporary situation that needs to be addressed, so that the problem, I think, right now is the problem that the instruments of revitalization are just really in very bad disrepair. And I don't see any immediate prospect of it, because–.

HEDGES: You mean coming from within the system itself.

WOLIN: Coming from within. You know, years ago, say, in the 19th century, it was no ordinary occurrence that a new political party would be formed and that it would make maybe not a dominant effect, but it would certainly influence–as the Progressive Party did–influence affairs. That's no more possible now than the most outlandish scheme you can think of. Political parties are so expensive that I needn't detail the difficulties that would be faced by anyone who tried to organize one.

I think the beautiful example we have today, I just think, fraught with implications, is the Koch brothers' purchase of the Republican Party. They literally bought it. Literally. And they had a specific amount they paid, and now they've got it. There hasn't been anything like that in American history. To be sure, powerful economic interests have influenced political parties, especially the Republicans, but this kind of gross takeover, in which the party is put in the pocket of two individuals, is without precedent. And that means something serious. It means that, among other things, you no longer have a viable opposition party. And while however much many of us may disagree with the Republicans, there is still an important place for disagreement. And now it seems to me that's all gone. It's now become a personal vehicle of two people. And God only knows what they're going to do with it, but I wouldn't hold my breath if you think constructive results are going to follow.

HEDGES: Well, didn't Clinton just turn the Democratic Party into the Republican Party and force the Republican Party to come become insane?

WOLIN: Yeah, it's true. Yeah, I mean, it's true that beginning with the Clinton administration, the Democratic Party has kind of lost its way too.

But I still–maybe it's a hope more than a fact, but I still have the hope that the Democratic Party is still sufficiently loose and sufficiently uncoordinated that it's possible for dissidents to get their voices heard.

Now, it may not last very long, because in order to compete with the Republicans, there will be every temptation for the Democrats to emulate them. And that means less internal democracy, more reliance on corporate funding.

HEDGES: Wouldn't it be fair to say that after the nomination of George McGovern, the Democratic Party created institutional mechanisms by which no popular candidate would ever be nominated again?

WOLIN: Oh, I think that's true. The McGovern thing was a nightmare to the party, to the party officials. And I'm sure they vowed that there would never be anything like it again possible. And, of course, there never has been. And it also means that you lost with that the one thing that McGovern had done, which was to revitalize popular interest in government. And so the Democrats not only killed McGovern; they killed what he stood for, which was more important.

HEDGES: And you saw an echo of that in 2000 when Ralph Nader ran and engendered the same kind of grassroots enthusiasm.

WOLIN: Yeah, he did. He did.

HEDGES: And just as it was the Democratic establishment that virtually, during the presidential campaign, the Connolly Democrats conspired with the Republican Party to destroy, in essence, their own candidate, you saw it was the Democratic Party that destroyed the viability of Nader.

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah, that's true. That's true. The Democrats –- I mean, it's not surprising, because as we've said many times, the Democrats are playing the same game as the Republicans and have a nuance and some historical baggage that compels them to be a little more to the left. But it seems to me that the conditions now in which political parties have to operate, conditions which involve large amounts of money, which involve huge stakes because of the character of the American economy now, which has to be very carefully dealt with, and very cautiously, and given the declining role of America in world affairs, I think that there's every reason to believe that the cautionary attitude of the Democratic Party is emblematic of a new kind of politics where the room for maneuver and the room for staking out significant different positions is shrinking, shrinking very, very much.

Thank you very much. Stay tuned for part five coming up of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Hedges Wolin Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist (1-8)

Notable quotes:
"... In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom. ..."
"... in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesnt rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but dont rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have. ..."
"... I think Webers critique of capitalism is even broader. I think he views it as quintessentially destructive not only of democracy, but also, of course, of the sort of feudal aristocratic system which had preceded it. Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom / m re z/, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And its that -- thats where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while its broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed its also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was. ..."
"... I think the system that was consciously and deliberately constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution -- that democracy was the enemy. ..."
"... the framers of the Constitution understood very well that this would mean -- would at least -- would jeopardize the ruling groups that they thought were absolutely necessary to any kind of a civilized order. And by ruling groups , they meant not only those who were better educated, but those who were propertied, because they regarded property as a sign of talent and of ability, so that it wasnt just wealth as such, but rather a constellation of virtues as well as wealth that entitled capitalists to rule. And they felt that this was in the best interests of the country. ..."
"... in Politics and Vision , as in Democracy Inc. , you talk about the framing of what Dwight Macdonald will call the psychosis of permanent war, this constant battle against communism, as giving capital the tools by which they could destroy those democratic institutions, traditions, and values that were in place. How did that happen? What was the process? ..."
"... I think it happened because of the way that the Cold War was framed. That is, it was framed as not only a war between communism and capitalism, but also a war of which the subtext was that communism was, after all, an ideology that favored ordinary people. Now, it got perverted, theres no question about that, by Lenin and by Stalin and into something very, very different. ..."
"... the plight of ordinary people under the forms of economic organization that had become prominent, the plight of the common people had become desperate. There was no Social Security. There were no wage guarantees. There was no union organization. ..."
"... They were powerless. And the ruling groups, the capitalist groups, were very conscious of what they had and what was needed to keep it going. And thats why figures like Alexander Hamilton are so important, because they understood this, they understood it from the beginning, that what capitalism required in the way not only of so-called free enterprise -- but remember, Hamilton believed very, very strongly in the kind of camaraderie between capitalism and strong central government, that strong central government was not the enemy of capitalism, but rather its tool, and that what had to be constantly kind of revitalized was that kind of relationship, because it was always being threatened by populist democracy, which wanted to break that link and cause government to be returned to some kind of responsive relationship to the people. ..."
"... the governing groups manage to create a Cold War that was really so total in its spread that it was hard to mount a critical opposition or to take a more detached view of our relationship to the Soviet Union and just what kind of problem it created. And it also had the effect, of course, of skewing the way we looked at domestic discontents, domestic inequalities, and so on, because it was always easy to tar them with the brush of communism, so that the communism was just more than a regime. It was also a kind of total depiction of what was the threat to -- and complete opposite to our own form of society, our old form of economy and government. ..."
"... that ideological clash, therefore any restriction of capitalism which was defined in opposition to communism as a kind of democratic good, if you want to use that word, was lifted in the name of the battle against communism, that it became capitalism that was juxtaposed to communism rather than democracy, and therefore this empowered capital, in a very pernicious way, to dismantle democratic institutions in the name of the war on communism. ..."
"... the notion that you first had to, so to speak, unleash the great potential capitalism had for improving everybodys economical lot and the kind of constraints that had been developed not only by the New Deal, but by progressive movements throughout the 19th century and early 20th century in the United States, where it had been increasingly understood that while American economic institutions were a good thing, so to speak, and needed to be nurtured and developed, they also posed a threat. They posed a threat because they tended to result in concentrations of power, concentrations of economic power that quickly translated themselves into political influence because of the inevitably porous nature of democratic representation and elections and rule, so that the difficultys been there for a long time, been recognized for a long time, but we go through these periods of sleepwalking where we have to relearn lessons that have been known almost since the birth of the republic, or at least since the birth of Jeffersonian democracy, that capitalism has its virtues, but it has to be carefully, carefully watched, observed, and often controlled. ..."
therealnews.com

Chris Hedges, whose column is published Mondays on Truthdig, spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent in Central America, the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans. He has reported from more than 50 countries and has worked for The Christian Science Monitor, National Public Radio, The Dallas Morning News and The New York Times, for which he was a foreign correspondent for 15 years. He has written nine books, including "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle" (2009), "I Don't Believe in Atheists" (2008) and the best-selling "American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America" (2008). His book "War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning" (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction.

Transcript

CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Hi. I'm Chris Hedges. And we are here in Salem, Oregon, interviewing Dr. Sheldon Wolin, who taught politics for many years at Berkeley and, later, Princeton. He is the author of several seminal works on political philosophy, including Politics and Vision and Democracy Inc.. And we are going to be asking him today about the state of American democracy, political participation, and what he calls inverted totalitarianism.

So let's begin with this concept of inverted totalitarianism, which has antecedents. And in your great work Politics and Vision, you reach back all the way to the Greeks, up through the present age, to talk about the evolution of political philosophy. What do you mean by it?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. POLITICS EMERITUS, PRINCETON: Well, I mean by it that in the inverted idea, it's the idea that democracy has been, in effect, turned upside down. It's supposed to be a government by the people and for the people and all the rest of the sort of rhetoric we're used to, but it's become now so patently an organized form of government dominated by groups which are only vaguely, if at all, responsible or even responsive to popular needs and popular demands. But at the same time, it retains a kind of pattern of democracy, because we still have elections, they're still relatively free in any conventional sense. We have a relatively free media. But what's missing from it is a kind of crucial continuous opposition which has a coherent position, and is not just saying, no, no, no but has got an alternative, and above all has got an ongoing critique of what's wrong and what needs to be remedied.

HEDGES: You juxtapose inverted totalitarianism to classical totalitarianism -- fascism, communism -- and you say that there are very kind of distinct differences between these two types of totalitarianism. What are those differences?

WOLIN: Well, certainly one is the -- in classic totalitarianism the fundamental principle is the leadership principle and the notion that the masses exist not as citizenry but as a means of support which can be rallied and mustered almost at will by the dominant powers. That's the classical one. And the contemporary one is one in which the rule by the people is enshrined as a sort of popular message about what we are, but which in fact is not really true to the facts of political life in this day and age.

HEDGES: Well, you talk about how in classical totalitarian regimes, politics trumps economics, but in inverted totalitarianism it's the reverse.

WOLIN: That's right. Yeah. In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom.

Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have.

And it's the problem has to do, I think, with the historical relationship between political orders and economic orders. And democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for.

HEDGES: In your book Politics and Vision, you quote figures like Max Weber who talk about capitalism as in fact being a destructive force to democracy.

WOLIN: Well, I think Weber's critique of capitalism is even broader. I think he views it as quintessentially destructive not only of democracy, but also, of course, of the sort of feudal aristocratic system which had preceded it. Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom /ˈmɔːreɪz/, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that -- that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while it's broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed it's also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was.

HEDGES: You talk in the book about about how it was essentially the engine of the Cold War, juxtaposing a supposedly socialist Soviet Union, although like many writers, including Chomsky, I think you would argue that Leninism was not a socialist movement. Adam Ulam talks about it as a counterrevolution, Chomsky as a right-wing deviation. But nevertheless, that juxtaposition of the Cold War essentially freed corporate capitalism in the name of the struggle against communism to deform American democracy.

And also I just want to make it clear that you are very aware, especially in Politics and Vision, of the hesitancy on the part of our founding fathers to actually permit direct democracy. So we're not in this moment idealizing the system that was put in place. But maybe you could talk a little bit about that.

WOLIN: Well, I think that's true. I think the system that was consciously and deliberately constructed by the founders who framed the Constitution -- that democracy was the enemy. And that was rooted in historical realities. Many of the colonial governments had a very strong popular element that became increasingly prominent as the colonies moved towards rebellion. And rebellion meant not only resisting British rule, but also involved the growth of popular institutions and their hegemony in the colonies, as well as in the nation as a whole, so that the original impulses to the Constitution came in large measure from this democratizing movement. But the framers of the Constitution understood very well that this would mean -- would at least -- would jeopardize the ruling groups that they thought were absolutely necessary to any kind of a civilized order. And by "ruling groups", they meant not only those who were better educated, but those who were propertied, because they regarded property as a sign of talent and of ability, so that it wasn't just wealth as such, but rather a constellation of virtues as well as wealth that entitled capitalists to rule. And they felt that this was in the best interests of the country.

And you must remember at this time that the people, so-called, were not well-educated and in many ways were feeling their way towards defining their own role in the political system. And above all, they were preoccupied, as people always have been, with making a living, with surviving. And those were difficult times, as most times are, so that politics for them could only be an occasional activity, and so that there would always be an uneasy relationship between a democracy that was often quiescent and a form of rule which was constantly trying to reduce, as far as possible, Democratic influence in order to permit those who were qualified to govern the country in the best interests of the country.

HEDGES: And, of course, when we talk about property, we must include slaveholders.

WOLIN: Indeed. Indeed. Although, of course, there was, in the beginning, a tension between the northern colonies and the southern colonies.

HEDGES: This fear of direct democracy is kind of epitomized by Thomas Paine, --

WOLIN: Yeah. Yeah.

HEDGES: -- who was very useful in fomenting revolutionary consciousness, but essentially turned into a pariah once the Revolution was over and the native aristocracy sought to limit the power of participatory democracy.

WOLIN: Yeah, I think that's true. I think it's too bad Paine didn't have at his disposal Lenin's phrase "permanent revolution", because I think that's what he felt, not in the sense of violence, violence, violence, but in the sense of a kind of conscious participatory element that was very strong, that would have to be continuous, and that it couldn't just be episodic, so that there was always a tension between what he thought to be democratic vitality and the sort of ordered, structured, election-related, term-related kind of political system that the framers had in mind.

HEDGES: So let's look at the Cold War, because in Politics and Vision, as in Democracy Inc., you talk about the framing of what Dwight Macdonald will call the psychosis of permanent war, this constant battle against communism, as giving capital the tools by which they could destroy those democratic institutions, traditions, and values that were in place. How did that happen? What was the process?

WOLIN: Well, I think it happened because of the way that the Cold War was framed. That is, it was framed as not only a war between communism and capitalism, but also a war of which the subtext was that communism was, after all, an ideology that favored ordinary people. Now, it got perverted, there's no question about that, by Lenin and by Stalin and into something very, very different.

But in the Cold War, I think what was lost in the struggle was the ability to see that there was some kind of justification and historical reality for the appearance of communism, that it wasn't just a freak and it wasn't just a kind of mindless dictatorship, but that the plight of ordinary people under the forms of economic organization that had become prominent, the plight of the common people had become desperate. There was no Social Security. There were no wage guarantees. There was no union organization.

HEDGES: So it's just like today.

WOLIN: Yeah. They were powerless. And the ruling groups, the capitalist groups, were very conscious of what they had and what was needed to keep it going. And that's why figures like Alexander Hamilton are so important, because they understood this, they understood it from the beginning, that what capitalism required in the way not only of so-called free enterprise -- but remember, Hamilton believed very, very strongly in the kind of camaraderie between capitalism and strong central government, that strong central government was not the enemy of capitalism, but rather its tool, and that what had to be constantly kind of revitalized was that kind of relationship, because it was always being threatened by populist democracy, which wanted to break that link and cause government to be returned to some kind of responsive relationship to the people.

HEDGES: And the Cold War. So the Cold War arises. And this becomes the kind of moment by which capital, and especially corporate capital, can dismantle the New Deal and free itself from any kind of regulation and constraint to deform and destroy American democracy. Can you talk about that process, what happened during that period?

WOLIN: Well, I think the first thing to be said about it is the success with which the governing groups manage to create a Cold War that was really so total in its spread that it was hard to mount a critical opposition or to take a more detached view of our relationship to the Soviet Union and just what kind of problem it created. And it also had the effect, of course, of skewing the way we looked at domestic discontents, domestic inequalities, and so on, because it was always easy to tar them with the brush of communism, so that the communism was just more than a regime. It was also a kind of total depiction of what was the threat to -- and complete opposite to our own form of society, our old form of economy and government.

HEDGES: And in Politics and Vision, you talk about because of that ideological clash, therefore any restriction of capitalism which was defined in opposition to communism as a kind of democratic good, if you want to use that word, was lifted in the name of the battle against communism, that it became capitalism that was juxtaposed to communism rather than democracy, and therefore this empowered capital, in a very pernicious way, to dismantle democratic institutions in the name of the war on communism.

WOLIN: Oh, I think there's no question about that, the notion that you first had to, so to speak, unleash the great potential capitalism had for improving everybody's economical lot and the kind of constraints that had been developed not only by the New Deal, but by progressive movements throughout the 19th century and early 20th century in the United States, where it had been increasingly understood that while American economic institutions were a good thing, so to speak, and needed to be nurtured and developed, they also posed a threat. They posed a threat because they tended to result in concentrations of power, concentrations of economic power that quickly translated themselves into political influence because of the inevitably porous nature of democratic representation and elections and rule, so that the difficulty's been there for a long time, been recognized for a long time, but we go through these periods of sleepwalking where we have to relearn lessons that have been known almost since the birth of the republic, or at least since the birth of Jeffersonian democracy, that capitalism has its virtues, but it has to be carefully, carefully watched, observed, and often controlled.

HEDGES: Thank you. Please join us for part two later on with our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Hedges and Wolin (3-8) Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist

Sheldon Wolin RIP... This is part 2 of 8 of his interview with Chris Hedges made a year before his death...
Notable quotes:
"... n all totalitarian societies theres a vast disconnect between rhetoric and reality, which, of course, would characterize inverted totalitarianism as a species of totalitarianism. ..."
"... I think Id probably qualify that, because Id qualify it in the sense that when you look at Naziism and fascism, they were pretty upfront about a lot of things -- leadership principle, racist principles -- and they made no secret that they wanted to dominate the world, so that I think there was a certain kind of aggressive openness in those regimes that I think isnt true of our contemporary situation. ..."
"... And we have, as superpower, exactly replicated in many ways this call for constant global domination and expansion that was part of what you would describe as classical totalitarianism. And that -- youre right, in that the notion of superpower is that its global and that that constant global expansion, which is twinned with the engine of corporate capitalism, is something that you say has diminished the reality of the nation-state itself -- somehow the nation-state becomes insignificant in the great game of superpower global empire -- and that that has consequences both economically and politically. ..."
"... I think one of the important tendencies of our time -- I would say not tendencies, but trends -- is that sovereign governments based on so-called liberal democracy have discovered that the only way they can survive is by giving up a large dose of their sovereignty, by setting up European Unions, various trade pacts, and other sort of regional alliances that place constraints on their power, which they ordinarily would proclaim as natural to having any nation at all, and so that that kind of development, I think, is fraught with all kinds of implications, not the least of [them] being not only whether -- what kind of actors we have now in the case of nation-states, but what the future of social reform is, when the vehicle of that reform has now been sort of transmuted into a system where its lost a degree of autonomy and, hence, its capacity to create the reforms or promote the reforms that people in social movements had wanted the nation-state to do. ..."
"... And part of that surrender has been the impoverishment of the working class with the flight of manufacturing. And I think its in Politics and Vision you talk about how the war that is made by the inverted totalitarian system against the welfare state never publicly accepts the reality that it was the system that caused the impoverishment, that those who are impoverished are somehow to blame for their own predicament. And this, of course, is part of the skill of the public relations industry, the mask of corporate power, which you write is really dominated by personalities, political personalities that we pick. And that has had, I think (I dont know if you would agree), a kind of -- a very effective -- it has been a very effective way by which the poor and the working class have internalized their own repression and in many ways become disempowered, because I think that that message is one that even at a street level many people have ingested. ..."
"... The problem of how to get a foothold by Democratic forces in the kind of society we have is so problematic now that its very hard to envision it would take place. And the ubiquity of the present economic system is so profound (and its accompanied by this apparent denial of its own reality) that it becomes very hard to find a defender of it who doesnt want to claim in the end that hes really on your side. ..."
"... when a underdeveloped part of the world, as theyre called, becomes developed by capitalism -- it just transforms everything, from social relations to not only economic relations, but prospects in society for various classes and so on. No, its a mighty, mighty force. And the problem it always creates is trying to get a handle on it, partly because its so omnipresent, its so much a part of what were used to, that we cant recognize what were used to as a threat. And thats part of the paradox. ..."
"... I think theyre conservative on sort of one side of their face, as it were, because I think theyre always willing to radically change, lets say, social legislation thats in existence to defend people, ordinary people. I think theyre very selective about what they want to preserve and what they want to either undermine or completely eliminate. ..."
"... Thats, of course, the kind of way that the political system presents itself in kind of an interesting way. That is, you get this combination of conservative and liberal in the party system. I mean, the Republicans stand for pretty much the preservation of the status quo, and the Democrats have as their historical function a kind of mild, modest, moderate reformism thats going to deal with some of the excesses without challenging very often the basic system, so that it kind of strikes a wonderful balance between preservation and criticism. The criticism -- because the preservation element is so strong, criticism becomes always constructive, in the sense that it presumes the continued operation of the present system and its main elements. ..."
"... Yeah, political debate has become either so rhetorically excessive as to be beside the point, or else to be so shy of taking on the basic problems. But again youre back in the kind of chasing-the-tail problem. The mechanisms, i.e. political parties, that we have that are supposed to organize and express discontent are, of course, precisely the organs that require the money that only the dominant groups possess. I mean, long ago there were theories or proposals being floated to set up public financing. But public financing, even as it was conceived then, was so miniscule that you couldnt possibly even support a kind of lively political debate in a modest way. ..."
therealnews.com
CHRIS HEDGES, PULITZER PRIZE-WINNING JOURNALIST: Welcome back to part three of our discussion with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

You talk in both of your books, Politics and Vision and Democracy Incorporated, about superpower, which you call the true face of inverted totalitarianism. What is superpower? How do you describe it?

SHELDON WOLIN, PROF. EMERITUS POLITICS, PRINCETON: Well, I think it's important to grasp that superpower includes as one of its two main elements the modern economy. And the modern economy, with its foundations in not only economic activity but scientific research, is always a dynamic economy and always constantly seeking to expand, to get new markets, to be able to produce new goods, and so on. So the superpower's dynamism becomes a kind of counterpart to the character of the modern economy, which has become so dominant that it defines the political forms.

I mean, the first person to really recognize this -- which we always are embarrassed to say -- was Karl Marx, who did understand that economic forms shape political forms, that economic forms are the way people make a living, they're the way goods and services are produced, and they determine the nature of society, so that any kind of government which is responsive to society is going to reflect that kind of structure and in itself be undemocratic, be elitist in a fundamental sense, and have consumers as citizens.

HEDGES: And Marx would also argue that it also defines ideology.

WOLIN: It does. It does define ideology. Marx was really the first to see that ideology had become a kind of -- although there are antecedents, had become a kind of preconceived package of ideas and centered around the notion of control, that it represented something new in the world because you now had the resources to disseminate it, to impose it, and to generally make certain that a society became, so to speak, educated in precisely the kind of ideas you wanted them to be educated in. And that became all the more important when societies entered the stage of relatively advanced capitalism, where the emphasis was upon work, getting a job, keeping your job, holding it in insecure times. And when you've got that kind of situation, everybody wants to put their political beliefs on hold. They don't want to have to agonize over them while they're agonizing over the search for work or worrying about the insecurity of their position. They're understandably preoccupied with survival. And at that point, democracy becomes at best a luxury and at worst simply an afterthought, so that its future becomes very seriously compromised, I think.

HEDGES: And when the ruling ideology is determined by capitalism -- corporate capitalism; you're right -- we have an upending of traditional democratic values, because capitalist values are about expansion, exploitation, profit, the cult of the self, and you stop even asking questions that can bring you into democratic or participatory democracy.

WOLIN: I think that's true to an extent. But I would amend that to say that once the kind of supremacy of the capitalist regime becomes assured, and where it's evident to everyone that it's not got a real alternative in confronting it, that I think its genius is it sees that a certain relaxation is not only possible, but even desirable, because it gives the impression that the regime is being supported by public debate and supported by people who were arguing with other people, who were allowed to speak their minds, and so on. And I think it's when you reach that stage -- as I think we have -- that the problematic relationship between capitalism and democracy become more and more acute.

HEDGES: And yet we don't have anyone within the mainstream who questions either superpower or capitalism.

WOLIN: No, they don't. And I don't think it's -- it may be a question of weakness, but I think -- the problem is really, I think, more sort of quixotic. That is, capitalism -- unlike earlier forms of economic organization, capitalism thrives on change. It presents itself as the dynamic form of society, with new inventions, new discoveries, new forms of wealth, so that it doesn't appear like the old regime -- as sort of an encrusted old fogey type of society. And I think that makes a great deal of difference, because in a certain sense you almost get roles reversed. That is, in the old regime, the dominant powers, aristocracy and so on, want to keep the lid on, and the insurgent democracy, the liberalizing powers, wanted to take the lid off.

But now I think you get it -- as I say, I think you get it kind of reversed, that democracy, it now wants -- in its form of being sort of the public philosophy, now wants to keep the lid on and becomes, I think, increasingly less -- more adverse to examining in a -- through self-examination, and becomes increasingly, I would say, even intolerant of views which question its own assumptions, and above all question its consequences, because I think that's where the real issues lie is not so much with the assumptions of democracy but with the consequences and trying to figure out how we've managed to get a political system that preaches equality and an economic system which thrives on inequality and produces inequality as a matter of course.

HEDGES: Well, in all totalitarian societies there's a vast disconnect between rhetoric and reality, which, of course, would characterize inverted totalitarianism as a species of totalitarianism.

WOLIN: Well, I guess that's true. I think I'd probably qualify that, because I'd qualify it in the sense that when you look at Naziism and fascism, they were pretty upfront about a lot of things -- leadership principle, racist principles -- and they made no secret that they wanted to dominate the world, so that I think there was a certain kind of aggressive openness in those regimes that I think isn't true of our contemporary situation.

HEDGES: And yet in the same time, in those regimes, I mean, you look at Stalin's constitution as a document, it was very liberal, --

WOLIN: Sure.

HEDGES: -- it protected human rights and free speech. And so on the one hand -- at least in terms of civil liberties. And we have, as superpower, exactly replicated in many ways this call for constant global domination and expansion that was part of what you would describe as classical totalitarianism. And that -- you're right, in that the notion of superpower is that it's global and that that constant global expansion, which is twinned with the engine of corporate capitalism, is something that you say has diminished the reality of the nation-state itself -- somehow the nation-state becomes insignificant in the great game of superpower global empire -- and that that has consequences both economically and politically.

WOLIN: Well, I think it does. I think one has to treat the matter carefully, because a lot of the vestiges of the nation-states still are, obviously, in existence. But I think one of the important tendencies of our time -- I would say not tendencies, but trends -- is that sovereign governments based on so-called liberal democracy have discovered that the only way they can survive is by giving up a large dose of their sovereignty, by setting up European Unions, various trade pacts, and other sort of regional alliances that place constraints on their power, which they ordinarily would proclaim as natural to having any nation at all, and so that that kind of development, I think, is fraught with all kinds of implications, not the least of [them] being not only whether -- what kind of actors we have now in the case of nation-states, but what the future of social reform is, when the vehicle of that reform has now been sort of transmuted into a system where it's lost a degree of autonomy and, hence, its capacity to create the reforms or promote the reforms that people in social movements had wanted the nation-state to do.

HEDGES: And part of that surrender has been the impoverishment of the working class with the flight of manufacturing. And I think it's in Politics and Vision you talk about how the war that is made by the inverted totalitarian system against the welfare state never publicly accepts the reality that it was the system that caused the impoverishment, that those who are impoverished are somehow to blame for their own predicament. And this, of course, is part of the skill of the public relations industry, the mask of corporate power, which you write is really dominated by personalities, political personalities that we pick. And that has had, I think (I don't know if you would agree), a kind of -- a very effective -- it has been a very effective way by which the poor and the working class have internalized their own repression and in many ways become disempowered, because I think that that message is one that even at a street level many people have ingested.

WOLIN: Yeah. I think you're right about that. The problem of how to get a foothold by Democratic forces in the kind of society we have is so problematic now that it's very hard to envision it would take place. And the ubiquity of the present economic system is so profound (and it's accompanied by this apparent denial of its own reality) that it becomes very hard to find a defender of it who doesn't want to claim in the end that he's really on your side.

Yeah, it's a very paradoxical situation. And I don't know. I mean, I think we all have to take a deep breath and try to start from scratch again in thinking about where we are, how we get there, and what kind of immediate steps we might take in order to alter the course that I think we're on, which really creates societies which, when you spell out what's happening, nobody really wants, or at least not ordinary people want. It's a very strange situation where -- and I think, you know, not least among them is, I think, the factor that you suggested, which is the kind of evaporation of leisure time and the opportunities to use that for political education, as well as kind of moral refreshment. But, yeah, it's a really totally unprecedented situation where you've got affluence, opportunity, and so on, and you have these kinds of frustrations, injustices, and really very diminished life prospects.

HEDGES: You agree, I think, with Karl Marx that unfettered, unregulated corporate capitalism is a revolutionary force.

WOLIN: Oh, indeed. I think it's been demonstrated even beyond his wildest dreams that it -- yeah, you're just -- you just have to see what happens when a underdeveloped part of the world, as they're called, becomes developed by capitalism -- it just transforms everything, from social relations to not only economic relations, but prospects in society for various classes and so on. No, it's a mighty, mighty force. And the problem it always creates is trying to get a handle on it, partly because it's so omnipresent, it's so much a part of what we're used to, that we can't recognize what we're used to as a threat. And that's part of the paradox.

HEDGES: You take issue with this or, you know, point out that in fact it is a revolutionary force. And yet it is somehow, as a political and economic position, the domain of people as self-identified conservatives.

WOLIN: Yeah, it is. I think they're conservative on sort of one side of their face, as it were, because I think they're always willing to radically change, let's say, social legislation that's in existence to defend people, ordinary people. I think they're very selective about what they want to preserve and what they want to either undermine or completely eliminate.

That's, of course, the kind of way that the political system presents itself in kind of an interesting way. That is, you get this combination of conservative and liberal in the party system. I mean, the Republicans stand for pretty much the preservation of the status quo, and the Democrats have as their historical function a kind of mild, modest, moderate reformism that's going to deal with some of the excesses without challenging very often the basic system, so that it kind of strikes a wonderful balance between preservation and criticism. The criticism -- because the preservation element is so strong, criticism becomes always constructive, in the sense that it presumes the continued operation of the present system and its main elements.

HEDGES: Of both corporate capitalism and superpower.

WOLIN: Absolutely.

HEDGES: And yet you say that at this point, political debate has really devolved into what you call nonsubstantial issues, issues that don't really mean anything if we talk about politics as centered around the common good.

WOLIN: Yeah, political debate has become either so rhetorically excessive as to be beside the point, or else to be so shy of taking on the basic problems. But again you're back in the kind of chasing-the-tail problem. The mechanisms, i.e. political parties, that we have that are supposed to organize and express discontent are, of course, precisely the organs that require the money that only the dominant groups possess. I mean, long ago there were theories or proposals being floated to set up public financing. But public financing, even as it was conceived then, was so miniscule that you couldn't possibly even support a kind of lively political debate in a modest way.

You know, politics has become such an expensive thing that I think really the only way to describe it realistically is to talk about it as a political economy or an economic kind of political economy. It's got those -- those two are inextricable elements now in the business of the national or state governments, too.

HEDGES: And yet I think you could argue that even the Democratic Party under Clinton and under Obama, while it continues to use the rhetoric of that kind of feel-your-pain language, which has been part of the Democratic establishment, has only furthered the agenda of superpower, of corporate capitalism, and, of course, the rise of the security and surveillance state by which all of us are kept in check.

WOLIN: Yeah, I think that's true, because the reformers have simply hesitated -- really, really hesitated -- to undertake any kind of a focus upon political reform.

HEDGES: Haven't the reformers been bought off, in essence?

WOLIN: I think it's the no-no subject. I don't think it even has to be bought off anymore. I think that it is such a kind of third rail that nobody wants to touch it, because I think there is a real in-built fear that if you mess with those kind of so-called fundamental structures, you're going to bring down the house. And that includes messing with them even by constitutional, legal means, that it's so fragile, so delicate, so this that and the other thing that inhibit all kinds of efforts at reforming it. As the phrase used to go, it's a machine that goes of itself -- so they think.

HEDGES: Thank you.

Stay tuned for part four, coming up, of our interview with Professor Sheldon Wolin.

[Oct 29, 2015] Sheldon Wolin's the reason I began drinking coffee

Sheldon Wolin RIP -- Wolin's Politics and Vision, which remains to this day the single best book on Western political theory
Notable quotes:
"... In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. ..."
"... Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. ..."
"... democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for. ..."
"... Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom, mores, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that–that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. ..."
Oct 28, 2015 | coreyrobin.com

Sheldon Wolin's the reason I began drinking coffee.

I was a freshman at Princeton. It was the fall of 1985. I signed up to take a course called "Modern Political Theory." It was scheduled for Mondays and Wednesdays at 9 am. I had no idea what I was doing. I stumbled into class, and there was a man with white hair and a trim white beard, lecturing on Machiavelli. I was transfixed.

There was just one problem: I was-still am-most definitely not a morning person. Even though the lectures were riveting, I had to fight my tendency to fall asleep. Even worse, I had to fight my tendency to sleep in.

So I started-- drinking coffee. I'd show up for class fully caffeinated. And proceeded to work my way through the canon-Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, along with some texts you don't often get in intro theory courses (the Putney Debates, Montesquieu's Persian Letters, and for a last hurrah: Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations)-under the guidance of one of the great readers of the twentieth century.

More than anything else, that's what Sheldon Wolin was: a reader of texts. He approached The Prince as if it were a novel, identifying its narrative voice, analyzing the literary construction of the characters who populated the text (new prince, customary prince, centaur, the people), examining the structural tensions in the narrative (How does a Machiavellian adviser advise a non-Machiavellian prince?), and so on. It was exhilarating.

And then after class I'd head straight for Firestone Library; read whatever we were reading that week in class; follow along, chapter by chapter, with Wolin's Politics and Vision, which remains to this day the single best book on Western political theory that I know of (even though lots of the texts we were talking about in class don't appear there, or appear there with very different interpretations from the ones Wolin was offering in class: the man never stood still, intellectually); and get my second cup of coffee.

This is all a long wind-up to the fact that this morning, my friend Antonio Vazquez-Arroyo, sent me a two-part interview that Chris Hedges conducted with Wolin, who's living out in Salem, Oregon now. From his Wikipedia page, I gather that Wolin's 92. He looks exactly the same as he did in 1985. And sounds the same. Though it seems from the video as if he may now be losing his sight. Which is devastating when I think about the opening passages of Politics and Vision, about how vision is so critical to the political theorist and the practice of theoria.

Anyway, here he is, talking to Hedges about his thesis of "inverted totalitarianism":

In classic totalitarianism, thinking here now about the Nazis and the fascists, and also even about the communists, the economy is viewed as a tool which the powers that be manipulate and utilize in accordance with what they conceive to be the political requirements of ruling. And they will take whatever steps are needed in the economy in order to ensure the long-run sustainability of the political order. In other words, the sort of arrows of political power flow from top to bottom.

Now, in inverted totalitarianism, the imagery is that of a populace which is enshrined as the leadership group but which in fact doesn't rule, but which is turned upside down in the sense that the people are enshrined at the top but don't rule. And minority rule is usually treated as something to be abhorred but is in fact what we have. And it's the problem has to do, I think, with the historical relationship between political orders and economic orders. And democracy, I think, from the beginning never quite managed to make the kind of case for an economic order that would sustain and help to develop democracy rather than being a kind of constant threat to the egalitarianism and popular rule that democracy stands for.

… ... ...

Capitalism is destructive because it has to eliminate the kind of custom, mores, political values, even institutions that present any kind of credible threat to the autonomy of the economy. And it's that–that's where the battle lies. Capitalism wants an autonomous economy. They want a political order subservient to the needs of the economy. And their notion of an economy, while it's broadly based in the sense of a capitalism in which there can be relatively free entrance and property is relatively widely dispersed it's also a capitalism which, in the last analysis, is [as] elitist as any aristocratic system ever was.

Have a listen and a watch. Part 1 and then Part 2.

Pt 1-8 Hedges & Wolin Can Capitalism and Democracy Coexist

Pt 2:

see also

[Oct 28, 2015] Guest Post Inequality Undermines Democracy

There is a strong evidence to suggest that representative democracy is not compatible with deep economic inequality. As a recent study found, "politicians in OECD countries maximize the happiness of the economic elite." However, it was not always that way: In the past, left parties represented the poor, the center and the middle class. Now all the parties benefit the richest 1& of earners. As FDR warned, "Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob."
Notable quotes:
"... politicians in OECD countries maximize the happiness of the economic elite ..."
"... In the past, left parties represented the poor, the center and the middle class. Now all the parties benefit the richest 1 percent of earners, Jimenez reports. ..."
"... politician's bias toward the rich has reduced real social spending per capita by 28 percent on average ..."
"... the rich are more likely to oppose spending increases, support budget cuts and reject promoting the welfare state - the idea that the government should ensure a decent standard of living. ..."
"... What f*cking democracy in the land of the free? Its a fascist, police state run by a troika of the MIC, Wall Street and Spooks. ..."
"... The secret collaboration of the military, the intelligence and national security agencies, and gigantic corporations in the systematic and illegal surveillance of the American people reveals the true wielders of power in the United States. ..."
"... The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media. -- William Colby, former CIA Director ..."
"... Paul Craig Roberts had a great take on this a while back. He pointed out that unions used to have significant political influence because of their financial resources. Democrats by and large sought their backing, and had to toe the line. Now, not so much. So, he observed, both parties began seeking out contributions from the same oligarchs. Even if you hate unions, it is a valid observation. ..."
Zero Hedge

Guest Post: Inequality Undermines Democracy

Authored by Sean McElwee, originallyu posted at AlJazeera.com,

In recent years, several academic researchers have argued that rising inequality erodes democracy. But the lack of international data has made it difficult to show whether inequality in fact exacerbates the apparent lack of political responsiveness to popular sentiment. Even scholars concerned about economic inequality, such as sociologist Lane Kenworthy, often hesitate to argue that economic inequality might bleed into the political sphere. New cross-national research, however, suggests that higher inequality does indeed limit political representation.

In a 2014 study on political representation, political scientists Jan Rosset, Nathalie Giger and Julian Bernauer concluded, "In economically more unequal societies, the party system represents the preferences of relatively poor citizens worse than in more equal societies." Similarly, political scientists Michael Donnelly and Zoe Lefkofridi found in a working paper that in Europe, "Changes in overall attitudes toward redistribution have very little effect on redistributive policies. Changes in socio-cultural policies are driven largely by change in the attitudes of the affluent, and only weakly (if at all) by the middle class or poor." They find that when the people get what they want, it's typically because their views correspond with the affluent, rather than policymakers directly responding to their concerns.

In another study of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, researcher Pablo Torija Jimenez looked at data in 24 countries over 30 years. He examined how different governmental structures influence happiness across income groups and found that today "politicians in OECD countries maximize the happiness of the economic elite." However, it was not always that way: In the past, left parties represented the poor, the center and the middle class. Now all the parties benefit the richest 1 percent of earners, Jimenez reports.

In a recent working paper, political scientist Larry Bartels finds the effect of politician's bias toward the rich has reduced real social spending per capita by 28 percent on average. Studying 23 OECD countries, Bartels finds that the rich are more likely to oppose spending increases, support budget cuts and reject promoting the welfare state - the idea that the government should ensure a decent standard of living.

JustObserving

What f*cking democracy in the land of the free? It's a fascist, police state run by a troika of the MIC, Wall Street and Spooks.

JustObserving

Who rules America?

The secret collaboration of the military, the intelligence and national security agencies, and gigantic corporations in the systematic and illegal surveillance of the American people reveals the true wielders of power in the United States. Telecommunications giants such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint, and Internet companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Twitter, provide the military and the FBI and CIA with access to data on hundreds of millions of people that these state agencies have no legal right to possess.

Congress and both of the major political parties serve as rubber stamps for the confluence of the military, the intelligence apparatus and Wall Street that really runs the country. The so-called "Fourth Estate"-the mass media-functions shamelessly as an arm of this ruling troika.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/06/10/pers-j10.html

Snowden's documents revealed that the NSA spies on everyone:

The most extraordinary passage in the memo requires that the Israeli spooks "destroy upon recognition" any communication provided by the NSA "that is either to or from an official of the US government."

It goes on to spell out that this includes "officials of the Executive Branch (including the White House, Cabinet Departments, and independent agencies); the US House of Representatives and Senate (members and staff); and the US Federal Court System (including, but not limited to, the Supreme Court)."

The stunning implication of this passage is that NSA spying targets not only ordinary American citizens, but also Supreme Court justices, members of Congress and the White House itself. One could hardly ask for a more naked exposure of a police state.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/13/surv-s13.html

"The Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any significance in the major media." -- William Colby, former CIA Director

LetThemEatRand

Paul Craig Roberts had a great take on this a while back. He pointed out that unions used to have significant political influence because of their financial resources. Democrats by and large sought their backing, and had to toe the line. Now, not so much. So, he observed, both parties began seeking out contributions from the same oligarchs. Even if you hate unions, it is a valid observation.

LetThemEatRand
I get your point and I'm not your downvote, but in my view the MSM has hijacked the issue of "inequality." The real issue is the oligarch class that has more wealth than half the country. We were a successful, functioning society when we had a middle class. There were rich people, poor people, and a whole lot in between. And it's the whole lot in between that matters. The minimum wage is a distraction. The two big issues are loss of manufacturing base and offshoring in general, and financialization of the economy (in large part due to Fed policy).

LetThemEatRand

...A big part of the "inequality" discussion is equal application of law. I recall when TARP was floated during the W administration, the public of all persuasions was against it. Congress passed it anyway, because of Too Big to Fail. TBTF should not be a liberal or conservative issue. Likewise, the idea that no bankers went to jail is an issue of "inequality." The laws do not apply equally to bankers. And the same with Lois Lerner. She intentionally sent the IRS to harass political groups based upon ideology. She got off scott free. Inequality again.

MASTER OF UNIVERSE

Inequality does not undermine democracy because democracy does not really exist. Faux democracy is actually Totalitarianism under the guise of 'democracy'. In brief, democracy is just a word that has been neutered, and bastardized too many times to count as anything real, or imagined.

They should name a new ice cream DEMOCRACY just for FUN.

[Oct 28, 2015] The Senate, ignorant on cybersecurity, just passed a bill about it anyway

Notable quotes:
"... a spying bill that essentially carves a giant hole in all our privacy laws and allows tech and telecom companies to hand over all sorts of private information to intelligence agencies without any court process whatsoever. ..."
"... Make no mistake: Congress has passed a surveillance bill in disguise, with no evidence it'll help our security. ..."
"... They were counting on nobody paying much attention. Didnt you hear somebody got killed on Walking Dead? Whos got time to talk about boring nonsense like a Congressional bill? ..."
"... Inverse totalitarianism. Read Sheldon Wolin. Were sliding down the slippery slope. ..."
"... On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate voted 74 to 21 to pass a version of CISA that roughly mirrors legislation passed in the House earlier this year, paving the way for some combined version of the security bill to become law. ..."
www.theguardian.com

This is the state of such legislation in this country, where lawmakers wanted to do something but, by passing Cisa, just decided to cede more power to the NSA

Under the vague guise of "cybersecurity", the Senate voted on Tuesday to pass the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (Cisa), a spying bill that essentially carves a giant hole in all our privacy laws and allows tech and telecom companies to hand over all sorts of private information to intelligence agencies without any court process whatsoever.

Make no mistake: Congress has passed a surveillance bill in disguise, with no evidence it'll help our security.

eminijunkie 28 Oct 2015 17:34

Being competent requires work. Actual work.

You can't honestly say you expected them to do actual work, now can you?

david wright 28 Oct 2015 13:44

'The Senate, ignorant on cybersecurity, just passed a bill about it anyway '

The newsworthy event would be the Senate's passage of anything, on the basis of knowledge or serious reflection, rather than $-funded ignorance. The country this pas few decades has been long on policy-based evidence as a basis for law, rather than evidence-based policy. Get what our funders require, shall be the whole of the law.

Kyllein -> MacKellerann 28 Oct 2015 16:49

Come ON! You are expecting COMPETENCE from Congress?
Wake up and smell the bacon; these people work on policy, not intelligence.

VWFeature -> lostinbago 28 Oct 2015 13:37

Bravo!

"...There is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. ... Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government, from their carelessness and negligence, I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct; that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing." -- Daniel Webster, June 1, 1837

"If once [the people] become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, Judges and Governors, shall all become wolves. It seems to be the law of our general nature, in spite of individual exceptions." -- Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787

lostinbago -> KhepryQuixote 28 Oct 2015 12:09

We became the enemy when the people started attacking the Military Industrial Corporate complex and trying to regain our republic from the oligarchs.

lostinbago 28 Oct 2015 12:07

Congress: Where Catch 22 melds with Alice in Wonderland

Phil429 28 Oct 2015 11:44

we now have another law on the books that carves a hole in our privacy laws, contains vague language that can be interpreted any which way, and that has provisions inserted into it specifically to prevent us from finding out how they're using it.

They were counting on nobody paying much attention. Didn't you hear somebody got killed on Walking Dead? Who's got time to talk about boring nonsense like a Congressional bill?

guardianfan2000 28 Oct 2015 08:53

This vote just showed the true colors of the U. S. Government,...that being a total disregard for all individuals' privacy rights.

newbieveryday 28 Oct 2015 02:11

Inverse totalitarianism. Read Sheldon Wolin. We're sliding down the slippery slope. Who's going to be der erster Fuehrer? David Koch?

Triumphant George -> alastriona 27 Oct 2015 18:55

From elsewhere:

On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate voted 74 to 21 to pass a version of CISA that roughly mirrors legislation passed in the House earlier this year, paving the way for some combined version of the security bill to become law.

CISA still faces some hurdles to becoming law. Congressional leaders will need to resolve remaining differences between the bills passed in the Senate and the House.

President Obama could also still veto CISA, though that's unlikely: The White House endorsed the bill in August, an about-face from an earlier attempt at cybersecurity information sharing legislation known as CISPA that the White House shut down with a veto threat in 2013.

--"CISA Security Bill Passes Senate With Privacy Flaws Unfixed", Wired

[Oct 24, 2015] Snowden NSA, GCHQ Using Your Phone to Spy on Others (and You)

that's pretty superficial coverage. Capabilities of smartphone mike are pretty limited and by design it is try to suppress external noise. If your phone is in the case microphone will not pick up much. Same for camera. Only your GPS location is available. If phone is switched off then even this is not reality available. I think the whole ability to listen from the pocket is overblown. There is too much noice to make this practical on the current level of development of technology. At the same time I think just metadata are enough to feel that you are the constant surveillance.
Notable quotes:
"... the most part intelligence agencies are not really looking to monitor your private phone communications per se. They are actually taking over full control of the phone to take photos or record ongoing conversations within earshot. ..."
"... According to Snowden, the UK's spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, uses NSA technology to develop software tools to control almost anyone's smartphone. He notes that all it takes is sending an encrypted text message to get into virtually any smartphone. Moreover, the message will not be seen by the user, making it almost impossible to stop the attack. ..."
"... Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com . ..."
Oct 15, 2015 | The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity
You are a tool of the state, according to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The NSA in the U.S., and its equivalent in the UK, GCHQ, are taking control of your phone not just to spy on you as needed, but also to use your device as a way to spy on others around you. You are a walking microphone, camera and GPS for spies.

Snowden, in a BBC interview, explained that for the most part intelligence agencies are not really looking to monitor your private phone communications per se. They are actually taking over full control of the phone to take photos or record ongoing conversations within earshot.

According to Snowden, the UK's spy agency, the Government Communications Headquarters, uses NSA technology to develop software tools to control almost anyone's smartphone. He notes that all it takes is sending an encrypted text message to get into virtually any smartphone. Moreover, the message will not be seen by the user, making it almost impossible to stop the attack.

GCHQ calls these smartphone hacking tools the "Smurf Suite." The suite includes:

Snowden said the NSA has spent close to $1 billion to develop these smartphone hacking programs.

Reprinted with permission from WeMeantWell.com.

[Oct 21, 2015] Andrew Bacevich A Decade of War

May 15, 2012 | YouTube

Qeis Kamran 1 year ago

I just love Prof. Bacevic. Nobody has more credit then him on the subject. Not only for his unmatched scholarship and laser sharp words, but moreover for the unimaginable personal loss. He is my hero!!!!

Boogie Knight 1 year ago

How many sons did the NeoCon-Gang sacrifice in their instigated Wars in foreign lands....? Not one. Bacevich lost his son who was fighting in Iraq in 2007 - for what?!

Yet the NeoCon warcriminals Billy Cristol, Wolfowitz and/or Elliott Abrams are all still highly respected people that the US media/political elite loves to consult - in 2014!

[Oct 21, 2015] The End of American Exceptionalism with Andrew J. Bacevich - November 7, 2013

An excellent explanation of the key postulates of Neoconservatism.
Notable quotes:
"... We need to reexamine what it means to be free. A moral reorientation of the country as Carter suggested in 1979. Bacevich says it isnt ever going to happen. ..."
Nov 7, 2003 | YouTube
Phil Anderson
Excellent as always. Lecture by Bacevich starts around 13:42.
Wendell Fitzgerald
We need to reexamine what it means to be free. A moral reorientation of the country as Carter suggested in 1979. Bacevich says it isn't ever going to happen.

[Oct 21, 2015] CIA chief's emails exposed Key things we learned from WikiLeaks' Brennan dump

Notable quotes:
"... A 2007 draft position paper on the role of the intelligence community in the wake of the 9/11 attacks shows that Brennan was already aware that numerous federal agencies – the FBI, CIA, NSA, Defense Department and Homeland Security – "are all engaged in intelligence activities on US soil." He said these activities "must be consistent with our laws and reflect the democratic principles and values of our Nation." ..."
"... Brennan added that the president and Congress need "clear mandates" and "firm criteria" to determine what limits need to be placed on domestic intelligence operations. When it comes to situations beyond US borders, Brennan said sometimes action must be taken overseas "to address real and emerging threats to our interests," and that they may need to be done "under the cover of secrecy." He argued that many covert CIA actions have resulted in "major contributions" to US policy goals. ..."
"... "enhanced interrogation" ..."
"... Some of the techniques Bond suggested that Congress ban included: forcing the detainee to be naked; forcing them to perform sexual acts; waterboarding; inducing hypothermia; conducting mock executions; and depriving detainees of food, water, or medical care. ..."
"... "Limitations on Interrogation Techniques Act of 2008." ..."
"... The bill prohibited the use of many of the same techniques listed in the previous document, though it was not passed. Ultimately, President Obama issued an executive order banning officials from using techniques not in the Army Field Manual. ..."
Oct 21, 2015 | RT USA

US government 'engaged' in spying activities on US soil

Debate over torture restrictions

Bond's suggestions get a bill

[Oct 21, 2015] The CIA director was hacked by a 13-year-old, but he still wants your data

Notable quotes:
"... With a properly run service provider, neither the helpdesk drones nor the admin staff should be able to see any user's password, which should be safely stored in an encrypted form. ..."
"... This is a turf war between bureaucrats who are born incompetent. The NSA has been increasing its share of budgetary largesse while the CIA and other security units have each been fighting to keep up. Politicians, being bureaucrats themselves, engage in the turf war. To them its all great fun. ..."
"... Lets be clear: it is very hard to see how blanket surveillance of American citizens is beneficial to American citizens. It tips over the power balance between government and citizen - it is undemocratic. It is unAmerican. ..."
"... It would be funny if it wasnt for the fact that the kid will most likely regret this for the rest of his life and nothing will change for Government or Brennan. ..."
"... Ive said it before and Ill say it again: incompetence is the main bulwark against tyranny. So let us be grateful for John Brennan. ..."
www.theguardian.com

Paul C. Dickie 20 Oct 2015 12:32

With a properly run service provider, neither the helpdesk drones nor the admin staff should be able to see any user's password, which should be safely stored in an encrypted form.

AmyInNH -> NigelSafeton 21 Oct 2015 11:59

You seriously underestimate the technical incompetence of the federal government. They buy on basis of quantity of big blue arrows, shown on marketing slideware.

Laudig 21 Oct 2015 05:31

This is great. This man is a serial perjurer to Congress. Which does eff-all about being lied to [they lie to everyone and so don't take offense at being lied to] and now he's hacked by a 13 year-old who, until a few weeks ago was protected by the The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998.
Well done, CIA or whatever you are.

So your well constructed career gets collapsed by someone who is still in short pants. The Age of Secrets is over now.

Stieve 21 Oct 2015 02:54

Er, why has no-one mentioned, why has there been no press coverage, why has not a single presidential candidate been asked to comment on the fact that The USA has been the victim of a military coup?

All pretence of government oversight has been dropped. The NSA, CIA and most likely every other arm of the "intelligence service" have simply taken over the elected government, ripped up The Constitution and transformed The US into a police state. Seven thousand people disappeared in Chigaco? Exactly why have there not been massive arrests of these Stasi? Or riots on the streets? Exactly why has there not been an emergency session of The Senate or Congress to find out why Chicago is being run like an Eastern Bloc dictatorship? Exactly why are police departments been given military hardware designed to be used by an occupying army?
I'll tell you exactly why.

Because The US actually has been taken over

Glenn J. Hill 21 Oct 2015 01:28

LOL, the Head of the CIA put sensitive info on an personal AOL ACCOUNT !!!!! What an total idiot. Just proves the " Peter Principle", that one gets promoted to one`s point of incompetent!

Can he be fired ? Locked up for gross stupidity ?? Will he come hunting for me, to take me out for pointing out his asinine stupidity ??

Fnert Pleeble -> Robert Lewis 20 Oct 2015 23:42

Congressmen are self motivating. They want the gravy train to continue. The carrot is plenty big, no need for the stick.

Buckworm 20 Oct 2015 21:51

Those old, tired, incompetent, ignorant, trolls are asking for more and more access to citizens data based on the assumption that they can catch a terrorist or another type of psycho before they act out on something. Don't they realize that so far, after 15 years of violating the citizen's constitutional rights, they HAVE NEVER CAUGHT not even ONE single person under their illegal surveillance.

This is the problem: they think that terrorists are as stupid as they are, and that they will be sending tons of un-encrypted information online- and that sooner or later they will intercept that data and prevent a crime. How many times have they done so? Z E RO . They haven't realized that terrorists and hackers are waaaaayyy ahead of them and their ways of communicating are already beyond the old-fashioned government-hacked internet. I mean, only a terrorist as stupid as a government employee would think of ever sending something sensitive through electronic communications of any kind - but the government trolls still believe that they do or that sooner or later they will!! How super-beyond-stupid is that? Congress??

Don't even talk about that putrid grotesque political farce - completely manipulated by the super-rich and heated up by the typical white-trash delusional trailer park troll aka as the "tea party". We've had many killing in the homeland after 9/11 - not even one of them stopped by the "mega-surveillance" - and thousands committed by irresponsible and crooked cops - and this will continue until America Unites and fight for their constitutional rights. That will happen as soon as their priority is not getting the latest iPhone with minimal improvement, spends endless hours playing candy crush,stand in long lines to buy pot, get drunk every evening and weekends, and cancel their subscription to home-delivered heroin and cocaine. So don't hold your breath on that one.

Wait until one of those 13-yr old gets a hold of nuclear codes, electric grid codes, water supply or other important service code - the old government farts will scream and denounce that they could have prevented that if they had had more surveillance tools - but that is as false as the $3 dollar bills they claim to have in their wallets. They cannot see any further from their incompetence and ignorance.

Robert Lewis -> Giants1925 20 Oct 2015 18:38

Did the FSB cook data so the US would invade Iraq and kill 1,000,000 civilians?

yusowong 20 Oct 2015 18:20

This is a turf war between bureaucrats who are born incompetent. The NSA has been increasing its share of budgetary largesse while the CIA and other security units have each been fighting to keep up. Politicians, being bureaucrats themselves, engage in the turf war. To them it's all great fun.

Triumphant -> George Giants1925 20 Oct 2015 14:41

Are you saying that because you aren't in a concentration camp, everything's pretty good? That's a pretty low bar to set.

Most people probably didn't vote for your current leader. To compare, in the UK, only 37% of the popular vote went for the current government. And once you leader is voted in, they pretty much do as they please. Fortunately, there are checks and balances which are supposed to prevent things getting out of control. Unfortunately, bills like the cybersecurity bill are intend to circumvent these things.

Let's be clear: it is very hard to see how blanket surveillance of American citizens is beneficial to American citizens. It tips over the power balance between government and citizen - it is undemocratic. It is unAmerican.


Red Ryder -> daniel1948 20 Oct 2015 14:16

The whole freakin government is totally incompetent when it comes to computers and the hacking going on around this planet. Hillary needs to answer for this email scandal but currently she is making jokes about it as if nothing happened. She has no clue when she tried to delete her emails. Doesn't the government know that this stuff is backed up on many computers and then stored it a tape vault somewhere. Hiding emails is a joke today.

mancfrank 20 Oct 2015 13:27

It would be funny if it wasn't for the fact that the kid will most likely regret this for the rest of his life and nothing will change for Government or Brennan.

Giants1925 20 Oct 2015 12:53

I still don't understand why Russia is allowed to have the FSB but the US is forbidden from having the CIA. Who makes these rules again? Because frankly I'm tired of the world being run by popular opinion.


bcarey 20 Oct 2015 12:33

The bill is so bad that the major tech companies like Google and Amazon all came out against it last week, despite the fact that it would give them broad immunity for sharing this information with the government.

The usual show... "We're totally against it, but it's okay."


Donald Mintz 20 Oct 2015 12:02

I've said it before and I'll say it again: incompetence is the main bulwark against tyranny. So let us be grateful for John Brennan.

[Oct 14, 2015] Security farce at Datto Inc that held Hillary Clintons emails revealed by Louise Boyle & Daniel Bates

Notable quotes:
"... But its building in Bern Township, Pennsylvania, doesn't have a perimeter fence or security checkpoints and has two reception areas ..."
"... Dumpsters at the site were left open and unguarded, and loading bays have no security presence ..."
"... It has also been reported that hackers tried to gain access to her personal email address by sending her emails disguised parking violations which were designed to gain access to her computer. ..."
"... a former senior executive at Datto was allegedly able to steal sensitive information from the company's systems after she was fired. ..."
Oct 13, 2015 | Daily Mail Online

Datto Inc has been revealed to have stored Hillary Clinton's emails - which contained national secrets - when it backed up her private server

The congressional committee is focusing on what happened to the server after she left office in a controversy that is dogging her presidential run and harming her trust with voters.

In the latest developments it emerged that hackers in China, South Korea and Germany tried to gain access to the server after she left office. It has also been reported that hackers tried to gain access to her personal email address by sending her emails disguised parking violations which were designed to gain access to her computer.

Daily Mail Online has previously revealed how a former senior executive at Datto was allegedly able to steal sensitive information from the company's systems after she was fired.

Hackers also managed to completely take over a Datto storage device, allowing them to steal whatever data they wanted.

Employees at the company, which is based in Norwalk, Connecticut, have a maverick attitude and see themselves as 'disrupters' of a staid industry.

On their Facebook page they have posed for pictures wearing ugly sweaters and in fancy dress including stereotypes of Mexicans.

Its founder, Austin McChord, has been called the 'Steve Jobs' of data storage and who likes to play in his offices with Nerf guns and crazy costumes.

Nobody from Datto was available for comment.

[Oct 13, 2015] Hillary Clintons private server was open to low-skilled-hackers

Notable quotes:
"... " That's total amateur hour. Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this" -- ..."
"... The government and security firms have published warnings about allowing this kind of remote access to Clinton's server. The same software was targeted by an infectious Internet worm, known as Morta, which exploited weak passwords to break into servers. The software also was known to be vulnerable to brute-force attacks that tried password combinations until hackers broke in, and in some cases it could be tricked into revealing sensitive details about a server to help hackers formulate attacks. ..."
"... Also in 2012, the State Department had outlawed use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers without a waiver. It had banned all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers or servers located overseas. ..."
"... The findings suggest Clinton's server 'violates the most basic network-perimeter security tenets: Don't expose insecure services to the Internet,' said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity. ..."
"... The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal government's guiding agency on computer technology, warned in 2008 that exposed server ports were security risks. It said remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections. ..."
Daily Mail Online

Investigation by the Associated Press reveals that the clintonemail.com server lacked basic protections

... ... ...

Clinton's server, which handled her personal and State Department correspondence, appeared to allow users to connect openly over the Internet to control it remotely, according to detailed records compiled in 2012.

Experts said the Microsoft remote desktop service wasn't intended for such use without additional protective measures, and was the subject of U.S. government and industry warnings at the time over attacks from even low-skilled intruders.

.... ... ...

Records show that Clinton additionally operated two more devices on her home network in Chappaqua, New York, that also were directly accessible from the Internet.

" That's total amateur hour. Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this" -- Marc Maiffret, cyber security expert

'That's total amateur hour,' said Marc Maiffret, who has founded two cyber security companies. He said permitting remote-access connections directly over the Internet would be the result of someone choosing convenience over security or failing to understand the risks. 'Real enterprise-class security, with teams dedicated to these things, would not do this,' he said.

The government and security firms have published warnings about allowing this kind of remote access to Clinton's server. The same software was targeted by an infectious Internet worm, known as Morta, which exploited weak passwords to break into servers. The software also was known to be vulnerable to brute-force attacks that tried password combinations until hackers broke in, and in some cases it could be tricked into revealing sensitive details about a server to help hackers formulate attacks.

'An attacker with a low skill level would be able to exploit this vulnerability,' said the Homeland Security Department's U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team in 2012, the same year Clinton's server was scanned.

Also in 2012, the State Department had outlawed use of remote-access software for its technology officials to maintain unclassified servers without a waiver. It had banned all instances of remotely connecting to classified servers or servers located overseas.

The findings suggest Clinton's server 'violates the most basic network-perimeter security tenets: Don't expose insecure services to the Internet,' said Justin Harvey, the chief security officer for Fidelis Cybersecurity.

Clinton's email server at one point also was operating software necessary to publish websites, although it was not believed to have been used for this purpose.

Traditional security practices dictate shutting off all a server's unnecessary functions to prevent hackers from exploiting design flaws in them.

In Clinton's case, Internet addresses the AP traced to her home in Chappaqua revealed open ports on three devices, including her email system.

Each numbered port is commonly, but not always uniquely, associated with specific features or functions. The AP in March was first to discover Clinton's use of a private email server and trace it to her home.

Mikko Hypponen, the chief research officer at F-Secure, a top global computer security firm, said it was unclear how Clinton's server was configured, but an out-of-the-box installation of remote desktop would have been vulnerable.

Those risks - such as giving hackers a chance to run malicious software on her machine - were 'clearly serious' and could have allowed snoops to deploy so-called 'back doors.'

The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology, the federal government's guiding agency on computer technology, warned in 2008 that exposed server ports were security risks.

It said remote-control programs should only be used in conjunction with encryption tunnels, such as secure VPN connections.

[Oct 13, 2015] Soviet Spying on US Selectric Typewriters

NSA fairy take, attempt to repair post-Snowden reputation ?
"... I stopped reading at NSA personnel demonstrated a tremendous capacity for hard work. They also exhibited deep dedication to the mission . ..."
"... This is clearly a bureaucratese interpretation of the events which, while not necessarily inaccurate, is tailored to claim the maximum possible credit and glory for the NSA and to cast aspersions on the readiness or cooperativeness of their organizational rivals in State and CIA. ..."
"... The whole document does not ring true in of its self, let alone before you start comparing it to other information that is now known from that time and earlier. ..."
"... It has been joked in the past that the Russians never really had to bother recruiting moles in the CIA and US military because The US Gave it away . Allen Dullas and his relatives were indirectly responsible for much of the leakage by putting way to much belief in direct force[1] and being more than hostile to the scientific and technical staff. So much so that it is known that often the scientific and technical work was carried out by the cash strapped British and passed back. ..."
Oct 12, 2015 | Schneier on Security
In the 1980s, the Soviet Union bugged the IBM Selectric typewriters in the US Embassy in Moscow. This NSA document discusses how the US discovered the bugs and what we did about it. Codename is GUNMAN.

Is this the world's first keylogger? Maybe.

Bob S.October 12, 2015 9:43 AM

On the other hand,

I am absolutely certain I read the Russian government ordered thousands of old fashioned electric typewriters, maybe from Germany, after the Snowden Revelations. I suppose even today some kind of electronic transmitter could be fitted to typewriters.

I wonder how that relates to the conveniently released NSA document?

So then, manual typewriter and trusted courier? (wax seal?)

Let's face it, on a governmental level anything truly serious and/or secret shouldn't be prepared or communicated on electronics. That seems to be a given anymore.

Conversely, hundreds of millions of people are now exposed to massive corporate-government-criminal spying and surveillance for their personal business (think bank and credit cards), medical records, personal data and recreational communications.

ps: Anyone noticing a the new, special privacy notices going up on major websites? Why is that?

blakeOctober 12, 2015 10:09 AM

@Daniele
I was going to post the same beautiful post-Snowden irony, but you beat me to it.

Instead I'll share these:
> "To the best of NSA's knowledge, the Soviets did not interfere with any of the equipment that was shipped to the embassy or returned to Fort Meade." (Pages 7-8)

So *either* the op went perfectly, *or else* went really badly, and there's no way to be sure. And:

> "The true nature of the GUNMAN project was successfully masked from most embassy employees"

Equivalently, the true nature of the op was not successfully masked from all embassy employees.

I stopped reading at "NSA personnel demonstrated a tremendous capacity for hard work. They also exhibited deep dedication to the mission".

Slime Mold withMustardOctober 12, 2015 11:45 AM

On page 25, the document mentions that the led to incident led to National Security Decision Directive Number 145 , part of which was the formation of the System Security Steering Group consisting of the Secretary of State , Secretary of Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the Attorney General, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and the Director of Central Intelligence. If it still exists, I guess they were meeting in a suburban New York basement.

The theme of the entire piece is bureaucratic infighting, and (@ blake is right), self-congratulatory.

Ribbit • October 12, 2015 12:30 PM

I remember reading a similar story in the press back in the 1970s wherein the Soviets had managed to read the French diplomatic mission's traffic by planting a bug in their teletypes, which had been sent to Moscow by land without an accompanying guard. Why waste time attacking the crypto when you can get yourself direct access to the clear text...

IIRC, the device was said to be hidden in an capacitor which had a bit too many wires coming out.

I kind of remember that the new US embassy building in Moscow was so hopelessly riddled with bugs cast right into the concrete, that the tenant refused to move into the new premises.

The security at the construction US Embassy in Berlin inaugurated a few years ago was visibly much better than it must have been in Moscow, the site was quite visibly guarded like a fortress. They probably didn't want to see what THEY were installing...

I'm a bit surprised that the host country's electrical supply was used in the Embassy, I would have thought that paranoid security people would have installed a motor-generator group to provide isolation and also obtain 120/60Hz power from the public supply, which in Russia is 50Hz and not 60Hz like the report states.

It's not clear why GUNMAN should have been kept very secret, as the eavesdroppers must have wisened up relatively quickly that the embassy's equipment was being replaced wholesale. Was the NSA trying to secrecy in order to reuse the technique on its own targets?

Renato • October 12, 2015 2:47 PM

From the text: "As a totalitarian society, the Soviet Union valued eavesdropping and thus developed ingenious methods to accomplish it."

Made me laugh... :)

Ray Dillinger • October 12, 2015 3:15 PM

This is clearly a bureaucratese interpretation of the events which, while not necessarily inaccurate, is tailored to claim the maximum possible credit and glory for the NSA and to cast aspersions on the readiness or cooperativeness of their organizational rivals in State and CIA.

That said, it's good reading. Comic in some places and informative in others.

If you want security from electronic bugs built into your machinery, you pretty much have to use manual machinery. Which, post-Snowden, the Russians apparently do. They did not get electric typewriters, they got manual typewriters. The kind that keep right on working when there's no power to plug into. The kind in which ANY wire or battery or a chip showing up on an x-ray would definitely be an indication of something wrong. The kind where the plaintext can usually be recovered with some effort from an audio recording of the typing being done....

Tatütata • October 12, 2015 3:49 PM

@tyr:

" My favorite scam was the mini-cam in every Xerox that photoed every document you copied and was collected by the serviceman who also reloaded the camera. "

Modern multi-function devices combine a scanner back-to-back with a laser printer. How do I know that this document I am simply copying on a Brother or Xerox machine isn't stored and eventually sent on?

If printers mark documents with hidden watermarks [on what legal basis?] and scanners have logic for recognising certain dot patterns on bank notes [again, on what legal basis?], surely one could sneak in code to identify and collect interesting stuff, if the CPU horsepower is there?

On a Canon scanner I once had much difficulty in scanning a perfectly innocent document -- not a bank note or other financial instrument -- , but the damn thing kept resetting on a certain page. I eventually figured by selectively masking out parts of the page that something on the page was accidentally triggering the hidden code.

My Brother professional home office FAX/Scanner/Printer/Copier doesn't seem to have any memory than it strictly needs for the job. And for good measure, my firewall router is configured prevents it from making any outside calls.

But at my former job, the high volume and high speed Xerox machine had a hard disk mounted inside, and in addition had a card reader to read employee badges. People actually got tracked and punished for merely scanning sensitive documents showing management turpitude.

Justin • October 12, 2015 10:06 PM

@Tatütata

But at my former job, the high volume and high speed Xerox machine had a hard disk mounted inside, and in addition had a card reader to read employee badges. People actually got tracked and punished for merely scanning sensitive documents showing management turpitude.

If you can actually build a case showing "management turpitude," and it's successful, that's one thing, but you've got to expect that any large company would like to maintain control over "sensitive documents." (They don't tend to hire people who "know too much" in the first place.)

Ruufs • October 13, 2015 5:51 AM

The breathless schoolgirl prose is funny and sad. Not hard to imagine a retired Russian typewriter "repairman" reading it aloud to a colleague and saying "Wait, it gets better!"

Really, what's embarrassing about this is the high school writing style and the facile analysis.

"How I got to the White House and the story of our outwitting the extraordinarily clever Soviets (after a tipoff)" by Nancy Drew.

All seems very kindergartenlike now. So the US was incapable of keeping this secret, incapable of exploiting the discovery, relied on a foreign source in the first place, had lousy operational security and asset management, and couldn't organise an edit of this gushing, self-congratulatory piffle. LOL is the word.

It's a selfie before its time, and there's a connection all the way to Keith Alexander's holodeck. And to Snowden for that matter. Superheroes in the mirror and a conviction of the enemy's inferiority. There's a lot to be said for self-doubt, putting oneself in the shoes of the other and testing assumptions. The national aversion to this in the self-proclaimed "Greatest country in the world" is remarkable. Hubris as a security weakness has a long history.

Bob S.October 13, 2015 7:42 AM

@Ray

The Russians did indeed buy old fashioned ELECTRIC typewriters:

"German-made Triumph Adler Twen 180 typewriters were popular in the late '80s and early '90s"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/10173645/Kremlin-returns-to-typewriters-to-avoid-computer-leaks.html

However, not to be outdone, in 2014 the Germans were thinking about really old fashioned MANUAL typewriters after the Merkel revelations:

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/15/germany-typewriters-espionage-nsa-spying-surveillance

One thing is clear Five Eyes sees anything electronic as a bonafide target whether it's grandma's flip phone or Russian intelligence services.

If it was me, and I wanted to make sure something did not go wild, I would not use any electronic device to prepare or communicate the information.

In turn, I would pump white noise by the ton into the rf world. How about a trillion cat pictures per...day...or hour?

albert October 13, 2015 10:47 AM

Very clever stuff from those '2nd-rate' Russkis.

"If you can't know your enemy, don't underrate him."

The paper mentions the number of typewriters required for the embassy was 250! The place must have been awash in paper. This has to be much more than the number of people assigned there. Talk about information overload.
Something tells me that there was a lot of BS being thrown around, or the US personnel were getting tons of Soviet data from somewhere.
Can someone explain this?

I'm assuming that the bugs transmitted 'over air', rather than over the power lines, which raises the question: how did the Soviets receive this data?

Other questions:

Did the Embassy have draconian power line filtering? At minimum, it should be installed at the service entrance, and at each sensitive electrical device.

OT. What about those powerful microwave beams the Soviets blasted at the Embassy? Were they for spying purposes, or just to make folks sick (which they did)?../OT

Did the US use any ECM systems there?

MarkOctober 13, 2015 3:03 PM

Something is fishy here... When I was in college I bought a used I/O Selectric typewriter (one with an RS232 EBCIDIC nterface). During Christmas break in 1978 I brought it home to my father's house and showed it to him. He had retired a decade earlier as colonel in military intelligence. He mentioned that they were forbidden to use Selectrics. A COMSEC officer had demonstrated to them that one could decode the typing from the sound that the mechanism made.

I had a KIM-1 microcomputer board with me at the time... a 1 kB, 6502 processor demo board. I spent a couple of days and hacked together a program that used the cassette tape interface on the KIM-1 as an input and proved that it was rather easy and reliable to do.

So why would our embassies be using Selectrics in the 1980's when it was well known that they were quite insecure as far back as the late 1960's?

Clive Robinson • October 13, 2015 5:45 PM

@ Nick P,

The whole document does not ring true in of it's self, let alone before you start comparing it to other information that is now known from that time and earlier.

Makes you wonder if it might have been some elaborate deception... If it was you then have to think "Who would fall for this 'steaming pile'?", to which the obvious answer would be a long term idiot sitting on an oversight committee.

You only have to look back at the Berlin Tunnel Attack --Operation Stopwatch / Gold-- that the UK and US carried out on Russia. The Russian KGB knowing it was going on via the mole George Blake made only tiny changes to the traffic that went down the cable, thus the bulk of the traffic was genuine but not strategic. With it is suspected some false information injected by the KGB to waste the Western IC time.

Then at a politically sensitive time the Russian's "discover" the tunnel and tell the world all about it along with photographs etc.

What has never been explained is that George Blake knew about the TEMPEST attacks around the Russia Cipher machines, that enabled the British to read the "faint ghost of plaintext" direct from the cables thus not having to attempt any cryptanalysis.

Presumably as Blake told the KGB about the tunnel, he also told them about the TEMPEST attacks, why then even after the tunnel was investigated and the British made "technical equipment" for the attacks had been captured and examined did the Russian cipher equipment at fault and still leaking plaintext continue in use for some very considerable time thereafter...

Arguably neither the US or Russians were any good at responding to EmSec issues in their own equipment even though both clearly knew the equipment was faulty. Whilst the British and Canadians however spent considerable time and effort removing the "plaintext ghost" from their Rockex super encipherment and similar equipment.

It has been joked in the past that the Russians never really had to bother recruiting moles in the CIA and US military because "The US Gave it away". Allen Dullas and his relatives were indirectly responsible for much of the leakage by putting way to much belief in direct force[1] and being more than hostile to the scientific and technical staff. So much so that it is known that often the scientific and technical work was carried out by the cash strapped British and passed back.

[1] He was known to espouse the belief that all wars could be stopped with a single bullet. Or as more normally called "Political Assassination". It can be easily shown that both Russia and Israel likewise believe in this, with Putin having pushed through legislation to make it legal and thus ensure protection for the assassins.

MarkOctober 13, 2015 6:48 PM

Ribbit,

My Selectric was an IBM I/O Selectric. It was part of their SER program (special engineering request). Basically an OEM custom machine that they would not support, repair, touch. I bought it to use as a typewriter for school ($600, with service manual). It used standard type balls and had a 150 baud RS232 port that spoke EBCIDIC. Since IBM repair people would not touch it and independent repair shops were pretty much useless I had to learn how to maintain the beast... oh for the love of hooverometers...

DEC machines could talk to it directly. The reason I had brought it home over Christmas was to work on building a replacement circuit board for it that would turn it into a standard ASCII terminal. My board used a 6502 to drive it. It had a large buffer so that you could send 300 baud data to it (the fastest that standard modems would work at in those days). Worked quite well. It paid for itself printing out peoples term papers and dissertations. Word processors and letter quality printers were practically non-existent at the time.

One guy got into a pissing match with his dissertation advisor who would not approve his dissertation unless he made a bunch of rather picayune changes. Changes rather obviously made to cause him to miss a deadline. Well, he edited his text (on a CDC-6600) and we spent the night re-printing all 200 pages. The poor advisor never knew what hit him...

[Oct 10, 2015] Forums and bulleting board users are watched by GCHQ

Oct 10, 2015 | marknesop.wordpress.com
Warren , September 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm

et Al , September 26, 2015 at 4:23 am

A top-secret GCHQ document from March 2009 reveals the agency has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale. It shows a sample search in which the agency was extracting data from cookies containing information about people's visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, and the Reuters news website.

Other websites listed as "sources" of cookies in the 2009 document (see below) are Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress, Amazon, and sites operated by the broadcasters CNN, BBC, and the U.K.'s Channel 4.

…A top-secret GCHQ document from March 2009 reveals the agency has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale. It shows a sample search in which the agency was extracting data from cookies containing information about people's visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, and the Reuters news website.

Other websites listed as "sources" of cookies in the 2009 document (see below) are Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress, Amazon, and sites operated by the broadcasters CNN, BBC, and the U.K.'s Channel 4…
###

And I bet the Guardian too as it is 'the world's most widely read new site'. They probably keep automatic tabs on this site considering how it has grown over the last couple of years.

I do wonder though, with all those stories about those thousands of Kremlin controlled Russian trolls on British news websites, whether some of this comes from carefully massaged data from GCHQ through third parties to the Pork Pie News Networks via 'unnamed sources', i.e. the usual bollox.

May I suggest to fellow commenters here, if at any point you loose your smart phone (etc.) just call GCHQ and they'll tell you where you left it. I wonder if they provide a data back up service?!

et Al, September 26, 2015 at 4:48 am

…The agency operates a bewildering array of other eavesdropping systems, each serving its own specific purpose and designated a unique code name, such as: …and INFINITE MONKEYS, which analyzes data about the usage of online bulletin boards and forums…

…Authorization is "not needed for individuals in the U.K.," another GCHQ document explains, because metadata has been judged "less intrusive than communications content." All the spies are required to do to mine the metadata troves is write a short "justification" or "reason" for each search they conduct and then click a button on their computer screen…

…When compared to surveillance rules in place in the U.S., GCHQ notes in one document that the U.K. has "a light oversight regime."

The more lax British spying regulations are reflected in secret internal rules that highlight greater restrictions on how NSA databases can be accessed. The NSA's troves can be searched for data on British citizens, one document states, but they cannot be mined for information about Americans or other citizens from countries in the Five Eyes alliance….
#####

It's just what is expected from the junior in the US/UK relationship. For the UK to retain privileged access to the US' global spy network, it needs to give the US what it wants, a way to circumvent the US' own laws. Dial back to when Gary Powers & his U-2 were shot down over the Soviet Union. All subsequent overflights by US manned and operated aircraft were prohibited, so, the US used British pilots and Canberras.

Once you understand the relationship and the goals that they have, you can work backwards and make fairly good conclusions about what tools would be required and used to get to those conclusions and try not think whether they are legal or not. What people can do to protect themselves is a) don't change most of your digital habits (as this would raise a flag); b) just don't do or say obvious things that you wouldn't do in real life in your digital life; c) use encryption such as PGP for email and products using perfect forward secrecy for chat/etc.; d) don't write about what not to do on the Internet as I have just done! ;)

The most disturbing thing about it all is that it puts us one step away from a totalitarian system. All that is required is a political decision. All the tools are in place and depending on how much information they have actually kept they can dip in to it at any time throughout your life as a rich source of blackmail, probably via third parties. It's not exactly threatening to send you to a concentration camp (or disappeared to one of Britain's (and others) many small overseas territories, but it is total control.

If the European economy completely crashes and mass instability ensues (or whatever), then the politicians will be told, or even ask, "What tools do we have to control this?".
Forget about 'checks and balances' – they're the first thing to be thrown out of the window in an emergency. Arbeit macht frei!

et Al , September 26, 2015 at 9:52 am

This should be a massive story as the parliamentary security committee gave the intelligence services a 'clean bill of health' not so long ago.

Since then, they've lost intelligence 'yes man' Malcolm Rifkind to an expenses scandal so the make up of the committee has changed a bit.

What it does show is that we cannot even trust the gatekeepers (above) who are give very limited info from the security services.

And let us not forget the dates that this occurred under a Labor administration and continued under a Conservative-Liberal Democrat and now a Conservative one.

It will be interesting to see if this story gains any traction, though I suspect that it will be much bigger outside of the UK, at least initially,

The cat is, again, out of the bag!

marknesop , September 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm

GCHQ and the CIA are in bed with one another, and have been for years. This might be a timely occasion to mention once again that both are capable of hacking into smartphones by all leading manufacturers; in the case of the IPhone the CIA uses a program application called Dropout Jeep.

We can thank Edward Snowden for that; the NSA spying scandal revealed a great deal more than just the information the CIA is snooping on your phone calls and collecting information on everyone. As the second reference relates, the CIA also diverted laptops ordered online so that government spyware could be installed on them. Intelligence agencies are determined that citizens shall have no privacy whatsoever. You might as well assume they are watching everything you do and listening to everything you say. Give the window the finger at random times just in case, and slip embarrassing revelations on the sexual proclivities of intelligence agents into your telephone conversations.

Canada's Blackberry was once safe, but GCHQ broke that. So now there is no smartphone that is private, except maybe for Russia's YotaPhone. Probably not that either, though, since it is sold in the USA, and if they couldn't break into the phone they would just hack the carrier. And the Canadian government bought all of its Secure Telephone Units (STU) from the NSA, so say no more about the "security" of those.

A few companies, like Silent Circle, pitch a privacy phone like the Blackphone, but it originates in the USA and everyone's paranoia has become so acute that the instant suspicion is they are telling you it is more private just because it is wired straight to the NSA. You can't believe anyone any more.

[Oct 03, 2015] Fascism and Neoconservative Republicans

"... A Fascist is one who believes in a corporatist society. In other words, it is a political philosophy embodying very strong central government, with the authority to move in decisive steps to accomplish goals. It would be characterized by a unity of purpose, with more or less all the levels of the hierarchy in unison, starting at the top and working down. It is a top-down government involving an alliance of industry, military, media and a political party. ..."
"... It is interesting to note that at least two of the three Parties had origins as Socialist and morphed into strong, Right Wing, authoritarian rules as a result largely of expediency. ..."
"... As soon as they took power, which they did partially through gangs and mobs, intimidation and demonstrations and-in Mussolini's case an outright coup - they allied themselves with the biggest corporations and the military general staff. In addition, even before taking complete power, they began to wrest control of the media away from other political parties, and to use it for their own propaganda. ..."
"... Hitler's "Big Lie" basically blamed rampant inflation and lack of jobs on the Jews. He blamed all their economic ills on the restraint of Germany by other nations and the presumed taking over of German lands (which they themselves had only won through aggressive wars.) ..."
"... In a fascist system, the whole idea is to have an efficient method of getting things done. If you want to build an "autobahn" you simply tell the transportation minister to get started. You control everything at every level. It will go faster because it is for the good of all the people, so no one will have the right to object or interfere. It is, Fascists would say, about efficiency, getting things done for the people. ..."
"... You attack other countries so that they cannot attack you. You start wars (Iraq) to prevent dangerous men from attacking you. It makes sense. Military efficiency in a Fascist state means that if the top guy (President or Dictator) wants to be absolutely certain that no other country is superior, he can build up the military industry and the military at any pace or at any cost. ..."
"... Everyone salutes and follows the lead from the top down ..."
"... In a Fascist state, policy is largely being written through a cooperative effort with the industries involved, in this case the health care industry. The slow, ragged, messy and Democratic process involved with our current health care reform process would never happen under a Fascist government. Whatever the decision, there would be no appeal. If a million or fifty million were left out, because, let's say, that the President needed more money for war machines that would be the decision- with no question or appeal. ..."
"... Republicans, remember, have the complete support of Fox News, the Fox television Network, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and any number of television stations around the country, plus somewhere between 600 and 1600 radio stations ..."
"... The Neocons are out of power, but they are unrelenting in their efforts to control as much of the political discourse as possible, no matter how damaging to society. They bring mobs and riff-raff out, some with guns, trying to scare the average citizen. They send messages out over radio with lunatic commentators, some who are not even allowed to visit other countries because of their hate speech…yet we tolerate it. ..."
March 25, 2010 | Populist Daily
The word "Fascist" as with the terms "Socialist" and "Communist" are thrown around a lot by people who have no idea what they mean. If you want to know what those terms really mean, find someone who was in some branch of military counterintelligence, the CIA, the security section of the State Department, Defense Intelligence, or in the FBI.

In all those areas, the first day of basic training involves comparative forms of government. You can't spot a Communist if you don't know what a Communist is. You can't tell the difference between a Communist and a Fascist unless you know the difference in the two systems. It is Intelligence, and more specifically, Counterintelligence 101.

So, let's go right to Fascism. A Fascist is one who believes in a corporatist society. In other words, it is a political philosophy embodying very strong central government, with the authority to move in decisive steps to accomplish goals. It would be characterized by a unity of purpose, with more or less all the levels of the hierarchy in unison, starting at the top and working down. It is a top-down government involving an alliance of industry, military, media and a political party.

Because Fascism has been associated with the 1930s German Nazis, the Italian Fascists under Mussolini and the Falangists, under the Spanish Dictator, Francisco Franco, the term "Fascist" has taken on a sinister meaning. Not fewer than 10 million direct deaths resulting from the rule of these three may have something to do with it. On the other hand, philosophies don't kill people; people kill people.

It is interesting to note that at least two of the three Parties had origins as Socialist and morphed into strong, Right Wing, authoritarian rules as a result largely of expediency. It is also interesting to note that all three were not only intimately connected to the largest industrial corporations, but as soon as possible with the military leadership. While Fascism as a political philosophy is not innately evil, given the results, it is worth noting how things turned out.

Both the German and the Italian Fascist parties were also both revolutionary and conservative at the same time. Both Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini were aggressive, anarchic leaders. Both served time in jail. Both served in the enlisted ranks with the military in war. Both used that experience to organize mobs of thugs to agitate against an established government, not for a more democratic regime, but for a more authoritarian one. You can begin to see some similarities with contemporary political activities.

As soon as they took power, which they did partially through gangs and mobs, intimidation and demonstrations and-in Mussolini's case an outright coup - they allied themselves with the biggest corporations and the military general staff. In addition, even before taking complete power, they began to wrest control of the media away from other political parties, and to use it for their own propaganda.

Once they had control of the radio and newspapers, which were then the prominent sources of information, they could begin to broadcast their messages. Hitler's "Big Lie" basically blamed rampant inflation and lack of jobs on the Jews. He blamed all their economic ills on the restraint of Germany by other nations and the presumed taking over of German lands (which they themselves had only won through aggressive wars.)

But let's for a minute assume that we know nothing about Fascism except that it exists. We have a group, here in America that believes in a corporatist political philosophy. What would that look like? If it were a true Fascist organization, they would ally themselves with big corporations, like the health care industry, oil and mining, pharmaceuticals, media corporations and the military-industrial complex.

They would try to control the message, particularly in radio and television. They would become as closely allied with the top military brass as possible, offering them a seat at the table in the running of the economy. Retired Generals would be assured of positions involved with military hardware and strategic planning.

And what about the people? In a fascist system, the whole idea is to have an efficient method of getting things done. If you want to build an "autobahn" you simply tell the transportation minister to get started. You control everything at every level. It will go faster because it is for the good of all the people, so no one will have the right to object or interfere. It is, Fascists would say, about efficiency, getting things done for the people.

Defense is about protecting the people. You attack other countries so that they cannot attack you. You start wars (Iraq) to prevent dangerous men from attacking you. It makes sense. Military efficiency in a Fascist state means that if the top guy (President or Dictator) wants to be absolutely certain that no other country is superior, he can build up the military industry and the military at any pace or at any cost.

In a Fascist state the idea is to have one set of rules, coming from the top down. No one votes as an individual, only as a part of the group that is assigned a task. It is corporate, total-totalitarian. So, if you decide that a national health care program is not right for the country, you all vote against it in a totally militaristic way. Everyone salutes and follows the lead from the top down. The only problem is when you do not have a strong leader.

The Democrats, for example, want to farm decisions out to others, let the opposition have their input. It slows the process. A Fascist health care program would be one decided upon by the President, discussed and worked out with the corporations, mandated to his staffs and enacted without any discussion or public debate in a matter of a few months.

In a Fascist state, policy is largely being written through a cooperative effort with the industries involved, in this case the health care industry. The slow, ragged, messy and Democratic process involved with our current health care reform process would never happen under a Fascist government. Whatever the decision, there would be no appeal. If a million or fifty million were left out, because, let's say, that the President needed more money for war machines that would be the decision- with no question or appeal.

So, if you want efficiency, you not only should you look to the Republicans, but you may have no choice. The Republicans, remember, have the complete support of Fox News, the Fox television Network, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and any number of television stations around the country, plus somewhere between 600 and 1600 radio stations on which literally 9 out of 10 commentators are paid by those network owners to be Conservative (Neoconservative Republican.) They have expanded to very large numbers of web site bases, delivering whatever type of information they want, truth, lies, anything in between… accusations without proof…Socialist, Communist, government takeover of this or that…no need to be truthful. It is all propaganda.

Just as Herr Goebbels and Mussolini did in the 1930s-and except in the Communist counties and a few Latin American dictatorships there hasn't been anything to speak of similar to this in the Western advanced societies since then-the unchallenged message of the Right Wing goes out. The radio commentators today get their message from the top, from the Republican Party. Fox News Channel internal memos have shown that they literally decide what policies the Republican Party wished to champion, and then they attack rather than merely delivering the news.

So do we need to be civil about it-about these lies? Is it important to challenge people, like these Right Wing commentators who tell you that your current health care is sufficient? It is good for corporations, for health care insurance companies. But is it good for you not to be sure you can get health insurance? So if they tell you that something is a government takeover and it is not, so you vote against health care or you respond to a poll in a way that is against your own best interests…do you need to be civil about being lied to? You shouldn't be lied to by media. You need the truth, the facts, to make decisions.

It is a pretty simple answer. Should you be civil to people who lie to you and urge you to buy something that turns out to hurt you, or your family, or cause you to lose your job, or kill your sister, brother, neighbor? If I lie to you and say it is safe to swim across the channel and you are attacked by sharks that I knew were there…should you not care? This is what is happening, right now…today. In the consumer products market, we call that fraud and companies can be criminally liable.

So let's describe what a Fascist government or a political party attempting to introduce a Fascist government would look like and see if either or any of our political parties fits that description:

If any of this seems familiar to you, then you see something "Fascist" in the current political process. Of course, one thing that wasn't mentioned. Fascists always need someone to stigmatize. In Germany, it was the Jews. In Italy it was the Socialists. In Spain it was the Communists. It seems clear that, in this country it is the Democrats.

The Neocons are out of power, but they are unrelenting in their efforts to control as much of the political discourse as possible, no matter how damaging to society. They bring mobs and riff-raff out, some with guns, trying to scare the average citizen. They send messages out over radio with lunatic commentators, some who are not even allowed to visit other countries because of their hate speech…yet we tolerate it.

We even allow asininely preposterous lies from a possibly psychotic television commentator…to be used to stoke the race-hatred of many tea party members, and thugs against a distinguished African-American President who won 54% of the vote, the largest since Ronald Reagan and who also won the Nobel Peace Prize.

The case is pretty clear. The Neoconservative Republicans are headed for Fascism if they are not there already. The latest round of insults, threats, lies, window breakings all contribute to the evidence. Sooner or later this totalitarian attitude will either be denounced or will have serious responses. One thing is sure, with the problems facing our country, we cannot afford the kind of anarchist attacks as were exhibited in the bombing of a Federal building in Oklahoma City or the flying of an aircraft into a building housing an IRS office.

This radical, violent, arrogant Fascist attitude has to stop. The first step in preventing this kind of political outcome is to identify and react to Fascism when it appears. Neoconservative Republicanism is Fascism. Republicans must return to sanity or be treated as a very dangerous and radical political party.

Mike // Mar 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I agree with everything you say, except for the statement that the fascists have chosen the Democrats as a focus for hate. They have chosen everyone who is not a fascist republican, and esp. the 'middle to the left', which they label 'liberal'.

It is frightening to see the second party of a two party system turn fascist in the United States. Anyone who says it isn't so, isn't paying attention. What is even more frightening is the level of ignorance that must exist for people to believe those fascists. When you watch that certain mentally mal-adjusted on Fox and see him ramble on incoherently for an hour while he spews lies and distortions, any thinking individual has to ask him/her self "What moron would fall for this drivel?" But they do.

It is truly frightening, and it is easy to see how people like Hitler manage to rise to power, when people wilfully shut off any reasoning skills they ever had.

[Oct 03, 2015] The Athens Affair shows why we need encryption without backdoors

"... after the 2004 Olympics, the Greek government discovered that an unknown attacker had hacked into Vodafone's "lawful intercept" system, the phone company's mechanism of wiretapping phone calls. The attacker spied on phone calls of the president, other Greek politicians and journalists before it was discovered. ..."
"... all this happened after the US spy agency cooperated with Greek law enforcement to keep an eye on potential terrorist attacks for the Olympics. Instead of packing up their surveillance gear, they covertly pointed it towards the Greek government and its people. But that's not all: according to Snowden documents that Bamford cited, this is a common tactic of the NSA. They often attack the "lawful intercept" systems in other countries to spy on government and citizens without their knowledge: ..."
"... It's the exact nightmare scenario security experts have warned about when it comes to backdoors: they are not only available to those that operate them "legally", but also to those who can hack into them to spy without anyone's knowledge. If the NSA can do it, so can China, Russia and a host of other malicious actors. ..."
Sep 30. 2015 | The Guardian
Revelations about the hack that allowed Greek politicians to be spied on in 2004 come at a time when the White House is set to announce its encryption policy

Just as it seems the White House is close to finally announcing its policy on encryption - the FBI has been pushing for tech companies like Apple and Google to insert backdoors into their phones so the US government can always access users' data -= new Snowden revelations and an investigation by a legendary journalist show exactly why the FBI's plans are so dangerous.

One of the biggest arguments against mandating backdoors in encryption is the fact that, even if you trust the United States government never to abuse that power (and who does?), other criminal hackers and foreign governments will be able to exploit the backdoor to use it themselves. A backdoor is an inherent vulnerability that other actors will attempt to find and try to use it for their own nefarious purposes as soon as they know it exists, putting all of our cybersecurity at risk.

In a meticulous investigation, longtime NSA reporter James Bamford reported at the Intercept Tuesday that the NSA was behind the notorious "Athens Affair". In surveillance circles, the Athens Affair is stuff of legend: after the 2004 Olympics, the Greek government discovered that an unknown attacker had hacked into Vodafone's "lawful intercept" system, the phone company's mechanism of wiretapping phone calls. The attacker spied on phone calls of the president, other Greek politicians and journalists before it was discovered.

According to Bamford's story, all this happened after the US spy agency cooperated with Greek law enforcement to keep an eye on potential terrorist attacks for the Olympics. Instead of packing up their surveillance gear, they covertly pointed it towards the Greek government and its people. But that's not all: according to Snowden documents that Bamford cited, this is a common tactic of the NSA. They often attack the "lawful intercept" systems in other countries to spy on government and citizens without their knowledge:

Exploiting the weaknesses associated with lawful intercept programs was a common trick for NSA. According to a previously unreleased top-secret PowerPoint presentation from 2012, titled "Exploiting Foreign Lawful Intercept Roundtable", the agency's "countries of interest" for this work included, at that time, Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt and others. The presentation also notes that NSA had about 60 "Fingerprints" - ways to identify data - from telecom companies and industry groups that develop lawful intercept systems, including Ericsson, as well as Motorola, Nokia and Siemens.

It's the exact nightmare scenario security experts have warned about when it comes to backdoors: they are not only available to those that operate them "legally", but also to those who can hack into them to spy without anyone's knowledge. If the NSA can do it, so can China, Russia and a host of other malicious actors.

... ... ...

Disclosure: Trevor Timm works for Freedom of the Press Foundation, which is one of the many civil liberties organizations to have called on the White House to support strong encryption.


TDM MCL -> LePloumesCleau 30 Sep 2015 21:21

You are getting very warm near the real reasons why the government does not want your to have full privacy....encryption (of a certain type, not your usual off the shelf type mind you), is the threat that all power greedy controlling tyrant governments phreak out about....they tell you it's about national security...

if you don't find the contradiction in that line of thinking...you are not thinking carefully.

which is precisely what the elites desire..you ! no thinking...do what you are told..get in line..work hard...don't ask questions...

this is the world powers at work...and the minions of narrow minded geeks that support them in exchange for unbelievable amounts of money, influence and true freedom...it's ironic, really..that the world's smartest people have to steal your power from you, in order to have any themselves.

but it is what makes the current regimes' clock ticking.

TDM MCL -> Ehsan Tabari 30 Sep 2015 21:16

only by the most self favored moralistic nationalist bigotry can one assume that a "certain" kind of government can pull off mass surveillance "responsibly"!

and apparently, the USA would have you believe there is some significant difference in how well they perform the freedom robbing than their comrades..

I call them both tyrants..how bout them apples?!

TDM MCL -> ACJB 30 Sep 2015 21:12

what makes you believe that ALL NON-TRIVIAL communications are not being surveilled in real time at this moment, now?

If any entity of any significance is communicating, it is surely being tracked... this isn't some conspiratorial thinking either...

The vast reach and capacity for surveillance infrastructure is many time more then necessary to capture all real time communications. The most important significant communications are in fact the target...

Mom sending her sister a recipe on her aol account never registers....the "machine"...listens specifically.. it is far more intelligent and directed than most people understand.

But it also has the capacity to target just about anything..and that is the danger... What happens to the newsie or the everyday fella that takes note of something very disturbing...illegal even..or morally objectionable?

Remember why the tor network was designed for...mostly to allow people that could not talk freely to do so..in warzones..or where their discussions would bring grave danger to them and others....

Tor was hacked and it a dead animal to privacy for over 6 years now...don't use it, unless you want to the information to be used against you...

There are very few private venues anymore...the world has gone to shit


TDM MCL -> Crashman55 30 Sep 2015 20:58

It happens more often than most people understand.

If you want to get a reality test of this, here is how you too can verify that the spy agencies are very prevalent in every day communications.

btw: this simple type of test, is best applies using several of the off the shelf encryption programs ...in this way, you get verification of what snowden and many others have acknowledged for quite some time.

a. create a secure email ...join a secure vpn..use encrypted off the shelf s/w for your message.

b. send "someone" that you know ..that you call first ...that wants to play along...and within the email message...write some off the wall content about terrorism...bombs...etc..use all the sorted "key words"..it's easy to locate a list...google is your friend. Just make sure they understand that the purpose of the test to to verify that security exists..you will find..it doesn't...

c. it is best that your "friend" be localed outside of the us...middle east ...or russia...or china...ukraine...gernamny.,.,..etc..you get the idea.

d. repeat, rinse and wash using all the garden variety of the shelf security...PGP...GPG...CRYPTZONE...SYMANTEC...HPSECURE...ETC..ETC...DO ANY AND ALL OF THEM THAT YOU LIKE TO TEST. Fire them out like a shotgun...if you can enlist the help of hundreds to chain the mail along, even better.

When the agencies contact you...and they will depending on how authentic you have decided to mask your traffic and how authentic they consider your email content exchange merited inspection...you will discover what anyone who has actually used encyption in a real world way has come to understand...

if you are using typical commercially available encryption..there is NO privacy.

meaning it is not simple possible to crack..but easily...


Zhubajie1284 GoldMoney 30 Sep 2015 20:29

Facebook and Twitter were banned in China after someone posted a bunch of gruesome photos from some rioting in Xinjiang. It looked to me, as an outsider, that someone was trying to provoke anti-Muslim rioting elsewhere in China. It would be reasonable for Chinese security people to suspect the CIA or some other US agency famous for destabilizing foreign governments. The US had already announced it's strategic pivot towards Asia, which can easily be interpreted as a declaration of Cold War on China.

I don't know the whole truth of the incident, but people in PR China have good reason to be suspicious.

now, what is the risk...you may be harassed..but unless I am missing some new law, none of this type of testing is unlawful...

for real world security that works...similar kinds of penetration tests are used as above....

hey you can even honey pot a public network if you wanted to....you know just to prove to yourself there is no such thing as secrecy achieved by using a public library or a "shared" computer.

note: one of the first indications that you are being surveilled, is that there will a subtle but noted performance hit on your machine..if you attach a security gateway with logging, even better...or a high end hardware firewall-gateway, that sniffs...

watch also for some very interesting emails to hit all of your "other" accounts.

if you do this, I can predict at least the following:

your machine will take a hit...
you will get notified most likely by the FBI, via your isp.
if you do this on your smartphone and that is linked to other accounts..you can guarantee to have spread malware abundantly to all other accounts linked.
if the FBI asks that you reveal the content of emails...ask them to show you first...and grin very large when you say that...if it's a low end non-tech....force them to gain a warrant...and contact your lawyer...

is it a waste of time for law enforcement to show their hand in how intimately they have backended encyption..? or is worth it to you to understand that it is common..and secret..and very broad...

that time when making things better is waning...and narrowing..if you aren't willing to take a stand and object and posit your own resistance to overreaching spying..then the awful dreadful future that awaits you, is just as much your own fault.

that is where I land on the issue.


for the issue, now...not later!

take a stand!

TDM MCL martinusher 30 Sep 2015 20:27

the real issue with the "legal tacK' wrt to halting the fed from building backdoors or mandating them, is the reality that most of the high level secret business of spy agencies DEFY any law. As is the case with most software and hardware corporations..there is massive financial and intelligence capitol that depends on building backdoors in secret..sharing them with the government simply provides "cover"...

the real threat of all of this of course is the very reason why the constitution was written and preoccupied with protecting freedom and liberty...eventually, abuses from a tyranny government or fascist state comes into power.

some say we have already passes that threshold...given the broad "known" abuses of the 300+ secret spy agencies and the secret laws that not only authorize them but threaten companies who do not comply...you really can't deny the fact that the target is you and me. And sometimes, although, seemingly unproven, some existential external terror organization.

I've long since held that a formal security arrangement can implemented by ISP's where ALL internet traffic is routed...and where the most inteligent and efficient means to shut down malware and other activities that are unlawful and harmful...

I has never been seriously considered or even suggested by the government .....you have to serious be suspicious why that has never been considered...

perhaps too much intelligent security programs, would put all of the security industry and fear agencies out of business...What else would they do with their time...

I have zero faith in the US government to do the right thing anymore..they have been vacant at their core responsibility to protect its citizens. They have built a wall of mistrust by their abuses.

to the technologically talented, what this all means is that the US government has created a niche market that is growing ever larger...and that is to establish highly secure networks for end users. It also happens to make them appear to be criminals.

Imagine that...a software engineer who is actually doing the business of protecting a persons right to privacy...immediately falls into the long list of persons of interest!

the government has parted company with its responsibilities..and has created a adversarial rife with the people of its own country...I give it less than 10 years before the people perform their own arab spring...it really is going to get very bad in this country.

beelzebob 30 Sep 2015 17:34

This is all very interesting from a certain standpoint. 21 CFR Part 11 requires all drug companies, and other companies doing business before the FDA to take reasonable steps to ensure the security of all of their data to guarantee that the data are not tampered with. If the FBI and CIA are inserting backdoors into electronic communications devices, defined broadly to include everything from telephones to the Internet, there is no reasonable way to ensure that unauthorized parties can not use these devices to alter drug company data. Thus, it appears that drug companies, and their employees, contractors and suppliers, can not use the internet or anything connected to the internet as part of their FDA regulated operations.

kenalexruss 30 Sep 2015 14:02

Data is big business and ironically, only serves big business. The US government couldn't tell it's head from its ass regarding the stuff, but the data is critical for corporations. Since corporations are people and dictate government policy and are also the primary government interest, there will be back doors. Apple, google, microsoft, et.al. are ALL big business and they don't want you knowing how they really feel about it, so they feign objections. It's all about money, as usual.

martinusher 30 Sep 2015 13:23

There was an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times yesterday that suggested that adding backdoors or otherwise hacking into people's computers was a violation of the 3rd Amendment.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-gatto-surveillance-3rd-amendment-20150929-story.html

Quite apart from that never making it past the Roberts court (although it might be worth trying) I daresay proponents of universal surveillance will argue that businesses aren't covered by this so hacking into servers &tc. is OK.

Government agencies do appear to be out of control. Its not the snooping so much as their general ineffectiveness when it comes to crime and the Internet -- you can get your identity stolen, your back account hacked and so on and they shrug as if to say "What's this got to do with us?". The seem to be only interested in a very narrow range of political activities.

Phil429 30 Sep 2015 12:14

Coming out strongly against such a mandate [to eliminate everyone's security] would be huge on multiple fronts for the Obama administration: it would send a strong message for human rights around the world, it would make it much harder for other governments to demand backdoors from US tech companies and it would also strengthen the US economy.

Only if you assume some connection between the administration's stated policies and its actions.


GoldMoney -> RoughSleeper 30 Sep 2015 12:05

I don't care about mass surveillance, because I have nothing to hide! I have nothing to hide, so I have nothing to fear, those that are trying to hide private lives, must have something to fear"....Signed GCHQ/MI5/Police/Council troll

haha - I loved that post, so true!


GoldMoney -> koichan 30 Sep 2015 11:49

The TSA travel locks for use in air travel have a backdoor and now can be opened by pretty much anyone in the world now. Now imagine the same thing applying to bank transactions, credit/debit card payments and so on...

Very good point.

By having backdoors you compromise the entire security of the system and make it vulnerable to attackers in general.

Snowden deserves the Nobel peace prize if you ask me....

While we are on the topic - lets take back the prize from Obama....


GoldMoney -> LePloumesCleau 30 Sep 2015 11:39

If people don't trust the security of encryption then there is no point in using it.

Exactly right.

I think the internet as we know it will break down in the future as countries will not trust foreign technology companies colluding with their home intelligence agencies.

Its already happening in China - most western technology companies like FB, Twitter, etc. are banned there for fear they could be used by the US to spy on Chinese citizens or to orchestrate a "Chinese Spring" there....


Crashman55 30 Sep 2015 11:13

You can go online and get the source codes off of several excellent encryption websites, and then develop your own. My brother and I did this, and we were sending our weekly NFL football picks back and forth each week. We stopped after the FBI came to my brother's place of business, after a couple months, and questioned him. When my brother asked how they able to even look at our emails, they said they had a computer program in place that kicked out encrypted emails. After being threatened with arrest at his job in front of everyone, he showed them the unencrypted versions.

They said that our silliness had wasted valuable FBI time and resources. If you don't think Big Brother is watching...


Peter Dragonas -> Ehsan Tabari 30 Sep 2015 10:25

Why do you think the anti-American Muslim Community and others, call us TERRORISTS? OUR COMPASS is as faulty as ????????. The world situation is a mirror of Grandiose Individuals who look down on reality. Reality is an obstruction to their neediness for attracting attention and control.


Peter Dragonas 30 Sep 2015 10:19

Another major "foundation section" removed from our Country's integrity. Sick, paranoia, similar to the "J. EDGAR HOOVER ERA & CONTINUATION THROUGH HIS LEGACY FUNDS TO THIS DAY". Could this be true, I could think the "The Athens Affair" predates the elements that brought down Greece, in favor of pushing Turkey to becoming the American doorway into Asia & the Middle East. Just a theory. Yet, where there is smoke, something is cooking, which requires political FIRE.


RoughSleeper 30 Sep 2015 08:50

I don't care about mass surveillance, because I have nothing to hide! I have nothing to hide, so I have nothing to fear, those that are trying to hide private lives, must have something to fear"....Signed GCHQ/MI5/Police/Council troll

  • I don't care about State cameras recording everyone out, because I don't go out. I don't care about those that do.
  • I don't care about State cameras recording wives, girlfriends, children, because I don't have any. I don't care about those that do.
  • I don't care about the right to privacy because I have nothing of any value to hide. I don't care about those that have.
  • I don't care about freedom of speech because I have nothing of any value to say. I don't care about those that have.
  • I don't care about freedom of the press because I have nothing of any value to write. I don't care about those that have.
  • I don't care about freedom of thought, because I have no thoughts of any value. I don't care about those that have.
  • I don't care about the right to privacy of intellectual property, because I have no intelligence of any value. I don't care about those that have.
  • I don't care about the right to privacy of bank details, because I have nothing of any value in my bank account. I don't care about those that have.
  • I don't care about the right to privacy of love letters, because I have no love of any value. I don't care about those that have.
  • I don't care about the rights of HR activists, because I don't contribute anything to HRs. I don't care about those that do.
  • I don't care about society, community, future, because I don't contribute anything to them. I don't care about those that do.
  • I don't care about the right to privacy of my vote, because we have no democracy of any value anyway. I don't care about countries that have.
  • I don't care about Gypsies, Blacks, Jews, Invalids, Unions, socialists, Untermensch, because I am not one. I don't care about those that are.
  • I only care about me, here & now! It's look after number one, as the Tories tell us.

  • koichan 30 Sep 2015 08:39

    For the less technically minded, heres another example of whats wrong with government backdoors:

    http://boingboing.net/2015/09/17/3d-print-your-own-tsa-travel-s.html

    The TSA travel locks for use in air travel have a backdoor and now can be opened by pretty much anyone in the world now. Now imagine the same thing applying to bank transactions, credit/debit card payments and so on...

    LePloumesCleau 30 Sep 2015 08:10

    I would only ever trust open source encryption software. I don't trust the "encryption" built into Windows or Apple software at all.

    If people don't trust the security of encryption then there is no point in using it.

    [Sep 27, 2015] Since st least 2009 GCHQ has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale

    BBC used by GCHQ to spy on Internet users https://theintercept.com/2015/09/25/gchq-radio-porn-spies-track-web-users-online-identities/
    "... I do wonder though, with all those stories about those thousands of Kremlin controlled Russian trolls on British news websites, whether some of this comes from carefully massaged data from GCHQ through third parties to the Pork Pie News Networks via 'unnamed sources', i.e. the usual bollox. ..."
    "... …The agency operates a bewildering array of other eavesdropping systems, each serving its own specific purpose and designated a unique code name, such as: …and INFINITE MONKEYS, which analyzes data about the usage of online bulletin boards and forums… ..."
    "... Once you understand the relationship and the goals that they have, you can work backwards and make fairly good conclusions about what tools would be required and used to get to those conclusions and try not think whether they are legal or not. ..."
    "... The most disturbing thing about it all is that it puts us one step away from a totalitarian system. All that is required is a political decision. ..."
    "... Forget about 'checks and balances' – they're the first thing to be thrown out of the window in an emergency. Arbeit macht frei! ..."
    "... GCHQ and the CIA are in bed with one another, and have been for years. This might be a timely occasion to mention once again that both are capable of hacking into smartphones by all leading manufacturers; in the case of the IPhone the CIA uses a program application called Dropout Jeep. ..."
    "... the CIA also diverted laptops ordered online so that government spyware could be installed on them. ..."
    "... You can't believe anyone any more. ..."
    Sep 27, 2015 | marknesop.wordpress.com
    Warren, September 25, 2015 at 2:25 pm
    https://theintercept.com/2015/09/25/gchq-radio-porn-spies-track-web-users-online-identities/

    et Al, September 26, 2015 at 4:23 am

    A top-secret GCHQ document from March 2009 reveals the agency has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale. It shows a sample search in which the agency was extracting data from cookies containing information about people's visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, and the Reuters news website.

    Other websites listed as "sources" of cookies in the 2009 document (see below) are Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress, Amazon, and sites operated by the broadcasters CNN, BBC, and the U.K.'s Channel 4.

    …A top-secret GCHQ document from March 2009 reveals the agency has targeted a range of popular websites as part of an effort to covertly collect cookies on a massive scale. It shows a sample search in which the agency was extracting data from cookies containing information about people's visits to the adult website YouPorn, search engines Yahoo and Google, and the Reuters news website.

    Other websites listed as "sources" of cookies in the 2009 document (see below) are Hotmail, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, WordPress, Amazon, and sites operated by the broadcasters CNN, BBC, and the U.K.'s Channel 4…
    ###

    And I bet the Guardian too as it is 'the world's most widely read new site'. They probably keep automatic tabs on this site considering how it has grown over the last couple of years.

    I do wonder though, with all those stories about those thousands of Kremlin controlled Russian trolls on British news websites, whether some of this comes from carefully massaged data from GCHQ through third parties to the Pork Pie News Networks via 'unnamed sources', i.e. the usual bollox.

    May I suggest to fellow commenters here, if at any point you loose your smart phone (etc.) just call GCHQ and they'll tell you where you left it. I wonder if they provide a data back up service?!

    et Al, September 26, 2015 at 4:48 am
    …The agency operates a bewildering array of other eavesdropping systems, each serving its own specific purpose and designated a unique code name, such as: …and INFINITE MONKEYS, which analyzes data about the usage of online bulletin boards and forums…

    …Authorization is "not needed for individuals in the U.K.," another GCHQ document explains, because metadata has been judged "less intrusive than communications content." All the spies are required to do to mine the metadata troves is write a short "justification" or "reason" for each search they conduct and then click a button on their computer screen…

    …When compared to surveillance rules in place in the U.S., GCHQ notes in one document that the U.K. has "a light oversight regime."

    The more lax British spying regulations are reflected in secret internal rules that highlight greater restrictions on how NSA databases can be accessed. The NSA's troves can be searched for data on British citizens, one document states, but they cannot be mined for information about Americans or other citizens from countries in the Five Eyes alliance….
    #####

    It's just what is expected from the junior in the US/UK relationship. For the UK to retain privileged access to the US' global spy network, it needs to give the US what it wants, a way to circumvent the US' own laws. Dial back to when Gary Powers & his U-2 were shot down over the Soviet Union. All subsequent overflights by US manned and operated aircraft were prohibited, so, the US used British pilots and Canberras.

    Once you understand the relationship and the goals that they have, you can work backwards and make fairly good conclusions about what tools would be required and used to get to those conclusions and try not think whether they are legal or not.

    What people can do to protect themselves is

    1. don't change most of your digital habits (as this would raise a flag);
    2. just don't do or say obvious things that you wouldn't do in real life in your digital life;
    3. use encryption such as PGP for email and products using perfect forward secrecy for chat/etc.;
    4. don't write about what not to do on the Internet as I have just done! ;)

    The most disturbing thing about it all is that it puts us one step away from a totalitarian system. All that is required is a political decision. All the tools are in place and depending on how much information they have actually kept they can dip in to it at any time throughout your life as a rich source of blackmail, probably via third parties. It's not exactly threatening to send you to a concentration camp (or disappeared to one of Britain's (and others) many small overseas territories, but it is total control.

    If the European economy completely crashes and mass instability ensues (or whatever), then the politicians will be told, or even ask, "What tools do we have to control this?".

    Forget about 'checks and balances' – they're the first thing to be thrown out of the window in an emergency. Arbeit macht frei!

    et Al, September 26, 2015 at 9:52 am
    This should be a massive story as the parliamentary security committee gave the intelligence services a 'clean bill of health' not so long ago. Since then, they've lost intelligence 'yes man' Malcolm Rifkind to an expenses scandal so the make up of the committee has changed a bit.

    What it does show is that we cannot even trust the gatekeepers (above) who are give very limited info from the security services. And let us not forget the dates that this occurred under a Labor administration and continued under a Conservative-Liberal Democrat and now a Conservative one.

    It will be interesting to see if this story gains any traction, though I suspect that it will be much bigger outside of the UK, at least initially. The cat is, again, out of the bag!

    marknesop, September 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm
    GCHQ and the CIA are in bed with one another, and have been for years. This might be a timely occasion to mention once again that both are capable of hacking into smartphones by all leading manufacturers; in the case of the IPhone the CIA uses a program application called Dropout Jeep.

    We can thank Edward Snowden for that; the NSA spying scandal revealed a great deal more than just the information the CIA is snooping on your phone calls and collecting information on everyone. As the second reference relates, the CIA also diverted laptops ordered online so that government spyware could be installed on them. Intelligence agencies are determined that citizens shall have no privacy whatsoever. You might as well assume they are watching everything you do and listening to everything you say. Give the window the finger at random times just in case, and slip embarrassing revelations on the sexual proclivities of intelligence agents into your telephone conversations.

    Canada's Blackberry was once safe, but GCHQ broke that. So now there is no smartphone that is private, except maybe for Russia's YotaPhone. Probably not that either, though, since it is sold in the USA, and if they couldn't break into the phone they would just hack the carrier. And the Canadian government bought all of its Secure Telephone Units (STU) from the NSA, so say no more about the "security" of those.

    A few companies, like Silent Circle, pitch a privacy phone like the Blackphone, but it originates in the USA and everyone's paranoia has become so acute that the instant suspicion is they are telling you it is more private just because it is wired straight to the NSA.

    You can't believe anyone any more.

    [Sep 26, 2015] Phone Passwords Protected By 5th Amendment, Says Federal Court

    Sep 26, 2015 | yro.slashdot.org
    September 24, 2015

    imothy

    Ars Technica reports that a Federal court in Pennsylvania ruled Wednesday that the Fifth Amendment protects from compelled disclosure the passwords that two insider-trading suspects used on their mobile phones. In this case, the SEC is investigating two former Capital One data analysts who allegedly used insider information associated with their jobs to trade stocks-in this case, a $150,000 investment allegedly turned into $2.8 million. Regulators suspect the mobile devices are holding evidence of insider trading and demanded that the two turn over their passcodes.However, ruled the court , "Since the passcodes to Defendants' work-issued smartphones are not corporate records, the act of producing their personal passcodes is testimonial in nature and Defendants properly invoke their fifth Amendment privilege. A"

    [Sep 26, 2015] NSA Director Admits that Sharing Encryption Keys With the Government Leaves Us Vulnerable to Bad Guys

    "... Writing your own encryption is a recipe for disaster. Only peer-reviewed algorithms and implementations should ever be used. They must also use reliable random number generators. ..."
    Sep 26, 2015 | www.zerohedge.com
    Sep 26, 2015 | Zero H4edge
    GreatUncle

    Drop the random number generator method that is already venerable now.

    Go for an encryption key of length > data length instead so each data bit is uniquely encrypted by a unique key bit.

    Break one bit has no bearing on breaking any other bit.

    For the NSA comes the headache under such an encryption method a 10 letter statement can be any other 10 letter statement from different keys.

    Now it gets interesting "I love you" is from one encryption key whilst another key says "I hate you".

    Now each message generated if asked for the key you provide one of an infinite number of keys where the the key you give is for the message you wish them to see provided it makes sense any evidence used through a prosecution on this is only ever circumstantial evidence and quite easily refuted questioning only the key being used.

    Kind of like it myself.

    SgtShaftoe

    Bullshit. Encryption works. Even if the NSA had some back-door in a particular encryption algorithm, or weakened a random number generator (Microsoft, cough), the NSA does not have the processing power to decrypt everything.

    Snowden has stated as much, I've seen the same thing in .mil circles during my time there. Using decent encryption works. It's far easier to attack the people directly with social engineering than crack decent encryption.

    logicalman

    The world has gone totally batshit crazy.

    NSA want to watch everyone and also have the ability to plant damaging or malicious files on targeted computers.

    What a fucking trick!

    On a good day you can trust yourself.

    John_Coltrane

    What type of encryption is being discussed? I've notice very few actually understand how encryption works. When public/private key encyption is used only the public key is ever available to the counterparty and can be freely published. The secret key is kept on your machine only and never shared. Both parties/computers use the others public key to encrypt the plaintext and only the person with the unique secret key on both ends can read it. Authentication is also facile: You simply sign using the secret key. Only your public key can decrypt the signature so anyone intercepting and attempting to change your message cannot do so (spoofing impossible). Unbreakable and requires no secure key exchange like like two way keys such as AES, for example. This is what happens on https sites where key pairs are generated by both parties and the secret keys are never exchanged or shared-new key pairs are generated each visit. Intercepting the encrypted message is useless since the secret key remains physically in your possesion. That's why the NSA and any government hates this algorithm. Make the key at least 2048 bits long and you'll need more time than the age of universe to crack it by brute force with the entire computing power of every machine on earth. Even 256 bits is sufficient to protect against anyone before they die.

    blindman

    information is power and access to information is big business. the taxpayer pays the bills for the gathering, hell, the individual "user" of the technology pays for the surveillance and data collection themselves. we are paying to have our privacy sold to corporations. get that, it is freakin' brilliant! and the "officials" sell the access for personal gain. the corporations love to eat it all up and reward the loyal local success story dupes, pimps and prestitutes. everyone is on stage 24/7 and no one is the wiser in the field of cultural normalcy bias, mind control and entertaining with the Jones's. soft control moving into hard up confiscation, then incarceration. wonderfully yokel deterioration impersonating culture and civilization, what many call government, but i take exception to every term and wonder wtf.

    q99x2

    The NSA works for corporations and they need to break into peoples stuff to steal from them as well as to steal from other corporations. There is a war going on but it is much larger than a war on nations or citizens of bankster occupied nations.

    Gaius Frakkin' ...

    With one-time pad, the software is trivial.

    There are two big challenges though:

    1) Building a hardware random number generator which is truly random, or as close as possible.

    2) Getting the keys to your counter-party, securely. It has to be down physically ahead of time.

    HenryHall

    E.R.N.I.E. - the electronic random number indicator equipment was used with British Premium Bonds in the 1950s. A chip based on digital counting of thermal noise must be easy to make. Getting the keys to thye other party just involves handing over a chip. 16Gigabytes or so miniSD should be good for enough emails to wear out a thousand or more keyboards.

    It just needs to be made into a product and sold for cash.

    Open source encryption software may or may not be trivial, but it sure isn't easy to use for folks who aren't experts in encryption.

    Lookout Mountain

    The NSA decided that offense was better than defense. Suckers.

    ah-ooog-ah

    Write your own encryption. Use AES - freely available. Exchange keys verbally, face to face, or use One Time Pads (once only!!). If you didn't write, don't trust it.

    SgtShaftoe

    Writing your own encryption is a recipe for disaster. Only peer-reviewed algorithms and implementations should ever be used. They must also use reliable random number generators.

    If you don't know what you're doing and are very very careful and exacting in running a OTP system (One time pad) you will be fucked. That's why they aren't typically used except in very small use cases. They're hard to run properly.

    Anyone claiming to have an encryption product for a computer based on a one time pad is full of shit. Cough, Unseen.is, cough. It's a glorified Cesar cypher and the NSA will have your shit in 2.5 seconds or less.

    Good encryption works. Snowden stated that fact. Don't use shitty encryption, unless you want everyone to know what you're doing.

    There's plenty of open source projects out there based on good encryption, twofish, serpent, AES, or ideally a combination of multiple algorithms. Truecrypt is still alive and has been forked with a project based in Switzerland. I think that's still a good option.

    I wouldn't use MS bitlocker or PGP unless you trust symantec or microsoft with your life. Personally I wouldn't trust those companies with a pack of cigarettes, and I don't even smoke.

    Nels

    Writing your own encryption is a recipe for disaster. Only peer-reviewed algorithms and implementations should ever be used. They must also use reliable random number generators.

    I read the original note to mean you use a peer reviewed algorithm, but write the code yourself. Or, at least review it well. Some open source code tends to be a bit tangled. Checkout Sendmail and its support for X.400 and other old mail protocols, as well as a convoluted configuration setup. At some point, with code with that much historical baggage and convoluted setup becomes impossible to really check all possible configurations for sanity or safety.

    If you believe that the simpler the code the safer it is, code it yourself.

    . . . _ _ _ . . .

    Power grab by the NSA (deep state) basically saying that they don't trust the hand that feeds it. So why should we? What level of classification would this entail? Are we then supposed to trust the NSA? Civil War 2.0.???

    Sorry for all the questions, but... WTF?

    S.N.A.F.U.

    SgtShaftoe

    It really starts with asymmetry of power. If some agency or person has a asymmetric level of power against you and lack of accountability, you should be concerned about them.

    That's a much easier test case vs enemy/friend and far more reliable.

    Urban Roman

    Long self-published certificates, Novena and Tails.

    [Sep 26, 2015] Standing Before Congress, Pope Francis Calls Out the Industry of Death

    Sep 26, 2015 | original.antiwar.com
    Sep 26, 2015 | Antiwar.com

    Pope Francis' address to Congress was almost certainly not what John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, and other congressional leaders had in mind when they invited the pope to speak.

    It probably wasn't what they were all thinking about during the last standing ovations. But here was Pope Francis, revered as the People's Pope, calling out war profiteers and demanding an end to the arms trade. Just as simple and as powerful as that.

    ... ... ...

    "Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world," the pope said. Then he asked the critical question: "Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?"

    He answered it himself: "Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade."

    Stop the arms trade. What a simple, clear call.

    That means the ending things like the $60 billion arms deal the US made a few years back with Saudi Arabia, where those weapons are, in the pope's words, "inflicting untold suffering on individuals and society," especially in Syria and Yemen. It means ending things like the $45 billion in new military aid – mostly in the form of advanced new weapons – the Israeli government has requested from Washington between now and 2028. It means ending the provision of new arms to scores of unaccountable militias in Syria, where even the White House admits a nonmilitary solution is needed. And it means ending things like the $1.1 billion in arms sales the United States has made to Mexico this year alone.

    And, of course, it means no longer diverting at least 54 cents of every discretionary taxpayer dollar in the federal budget to the US military.

    Actually, members of Congress – so many of whom rely on huge campaign donations from arms manufacturers, and so many of whom refuse to vote against military procurement because often just a few dozen jobs connected to it might be in their district – really should have expected the pope to say exactly what he did.

    It was only last May, after all, that Pope Francis told a group of schoolchildren visiting the Vatican that the arms trade is the "industry of death." When a kid asked why so many powerful people don't want peace, the pope answered simply, "because they live off wars!" Francis explained how people become rich by producing and selling weapons. "And this is why so many people do not want peace. They make more money with the war!"

    The pope's speech to Congress was quite extraordinary on a number of fronts.

    ... ... ...

    Phyllis Bennis is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of the forthcoming Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror: A Primer. Manuel Perez-Rocha is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. Reprinted with permission from Foreign Policy In Focus.

    [Sep 26, 2015] US and China back off internet arms race but Obama leaves sanctions on the table

    "... How can the U.S. say cyber hacking must stop when we know very well that they have been cyber spying and hacking for years, Snowden spilt the beans on that issue, big brother raising his head again. ..."
    "...
    ..."
    "... I see a contradiction here that you critcize for not warring with Xi/China and then bemoaning the obviously damaging costs of what looks like perpetual wars. ..."
    "... In the main, Obama has not slipped out of his arrogant school master's tone and role, but we keep hearing he does it to please the American electorate. If the NSA in Germany (Bad Aibling) is allowed to sniff out commercial secrets on German computers (an issue for over 10 years, it's only the spinlessness of the elites that keep allowing that) then surely it's all 'open platform'. I only read German and English well enough to ascertain what's what in the spying game, so I can only refer to Germany. Maybe we get some Spanish, Italian, French etc reading people to tell us if sniffing out Germany's company secrets is unique, probably not. ..."
    "... Nice little bit of spin here. It gives the impression that the US is telling the PRC what to do when the reality is this is part of the previous and current five year plan. ..."
    "... This looks a bit odd to me. Is he saying that Snowden forged the ten thousand records detailing US cyber spying on fifty countries or is he asking for Chinas assurance that the CCP are not sponsoring the attacks. In any case...I Obamas full of shit. ..."
    "... the US has offered no proof that China hacked American records, while the world knows that the worse hacker on the planet is the US as shown via the Snowden documents - we even hack our allies. You know, there is a saying about glass houses and throwing stones. ..."
    "... Its a fallacy that you can separate business spying and state secrets spying. If there is going to be war, it will be all out, no sacred cows. Don't expect an agreement to leave space satellites out for example. People are still living in this utopia that a war can happen somewhere else and life will go on as normal. For China, the war will be for its own existence and there will be no holds barred. Look at the Vietnam war for example and you will see how much the Vietnamese sacrificed for that ultimate victory. So I believe that a more comprehensive framework is required for the assured future for both nations. ..."
    "... Every year the same blame the Chinese happens. US agencies will always fabricate foreign threat so annual budgets can be increased $$$. The fiscal year ends in Sept. "My dept. needs more taxpayer funding, the Chinese and Russians are attacking!" ..."
    "... In the name of "National Security" anything goes (except sabotage in peace time), so long as it is not used for "competitive advantage". Nice to have a mutually approved set of labels to continue doing what both sides have always been doing. ..."
    Sep 25, 2015 | The Guardian

    JoeCorr -> Erazmo 25 Sep 2015 23:57

    The US has no class...

    They call it 'American directness'. In fact it's gross bad manners but thats how the Empire of the Exceptionals sees itself.

    A John Wayne mindset and a Lex Luthor worldview. Being dismantled with astonishing ease by the PRC.


    Eugenios -> SuperBBird 25 Sep 2015 23:58

    The Chinese Communists are humanists itself compared to the brutality of the US.

    Just compare prison populations, for examine. The US has more people in prison both proportionately and absolutely than all of China.


    HollyOldDog -> TheEqlaowaizer 25 Sep 2015 21:30

    Looks like the wise words of the Pope has not penetrated the 'brains' American State Department or its President, if all that Obama can say is to threaten sanctions against another country. Is the BRICS alternative bank such a worry to the Americans as their first thoughts are bullying tactics.


    ID240947 25 Sep 2015 21:22

    How can the U.S. say cyber hacking must stop when we know very well that they have been cyber spying and hacking for years, Snowden spilt the beans on that issue, big brother raising his head again.


    JoeCorr -> goatrider 25 Sep 2015 21:08

    Take all that cheap junk

    Cheap junk? Its 2015 can you even just try to keep up. We're buying Chinese flat screens the size of billboards and China leads the world in home appliances. BYD and Shanghai Auto sales are expanding at warp speed. I could go on but thats enough.

    The US and Europe made the same stupid jibes at Japan before they decimated our electrics, shipbuilding, auto manufacturing and every single electronics company outside military patronage.

    Its not China whos at fault here. It's people like you with your head so deeply wedged in the sand your shitting pebbles.


    JoeCorr 25 Sep 2015 21:01

    My daughter drew speech balloons on this photo and mages it to the fridge.

    Obama is saying. " Sanctions are still on the table". Xi is saying. " Poor thing. Allah will look after you"

    Which I thought kinda perceptive for a 13 year old.


    HauptmannGurski -> Sam3456 25 Sep 2015 20:46

    I see a contradiction here that you critcize for not warring with Xi/China and then bemoaning the obviously damaging costs of what looks like perpetual wars. Never mind, we all get emotional in these troubled times and find ourselves in contraction with ourselves.

    In the main, Obama has not slipped out of his arrogant school master's tone and role, but we keep hearing he does it to please the American electorate. If the NSA in Germany (Bad Aibling) is allowed to sniff out commercial secrets on German computers (an issue for over 10 years, it's only the spinlessness of the elites that keep allowing that) then surely it's all 'open platform'. I only read German and English well enough to ascertain what's what in the spying game, so I can only refer to Germany. Maybe we get some Spanish, Italian, French etc reading people to tell us if sniffing out Germany's company secrets is unique, probably not.

    (PS: if we think that the perpetual wars are too costly, in the sense that the populations miss out more and more, then we ought to keep an eye on the US job figures. There's a view out there that it's been US arms sales under Obama which underpin the 'recovery'. The Nobel Peace prize committee would take the prize back now, I gues, but that's not in the rules.)

    goatrider 25 Sep 2015 20:37

    How is America going to sanction a country that produces a majority of the items sold in America? Take all that cheap junk off the shelves of box stores and the American people will revolt----they are addicted consumers of cheap junk and fast food.


    JoeCorr -> vr13vr 25 Sep 2015 20:15

    Whom exactly did we fire, prosecute or whatever else after all those NSA revelations?

    Bradley Manning. Aaron Swartz driven to Suicide having never broken a single law. Snowden driven to exile. There are many others.


    JoeCorr 25 Sep 2015 20:00

    News of this deal, first revealed on Thursday, was followed up before...

    Nice little bit of spin here. It gives the impression that the US is telling the PRC what to do when the reality is this is part of the previous and current five year plan.

    The 'sanctions' are another interesting bit of spin. How would you enforce sanctions against almost a quarter of the worlds population when they are your most reliable customer and literally thousands of American companies have invested and relocated there.

    what I am hoping that President Xi will show me is that we are not sponsoring these activities and that … we take it seriously and will cooperate to enforce the law."

    This looks a bit odd to me. Is he saying that Snowden forged the ten thousand records detailing US cyber spying on fifty countries or is he asking for Chinas assurance that the CCP are not sponsoring the attacks. In any case...I Obamas full of shit.


    Erazmo 25 Sep 2015 19:12

    The US has no class and is a paper tiger. First, no one in the administration met President Xi when arrived on American soil. This is an insult to the Chinese and shows no class on the part of the Obama administration. Sure, the Pope was here at the same time but I don't understand why some schedules couldn't have been changed a little to accommodate the visit the leader of the world's most populous country. Second, the US continues to accuse and scold China as if they were a kid. Yet, the US has offered no proof that China hacked American records, while the world knows that the worse hacker on the planet is the US as shown via the Snowden documents - we even hack our allies. You know, there is a saying about glass houses and throwing stones.


    Chin Koon Siang 25 Sep 2015 19:05

    Its a fallacy that you can separate business spying and state secrets spying. If there is going to be war, it will be all out, no sacred cows. Don't expect an agreement to leave space satellites out for example. People are still living in this utopia that a war can happen somewhere else and life will go on as normal. For China, the war will be for its own existence and there will be no holds barred. Look at the Vietnam war for example and you will see how much the Vietnamese sacrificed for that ultimate victory. So I believe that a more comprehensive framework is required for the assured future for both nations.

    vr13vr -> CitizenCarrier 25 Sep 2015 18:42

    Whom exactly did we fire, prosecute or whatever else after all those NSA revelations?

    vr13vr 25 Sep 2015 18:40

    Obama never stops surprising with his manners. Or actually a lack of such. He just made an agreement with a leader of another country, a large and powerful country mind you. And right away he publicly expresses a doubt whether the other party intends to carry the agreements. Basically calling his counterpart a liar for no good reason. And as a cheap bully, inserts more threats of more sanctions. Sure, the president of the other country had more class, he stayed there and smiled friendly, but with such arrogant display of disrespect and bullying, nobody would ever take Obama serious. And nobody should.

    shawshank -> CitizenCarrier 25 Sep 2015 18:24

    Grasping at straws? Xi is not Hitler. Also, Snowden already exposed that the US was spying on China.


    Book_of_Life -> CitizenCarrier 25 Sep 2015 18:10

    "Acts of war"
    USA are worlds biggest warmongers instigators including false flags and regime changes covert activity black ops

    you better check yourself before you wreck yourself
    cause i'm bad for your health, i come real stealth
    droppin bombs on ya moms
    So chikity-check yo self before you wreck yo self
    Come on and check yo self before you wrikity-wreck yourself


    Lrgjohnson -> canbeanybody 25 Sep 2015 18:00

    Every year the same blame the Chinese happens. US agencies will always fabricate foreign threat so annual budgets can be increased $$$. The fiscal year ends in Sept. "My dept. needs more taxpayer funding, the Chinese and Russians are attacking!"


    Book_of_Life CitizenCarrier 25 Sep 2015 17:22

    American Hypocrisy "fuck off"
    say countries spied on
    http://time.com/2945037/nsa-surveillance-193-countries/


    canbeanybody 25 Sep 2015 15:59

    It is plain silly and ridiculous to pin blame of the so-called theft of finger prints of American 5.6 millions employees.

    Those rubbish finger prints have zero value to anyone other than those who are at position to manipulate, modify or even fabricate them.

    In any case why should a technological so advanced American system need to keep the finger prints of their own employees? Is it impossible for American government to keep the finger prints of own employees safe?


    peternh 25 Sep 2015 15:57

    "President Xi indicated to me that with 1.3 billion people he can't guarantee the behaviour of every single person on Chinese soil."

    Although that is, in fact, what his government is entirely dedicated to attempting to do, by controlling all education, all media, what may and may not be said publicly, and controlling everything that happens on the Internet inside the Great Firewall.

    Utter hypocrisy.


    bujinin 25 Sep 2015 15:24

    Analysis:

    In the name of "National Security" anything goes (except sabotage in peace time), so long as it is not used for "competitive advantage". Nice to have a mutually approved set of labels to continue doing what both sides have always been doing.


    Sam3456 25 Sep 2015 15:24

    Another useless summit with a lame duck President who achieved the Nobel Peace Prize for being an ineffectual player on the world stage and propagating constant war for the profit of his corporate puppet masters.

    [Sep 24, 2015] Forget The New World Order, Here is Who Really Runs The World

    "... A complex web of revolving doors between the military-industrial-complex, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley consolidates the interests of defense contracts, banksters, military actions, and both foreign and domestic surveillance intelligence. ..."
    "... While most citizens are at least passively aware of the surveillance state and collusion between the government and the corporate heads of Wall Street, few people are aware of how much the intelligence functions of the government have been outsourced to privatized groups that are not subject to oversight or accountability. According to Lofgren, 70% of our intelligence budget goes to contractors. ..."
    "... the deep state has, since 9/11, built the equivalent of three Pentagons, a bloated state apparatus that keeps defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and privatized non-accountable citizens marching in stride. ..."
    "... Groupthink - an unconscious assimilation of the views of your superiors and peers - also works to keep Silicon Valley funneling technology and information into the federal surveillance state. Lofgren believes the NSA and CIA could not do what they do without Silicon Valley. It has developed a de facto partnership with NSA surveillance activities, as facilitated by a FISA court order. ..."
    Sep 24, 2015 | TheAntiMedia.org,

    For decades, extreme ideologies on both the left and the right have clashed over the conspiratorial concept of a shadowy secret government pulling the strings on the world's heads of state and captains of industry.

    The phrase New World Order is largely derided as a sophomoric conspiracy theory entertained by minds that lack the sophistication necessary to understand the nuances of geopolitics. But it turns out the core idea - one of deep and overarching collusion between Wall Street and government with a globalist agenda - is operational in what a number of insiders call the "Deep State."

    In the past couple of years, the term has gained traction across a wide swath of ideologies. Former Republican congressional aide Mike Lofgren says it is the nexus of Wall Street and the national security state - a relationship where elected and unelected figures join forces to consolidate power and serve vested interests. Calling it "the big story of our time," Lofgren says the deep state represents the failure of our visible constitutional government and the cross-fertilization of corporatism with the globalist war on terror.

    "It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street," he explained.

    Even parts of the judiciary, namely the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, belong to the deep state.

    How does the deep state operate?

    A complex web of revolving doors between the military-industrial-complex, Wall Street, and Silicon Valley consolidates the interests of defense contracts, banksters, military actions, and both foreign and domestic surveillance intelligence.

    According to Mike Lofgren and many other insiders, this is not a conspiracy theory. The deep state hides in plain sight and goes far beyond the military-industrial complex President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned about in his farewell speech over fifty years ago.

    While most citizens are at least passively aware of the surveillance state and collusion between the government and the corporate heads of Wall Street, few people are aware of how much the intelligence functions of the government have been outsourced to privatized groups that are not subject to oversight or accountability. According to Lofgren, 70% of our intelligence budget goes to contractors.

    Moreover, while Wall Street and the federal government suck money out of the economy, relegating tens of millions of people to food stamps and incarcerating more people than China - a totalitarian state with four times more people than us - the deep state has, since 9/11, built the equivalent of three Pentagons, a bloated state apparatus that keeps defense contractors, intelligence contractors, and privatized non-accountable citizens marching in stride.

    After years of serving in Congress, Lofgren's moment of truth regarding this matter came in 2001. He observed the government appropriating an enormous amount of money that was ostensibly meant to go to Afghanistan but instead went to the Persian Gulf region. This, he says, "disenchanted" him from the groupthink, which, he says, keeps all of Washington's minions in lockstep.

    Groupthink - an unconscious assimilation of the views of your superiors and peers - also works to keep Silicon Valley funneling technology and information into the federal surveillance state. Lofgren believes the NSA and CIA could not do what they do without Silicon Valley. It has developed a de facto partnership with NSA surveillance activities, as facilitated by a FISA court order.

    Now, Lofgren notes, these CEOs want to complain about foreign market share and the damage this collusion has wrought on both the domestic and international reputation of their brands. Under the pretense of pseudo-libertarianism, they helmed a commercial tech sector that is every bit as intrusive as the NSA. Meanwhile, rigging of the DMCA intellectual property laws - so that the government can imprison and fine citizens who jailbreak devices - behooves Wall Street. It's no surprise that the government has upheld the draconian legislation for the 15 years.

    It is also unsurprising that the growth of the corporatocracy aids the deep state. The revolving door between government and Wall Street money allows top firms to offer premium jobs to senior government officials and military yes-men. This, says Philip Giraldi, a former counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer for the CIA, explains how the Clintons left the White House nearly broke but soon amassed $100 million. It also explains how former general and CIA Director David Petraeus, who has no experience in finance, became a partner at the KKR private equity firm, and how former Acting CIA Director Michael Morell became Senior Counselor at Beacon Global Strategies.

    Wall Street is the ultimate foundation for the deep state because the incredible amount of money it generates can provide these cushy jobs to those in the government after they retire. Nepotism reigns supreme as the revolving door between Wall Street and government facilitates a great deal of our domestic strife:

    "Bank bailouts, tax breaks, and resistance to legislation that would regulate Wall Street, political donors, and lobbyists. The senior government officials, ex-generals, and high level intelligence operatives who participate find themselves with multi-million dollar homes in which to spend their retirement years, cushioned by a tidy pile of investments," said Giraldi.

    How did the deep state come to be?

    Some say it is the evolutionary hybrid offspring of the military-industrial complex while others say it came into being with the Federal Reserve Act, even before the First World War. At this time, Woodrow Wilson remarked,

    "We have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated governments in the civilized world, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and duress of a small group of dominant men."

    This quasi-secret cabal pulling the strings in Washington and much of America's foreign policy is maintained by a corporatist ideology that thrives on deregulation, outsourcing, deindustrialization, and financialization. American exceptionalism, or the great "Washington Consensus," yields perpetual war and economic imperialism abroad while consolidating the interests of the oligarchy here at home.

    Mike Lofgren says this government within a government operates off tax dollars but is not constrained by the constitution, nor are its machinations derailed by political shifts in the White House. In this world - where the deep state functions with impunity - it doesn't matter who is president so long as he or she perpetuates the war on terror, which serves this interconnected web of corporate special interests and disingenuous geopolitical objectives.

    "As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly," according to Mike Lofgren in an interview with Bill Moyers.

    Interestingly, according to Philip Giraldi, the ever-militaristic Turkey has its own deep state, which uses overt criminality to keep the money flowing. By comparison, the U.S. deep state relies on a symbiotic relationship between banksters, lobbyists, and defense contractors, a mutant hybrid that also owns the Fourth Estate and Washington think tanks.

    Is there hope for the future?

    Perhaps. At present, discord and unrest continues to build. Various groups, establishments, organizations, and portions of the populace from all corners of the political spectrum, including Silicon Valley, Occupy, the Tea Party, Anonymous, WikiLeaks, anarchists and libertarians from both the left and right, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and others are beginning to vigorously question and reject the labyrinth of power wielded by the deep state.

    Can these groups - can we, the people - overcome the divide and conquer tactics used to quell dissent? The future of freedom may depend on it.

    [Sep 20, 2015] The History of Witchhunts and Their Relevance to the Present Day

    Sep 20, 2015 | naked capitalism
    bh2 September 20, 2015 at 3:26 pm

    The witch-burning craze would be best suited as yet another unwritten chapter in Mackay's "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds".

    If both men and women were charged and tried for this imaginary crime driven by baseless superstition, a narrative proposing it was really an ancient war on women is logically absurd - and therefore also a baseless superstition.

    craazyman September 20, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    It wasn't unwritten. He wrote it!

    "The Witch Mania" between "The Crusades" and "The Slow Poisoners".

    Laughingsong September 20, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    We could lump it all together and I do agree that the context is important, but it is much easier to see why members of new religions were targeted than peasants being accused of being witches.

    I find the theory fascinating because it does provide a possible explanation for something that does not really fit the usual "threat to power/otherness" explanations. I don't know if the theory is correct but I find it intriguing, especially after reading the Sonia Mitralias article yesterday.

    sd September 20, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Not having read the book, is there any mention of c (ergot) in relation to witch hunts? I first heard of this thesis in my college botany class. The theory seems controversial even though there's archaeological evidence of rye cultivation as far north as Scandinavia by 500 AD.

    sd September 20, 2015 at 3:48 pm

    Worth noting that rye blight typically affects the poor and those with limited food resources.
    http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/faculty/wong/BOT135/LECT12.HTM

    skippy September 20, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    If memory serves, the Salem witch saga was defined by topographical elevation e.g. poor down the hill, the soggy bottom, elites up the hill, w/ poor consuming the lesser status rye whilst the elites consumed wheat.

    Its not hard to imagine the elites with their religious "self awarded" superiority complex, that any, straying from the narrative would just reinforce the aforementioned mental attitude. As such any remediation would be authoritatively administered by the elites as they owned the code [arbiters of religious interpretation].

    Skippy…. the old NC post on that provincial French town would make a great book end to this post, by Lambert imo….

    BEast September 20, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Two other noteworthy aspects of he witch hunts: one, they were an attempt by the Catholic Church to destroy non-Church authorities; and two, they were an attempt by physicians (nobles) to destroy alternate sources of medical care.

    Thus, the targets were frequently midwives and herbalists.

    (It's also worth noting that the court physicians had no scientific basis for their treatments - that was shoehorned in later. So the traditional healers were, and remained for centuries, to the extent they and their methods survived, the better choice for health care, particularly for childbirth.)

    Jim September 20, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    False Foundations of Capitalism?

    "Primitive accumulation is the term that Marx uses in Capital vol.1, to characterize the historical process upon which the development of capitalist relations was premised. It is a useful term, for it provides a common denominator through which we can conceptualize the changes that the advent of capitalism produced in economic and social relations. But its importance lies, above all in the fact that primitive accumulation is treated by Marx as a foundational process, revealing the structural conditions for the existence of capitalist society."

    Marx seemed to seek the determinants of capitalism's genetic process in the logic of the preceding mode of production–in the economic structure of feudal society. But is such a description an explanation for the transition from feudal to capitalistic society?

    Doesn't Marx's explanation of the origins of capitalism seems to presuppose capitalism itself?

    Doesn't Marx's use of only economic variables lead into a blind alley in terms of understanding the origins of capitalism?

    Shouldn't the collapsing Left finally take a serious look at cultural and political explanations for the origins of capitalism?

    What about a cultural explanation in which the creation and role of nationalism in 16th century England provided a key competitive individual motivating factor among its citizens– as a possible cause of capitalism? What about the emergence of the autonomous city as a primary political cause of capitalism? Was capitalism born in Catholic, urban Italy at the end of the Middle Ages?

    Why has the search for explanations of the origins of capitalism, only in the economic sphere, come to occupy such a central place in our thinking?

    craazyman September 20, 2015 at 5:45 pm

    I think this analysis is off the mark and probably a convolution of an array of underlying variable and functions.

    It's as if the author says z = g(x); when in fact x = f(z,t,u and v).

    To conclude that z relies on x is a distortion of the underlying phenomenological structure and also distorts the agency by which z, t, u and v correspond to z.

    one item that is quite significant to note, and perhaps is one of the underlying variables, is the urgency by which authorities demanded "confessions' by witches, which in and of itself was sometimes enough to ameliorate punishment.

    The other underlying variable is the reality of paranormal phenomenon. We think witchcraft is a doddering myth invented by overly imaginative minds, but the reality is quite other than that.

    Relating "capitalism" to persecution of witches on the basis of their femaleness lacks all precision. The Roman empire was capitalist but accepted paganism. Our current culture would view persecution on the basis of witchcraft as daftminded lunacy. yet pagan cultures in Africa do so even today.

    The book author throws up an interesting cloud of ideas but doesn't seem capable of credible navigation, based simply on the summary offered here. I suspect it has to do less with capitalism and femaleness in particular and more, in general, in terms of threats posed by alternative consciousness structures to the dominant structure of social organization (inclusive of economics, theology, eshatology, etc.) These would be the z, t, u and v of the underlying f-function. It's seen the world over in varying guises, but the underlying variables manifest in different costumes, in varying degrees of malision.

    DJG September 20, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    The problem of witches depends on the history of individual countries and also on religious orthodoxies, Catholic as well as Calvinist and Lutheran.

    As is often the case, Italy is contradictory and somewhat of an exception. Yet the exceptions are regional. The peasants on the Peninsula ruled by Naples were treated differently from northern Italians. Venice was an exception.

    The process of liberation seems to have begun earlier in Italy than the Black Death. While doing research about Bologna, I ran across this:

    "Liber Paradisus
    The Liber Paradisus (Heaven Book) is a law text promulgated in 1256 by the Comune of Bologna which proclaimed the abolition of slavery and the release of serfs (servi della gleba)."

    So you have emancipation and the development of an idea of human rights a hundred years before the Black Death. But the source was a social war and a desire for higher wages.

    Throughout Italy, too, the Inquisition and its treatment of witches was highly uneven. I happen to have studied the benandanti, who didn't consider themselves witches, but had visions and myterious rituals. Some were healers. The Franciscans who investigated them were considered lousy Inquisitors (not tough enough) and the results are highly ambiguous. See Carlo Ginzburg's works, and see the work of Italian scholars who found even more ambiguities. Many of the benandanti in trouble were men–and the women and men reported the same mystical experiences, many of which are astounding and rather beautiful. Reports of benandanti extend into the early 1800s.

    Piero Camporesi also wrote about the economic status of Italian peasants, the rituals of their year (which didn't always coincide with Catholic orthodoxy), and the strength of ancient pagan customs.

    I realize that your point is witchcraft as a kind of collision with the growth of the state and "modern" markets. Yet I'd encourage you to consider Italy as a counterexample. On the other hand, fragmented Italy was the most highly developed economy in Europe during most of the middle ages and up to roughly 1550, so the markets may have developed (capitalistically as well as by state intervention, especially in Venice) more slowly, more peculiarly, and less disruptively. There are peasant revolts in Italian history, but not regions in flames and years and years of scorched-earth actions against rebellious peasants.

    Chauncey Gardiner September 20, 2015 at 6:37 pm

    Enlightening observations regarding the premeditated, planned and organized use of witch-hunts by the elite of that period as a vehicle of social control. I was surprised at the level of elite information and coordination in what I had previously viewed as a very primitive era of considerable physical isolation. The events discussed here suggest there was a fairly high level of communication and organization among and by the elite.

    However, I would question to what extent the extreme 14th century depopulation of Europe and Britain caused by the great plague pandemics, the Great Famine, wars and weather would have led to similar elite initiatives, regardless of the transition to capitalism.

    Appears to share some common threads with events and behaviors which have occurred in our own time – from those mentioned in the article to the McCarthy hearings of the 1950s, the Powell memorandum of 1971 and related subsequent behavior, including the forms of "primitive accumulation" cited that led to the 2008 financial collapse.

    Thank you for the review of Silvia Federici's book, Lambert, and your related observations. Seems worthwhile reading.

    LifelongLib September 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    There was at least one man in the Salem witch trials who did save his wife. At the preliminary hearing he cursed the judges for allowing her to be imprisoned, saying God would surely punish them. When she was bound over for trial anyway, he broke her out of jail and fled with her to New York.

    Would that all of us men had that kind of courage and resourcefulness. Sadly most of us don't.

    [Aug 27, 2015] Digital surveillance 'worse than Orwell', says new UN privacy chief

    "...He added that he doesn't use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it."
    Aug 24, 2015 | The Guardian

    The first UN privacy chief has said the world needs a Geneva convention style law for the internet to safeguard data and combat the threat of massive clandestine digital surveillance.

    Speaking to the Guardian weeks after his appointment as the UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci described British surveillance oversight as being "a joke", and said the situation is worse than anything George Orwell could have foreseen.

    He added that he doesn't use Facebook or Twitter, and said it was regrettable that vast numbers of people sign away their digital rights without thinking about it.

    "Some people were complaining because they couldn't find me on Facebook. They couldn't find me on Twitter. But since I believe in privacy, I've never felt the need for it," Cannataci, a professor of technology law at University of Groningen in the Netherlands and head of the department of Information Policy & Governance at the University of Malta, said.

    ... ... ...

    But for Cannataci – well-known for having a mind of his own – it is not America but Britain that he singles out as having the weakest oversight in the western world: "That is precisely one of the problems we have to tackle. That if your oversight mechanism's a joke, and a rather bad joke at its citizens' expense, for how long can you laugh it off as a joke?"

    He said proper oversight is the only way of progressing, and hopes more people will think about and vote for privacy in the UK. "And that is where the political process comes in," he said, "because can you laugh off the economy and the National Health Service? Not in the UK election, if you want to survive."

    The appointment of a UN special rapporteur on privacy is seen as hugely important because it elevates the right to privacy in the digital age to that of other human rights. As the first person in the job, the investigator will be able to set the standard for the digital right to privacy, deciding how far to push governments that want to conduct surveillance for security reasons, and corporations who mine us for our personal data.


    Mario_Marceau 26 Aug 2015 07:27

    At the time of writing this comment, there are only 155 other comments. This is a very important article. A crucial one. Nobody's reading. It is as though nobody gives a damn anymore*. (Taylor Swift just opens her mouth and thousands of comments fill the pages.)

    People have very clearly become numb to the idea of privacy mining. By this I mean everyone knows that their privacy is being eradicated, we all despise the idea, but somehow, very few get involved and are taking steps to prevent it from going further or, dare I hope, roll it back!

    After the revelations by Edward Snowden (a very important apex for TheGuardian), one would expect the entire western world to be up in arms about unlawful government surveillance and big corporation scooping our privacy away. Yet big brother and major corporations have been able to perform 'damage control' with surgical precision, going as fas as manipulating or intimidating the press, therefore keeping their precious status quo on the issue and keeping people across entire nations hostage and on a very tight leash.

    I hope Mr Cannataci is taking or will take into account the fact that the *people have seemingly given up while in fact they are worried but don't know what to do anymore and feel utterly helpless. I strongly believe this aspect of the whole fiasco on privacy constitute perhaps the most important cog in the gear of online positive changes when it comes to taking back our rights.

    guardianfan2000 26 Aug 2015 00:55

    British oversight of GCHQ surveillance is non-existent. If you live or work in Britain your privacy is wholly violated on everything you do. Pervasive snooping.

    luella zarf syenka 25 Aug 2015 23:54

    Ultimately it may be necessary for anyone desiring real privacy to learn to code and build his or her own encryption.

    Also if anyone desires protection from abusive police officers it might be necessary to set up a private army.

    If you desire to avoid being poisoned by Monsanto it might be necessary to purchase giant farms and grow your own food: corn, wheat, rice, avocados, melons, carrots, pigs, cattle, tilapia, hazelnuts... and make cheese and butter!

    And ultimately, for those of us desiring to avoid being cooked up by the fossil industry and its minions, it might be necessary to acquire another planet, which we could call Absurdistan.


    newschats4 Barbacana 25 Aug 2015 18:00

    The Toshiba laptop - the least expensive model I could find as a replacement - came with windows 8. I am trying to use the internet without getting hooked on all the expensive come-ons, the confusing and even contradictory offers, amenities, protection programs (some of which are scams) and other services, that unless you are in the business, most people don't seem to know much about how they all work or what is really reliable or necessary. I don't know how many times sites have tried to change my home page or provide a new tool bar to control what I'm doing, just because I responded to a "free offer" like solitaire games. Ads are enough pay off for those offers aren't they? Being electronically shanghaied is a step too far. I even unchecked the box to opt out of the tool bar but got it anyway. Now I have to try to figure out how to remove it again.
    The personal computer business is the capital city of artificial obsolescence and quackery. it is also highly addictive even for people who don't really need it for business. But having an email address is almost as necessary now as having a phone number or even a home address. The situation offered by most suppliers of equipment and even the providers is "take it or leave it". But the internet is driving out the older print media (a subscription to a physical newspaper is so much more expensive) and is becoming a requirement of classrooms at all levels, so "take it or leave it" isn't good enough. For an industry intent on dominating all aspects of life, "take it or leave it" can't be tolerated forever. I have tried at times to read the policies I have to accept or not use the product and all the protection is one-sided: the industries aren't liable for one damned thing: they could destroy your computer and you couldn't do anything about it. But it isn't an honest choice if the user, having purchased the product, has only the option to accept with no other provisions allowed, except refusal. You can shop for all sorts of alternatives for access and protection but the sheep still have to buy from the wolves to use any of them.

    Statutes governing "mail fraud", as it is called in the US, should apply to dubious scams that occur on the internet. The internet is very nearly a world wide public utility and as such should be very heavily regulated as one. It is barely regulated at all and the industry seems to be the only effective voice with regulators like the FCC.

    You can't be spied on legally on the telephone system, or with the public mails, but apparently anyone can do it with the internet as long as they know how to do it and know how to go undetected.

    BTW - I followed that link and saw no price mentioned.

    FreedomAboveSecurity -> newschats4 25 Aug 2015 15:02

    Not to mention that you had to agree to access to your computer by Microsoft before activating Windows 8. The agreement states that they can shut down your laptop anytime they find malicious files...indefinitely. You don't really own your computer under this agreement or any of the programs you paid for in purchase. There is a clause about third party access, too. One questions if the agreement provides backdoor authority. I returned both laptops with 8 on them. Oh...and you promised to connect to the net, preventing air-gapping as a privacy tactic.

    newschats4 25 Aug 2015 14:32

    It is obvious that the consumer has little or no protection on the internet or even with the manufacturers and providers. And even antivirus protection can, itself, be a form of protection racket.

    The internet is supported by industries that can make the problems they can then make even more money on by claiming to solve them.

    BTW - I have had a new laptop that I reluctantly purchased in January 2014 because I was notified (and confirmed) that I had to get an updated program because windows XP was no longer "supported". I wasn't getting updates anymore. But updates never said what they were doing or why they were doing it. It is also very obvious that the personal computer works both ways. If you can look "out", other can just as easily look in.

    When I got the new laptop with windows 8, my first impression was it was glitzier but also dumbed down. It was stuffed with apps for sale that I didn't want and I quickly removed. But what really angers me about the come-ons is, updates have removed apps I did want and found free online that someone doesn't want me to have. I had a free version of Google earth that I downloaded easily but has since disappeared.

    But now when I try to download the free version, the google earth site says that windows 7, windows XP and one other are required but not windows 8. ?? I get an error message and am told I have to download a site that will allow Google earth to keep a log of my hard drive so they can determine why I get an error message.

    I am sure that the execs at the top of the ladder know that the vast majority of internet users are sheep to be shorn. But those corporate decision makers are also the only people in key positions to know they can make the sheep pay for the razors that they will be shorn with.

    And now the school systems are raising a new generation of sheep that won't be able to live without the internet. They will feel helpless without it.


    syenka -> Robert987 25 Aug 2015 12:44

    Good point about the NSA and the GCHQ. However, neither of these outfits has magical powers and really solid encryption can pretty effectively stymie their efforts to pry. The question remains whether software purveyors can resist the government's insistence that there be a backdoor built in to each program. Ultimately it may be necessary for anyone desiring real privacy to learn to code and build his or her own encryption.


    AdMelliorandum 25 Aug 2015 08:08

    Better late than never…

    Let's wish the United Nations first UN privacy chief, Mr. Cannataci, success in "challenging the business model of companies that are "very often taking the data that you never even knew they were taking"."

    Likewise consider the ongoing investigation in Switzerland against Microsoft, as pertains the alleged Windows 10 theft of client information and privacy violations.
    See the corresponding article titled:

    "Berne a lancé une procédure concernant Windows 10", (roughly translated as: "Berne has launched a procedure concerning Windows 10"),
    published on 24.08.15 on the "Le Tribune de Geneve" newspaper:

    http://www.tdg.ch/economie/berne-lance-procedure-concernant-windows-10/story/29192122

    Excerpts from said article follow, translated using Google Translate:

    "The federal policeman launched a clarification process on Windows 10 de Microsoft."
    ". . . infringement of privacy committed by Microsoft. He demanded the examination of several issues related to the operating system of Windows 10."
    "The computer program automatically captures and shares information from its users with software vendors. They transmit them further, including for advertising."
    "In Valais, the cantonal officer Sébastien Fanti had expressed his indignation at the beginning."
    "If Microsoft does not review its privacy policy, Windows 10 could be the subject of a recommendation prohibiting the purchase" in the canton. . ."

    wichdoctor 25 Aug 2015 02:32

    I have been pointing these dangers out for over 20 years ever since the local authority stuck CCTV around the town without any consultation. If these systems were only there to act as spectators then the authorities should have no objection to slaving every camera to a publicly viewable screen or even the web. Since they do object we have to suppose they are using these things to spy on us.

    Then there are the ANPR systems that allegedly log every vehicle journey between every town on mainland UK. There is no trustworthy independent oversight on how the data is stored or used just the usual "trust us we are the police".

    Then there is the private stasi style database of the credit reference companies. No real control over their compilation or use. Use extended from credit checking to being used in employment references. Can even be used to track movements of a spouse by a vindictive ex.

    DVLA? A long history of letting any gangster with a business card access to anyone's data. Same with the electoral roll. Anyone wanting to avoid being tracked by someone bent on violence such as an ex spouse or gangster can not safely exercise their right to vote.

    I don't use social networking sites and until recently used an assumed name for voting. After a career spent in IT specialising in data acquisition I'm well aware just how easy it is to suck data a database using very basic tools. I hide my data as much as possible even though at my stage in life I probably have little to fear from the state or even the bankers


    WalterBMorgan 25 Aug 2015 01:11

    In many respects we are the problem. As pointed out we give away our privacy too easily and too cheaply. We accept massive CCTV intrusions because we fear crime unduly but don't wish to pay for more police officers instead. We want free email, news, and entertainment if we can get it so we end up with the KGB of the digital age following us about. We are bombarded with advertising yet most of us don't fight back with ad blockers or protest the over intrusion of billboard advertising. Government will spy on us and business will exploit us if we let them. Both business and government can be good and necessary but we connive with their downsides because it's cheaper.


    JaitcH BritCol 24 Aug 2015 23:40

    I live in an 'authoritarian' [state] and yet we enjoy more personal freedom that do people in Australia, Canada, the UK and USA!

    xxxsss MrPotto51 24 Aug 2015 17:16

    Encryption is all well and good, but engaging in an encryption arms race with business and governmental bodies is not going to end well; there is no point encrypting your emails if the spies have backdoors in your OS or whatever.

    We need to debate and then come to a truce, as well as clearly setting out what is acceptable, and unacceptable, behaviour.

    BritCol 24 Aug 2015 15:14

    I agree entirely with this assessment, and especially how ominous surveillance has become in the UK. When I grew up outside London it seemed to be the freest nation on Earth. We would visit North America and found the city police to be gun-toting thugs (they still are) but England has become the world's worst police state in surveillance techniques.

    Not even Russia or China spies on its citizens as much.


    Lafcadio1944 24 Aug 2015 14:06

    Way too little way too late. Just think about the vast amount of personal data that is already out there and the vast amount that is entered every minute. The dependence society and business on the internet and the fact that the data on the internet is INDELIBLE!! Everything having been collected by the NSA/GCHQ/BND etc could be accessed by hackers in the future who could trust them to actually protect it. Even the super high tech super security company Hacking Team which sells hacking and spying tools to governments and government agencies all over the world (with no concern about who they are) was itself hacked. Given that and the fact that the spyware and hacking techniques are becoming known by more and more people each day how is an ordinary internet used to protect himself? - he can't. Look at the Ashly Madison hack which was apparently done for purely personal petty grievances and adolescent morality. This can only increase with all sorts of people hacking and releasing our data can only get worse and the INDELIBLE data is always there to take.

    We all thought the internet would be liberating and we have all enjoyed the movies, porn social networking and the ability to make money on the internet but what has been created is a huge monster which has become not our friend but our enemy.


    well_jackson rationalistx 24 Aug 2015 13:59

    "I doubt if George Orwell had the imagination to conceive of airliners being hijacked and being flown into buildings, killing thousands."

    I seem to recall George Bush saying a similar thing about his own government on countless occasions following 9/11. The fact NORAD were carrying out mock exercises that same morning, including this very scenario, seems lost on people.

    As for the train shooting, it sounds like utter nonsense to me. This man well known to the intelligence agencies but allowed to roam free gets stopped by Americans and Brits just as hell is to be unleashed (I bet they were military or ex military weren't they? UK/US public love a good hero army story).... smells like BS.

    Besides, if these events tell us anything it's that surveillance never seems to work when needed most (there are very limited videos of 7/7 bombers, the pentagon attack lacked video evidence, virtually every nearby camera to the pont d'alma tunnel was not working as Diana hurtled through to an untimely end, etc, etc)....

    [Aug 22, 2015]How Complex Systems Fail

    "...This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes)."
    .
    "...It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order."
    .
    "...The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function."
    .
    ".... . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety."
    .
    "...Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law..."
    .
    "...Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise"."
    .
    "...Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do""
    .
    "...The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems."
    Aug 21, 2015 | naked capitalism
    August 21, 2015 by Yves Smith

    Lambert found a short article by Richard Cook that I've embedded at the end of the post. I strongly urge you to read it in full. It discusses how complex systems are prone to catastrophic failure, how that possibility is held at bay through a combination of redundancies and ongoing vigilance, but how, due to the impractical cost of keeping all possible points of failure fully (and even identifying them all) protected, complex systems "always run in degraded mode". Think of the human body. No one is in perfect health. At a minimum, people are growing cancers all the time, virtually all of which recede for reasons not well understood.

    The article contends that failures therefore are not the result of single causes. As Clive points out:

    This is really a profound observation – things rarely fail in an out-the-blue, unimaginable, catastrophic way. Very often just such as in the MIT article the fault or faults in the system are tolerated. But if they get incrementally worse, then the ad-hoc fixes become the risk (i.e. the real risk isn't the original fault condition, but the application of the fixes). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windscale_fire#Wigner_energy documents how a problem of core instability was a snag, but the disaster was caused by what was done to try to fix it. The plant operators kept applying the fix in ever more extreme does until the bloody thing blew up.

    But I wonder about the validity of one of the hidden assumptions of this article. There is a lack of agency in terms of who is responsible for the care and feeding of complex systems (the article eventually identifies "practitioners" but even then, that's comfortably vague). The assumption is that the parties who have influence and responsibility want to preserve the system, and have incentives to do at least an adequate job of that.

    There are reasons to doubt that now. Economics has promoted ways of looking at commercial entities that encourage "practitioners" to compromise on safety measures. Mainstream economics has as a core belief that economies have a propensity to equilibrium, and that equilibrium is at full employment. That assumption has served as a wide-spread justification for encouraging businesses and governments to curtail or end pro-stability measures like regulation as unnecessary costs.

    To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency. But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

    Highly efficient systems also are more likely to suffer from what Richard Bookstaber called "tight coupling." A tightly coupled system in one in which events occur in a sequence that cannot be interrupted. A way to re-characterize a tightly coupled system is a complex system that has been in part reoptimized for efficiency, maybe by accident, maybe at a local level. That strips out some of the redundancies that serve as safeties to prevent positive feedback loops from having things spin out of control.

    To use Bookstaber's nomenclature, as opposed to this paper's, in a tightly coupled system, measures to reduce risk directly make things worse. You need to reduce the tight coupling first.

    A second way that the economic thinking has arguably increased the propensity of complex systems of all sorts to fail is by encouraging people to see themselves as atomized agents operating in markets. And that's not just an ideology; it's reflected in low attachment to institutions of all sorts, ranging from local communities to employers (yes, employers may insist on all sorts of extreme shows of fealty, but they are ready to throw anyone in the dust bin at a moment's notice). The reality of weak institutional attachments and the societal inculcation of selfish viewpoints means that more and more people regard complex systems as vehicles for personal advancement. And if they see those relationships as short-term or unstable, they don't have much reason to invest in helping to preserving the soundness of that entity. Hence the attitude called "IBY/YBG" ("I'll Be Gone, You'll Be Gone") appears to be becoming more widespread.

    I've left comments open because I'd very much enjoy getting reader reactions to this article. Thanks!

    James Levy August 21, 2015 at 6:35 am

    So many ideas….
    Mike Davis argues that in the case of Los Angeles, the key to understanding the city's dysfunction is in the idea of sunk capital – every major investment leads to further investments (no matter how dumb or large) to protect the value of past investments.

    Tainter argues that the energy cost (defined broadly) of maintaining the dysfunction eventually overwhelms the ability of the system to generate surpluses to meet the rising needs of maintenance.

    Goldsworthy has argued powerfully and persuasively that the Roman Empire in the West was done in by a combination of shrinking revenue base and the subordination of all systemic needs to the needs of individual emperors to stay in power and therefore stay alive. Their answer was endlessly subdividing power and authority below them and using massive bribes to the bureaucrats and the military to try to keep them loyal.

    In each case, some elite individual or grouping sees throwing good money after bad as necessary to keeping their power and their positions. Our current sclerotic system seems to fit this description nicely.

    Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:15 am

    I immediately thought of Tainter's "The Complex of Complex Cultures" when I starting reading this. One point that Tainter made is that collapse is not all bad. He presents evidence that the average well being of people in Italy was probably higher in the sixth century than in the fifth century as the Western Roman Empire died. Somewhat like death being necessary for biological evolution collapse may be the only solution to the problem of excessive complexity.

    xxx August 22, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Tainter insists culture has nothing to do with collapse, and therefore refuses to consider it, but he then acknowledges that the elites in some societies were able to pull them out of a collapse trajectory. And from the inside, it sure as hell looks like culture, as in a big decay in what is considered to be acceptable conduct by our leaders, and what interests they should be serving (historically, at least the appearance of the greater good, now unabashedly their own ends) sure looks to be playing a big, and arguably the defining role, in the rapid rise of open corruption and related social and political dysfunction.

    Praedor August 21, 2015 at 9:19 am

    That also sounds like the EU and even Greece's extreme actions to stay in the EU.

    jgordon August 21, 2015 at 7:44 am

    Then I'll add my two cents: you've left out that when systems scale linearly, the amount of complexity, and points for failure, and therefore instability, that they contain scale exponentially–that is according to the analysis of James Rickards, and supported by the work of people like Joseph Tainter and Jared Diamond.

    Ever complex problem that arises in a complex system is fixed with an even more complex "solution" which requires ever more energy to maintain, and eventually the inevitably growing complexity of the system causes the complex system to collapse in on itself. This process requires no malignant agency by humans, only time.

    nowhere August 21, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Sounds a lot like JMG and catabolic collapse.

    jgordon August 21, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Well, he got his stuff from somewhere too.

    Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    There are no linear systems. They are all non-linear because the include a random, non-linear element – people.

    Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    Long before there were people the Earth's eco-system was highly complex and highly unstable.

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    The presumption that fixes increase complexity may be incorrect.

    Fixes should include awareness of complexity.

    That was the beauty of Freedom Club by Kaczinsky, T.

    JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Maybe call the larger entity "meta-stable?" Astro and geo inputs seem to have been big perturbers. Lots of genera were around a very long time before naked apes set off on their romp. But then folks, even these hot, increasingly dry days, brag on their ability to anticipate, and profit from, and even cause, with enough leverage, de- stability. Good thing the macrocosms of our frail, violent, kindly, destructive bodies are blessed with the mechanisms of homeostasis.

    Too bad our "higher" functions are not similarly gifted… But that's what we get to chat about, here and in similar meta-spaces…

    MikeW August 21, 2015 at 7:52 am

    Agree, positive density of ideas, thoughts and implications.

    I wonder if the reason that humans don't appreciate the failure of complex systems is that (a) complex systems are constantly trying to correct, or cure as in your cancer example, themselves all the time until they can't at which point they collapse, (b) that things, like cancer leading to death, are not commonly viewed as a complex system failure when in fact that is what it is. Thus, while on a certain scale we do experience complex system failure on one level on a daily basis because we don't interpret it as such, and given that we are hardwired for pattern recognition, we don't address complex systems in the right ways.

    This, to my mind, has to be extended to the environment and the likely disaster we are currently trying to instigate. While the system is collapsing at one level, massive species extinctions, while we have experienced record temperatures, while the experts keep warning us, etc., most people to date have experienced climate change as an inconvenience - not the early stages of systemwide failure.

    Civilization collapses have been regular, albeit spaced out, occurrences. We seem to think we are immune to them happening again. Yet, it isn't hard to list the near catastrophic system failures that have occurred or are currently occurring (famines, financial markets, genocides, etc.).

    And, in most systems that relate to humans with an emphasis on short term gain how does one address system failures?

    Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Good-For-Me-Who-Effing-Cares-If-It's-Bad-For-You-And-Everyone-Else

    would be a GREAT category heading though it's perhaps a little close to "Imperial Collapse"

    Whine Country August 21, 2015 at 9:52 am

    To paraphrase President Bill Clinton, who I would argue was one of the major inputs that caused the catastrophic failure of our banking system (through the repeal of Glass-Steagall), it all depends on what the definition of WE is.

    jrs August 21, 2015 at 10:12 pm

    And all that just a 21st century version of "apres moi le deluge", which sounds very likely to be the case.

    Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    JT – just go to the Archdruid site. They link it regularly, I suppose for this purpose.

    Jim August 21, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Civilizational collapse is extremely common in history when one takes a long term view. I'm not sure though that I would describe it as having that much "regularity" and while internal factors are no doubt often important external factors like the Mongol Onslaught are also important. It's usually very hard to know exactly what happened since historical documentation tends to disappear in periods of collapse. In the case of Mycenae the archaeological evidence indicates a near total population decline of 99% in less than a hundred years together with an enormous cultural decline but we don't know what caused it.

    As for long term considerations the further one tries to project into the future the more uncertain such projections become so that long term planning far into the future is not likely to be evolutionarily stable. Because much more information is available about present conditions than future conditions organisms are probably selected much more to optimize for the short term rather than for the largely unpredicatble long term.

    Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    …it's not in question. Evolution is about responding to the immediate environment. Producing survivable offspring (which requires finding a niche). If the environment changes (Climate?) faster than the production of survivable offspring then extinction (for that specie) ensues.

    Now, Homo sapien is supposedly "different" in some respects, but I don't think so.

    Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I agree. There's nothing uniquely special about our species. Of course species can often respond to gradual change by migration. The really dangerous things are global catastrophes such as the asteroid impact at the end of the Cretaceous or whatever happened at the Permian-Triassic boundary (gamma ray burst maybe?).

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    Interesting that you sit there and type on a world-spanning network batting around ideas from five thousand years ago, or yesterday, and then use your fingers to type that the human species isn't special.

    Do you really think humans are unable to think about the future, like a bear hibernating, or perhaps the human mind, and its offspring, human culture and history, can't see ahead?

    Why is "Learn the past, or repeat it!" such a popular saying, then?

    diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

    The Iron Law of Institutions (agents act in ways that benefit themselves in the context of the institution [system], regardless of the effect those actions have on the larger system) would seem to mitigate against any attempts to correct our many, quickly failing complex social and technological systems.

    jgordon August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

    This would tend to imply that attempts to organize large scale social structures is temporary at best, and largely futile. I agree. The real key is to embrace and ride the wave as it crests and callapses so its possible to manage the fall–not to try to stand against so you get knocked down and drowned. Focus your efforts on something useful instead of wasting them on a hopeless, and worthless, cause.

    Jim August 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Civilization is obviously highly unstabe. However it should remembered that even Neolithic cultures are almost all less than 10,000 years old. So there has been little time for evolutionary adaptations to living in complex cultures (although there is evidence that the last 10,000 years has seen very rapid genetic changes in human populations). If civilization can continue indefinitely which of course is not very clear then it would be expected that evolutionary selection would produce humans much better adapted to living in complex cultures so they might become more stable in the distant future. At present mean time to collapse is probably a few hundred years.

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    But perhaps you're not contemplating that too much individual freedom can destabilize society. Is that a part of your vast psychohistorical equation?

    washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:34 am

    Well said, but something I find intriguing is that the author isn't talking so much about civilizational collapse. The focus is more on various subsystems of civilization (transportation, energy, healthcare, etc.).

    These individual components are not inherently particularly dangerous (at a systemic/civilizational level). They have been made that way by purposeful public policy choices, from allowing enormous compensation packages in healthcare to dismantling our passenger rail system to subsidizing fossil fuel energy over wind and solar to creating tax incentives that distort community development. These things are not done for efficiency. They are done to promote inequality, to allow connected insiders and technocratic gatekeepers to expropriate the productive wealth of society. Complexity isn't a byproduct; it is the mechanism of the looting. If MDs in hospital management made similar wages as home health aides, then how would they get rich off the labor of others? And if they couldn't get rich, what would be the point of managing the hospital in the first place? They're not actually trying to provide quality, affordable healthcare to all Americans.

    It is that cumulative concentration of wealth and power over time which is ultimately destabilizing, producing accepted social norms and customs that lead to fragility in the face of both expected and unexpected shocks. This fragility comes from all sorts of specific consequences of that inequality, from secrecy to group think to brain drain to two-tiered justice to ignoring incompetence and negligence to protecting incumbents necessary to maintain such an unnatural order.

    Linus Huber August 21, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    I tend to agree with your point of view.

    The problem arises with any societal order over time in that corrosive elements in the form of corruptive behavior (not principle based) by decision makers are institutionalized. I may not like Trump as a person but the fact that he seems to unravel and shake the present arrangement and serves as an indicator that the people begin to realize what game is being played, makes me like him in that specific function. There may be some truth in Thomas Jefferson's quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." Those presently benefiting greatly from the present arrangement are fighting with all means to retain their position, whether successfully or not, we will see.

    animalogic August 22, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Well said, washunate. I think an argument could be run that outside economic areas, the has been a drive to de-complexity.
    Non economic institutions, bodies which exist for non market/profit reasons are or have been either hollowed out, or co-opted to market purposes. Charities as vast engines of self enrichment for a chain of insiders. Community groups, defunded, or shriveled to an appendix by "market forces". The list goes on…and on.
    Reducing the "not-market" to the status of sliced-white-bread makes us all the more dependant on the machinated complexities of "the market"….god help us….

    Jay Jay August 21, 2015 at 8:00 am

    Joseph Tainter's thesis, set out in "The Collapse of Complex Societies" is simple: as a civilization ages its use of energy becomes less efficient and more costly, until the Law of Diminishing Returns kicks in, generates its own momentum and the system grinds to a halt. Perhaps this article describes a late stage of that process. However, it is worth noting that, for the societies Tainter studied, the process was ineluctable. Not so for our society: we have the ability -- and the opportunity -- to switch energy sources.

    Moneta August 21, 2015 at 5:48 pm

    In my grandmother's youth, they did not burn wood for nothing. Splitting wood was hard work that required calories.

    Today, we heat up our patios at night with gas heaters… The amount of economic activity based on burning energy not related to survival is astounding.

    A huge percentage of our GDP is based on economies of scale and economic efficiencies but are completely disconnected from environmental efficiencies.

    This total loss is control between nature and our lifestyles will be our waterloo .

    TG August 21, 2015 at 8:20 am

    An interesting article as usual, but here is another take.

    Indeed, sometimes complex systems can collapse under the weight of their own complexity (Think: credit default swaps). But sometimes there is a single simple thing that is crushing the system, and the complexity is a desperate attempt to patch things up that is eventually destroyed by brute force.

    Consider a forced population explosion: the people are multiplied exponentially. This reduces per capita physical resources, tends to reduce per-capita capital, and limits the amount of time available to adapt: a rapidly growing population puts an economy on a treadmill that gets faster and faster and steeper and steeper until it takes superhuman effort just to maintain the status quo. There is a reason why, for societies without an open frontier, essentially no nation has ever become prosperous with out first moderating the fertility rate.

    However, you can adapt. New technologies can be developed. New regulations written to coordinate an ever more complex system. Instead of just pumping water from a reservoir, you need networks of desalinization plants – with their own vast networks of power plants and maintenance supply chains – and recycling plans, and monitors and laws governing water use, and more efficient appliances, etc.etc.

    As an extreme, consider how much effort and complexity it takes to keep a single person alive in the space station.

    That's why in California cars need to be emissions tested, but in Alabama they don't – and the air is cleaner in Alabama. More people needs more controls and more exotic technology and more rules.

    Eventually the whole thing starts to fall apart. But to blame complexity itself, is possibly missing the point.

    Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 8:30 am

    No system is ever 'the'.

    Jim Haygood August 21, 2015 at 11:28 am

    Two words, Steve: Soviet Union.

    It's gone now. But we're rebuilding it, bigger and better.

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    If, of course, bigger is better.

    Facts not in evidence.

    Ulysses August 21, 2015 at 8:40 am

    "But because system operations are never trouble free, human practitioner adaptations to changing conditions actually create safety from moment to moment. These adaptations often amount to just the selection of a well-rehearsed routine from a store of available responses; sometimes, however, the adaptations are novel combinations or de novo creations of new approaches."

    This may just be a rationalization, on my part, for having devoted so much time to historical studies– but it seems to me that historians help civilizations prevent collapse, by preserving for them the largest possible "store of available responses."

    aronj August 21, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Yves,

    Thanks for posting this very interesting piece! As you know, I am a fan Bookstaber's concept of tight coupling. Interestingly, Bookstaber (2007) does not reference Cook's significant work on complex systems.

    Before reading this article, I considered the most preventable accidents involve a sequence of events uninterrupted by human intelligence. This needs to be modified by Cook's points 8, 9. 10 and 12.

    In using the aircraft landing in the New York river as an example of interrupting a sequence of events, the inevitable accident occurred but no lives were lost. Thus the human intervention was made possible by the unknowable probability of coupling the cause with a possible alternative landing site. A number of aircraft accidents involve failed attempts to find a possible landing site, even though Cook's point #12 was in play.

    Thanks for the post!!!!!

    Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 8:47 am

    A possible issue with or a misunderstanding of #7. Catastrophic failure can be made up of small failures that tend to follow a critical path or multiple critical paths. While a single point of origin for catastrophic failure may rarely if ever occur in a complex system, it is possible and likely in such a system to have collections of small failures that occur or tend to occur in specific sequences of order. Population explosion (as TG points out) would be a good example of a failure in a complex social system that is part of a critical path to catastrophic failure.

    Such sequences, characterized by orders of precedence, are more likely in tightly coupled systems (which as Yves points out can be any system pushed to the max). The point is, they can be identified and isolated at least in situations where a complex system is not being misused or pushed to it's limits or created due to human corruption where such sequences of likelihood may be viewed or baked into the system (such as by propaganda->ideology) as features and not bugs.

    Spring Texan August 21, 2015 at 8:53 am

    I agree completely that maximum efficiency comes with horrible costs. When hospitals are staffed so that people are normally busy every minute, patients routinely suffer more as often no one has time to treat them like a human being, and when things deviate from the routine, people have injuries and deaths. Same is true in other contexts.

    washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Agreed, but that's not caused by efficiency. That's caused by inequality. Healthcare has huge dispariaties in wages and working conditions. The point of keeping things tightly staffed is to allow big bucks for the top doctors and administrators.

    susan the other August 21, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Yes. When one efficiency conflicts with and destroys another efficiency. Eq. Your mother juggled a job and a family and ran around in turbo mode but she dropped everything when her kids were in trouble. That is an example of an efficiency that can juggle contradictions and still not fail.

    JTMcPhee August 21, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Might this nurse observe that in hospitals, there isn't and can't be a "routine" to deviate from, no matter how fondly "managers" wish to try to make it and how happy they may be to take advantage of the decent, empathic impulses of many nurses and/or the need to work to eat of those that are just doing a job. Hence the kindly (sic) practice of "calling nurses off" or sending them home if "the census is down," which always runs aground against a sudden influx of billable bodies or medical crises that the residual staff is expected to just somehow cope with caring for or at least processing, until the idiot frictions in the staffing machinery add a few more person-hours of labor to the mix. The larger the institution, the greater the magnitude and impact (pain, and dead or sicker patients and staff too) of the "excursions from the norm."

    It's all about the ruling decisions on what are deemed (as valued by where the money goes) appropriate outcomes of the micro-political economy… In the absence of an organizing principle that values decency and stability and sustainability rather than upward wealth transfer.

    Will August 21, 2015 at 8:54 am

    I'll join the choir recommending Tainter as a critical source for anybody interested in this stuff.

    IBG/YBG is a new concept for me, with at least one famous antecedent. "Après moi, le déluge."

    diptherio August 21, 2015 at 9:17 am

    The author presents the best-case scenario for complex systems: one in which the practitioners involved are actually concerned with maintaining system integrity. However, as Yves points out, that is far from being case in many of our most complex systems.

    For instance, the Silvertip pipeline spill near Billings, MT a few years ago may indeed have been a case of multiple causes leading to unforeseen/unforeseeable failure of an oil pipeline as it crossed the Yellowstone river. However, the failure was made immeasurably worse due to the fact that Exxon had failed to supply that pump-station with a safety manual, so when the alarms started going off the guy in the station had to call around to a bunch of people to figure out what was going on. So while it's possible that the failure would have occurred no matter what, the failure of the management to implement even the most basic of safety procedures made the failure much worse than it otherwise would have been.

    And this is a point that the oil company apologists are all too keen to obscure. The argument gets trotted out with some regularity that because these oil/gas transmission systems are so complex, some accidents and mishaps are bound to occur. This is true–but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

    Complex systems have their own built-in instabilities, as the author points out; but we've added a system of un-accountability and irresponsibility on top of our complex systems which ensures that failures will occur more often and with greater fall-out than the best-case scenario imagined by the author.

    Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 9:42 am

    As Yves pointed out, there is a lack of agency in the article. A corrupt society will tend to generate corrupt systems just as it tends to generate corrupt technology and corrupt ideology. For instance, we get lots of little cars driving themselves about, profitably to the ideology of consumption, but also with an invisible thumb of control, rather than a useful system of public transportation. We get "abstenence only" population explosion because "groath" rather than any rational assessment of obvious future catastrophe.

    washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Right on. The primary issue of our time is a failure of management. Complexity is an excuse more often than an explanatory variable.

    abynormal August 21, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    abynormal
    August 21, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    Am I the only hearing 9″Nails, March of the Pigs

    Aug. 21, 2015 1:54 a.m. ET

    A Carlyle Group LP hedge fund that anticipated a sudden currency-policy shift in China gained roughly $100 million in two days last week, a sign of how some bearish bets on the world's second-largest economy are starting to pay off.
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/hedge-fund-gains-100-million-in-two-days-on-bearish-china-bet-1440136499?mod=e2tw

    oink oink is the sound of system fail

    Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    A very important principle:

    All systems have a failure rate, including people. We don't get to live in a world where we don't need to lock our doors and banks don't need vaults. (If you find it, be sure to radio back.)

    The article is about how we deal with that failure rate. Pointing out that there are failures misses the point.

    cnchal August 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    . . .but it is also true that the incentives of the capitalist system ensure that there will be more and worse accidents than necessary, as the agents involved in maintaining the system pursue their own personal interests which often conflict with the interests of system stability and safety.

    How true. A Chinese city exploded. Talk about a black swan. I wonder what the next disaster will be?

    hemeantwell August 21, 2015 at 9:32 am

    After a skimmy read of the post and reading James' lead-off comment re emperors (Brooklin Bridge comment re misuse is somewhat resonant) it seems to me that a distinguishing feature of systems is not being addressed and therefore being treated as though it's irrelevant.

    What about the mandate for a system to have an overarching, empowered regulatory agent, one that could presumably learn from the reflections contained in this post? In much of what is posted here at NC writers give due emphasis to the absence/failure of a range of regulatory functions relevant to this stage of capitalism. These run from SEC corruption to the uncontrolled movement of massive amount of questionably valuable value in off the books transactions between banks, hedge funds etc. This system intentionally has a deliberately weakened control/monitoring function, ideologically rationalized as freedom but practically justified as maximizing accumulation possibilities for the powerful. It is self-lobotomizing, a condition exacerbated by national economic territories (to some degree). I'm not going to now jump up with 3 cheers for socialism as capable of resolving problems posed by capitalism. But, to stay closer to the level of abstraction of the article, doesn't the distinction between distributed opacity + unregulated concentrations of power vs. transparency + some kind of central governing authority matter? Maybe my Enlightenment hubris is riding high after the morning coffee, but this is a kind of self-awareness that assumes its range is limited, even as it posits that limit. Hegel was all over this, which isn't to say he resolved the conundrum, but it's not even identified here.

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Think of Trump as the pimple finally coming to a head: he's making the greed so obvious, and pissing off so many people that some useful regulation might occur.

    Another thought about world social collapse: if such a thing is likely, (and I'm sure the PTB know if it is, judging from the reports from the Pentagon about how Global Warming being a national security concern) wouldn't it be a good idea to have a huge ability to overpower the rest of the world?

    We might be the only nation that survives as a nation, and we might actually have an Empire of the World, previously unattainable. Maybe SkyNet is really USANet. It wouldn't require any real change in the national majority of creepy grabby people.

    Jim August 21, 2015 at 9:43 am

    Government bureaucrats and politicians pursue their own interests just as businessmen do. Pollution was much worst in the non-capitalist Soviet Union, East Germany and Eastern Europe than it was in the Capitalist West. Chernobyl happened under socialism not capitalism. The present system in China, although not exactly "socialism", certainly involves a massively powerful govenment but a glance at the current news shows that massive governmental power does not necessarily prevent accidents. The agency problem is not unique to or worse in capitalism than in other systems.

    Holly August 21, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I'd throw in the theory of cognitive dissonance as an integral part of the failure of complex systems. (Example Tarvis and Aronon's recent book: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by me))

    We are more apt to justify bad decisions, with bizarre stories, than to accept our own errors (or mistakes of people important to us). It explains (but doesn't make it easier to accept) the complete disconnect between accepted facts and fanciful justifications people use to support their ideas/organization/behavior.

    craazymann August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

    I think this one suffers "Metaphysical Foo Foo Syndrome" MFFS. That means use of words to reference realities that are inherently ill-defined and often unobservable leading to untestable theories and deeply personal approaches to epistemological reasoning.

    just what is a 'complex system"? A system implies a boundary - there are things part of the system and things outside the system. That's a hard concept to identify - just where the system ends and something else begins. So when 'the system' breaks down, it's hard to tell with any degree of testable objectivity whether the breakdown resulted from "the system" or from something outside the system and the rest was just "an accident that could have happened to anybody'"

    maybe the idea is; '"if something breaks down at the worst possible time and in a way that fkks everything up, then it must have been a complex system". But it could also have been a simple system that ran into bad luck. Consider your toilet. Maybe you put too much toilet paper in it, and it clogged. Then it overflowed and ran out into your hallway with your shit everywhere. Then you realized you had an expensive Chinese rug on the floor. oh no! That was bad. you were gonna put tthat rug away as soon as you had a chance to admire it unrolled. Why did you do that? Big fckk up. But it wasn't a complex system. It was just one of those things.

    susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    thanks for that, I think…

    Gio Bruno August 21, 2015 at 2:27 pm

    Actually, it was a system too complex for this individual. S(He) became convinced the plumbing would work as it had previously. But doo to poor maintenance, too much paper, or a stiff BM the "system" didn't work properly. There must have been opportunity to notice something anomalous, but appropriate oversight wasn't applied.

    Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    You mean the BM was too tightly coupled?

    craazyman August 21, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    It coould happen to anybody after enough pizza and red wine

    people weren't meant to be efficient. paper towels and duct tape can somettmes help

    This ocurred to me: The entire 1960s music revolution would't have happened if anybody had to be efficient about hanging out and jamming. You really have to lay around and do nothing if you want to achieve great things. You need many opportunities to fail and learn before the genius flies. That's why tightly coupled systems are self-defeating. Because they wipe too many people out before they've had a chance to figure out the universe.

    JustAnObserver August 21, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Excellent example of tight coupling: Toilet -> Floor -> Hallway -> $$$ Rug

    Fix: Apply Break coupling procedure #1: Shut toilet door.
    Then: Procedure #2 Jam inexpensive old towels in gap at the bottom.

    As with all such measures this buys the most important thing of all – time. In this case to get the $$$Rug out of the way.

    IIRC one of Bookstaber's points was that that, in the extreme, tight coupling allows problems to propagate through the system so fast and so widely that we have no chance to mitigate before they escalate to disaster.

    washunate August 21, 2015 at 10:03 am

    To put it more simply, the drift of both economic and business thinking has been to optimize activity for efficiency.

    I think that's an interesting framework. I would say effeciency is achieving the goal in the most effective manner possible. Perhaps that's measured in energy, perhaps labor, perhaps currency units, but whatever the unit of measure, you are minimizing that input cost.

    What our economics and business thinking (and most importantly, political thinking) has primarily been doing, I would say, is not optimizing for efficiency. Rather, they are changing the goal being optimized. The will to power has replaced efficiency as the actual outcome.

    Unchecked theft, looting, predation, is not efficient. Complexity and its associated secrecy is used to hide the inefficiency, to justify and promote that which would not otherwise stand scrutiny in the light of day.

    BigEd August 21, 2015 at 10:11 am

    What nonsense. All around us 'complex systems' (airliners, pipelines, coal mines, space stations, etc.) have become steadily LESS prone to failure/disaster over the decades. We are near the stage where the only remaining danger in air travel is human error. We will soon see driverless cars & trucks, and you can be sure accident rates will decline as the human element is taken out of their operation.

    tegnost August 21, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    see fukushima, lithium batteries spontaneously catching fire, financial engineering leading to collapse unless vast energy is invested in them to re stabilize…Driverless cars and trucks are not that soon, tech buddies say ten years I say malarkey based on several points made in the article, while as brooklyn bridge points out public transit languishes, and washunate points out that trains and other more efficient means of locomotion are starved while more complex methods have more energy thrown at them which could be better applied elsewhere. I think you're missing the point by saying look at all our complex systems, they work fine and then you ramble off a list of things with high failure potential and say look they haven't broken yet, while things that have broken and don't support your view are left out. By this mechanism safety protocols are eroded (that accident you keep avoiding hasn't happened, which means you're being too cautious so your efficiency can be enhanced by not worrying about it until it happens then you can fix it but as pointed out above tightly coupled systems can't react fast enough at which point we all have to hear the whocoodanode justification…)

    susan the other August 21, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    And the new points of failure will be what?

    susan the other August 21, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    So here's a question. What is the failure heirarchy. And why don't those crucial nodes of failsafe protect the system. Could it be that we don't know what they are?

    Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:09 am

    While 90% of people were producing food a few decades ago, I think a large percentage will be producing energy in a few decades… right now we are still propping up our golf courses and avoiding investing in pipelines and refineries. We are still exploiting the assets of the 50s and 60s to live our hyper material lives. Those investments are what gave us a few decades of consumerism.

    Now everyone wants government to spend on infra without even knowing what needs to go and what needs to stay. Maybe half of Californians need to get out of there and forget about building more infra there… just a thought.

    America still has a frontier ethos… how in the world can the right investments in infra be made with a collection of such values?

    We're going to get city after city imploding. More workers producing energy and less leisure over the next few decades. That's what breakdown is going to look like.

    Moneta August 22, 2015 at 8:22 am

    Flying might get safer and safer while we get more and more cities imploding.

    Just like statues on Easter Island were getting increasingly elaborate as trees were disappearing.

    ian August 21, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    What you say is true, but only if you have a sufficient number of failures to learn from. A lot of planes had to crash for air travel to be as safe as it is today.

    wm.annis August 21, 2015 at 10:19 am

    I am surprised to see no reference to John Gall's General Systematics in this discussion, an entire study of systems and how they misbehave. I tend to read it from the standpoint of managing a complex IT infrastructure, but his work starts from human systems (organizations).

    The work is organized around aphorisms - Systems tend to oppose their own proper function - The real world is what it is reported to the system - but one or two from this paper should be added to that repertoire. Point 7 seems especially important. From Gall, I have come to especially appreciate the Fail-Safe Theorem: "when a Fail-Safe system fails, it fails by failing to fail safe."

    flora August 21, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Instead of writing something long and rambling about complex systems being aggregates of smaller, discrete systems, each depending on a functioning and accurate information processing/feedback (not IT) system to maintain its coherence; and upon equally well functioning feedback systems between the parts and the whole - instead of that I'll quote a poem.

    " Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; "

    -Yates, "The Second Coming"

    flora August 21, 2015 at 10:46 am

    erm… make that "Yeats", as in W.B.

    Steve H. August 21, 2015 at 11:03 am

    So, naturalists observe, a flea
    Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
    And these have smaller still to bite 'em,
    And so proceed ad infinitum.

    – Swift

    LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    IIRC in Robert A. Heinlein's "The Puppet Masters" there's a different version:

    Big fleas have little fleas
    Upon their backs to bite 'em,
    And little fleas have lesser fleas
    And so, ad infinitum.

    Since the story is about humans being parasitized and controlled by alien "slugs" that sit on their backs, and the slugs in turn being destroyed by an epidemic disease started by the surviving humans, the verse has a macabre appropriateness.

    LifelongLib August 21, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Original reply got eaten, so I hope not double post. Robert A. Heinlein's (and others?) version:

    Big fleas have little fleas
    Upon their backs to bite 'em
    And little fleas have lesser fleas
    And so ad infinitum!

    Lambert Strether August 21, 2015 at 10:26 pm

    The order Siphonoptera….

    Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:59 pm

    "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?"

    I can't leave that poem without its ending – especially as it becomes ever more relevant.

    Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 11:02 am

    Terrific post- just the sort of thing that has made me a NC fan for years.
    I'm a bit surprised that the commentators ( thus far ) have not referred to the Financial Crisis of 2008 and the ensuing Great Recession as being an excellent example of Cook's failure analysis.

    Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's

    All The Devils Are Here www.amazon.com/All-Devils-Are-Here-Financial/dp/159184438X/

    describes beautifully how the erosion of the protective mechanisms in the U.S. financial system, no single one of which would have of itself been deadly in its absence ( Cook's Point 3 ) combined to produce the Perfect Storm.

    It brought to mind Garett Hardin's The Tragedy Of The Commons https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tragedy_of_the_commons . While the explosive growth of debt ( and therefore risk ) obviously jeopardized the entire system, it was very much within the narrow self interest of individual players to keep the growth ( and therefore the danger ) increasing.

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:14 pm

    Bingo. Failure of the culture to properly train its members. Not so much a lack of morality as a failure to point out that when the temple falls, it falls on Samson.

    The next big fix is to use the US military to wall off our entire country, maybe include Canada (language is important in alliances) during the Interregnum.

    Why is no one mentioning the Foundation Trilogy and Hari Seldon here?

    Deloss August 21, 2015 at 11:29 am

    My only personal experience with the crash of a complex, tightly-coupled system was the crash of the trading floor of a very big stock exchange in the early part of this century. The developers were in the computer room, telling the operators NOT to roll back to the previous release, and the operators ignored them and did so anyway. Crash!

    In Claus Jensen's fascinating account of the Challenger disaster, NO DOWNLINK, he describes how the managers overrode the engineers' warnings not to fly under existing weather conditions. We all know the result.

    Human error was the final cause in both cases.

    Now we are undergoing the terrible phenomenon of global warming, which everybody but Republicans, candidates and elected, seems to understand is real and catastrophic. The Republicans have a majority in Congress, and refuse–for ideological and monetary reasons–to admit that the problem exists. I think this is another unfolding disaster that we can ascribe to human error.

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    "Human error" needs unpacking here. In this discussion, it's become a Deus ex Humanitas. Humans do what they do because their cultural experiences impel them to do so. Human plus culture is not the same as human. That's why capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society.

    Oldeguy August 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    " capitalism doesn't work in a selfish society "
    Very true, not nearly so widely realized as it should be, and the Irony of Ironies .

    BayesianGame August 21, 2015 at 11:48 am

    But highly efficient systems are fragile. Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

    Another problem with obsessing about (productive or technical) efficiency is that it usually means a narrow focus on the most measured or measurable inputs and outputs, to the detriment of less measurable but no less important aspects. Wages are easier to measure than the costs of turnover, including changes in morale, loss of knowledge and skill, and regard for the organization vs. regard for the individual. You want low cost fish? Well, it might be caught by slaves. Squeeze the measurable margins, and the hidden margins will move.

    Donw August 21, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    You hint at a couple fallacies.

    1) Measuring what is easy instead of what is important.
    2) Measuring many things and then optimizing all of them optimizes the whole.

    Then, have some linear thinker try to optimize those in a complex system (like any organization involving humans) with multiple hidden and delayed feedback loops, and the result will certainly be unexpected. Whether for good or ill is going to be fairly unpredictable unless someone has actually looked for the feedback loops.

    IsabelPS August 21, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    Very good.

    It's nice to see well spelled out a couple of intuitions I've had for a long time. For example, that we are going in the wrong direction when we try to streamline instead of following the path of biology: redundancies, "dirtiness" and, of course, the king of mechanisms, negative feedback (am I wrong in thinking that the main failure of finance, as opposed to economy, is that it has inbuilt positive feedback instead of negative?). And yes, my professional experience has taught me that when things go really wrong it was never just one mistake, it is a cluster of those.

    downunderer August 22, 2015 at 3:52 am

    Yes, as you hint here, and I would make forcefully explicit: COMPLEX vs NOT-COMPLEX is a false dichotomy that is misleading from the start.

    We ourselves, and all the organisms we must interact with in order to stay alive, are individually among the most complex systems that we know of. And the interactions of all of us that add up to Gaia are yet more complex. And still it moves.

    Natural selection built the necessary stability features into our bodily complexity. We even have a word for it: homeostasis. Based on negative feedback loops that can keep the balancing act going. And our bodies are vastly more complex than our societies.

    Society's problem right now is not complexity per se, but the exploitation of complexity by system components that want to hog the resources and to hell with the whole, quite exactly parallel to the behavior of cancer cells in our bodies when regulatory systems fail.

    In our society's case, it is the intelligent teamwork of the stupidly selfish that has destroyed the regulatory systems. Instead of negative feedback keeping deviations from optimum within tolerable limits, we now have positive feedback so obvious it is trite: the rich get richer.

    We not only don't need to de-complexify, we don't dare to. We really need to foster the intelligent teamwork that our society is capable of, or we will fail to survive challenges like climate change and the need to sensibly control the population. The alternative is to let natural selection do the job for us, using the old reliable four horsemen.

    We are unlikely to change our own evolved selfishness, and probably shouldn't. But we need to control the monsters that we have created within our society. These monsters have all the selfishness of a human at his worst, plus several natural large advantages, including size, longevity, and the ability to metamorphose and regenerate. And as powerful as they already were, they have recently been granted all the legal rights of human citizens, without appropriate negative feedback controls. Everyone here will already know what I'm talking about, so I'll stop.

    Peter Pan August 21, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Formula One cars are optimized for speed and can only run one race.

    Actually I believe F1 has rules regarding the number of changes that can be made to a car during the season. This is typically four or five changes (replacements or rebuilds), so a F1 car has to be able to run more than one race or otherwise face penalties.

    jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Yes, F-1 allows four power planets per-season it has been up dated lately to 5. There isn't anything in the air or ground as complex as a F-1 car power planet. The cars are feeding 30 or more engineers at the track and back home normal in England millions of bit of info per second and no micro-soft is not used but very complex programs watching every system in the car. A pit stop in F-1 is 2.7 seconds anything above 3.5 and your not trying hard enough.

    Honda who pride themselves in Engineering has struggled in power planet design this year and admit they have but have put more engineers on the case. The beginning of this Tech engine design the big teams hired over 100 more engineers to solve the problems. Ferrari throw out the first design and did a total rebuild and it working.

    This is how the world of F-1 has moved into other designs, long but a fun read.
    http://www.wired.com/2015/08/mclaren-applied-technologies-f1/

    I'm sure those in F-1 system designs would look at stories like this and would come to the conclusion that these nice people are the gate keepers and not the future. Yes, I'm a long time fan of F-1. Then again what do I know.

    The sad thing in F-1 the gate keepers are the owners CVC.

    Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 3:25 pm

    Interesting comment! One has to wonder why every complex system can't be treated as the be-all. Damn the torpedos. Spare no expense! Maybe if we just admitted we are all doing absolutely nothing but going around in a big circle at an ever increasing speed, we could get a near perfect complex system to help us along.

    Ormond Otvos August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    If the human race were as important as auto racing, maybe. But we know that's not true ;->

    jo6pac August 21, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    In the link it's the humans of McLaren that make all the decisions on the car and the race on hand. The link is about humans working together either in real race time or designing out problems created by others.

    Marsha August 21, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Globalization factors in maximizing the impact of Murphy's Law:

    1. Meltdown potential of a globalized 'too big to fail' financial system associated with trade imbalances and international capital flows, and boom and bust impact of volatile "hot money".
    2. Environmental damage associated with inefficiency of excessive long long supply chains seeking cheap commodities and dirty polluting manufacturing zones.
    3. Military vulnerability of same long tightly coupled 'just in time" supply chains across vast oceans, war zones, choke points that are very easy to attack and nearly impossible to defend.
    4. Consumer product safety threat of manufacturing somewhere offshore out of sight out of mind outside the jurisdiction of the domestic regulatory system.
    5. Geographic concentration and contagion of risk of all kinds – fragile pattern of horizontal integration – manufacturing in China, finance in New York and London, industrialized mono culture agriculture lacking biodiversity (Iowa feeds the world). If all the bulbs on the Christmas tree are wired in series, it takes only one to fail and they all go out.

    Globalization is not a weather event, not a thermodynamic process of atoms and molecules, not a principle of Newtonian physics, not water running downhill, but a hyper aggressive top down policy agenda by power hungry politicians and reckless bean counter economists. An agenda hell bent on creating a tightly coupled globally integrated unstable house of cards with a proven capacity for catastrophic (trade) imbalance, global financial meltdown, contagion of bad debt, susceptibility to physical threats of all kinds.

    Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Any complex system contains non-linear feedback. Management presumes it is their skill that keeps the system working over some limited range, where the behavior approximates linear. Outside those limits, the system can fail catastrophically. What is perceived as operating or management skill is either because the system is kept in "safe" limits, or just happenstance. See chaos theory.

    Operators or engineers controlling or modifying the system are providing feedback. Feedback can push the system past "safe" limits. Once past safe limits, the system can fail catastrophically Such failure happen very quickly, and are always "a surprise".

    Synoia August 21, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    All complex system contain non-linear feedback, and all appear manageable over a small rage of operation, under specific conditions.

    These are the systems' safe working limits, and sometimes the limits are known, but in many case the safe working limits are unknown (See Stock Markets).

    All systems with non-linear feedback can and will fail, catastrophically.

    All predicted by Chaos Theory. Best mathematical filed applicable to the real world of systems.

    So I'll repeat. All complex system will fail when operating outside safe limits, change in the system, management induced and stimulus induced, can and will redefine those limits, with spectacular results.

    We hope and pray system will remain within safe limits, but greed and complacency lead us humans to test those limits (loosen the controls), or enable greater levels of feedback (increase volumes of transactions). See Crash of 2007, following repeal of Glass-Stegal, etc.

    Brooklin Bridge August 21, 2015 at 4:05 pm

    It's Ronnie Ray Gun. He redefined it as, "Safe for me but not for thee." Who says you can't isolate the root?

    Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Ronnie Ray Gun was the classic example of a Manager.

    Where one can only say: "Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do"

    Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Three quite different thoughts:

    First, I don't think the use of "practitioner" is an evasion of agency. Instead, it reflects the very high level of generality inherent in systems theory. The pitfall is that generality is very close to vagueness. However, the piece does contain an argument against the importance of agency; it argues that the system is more important than the individual practitioners, that since catastrophic failures have multiple causes, individual agency is unimportant. That might not apply to practitioners with overall responsibility or who intentionally wrecked the system; there's a naive assumption that everyone's doing their best. I think the author would argue that control fraud is also a system failure, that there are supposed to be safeguards against malicious operators. Bill Black would probably agree. (Note that I dropped off the high level of generality to a particular example.)

    Second, this appears to defy the truism from ecology that more complex systems are more stable. I think that's because ecologies generally are not tightly coupled. There are not only many parts but many pathways (and no "practitioners"). So "coupling" is a key concept not much dealt with in the article. It's about HUMAN systems, even though the concept should apply more widely than that.

    Third, Yves mentioned the economists' use of "equilibrium." This keeps coming up; the way the word is used seems to me to badly need definition. It comes from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction. The ideal case is a closed system: for instance, the production of ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen in a closed pressure chamber. You can calculate the proportion of ammonia produced from the temperature and pressure of the vessel. It's a fairly fast reaction, so time isn't a big factor.

    The Earth is not a closed system, nor are economies. Life is driven by the flow of energy from the Sun (and various other factors, like the steady rain of material from space). In open systems, "equilibrium" is a constantly moving target. In principle, you could calculate the results at any given condition , given long enough for the many reactions to finish. It's as if the potential equilibrium drives the process (actually, the inputs do).

    Not only is the target moving, but the whole system is chaotic in the sense that it's highly dependent on variables we can't really measure, like people, so the outcomes aren't actually predictable. That doesn't really mean you can't use the concept of equilibrium, but it has to be used very carefully. Unfortunately, most economists are pretty ignorant of physical science, so ignorant they insistently defy the laws of thermodynamics ("groaf"), so there's a lot of magical thinking going on. It's really ideology, so the misuse of "equilibrium" is just one aspect of the system failure.

    Synoia August 21, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Really?

    "equilibrium…from chemistry, where it's used to calculate the production from a reaction"

    That is certainly a definition in one scientific field.

    There is another definition from physics.

    When all the forces that act upon an object are balanced, then the object is said to be in a state of equilibrium.

    However objects on a table are considered in equilibrium, until one considers an earthquake.

    The condition for an equilibrium need to be carefully defined, and there are few cases, if any, of equilibrium "under all conditions."

    nat scientist August 21, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out, dear Physicist.

    Synoia August 21, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Equilibrium ceases when Chemistry breaks out

    This is only a subset.

    Oregoncharles August 21, 2015 at 10:56 pm

    I avoided physics, being not so very mathematical, so learned the chemistry version – but I do think it's the one the economists are thinking of.

    What I neglected to say: it's an analogy, hence potentially useful but never literally true – especially since there's no actual stopping point, like your table.

    John Merryman August 21, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    There is much simpler way to look at it, in terms of natural cycles, because the alternative is that at the other extreme, a happy medium is also a flatline on the big heart monitor. So the bigger it builds, the more tension and pressure accumulates. The issue then becomes as to how to leverage the consequences. As they say, a crisis should never be wasted. At its heart, there are two issues, economic overuse of resources and a financial medium in which the rent extraction has overwhelmed its benefits. These actually serve as some sort of balance, in that we are in the process of an economic heart attack, due to the clogging of this monetary circulation system, that will seriously slow economic momentum.

    The need then is to reformulate how these relationships function, in order to direct and locate our economic activities within the planetary resources. One idea to take into consideration being that money functions as a social contract, though we treat it as a commodity. So recognizing it is not property to be collected, rather contracts exchanged, then there wouldn't be the logic of basing the entire economy around the creation and accumulation of notational value, to the detriment of actual value. Treating money as a public utility seems like socialism, but it is just an understanding of how it functions. Like a voucher system, simply creating excess notes to keep everyone happy is really, really stupid, big picture wise.

    Obviously some parts of the system need more than others, but not simply for ego gratification. Like a truck needs more road than a car, but an expensive car only needs as much road as an economy car. The brain needs more blood than the feet, but it doesn't want the feet rotting off due to poor circulation either.
    So basically, yes, complex systems are finite, but we need to recognize and address the particular issues of the system in question.

    Bob Stapp August 21, 2015 at 5:30 pm

    Perhaps in a too-quick scan of the comments, I overlooked any mention of Nassim Nicholas Taleb's book, Antifragile. If so, my apologies. If not, it's a serious omission from this discussion.

    Local to Oakland August 21, 2015 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you for this.

    I first wondered about something related to this theme when I first heard about just in time sourcing of inventory. (Now also staff.) I wondered then whether this was possible because we (middle and upper class US citizens) had been shielded from war and other catastrophic events. We can plan based on everything going right because most of us don't know in our gut that things can always go wrong.

    I'm genX, but 3 out of 4 of my grandparents were born during or just after WWI. Their generation built for redundancy, safety, stability. Our generation, well. We take risks and I'm not sure the decision makers have a clue that any of it can bite them.

    Jeremy Grimm August 22, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    The just-in-time supply of components for manufacturing was described in Barry Lynn's book "Cornered" and identified as creating extreme fragility in the American production system. There have already been natural disasters that shutdown American automobile production in our recent past.

    Everything going right wasn't part of the thinking that went into just-in-time parts. Everything going right - long enough - to steal away market share on price-point was the thinking. Decision makers don't worry about any of this biting them. Passing the blame down and golden parachutes assure that.

    flora August 21, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    This is really a very good paper. My direct comments are:

    point 2: yes. provided the safety shields are not discarded for bad reasons like expedience or ignorance or avarice. See Glass-Steagall Act, for example.

    point 4: yes. true of all dynamic systems.

    point 7: 'root cause' is not the same as 'key factors'. ( And here the doctor's sensitivity to malpractice suits may be guiding his language.) It is important to determine key factors in order to devise better safety shields for the system. Think airplane black boxes and the 1932 Pecora Commission after the 1929 stock market crash.

    Jay M August 21, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    It's easy, complexity became too complex. And I can't read the small print. We are devolving into a world of happy people with gardens full of flowers that they live in on their cell phones.

    Ancaeus August 22, 2015 at 5:22 am

    There are a number of counter-examples; engineered and natural systems with a high degree of complexity that are inherently stable and fault-tolerant, nonetheless.

    1. Subsumption architecture is a method of controlling robots, invented by Rodney Brooks in the 1980s. This scheme is modeled on the way the nervous systems of animals work. In particular, the parts of the robot exist in a hierarchy of subsystems, e.g., foot, leg, torso, etc. Each of these subsystems is autonomously controlled. Each of the subsystems can override the autonomous control of its constituent subsystems. So, the leg controller can directly control the leg muscle, and can override the foot subsystem. This method of control was remarkably successful at producing walking robots which were not sensitive to unevenness of the surface. In other words, the were not brittle in the sense of Dr. Cook. Of course, subsumption architecture is not a panacea. But it is a demonstrated way to produce very complex engineered systems consisting of many interacting parts that are very stable.

    2. The inverted pendulum Suppose you wanted to build a device to balance a pencil on its point. You could imagine a sensor to detect the angle of the pencil, an actuator to move the balance point, and a controller to link the two in a feedback loop. Indeed, this is, very roughly, how a Segway remains upright. However, there is a simpler way to do it, without a sensor or a feedback controller. It turns out that if your device just moves the balance point sinusoidaly (e.g., in a small circle) and if the size of the circle and the rate are within certain ranges, then the pencil will be stable. This is a well-known consequence of the Mathieu equation. The lesson here is that stability (i.e., safety) can be inherent in systems for subtle reasons that defy a straightforward fault/response feedback.

    3. Emergent behavior of swarms Large numbers of very simple agents interacting with one another can sometimes exhibit complex, even "intelligent" behavior. Ants are a good example. Each ant has only simple behavior. However, the entire ant colony can act in complex and effective ways that would be hard to predict from the individual ant behaviors. A typical ant colony is highly resistant to disturbances in spite of the primitiveness of its constituent ants.

    4. Another example is the mammalian immune system that uses negative selection as one mechanism to avoid attacking the organism itself. Immature B cells are generated in large numbers at random, each one with receptors for specifically configured antigens. During maturation, if they encounter a matching antigen (likely a protein of the organism) then the B cell either dies, or is inactivated. At maturity, what is left is a highly redundant cohort of B cells that only recognize (and neutralize) foreign antigens.

    Well, these are just a few examples of systems that exhibit stability (or fault-tolerance) that defies the kind of Cartesian analysis in Dr. Cook's article.

    Marsha August 22, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Glass-Steagall Act: interactions between unrelated functionality is something to be avoided. Auto recall: honking the horn could stall the engine by shorting out the ignition system. Simple fix is is a bit of insulation.

    ADA software language: Former DOD standard for large scale safety critical software development: encapsulation, data hiding, strong typing of data, minimization of dependencies between parts to minimize impact of fixes and changes. Has safety critical software gone the way of the Glass-Steagall Act? Now it is buffer overflows, security holes, and internet protocol in hardware control "critical infrastructure" that can blow things up.

    [Aug 19, 2015] Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas Cass R. Sunstein

    "...the prospect of being subject to the conspiracy theorist smear remains a potent weapon for intimidating authors, journalists, and scholars from interrogating complex events, policies, and other potentially controversial subject matter.""

    Amazon.com

    Harold Saive "Hsaive" on May 22, 2014

    Cracking The "Conspiracy Theories'" Psycholinguistic Code: The Witch Hunt against Independent Research and Analysis

    Conspiracy theories not backed by credible evidence would ordinarily be ignored as harmless ramblings.

    But when the government goes to extreme lengths to discredit an alternate (conspiracy) theory about how Global warming is not supported by the data or that the Twin Towers collapsed at near free-fall speed due to controlled demolition - suddenly these theories - backed by thousands of pages of forensic evidence - are too dangerous for Sunstein, Obama and Bush to laugh at.

    Laugh, indeed.

    The American people are waking up to being repeatedly punked by corpse media propaganda.

    Professor, James Tracy has this to say:

    "A new crusade appears to be underway to target independent research and analysis available via alternative news media. This March saw the release of "cognitive infiltration" advocate Cass Sunstein's new book, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas. In April, the confirmed federal intelligence-gathering arm, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), released a new report, "Agenda 21: The UN, Sustainability, and Right Wing Conspiracy Theory." Most recently, Newsweek magazine carried a cover story, titled, "The Plots to Destroy America: Conspiracy Theories Are a Clear and Present Danger."

    As its discourse suggests, this propaganda campaign is using the now familiar "conspiracy theory" label, as outlined in Central Intelligence Agency Document 1035-960, the 1967 memo laying out a strategy for CIA "media assets" to counter criticism of the Warren Commission and attack independent investigators of President John F. Kennedy's assassination. At that time the targets included attorney Mark Lane and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, who were routinely defamed and lampooned in major US news outlets.

    Declassified government documents have proven Lane and Garrison's allegations of CIA-involvement in the assassination largely accurate. Nevertheless, the prospect of being subject to the conspiracy theorist smear remains a potent weapon for intimidating authors, journalists, and scholars from interrogating complex events, policies, and other potentially controversial subject matter."

    Archilochus on June 16, 2015

    Cass Sunstein And This Little Book Are Downright Silly ... Read Who Really Owns Your Gold, Third Ed. By William Garner Instead

    From the abstract of the original paper by Cass Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule:

    "Many millions of people hold conspiracy theories; they believe that powerful people have worked together in order to withhold the truth about some important practice or some terrible event. A recent example is the belief, widespread in some parts of the world, that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out not by Al Qaeda, but by Israel or the United States. Those who subscribe to conspiracy theories may create serious risks, including risks of violence, and the existence of such theories raises significant challenges for policy and law . . . Because those who hold conspiracy theories typically suffer from a 'crippled epistemology,' in accordance with which it is rational to hold such theories, the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups."

    First, I find the title of the book and paper downright silly, just as I do the man himself. Sunstein is a Jesuit tool.

    Second, threatening to infiltrate groups that seek to uncover and disclose the accurate truth about events in America tells us much about the powers who manipulate these very events. All despots, martinets and dictators over the centuries have done the same, even worse, to those who have spoken out against acts of tyranny and terror committed by those who govern the masses.

    Conspiracy "THEORIES"? Are you serious?

    After all, no good scientist or researcher would ever immediately elevate his hypothesis to the level of a "theory" without careful thought, experimentation and analysis.

    The label "conspiracy theorist" makes the threat to the "powers that be" more immediately credible and elevates it to a very high and visible level, because it says that this "conspiracy guy" has some very plausible and perhaps damning evidence, and the powers should silence him.

    If the guy were just stating some simple hypothesis, no one would even notice, let alone react to him or it.

    But when someone comes along and states they have credible "theories" about certain significant events, that raises eyebrows and hackles among those in power. It also provides the powers that be with "legal authority" to silence that person and enact new laws that restrict, if not outlaw, further dissemination of so-called "conspiracy theories."

    Or so guys like Cass Sunstein would like us to believe.

    I recommend this silly book to all Americans as an example of disinformation from the powers that be. I do not, however, recommend spending any money on it. It is not worth the paper it is printed on.

    robbie eisler on March 22, 2014

    Irrational
    This is a nonsensical approach to a subject that throws the baby out with the bathwater. It is a wholesale, hackneyed, down-the-line mainstream piece of propaganda that sophistically mixes clearly insane, paranoid conspiracy theories with certainly plausible ones. It's as if he keeps hoping the uninformed and the misinformed will continue to stay uninformed and misinformed--and manipulated. But, who, two years ago, would have thought the leader of Germany's conversations with her grandchildren were being recorded by an American governmental agency or that British intelligence would have tens of thousands of film frames of nude people on Yahoo webcams? We live in an age where the implausible and the outrageous unfortunately sometime turn out to be even more outrageous than one could have imagined. Sunstein, a Martha's Vineyard sycophant, has no time for these thoughts.

    Plattsoon April 19, 2014

    Dangerous To Whom?


    Conspiracy Theories are not about a type of person,
    that is, a person who "believes" in some theories.
    Conspiracy Theories are about a type of crime.
    The type which perpetrators plan beforehand to commit.

    Typical of "debunkers" and propagandists, here all manner of Theories are
    lumped together, and the Conspiratorial Type of Person is assumed.
    This Person is flawed. Wrong. Incorrect. Crippled. Effed up.
    We would like to figure out how these false ideas are spread among the Effed Up People.

    This analysis is pathetic and inane.

    As for some particular theory being "demonstrably false", I would very much like to see Mr. Sunstein
    engage in a discussion with the major proponents of said theory and please, do demonstrate its falseness.

    Incidentally, that the United States Government conspired to kill Martin Luther King Jr is not a conspiracy theory,
    but a legal finding.

    Ralph Yateson April 6, 2014

    Disinformation As Policy

    The American government has suffered a plague since the CIA's assassination of President Kennedy. While the CIA and powers that be managed to abuse their power and control the official story the American people would not lose their free thinking so quickly and soon knew something was rotten. Ever since the inception of the Central Intelligence Agency America has been battling a force that exists with a written charter to undermine and undo ever single fundamental principle of representational democracy in America and elsewhere replacing it with an ugly cold-skinned changeling covertly overseen by its CIA creators and their sponsors. We live in that nation now and Cass Sunstein is its ultimate evil spawn, sent here to convince the populace that its healthy sense of government corruption is due to some bizarre personal failing or psychological flaw on the behalf of those people.

    A month to the day after the Kennedy assassination the creator of the CIA, Harry Truman, sent an editorial to the Washington Post saying he regretted signing the agency into being and that he had created a monster that had gone way beyond its original intended purpose and gotten out of control. The editorial was yanked from the second edition and quietly buried. The timing of Truman's editorial and its message exactly one month after Kennedy's assassination was not unintentional. The national security state had made its move and was now taking over. America was now becoming a safe place for the Cass Sunstein's and Allen Dulles's.

    This book suggests the true facts about the Kennedy assassinations, TWA 800, and 9-11 were all nutty conspiracy theories all handily explained by Mr Sunstein who calmly attributes all those wicked events to perfectly reasonable explanations that all so happen to fit the government version. We owe thanks to the free speech we still have even though Mr Sunstein was actively trying to undo American free speech and make any accusations of conspiracy against the government illegal. Thank goodness for Amazon where we can still legally buy books that expose the truth behind these events without any Orwellian nightmare like Sunstein forcing us to accept the legal official version at threat of punishment. The only thing Sunstein was honest about was the Masonic eye of the pyramid staring back at you from his book and mocking you. Sort of like the eye of Sauron trying to convince you the tales people are telling you about it aren't true. The ultimate Orwellian oracle unashamedly unveiled.

    [Aug 16, 2015] The Real News - 9/11 The Man Who Knew Too Much

    "Mass surveillance is not about protecting people; it is about social control.

    The shadow government is its own enterprise, and it rewards those who pay obesiance quite richly"


    Here is the second segment of a fascinating five part interview about the deep state and the mechanics of what some might call corporatism.

    You may watch all five segments of this interview at The Real News here. Note that they are listed in descending order on the site, so start from the bottom up to see them in order.


    [Aug 01, 2015] Ron Paul: All Wars Are Paid For Through Debasing The Currency

    Zero Hedge
    Submitted by Mac Slavo via SHTFPlan.com,

    And at some point, all empires crumble on their own excess, stretched to the breaking point by over-extending a military industrial complex with sophisticated equipment, hundreds of bases in as many countries, and never-ending wars that wrack up mind boggling levels of debt. This cost has been magnified by the relationship it shares with the money system, who have common owners and shareholders behind the scenes.

    As the hidden costs of war and the enormity of the black budget swell to record levels, the true total of its price comes in the form of the distortion it has caused in other dimensions of life; the numbers have been so thoroughly fudged for so long now, as Wall Street banks offset laundering activities and indulge in derivatives and quasi-official market rigging, the Federal Reserve policy holds the noble lie together.

    Ron Paul told RT

    Seen from the proper angle, the dollar is revealed to be a paper thin instrument of warfare, a ripple effect on the people, a twisted illusion, a weaponized money now engaged in a covert economic warfare that threatens their very livelihood.

    The former Congressman and presidential candidate explained:

    Almost all wars have been paid for through inflation… the practice always ends badly as currency becomes debased leading to upward pressure on prices.

    "Almost all wars, in a hundred years or so, have been paid for through inflation, that is debasing the currency," he said, adding that this has been going on "for hundreds, if not thousands of years."

    "I don't know if we ever had a war paid though tax payers. The only thing where they must have been literally paid for, was when they depended on the looting. They would go in and take over a country, and they would loot and take their gold, and they would pay for the war."

    As inflation has debased the currency, other shady Wall Street tactics have driven Americans into a corner, overwhelmed with debt, and gamed by rigged markets in which Americans must make a living. The economic prosperity, adjusted for the kind of reality that doesn't factor into government reports, can't match the costs of a military industrial complex that has transformed society into a domestic police state, and slapped Americans with the bill for their own enslavement.

    Dr. Paul notes the mutual interest in keeping the lie going for as long as the public can stand it… and as long as the gravy keeps rolling in:

    They're going to continue to finance all these warmongering, and letting the military industrial complex to make a lot of money, before it's admitted that it doesn't work, and the whole system comes down because of the debt burden, which would be unsustainable."

    Unsustainable might be putting it lightly. The entire thing is in shambles from the second the coyote looks down and sees that he's run out over a cliff.

    [Jul 26, 2015] Powerful, important book

    "...Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism"
    By The Counton March 25, 2014

    Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War (American Empire Project)

    Bacevich scores a direct hit on the foundations of the American national security state with this scathing critique, and demolishes the unspoken assumptions that he believes have led the United States into a senseless, wasteful, and counter-productive posture of nearly perpetual war. These assumptions take the form of the "credo" -- which holds that the United States has the unique responsibility to intervene wherever it wants, for whatever purpose it wants, by whatever means it wants -- and the supporting "trinity" of requirements for the U.S. to maintain a global military presence, to configure its military forces for global power projection, and to counter threats by relying on a policy of global interventionism.

    Bacevich invites readers to consider how we would respond if China, for example, were to increase its military spending to the point that it surpassed the combined defense budgets of Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, Germany, France and Great Britain; created forward-deployed garrisons around the world; partitioned the globe into territorial (and space) commands, each with a Chinese four-star general in command; maintained a vigorous program of military exercises in countries around the world; and created a long-range strike force, capable of employing conventional, nuclear, or cyber weapons on short notice; and then points out that this imaginary Chinese program pales in comparison to the actual U.S. defense posture. Is it any surprise, Bacevich asks, that the United States now tends to see every problem around the world as requiring an American military solution, or that other countries don't necessarily take American altruism for granted?

    Bacevich's final chapter -- titled, with a nod to Voltaire, "Cultivating our own Garden" -- makes a plea to reject the "Washington rules" that have led us to permanent war and return to our founding ideals. Our purpose, he argues, is not to shape the world in our image, but rather "to be America, striving to fulfill the aspirations expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution." Neither isolationist nor naive, Bacevich argues forcefully that U.S. military forces should be used only as a last resort, and only in self-defense or in defense of our most vital interests. In short, he concludes, "if the United States has a saving mission, it is, first and foremost, to save itself."

    Uncomfortable, subversive stuff indeed. An absolute must-read for anyone concerned with our future.

    [Jul 20, 2015] The Dangerously Vague Romance of War by Shane Smith

    July 20, 2015 | original.antiwar.com
    Which sounds better, to "die for your government", or "give your life for your country"? The first could be interpreted, after a mountain of bodies pile up, as a mistake. As something that would seem to require scrutiny, admissions of having been wrong, of blame to be placed. Dying for a government, or more precisely, dying for a select group of political figures at a certain moment in time for very specific reasons, doesn't hide behind a fluttering flag quite as well as "dying for country". Which is why we never hear it. War, in the mind of the Middle America that still thinks on it, is shrouded in a sepia-toned composite of images and sounds, stories of soldiers, duty to country, service, songs, movies, and myth that give politicians far more leverage than they would otherwise have, when executing another war. No, "service to country" is the emotional and moral narcotic we administer to ourselves, almost automatically, at the inception of a new war. War is all wrapped up in our American Mythos so tight that it seems astonishing that we haven't descended utterly into a pure American-style fascism. Maybe a few more 9/11-style attacks and the transformation would be complete. 9/11 was an unparalleled opportunity for the explosion of government growth, and as much as "war is the health of the State", so are foreign attacks on the home State, attacks that can be perfectly molded so as to stoke the maximum amount of nationalist rage from the citizens. Those attacks were a godsend for a government that had been starved of an actual threat for far too long. And they took full advantage of the opportunity. Fourteen years later, the Warfare State is petering out from the evaporating fumes of 9/11, and their looking for a new fix.

    But what of those who lied the country into igniting a regional dumpster fire after 9/11? Once the war hysteria evaporates, where are What would it really take to hold any one politician for a military disaster halfway around the world? It is blindingly obvious that there will never be a reckoning for those who hustled us into the Iraq war. What about Libya? Syria? How bad does it have to get for there to be something resembling accountability? War atrocities seem to have become less of a chance for justice and lessons learned than as a new precedent that the progenitors of the next war can point to when their war goes bad. And creators of war did learn a few things from Iraq and Afghanistan. They learned that flag-draped coffins do focus the attention of the citizenry. And drone strikes don't, really.

    That hazy collage of feel-good nationalism is trotted out every election year, and every candidate engages in it to one degree or another. Peace is a hard sell next to the belligerent effusions of a Donald Trump. His crazed rantings against immigrants, his bizarre fantasies as to how he would handle world leaders via telephone call, as well as his boorishness in general, has thousands flocking to hear him speak. But what they're cheering is an avatar of a blood-soaked ideology, one that cloaks itself in the native symbols and culture, breeding hate and intolerance, until the bilious nationalism reaches just the right temperature and then boils over into lawless fascism. As Jeffrey Tucker points out, Trump is nothing new. The graveyard of twentieth century tyrannies is a testament to just how much death and destruction can be induced by a charismatic parasite bellowing the tenets of a flag-wrapped tyranny. Most of what we hear coming from leaders today is fascism to a greater or lesser extent. If what we mean by fascism to be a Religion of the State, a militant nationalism taken to its logical conclusion, then every leader engages in it, because it ignites something primitive and sinister in the minds of voters.

    We understand war theoretically, and distantly, but what of those who are forced to carry out the fever dreams of politicians? Blindly thanking veterans for their service, we feel a sense of duty discharged, and never think to look more deeply into their traumas, or the scheme they were tricked into executing. Military recruiters, the unscrupulous peddlers of military slavery, are treated as a benign influence on young people today. Their pushy, overindulgent attitude toward our 18-year olds should piss us off more than it does, since what they are conning the young into is becoming the expendable plaything for the whims of the current Administration.

    War is the pith of total government. The source of all its power, war and the threat of war provide the excuse for every injustice, every outrage, every restriction of liberty or further bilking of the citizen-hosts. As the Warfare State trots out the familiar sermons of threats from abroad, potential greatness at home, and wars to be fought, one would do well to reflect that war enriches the State at the expense of the rest of us. It consumes our lives, our liberty, our wallets, and the future of our children and grandchildren. The current crop of candidates who peddle military greatness are the enemy of peace and prosperity, and when they so openly declaim their lust for war, we should frankly believe what they say. And after hearing them, we should recognize the would-be tyrant in our midst, hawking hyper-militarism under the guise of national greatness, and treat them like the vermin they clearly are.

    Shane Smith lives in Norman, Oklahoma and writes for Red Dirt Report.

    Read more by Shane Smith

    Freedom Or The Slaughterhouse The American Police State From A To Z by John Whitehead

    "..."Who needs direct repression when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?""
    "...Oppression occurs on many levels. The slave with a benevolent master is still a slave."
    "...Article left out biggest clue to a police state. We've got more people incaracerated and we're got most people incarcerated per person "
    "...we struggle for terms and definitions to our systems of voluntary enslavement. No one makes us do these things, they simply make it easy and attractive."
    Jul 15, 2015 | Zero Hedge


    Submitted by John Whitehead via The Rutherford Institute,

    "Who needs direct repression when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?"-Philosopher Slavoj Žižek

    Despite the best efforts of some to sound the alarm, the nation is being locked down into a militarized, mechanized, hypersensitive, legalistic, self-righteous, goose-stepping antithesis of every principle upon which this nation was founded.

    All the while, the nation's citizens seem content to buy into a carefully constructed, benevolent vision of life in America that bears little resemblance to the gritty, pain-etched reality that plagues those unfortunate enough to not belong to the rarefied elite.

    For those whose minds have been short-circuited into believing the candy-coated propaganda peddled by the politicians, here is an A-to-Z, back-to-the-basics primer of what life in the United States of America is really all about.

    As you can see, the warning signs are all around us. The question is whether you will organize, take a stand and fight for freedom, or will you, like so many clueless Americans, freely walk into the slaughterhouse?

    BlowsAgainsttheEmpire

    "As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile."

    Well, duh. What do you think the purpose is in giving all this stuff out.

    Money Boo Boo

    the real thugs are in Wall Street and Washington, they've taken all the cash and have left the crumbs for over 300 million people to fight over.

    The amount of money thats gone to welfare is the fart spittle from a fly's moistend buttocks dripped onto the windshields of Ben Bernanks motorcade as it drives to another meeting where virgin frau grois is served cold over the nipples of prepubescent boys. Trillions of your dollars have been malinvested or straight up stolen by Wall Street and the MIC since 1913 and now as the USSA wanes in its ability to strip enough wealth from the rest of the world to service all its citizens in the ponzi scheme you've all grown accustomed to over the last 100 years the bath is draining and all those swimming with a cock in their mouth are starting to see the third world you actually are without strip mining and global murder as your go-to method.

    sucks to be second last........again.

    Memedada

    If you by criminals are referring to the oligarchy class – the banksters, their puppet politicians, the money-masters etc. – I agree. And if you mean look at what they did to the former proud and industrious city of Chicago I also agree. Otherwise you're either very dumb, misinformed, a (willing?) tool or a paid troll.

    artless

    In 46 years I have been detained against my will, kidnapped, imprisoned, had my property stolen, had my money stolen, been the victim of violence, threatened with a loaded handgun, and endless amounts of verbal abuse. In each case it was a Law Enforcement Officer that committed each offense. I have never in my 46 years transgressed another human being, committed any crime, or any act of violence against any living sentient being.

    I have NEVER experienced any of the above behavior from my fellow civilian citizens.

    The Police are just the muscle for the Criminal Gang Writ Large known as The State. They are nothing but parasites that feed of the wealth, production, and labor of the individual and deserve no better fate than any other parasite.

    Memedada

    The State is just a tool. A tool in the wrong hands is – like a gun – not accountable. It's the people misusing the tool that should be frowned upon.

    Right now it's a fascist state = a tool for and by the big corporations/the banksters.

    PS. I didn't downvote you. I very seldom vote on comments/replies - it's silly to vote for whats right or not. Truth is not a democratic matter.


    Oldwood

    In my 62 years I have NEVER been accosted or even been insulted by police.

    I have been raped and molested by federal, state and local taxing entities however.

    Oppression occurs on many levels. The slave with a benevolent master is still a slave.

    1033eruth

    I'll bet $1000 that you KNOW people that have been accosted, etc, etc, etc, etc ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

    Article left out biggest clue to a police state. We've got more people incaracerated and we're got most people incarcerated per person

    Memedada

    You're – together with the rest of the world – as far from socialism as you can get.

    Capitalism is defined by who owns the shit-show – who owns the trade, the industries, the 'means of production' etc. In US – and the rest of the world – there've been a major privatization epoch. Everything under former democratic control – even central banks – have become privatized. There's almost nothing left productive that's not owned by private entities (and most of it by the 0,01%). There're small 'islands' left (like trinkets in Greece) that still 'needs' to be handed over to the ownership class (the capitalists).

    The problem with many on ZH is they don't know what 'capitalism' and/or 'socialism' is – they just automatically associated the former with 'freedom' and the latter with 'statism/totalitarianism'. It's silly.

    The size of the state/state intervention, how 'free' the market is and whether or not you have 'rights' or not is irrelevant in relation to what economic system you live in. And right now we are living in a capitalist economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production.

    Yes, it's not the utopian version of capitalism supported by 'libertarians' (the US version = the right-wing version. And not the true left-wing version dominant in the rest of the world), but it's still capitalism by any meaningful definition.

    NoWayJose

    Omar Shariff recently passed away. One of the things I remember most about Dr Zhivago is how rapidly the rules changed once the communists took over. McMansions became apartments for the peasants. Bank accounts for the wealthy went away. Sure, these are socialist ideals - but aren't we much closer to socialism today than we are to democracy? And isn't wealth inequality as great as it has been in -- well -- about a hundred years?? (or since Dr Zhivago's time!)

    Oldwood

    All "isms" are simply tools for herding people in large groups towards centralization of power. They are all fiction based upon unobtainable perfections that DO NOT EXIST in nature. If we are to ever achieve this perfection, it will require the elimination of man and replacement by machines, and these machines will need to be programmed by an alien intelligence.

    This is all bullshit designed to incentivize each and every one of us to voluntarily abandon our individual freedoms and surrender to the collective. Even capitalism requires some level of this, as ultimately the necessary "governance" required to make it "function" requires our submission.

    Please note that the one commonality of all of these "isms" is submission to authority. Authority that ALWAYS grows until it consumes its host.

    So keep trumpeting how your beloved "pure" ism has not been achieved and therefor unfairly judged. As each if us demands this pursuit of the perfection that our favorite "ism" promises, at least admit that it comes at a significant cost to the individual.

    Freedom has no "isms".

    Memedada

    Very valid points. I – almost – agree. There is however some "isms" that see this trap of inherent 'totalitarianism' in most 'isms' (and may I add especially communism and capitalism): anarchism (there're many versions and I respectfully think 'libertarianism' – the US-version - is the wrong version if freedom is your goal).

    The above comment is only in response to the misuse of 'socialism' to describe our current predicament. The obfuscation of our language narrows our vision and our ability to communicate.

    artless

    @NoWayJose

    This is important. The use of the proper terms in describing our current and past situations.

    Democracy is a means of POLITICAL organization. It says NOTHING of economies or anything else for that matter. Majority rules, voting, participation only means that and in the worst case scenario-even void of any and all correption such as vote fraud-it can and most likely will descend into mob rule or in other words two wolves and a lamb deciding what's for dinner. Get 50.00000000000001% of "the vote" and without the protection of the individual ANYTHING becomes "legal".

    Everything that came to pass in Nazi Germany was "legal". Does this sound similar to what we experience today here in the United States? Such is the fasle god of democracy. See Hans Hoppe for that one.

    SOCIALISM is a means of economic organization in which "the state" OWNS the means of production, the resources, and thus the labor by default (that is my elaboration and not a classic definition)

    One may have a democracy AND socialism. See most of Western Europe. France might be the closest with its state run industries (AirBus, trains, etc). Many nation states are mixed LIKE THE USSA in that a company like GM is partially OWNED by the state through bailouts (they would have been dissolved in a free market) in addition to things like Amtrak and The USPS.

    We organize A REPUBLIC trough a process of democracy. Yes, I know it still sounds funny but at least that is the design.

    What we have and what is most common is called FASCISM. This is marriage of The State and EVERYTHING. WHile the state may not technically OWN the means od production or all wealth THEY HAVE COMMAND OF IT through regulation, intervention, and participation in what would otherwise be free markets. That particioation by definition makes said markets and economy NOT FREE OR OPEN but controlled and influenced by THE STATE.

    Now this participation has the theoretic potential to be both benign and benevolent. Hence the parade of "...poets, priest, and politicians..." - to quote a rock song-that cling to the belief that the reason for the 100% failure rate of said idea through History is just a lack of the RIGHT people being in charge. The problem with that lies again with the pesky individual AND the means by which any and all of these Ideas are implemented. The common means has always been through the use of coercion and force. It is the state's monopoly on voilence and the use of force that then becomes the defining characteristic of the political and economic system.

    In a Fascist state thsoe with access to that power-the use of violence and coercion-can emply that to their economic benefit through syndicate, regulation, cartelization, etc. One perfect present day example would be the case of UBER in relation to the taxi/car service industry. In a free market "government" would have no say in whom or what I choose to drive me around.

    But we do not have either a free market or a free society.

    We live in a Fascist Police State and work and toil in a Crony Capital Crypto-Socialist/Fascist economy. Musch like every other nation-state on the planet.

    I did not down vote you.

    Oldwood

    we struggle for terms and definitions to our systems of voluntary enslavement. No one makes us do these things, they simply make it easy and attractive.

    how about a free phone????

    Cloud9.5

    Don't take my word for it. Take the word of someone who lead a successful revolution and managed to kill millions of his perceived enemies. "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." Mao.

    You my friend have surrendered your political power to the would be omnipotent and omnipresent state. You are not a free man. You are a subject. Your very survival depends on the benevolence of a capricious bureaucrat you have never met. Should he or she develop a dislike for you, you are done.

    Ment in response to DutchBoy

    Cloud9.5

    No, I think the game is rigged. Whomever we get to vote for will be vetted and in the process bought by the oligarchs that own the system. I do not hold much hope for the political process at the moment. I do not think there is a political solution to an on going economic contraction brought on by energy depletion. I expect the state to continue its efforts towards totalitarian control. I expect those efforts to be impeded by the entropy innate within a collapsing system.

    I believe that Detroit is a model for the ongoing collapse. It is a Democratic city rife with all the problems inherent in the nanny state. As it declines, despite all the political games, the bureaucrats have had to thin their ranks. Even their pensions have come under attack. Some time back, a black, Democrat, chief of police called on his citizens to arm themselves. This is the trend.

    Expect as conditions worsen for kidnappings, home invasions and armed robberies to go exponential as desperate people do desperate things in an effort to survive. The armed state is of little use in such an events. They may have the political resolve to quell large outbreaks of social unrest but I doubt it.

    What I do know is that a man well armed and vigilant has some chance of defending himself and his family in these uncertain times. An unarmed person has no chance and is dependent on a collapsing state that is preoccupied with self preservation.

    Going out and murdering some low level bureaucrat or politician as some form of political statement is flat out wrong and I will not support it.

    fredquimby

    U is for UNARMED CITIZENS SHOT BY POLICE.

    Courtesy of the Guardian in the UK - A tally of all people shot/died by US police actions.....It broke 600 this year this past weekend, now at 613 :(

    http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/ng-interactive/2015/jun/01/the-counte...

    P.S Happy Jadehelm day

    Grimaldus

    "G is for GRENADE LAUNCHERS. The federal government has distributed more than $18 billion worth of battlefield-appropriate military weapons, vehicles and equipment such as drones, tanks, and grenade launchers to domestic police departments across the country. As a result, most small-town police forces now have enough firepower to render any citizen resistance futile."

    Resistance Futile? Are you kidding me? What a idiot.

    The more weapons a rogue and lawless government has to oppress law abiding civilians, the more weapons that WILL fall into civilian hands. As in captured.

    Actually, the illegal obama tyranny corp constitution violator brownshirts dont stand a chance. Not in Texas.

    Grimaldus

    DutchBoy2015

    ISIS Leader Admits We Are Being Funded By The Obama Administration

    http://govtslaves.info/isis-leader-admits-we-are-being-funded-by-the-oba...


    [Jul 11, 2015]Merkel and the NSA - Analysis

    October 24, 2013 | www.tomroganthinks.com

    Accusations that the NSA has listened in on Chancellor Merkel's conversations are not conducive to positive German-US relations. Interestingly, the fact that the White House is saying that they 'are not' monitoring and 'will not' monitor Merkel, suggests that 'they have' monitored her in the past. To be sure, as I noted yesterday, there are worthwhile reasons behind US intelligence collection operations in Europe. Still, targeting the phone of a close ally (especially a head of state and especially one as friendly as Merkel) is a dangerous gamble. It risks significant blowback in terms of personally alienating a valued American friend. The NSA will have known this. Correspondingly, I assume that Merkel was targeted for a short time and in pursuit of specific information. Perhaps in regards to her position during a conference/financial negotiations (international meetings are a playground for intelligence officers).


    There's another point here; as Marc Ambinder (a top journalist on the NSA) notes, if Merkel was indeed targeted, then why wasn't her position as an intelligence source more highly classified? Ambinder hints at the larger truth. If she was monitored, Merkel was effectively a deep cover source. In that regard, it's truly ridiculous that Snowden was able to gain access to such an operation. He was a contractor, not the Director of the NSA. As I've argued before, the US Government has a serious problem with its protection of its highly classified sources.


    Of course, all of this raises the broader question as to what other information Snowden might have given Greenwald. Does he have agents/officers details? The British certainly think so. Based on what's happening at the moment, we must assume that Greenwald is upping the ante. This may signal how he'll conduct himself at Omidyar's new media endeavor. Ultimately, this is what will most concern the US Government - signal intelligence programs can be reconstructed. Humans cannot.

    [Jul 10, 2015] US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 collusion

    "...medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. "
    .
    "...Psychologists are not medical professionals. Why does the Guardian keep mistakenly referring to them as such? This habitual error casts doubt on the credibility of this and related articles. "
    .
    "...the APA has a code of ethics, modelled after the Hippocratic oath. these psychologists violated that code of ethics, and then the APA took steps to protect them, at the expense of their own ethical code. that's the problem, independent of the guilt or innocence of the people tortured. "
    .
    "...One question here - what about the use of psychoactive / neuroleptic drugs in interrogation? Was that used? I just ask because those few Gitmo detainees seen in public so far have that kind of nodding dazed drooling expression of the lithium / tricyclic / SSRI victim of excessive drug treatment - nodding, dazed, stumbling, etc? Have they been doing drug-based interrogation on top of the waterboarding?"
    .
    "...I don't want my life purchased by torture. I agree with those who don't believe that it saves anyone, anyway, but come down to it? I'm radical. Don't want to live in a world in which torture is"just n case" standard procedure. Sorry. Ends don't justify means. Appeal to self-interest here is shabby and false."
    .
    "...The APA is currently lobbying the AMA (American Medical Association) and Congress to be permitted to prescribe and dispense drugs used to treat psychological/psychiatric disorders. Unless the APA outs every single one of these guys and kicks them out of APA permanently, yanks their licenses, and gets rid of every member of their Association's Board of Governors who 'covered up' these ethical breaches, no psychologist should be eligible for insurance reimbursement. Nothing happens until you hit the pocketbooks of the whole community."
    .
    "...True psychologists are not physicians. However, there were a number of "real" physicians, i.e. AMA accredited doctors, that worked at Guantanomo who monitored the health of torture victims and alerted the interrogators that their subjects were close to death and they did two things: stopped the torture and then treated the victims back beyond the verge of death. At that point the torturers could resume their "interrogation". We know this was happening. So far these doctors names have not been revealed."
    .
    "...Stephen Behnke, has a Yale law degree and a psychology Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. How ominous does that sound?"
    Jul 10, 2015 | The Guardian

    The largest association of psychologists in the United States is on the brink of a crisis, the Guardian has learned, after an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, has already led to at least one leadership firing and creates the potential for loss of licenses and even prosecutions.

    For more than a decade, the American Psychological Association (APA) has maintained that a strict code of ethics prohibits its more than 130,000 members to aid in the torture of detainees while simultaneously permitting involvement in military and intelligence interrogations. The group has rejected media reporting on psychologists' complicity in torture; suppressed internal dissent from anti-torture doctors; cleared members of wrongdoing; and portrayed itself as a consistent ally against abuse.

    Now, a voluminous independent review conducted by a former assistant US attorney, David Hoffman, undermines the APA's denials in full – and vindicates the dissenters.

    Sources with knowledge of the report and its consequences, who requested anonymity to discuss the findings before public release, expected a wave of firings and resignations across the leadership of an organization that Hoffman finds used its extensive institutional links to the CIA and US military to facilitate abusive interrogations.

    ... ... ...

    Substantial sections of the report focus on the APA ethics chief and describes Behnke's "behind-the-scenes attempts to manipulate Council of Representatives actions in collusion with, and to remain aligned with DoD" – a reference to the Department of Defense.

    A University of Michigan-pedigreed psychologist, Behnke has held his position within the APA since 2000, and, according to sources, used it to stifle dissent. Hoffman's report found Behnke ghostwrote statements opposing member motions to rebuke torture; was involved in voter irregularity on motion passings; spiked ethics complaints; and took other actions to suppress complaints.

    ... ... ...

    Behnke was hardly the only psychologist involved in the establishment and application of torture.

    According to two landmark Senate reports, one from the armed services committee in 2009 and the other from the intelligence committee in 2014, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen were instrumental in persuading the CIA to adopt stress positions, temperature and dietary manipulation, sleep deprivation and waterboarding in interrogations. (Neither man is an APA member.)

    Psychologists assigned to the CIA's office of medical services assisted abusive interrogations, which the Guardian revealed in June appear to violate longstanding CIA rules against human experimentation.

    Those tactics, save waterboarding, spread from the CIA to the military. Psychologists joined "behavioral science consultation teams" that advised interrogations at Guantánamo Bay.

    ... ... ...

    Yet the organization withstood all public criticism, until New York Times reporter James Risen revealed, based in part on a hoard of emails from a deceased behavioral-science researcher named Scott Gerwehr, the behind-the-scenes ties between psychologists from the APA and their influential counterparts within the CIA and the Pentagon.

    In 2002 – the critical year for the Bush administration's embrace of torture – the APA amended its longstanding ethics rules to permit psychologists to follow a "governing legal authority" in the event of a conflict between an order and the APA ethics code.

    Without the change, Risen wrote in his 2014 book Pay Any Price, it was likely that psychologists would have "taken the view that they were prevented by their own professional standards from involvement" in interrogations, making it "far more difficult for the Justice Department to craft opinions that provided the legal approvals needed for the CIA to go ahead with the interrogation tactics".

    In 2004, after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal burst into public view, the emails detailed a private meeting of APA officials with CIA and military psychologists to "provide input on how the APA should deal with the growing furor", Risen wrote.

    Ethics chief Behnke emailed: "I would like to emphasize that we will not advertise the meeting other than this letter to the individual invitees, that we will not publish or otherwise make public the names of attendees or the substance of our discussions, and that in the meeting we will neither assess nor investigate the behavior of any specific individual or group."

    Risen went on to report that six of the 10 psychologists on the seminal 2005 APA taskforce "had connections with the defense or intelligence communities; one member was the chief psychologist for US Special Forces". The subject of tremendous internal controversy, the APA ultimately rescinded the taskforce report in 2013.

    In October, the APA called Risen's account "largely based on innuendo and one-sided reporting". Yet the next month the association announced it had asked Hoffman to investigate potential "collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of 'enhanced' interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror".

    Throughout the controversy, the APA has preferred to treat criticism of its involvement in torture, either from journalists or from human rights-minded psychologists, with dismissal. Its internal investigations of the criticisms have typically ended up exonerating its members.

    "A thorough review of these public materials and our standing policies will clearly demonstrate that APA will not tolerate psychologist participation in torture," the APA communications chief, Rhea Farberman, told the Guardian in January 2014, after the Guardian revealed that an APA inquiry declined to pursue charges against a psychologist involved in the Guantánamo Bay torture of Mohammed al-Qahtani.

    The psychologist, former US army reserve major John Leso, took part in a brutal interrogation of Qahtani, the suspected intended 20th 9/11 hijacker, according to a leaked interrogation log and investigation by the Senate armed services committee.

    Interrogators extensively deprived Qahtani of sleep, forced him to perform what the log called "dog tricks", inundated him with loud music for extended periods, and forcibly hydrated him intravenously until he urinated on himself.

    "The concern that APA's decision to close the matter against Dr John Leso will set a precedent against disciplining members who participate in abusive interrogations is utterly unfounded," the APA's Farberman told the Guardian in January 2014.


    Apteryx05 10 Jul 2015 22:05

    If these doctors are guilty as alleged, then why aren't Bush, Cheney and the rest of their cabal of war criminals facing prosecution?

    WatchEm 10 Jul 2015 22:04

    Just the APA?? Of course elements of their APA membership are torturers - and they know this only too well. Don't leave out 'psychologists' who are not APA members and get profitable government contracts to develop 'better ways to torture'...

    Add psychiatrists, 'government employees', mercenary profit centers aka 'contractors', police officers with torture expertise, the alphabet soup of government agencies and purported humans from the rank of major to general. The latter being directors and instigators of torture where a number of them were promoted for their efficiency in the finer arts of torture.

    At the lower echelons of torture are military cannon fodder who are often assigned blame and have been known to be prosecuted. Just watch a few tapes of them speaking on camera and it's easy to see thru them - ranging from just sad to being control freaks. They are what is known as the "few bad apples" in the barrel full of bad apples.

    There is no such thing as an old torturer... Add a few criminal retirees with long track records of torture and experience of slaughtering men, women and children. They were pulled out of retirement to show their expertise in the killing, torture and operating death squads - paid for by the US taxpayer.

    Never leave out US 'ambassadors' who magically appear like bees to a honeypot when torture is in the air - e.g. Negropointe is an example of a US 'torture ambassador' with considerable experience in the slaughtering, torture and particularly in the rapes of innocent people. His latest skill set extends to being a diplomat for death squads.

    In the Washington swamp there are the legal lemmings specialising in opinions of torture. All legal opinions are, of course, simply to support the rear ends of policy makers on torture - and their non-legal opinions violate the Convention against Torture and literally every human rights and crimes against humanity treaty ever ratified by the USG.

    At the top of the pack of cards are the policy makers - Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, the Black Widow Pianist, Wolfowitz and other self-relevant sickos, plus circa 400-500 of their I'm-very-innocent sycophants from almost every department of government. They will explain how torture is not torture - despite a written policy on torture. Needless to say, the travel opportunities of this group outside US jurisdiction is somewhat restricted.

    Not unsurprisingly, US society is marinated in this vermin and some of them are pillars of society - e.g. college deans et al. Dysfunctional, corrupt and criminal would be an understatement. In most other nations with a real functioning justice system, most of this swamp with the vermin of humanity would be in jail cells.

    The APA? Hell they are just a segment of a torture regime...

    JinTexas -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 22:03

    In light of this:

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/jan/02/ndaa-historic-assault-american-liberty

    How would we know if they've stopped doing it or not?

    rfs2014 -> Slo27 10 Jul 2015 22:03

    no, doctors are the worst. it's their job to help people. not so with lawyers.

    dakaygees -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 22:02

    Which US was able to correct it self by condemning torture? You must be living on another planet.

    TheBBG 10 Jul 2015 22:01

    The Americans need Tony Abbott and his far right wing Liberal-Fascist Party for salvation. He will show them how to make it legal to torture and illegal to tell anyone about it, first or second hand.

    bobliv -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 22:00

    Read the White Rabbit by Bruxe Marahall, just a variation on theme.

    rfs2014 -> Lex Lozano 10 Jul 2015 22:00

    by that logic, you should have no problem with terrorists capturing and torturing american armed services personnel (whose main goal may be to kill as many terrorists as possible).

    the geneva conventions are there for a reason - each side believes it's right, so we need some basic standards by which to conduct ourselves in times of war. not torturing the other side is a good place to start.

    Athell -> William Brown 10 Jul 2015 21:58

    Of course, any fascist surveillance state considers everyone a threat

    Athell -> Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 21:57

    Ha ha ha true - but I just think he was trying to compare the level of atrocities committed by the nazis to the one committed by the US government since the Bush years - and perpetuated by the Obama administration

    Athell alverta 10 Jul 2015 21:55

    Yeah, that bunch of criminals have evaded justice for many years.

    Haynonnynonny 10 Jul 2015 21:55

    In the history of humanity, all nations will torture, and fall from good character: only some, unlike the US teeter there longer, stay there, or go so far off the deep end they end up like Nazi Germany, or the Soviets. That the US was able to correct its self, and condemn the torture, and move on, drives many mad.

    tomjoadmcalister 10 Jul 2015 21:53

    Psychologists are not medical professionals. Why does the Guardian keep mistakenly referring to them as such? This habitual error casts doubt on the credibility of this and related articles.

    en1gm4 -> MondoFundi 10 Jul 2015 21:53

    Bingo. Democracy, rule of law etc is just a charade. In reality the rulers of today are no different than those of years ago. We're just compliant because we have a little version of freedom. So they keep us happy whilst they do what they want.

    Maybe some time in the future justice will prevail but for now nothing is going to happen.

    Haynonnynonny kowalli 10 Jul 2015 21:51

    The Nazi never water boarded any one. If you get a chance, stop by your local library, and get a history book.

    alverta 10 Jul 2015 21:44

    Start with Bush. Cheney, Rummie and Condi first... Add in Wolfie and all who are already signed on to advise Jebbie.


    Mansa Mahmoud gastinel1 10 Jul 2015 21:42

    US foreign policy is dictated by US corporate interests. Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany (prior to WW1) were focused on colonization. Under the colonization model, the European countries owned the colonized countries and extracted resources and cheap labor to support the 'Home' economy.

    America (aside from Okinawa Japan, Phillipinnes, Guam) prefers not to maintain direct control. Rather america installs puppets; the purpose of the puppets is to make it easy for american companies to exploit the resources of the proxy (via puppets) controlled nations. During the cold war, the USSR wasted resources in trying to finance and manage warsaw pact nations. The USSR did it (partially) for ideological reasons. USA focused on maintaining proxy control and creating access to cheap resources for american companies. That is the entire premise of globalization.. it enables an american (by brand only) company to access cheap labor and provides said company with access to a world of consumers.

    Once you understand that fundamental concept, then american foreign policy makes absolute sense. America is run for the benefit of the big dollar people; nothing less, nothing more. Read the book "Confessions of a Hit Man".

    kowalli 10 Jul 2015 21:39

    nazi at the full face. USA are bunch of nazi

    William Brown StuartBooth 10 Jul 2015 21:37

    The U.S. Government considers its own citizens a threat. That's why they spy.

    Brian Lippe 10 Jul 2015 21:37

    Typical. They should start with Cheney if they're going to prosecute anyone and spread out from there. He's still saying it was OK!

    StuartBooth 10 Jul 2015 21:34

    American Exceptionalism allows Americans carte blanch to commit any crime against foreigners. Like standing on a cockroach.

    Alistair73 10 Jul 2015 21:30

    Lets not forget all the commie regimes... Stalin and Lenin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Un and his daddy and grand daddy, and now Maduro in Venezuela, Castro in Cuba, Mugabe in Zimbabwe. You would think the left would embrace state sanctioned torture since it has been relentlessly practiced by all of its heroes.

    camerashy 10 Jul 2015 21:24

    Every god damn single one of these psychopaths must prosecuted and put behind bars! No apologies should be accepted. They're nothing but human scum!

    philbertdelamorgue -> Trig Satyr 10 Jul 2015 21:22

    the APA has a code of ethics, modelled after the Hippocratic oath. these psychologists violated that code of ethics, and then the APA took steps to protect them, at the expense of their own ethical code. that's the problem, independent of the guilt or innocence of the people tortured.

    gastinel1 -> Mansa Mahmoud 10 Jul 2015 21:21

    I appreciate what you are saying, however US foreign policy adopted the theme of 'America First' long before Bush and Cheney. This policy runs counter to its own stated values of freedom and democracy because it necessitates ensuring compliance from other regimes to American capitalist aspirations.

    confettifoot -> libbyliberal 10 Jul 2015 21:19

    It's a hard education. The best among us recoil; it breaks the heart and poisons everything, knowing. That's the problem. It wasn't so long ago that the Nazis discovered the same - make it so awful that no one can quite wrap their mind around it, so atrocious that it can't be discussed at table, so ugly that passing the information feels like assault. Make it very expensive to resist, make it life-wrecking - someone suggested that we stop paying taxes. That won't catch on. It's not just America. The world is full of good Nazis, frowning silently into the middle distance. We're all deploring like crazy in here. Who among is is actually doing something?

    photosymbiosis 10 Jul 2015 21:13

    One question here - what about the use of psychoactive / neuroleptic drugs in interrogation? Was that used? I just ask because those few Gitmo detainees seen in public so far have that kind of nodding dazed drooling expression of the lithium / tricyclic / SSRI victim of excessive drug treatment - nodding, dazed, stumbling, etc? Have they been doing drug-based interrogation on top of the waterboarding?

    confettifoot -> Jake Wilson 10 Jul 2015 21:11

    Pogo. You know. "I have seen the enemy...".

    confettifoot -> pogomutt 10 Jul 2015 21:10

    I don't want my life purchased by torture. I agree with those who don't believe that it saves anyone, anyway, but come down to it? I'm radical. Don't want to live in a world in which torture is"just n case" standard procedure. Sorry. Ends don't justify means. Appeal to self-interest here is shabby and false.


    fairandreasonabletoo 10 Jul 2015 21:06

    The spirit of one Doctor Josef Mengele……….found its way to America with all the other NAZI baggage….

    It would seem?


    gastinel1 10 Jul 2015 21:05

    Its interesting isn't it, how governments justify torture. The Nazis were convinced that they needed to weed out dissidents and spies by any means possible. When the Allies occupied Germany, suspected Nazis were also given a very rough time. Those post war interrogators gained a lot of 'useful' experience and that has really formed the basis of postwar interrogation techniques - human rights be damned.

    gastinel1 10 Jul 2015 20:57

    They could have saved themselves a bit of money by recruiting NCO's from the British Army who served in Northern Ireland. They know all the techniques. To be fair to the UK Government, they did apologise. But then again, why did the UK go back to doing it with the Americans? What values did they say they are protecting?

    CostaParkiMik -> Emily Pulane 10 Jul 2015 20:54

    such sincerity ..... while forgetting that your lot were the illegal invading force operating in the interests of corporations and zionist interests.... who had spent years degrading the public infrastructure of a sovereign nations causing the deaths of many hundreds and thousands of women, children the old and the sick.

    libbyliberal 10 Jul 2015 20:52

    In Jan. 2014 I attended a "World Can't Wait"-sponsored NYC forum on Gitmo and a screening of "Doctors on the Dark Side" directed by psychologist Martha Davis.

    Todd Pierce, who had been a Gitmo prisoner lawyer, said that our society expects professional people to exhibit high ethical standards. This has not been the case and an alarming number has colluded with the amoral Bush administration's torture program.

    From the film I learned about the horrific tortures some ended by the Obama adm. and SOME NOT at Gitmo!

    Temperature extremes, sensory deprivation, 24 hour flourescent lighting, 24 hour sustained assaultive noise, solitary confinement, riot squad attacks and punchouts with night sticks, sleep deprivation, aggressive force feeding, genital mutilation, sexual degradation, threats to kill a prisoner's family members, manipulation with drugs, stress positions, organ-damaging, bone-breaking sustained shackling and suspension from vulnerable body parts, withholding of appropriate and timely medical care, the infamous water boarding, etc. ETCETERA!!!

    I also learned that having military personnel present motivated torturers to push torture to nth degree. Emergency tracheotomies at times had to be conducted on prisoners who had been zealously waterboarded. In spite of medical personnel present at least 100 prisoners were "inadvertently" tortured to death. Medical personnel were then pressured to falsify death certificates to cover up such mistakes.

    UK's Andy Worthington spoke of not only the number of wrong place/wrong time innocent men rendered and tortured but how Obama's promises of release and then betrayals is a spiritual torture that has resulted in profound despair and even suicides. How the US Congress is heartless about Gitmo, wanting to posture as tough on terror and Pentagon issues propaganda about recidivism rates to back them up.

    Worthington said Obama has decided to kill people with drones instead of use capture and imprisonment. Once again, innocent lives are destroyed with this reckless program.

    Debra Sweet of WCW said instead of trying to win foreign hearts and minds the US is instead traumatizing and terrorizing foreign hearts and minds (and radicalizing them) with its draconian detention and torture programs.

    Torture begats false confessions which the Bush administration used to justify its war.

    Mitchell and Jenner who reversed the SERE program and set up the advanced interrogation program Worthington disclosed are now covered by a $5 million defense fund provided by CIA against attempts at liability and accountability. Mitchell was the one who decided one prisoner be waterboarded 83 times!


    creweman 10 Jul 2015 20:50

    Who wants to bet that the maximum penalty imposed on any individual will be nothing more than a slap on the wrist? The United States Of Hypocrisy will see to that.


    CostaParkiMik Urgelt 10 Jul 2015 20:47

    "....There are no such pressures on the FBI or the Attorney General to do their jobs and enforce the law....."
    I could imagine with white man, intellectual arrogance that they saw it as part of their "mission" to maintain and spread all that's good and right about the American way and do away with threats to that mission..... self righteous neo christian nazis.

    F H Dar 10 Jul 2015 20:46

    21st Centuries truly Savage State, which a 'special relationship' with Britain?


    reto 10 Jul 2015 20:44

    It's a little like the death penalty... I don't really care what they do to terrorists who have carried out attacks and killed innocent people but do really hope they only do it to people who are guilty. What is clear is that the guy who is actually torturing is crazy afterwards. As for the APA... this organisation is so awash with group think and peudo-expertise I doubt they have found out anything at all despite their many "experiments". Being a scientist requires a minimum IQ. Look, if you actually can find out things using torture, why not have it in your arsenal but experience after 9/11 (see Senate report), the last couple of hundred years and the inquisition seems to suggest that it doesn't work well for most purposes. Names are just codes these days and aren't that important anymore in a cell command structure.

    BrianHarry 10 Jul 2015 20:24

    If medical professionals were coerced into lying about torture after 9/11, it's not to hard to imagine that the N.I.S.T. report(the official explanation of what happened on 9/11) is also a lie.

    The question is, "Who in government, CIA, FBI, etc, found it necessary to coerce these people into lying"? And Why?


    PamelaKatz JohnML2015 10 Jul 2015 20:15

    The APA is currently lobbying the AMA (American Medical Association) and Congress to be permitted to prescribe and dispense drugs used to treat psychological/psychiatric disorders. Unless the APA outs every single one of these guys and kicks them out of APA permanently, yanks their licenses, and gets rid of every member of their Association's Board of Governors who 'covered up' these ethical breaches, no psychologist should be eligible for insurance reimbursement. Nothing happens until you hit the pocketbooks of the whole community.

    1cjcarpenter 10 Jul 2015 20:14

    In my opinion the APA and its members lost the majority of their credibility well before any CIA involvement. The 1995 Little Rascals day care trials, for a start, showed a degree of irresponsibility that I would have labeled criminal.

    pogomutt 10 Jul 2015 20:13

    "Community standards" What a fucking joke. The American Psychological Association came out with a position paper only a few years back that classified the rape of children by homosexuals as an "orientation". It's TRUE, Guardian! Live with it!

    ID5175635 FancyFootwork 10 Jul 2015 20:00

    A bit overboard, don't you think? APA is an organization. Some in that organization may be guilty of wrongdoing. The vast majority of APA members are psychologists who work in schools, workplaces, universities, for NASA, the DOD, and other workplaces and have no relationship with torture in any manner.

    Michael Williams 10 Jul 2015 20:00

    Right. Blame the doctors. Not the people giving the orders.

    When Bush hangs, then we can worry about the doctors.

    Barry_Seal franzbonsema 10 Jul 2015 19:57

    They have domestic assassination squads and NSA surveillance teams to deal with any prosecutors who get any funny ideas which might threaten "national security"

    Barry_Seal 10 Jul 2015 19:52

    The CIA is absolutely untouchable. They are the law and they are the true government of the USA. They cannot and will not be prosecuted for anything. This is not because they never do anything illegal; it is because they are the government agency tasked with doing that which is illegal. This is the true reason why the CIA must necessarily be so secretive - nearly everything they become involved with is a grave legal and moral crime.


    Angelaaaa Brucetopher 10 Jul 2015 19:51

    Probably because alcohol, drugs and so-called "truth serums" don't actually deliver the truth. They just lower inhibitions. As anyone who has listened to chemically-enhanced stream-of-consciousness rambling will gather. You may get some truth (Grandma smells ... ) but probably no razor-sharp insights.

    Of course, torture doesn't deliver the truth either. Just for other reasons.

    The point that no one in power ever wants to acknowledge is that the most reliable way to get the truth is from someone who really wants to deliver it.


    Bankhead 10 Jul 2015 19:50

    Is it correct to refer to psychologists as part of the medical community? The writer perhaps should distinguish between Psychiatrists (medical doctors) and Psychologists (PhDs). As I recall, the Psychiatric professional association(s) were demonstrably against participation in military interrogation during the period in question.

    Denial, however, is a term familiar to both professions. There is an irony on display here, and not a small amount of hubris.


    Haggala Jeffrey_Harrison 10 Jul 2015 19:40

    When the Americans were accused of torture after the world saw the Abu Ghraib images, the American administration to let themselves off the hook just redefined the terminology.

    And that is what humanity does to allow itself to make the same mistakes of the past, it changes the definition unconsciously mostly but in the Abu Ghraib situation that was a conscious change.

    And still GTMO is in operation where there are still untried prisoners being interrogated, where we may wonder is the beast we fight actually the image in the mirror


    Angelaaaa synchronicfusion 10 Jul 2015 19:39

    No. It's a fairly straightforward definition of the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist - the terms are not interchangeable.

    The difference is important because psychologists want desperately to be acknowledged as "doctors" (Mengele notwithstanding) - rather than expensive crackpots for the chattering classes. To that end, their organisations adopt similar ethical commitments. However, unlike psychiatrists, joining these organisations is voluntary. And even if they kick out a member, that psychologist can still hang out a shingle and continue counselling, regardless of whether s/he is guilty of government-sanctioned torture, sleeping with patients or just really bad at the job.

    Psychiatrists however, as doctors, can be stripped of the right to practice if they are proven to be incompetent or unethical.


    ro2124 Will D 10 Jul 2015 19:34

    Indeed if it was some African dictator Mr Yankee would be screaming for justice!

    Still guess we should not be surprised after all the illegal wars, torture, lies, illegal gathering of information by the NSA and the way their police forces are behaving at the moment gunning down unarmed people like there was no tomorrow.

    The Yanks have absolutely no credibility left whatsoever !!

    But, hell when someone exposes the truth like Mr Snowden then they fall over themselves and scream about justice, etc what a bunch of damn hypocrites!

    FancyFootwork 10 Jul 2015 19:30

    Finally, those righteous and morally upright men and women, who for a very long time cried foul very loudly will feel vindicated that an upcoming report by an investigator, who was personally chosen by the brass of the APA is slated to point fingers at the organization, its leadership and members.

    The report will blast a bombshell, which will be seriously consequential to the livelihood, reputation and possibly freedom of many in the APA, which includes the elite brass, who where involved with the Bush Administration by schooling, aiding and abetting its its principal torturing institution: The CIA.

    Now the APA will forever be decidedly linked with Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Who can forget the image of the imprisoned man at Abu Ghraib, kneeling on the floor, hands tied and been stared at eye level by a barking German Shepherd, which looked ready to bite and sever his head from his body. The horror displayed by the man was unsettling. How about the image of a hooded person in a black robe, arms spread, standing to look like enduring crucifixion? And the APA will also be forever lined with the term WATERBOARDING.

    This is an institution that was entrusted to use the science of psychology to safeguard the mental and psychological health of Americans. Instead, it used its knowledge and power to do to engage in morally and ethically reprehensible acts of torture.

    No doubt, the anticipated report will provide tremendous moral and political boost to those, who endured years of humiliation, rebuke, ridicule and even threats to their livelihood for opposing torture in all its forms. They will come back swinging with a swagger, aiming and hoping for a grand slam. My hope is that, once the necessary number of APA heads are bashed, the momentum will shift to go after Bush Administration officials Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, the former president himself and many other big fish, or small minnows that were involved in the CIA torture program.

    Now, that will be quiet an event bigger in scale to the impeachment of former President Nixon, who by comparison committed far lesser reprehensible act than George W Bush and cohorts

    Ali Kerrouzi 10 Jul 2015 19:27

    And then they wander why USA is hated all over the world, Bush's administration is partly responsible what's happening in Iraq now and Syria, Bush & Blair made our world more dangerous created more terrorism they get away with it in this life but they will have to answer God on the judgment day for the blood on their hand, the torture, millions of refugees

    IntoOblivion 10 Jul 2015 19:26

    Better late than never. Many of us already knew what "enhanced interrogation techniques" really meant, an euphemism for terrorism. And that "responsible and humane medical practices" were never compatible with "EIT".
    That doesn't mean that the ones who ordered the torture are not the ones we should really blame and that should face justice. But doctors were also aware of what they were doing.

    Bklynite53 10 Jul 2015 19:23

    Why do they always go after the bottom feeders first. Time to start at the top and that means the commander-in - chief.


    talenttruth Juan Olmo (MOSAICOS COQUI') 10 Jul 2015 19:19

    I HOPE that this is satire. If so, funny. If not . . .

    The "war" against terrorism is an INVENTED FANTASY LIE, by the U.S. military industrial complex, to waste American's money, even beyond the 53% of our ENTIRE national budget going to Eternal War (and huge eternal profits for the criminals behind the "war industry".)

    Yes there are insane "terrorists." And they have insane, sociopathic leaders and lost, borderline personality "followers." But the American response (all for PROFITS) is to turn everything into a fear/fear/fear 24/7 "War."

    The Republicans are the paid representative of the Eternal War Profits machine.

    Having the APA support Bush, or any other criminal who kills hundreds of thousands of people, just to further enrich themselves, is despicable. And Yichen Hu is partly right, Bush, Cheney, Halliburton's entire board and a host of other criminals should have been prosecuted for war crimes years ago.

    Theodore Svedberg Laudig 10 Jul 2015 18:58

    True psychologists are not physicians. However, there were a number of "real" physicians, i.e. AMA accredited doctors, that worked at Guantanomo who monitored the health of torture victims and alerted the interrogators that their subjects were close to death and they did two things: stopped the torture and then treated the victims back beyond the verge of death. At that point the torturers could resume their "interrogation". We know this was happening. So far these doctors names have not been revealed.

    If the APA is now cleaning house on their torturer enablers maybe it is about time for the AMA to start looking into the "real" doctors that were part of this system.

    ro2124 Brucetopher 10 Jul 2015 18:57

    >Why do elaborate, horrendously painful, cruel and vicious actions need >to be undertaken

    No doubt some are sadists and enjoy it and as any real interrogator knows, evidence under torture is mostly useless. If someone wired up my dangly bits to the mains, I am sure I would confess anything from eating babies for breakfast to being the best mate of Osama Bin Liner!

    and the Yanks still insist on lecturing the rest of us about morals and the "Land of the Free" and all the other bullshit they like to spout ...but slowly we are seeing what a bunch of hypocrite F**** they really are!


    Littlemissv norecovery 10 Jul 2015 18:51

    Here is a comment from JCDavis with some important information:

    Russ Tice revealed that the NSA was spying on Obama as early as 2004 at the behest of Dick Cheney, who had already convinced the NSA's director Hayden to break the law and spy on everyone with power.

    It can't be any coincidence that President Obama went (or was sent) to Bill "Cheney is the best Republican" Kristol to get his foreign policy validated, and Kristol congratulated him on it, calling him a "born-again neocon."

    And it is no coincidence that Obama has the Cheney protegee Victoria Nuland in his administration, right in the center of his new cold war with Russia. And no coincidence that she is the wife of neocon Robert Kagan, who with Bill Kristol founded PNAC. PNAC counts neocon Paul Wolfowitz as a member, who saw Russia as our main obstacle to world empire.

    It's a nest of neocons running Obama as a puppet and pushing us into a confrontation with Russia while smashing all the Russian allies according to the Wolfowitz doctrine.

    Littlemissv -> marydole 10 Jul 2015 18:46

    the US and it's partners in crime turn around and say "gee how come all these folks got radicalised and are out to kill us"?

    Gore Vidal explained why very well back in 2002 in his book, Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace: How We Got to Be So Hated

    Littlemissv -> ID8918386 10 Jul 2015 18:41

    I'm reminded of the work of R J Lifton

    Yes! Lifton appeared on Democracy Now two months ago: Robert Jay Lifton, Author of "The Nazi Doctors": Psychologists Who Aided Torture Should Be Charged

    Everyone should watch Amy Goodman's terrific interview with the 89-year-old, and very wise Lifton.

    gtggtg -> IanCPurdie 10 Jul 2015 18:29

    "I think you will find the USA has exempted itself from international law, ..."

    Yes, and they should be called on it, relentlessly. Law is not law, only tyranny, if one can exempt oneself from it.

    When a Spanish court took on Pinochet and by extension his US partners, this scared the shit out of powerful people here in the US, much more than has been let on. File charges against the bastards; demand their appearance; when they refuse to show up, try them in absentia; if found guilty, arrest them should they ever touch foot in that jurisdiction or wherever there is recognized procedures for extradition. Keep doing it again and again and again. Eventually it will have an effect, although it may seem hopeless now.


    Imran Nazir 10 Jul 2015 18:23

    Adam Curtis: Bitter Lake. . Puts things into perspective.

    Longasyourarm KDHymes 10 Jul 2015 18:21

    Regrettably true. The problem began with the notion that putting pharma into bed with academics would generate miracles, a delusion shared by many neocon governments.

    confettifoot Longasyourarm 10 Jul 2015 18:19

    No - I read the link. "Learned helplessness" is a thing that's been around since Pavlov, and is helpful in compassionately understanding depression. It wasn't developed for the military, and you've taken Seligman's comments wildly out of context. I HATE these bastards, want them out of the profession - Seligman is very much a pacifist, well-known good guy, actually well out of the medicalized model, against coercion, opponent to bad stuff in the profession and that's why I was shocked.

    If you have real source that he was hushing up whistleblowers show me and I'll loathe him, but it would be extraordinarily out of character. Be careful with people's reputations.


    frazzerr 10 Jul 2015 18:18

    This is great don't get me wrong, they deserve to be jailed and for a considerably long time, but who oversaw all of the torture and sometimes the torture of innocent people?

    He is also responsible for the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan as a direct reaction to the 9/11 bombing when neither Iraq or Afghanistan had any connections with Al-Qaeda.

    I'll never forget his comment, "'I am driven with a mission from God'. God would tell me, 'George go and fight these terrorists in Afghanistan'. And I did. And then God would tell me 'George, go and end the tyranny in Iraq'. And I did."

    When is George W. Bush going to tried for his war crimes?


    redpill 10 Jul 2015 18:02

    US torture doctors could face charges after report alleges post-9/11 'collusion'

    Good. Let them try using the Nuremberg defence!


    MiniMo 10 Jul 2015 18:01

    "an independent review revealed that medical professionals lied and covered up their extensive involvement in post-9/11 torture. The revelation, puncturing years of denials, creates the potential for leadership firings, loss of licenses and even prosecutions."

    The very sad part of this is that they were involved in even a slightest way in torture, not that they might lose their jobs or prosecuted.They fully deserve to lose their jobs at the very least.

    They are expected to be caring professionals. Obviously not always so, and they've let down most of their colleagues so very badly, as the majority of them really do care.


    KDHymes Pete Street 10 Jul 2015 18:01

    Your last paragraph pretty much reveals your true point of view. Know any women in the military? Bet they'd appreciate your words so much.

    You know what? We could argue all day about whether any of this was justified, and as others have pointed out, your argument is irrelevant because all of it is illegal under both US and international law. But let's stick with something you might understand: it does not work. Period. Coerced confessions lead to bad decisions by those who use the information. How's things going for the US and Europe in the Middle East? Did any of these crimes make a single thing better?

    Please enlighten us as to what difference torture made for us. And you'll have to do better than citing the same discredited cases over and over again. EVERY TIME the government has claimed to receive useful intel from torture, it has been disproved by those actually in the know. If they have evidence that is valid, they would surely be presenting it. But no, they don't have that, because there isn't any, so the only things they can do is lie and hope the first media report out-shouts the correction.

    These people are very very stupid. NGIC is right up the road from me. They continue to have amazing smug confidence about their work. And yet their work has consistently been poor and misleading. Same goes for Homeland Security, the CIA, and the NSA. Every time we actually get a look at the details, it's obvious they don't know what they are doing at all, they're just spending their budgets, and sometimes indulging their sadism and racist paranoia.

    But this has been the case all along with bloated intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Look at the FBI in the 60s and 70s. It's criminal, but it's also frankly laughable. There's a culture that builds up of certainty and self-reinforced ideology, and it becomes incapable of thought. It's worse now, because so much of the intelligence gathering is done from a desk. They know very little, but pretend they know so much. All that tech and all that spying can't make you smart. And we're all paying the very high price in dollars and military lives for their willful ignorance.

    confettifoot marydole 10 Jul 2015 17:55

    That's correct. And we all become good Nazis insofar as we tolerate it - but the average citizen has very little power against uber-powerful institutions like those that perform these abominations with our tax dollars. It's an outrage not only against the direct victims, but against every decent American and the conscience of this country.

    IGiveTheWatchToYou 10 Jul 2015 17:52

    "Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian, empower the agency's director to "approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research". The leeway provides the director, who has never in the agency's history been a medical doctor, with significant influence over limitations the US government sets to preserve safe, humane and ethical procedures on people."

    I assume there's a tranche of records waiting to be discovered from US black sites around the world detailing various unspeakable illegal human experimentation projects with subjects rendered, I mean kidnapped from a war zone, by the military.


    KDHymes Longasyourarm 10 Jul 2015 17:49

    Here's an alum who heartily agrees with you. I've watched this pseudo-science play havoc with family members, generating income and label after label, while ignoring crimes. I worked as a residential social worker in Ohio for 7 years, with people who were placed in group homes and apartments after the Athens Mental Health Center was closed. Several were simply slightly eccentric people whose families had committed them for the sin of inconvenience, or in one case for daring to stand up to sexual abuse. The "care" was a scandalous mixture of polypharmacology and hideous punishments. Yeah, it was a while ago, but these folks are still alive, and the "doctors" who signed off on all of it have never been held accountable, never even been forced to apologize to them. And these days what we seem to have in the US is, like everything else, multi-tiered according to class and ethnicity and income. Being weird while poor is a shooting offense. Being an abusive sociopath while rich gets you a label and a suspended sentence, with the help of well paid "expert witnesses."

    There is no integrity, no real science, behind any of it. Partly this results from the ongoing fantasy that human behavior can be reduced to chemicals and imaging. But a lot of it has to do with the profit motive and attendant careerism, with the pharmaceutical industry and the psychotherapeutic industries smiling hand in hand on the way to the bank.


    aardivark 10 Jul 2015 17:49

    Stephen Behnke, has a Yale law degree and a psychology Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. How ominous does that sound?

    Mike Casey 10 Jul 2015 17:48

    As these build, more and more people will be implicated. The APA, being a private organization can be held accountable more easily than can government officials. Hopefully this will lead to prosecution of decision makers within the government. We the people need to make our leaders accountable!

    Jeffrey_Harrison usernameshinobi2 10 Jul 2015 17:35

    You make me sick to my stomach. Just a few bad apples? Right. Torture is illegal under US law and our treaty obligations. For the military to conduct it, everybody from the CinC down to the individual torturer knew that. That's not a few nor were they rogue individuals acting on their own as you imply. This was systematic abuse of human beings deliberately conducted by the United States Government aided and abetted by Psychologists. They are scum and should be a total embarrassment to their profession although transparently the "profession" doesn't see it that way.

    Contrary to your assertions, torture was not practiced nor condoned by the US military in the past and individual service members who tortured, even in the heat of battle, were punished. We also convicted foreigners who perpetrated the things that these psychologists did of war crimes after WWII. But never fear! I'm sure Egypt or Libya has an open slot for you in their system.


    Longasyourarm 10 Jul 2015 17:35

    http://www.thedp.com/article/2014/12/penn-study-influence-on-cia-torture-techniques

    The leading scumbag in the above story is illustrated in the link. He was instrumental in hiding and excusing the links between the corrupt APA and the CIA. These greedy psychologist parasites are not physicians, everyone should realize, even though they make No attempt to clear the confusion that they are medical doctors.

    The abject debasement of their own professional standards owes much to this Martin Seligman who was president of the APA and tried to squelch the whistleblowers.

    He should be jailed and tortured by those who have suffered from the application of his crackpot theories, which he developed by giving electric shocks to dogs. The poor excuse for a university department that is psychology at Penn should be closed.

    TaiChiMinh Pete Street 10 Jul 2015 17:35

    Sorry for posting this twice, it was meant as a response to the apologist for US crimes, Pete Street:

    >> The context of this historical period justifies torture not involving death or permanent physical injury, in order to protect national security at home and abroad. This context we call wartime.

    Actually, the UN treaty (signed by the US in 1988 and ratified by the US in 1994) - Convention against Torture and Other Inhuman and Degrading Acts - specifically rejects the case you are trying to make, which makes you an apologist for crimes:

    "2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification for torture."

    Nor does US law make an exception for wartime: "18 U.S. Code § 2340A - Torture

    (a) Offense.- Whoever outside the United States commits or attempts to commit torture shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both, and if death results to any person from conduct prohibited by this subsection, shall be punished by death or imprisoned for any term of years or for life. . . .

    (c) Conspiracy.- A person who conspires to commit an offense under this section shall be subject to the same penalties (other than the penalty of death) as the penalties prescribed for the offense, the commission of which was the object of the conspiracy."

    Throw the book at them - and the people up to W who designed this criminal enterprise.

    Maybe you can come up with an rectal destruction exception? Keep, er, probing . . .


    Gegenbeispiel 10 Jul 2015 17:35

    Is there way for the International Criminal Court in the Hague to issue arrest warrants against these people? The US would not, of course, recognise them but it would keep them out of international professional conferences and make them afraid to ever travel outside the US.


    DerekCurrie richy1 10 Jul 2015 16:43

    richy: I warned you that 'the masses' aren't prepared to face the treasonous nightmare. Don't feel bad.

    Meanwhile, the proven evidence of the enablement of 9/11 by the Bush League continues to collect. Hiding from it and hating on it won't change the facts. No looniness or anti-Semite bad attitude is required to read what really went on that day and thereafter. No clap trap. No Holocaust denial. No anything denial. Just the facts. Sorry about that.


    drew4439 10 Jul 2015 16:41

    Witch hunt.. Where are Cheyney, Rumsfeld and Pearl in all this..


    MiltonWiltmellow 10 Jul 2015 16:25

    In 2004, after the Abu Ghraib torture scandal burst into public view, the emails detailed a private meeting of APA officials with CIA and military psychologists to "provide input on how the APA should deal with the growing furor", Risen wrote.

    The word "collusion" comes to mind.

    Perhaps "criminal conspiracy."

    Kudos to those APA members/agitators who forced a reckoning.

    As long as the CIA (DoJ) isn't setting up Behnke et al as scapegoats to distract from the institutional criminality of the Bush administration, this is a great report. One doesn't need the ethics of the APA to read and understand the Constitutional prohibition against "cruel and unusual punishment."

    Finally a reckoning appears on the horizon.

    I hope it isn't a mirage.

    These people attacked and harmed America as surely as the terrorists. Their self-proclaimed virtue and patriotism aren't relevant. (For instance, by their actions, they allow members of ISIS to argue their atrocities are reprisals.)

    Let's see the DoJ and FBI perform their actual duties rather than interdicting terror plots which they imagine, instigate, finance and then -- with much publicity -- discover and prevent.

    DerekCurrie 10 Jul 2015 16:17

    This minor revelation about 9/11 is nothing compared to the Bush League's involvement in enabling that day and lying their way into the Iraq War, as per the plans of both the Israeli government and their pawn in the USA: PNAC, Project for the New American Century, run by the Neo-Con-Jobs. So much of this is out for anyone to read and prove to themselves at least a critical part of what really happened that day and thereafter. But the masses still aren't prepared to face that treasonous nightmare.

    But if you want to get started!
    Here's where scientists and engineers are collecting proven data about the actual 9/11 events. You won't enjoy it:

    http://www.911truth.org

    kgb999again 10 Jul 2015 16:17

    I'm almost positive Mitchell and Jessen were members of the APA when they were designing and selling torture campaigns a decade ago. IIRC, at the time they were vocally supported by the then-president who also had ties to some of the companies that were monetizing interrogation techniques.

    No longer being members seems irrelevant to the actions the APA has taken over the years defending the behavior of these two specifically - and the consistent APA defenses of these practices in general.

    John Smith 10 Jul 2015 16:14

    OK, this mind come across as a bit cold, but human rights aside, what most amazes me about this whole sad affair is that the APA didn't brief the US government about what value of intel can be gained from torture.

    Torture has been found to be excellent in extracting confessions: the subject, once deprived of all hope and having to rely on their torturer for all emotional support and empathy, will confess to anything. Even shooting Kennedy.

    As a means of securing reliable, actual info, it's worse than useless. Subjects will give answers to please their captors, and avoid pain.
    This is widely known. If the APA didn't pass this advice on, they are actually complicit in undermining the safety and effectiveness of the US intelligence gathering organisations.

    The APA would appear to have been caught up in both a blood lust for terrorists, and root and branch stupidity. What a mess.

    sampson01 10 Jul 2015 16:13

    The APA chose to be a rubber stamp for the govt, and allow for its members to be there to reaserch what the boundries were separating 'enhanced interrogation' and torture. Thus using human subjects being exposed to enhanced interrogation in an experiment to assess if it was in fact torture. One of the architects of this program (though hadn't renewed his APA membership) has admitted (proudly on Fox News) that he personally water boarded a prisoner during an interagation session.

    [Jul 03, 2015] Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners

    "...So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. "
    "...Debt and war are constant partners."
    "...And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England."
    Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

    omewhere in a Greek jail, the former defence minister, Akis Tsochatzopoulos, watches the financial crisis unfold. I wonder how partly responsible he feels? In 2013, Akis (as he is popularly known) went down for 20 years, finally succumbing to the waves of financial scandal to which his name had long been associated. For alongside the lavish spending, the houses and the dodgy tax returns, there was bribery, and it was the €8m appreciation he received from the German arms dealer, Ferrostaal, for the Greek government's purchase of Type 214 submarines, that sent him to prison.

    There is this idea that the Greeks got themselves into this current mess because they paid themselves too much for doing too little. Well, maybe. But it's not the complete picture. For the Greeks also got themselves into debt for the oldest reason in the book – one might even argue, for the very reason that public debt itself was first invented – to raise and support an army. The state's need for quick money to raise an army is how industrial-scale money lending comes into business (in the face of the church's historic opposition to usury). Indeed, in the west, one might even stretch to say that large-scale public debt began as a way to finance military intervention in the Middle East – ie the crusades. And just as rescuing Jerusalem from the Turks was the justification for massive military spending in the middle ages, so the fear of Turkey has been the reason given for recent Greek spending. Along with German subs, the Greeks have bought French frigates, US F16s and German Leopard 2 tanks. In the 1980s, for example, the Greeks spent an average of 6.2% of their GDP on defence compared with a European average of 2.9%. In the years following their EU entry, the Greeks were the world's fourth-highest spenders on conventional weaponry.

    So, to recap: corrupt German companies bribed corrupt Greek politicians to buy German weapons. And then a German chancellor presses for austerity on the Greek people to pay back the loans they took out (with Germans banks) at massive interest, for the weapons they bought off them in the first place. Is this an unfair characterisation? A bit. It wasn't just Germany. And there were many other factors at play in the escalation of Greek debt. But the postwar difference between the Germans and the Greeks is not the tired stereotype that the former are hardworking and the latter are lazy, but rather that, among other things, the Germans have, for obvious reasons, been restricted in their military spending. And they have benefited massively from that.

    Debt and war are constant partners. "The global financial crisis was due, at least in part, to the war," wrote Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, calculating the cost of the US intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq, pre-financial crash, to have been $3tn. Indeed, it was only this year, back in March, that the UK taxpayer finally paid off the money we borrowed to fight the first world war. "This is a moment for Britain to be proud of," said George Osborne, as he paid the final instalment of £1.9bn. Really?

    The phrase "military-industrial complex" is one of those cliches of 70s leftwing radicalism, but it was Dwight D Eisenhower, a five-star general no less, who warned against its creeping power in his final speech as president. "This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government … we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society." Ike was right.

    This week, Church House, C of E HQ, hosted a conference sponsored by the arms dealers Lockheed Martin and MBDA Missile Systems. We preach about turning swords into ploughs yet help normalise an industry that turns them back again. The archbishop of Canterbury has been pretty solid on Wonga and trying to put legal loan sharks out of business. Now the church needs to take this up a level. For the debts that cripple entire countries come mostly from spending on war, not on pensions. And we don't say this nearly enough.
    @giles_fraser

    marsCubed, 3 Jul 2015 12:21

    Syriza's position has been stated in this Huffington Post article.

    Speaking to reporters in Washington on Tuesday, Yiannis Bournous, the head of international affairs for Greece's ruling Syriza party, heartily endorsed defense cuts as a way to meet the fiscal targets of Greece's international creditors.

    "We already proposed a 200 million euro cut in the defense budget," Bournous said at an event hosted by the Center for Economic Policy and Research and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, referring to cuts in Syriza's most recent proposal to its creditors. "We are willing to make it even bigger -- it is a pleasure for us."

    Europe Offered Greece A Deal To Meet Its Obligations By Cutting Military Spending. The IMF Said No Way.

    If the report is correct, ideology is playing just as much of a role as arithmetic in preventing a resolution. The IMF's refusal to consider a plan that would lessen pension cuts is consistent with itshistorically neoliberal political philosophy.


    Giftedbutlazee 3 Jul 2015 11:52

    we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military–industrial complex.

    Still as relevant now, 54 years after Eisenhower said it.


    BritCol 3 Jul 2015 11:39

    And the reason the USA dominated the world after WW2 was they had stayed out of both wars for the first 2 years and made fortunes lending and selling arms to Britain (and some to the Axis). It was the Jewish moneylenders of the Middle Ages who financed the various internal European wars, created the first banks, and along with a Scot formed the Bank of England.

    The moral? War makes money for profiteers, and puts those of us not killed or displaced in debt for generations. Yet we morons keep waving flags every time a prime minister wants to send us into another conflict.


    barry1947brewster 3 Jul 2015 11:39

    28 May 2014 The Royal United Services Institute estimated that since the Berlin Wall fell the UK has spent £35 billion on wars. Now it is suggested that we bomb IS in Syria. Instead of printing "Paid for by the Taxpayer" on medicines provided by the NHS we should have a daily costing of our expenditure on bombs etc used in anger.


    real tic 3 Jul 2015 11:23

    Finally someone at Graun looks at this obvious contradiction present in the Greek governments opposition to cut in defense spending (when they apparently accept cuts to pensions, healthcare and other social services)! Well done Giles, but what's wrong with your colleagues in CIF, or even in the glass bubbled editorial offices? Why has it taken so long to examine this aspect of Greek debt?

    Defense expenditure is also one reason some actors in creditor nations are content to keep Greece in debt, even as far as to see its debts deepen, as long as it keeps on buying. while within Greece, nationalism within the military has long been a way of containing far right tendencies.

    It is notable but unsurprising that the current Minister of Defense in Greece is a far right politician, allied to Tsipiras in the Syriza coalition.


    Pollik 3 Jul 2015 11:03

    "Throughout history, debt and war have been constant partners"

    ...and someone always makes a profit.

    [Jul 03, 2015] Europe's leaders must end this reckless standoff with Greece by Guy Verhofstadt, former prime minister of Belgium

    "...Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?"
    "...When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading. It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought. All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done."
    "...You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much. Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity."
    "...That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc."
    Jul 03, 2015 | The Guardian

    The possibility of a Greek exit from the eurozone has never been more likely. We shouldn't be under any illusions – this would be a catastrophe for Greece's eurozone creditors, the Greek state and the European Union.

    Like it or not, we are all in this together. If we continue on our current trajectory, everyone stands to lose from what now resembles a reckless, self-destructive standoff. The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again. We must remember that Germany has lent approximately €80bn. This is an astonishing figure, close to a quarter of Greece's budget for 2016. Yet the sad irony is, the longer the current impasse continues, the greater pressure Angela Merkel will face within her own party to reject any solution that is accepted by the Greek government.

    But much more is at stake than euros. The world will consider a "Grexit" as a devastating blow for EU monetary cooperation and the European project. A destabilising Grexit will only be welcomed by the likes of China, Russia and those who are most threatened by a strong, united European Union. If Greece is to stay within the eurozone, we need to secure a massive de-escalation of the tensions, rhetoric and threats from both sides – and fast. It is time for Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis and the political leaders of the eurozone to come to their senses and bring this crisis back from the brink.


    Prodisestab -> HolyInsurgent 3 Jul 2015 18:26

    Neoliberal politicians are well-paid traitors to their own countries and peoples - how much empathy can be expected of them for anyone else?


    Panagiotis Theodoropoulos Gjenganger 3 Jul 2015 19:20

    Agreed to a good extent. However, when the discussions broke off Friday night, the two sides were very close regarding the measures that were needed. I believe that they were off by 60 million euros only. Their differences were mostly about the types of measures to be taken with the Greek government wanting more taxes on businesses and the creditors wanting more to be paid by ordinary people. The problem that I have and that a lot of observers have with that is the fact that the Greek government did compromize quite a lot while the creditors refused to budge from their inflexible position despite the fact that implementation of their policies during the last five years has put the country into a depression. A basic premise of "negotiation" is that both sides make compromises in order to arrive at a mutually beneficial solution. In this case the creditors demonstrated total lack of flexibility, which clearly indicates alterior motives at least on the part of some of the creditors. In Germany they have fed their people with all the hate against "lazy Greeks" etc that clearly shows up in these messages and in that sense they have themselves created a very negative environment. I believe that about 90% or so of all the loans that have been given to Greece went back to the creditors. Greece is not looking for handouts here. This must be understood.

    This is a debt crisis that has been mishandled and that has span out of control as a result. Economic terrorism is not justified under any conditions and particularly within the EZ.

    LiveitOut 3 Jul 2015 21:45

    When I see expressions like "hard-working" and "sustainable", I stop reading.

    It is as Orwell said: ready made plastic expressions rushing in to smother all possibility of an original individual thought.

    All this dolt needed to include were "inclusive", "sensitive", "globalised", "aspirational", "stakeholders", and he would be done.

    How odd all this stuff about hardworking families when we are all being screwed to kingdom come by hard whoring banking gangsters who have never done a second of useful work in their effing lives --

    Optymystic, 3 Jul 2015 12:55

    The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

    The debt has been known to be unpayable for a long time. It has nothing to do with current events in Greece. It should have been written off.

    No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore, and this is why a yes vote on Sunday is crucial. But it's also clear eurozone leaders have made mistakes with Greece.

    But despite their nonsenses the latter group somehow, mysteriously, retain credibility. It was not the antics of Tsiparis that brought about this mess but the behaviour of his 'credible' opponents.

    Greece and its creditors agree a three-month window to develop a long-term reform programme combined with an investment package to turn Greece's ailing economy around.

    Now you are getting close to the Syriza position.

    Let us use this crisis to deliver real, sustainable change by drawing up a settlement in the next three months in which the Greek state, its government and its administration are paying back the debts, instead of forcing hard-working citizens to pay the bill.

    Is that before or after the twenty-year moratorium on debt implied by the IMF?

    From the burning embers of two world wars, we have created a single market with free movement of people, goods, services and capital.

    And the freedom to avoid taxes.

    PaleMan -> jonbryce 3 Jul 2015 12:59

    You are quite right about Golden Dawn but I don't think the Troika actually care about that so much.

    Its beyond obvious that the Troika care nothing for the Greek population and I think they would be content with a fascist dictatorship as long as it signs up to austerity.

    Danny Sheahan 3 Jul 2015 12:59

    No one believes the ECB or the EU leadership anymore.

    If they were serious about the Euro as a strong functional currency this mess would not be so big.

    They would not have had to flush out private German and French bad debt in the 2nd bailout by putting it on the tax payer, or those countries would have had to step in to hep their banks and political careers would have been over.

    The ECB has become a political football and it cannot maintain stability in its currency region. It is a failed central bank.

    Vilos_Cohaagen 3 Jul 2015 12:58

    "The Greek economy is on the verge of complete collapse. This would not only be devastating for the people of Greece, it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again."

    The problem is that there's no scenario where the creditors do get paid back. So, why (for a start) "lend" them 60 billion more Euros? Wiping the debt completely out just means that the Greeks can start accumulating new "debt" they'll have no intention to re-pay and will be defaulting on a few years down the line.

    BusinessWriter 3 Jul 2015 12:52

    it will guarantee that creditors never see their money again.

    Crazy - this Guy actually thinks the creditors have any chance of seeing their money again - what planet is he on.
    As for his idea that the Greek state (or any state for that matter that doesn't control its own currency) can pay of its debt independent of the taxpaying public - it's deluded nonsense.

    Where is the Greek state supposed to get the billions of euro from? The only source of revenue it has is taxes or selling assets that it holds on behalf of the citizens of Greece.

    Equally, the idea that the clientelist state is somehow a separate thing to the majority of the Greek people is nonsense. So many of them are either employed by the state or in professions protected from competition by the state or in companies that only serve the state. Identifying anyone who doesn't benefit in some way from the current clientelist state would be like looking for an ATM in Athens with cash in it on Monday morning.

    This Guy is just another symptom of the problem - he offers no sustainable solution - and what he does offer is incoherent and too late.

    fullgrill -> elliot2511 3 Jul 2015 12:51

    That would not be a bad thing, but I don't think the Euro is seen as an error or a mistake at all. As Germany has discovered, it is an extremely useful tool in assuring the triumph of greed: keeping populations poor, unemployed and fearful, so they are more willing to accept the lash of the markets and agree to bank bailouts, low wages, a diminished social safety-net, trade treaties, etc., etc.

    whichone 3 Jul 2015 12:50

    "Syriza's game is up. No one believes anything Alexis Tsipras says anymore"

    well 1) it looks like 50% of the Greeks believe him

    2) The IMF (and Merkel in leaked notes) have acknowledged that the debt is unsustainable even if Greece accept all conditions imposed by the Troika.

    Varoufakis has been saying this since the start. So lets no longer pretend that this is all about getting the money back or that Greece wants to avoid its responsibility to its creditors : again will say Varoufakis has said the Greek government does not want to do this. The point is he and many other knowledgeable people (not politicians) know that it can not be paid back , but with the conditions in place to allow the economy to start to grow then Greece has a chance to pay some of it back. This is about bringing a Government to heel. I wish the Guardian , having continually reported on this crisis and knows what has been said allows a contributor to use the paper as propaganda.

    And I hope that all those people who purposely said that a 'NO' vote means a no to Greece in the Euro and EU after a 'NO' result and surprise surprise Greece is still in the Euro, get thrown to the Wolves.

    The same is goes with the comments about Varoufakis playing Game theory. He denied this basically saying that those who say this obviously don't know the first thing about Game Theory.

    badluc TheSighingDutchman 3 Jul 2015 12:48

    Genuine question: correct me if I'm wrong, but haven't the electorates of Germany, Netherlands, Finland etc been consistently fed by most of their politicians (and newspapers) a completely mistaken "morality tale" about what the root causes of the problems are, blaming inefficient and corrupt governments who borrowed too much, without mentioning either the reckless lenders (mainly German, French, Dutch etc banks), were silent about the shifting of the burden of bad lending from the banks to the EU taxpayers (did they ever acknowledge that clearly?!?), describing the solution as a punitive austerity which would somehow bring moribund economies back from the abyss, etc? Politicians have a duty to be frank and sincere with their electorate, sharing with them all the relevant data they have on a given problem. If they have been feeding them misguided rhetoric, they have only themselves to blame if the chickens now come home to roost. In other words, if the electorate would now revolt against the inevitable, don't the politicians of those countries who have most strongly supported and advocated austerity have only themselves to blame?

    SouthSeas 3 Jul 2015 12:48

    Germany has lent 80bn to Greece to pay back loans from German banks

    RudolphS 3 Jul 2015 12:47

    While Verhofstadt calls for a cooling-off period he at the same time claims 'Syriza's game is up' and is urging the Greek people to vote 'yes' next sunday. With the latter he shows his true colours as just another Brussels eurocrat, and is only fuelling debate instead of cooling-off.

    Dear Mr. Verhofstadt, why the hell do you think the Greek voted en masse for a party like Syriza? Because they are sick and tired of people like you.

    And yes, there much more at stake than a debt. Putin must be watching this whole spectacle with total bewilderment how the EU is crippling itself from the inside.


    Rainborough 3 Jul 2015 12:47

    Anyone who is in danger of being impressed by conservative politician Guy Verhofstadt's perspective on Greek problems might like to bear in mknd that among his numerous other highly lucrative financial interests is his position on the board of the multi-billion Belgian investment company Sofina, whose interests include a stake in the highly controversial planned privatization of the Thessaloniki water utility.


    hatewarmongers OscarD 3 Jul 2015 12:46

    The neoliberal elite don't


    SHappens 3 Jul 2015 12:17

    In a democracy people can chose their fate by voting or through referendum. That's the way it goes but not in Europe where referendum are seen as a danger to the establishment. Tsipras, as soon as he came to power through a democratic vote was seen as a danger. He was ostracized and considered a pariah, Greece became a pariah state and they can as well die from hunger.

    The EU, and institutions have behaved like the little bullies they are, just like they did with Switzerland after the vote on immigration, they threat, blackmail everyone who dare think different.

    For the sake of democracy, the Greeks have to vote no, there is no other decent alternatives especially after all the bashing and disrespect they have been under. Nobody in EU and US (since they have their say in european affairs) want to see Greece walking away, nor Russia or China for that matter. But Tsipras had the opportunity to see where his real allies stand, and it is not within Europe. He might not forget this in the future.


    mfederighi 3 Jul 2015 12:09

    You are entirely right in suggesting that the only sustainable solution is a far-reaching reform programme for the Greek state and the reek economy. However, when you say that:

    Greece's people must be at the centre of such a settlement. They did not cause this crisis and remain the victims of successive Greek governments, who have protected vested interests and the Greek clientelist system at their expense.

    You seem to think that vested interest and the reek clientelist system are distinct from the Greek people. There is, I am afraid, a substantial overlap - that is, quite a few people benefit from clientelism and are part of vested interests. Not recognising this is disingenuous.

    After all, corrupt and inefficient governments have been elected again and again - by whom?

    jimmywalter 3 Jul 2015 12:06

    The Banks solution is no solution - it means poverty and no taxes to pay to repay. The Banks want a Treaty of Versailles. We all know of a certain Austrian that rose up to end the German economic collapse. We all know how that ended. I don't want that again. People revolt over economics. Spain, Italy, and Greece have huge numbers of unemployeed who did nothing to create this crisis. The Banks did. Who should pay? Anyway, leave the Euro, stay in the EU!

    [Jul 02, 2015]Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400

    "...As U.S.-operated drones rain down Hellfire (missiles) on brown-skinned folks not named Smith, Jones or Thomas, you have to grasp that this too will change. How long can that technology remain under the exclusive control and purview of the US military "intelligence"?! Maybe a decade, at most? Then what shall those military death figures look like?
    .
    During the post-Berlin Wall "peace dividend" era, our country has spent infinitely more blood, treasure and prestige on advancing our ability to kill, destroy and incarcerate lives than we have in saving and improving lives. IMHO, it is nearly inevitable that this misspent era will come home to roost in unpredictable ways over the next 20-30 years. We can always pivot and change course, but that may have little or no bearing on what others will do."
    June 30, 2015 | ritholtz.com

    Source: Our World In Data

    Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

    9 Responses to "Global Deaths in Conflict Since the Year 1400"

    CD4P says:

    June 30, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    Saw much of the "Apocalypse WWI" show on The American Heroes Channel recently. 10 million soldiers killed, 20 million wounded. And then there was the major flu influenza which killed another 30 million in 1918 around the world.

    RiverboatGambler says:

    June 30, 2015 at 7:50 pm

    The most interesting thing here is not that we are on all time lows but rather the length of the current downtrend.

    We are now going on 70 years of downtrend post WWII. The next closest looks like about 40 years from 1640 – 1680.

    What has fundamentally changed that could make this not be an outlier? Lifespan?

    Very interesting in the context of cycle theories like The Fourth Turning.

    kaleberg says:

    formerlawyer says:

    bear_in_mind says:

    Lyle says:

    June 30, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    Note that the web site that this chart comes from has many other interesting charts Here is a link to the root of the site: http://ourworldindata.org/ It provides the charts bundled into a set of presentations. Including ones looking at longer term issues of violet death rates and the like.

    Whammer says:

    July 1, 2015 at 1:42 am

    Interesting how the civilian death rate has dropped to the point where it is minimal compared to the military death rate.

    NoKidding says:

    July 1, 2015 at 8:51 am

    Nuclear weapons, the easy way to destroy far away enemies, has been avoided because the various costs are so very high.

    Large scale conventional bombing suffers from inefficiency and bad optics.

    Targeted drone assualts make killing foreigners efficient and inexpensive. For example, one human in the Western world kills one or more specific humans in the not-Western world from across the globe using radio controlled weapons. No radiation, no flattened obstetricians, increasing efficiency, and falling cost of technology.

    In combination with recent federalization of decision making power, particularly domestic spying and the non-criminalization of the US government killing its own wayward overseas citizens, I see a wonderous new era on the horizon.

    bear_in_mind says:

    [Jun 29, 2015] NSA intercepted French corporate contracts worth $200 million over decade

    Jun 29, 2015 | WikiLeaks
    Washington has been leading a policy of economic espionage against France for more than a decade by intercepting communications of the Finance minister and all corporate contracts valued at more than $200 million, according to a new WikiLeaks report.

    The revelations come in line with the ongoing publications of top secret documents from the US surveillance operations against France, dubbed by the whistleblowing site "Espionnage Élysée."

    The Monday publications consist of seven top secret documents which detail the American National Security Agency's (NSA) economic espionage operations against Paris.

    According to the WikiLeaks report, "NSA has been tasked with obtaining intelligence on all aspects of the French economy, from government policy, diplomacy, banking and participation in international bodies to infrastructural development, business practices and trade activities."

    The documents allegedly show that Washington has started spying on the French economic sector as early as 2002. WikiLeaks said that some documents were authorized for sharing with NSA's Anglophone partners – the so-called "Five Eyes" group – Canada, New Zealand, Australia and the UK.

    The report strongly suggests that the UK has also benefited from the US economic espionage activities against France.

    "The United States not only uses the results of this spying itself, but swaps these intercepts with the United Kingdom. Do French citizens deserve to know that their country is being taken to the cleaners by the spies of supposedly allied countries? Mais oui!" said WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a statement on Monday.

    The documents published on Monday also reveal US spying on the conversations and communications the French Finance Minister, a French Senator, officials within the Treasury and Economic Policy Directorate, the French ambassador to the US, and officials with "direct responsibility for EU trade policy."

    The leaked NSA documents reveal internal French deliberation and policy on the World Trade Organization, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, the G7 and the G20, the 2013 French budget, the decline of the automotive industry in France, and the involvement of French companies in the Oil for Food program in Iraq during the 1990s, the report said.

    "The US has been conducting economic espionage against France for more than a decade. Not only has it spied on the French Finance Minister, it has ordered the interception of every French company contract or negotiation valued at more than $200 million," said Assange.

    "That covers not only all of France's major companies, from BNP Paribas, AXA and Credit Agricole to Peugeot and Renault, Total and Orange, but it also affects the major French farming associations. $200 million is roughly 3,000 French jobs. Hundreds of such contracts are signed every year."

    On June 23, WikiLeaks announced a plan to reveal a new collection of reports and documents on the NSA, concerning its alleged interception of communications within the French government over the last ten years.

    In the first tranche of leaked documents WikiLeaks claimed that NSA targeted high-level officials in Paris including French presidents Francois Hollande, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, as well as cabinet ministers and the French Ambassador to the US.

    Despite the tapping claims made by WikiLeaks, US President Barack Obama has assured his French counterpart Francois Hollande that Washington hasn't been spying on Paris top officials.

    Hollande, on his part, released a statement saying that the spying is "unacceptable" and "France will not tolerate it."

    It's not the first time that the NSA has been revealed to be spying on European leaders. According to documents leaked by Edward Snowden and published at the end of 2013 the US intelligence agency had previously targeted the phone of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The tapping scandal is believed to have created a rift between Washington and Berlin.

    The US collects the information through spy operations regardless of its sensitivity, as it has the ability to do so, Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst told RT.

    "It's hard to be surprised by any revelations of this kind," he said. "The snooping is conducted because it's possible to conduct it. In a new way we have a technical collection on steroids. The President of the US said that just because we can collect this material, doesn't mean we should. The thing has a momentum, an inertia of its own. Since about ten years ago it has become possible to collect everything, and that's precisely what we're doing."

    [Jun 28, 2015] Inquiry needed into GCHQ's operations

    Jun 28, 2015 | The Guardian

    [Jun 24, 2015] So The Spy Services Are The Real Internet Trolls

    "...Let's just call it what it is. Mind rape."
    .
    "...'The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.' Which is the exact purpose of trolling, ever since the internet became an alternate way of communication to gain awareness about issues TPTB/MSM would prefer to bury, hide, distort, confuse, manipulate, lie, detract, deflect, digress, warp or deviate. GCHQ/NSA/Mossad et al have elevated trolling to a professional level, with special budgets and official programs attached to MILINT and foreign offices working 24/7 to advance their plans and take advantage of people's ignorance and naivete about the internet world. It's the hasbara operatives multiplied exponentially to perpetuate ignorance and confusion among the masses. "
    .
    "...It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.
    .
    To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions."
    .
    "...In the paranoid world of the web it is a badge of honor to claim you are being targeted by the PTB. Sites that don't pose much threat to the status quo feel left out and have to create hidden enemies so anyone who resists the dogma and groupthink must be branded as paid trolls. "
    moonofalabama.org

    Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept provides new material from the Snowden stash.

    The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) includes a "Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group" which "provides most of GCHQ's cyber effects and online HUMINT capability. It currently lies at the leading edge of cyber influence practice and expertise." In 2011 the JTRIG had 120 people on its staff.

    Here are some of its methods, used in support of British policies like for regime change in Syria and Zimbabwe:

    All of JTRIG's operations are conducted using cyber technology. Staff described a range of methods/techniques that have been used to-date for conducting effects operations. These included:

    It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.

    To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

    Posted by b at 10:56 AM | Comments (42)

    Colinjames | Jun 22, 2015 12:08:02 PM | 1

    Let's just call it what it is. Mind rape.

    Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 22, 2015 12:31:07 PM | 2

    Fortunately, much of what they do is so ham-fisted and amateurish that only the gullible are gulled (which pretty much explains why ALL of the patsies convicted in ter'rism frame-ups are dimwits or cretins). Those pathetic cut & paste YouTube clips of NATO's "rebels" in Syria, swinging briefly from behind some cover and firing (in a frenzy) at unseen targets or empty streets are beyond ludicrous on many levels.

    I'm unaware of any school of firearms use and techniques which encourages the firing of a weapon merely because the bearer has plenty of spare ammo.

    Lone Wolf | Jun 22, 2015 12:58:23 PM | 3

    @b

    The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

    Which is the exact purpose of trolling, ever since the internet became an alternate way of communication to gain awareness about issues TPTB/MSM would prefer to bury, hide, distort, confuse, manipulate, lie, detract, deflect, digress, warp or deviate. GCHQ/NSA/Mossad et al have elevated trolling to a professional level, with special budgets and official programs attached to MILINT and foreign offices working 24/7 to advance their plans and take advantage of people's ignorance and naivete about the internet world. It's the hasbara operatives multiplied exponentially to perpetuate ignorance and confusion among the masses.

    Hoarsewhisperer | Jun 22, 2015 1:23:26 PM | 4

    And don't forget that US/UK/NATO's Imperial Ambitions are rooted in greed and cowardice. Cowards can never successfully project courage and resolve. Their over-compensation for ingrained cultural short-comings always shows through.

    NATO, for example, has yet to appoint a "Leader" whose demeanor doesn't resemble the un-charismatic behaviour of a 6th Form Prefect at a Girl's College.

    Watching these sissies strutting around their (private) stage, pretending to be Tough Guys is funnier than Laurel & Hardy + the Three Stooges.
    And the sincerity ... Tony Bliar where are you?

    harry law | Jun 22, 2015 1:25:40 PM | 5

    I still think it is possible to have online discussions, I agree with Hoarsewhisperer thinking political types cannot be influenced [to any significant degree] by trolls. The only way they can win is if you forget this golden rule "Never argue with stupid people trolls, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience."
    ― Mark Twain

    Lone Wolf | Jun 22, 2015 4:59:18 PM | 12

    And talking about hasbara, there is a petition requesting a billion dollars for "putting lipstick on the pig" as a poster accurately described it above. No matter how much money zionazis allow for hasbara trolls, a zionazi pig will always be a zionazi pig (my apologies to the animal kingdom for the comparison.)

    To PM Netanyahu: We demand that you vastly increase Israel's hasbara budget.

    (...)Readers will recall that I have criticized the abysmal performance of Israeli public diplomacy (PD) and its failure to present its case assertively and articulately to the world.

    To recap briefly

    I likened the effects of this failure to those of the HIV virus that destroys the nation's immune system, leaving it unable to resist any outside pressures no matter how outlandish or outrageous. Given the gravity of the threat, I prescribed that, as prime minister, my first order of business would be to assign adequate resources to address the dangers precipitated by this failure.

    To this end I stipulated that up to $1 billion should be allotted for the war on the PD front, and demonstrated that this sum was eminently within Israel's ability to raise, comprising less than 0.5 percent of GDP and under 1 percent of the state budget(...)

    jfl | Jun 22, 2015 6:23:56 PM | 15

    To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" communications on the internet is the cyber equivalent of the US/UK's 'real world' policy of death, devastation and destruction in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen and 'austerity' at home in the US/UK/EU.

    The 5-eyes and their European vassals, under control of the 5-eyed 5th column comprising the government of the EU, are the largest single source of negativity on earth.

    And their fantastically expensive pursuit of all these openly negative outcomes has come at the cost of actually addressing any of our world's myriad real problems. Grillions in defense of the perceived interests of the 1%, not a cent for the interests of the planet and humanity.

    Anonymous | Jun 22, 2015 6:44:36 PM | 16

    Wow! It's as if no one ever heard of psyops before, not to mention Cointelpro. The only new wrinkle, though certainly worth noting, is that computers are now targeted. But seriously, who really believed the imperialists would *not* be doing shit like this?

    ToivoS | Jun 23, 2015 1:50:22 AM | 21

    Possibly relevant to b's current topic is the comments sections at Russia Today. Those comments have always looked to me as a real snake pit. There has always been some very ugly antisemitic comments there. I noticed in the last week that their stories on crime in America have been deluged with some of the worst white racist- antiblack comments. I kept wondering -- why would stories in the Russian press attract such virulent anti (American) black comments? It seems the most likely reason is that some outside agency is trying to discredit RT by showing only American racist read it.

    Almand | Jun 23, 2015 2:04:04 AM | 22

    @TovioS

    To be fair, a lot of real American nutjobs do frequent the RT comment section, since in the good old USA, RT is treated as an "alternative" news source akin to Alex Jones' "Prison Planet". And there is still a ton of ugly, virulent racism in the comments section of the New York Times, WaPo, Fox News (especially)... they just seem to have bigger vocabularies.

    Harry | Jun 23, 2015 2:16:31 AM | 23

    @ ToivoS | 20

    It seems the most likely reason is that some outside agency is trying to discredit RT by showing only American racist read it.

    You got it. While this topic is about UK and their spies trying to disrupt, deceive, discredit, etc. etc., but US and Israel are doing it for longer and on much greater scale. They took manipulation of masses to such level (mass and social media, (mis)education, misusing science, etc), that even Goebbels could only have dreamed about it.

    Speaking of social media, there were reports in recent years of US having ten of thousands employees focusing exclusively on social media. Each using software which helps to maintain x10 unique poster profiles. I think b' wrote about it as well. Therefore just US has 100.000+ of daily "posters" all around the World, trying to push US agenda. Who knows what is total number of Western propaganda trolls, and I bet the number is ever increasing.

    bassalt | Jun 23, 2015 7:21:01 AM | 31

    more from Greenwald- a psychologist on Board at GCHQ to make sure their 'work' is effective.

    https://firstlook.org/theintercept/document/2015/06/22/behavioural-science-support-jtrig/

    Surprised not to see mention made here of the new 2,000 strong 'Chindit brigade' tasked with pretty much the same duties

    http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2015/jan/31/british-army-facebook-warriors-77th-brigade

    This is surely going to render a lot of the new media ineffective in terms of obtaining fast and accurate information. How the hell are we going to stop these bastards?

    lysias | Jun 23, 2015 11:03:31 AM | 33

    Let us remember that it was Obama staffer and adviser Cass Sunstein (Samantha Power's husband) who advised "cognitive infiltration" of the Internet by the government.

    Wayoutwest | Jun 23, 2015 11:50:46 AM | 35

    In the paranoid world of the web it is a badge of honor to claim you are being targeted by the PTB. Sites that don't pose much threat to the status quo feel left out and have to create hidden enemies so anyone who resists the dogma and groupthink must be branded as paid trolls.

    I've witnessed a number of apparent operatives exposed on other blogs and they are usually easy to identify but some are clever and they rarely return once they see people are watching and know the difference between disagreement and deception.

    Noirette | Jun 23, 2015 3:51:43 PM | 38

    Some signs of the paid troll:

    Inconsistency. This may seem counter-intuitive, but they argue in the here-and-now, against some other, usually only one, fact(s) / opinion / general trend from the past half hour. In this way they sometimes contradict themselves or mix things up, or use arguments that couldn't co-exist.

    Impersonality. One more, counter-intuitive (specially as a common tactic is ad hominems, insults, etc. to disrupt no matter what.) They are not involved in the discussion and probably doing something else at the same time. This also means they don't answer questions (or only rarely), don't quote sources (much), never agree with any another poster, and never raise issues or ask genuine questions. (Any questions usually contain a pre-supposition, such as 'did the captain beat his wife today?')

    Persistence. An ordinary person appalled and frightened by crazed conspiracy theorists tends to check out quickly.

    Ad hominems bis. Brow-beating, authority card (sometimes some fake expertise is pulled in, like being a pilot, worked in finance), because there is nothing other left to do…

    Posting during the same time each day, posting a similar amount of posts / words. Acceptable sentence structure and OK spelling with a flat, pedestrian, vocabulary. It is paid work, after all, quite similar to 'customer service for the complaints'…(and note the cuteness of all words beginning with D…lame…)

    Being male and aged around 20+ - 36, maybe 40, that is presenting a persona in that age range. Men are still much more respected than women on the intertubes, and afaik women are asked to adopt a male persona and be 'aggressive' (Paul pilot, not Paula florist..)

    I don't think all this is too effective, except in the sense of polarisation, getting ppl to hysterically takes sides, create divisions, and so on. As a propaganda tool it is pretty much a failure. The pay is low (no nos. does anyone know?)… For now there is no Union of 'trolls', as they are supposed to act sub rosa.

    :) They should get together (from all sides) and set up a troll Union as 'propaganda agents' and apply for membership in the ITUC!

    >

    [Jun 24, 2015] M of A - So The Spy Services Are The Real Internet Trolls

    Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept provides new material from the Snowden stash.

    The British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) includes a "Joint Threat Research and Intelligence Group" which "provides most of GCHQ's cyber effects and online HUMINT capability. It currently lies at the leading edge of cyber influence practice and expertise." In 2011 the JTRIG had 120 people on its staff.

    Here are some of its methods, used in support of British policies like for regime change in Syria and Zimbabwe:

    All of JTRIG's operations are conducted using cyber technology. Staff described a range of methods/techniques that have been used to-date for conducting effects operations. These included:

    It is unlikely that the British GHCQ is the only secret service using these tactics. Other government as well as private interests can be assumed to use similar means.

    To "deny, disrupt, degrade/denigrate, delay, deceive, discredit, dissuade or deter" is exactly what Internet trolls are doing in the comment sections of blogs and news sites. Usually though on a smaller scale than the GHCQ and alike. The more these services grow and their methods proliferate the less possible will it become to have reasonable online discussions.

    Posted by b at 10:56 AM | Comments (42)

    [Jun 22, 2015] Pope Francis says those in weapons industry cant call themselves Christian

    "..."It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause."
    Jun 22, 2015 | theguardian.com

    At rally of young people in Turin, Francis issues his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry, criticizing investors as well as workers

    People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.

    Duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another -- -- Pope Francis

    Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin. "If you trust only men you have lost," he told the young people in a long commentary about war, trust and politics, after putting aside his prepared address.

    "It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit of distrust, doesn't it?" he said to applause.

    He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying "duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another."

    Francis also built on comments he has made in the past about events during the first and second world wars. He spoke of the "tragedy of the Shoah", using the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.

    "The great powers had the pictures of the railway lines that brought the trains to the concentration camps like Auschwitz to kill Jews, Christians, homosexuals, everybody. Why didn't they bomb (the railway lines)?"

    Discussing the first world war, he spoke of "the great tragedy of Armenia", but did not use the word "genocide". Francis sparked a diplomatic row in April, calling the massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians 100 years ago "the first genocide of the 20th century", prompting Turkey to recall its ambassador to the Vatican.

    [Jun 22, 2015] US hopes Russia may change direction when Vladimir Putin is gone

    "...His talks are sure to draw Putin's ire as Moscow chafes under the prospect of continued sanctions."
    .
    "...It is the US whose belligerent and bellicose tune needs changing."
    .
    "...Finally, I find it curious that even with billions of dollars worth of satellites hovering over the Ukraine/Russia border and numerous teams of observers, not one of the claims of "Russian armored columns" has been substantiated with solid evidence. Rather, the pictures that have been presented to date have all been exposed as fakes (pictures that were actually taken in Georgia in 2008, for example)."
    .
    "...Freudian slip, maybe. He's just voicing the intentions of the US policy elite, "regime change" in Russia just like anywhere else with a government that doesn't bend over like Britain."
    .
    "...Well, at least an acknowledgement of limits of 'soft-power' tactics near RU borders, the ante will always be upped on the one hand. The bolstering he speaks of is really a bolstering of lost authority, thus the requirement for more weapons to give needed 'confidence'. Estonia, PL etc. now require substantial 'trip-wire' forces in post-Obama Europe, and least in the minds of leaders of said nations."
    Jun 22, 2015 | theguardian.com

    A key theme at all his stops will be how the United States, Nato and other partners can best deal with the Kremlin in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region and its military backing of separatists battling Ukraine's government on the eastern border.

    But part of the calculus, Carter said, will be a new playbook for Nato that deals with Russia's aggression while also recognising its important role in the nuclear talks with Iran, the fight against Islamic State militants and a peaceful political transition in Syria.

    ... ... ...

    Officials said Carter, who left Washington on Sunday, plans to encourage allied ministers to better work together in countering threats facing Europe. His talks are sure to draw Putin's ire as Moscow chafes under the prospect of continued sanctions.


    kowalli -> peacefulmilitant 22 Jun 2015 00:04

    oh come on, they will sacrifice Ukraine, Poland, baltic states, it will became new
    Afghanistan. They will blame Russia for this and for economic meltdown too.
    USA will sign TTP,TiSa, etc .
    Right now you are just spounting nonsense (c)


    Phil Greene 22 Jun 2015 00:03

    It is the US whose belligerent and bellicose tune needs changing.


    FiendNCheeses 22 Jun 2015 00:01

    Russia suffered through 70 years of communism followed by another 7 years of the Western-backed, drunken puppet, Boris Yeltsin. Love him or hate him, Putin turned that country around for the better.

    He doesn't want Russia to become another vassal of the West which is another reason why he's so popular in his country and why he's so hated by the powers that be in the West. It will be a long time before Putin retires but when he does, you can bet the Russian people will not accept anyone who doesn't share their and Putin's vision for Russia.

    I also doubt whether Russians share Carter's characterization of Western values as being 'forward looking', rather, I suspect they consider the West as regressing exponentially. An honest, introspective look at ourselves would reveal that maybe they're right.

    Finally, I find it curious that even with billions of dollars worth of satellites hovering over the Ukraine/Russia border and numerous teams of observers, not one of the claims of "Russian armored columns" has been substantiated with solid evidence. Rather, the pictures that have been presented to date have all been exposed as fakes (pictures that were actually taken in Georgia in 2008, for example).

    I couldn't care less if Russia supplied the rebels with weapons - seriously, after they overthrew that country's democratically-elected president, Ukraine deserves to lose - but at least show some solid, incontrovertible proof instead of relying solely on unsubstantiated propaganda.

    NazMan 22 Jun 2015 00:00

    Ash carter say 'blah blah blah' interpreted. Our president has now aimed our current missiles to Russian targets, but lets not talk about that. Putin replies 'blah blah blah... We have just ordered 40 ballistic missiles. Blah blah blah.' And the world watches as we go into another nuclear arms race. We did all this in the 60's, 70's and 80's. Will our leaders never learn?


    adognow ID5868758 21 Jun 2015 23:58

    Freudian slip, maybe. He's just voicing the intentions of the US policy elite, "regime change" in Russia just like anywhere else with a government that doesn't bend over like Britain.

    Of course, by Einstein's definition, they're all insane because every "regime change" action has resulted in nothing but abject failure and bloodbaths, and these assholes still continue peddling the same rubbish.


    Viktor Korsakov 21 Jun 2015 23:56

    Yeah well Ash Carter is another naive numpty. Putin can be elected as President in 2018 and if he didn't then his buddy Shoigu would. I hate the man, I have far more isolationist and aggressive views, as do others, which is why the west should be glad he does such a fine job at appeasing such people but not going as far to completely alienate those in Russian politics that would have more cooperation with other countries.

    Shame that not many outside the country understand that, the Crimean move was all about internal politics while the rest of the murky and chaotic Ukrainian issue came as an unintended and uncontrollable result.

    Culturally, the everyday Russian citizen such as myself hates how the cost of living is rising and how our life savings are being made worthless because of all this bollocks, but we understand that a united country is important and would sooner blame foreign influence than bet